Mike Walsh explains how he got Marooned in Chicago
More pictures by Rich Lynch after the jump.Continue reading
Mike Walsh explains how he got Marooned in Chicago
More pictures by Rich Lynch after the jump.Continue reading
Panel, Young Adults versus the world!
Michael Scott, Lucienne Diver, Ian McDonald, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee
The rest of Dern’s Saturday gallery follows the jump.Continue reading
(1) MCEWAN REBUTTED. Mark Tiedemann tees off on Ian McEwan and other offenders in “The Myopeia of the Lit Club” at The Proximal Eye.
… Ian McEwan, who has published a novel about artificial intelligence and somehow feels he is the first to discover that this thing has serious implications for people to be expressed through literature. Thus he now joins a long line of literary snobs who have “borrowed” the trappings of science fiction even as they take a dump on the genre. I would say they misunderstand it, but that presumes they have read any. What seems more likely is they’ve seen some movies, talked to some people, maybe listened to a lecture or two about the genre, and then decided “Well, if these unwashed hacks can do this, I can do it ten times better and make it actual, you know, art.”
…I have always thought that people who are dismissive toward SF have a problem imagining the world as someday being fundamentally different. By that I mean, things will so change that they, if they were instantly transported into that future, will be unable to function. Things will be radically different, not only technologically but culturally and therefore even the givens of human interaction will seem alien.
That is the meat, bone, and gristle of science fiction and I would like someone to tell me how that it not “dealing with the effects of technology on human problems.”
(2) KRAMER SIDEBAR. The judge who had Ed Kramer checking whether her work computer was hacked is in trouble: “Judge Kathryn Schrader barred from hearing criminal cases for 60 days” says the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader is reportedly not allowed to hear any cases prosecuted by Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter’s office for at least the next two months while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation sorts out a complicated dispute between the two public officials.
Porter confirmed news reports that a visiting Fulton County judge issued the ruling barring Schrader from presiding over cases for 60 days during a hearing Thursday.
The ruling stems from an unusual case in which Schrader accused Porter of hacking her work computer, and he in turn raised concerns that the county’s computer network may have been compromised. He then asked that she recuse herself from any cases his office is prosecuting.
…The unusual case first surfaced in March after it was revealed that Schrader hired private investigator T.J. Ward because she believed her work computer was being hacked. Ward, in turn, brought in convicted sex offender Ed Kramer, who Ward said has computer training, to look into the matter.
(3) OREO NEWS. Glows in the dark, no less!
(4) FIELD REPORT. Joe Siclari’s FANAC Flash summarizes their accomplishments at Corflu 2019.
We took the FANAC scanning station to Corflu FIAWOL last weekend, and scanned 3500-4000 pages (the count is not complete yet). We received material to scan and help from many Corfluvians, and are getting the scans up on line. So far, we have a little over 1,800 of those pages online. They’re marked in the index pages as “scanned at Corflu 2019”. Fanzines scanned at Corflu include Terry Carr’s Innuendo, John D. Berry’s Hot Shit, Charles Lee Riddle’s Peon, Ron Bennett’s Ploy, some of Forry Ackerman and Morojo’s Voice of the Imagi-Nation, and lots more. At Corflu, we also received scans from Rob Hansen’s OCR project. There are some gems there too. Watch the “What’s New” on the Fanac.org page to get details on what’s been put online.
FANAC.org was given the FAAn award for Best Online Fan Activity at Corflu! It was wonderful to receive this recognition. The team on Fanac.org, Fancyclopedia.org, and and the Fanac YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/fanacfanhistory) is thrilled!
You can find Rob Jackson’s recording of the Corflu Saturday afternoon programs at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUstxv0rmRk&feature=youtu.be
(5) THE ORVILLE IS GO FOR ANOTHER ORBIT. ScienceFiction.com fills fans in on the renewal: “Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Will Return For A Third Season”.
The series had quite a few eyes on it with 3.16 million total live viewers combined with a 0.75 in the 18-49 demographic it hit the sweet spot for commercials. On top of that, the show gained a $15.8 million TV tax credit for the third season which was up $1.3 million from season 2. This was a nice bonus that was nothing to scoff at.
(6) BIOPIC APPROVED. At Amazing Stories, Dianne Lynn Gardner gives it five stars — “Tolkien: A Movie Review.”
…If I were to sum up the movie in one word, that word would be “sensitive”. I was brought to tears in a few places and I think those who have the sensitivity of an artist will enjoy the film. It’s no Lord of the Rings, no. Do not expect it to be. This is a story about a compassionate man with revolutionary ideas concerning the world around him, and his journey to tell the tale of evil and the fight for survival which often can only be heard through parables.
(7) DS9 NEWS. CBS News interviews director Ira Steven Behr and actress Nana Visitor about the new documentary, “What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
(8) BOLGEO TRIBUTE. The family obituary for Tim Bolgeo, who died yesterday, is online here.
…A lifetime reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Uncle Timmy was Founder and Chairman of Liberty Con 1 – 25, an original Board Member and Chairman of ChattaCon 7 – 11, and a staff member at numerous conventions throughout the southeast. He was the long running Editor/Publisher of the Fanzines The LibertyCon Newsletter (1987-1997) and The Revenge of Hump Day! (1997 to 2018)….
(9) GREEN OBIT. Patrice Green, fan and wife of SF author Joseph L. Green, died May 5, “after deciding that the glioblastoma she’s battled for 2 1.2 years had had enough,” says son-in-law Guy H. Lillian III. “She was deeply interested in Genealogy and had made several trips to Europe tracing her family roots. Glorious human being.”
(10) UPTON OBIT. Ilaine Vignes Upton (1952-2019), a New Orleans fan deeply involved in past DeepSouthCons, passed away April 26. She became a bankruptcy lawyer who practiced in Virginia.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
(13) HOW TO CHECK THE LIBRARY FIRST. Lifehacker advises how to “See if a Book You’re About to Buy Is Available at Your Local Library Using This Extension” – specifically Library Extension. It’s compatible with Chrome and Firefox.
The way the extension works is pretty simple: Just scroll through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads as you normally would. When you do, the extension will display where you can find the book at a local library as well. The extension has been available for Amazon for a bit now, but has expanded support over the years to additional spots as well.
(14) POLL CATS. There must be a reason it isn’t easy to get non-English speakers to vote in a poll on my blog. I’m sure it will come to me….
(15) ANIMAL ART. Coming tomorrow to The Getty Center in Los Angeles:
Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World
May 14–August 18, 2019
A vast throng of animals tumble, soar, and race through the pages of the bestiary, a popular medieval book describing the beasts of the world. Abounding with vibrant and fascinating images, the bestiary brought creatures to life before the eyes of readers. The beasts also often escaped from its pages to inhabit a glittering array of other objects. With over 100 works on display, this major loan exhibition will transport visitors into the world of the medieval bestiary.
(16) GRAPE EXPECTATIONS. Delish reports “There’s A Space-Themed Restaurant Coming To Epcot This Year” .
The next time you visit Epcot, you may be able to dine in outer space. Two years after announcing a space-themed restaurant would be opening near the Mission: SPACE ride, Disney World is finally gearing up to open the doors. While there’s no actual stratosphere breaking involved, from the looks of it, the dining room will look and feel like you’re on a space ship.
(17) SILVER LINING. Ron Koertge, South Pasadena’s Poet Laureate, was honored by the Independent Publisher’s Book Award with a silver medal for his illustrated books of poems about the secret life of the Greek gods – Olympusville.
Alice Kleman’s clever illustration of gods like Zeus and Persephone in modern dress contributes to the magnetism of this book by a popular and prolific poet. Gene Yang, recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, says, “Ron Koertge and Alicia Kleman will help you see Mount Olympus with new eyes. Who knew those old gods could be so funny, so charming and so disarmingly tragic.”
The book is available a Vroman’s or directly from Red Hen Press.
(18) AUTUMN ARRIVALS. Should you be so inclined, The Hollywood Reporter has a roundup: “Fall TV 2019: Watch Trailers for All the New Broadcast Shows”.
Includes Next —
An internal favorite of new Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, the drama is a fact-based thriller about the emergence of a rogue AI that combines action with an examination of how tech transforms culture in a way that isn’t always understandable. Manny Coto (24) penned the script and exec produces alongside John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. Mad Men grad John Slattery stars and reunites with former AMC president Collier on the drama. The series hails from 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment.
Time slot: Midseason
(19) ARMY UNPLUGGED. The Verge: “The US Army cut power to its largest military base to test reactions to a cyberattack”. Tagline: “This week’s outage at Fort Bragg was designed to test the ‘real world reactions’ of a simulated attack.”
Fort Bragg, the US Army’s largest base issued an apology earlier this week following an unannounced exercise to see what would happen in the event of a cyberattack. The base lost power for 12 hours on Wednesday and Thursday [24–25 April], and caused some confusion and concern on the base.
Army officials told the Charlotte Observer that the exercise was designed to “identify shortcomings in our infrastructure, operations and security,” and wasn’t announced to the public in order to “replicate likely real-world reactions by everyone directly associated with the installation.”
[…] In recent years, officials have become increasingly concerned that the country’s power grid and infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks. Such attacks aren’t unheard of: a couple of years ago, Ukrainian power plants and airports experienced such attacks, and US officials have said that they’ve detected Russian-linked actors targeting US facilities.
(20) JUST A POWERFUL SUGGESTION. Inverse: “Origin of Loch Ness Monster and Other Sea Serpents Traced to Odd Phenomenon”. Tagline: “A form of mania gripped the world.”
The Loch Ness Monster is perhaps our most famous sea monster, known for drowning locals in front of saints and avoiding motorcycles on its early morning cruise back to the loch. But Scotland’s Nessie is just one of the many, many sea monsters people have allegedly seen. In the 19th century, saying you saw a sea monster was very common indeed. And the reason why this happened, a new study in Earth Science History argues, is based on something very real.
The collective illusion — that creatures in the water were actually mysterious monsters of the deep — was driven by so-called “dino-mania,” researchers reported this week. This conclusion is based on their statistical analysis of the nature of sea monster reports from 1801 to 2015.
[…] They are the first scientists to seriously test a theory first posited by American science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp — famous for coining the abbreviation “E.T.” — in 1968. His hypothesis, reprinted in the study, is this:
After Mesozoic reptiles became well-known, reports of sea serpents, which until then had tended towards the serpentine, began to describe the monster as more and more resembling a Mesozoic reptile than like a plesiosaur or mosasaur.
(21) SCARY ROBOT VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “IHMC Atlas Autonomous Path Planning Across Narrow Terrain” on YouTube, software developer IHMC Robotics showed how they programmed a large Boston Dynamics Atlas robot to walk across very tiny blocks.
[Thanks to Joe Siclari, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Guy H. Lillian III, Chris M. Barkley, Daniel Dern, Nancy Collins, Michael J. Lowrey, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dave Clark.]
Corflu 36 FIAWOL (Rockville, Maryland, May 1-4, 2019)
“They toiled over their crude mimeographs, turning out their magazines. These magazines have long since crumbled into dust, but who amongst us can ever forget the names? Grue and Hyphen; Amazing and Astounding; Galaxy and Quandry and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Startling, Confidential, Infinity, Dimensions—these names will never die!”
Robert Bloch, “A Way of Life” (1956)
By Martin Morse Wooster: One of the advantages of living in Washington is that eventually all the branches of fandom you’re interested in will come to you. I’ve been to three previous Corflus—two held in the Washington suburbs in 1986 and 1994, and the one held in Annapolis, Maryland in 2002. I always am happy to go to conventions I can get to on the bus, so when I heard Corflu was coming to the Maryland suburbs, I signed up. I had a good time.
Michael Dobson, with Curt Phillips as second-in-command, organized Corflu 36. Phillips, among other things, ran a very well stocked con suite, including three kinds of orange marmalade for breakfast.
Members got quite a lot of stuff. Dobson edited a 163-page fanthology of members’ writings, which is also available on Efanzines. Some mossbacks grumbled that Dobson used CreateSpace as his publisher, but I thought the book was well done. Also included in the members’ packet was Thy Life’s A Miracle: Selected Writings of Randy Byers, a 135-page anthology edited by Luke McGuff.
But that wasn’t all! We also got a framed print by Dan Steffan, in a limited edition of 90, which showed a nude Japanese woman with creatures on her back that resembled those of British artist Arthur Thomson. It was a very handsome piece of art, and I will put it on my shelf next to the Star Wars thingie I got at Nationals Park.
The attendance was around 55, with half a dozen fans from the United Kingdom, Murray and Mary-Ellen Moore from Canada, and 10-12 fans from the West Coast. You could spot the Californians because they were most of the attendees at the wine tasting organized by Spike.
Younger fans allergic to grey hair would not have enjoyed themselves. Four of the fans attending—Greg Benford, Jim Benford, Steve Stiles, and Ted White—began their fan activity before 1960. Most attendees began to be fans in the 1970s and 1980s. No one surveyed became a fan after 1990.
I spent much of the time in the con suite listening to stories about 20th century fan legends. I heard about the Scottish fan who, after losing a feud with everyone else in his club, dropped out only to appear in the pages of a tabloid completely nude except for a hand coyly placed over his manhood. The headline of the piece about the fan was ‘IT’S ORGYTASTIC.”
“Do you mean this guy discovered orgy fandom?” I asked.
“No, it was more like orgy con-dom,” said my source, who added that the fan liked showing up at the orgies he organized in a gorilla suit, because women liked sitting on his lap and stroking his fur.
But the story too good to check was whether two Arab sheiks offered to buy Baltimore fan Lee Smoire at Discon II in 1974 for two camels. This claim would be absurd and ridiculous about any other fan than Lee Smoire, who stories cluster around like gaudy barnacles. I cite it to add to Lee Smoire’s legend.
The first day of Corflu had the opening ceremony, where a sacred box is unearthed that included a crusty bottle of correction fluid or “corflu.” The convention chooses a guest of honor by pulling a name from the box, but you can opt out of the honor with a $20 donation. The winner was Jim Benford, who got all the donation money, which he reportedly spent at the fanzine auction on Saturday. His other prize was a pillow, designed by Alison Scott, which says “Dave Kyle Says You Can’t Sit Here” and has the badge of the Science Fiction League of the 1930s.
Saturday’s program included three panels and I went to two. A panel on archives featured Non-Stop Press publisher Luis Ortiz, who has just published an anthology of fanzine writings from 1930-1960, Michael Dobson, University of Maryland (Baltimore County) archivist Susan Graham, and Joe Siclari, head of fanac.org.
Susan Graham said that her library bought the fanzine collection of Walter Coslet in 1973 and subsequently acquired the fanzines of Peggy Rae Sapienza, who was graduated from the school. These fanzines included many of Sapienza’s first husband, Bob Pavlat, a famed collector. They’ve also gotten some Frank Kelly Freas art and some papers, including manuscripts by Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Lawrence Watt-Evans. They’re still organizing their zines, but their website https://lib.guides.umbc.edu/fanzines has a finding aid and essays on feminist fanzines of the 1970s, fanzines’ role in society, and the Atlanta Science-Fiction Organization fanzine Cosmag.
Fanac.org scanned 2,000 pages of fanzines at Corflu. Siclari said that he had gotten research requests from unexpected places. They helped out the recent documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin, for example. And when the family of fan H.F. Koenig asked for copies of Koenig’s fanzines, they donated a copy of the family genealogy to Fanac.org.
There are also reports of what happened to Harry Warner, Jr.’s fanzine collection. It is apparently in one piece and is being stored at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. No one knows what Heritage plans to do with Warner’s collection.
The second panel was on Void, which included the zine’s editors, Greg Benford, Jim Benford, and Ted White, and Luis Ortiz, who is working on an anthology of pieces from the zine. Void began in 1955, with teenage fans Greg and Jim Benford as editors. When the Benford brothers moved from Germany to Dallas, Tom Reamy became an editor.
The Benfords put out 13 issues of Void between 1955-58. But Jim Benford decided to give up fanac for college. Another catalyst for change was when Kent Moomaw, a columnist for the zine, killed himself on his 18th birthday rather than be drafted. In 1958 America was at peace, so there was about a 20 percent chance he would be drafted.
Void then moved its headquarters to New York City, and continued with editors including Greg Benford, Ted White, Pete Graham, and Terry Carr. It lasted another 14 issues through 1962 with a final issue published in 1967.
Both Greg Benford and Ted White said that writing for Void inspired their professional careers. Greg Benford said that his fan writing prepared him to win a contest sponsored by Fantasy and Science Fiction that launched his career as a novelist.
“All of our fanac was fun because of the challenges we met,” White said. “I thought Terry (Carr) was a better writer than me, and it was a daily challenge to write to his level.”
Void even had a song, with the music being whatever you’d like. Here is the first verse.
“We are the Void boys
We make a lot of noise!
We sing songs of fandom
Hitting out at random
Because we are all co-editors of Void.”
Saturday night had two panels. “Just a Minac,” organized by Sandra Bond, was the fannish version of the British game show “Just a Minute.” The idea is that the contestants—John D. Berry, Rich Coad, Rob Jackson, and Nigel Rowe—would give one-minute speeches, delivered “without hesitation, repetition, or deviation”—on topics such as “The Nine Billion Names of God” or “My Favorite Beer.” This was not as easy as its sounds, and I thought it was agreeably silly. Nigel Rowe seemed the most creative contestant to me, but Rich Coad was the winner.
“The Time Chunnel” was a play by Andy Hooper that described two worlds, one where sf dominated and one where fandom ruled. In the fannish world, mimeos were much better but leaf blowers didn’t work. It had plenty of in jokes about fanzines, but also weird popular culture references; if you are excited by references to comedian Durward Kirby, best known as a host of Candid Camera in the early 1960s, “The Time Chunnel” is a play for you. I didn’t think it worked.
Since the FAAN Awards have already been covered, I’ll skip them, but I should write about Jim Benford’s guest of honor speech, which was very good.
If Greg Benford’s day job was as a physicist at the University of California (Irvine), his brother worked in technology. He said that fanzine writing prepared him to write proposals. “I had the best proposals,” Benford said, saying that fan writing ensured his proposals were better organized than other physicists with less writing experience.
Jim Benford has spent most of his career developing particle beams and other energy weapons. But three years ago he was given a ten-year contract by billionaire Yuri Milner to design starships. He now works on solar sails that could guide a future mission to Proxima Centauri.
The problem with solar sails, Jim Benford said, was “The Fearless Fosdick problem.” Li’l Abner fans will recall that Fearless Fosdick valiantly fought the bad guys until they blasted him full of holes. How do you create a solar sail that wouldn’t tear apart? Benford showed how a spherical shape would produce the best outcome.
He said that if someone in 1959 told him that 60 years in the future “I’d be talking to a bunch of fans about starships, I’d be a very happy man.”
Next year’s Corflu will be run by John Purcell in College Station, Texas, in a date to be determined.
 The best story I know about Lee Smoire is that, after John Lennon was assassinated in 1980, Yoko Ono asked for a moment of silence to honor him. Smoire was escorting people around the Baltimore Convention Center and when the designated minute occurred spent the time shouting, “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE QUIET?”
After Smoire left Baltimore for Perth, Australia, packed panels at the next two Disclaves told stories about her.
(1) MCINTYRE HEALTH UPDATE. Vonda McIntyre, one of sff’s most loved figures, is seriously ill. A Caringbridge page has been started: “Vonda N.’s Story”.
Vonda spent much of Seattle’s snow week at Swedish Hospital with jaundice and some vertigo, having many tests. The test results are in now, and the news is not good. The diagnosis is inoperable metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her doctor said it isn’t stupid to hope for a year, but it could be less. She’ll probably be getting treatment that may or may not slow things down, no way to know for sure.
(2) #COPYPASTECRIS. Nora Roberts tells some things she’s learned about plagiarists and people scamming Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited author revenue system in “Not a Rant, but a promise”.
The count of my books lifted from is now five. And the count of writers victimized has gone up.
I’m getting one hell of an education on the sick, greedy, opportunistic culture that games Amazon’s absurdly weak system. And everything I learn enrages me.
There are black hat teams, working together, who routinely hire ghosts on the cheap, have them throw books together, push them out–many and fast–to make money, to smother out competition from those self-pubbed writers who do their own work. Those who do their own work can’t possibly keep up with the volume these teams produce by these fraudulent tactics.
They tutor others how to scam the system….
(3) A WHIRLWIND OF FANAC. Joe Siclari of Fanac.org reports “We’ve been getting a lot done, and last weekend we had a particularly productive Boskone.”
At Boskone, the FANAC scanning station scanned almost 2000 pages of material. Scanning by Mark Olson, Edie Stern and Joe Siclari. History-minded fans stopped by and provided material (thanks Geri Sullivan!), and promised more. We have promises of photos and fanzines, and have already received a historical recording from Fred Lerner, and new scanning hardware too.
The zines scanned at Boskone will be so marked in the index pages of the title, so you can see what we did. So far, we have put online about 850 pages of it. So far from the Boston scanning we’ve put up issues of George Locke’s Smoke, Richard Bergeron’s Warhoon, Charles Lee Riddle’s Peon, Don Miller’s WSFA Journal, the Coulsons’ Yandro and brown and Katz’s Focal Point.
They can all be accessed from the Classic Fanzines List. More issues will be forthcoming.
(4) RIGHT IN THE EYE. How would you like to go out this way? From NPR: “NOAA Researcher’s Ashes Were Dropped Into The Eye Of Hurricane Michael”.
Last fall, as Hurricane Michael was swirling toward the Florida panhandle, NOAA officials say it was carrying something in addition to rain and wind — the ashes of long-time hurricane researcher, Michael Black. Black was a research meteorologist who worked at the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory on Virginia Key, just across the bridge from downtown Miami.
He was a pioneer in the use of dropwindsondes — small measuring devices dropped from airplanes that record wind speed, air pressure, temperature and humidity.
In 1997, on a mission flying through Hurricane Guillermo in the Pacific, he had an audacious idea. Why not drop some dropwindsondes — sometimes called dropsondes — directly into the eyewall of a hurricane?
NOAA research meteorologist Stan Goldenberg, who worked with Michael Black for more than two decades, recalls that flight with Black 21 years ago: “I remember the excitement we felt at seeing these winds and knowing these ‘sondes’ could handle it.” Black’s idea suddenly provided hurricane researchers with an important new data tool.
(5) PARSEC AWARDS. Bruce Press will step down as chair of the Parsec Awards Committee if he can find somebody to take his place. The sff podcast awards organizers have been reeling since December, when four 2018 Parsec Awards winners declined because the committee sustained the decision to give an award an alleged harasser. Today Press sent this statement to his distribution list:
After a pretty grueling 2018 for the committee, we were taking a bit of a breather to get our collective heads together.
We very much want to get trophies out to winners who want them, but we are without funds having done absolutely no fundraising in 2018. Our lack of resources is due to lack of resources. So, that’s item 1.
Item 2 is our perennial problem of manpower and leadership. The committee is severely short-staffed. We hoped to grow by creating sub-committee’s like ceremony and fundraising. However, it turns out that takes leadership and we only had me.
Item 3 is me. While item 2 might have been enough reason alone, I have some really good personal reasons to step down as committee chair. The timing of this is not ideal, but life rarely operates on a convenient schedule. Like previous chairs, I am not immediately leaving the committee.
So, here’s what I’m asking. If you think you have what it takes to lead. If you have a plan and can execute it. Whether overall, ceremony or fundraising. Send us an email email@example.com.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) CRITICAL FAVORITES. On the Strange at Ecbatan blog Rich Horton is working through his Hugo recommendations.
Of these stories – none of which would disappoint me if they won the Hugo – my four favorites, in no particular order, are…
2. David Gerrold and Ctein, “Bubble and Squeak” – About a gay couple, hoping to get married, who have their plans interrupted by a tsunami heading to Los Angeles, and who have to find a way to get to higher ground – and, as it turns out, help a bunch of others as well. It’s simply terrifically exciting, involving a plausible mix of heroism, foolishness, brutality, luck, and intelligence, on their part and others, as they struggle to find a way to a safe place, and as various options are closed off over time.
4. Kelly Robson, “Intervention” (Infinity’s End) — A very intelligent story about child rearing in a heavily inhabited future Solar System. The narrator is from Luna, where creche work is socially frowned upon, so she leaves to work on an asteroid-based creche – and then later gets a chance to work on a bid to reform Luna’s failing creche system. This is just really interesting social speculation; and the characters are also very solidly portrayed, very honest.
5. Karen Russell, “Orange World” (The New Yorker, 6/4/18) – An older first time mother is driven to make a deal with a literal devil to save the life of her child, and only the intervention of her support group allows her to cope … Really well written, really convincing.
(11) STAR WARS WRAPS. Entertainment Tonight did a red carpet interview of “J.J. Abrams on Wrapping ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ and Bringing Back Lando (Exclusive)” (video).
(12) DOLLARS AND SENSE. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid for February 22 includes a wryly-named commentary on cancelled cable sff shows – “Boulevard of Broken Streams.”
Netflix have done what Thanos couldn’t; wiped out an entire section of the Marvel universe. It was announced this week that The Punisher is done with season 2 and Jessica Jones with season 3. That will air later this year and be the swan song for a five (and a half) show mini-universe.
My feelings about this are, to mis-quote the best line in the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, complicated.
For a start there’s the Rat King of fan speculation and business practice to try and untie. We can all clap as loud as we want, the shows were never going to the Disney streaming platform because that platform has to aim for the widest possible audience. It’s also almost certainly what raised the renewal costs for the shows beyond practical. So, rationally, this all makes sense. It’s annoying, but it does make sense….
(13) PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER. And here I thought it was a disaster of Biblical proportions: “What An Insect Can Teach Us About Adapting To Stress”.
What if we told you that you could learn a lot about handling adversity from the life of a bug? In their explorations of humans and how we interact with the world around us, the team that makes NPR’s Invisibilia stumbled on a surprising fact about the insect world — one that could inspire a new way of looking at ourselves.
The epic destruction wrought by swarms of locusts is downright biblical. Exodus tells of a plague that left nothing green in all of Egypt, and we’ve seen these harbingers of destruction at work in modern day Australia, Argentina and Israel, just to name a few. But for centuries, one essential piece of information about these strange insects eluded scientists: Where do they come from?
These massive swarms just seemed to pop up out of nowhere, decimate everything and then vanish.
(14) GRIND YOUR GOGGLES INTO PLOWSHARES. NPR reports “Microsoft Workers Protest Army Contract With Tech ‘Designed To Help People Kill'”.
Microsoft workers are calling on the giant tech company to cancel its nearly $480 million U.S. Army contract, saying the deal has “crossed the line” into weapons development by Microsoft for the first time. They say the use of the company’s HoloLens augmented reality technology under the contract “is designed to help people kill.”
In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, the workers also say the company is failing to inform its engineers “on the intent of the software they are building.”
The November contract is for what’s called an Integrated Visual Augmentation System.
“The contract’s stated objective is to ‘rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries,’ ” the letter said.
(15) KNOCKING THE COMPETITION. A Business Insider reporter was there: “Jeff Bezos just gave a private talk in New York. From utopian space colonies to dissing Elon Musk’s Martian dream, here are the most notable things he said.”
• Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, gave a talk to a members-only event at the Yale Club in New York on Tuesday.
• During the 30-minute lecture, Bezos said his private aerospace company, Blue Origin, would launch its first people into space aboard a New Shepard rocket in 2019.
• Bezos also questioned the capabilities of a space tourism competitor, Virgin Galactic, and criticized the goal of Elon Musk and SpaceX to settle Mars with humans.
• Ultimately, Bezos said he wants Blue Origin to enable a space-faring civilization where “a Mark Zuckerberg of space” and “1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins” can flourish.
• Bezos advised the crowd to hold a powerful, personal long-term vision, but to devote “the vast majority of your energy and attention” on shorter-term activities and those ranging up to 2- or 3-year timeframes.
(16) THE WEST END ZONE. In the February 16 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Matt Trueman profiles Anne Washburn, whose play based on The Twilight Zone is opening March 4 at The Ambassador Theatre in London.
“Her stage version of The Twilight Zone transfers into town next month. On the surface, it’s a straightforward celebration of Rod Serling’s cult TV series. Having watched all 156 episodes,she selected those stories that stuck in America’s psyche. ‘I was polling anyone I ran into: What Twilight Zone episode traumatized you as a small child? People would answer immediately. That’s where it lives in our culture.”
“In April, The Twilight Zone‘s getting a high profile reboot by Get Out director Jordan Peele, but Washburn’s incarnation celebrates its loveable, low-fi 1950s charm. Its schlockiness, essentially.’It’s morality,comedy, and horror at the same time,’ beams Washburn. ‘That’s very appealing.’ The show sends up its arched-eyebrowed asides and cheap cardboard cut-outs. ‘Where things are less adept, you can see right to its heart. That’s always moving.’
“Insightful, too, as Washburn unpeels The Twilight Zone‘s skin to show us a glimpse of America’s soul in its recurring images: alien invasions and nuclear oblivion. ‘The Twilight Zone is about America dreaming–or America’s nightmare.'”
(17) SPIDER-SAN. CBR.com: shares the image: “Spider-Man: Far From Home Gets Spectacular Japanese Poster”.
Sony Pictures has released a new poster promoting the Japanese release of the upcoming Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it’s really awesome.
This exceptionally creative poster features a typographic image of Spider-Man’s mask composed almost entirely of bold, red Japanese text. The words and phrases used to create Spidey’s face mostly reference different aspects of the film, with the text repeating “summer vacation.” There are also numerous references to Nick Fury. Moreover, where Spider-Man’s mouth ought to be, there is a QR code that links to Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s Japanese trailer, which is the same as the international trailer.
(18) PUMP, BROTHERS. Food Network advises, “Throw Away Your Peanut Butter Knife!” This clearly isn’t genre, but it is a “great” “scientific” advance. Or it is you can’t resist both peanut butter and silly gadgets.
Who knew the world was clamoring for a better – or at least different – way to prepare a peanut butter sandwich?
One week after a Burbank, California, inventor/entrepreneur named Andrew Scherer launched an Indiegogo page to raise funds for his new Peanut Butter Pump, promising a way to eat “Peanut Butter Without the Knife,” the project has raised $46,955 (from more than 1,220 backers) and counting – more than twice its $20,000 goal.
[…] It’s basically a jar top – made to fit onto your standard 40-ounce grocery-store or name-brand peanut butter jar – with a pump top and a plunger inside that presses down the peanut butter, leaving the sides of the jar clean as it goes, and dispensing the peanut butter out the top and directly onto your bread or celery stick or wherever you’re aiming it.
(19) WITH AUTOMATIC UPSELL. Welcome to Uncanny Valley Restaurant. “This Fast Food Drive-Thru Is Now Using AI to Take Orders” – Futurism has the story.
Earlier this month, Colorado-based startup Valyant AI announced the launch of a voice-based AI customer service platform, which is now taking customer orders at the drive-thru at Denver’s Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard.
“We’re excited to deliver a customer service experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” Valyant AI CEO Rob Carpenter said in a press release.
A video demonstration is here.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Emperox JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
(1) RETRO HUGO FAN CATEGORY RESOURCE. Joe Siclari and the FANAC Fan History Project are providing support to Dublin 2019 Retro Hugo voters:
The nomination forms have gone out for Dublin 2019’s Retro Hugo awards for works published in 1943. It’s often very difficult to find materials relevant to the Fan Categories for the Retros, but we have a solution! FANAC.ORG has assembled the list of fanzines published in 1943, with links to those available on line. We’ve made several hundred fanzines available, and more will be added if they become available at http://fanac.org/fanzines/Retro_Hugos1943.html .
Here you’ll find fanzines from 4sj, Doc Lowndes, J. Michael Rosenblum, Bob Tucker, Jack Speer, Larry Shaw, F. T. Laney and other stalwarts of 1943 fandom (and also Claude Degler). There are genzines, FAPAzines, newszines, and letterzines. There is fannish artwork, and fannish poetry. There’s even the first publication of Lovecraft’s “Funghi From Yuggoth”. Fanzines which meet the issue requirements for Best Fanzine are so marked.
Hugo nominations continue through March 15, 2019.
(2) THE SHOW WON’T GO ON. Scott M. Roberts, the editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalatic Medicine Show #67 announces the end. The magazine will publish two more issues before shutting down.
I am sad to report that Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show will be pulling up stakes in June 2019. I’ve been a reader since the first issue, and on the staff since 2009. My kids have grown up with the magazine in their lives, and I am fiercely proud of all that we’ve accomplished.
I am also very, very pleased with the state of science fiction and fantasy in general today. When IGMS first rolled onto the scene, online magazines were few and far between. Now the main mode of consumption of short SFF literature is online in one form or another (podcasts, e-issues, webpages, etc). And the voices of SFF today are vibrant, strident, beckoning, beseeching, screeching, awesome myriads. We have been a part of that polysymphonic wonder. We were one of the first to tell our truest lies on the brave digital frontier.
(3) RAVING ABOUT RAVENS. Adri Joy is an early bird, sharing her reaction to Leckie’s new novel: “Microreview [Book]: The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie” at Nerds of a Feather.
Ah, ravens. They’re smart, they’re beaky, they come in murders, and many in our world are better Londoners than I am. They’re also the subject of more than their share of both folklore and, through that, fantasy interest. Whether they’re harbingers of death, guides to the spirit world, speakers of prophecy and truth or otherworldly tricksters, there’s a lot of mileage in these feathery next-level dinosaurs. Now, in Ann Leckie’s first novel-length foray into fantasy, a raven god is front and centre, alongside a cast whose human members often play second fiddle to their divine counterparts.
(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes you’ll share spring rolls with Ruthanna Emrys and him in episode 89 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic.
Ruthanna Emrys is best known for the H. P. Lovecraft-inspired Innsmouth Legacy series, which so far includes the 2014 novella “The Litany of Earth,” followed up by the novels Winter Tide in 2017 and Deep Roots in 2018. Her fiction has also appeared in such magazines as Strange Horizons and Analog Science Fiction and Fact, plus anthologies such as Timelines: Stories Inspired by H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine and The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian Fiction.
We discussed the ways in which her first exposure to Lovecraft was through pop culture references rather than the original texts, the reasons for the recent rise of Lovecraft recontextualisation, how tea with Jo Walton convinced her she was right to go ahead and write her first Innsmouth Legacy novel, why she ascribes to the tenets of the burgeoning Hopepunk movement, her love of writing X-Men fanfic and her hatred of gastropods, how she recovered from a college professor’s unconstructive criticism, the time George Takei was nice to her at age 8 after she attended her first con in costume on the wrong day, and much more.
(5) NEW AWARD HONORS SUE GRAFTON. Mystery Writers of America has established the Sue Grafton Memorial Award for the best novel in a series with a female protagonist. (Do I hear Puppies howling?) The announcement is here.
Thirty-five years ago, Sue Grafton launched one of the most acclaimed and celebrated mystery series of all time with A is for Alibi, and with it created the model of the modern female detective with Kinsey Millhone, a feisty, whip-smart woman who is not above breaking the rules to solve a case or save a life. Like her fictional alter ego, Grafton was a true original, a model for every woman who has ever struck out on her own independent way.
Sue Grafton passed away on December 28, 2017, but she and Kinsey will be remembered as international icons and treasured by millions of readers across the world. Sue was adored throughout the reading world, the publishing industry, and was a longtime and beloved member of MWA, serving as MWA President in 1994 and was the recipient of three Edgar nominations as well as the Grand Master Award in 2009. G.P. Putnam’s Sons is partnering with MWA to create the Sue Grafton Memorial Award honoring the Best Novel in a Series featuring a female protagonist in a series that also has the hallmarks of Sue’s writing and Kinsey’s character: a woman with quirks but also with a sense of herself, with empathy but also with savvy, intelligence, and wit.
The inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award will be presented at the Edgar Awards on April 25. The nominees are:
(6) A VANCE MYSTERY. At Criminal Element, Hector Dejean reviews The Man in the Cage by John Holbrook Vance, better known as Jack Vance, which won the 1961 Edgar Award for the best first mystery novel, even though it wasn’t his first novel in either genre: “Jack Vance’s Edgar Award: A Mystery Novel Wrapped in an Enigma”.
Vance was extremely talented and prolific, publishing his first book, The Dying Earth, in 1950, and his last work of fiction, Lurulu, in 2004. In 1957, he published his first mystery novel, Take My Face, using the pen name Peter Held. Later that year, he published another novel, titled either Isle of Peril or Bird Island, under the name Alan Wade. (Different versions exist, and according to some Vance-ologists the book doesn’t really qualify as a crime novel.) A year later, he wrote his first mystery to be published under his full name, John Holbrook Vance. That book’s title, according to sources on the Internet, was Strange People, Queer Notions.
This is where things get odd. Following a trip to Morocco—Vance was as impressive a traveler as he was a writer—Vance wrote a mystery set in North Africa; John Holbrook Vance was the name on this one as well. The book was The Man in the Cage, and it’s quite good—I would even say it’s a standout book, especially for readers curious about Vance who might not care for the conventions of sci-fi and fantasy. The MWA agreed, and in 1961 they gave it an award, making Vance’s awards-shelf one of the more diverse of any American author.
Awarding Vance isn’t the weird part. It’s that the book won the Best First Novel by an American Author award, even though it was not Vance’s first book, nor even his first mystery….
Dejean then goes on to laud the merits of the story itself.
(7) CONTRASTING EDGARS AND HUGOS. Criminal Element is also doing a retrospective of all Edgar Award winners for best novel: “The Edgar Awards Revisited”. Cora Buhlert sent the link with a comment: “It’s an interesting project and I was struck by how many women won Edgar Awards in the early years (the first five winners are four women and Raymond Chandler), which is very different from the early years of the Hugos.”
(8) CRIMEMASTER AWARD. The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance has awarded its 2019 CrimeMaster Award to Lisa Gardner.
Storied crime author Lisa Gardner writes award-winning novels that are addictive. Thankfully for us, there are more than 30 of them, with some 22 million copies in print. That’s more copies than the entire population of New England, where she and her family live.
(9) TAKE COVER. Regarding the #CopyPasteCris plagiarism scandal, Nora Roberts is one of the authors whose work was appropriated, and as Kristine Kathryn Rusch phrased it —
Nora’s particularly outspoken about what she has gone through, and I have to admit, I snorted tea when I read this comment from Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:
When I saw “Nora Roberts” [on this list] my first thought was, “Everybody, get underground NOW.”
Today Roberts posted her appropriately furious response: “Plagiarism Then and Now”.
…I personally don’t believe fiction writers should use ghosts. Celebrity auto-biographies and such, that’s the job. If a fiction writer uses a ghost to help flesh out a book, or hires a book doctor to whip a book into shape, I strongly believe that person should be acknowledged–on the book.
The reader deserves honesty. The reader’s entitled to know she’s buying the author’s–the one whose name’s on the book–work, not somebody that writer hired for speed or convenience. And I’ll state here as I have before. If a book has my name on it, I wrote it. Every word of it.
I do not, never have, never will comprehend how someone can feel any pride claiming a book they didn’t write.
…A creature like Serruyo can have a decent run, make some money–make some best-seller lists–before she (or he, or they, who knows?) is found out. And the pain, the scars, the emotional turmoil this causes to the victims of plagiarism never ends.
Serruyo won’t be the only one using that underbelly, exploiting the lack of real guardrails on Amazon and other sites for a few bucks.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this, all of this. I’m not nearly done. Because the culture that fosters this ugly behavior has to be pulled out into the light and burned to cinders. Then we’re going to salt the freaking earth….
(10) IT’S OFFICIAL. I learned today that Iowa declared November 2018 to be Speculative Poetry Month. Impressive!
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
(13) LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS. In her monthly column for The Paris Review, YA of Yore, Frankie Thomas takes a second look at the books that defined a generation.
For children’s books in particular it was an era of quantity over quality, an unremitting glut. In those pre–Harry Potter days, a typical “series” meant hundreds of books churned out on a monthly basis by teams of frantic ghostwriters. You could order them by the pound. Often they came with a free bracelet or trinket, as if resorting to bribery. There were 181 Sweet Valley High books, 233 Goosebumps books, and so many Baby-Sitters Club books that their publisher, Scholastic, has never made the full number public (by my count it was at least 345 if you include all the spin-offs)—and they were all, to a certain degree, disposable crap.
But then there was Animorphs….
The fifth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was published in the summer of 2003, by which point Harry was fifteen and those of us growing up along with him had discovered sex. The Harry Potter years also happened to coincide with the Wild West era of the internet and the rise of abstinence-only sex education; as a result, for better or for worse, erotic Harry Potter fan fiction played a major and under-discussed role in millennial sexual development. This was especially true if you were queer—or, not to put too fine a point on it, if you were me—and had picked up on the secret gay love story that existed between the lines of Rowling’s text.
I refer, of course, to Sirius and Lupin….
(14) THEY’RE MADE OF MEAT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A team from Sweden’s Lund University is searching for the elusive Borkborkborkino particle, which would be proof that the Chef field exists. Or at least I guess that’s what they were doing at this year’s “Stupid Hackathon Sweden” event. Gizmodo has the story: “Particle Physicists Build a Meatball Collider.”
A team of particle physicists wanted “to unveil the deepest secrets of the Universe—and of Swedish cuisine.” So, naturally, they built a Swedish meatball collider.
The MEAL, or MEatball AcceLerator collaboration, could answer important questions such as why we’re made of meatballs, rather than anti-meatballs, or whether we can create dark meatballs. The proof-of-concept experiment was a success.
[…] they’ve got lofty goals for their next steps, according to the project’s slides: “Get funding for a meatball—anti-meatball collider that has the circumference of the solar system and meatballs the size of the Earth.”
(15) VIRGIN TEST. “Virgin test flight blasts to edge of space” — Reuters has video coverage.
A Virgin Galactic rocket plane on Friday soared to the edge of space with a test passenger successfully for the first time, nudging British billionaire Richard Branson’s company closer to its goal of suborbital flights for space tourists.
(16) ONLY THE BEGINNING.It will take two months to land, but it’s on its way: “Israel Launches Spacecraft To The Moon” – NPR has the story. (See also, BBC: “Israel’s Beresheet Moon mission gets under way”.)
An Israeli spacecraft blasted off this evening, aiming to land on the moon. And if the mission is successful, it would make Israel the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface – after the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China.
It would also be the first privately initiated project to do so, although it was assisted by government partners, as Nature notes. “The feat seems set to kick off a new era of lunar exploration – one in which national space agencies work alongside private industries to investigate and exploit the moon and its resources,” Nature added.
The spacecraft, which is called Beresheet (Hebrew for “in the beginning”), was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
It was initially conceived as part of Google’s challenge called the Google Lunar XPRIZE for a private company to complete a soft landing on the moon. The Israeli non-profit SpaceIL was one of five international teams in the running for the $20 million grand prize; Google announced last year that the contest would end with no winner because no team was prepared to launch by the deadline. Still, the Israeli engineers at SpaceIL continued to work toward landing a spacecraft on the moon.
(17) A SCALZI CONSPIRACY FONDLY REMEMBERED. John Scalzi’s classic prank showed up in the background of a recent Big Bang Theory episode.
Mayim Bialik photographed the items in Wil Wheaton’s TV set apartment on Big Bang Theory and got him to explain their significance.
Wil and I both grew up on camera, and we also are geeky nerds who share a passion for discussing our mental illness struggles publicly. We are very similar, and it’s so refreshing to work with him.
The set that was used as his living room was really special because it contained actual items from Wil’s real life house. I was so delighted to see artwork, fan art, and memorabilia from his life—and I was so delighted that I photographed all of it and asked him to describe each item.
Wil Wheaton received the painting in 2008 and when it was finally revealed to him who had sent it, he wrote about the experience in “evil and awesome (but mostly awesome)”.
Without knowing that I needed a reminder not to take this stuff so seriously, without knowing – in April, when the wheels were set into motion – that around the beginning of August I’d be feeling pretty lousy about getting cut from the show I look forward to attending every year, John did what good friends do: pick you up when you’re down, and provide reality checks when you need them the most.
(18) UNFORGETTABLE. Nerds of a Feather features “6 Books with Simon Ings”:
5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?
John Christopher got under my skin as a child and has never let me go. Kids’ books like The Prince in Waiting fed me those nostalgic and valedictory notes you need if you’re going to write into the British fantasy tradition. Much, much later I discovered the man had teeth: Death of Grass is a sort of John-Wyndham-without-the-apology tale about how personal virtue actually works in a disintegrating culture. Kindness is not a virtue. It is a sentiment. There, I’ve said it. But JC said it first.
(19) OSCAR-WORTHY FX. Here are three BBC posts with behind-the-scenes info about movie special effects.
The film Solo: A Star Wars Story has been Oscar nominated in the best visual effects category.
Visual effects supervisor Julian Foddy of ILM London spoke to Al Moloney about some of the challenges the company faced in helping to make the film.
The film Christopher Robin has been Oscar nominated in the best visual effects category.
Visual effects supervisor Chris Lawrence spoke to Al Moloney about some of the challenges the company faced in helping to make the film.
Robert Rodriguez’s latest stint as director is on the sci-fi blockbuster Alita: Battle Angel.
The film was written and produced by James Cameron, who originally planned to direct it.
Rodriguez says he made the movie for half the price Cameron would have, but with a reported budget of $200m (£154m), it still cost considerably more than your average indie-flick.
BBC Click’s Marc Cieslak speaks to the director and cast of the film, to find out more.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Jason, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) BACK TO BACK. The Hollywood Reporter asked, the fans answered: “Which Movie Franchise Should Return? ‘Back to the Future’ Tops New Poll”. They don’t care that director Robert Zemeckis declared three years ago that he would try to block a reboot of the franchise, “even after his death.”
Of the 2,201 adults surveyed between Nov. 8 and 11, 71 percent said that they’d be likely to watch another outing for Marty McFly and Doc Brown ahead of other franchises like Pixar’s Toy Story (69 percent), Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones (68 percent) and Universal’s Jurassic Park (67 percent).
Back to the Future also polled well when it came to the question of which franchise has been most closely followed by the public. Fifty-four percent of those polled reported having watched the entirety of the series, compared with just 36 percent for the ever-growing Star Wars series. As with the earlier question, both Toy Story and Indiana Jones performed well, with 47 percent of those responding having followed each series faithfully.
(2) FIREFLY. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak tells Firefly fans where to find more of the good stuff: “Big Damn Hero is a familiar trip back to Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe”.
In December 2002, Fox gave the ax to a little-known science fiction show from Joss Whedon called Firefly. The series gained a cult status when it hit DVD the following year, and its story continued in the 2005 film Serenity and a handful of comic books — but a planned massively multiplayer game based on the series never materialized, and Firefly has been weirdly left out of the recent surge of rebooted TV shows. Now, for fans who have been missing the franchise, there’s a new glimmer of hope — or at least an opportunity to revisit the ‘Verse, with James Lovegrove and Nancy Holder’s new novel Big Damn Hero.
Big Damn Hero is the first of three novels being published by Titan Books in the coming months, under the guidance of Whedon, who serves as a “consulting editor.” Like Firefly, the book follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, led by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a veteran of a failed rebellion against the authoritarian Alliance government. The result is a new bona fide adventure in the story — one that could be an extended episode from the series, but which also fleshes out the characters and world just a bit more.
(3) WOKE ON A COLD HILL SIDE IN GALLIFREY. The Daily Mail (of course!) is all over this story: “Exterminate! Fans’ backlash over Doctor Who’s latest transformation- into TV’s most PC show”
One fan wrote: ‘There should be a clever story line, not a rehash of history. There’s also an underlying feeling the focus has been forcing inclusiveness by having such obviously diverse characters.’
Another said: ‘Please keep the PC stuff for documentaries and serious drama and let the Doctor help us escape to a fantasy world.’
Has Doctor Who become too politically correct?
— Jeremy Vine On 5 (@JeremyVineOn5) November 8, 2018
(4) SAYS WHO? Stylist tells how “Jodie Whittaker brilliantly hits back at all those saying Doctor Who is “too PC””.
Now, Whittaker – who’s the first ever female Doctor – has addressed the backlash.
“What’s the point of making a show if it doesn’t reflect society today?,” Whittaker said while switching on the Christmas lights at London’s Regent Street on Monday 19 November. “We have the opportunity with this show like no other to dip to future, to past, to present, to new worlds and time zones. There is never going to be a drought in the stories you can tell.”
Whittaker continued: “It’s always topical. Chris is a very present-minded person who is very aware of the world he lives in and is passionate about storytelling. It would be wrong of him to not have used the past. He does it in a really beautiful way.”
(5) BOMBS AWAY. Those of you who don’t think Robin Hood is sff can skip this review, and those who do may want to skip this movie after reading what The Hollywood Reporter says about it in “‘Robin Hood’: Film Review”.
Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn lead the cast in the latest big-screen iteration of the classic adventure story.
Guy Ritchie’s idiotic, leathered-up, fancy-weaponed take on King Arthur worked out so wonderfully for all involved last year ($149 million worldwide box office on a $175 million budget) that someone still evidently thought it would be a good idea to apply the same preposterous modernized armaments, trendy wardrobe and machine-gun style to perennial screen favorite Robin Hood.
Well, it’s turned out even worse than anyone could have imagined in this all-time big-screen low for Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck, Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, not to mention for Jamie Foxx as an angry man from the Middle East who’s gotten mixed up on the wrong side of a Crusade, or maybe just in the wrong movie. Leonardo DiCaprio can rest easy in the knowledge that this fiasco will come and go so quickly that few will remember that it even existed, much less that he produced it. In a just world, everyone involved in this mess would be required to perform some sort of public penance.
(6) RESOURCES FOR AN IRISH WORLDCON. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari turns the site’s attention to Retro-Hugo-eligible zines and classic Irish fanwriting.
Retro Hugos: We have a guide to 1943 fannish publications online for your Retro Hugo nominating pleasure. We’re not done adding links to it, so there’ll be even more to read. The guide shows all the 1943 fanzines, including the ones we don’t have, and will let you know what’s eligible for best fanzine. Even if a fanzine had too few issues to be eligible, it can give insight for nominations in the Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist categories. In addition to FANAC.org hosted zines, there are links to materials on efanzines and the University of Iowa’s Rusty Hevelin collection. The printed fanzines are rare, not readily available, and physically frail, so we’re especially glad we can make them available to you online.
The Irish Project: As part of our effort to promote our fannish history, FANAC makes a priority of adding material that is pertinent to current fan events (like our push to make fan source material available for the Retro Hugo Awards). With the very first Irish Worldcon scheduled for 2019, we are making available classic Irish fan publications from such luminaries as Walt Willis, Bob Shaw, James White, and the Englishmen often identified with Irish Fandom (IF), John Berry, Chuck Harris, Arthur Thomson (Atom), etc.
The Wheels of IF had extensive interaction and influence in fandom, and so we are including English and American zines where that influence was often seen. There are publications included by Lee Hoffman (Quandry), Shelby Vick (Confusion), Vin¢ Clarke, Ken Bulmer (Steam), and others.
We have fanzines, apazines, trip reports and fabulous one-shots (like John Berry’s “This Goon For Hire”). Publication dates range from the 50s to the 90s, with more current pieces coming. Our
Wheels of IF directory (http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Irish_Fandom/) now has nearly 200 zines available with dozens more in the pipeline.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
(9) BOOK TWO. Camestros Felapton does a “Proper Review of the Consuming Fire”.
…There’s a lot of talking and plotting and counter-plotting that is important because this is supposed to be a world of plotting and counter-plotting. However, it feels inconsequential even at the time. Of course it is MEANT to be futile in the face of a systemic collapse of the hyperspace routes that hold the Empire together. Meanwhile, the story is plotting a new course and warming up its engines….
(10) IMPERIAL WALKER TOLD TO TAKE A HIKE. Some people just have no sensawunda. Officials in Devon have ordered a 14 foot replica of a Star Wars All-Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) be taken away from its spot near the A38 (Hollywood Reporter: “Officials Order Englishman to Remove ‘Star Wars’ AT-ST Replica”).
The 14-foot homage will no longer be on display. […]
A Star Wars fan living in the southeast county of Devon, England, has been ordered by the local government to remove a 14-foot-tall AT-ST replica that he hoped would bring attention to his town.
The monstrous attack vehicle, which sits near a road, was initially built by Dean Harvey for his children.
“The reason why I built it was a den for my daughters,” he told the BBC. “It’s all made of out [steel] and weighs about two-and-a-half tons.”
After his kids outgrew the AT-ST, he gave it to a man named Paul Parker, who is now being ordered to get rid of it.
(11) SPACE HAWAIIAN STYLE. The side of Mauna Loa have been the home, these past few years, of a Mars habitat simulation. Now, after a major glitch in the sim, it’s being repurposed as a Moon habitat simulation. (The Atlantic: “Hawaii’s Mars Simulations Are Turning Into Moon Missions”)
For the last five years, a small Mars colony thrived in Hawaii, many miles away from civilization.
The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, was carried out in a small white dome nestled along the slope of a massive volcano called Mauna Loa. The habitat usually housed six people at a time, for as long as eight months. […]
In February of this year, something went wrong. The latest and sixth mission was just four days in when one of the crew members was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, an Atlantic investigation revealed in June. There had been a power outage in the habitat, and some troubleshooting ended with one of the residents sustaining an electric shock. The rest of the crew was evacuated, too. There was some discussion of returning—the injured person was treated and released in the same day—but another crew member felt the conditions weren’t safe enough and decided to withdraw. The Mars simulation couldn’t continue with a crew as small as three, and the entire program was put on hold.
But the habitat on Mauna Loa was not abandoned. While officials at the University of Hawaii and NASA investigated the incident, the wealthy Dutch entrepreneur [Henk Rogers] who built the habitat was thinking about how the dome could be put to use.
[…] Under Rogers’s direction and funding, the HI-SEAS habitat will reopen this year—not as a Mars simulation, but a moon one.
(12) STAYIN’ ALIVE. “Elon Musk renames his BFR spacecraft Starship” Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
Elon Musk has changed the name of his forthcoming passenger spaceship from Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) to Starship.
The entrepreneur would not reveal why he had renamed the craft, which has not yet been built, but added its rocket booster will be called Super Heavy.
In September, Mr Musk’s SpaceX company announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had signed up to be the first passenger to travel on the ship.
The mission is planned for 2023 if the spaceship is built by that time.
It is the craft’s fourth name – it started out as Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) and then became Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) before becoming BFR.
(13) SHARPER IMAGE. Japan is on the cutting edge of space technology: “A samurai swordsmith is designing a space probe”.
If you wanted to slice stuff up in space, what would you bring with you? ‘Samurai’ swords, which have been made in Japan for centuries, might be on your list because the tempered steel used in them is notoriously tough. There are plenty of videos online showing these Japanese swords, also called ‘katana’, cutting up everything from thick boards of wood to metal pipes.
Now, a trio of engineers have teamed up with a master Japanese swordsmith to design a rock-sampling device made with the same steel used in these blades – and the plan is to use it on an asteroid.
Japan’s Hayabusa missions have so far sent spacecraft, rovers and sampling tools to a one kilometre-wide asteroid called Ryugu, which orbits the sun between Earth and Mars. Hayabusa2’s rovers recently sent back stunning images of the asteroid’s black, rocky surface. But bringing fragments of Ryugu back to Earth is an enormously tricky task, which is why novel ideas are being suggested for how to do it
(14) SAY WHAT? Brenton Dickieson tells what a shock it is to go a lifetime assuming a word you’ve only seen in print would be pronounced a certain way – and then someone actually says it out loud another way… “C.S. Lewis’ ‘Dymer’… or is it Deemer? (or Can Someone from the Buffyverse be Wrong?)” (He has a lot more to say about the poem, of course.)
After five years of avoiding the book, I decided to reread Alister McGrath’s biography of Lewis. I am listening to it as an audiobook this time, and Robin Sachs pronounces Dymer as “Deemer.” It has shattered my vision of the entire piece. All along, I have been pronouncing Dymer as “Daimer,” so that “Dym” rhymes with “rhyme.” McGrath’s bio of Lewis is one of the last things that Sachs read in a long career of acting. Who am I to question someone who studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art? More than anything, Robin Sachs had a recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Clearly, I must be wrong. After all, Robin Sachs is British. How could he be wrong?
(15) DOOMED TO GO BOOM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new article in Nature (caution, paywall: “Anisotropic winds in a Wolf–Rayet binary identify a potential gamma-ray burst progenitor”) about a pinwheel-shaped star system that may go boom in a big way has received a good bit of notice in the press. (CNN: “First-known ‘pinwheel’ star system is beautiful, dangerous and doomed”; Popular Mechanics: “Two Young Stars On a Death Spiral Are Acting Very Strangely”)
The close binary star system has the stars in a death spiral of sorts creating an image that in the infrared looks startlingly like a child’s toy pinwheel. This one, though, would be no fun at all to any being close enough to really experience it. The PM story explains:
The stars, located about 7,800 light years away, are in what’s called a Wolf-Rayet stage. That’s when massive stars begin to shed their hydrogen, burning certain elements in their atmosphere like carbon and nitrogen. A sort of nebula that forms around the stars makes them easy to spot.
But something peculiar is happening here: These two Wolf-Rayet stars are causing the nebula to move a bit like a pinwheel in interactions that are also producing gamma ray bursts—high energy events usually generated by massive objects like black holes. By finding a source of the particular kinds of gamma ray bursts produced in these stars, astronomers have a laboratory right in our backyard to test long duration gamma ray bursts.
The system was named Apep after the Egyptian deity of chaos, often depicted as a snake. One of the co-author of the study, Dr. Peter Tuthill (University of Sydney), is quoted in the CNN article as saying, “The curved tail is formed by the orbiting binary stars at the center, which inject dust into the expanding wind creating a pattern like a rotating lawn sprinkler. Because the wind expands so much, it inflates the tiny coils of dust revealing the physics of the stars at the heart of the system.” Another co-author, Benjamin Pope (New York University), was quoted as saying, “The only way we get such a system to work is if the Wolf-Rayet star is spewing out gas at several speeds. One way for such different winds to happen is via critical rotation. One of the stars in Apep is rotating so fast that it is nearly ripping itself apart. On its equator, the rotational forces make the gas basically weightless, so it slowly floats off the equator.”
(16) SERIES INTERRUPTUS. The following tweet struck me as a poorly constructed defense.
I know so many authors who bust out work after work, series after series. What they do is remarkable. So it frustrates me when they get less attention for what they've done, than these men get for what they haven't
— Pablo Naruto (@NotLikeFreddy) November 20, 2018
The cultural impact of George R.R. Martin’s series is huge. Of course its fans are invested in seeing it finished. “Entitlement” doesn’t enter into it. And despite being kindly intended, Naruto’s idea that attention should instead be paid to authors who do finish their series is identical to the logic Dave Freer and Richard Paolinelli used when they attacked Martin to gain attention for themselves.
Anyway, we all know Martin is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, as he has done in several recent interviews to publicize his new Westeros history book Fire and Blood. Here’s what he told Entertainment Weekly —
Before we go, here’s a standard question I missed asking you at the start: What excites you most about Fire and Blood?
The book is a lot of fun. The people who are open to reading an imaginary history and not a novel — which I realize is not everybody — have enjoyed it so far. But honestly, the single thing that excites me most is that I finished it. I know there are a lot of people out there who are very angry with me that Winds of Winter isn’t finished. And I’m mad about that myself. I wished I finished it four years ago. I wished it was finished now. But it’s not. And I’ve had dark nights of the soul where I’ve pounded my head against the keyboard and said, “God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and I’m falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? I’ve got to do this.” I just got the [Fire and Blood] copy and, holding it in my hand, it’s a beautiful book. The illustrations by Doug Wheatley are great. It’s been a long while since I had a new Westeros book and nobody knows that as well as I do. I know that just as much as the angriest of my hardcore fans. And I have continued to publish other things. It’s not like I’ve been on a seven-year vacation. I have Wild Cards books coming out every six months. But not like this, one that’s entirely my writing. So to finish a book that I’m proud of and excited by was emotionally a big lift for me.
And an hour-long video “In Conversation: George R. R. Martin with John Hodgman” was posted today on YouTube.
George R. R. Martin talks with John Hodgman about his new book FIRE & BLOOD, the first volume in a two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Filmed at the Loews Theater in Jersey City, NJ.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day the fantabulous Andrew.]
By Joe Siclari: What does 1,000 years of fandom look like? At Worldcon 76, FANAC.org tried to find out. The pictorial project, started by Mark Olson, captures photos of fans new and old, each holding a sign with their years of fannish activity. Two photos exceeded 1,000 years (one of which was the Worldcon Chairs photo). In all, the project collected 6,707 years of fandom. Photos from the “1000 Years of Fandom” project are available on FANAC.org.
Those who missed the start of the “1000 Years” can participate by sending us a photo of themselves and their friends holding a card with the number of years they have been in fandom. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FANAC’s Fan History Project is dedicated to preserving and making available scans of original photos and publications from 1930 to the present, with a YouTube channel showcasing audio and video. The Fancyclopedia 3 website provides context and a Wikipedia like approach to fan history.
Fan History Project links:
(1) MODEL RAILROADING. A hobbyist told readers of the ModelTrainForum this layout accessory will be available this fall from Menard’s Model Train Company —
(2) ALIEN RETURNS? Website Omega Underground is reporting on a rumor that a series set in the Alien universe may be on its way to a cable network or streaming service. The story notes that the franchise will celebrate it’s 40th anniversary in 2019. Article writer Christopher Marc claims to have multiple sources for at least parts of a rumor that a TV series may be in the offing to mark that occasion.
With the Alien films possibly in limbo could there be other platforms for stories outside of video games and comics?
Well, take the following as a rumor.
Back in April, a reliable source revealed to us that a series set within the “Alien universe” was being considered behind the scenes. I was able to reaffirm the rumbling with another source located in another country that was able to support some of the basic info.
What they couldn’t connect on is where it could land be it FX or a streaming platform, Hulu and Netflix were ruled out at the time.
I didn’t think much of the series rumor at the time as I had assumed it would be a big announcement for Alien Day [26 April] and would just wait, which obviously didn’t happen.
However, the rumbling resurfaced yesterday [2 July] and that something could be announced “soon”. If they plan on announcing their intentions or are aiming to release it next year to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Alien franchise remains to be seen.
(3) SMALL WORLD. NPR’s Bob Mondello looks at Ant Man and the Wasp — audio with soundbites, and transcription.
MONDELLO: Super-confidence – not his strong suit. But give him a good enough reason, and he’ll shrink to the occasion. What gets him going this time is multiple bad guys or gals and a mission to head for the Quantum Realm, which is subatomic. And, well, there’s a lot of plot virtually unspoilable because it makes so little sense. So why don’t we let Ant-Man’s pal Luis handle it?
(4) EPIC OF THE LUCAS MUSEUM. Paul Goldberger tells Vanity Fair readers how the twice-spurned project landed in L.A. — “George Lucas Strikes Back: Inside the Fight to Build the Lucas Museum”.
There are a number of reasons why movie directors do not generally go around establishing museums. It is not only because most of them do not own enough artworks to put into them or have enough money to start new careers as philanthropists. If you direct movies for a living, you are accustomed to controlling just about everything that comes across your field of vision. But if you decide to build a museum, you can control very little, as George Lucas—who has plenty of art, and plenty of money—has discovered over the past several years. His quest to donate more than a billion dollars’ worth of art and architecture in the form of a brand-new public museum containing the bulk of his collection of paintings, drawings, and film memorabilia was turned down in San Francisco, driven away by opponents in Chicago, proposed again for a different location in San Francisco, and finally, last year, approved for a site in Los Angeles.
The project, which is now officially named the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art but, given its history, might just as well be called the Flying Dutchman, will take the form of a dramatic, swooping, cloud-like structure designed by the Chinese architect Ma Yansong, in Exposition Park, adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
What Lucas is now building—ground was broken on March 14, and there is already an excavation so large that it looks like a massive earthwork if you view it from an airliner approaching Los Angeles International Airport—could not be more different from where he started out. The museum’s original incarnation, proposed for waterfront land within the Presidio national park, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, was a grandiose, heavy-handed Beaux-Arts building that Lucas, who prides himself on his love of both art and architecture, insisted was the only thing appropriate for that site. That first version was called the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, a title as awkward semantically as the building was architecturally. Its unveiling, in 2013, marked the beginning of a multi-year saga that would come to have nearly as many dramatic clashes as you’ll encounter in Lucas’s Star Wars, and almost none of the amiability of his American Graffiti.
No one back then had the slightest idea that the proposed museum would provoke a major backlash in not one but two American cities, or that it would finally come to rest in Los Angeles, a location that carries no small degree of irony, since it is a city that Lucas built much of his identity as a filmmaker on spurning. Although he studied film at the University of Southern California and has been a major supporter of its film school, he has lived and worked in Northern California for most of his life, and for years he made something of a fetish of avoiding Los Angeles as much as possible. Although Lucas bought a $33.9 million estate in Bel Air last year, which will allow him to be close to the museum as it rises, he still spends most of his time either in Marin County, north of San Francisco, or in Chicago, where his wife, Mellody Hobson, a Chicago native who is the president of a financial firm, Ariel Investments, is based. Chicago, of course, would become the second city to find itself the recipient of what Lucas felt to be his unrequited love.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
(6) TODAY’S OTHER BIRTHDAYS
(7) COMICS SECTION.
(8) PERSONAL SFF HISTORIES. Fanac.org has posted an interview recorded at Philcon 2017 — Samuel R. Delany & Tom Purdom on the Science Fiction community.
Chip Delany and Tom Purdom talk informally about their experiences in science fiction in this audio tape with images. You’ll hear some startling stories about the Nebulas, and about writers such as Judy Merril, Walter Miller, and Fred Pohl. Tom talks about his introduction to science fiction and fandom in the 50s, and the fannish equivalent of the internet. This is a low key, entertaining session, held in the Philcon con suite. It’s an interesting take on how different fandom is for these two authors. Note: there is some choppiness in the audio during the last 15 minutes. Introduction by Gene Olmstead, and questions by Joe Siclari.
(9) DOOMED. Ansonia smeago, named for resemblance to Gollum, is in deep trouble – the BBC has the story: “Lord of the Rings toad on brink of extinction”.
A toad named after the character Gollum in the fantasy novel Lord of the Rings has joined the latest list of animals deemed at risk of extinction.
The amphibian lives not in the Misty Mountains, but on a Malaysian mountain.
The toad got its name from Gollum, also known as Sméagol, in Tolkien’s trilogy because scientists saw similarities between the two….
(10) CLARKE. David Doering discovered Arthur C. Clarke prophesying about developments in tech in a letter of comment from the August 1941 issue of Voice of the Imagi-nation.
2 July: “Many thanks for the April and May VoM’s which arrived this morning. For the last couple of months I have been in London learning all about radio. This is the sort of work that suits me down to the ground so I am having a fine time with vector diagrams, resonant circuits, valve [tube] characteristics, and the intriguing complexities of A.C. theory. I am hoping that I shall be able to learn about radiolocation eventually – the dear old ‘detector screen’ of science fiction at last! Another scoop for sf, when you think about it.
I’m thinking that the rocket will be the next thing that will hit the war (in more ways than one!) as it is a well-known fact that the Italians have had a jet propelled plane flying for some time [the Caproni Campini N.1], and the Nazis have been using rockets to assist take-off of heavily loaded bombers. After that (or perhaps before) will be atomic power, I fear. Then the fat will be in the fire…..
Arthur “Ego” Clarke
(11) BETTER LATE. Hey, I’m liking this. From 2010, Robin Sloan’s “The Wrong Plane”.
…I showed up at the old gate, handed over my boarding pass—printed at home on an aging Epson inkjet that will no longer produce the color red—and the little scanner beeped in protest, but it was lost in the din of the boarding process, and I kept shuffling, half-asleep, and the gate agent kept shuffling, half-asleep, and everything just shuffled along.
Or maybe, through some strange printer error, my Epson smudged the bar-code in such a way as to produce an encoded string that passed muster. Maybe my boarding pass was defective and yet, presented at precisely the right wrong gate, effective. I realize this explanation is totally implausible, but I found myself drawn to it—because of what I saw out the window.
First, the ocean. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was the ocean, and we weren’t supposed to be flying over the ocean.
Second, the sky. An electric globe, ramping from pink at the horizon to indigo high above us, speckled generously with white curlicues, little cloudlets shaped like commas and tildes. They were distributed evenly across my entire field of vision. Not an impossible sky, but an extraordinary sky.
Third, the plane. I was sitting on the wing. It curved away from the fuselage like a giant sickle, and it had a mirror finish like a blade, too, reflecting the pink and blue of the sky. Its length was physics-defying (and I know wing physics); it tapered to a sharp point that looked about a mile away. This was not the United shuttle….
(12) ONCE MORE INTO DINOSAUR KINGDOM II. In the Washington City Paper, Pablo Maurer profiles Dinosaur Kingdom II and reveals that one of Mark Cline’s inspirations for mashing together the Civil War and dinosaurs was Ray Harryhausen — “In Central Virginia, Dinosaurs Still Walk the Earth”.
…Cline’s latest creation is difficult to describe. Just up the highway from his studio, it’s part nature trail, part haunted house, part art gallery.
The story goes something like this: It’s 1864. The Union army is shelling Lexington, and one of their cannon rounds inadvertently disturbs some sleeping dinosaurs in the caverns below. The Yanks, determined to harness the power of their new ancient friends, weaponize them and turn them loose on Confederate troops. That plan, though, backfires. What ensues is a massacre of prehistoric proportions.
Also involved: a pterodactyl flying off with the Gettysburg Address, a re-incarnated Stonewall Jackson fitted with a mechanical arm, slime-colored creatures plucked straight from a low-budget horror flick. There is all of this, and more, at Dinosaur Kingdom II….
Cline says some of the inspiration for Dinosaur Kingdom II comes from the 1969 fantasy flick The Valley of the Gwangi, which tells the story of a wild-west stunt show that stumbles upon and corrals a herd of dinosaurs. He melded that inspiration together with a bit of history. “I started thinking—60 percent of the battles in the Civil War were fought in Virginia. And Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried right here around Lexington. So I blended the two ideas together. Like chocolate and peanut butter.”
(13) CAN’T LOOK AWAY. It’s not just the moon that’s made of this stuff… GeekTyrant invites you to “Watch The Fantastically Cheesy Trailer For Indie Sci-Fi Film ALIEN EXPEDITION”.
If you loved the indie film Turbo Kid, you’re absolutely going to love this. Alien Expedition takes the genre of intentional sci-fi camp and does it some real justice in its two-minute trailer. I for one am really hoping one of the streaming services snags this film up so I can watch it without having to do a lot of searching months from now. …Watch the film’s website for information on a potential release date….
(14) BLUE MOON, NOW I’M NO LONGER ALONE. [Scroll item compiled by Mike Kennedy.] Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space flight company has announced a program named Blue Moon [GeekWire link] [Business Insider link] to land a spaceship on the Moon no later than 2023. Speaking for Blue Origin, business development director A.C. Charania said the program is “our first step to developing a lunar landing capability for the country, for other customers internationally, to be able to land multi metric tons on the lunar surface.” He continued, “Any permanent human presence on the lunar surface will require such a capability.” He also said, “Blue Moon is on our roadmap, and because of our scale, because of what we see from the government, we brought it a little bit forward in time. I think we are very excited to now implement this long-term commercial solution with NASA partnership.”
This is only one of Blue Origin’s ongoing goals, albeit the most recently announced. They’ve already missed an earlier goal to have human suborbital test fights by 2017 something that’s now hoped before the end of 2018. Tickets for paying sub-orbital passengers may be available in 2019. Meanwhile, they’re developing a new rocket engine (the BE-4) to be used for an geostationary-orbital-class rocket, the New Glenn. Some launches for the New Glenn are already booked for the early 2020’s.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. WernAcular on Vimeo answers this question: wouldn’t your film sound MUCH classier if Werner Herzog narrated it? Well, with WernAcular, everyone can be Werner Herzog!
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, David Doering, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joel Zakem.]
By Joe Siclari: As a major site for preserving and providing free access to our science fiction fan history, FANAC.org is supporting the Retro-Hugo Fan Awards Programs of Worldcon 76 in San Jose and Dublin 2019.
We are putting online facsimiles of fanzines from 1942 (eligible for Worldcon 76) and from 1943 (eligible for 2019) to enable more fans to knowledgeably nominate and vote on the Fan Retro Hugo awards. FANAC.org currently has over 120 individual issues from 1942 online with more being scanned every week.
You can easily navigate to these zines by clicking on http://fanac.org/fanzines/Retro_Hugos.html As more zines are scanned and put online, the page will be expanded with the new links, so it will remain current.
We don’t have every issue of every fanzine published in 1942/43. If readers and collectors have 1942 or 1943 fan material which they would be willing to scan to help in this effort, please write to me at email@example.com. Our goal is to get as much up before nominations close as possible.
For all kinds of fanhistorical material visit our websites: