[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
(2) WITCHER THOUGHTS. Walter Jon Williams suspects if you cared you’ve already watched the series, thus the heading — “Reviews Too Late: Witcher”.
…Anyway, the Netflix series is based on a series of stories and novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, who I believe I met twenty years ago and found quite genial. I haven’t read any of his books, though I’ve played Witcher III: The Wild Hunt, which I recommend to any of you interested in action-oriented console RPGs.
The Witcher in The Witcher is Geralt of Rivia, who despite having long white hair, weird eyes, magical powers, “White Wolf” as a nickname, and a sword is not Elric of Melniboné, mainly because Geralt is actually useful in his world, and all Elric does is bring doom to everybody.
(3) HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY. Bill Murray is stuck in the loop
So is one of his good pals –
(4) ANOTHER SUPER AD. This cracked me up, too. Amazon’s “What
did we do before Alexa?”
“Would I love to reunite with some of those characters? Sure, I think that’d be great,” she says. “I don’t necessarily need to do a Voyager show again. I think that I’ve done that. But I’m not a writer. I can’t really tell you anything.
“I’m having a great time on Picard. It’s a very happy set. It’s a very relaxed set, which has been great. I didn’t have a phenomenal overall experience shooting Voyager. I don’t look back on that as a super fun four years for me, unfortunately, so to be revisiting this character in a more pleasant work experience is great.”
(7) HEAR A NOVEL OF THE YEAR. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting The Second Sleep as this
week’s book of bedtime (though the rate they are going through the book it will
last two weeks).
It is set in what at first appears to be in post-Tudor times but
soon (first couple of chapters) reveals itself to be in a future England
centuries hence following the fall of mankind.
Father Fairfax, a newly ordained priest has been sent by the Bishop of Exeter to the village of Addicott St George to bury Father Lacy who has recently died. But a mysterious figure appears at the funeral casting doubt on the accidental nature of the priest’s death.Fairfax soon discovers that Lacy had an unhealthy (sacraligious) interest in artefacts from before the fall. One of these was a communication device bearing the emblem of humanity’s sinful ways: an apple with a bite taken out of it…
MINIONS. But wait, there’s more! The full trailer for Minions: The Rise
of Gru, will debut worldwide on February 5, 2020.
This summer, from the biggest animated franchise in history and global cultural phenomenon, comes the untold story of one 12-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain, in Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Also known as “British Yorkshire Pudding
Day.” Note, the article includes a recipe.
Depending on who you ask, where you search, or how you
feel about it, Yorkshire Pudding and popovers either are or aren’t the same thing,
although they’re clearly related. Here’s some of those opinions (and more
Born February 2, 1882 — James Joyce. I’m including him on the Birthday list as ISFDB has a handful of his short stories and an excerpt from Ulysses listed as genre: “The Sisters”, “Everlasting Fire“, “Hell Fire”, “May Goulding”, “The Hero of Michan”, (an excerpt from Ulysses), “What Is a Ghost” and “The Cat and the Devil”. So who’s read these? (Died 1941.)
Born February 2, 1905 — Ayn Rand. Best known for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which is ISFDB lists as genre. Her works have made into films many times starting with The Night of January 16th based on a play by her in the early Forties to an animated series based off her Anthem novel. No, I really don’t care who John Galt is. (Died 1982.)
Born February 2, 1933 — Tony Jay. Oh, I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavors include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in ”Brisco for the Defense” (Died 2006.)
Born February 2, 1940 — Thomas M. Disch. Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.)
Born February 2, 1944 — Geoffrey Hughes. He played Popplewick aka The Valeyard in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”. Intriguingly he was also was the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine. (Died 2012.)
Born February 2, 1947 — Farrah Fawcett. She has a reasonably good SFF resume and she‘s been in Logan’s Run as Holly 13, and Saturn 3 as Alex. (Does anyone like that film?) She was also Mary Ann Pringle in Myra Breckinridge which might I suppose be considered at least genre adjacent. Or not. Series wise, she shows up on I Dream of Jeanie as Cindy Tina, has three different roles on The Six Million Man, and was Miss Preem Lila on two episodes of The Flying Nun. (Died 2009.)
Born February 2, 1949 — Jack McGee, 71. Ok, so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest to name some of his genre roles.
Born February 2, 1949 — Brent Spiner, 71. Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite movements of him as Data as I may or may appear on Picard. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen yet. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, Gargoyles, Young Justice, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Warehouse 13.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio turns Groundhog Day into a moment of terror. (In a totally different way than Bill Murray does it.)
(12) WIGGING OUT. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Today would have been Tom Disch’s 80th
birthday. Perhaps you’d enjoy these photos of him trying on wigs for GQ
John Carpenter‘s The Thing is, undoubtedly, a horror classic. If if you’ve never actually seen it—and shame on you if you haven’t, hypothetical person—you know at least one of the practical nightmares conjured up by the master. (The chest chomp? Come on.) But it turns out neither The Thing nor its 1951 predecessor The Thing From Another World were technically the full vision of author John W. Campbell Jr., who wrote the novella both films were based on, Who Goes There? That full vision would, in fact, be Frozen Hell, the novel-length version of Who Goes There? that was only unearthed in 2018, and Universal and Blumhoise reportedly plan to adapt into a feature film.
When you think of the Sundance Film Festival, it’s
usually associated with indie dramedies, coming-of-age stories, or intense or
quirky documentaries, but it’s also a showcase for insane horror madness and
unique sci-fi. Here’s the slate of genre pictures from this year – keep an eye
out for them sooner (or in some cases, later).
Films covered include:
PALM SPRINGS (Andy Samberg,
Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons)
DAYS (Winston Duke, Zazie
Beetz, Tony Hale, and Bill Skarsgård)
In a recent remake of a 2008 NASA video, planetary scientist James O’Donoghue shows what it would look like if all that water drained away, revealing the hidden three-fifths of Earth’s surface
And the YouTube introduction gives these details:
Three fifths of the Earth’s surface is under the ocean, and the ocean floor is as rich in detail as the land surface with which we are familiar. This animation simulates a drop in sea level that gradually reveals this detail. As the sea level drops, the continental shelves appear immediately. They are mostly visible by a depth of 140 meters, except for the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where the shelves are deeper. The mid-ocean ridges start to appear at a depth of 2000 to 3000 meters. By 6000 meters, most of the ocean is drained except for the deep ocean trenches, the deepest of which is the Marianas Trench at a depth of 10,911 meters.
(17) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. First, there’s Frozen 2
with alleged deleted scenes:
Then, “Society Debut,” where Bigfoot shows up at a snooty British party in 1918.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Scott
Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and
John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Steve Leavell.]
(1) POKER. Terri Ash and Ariela
Housman of Geek Calligraphy say they will put out an online fanzine at
the end of the year “to provide a publication venue for fan art that is
otherwise excluded from the Fan Artist Hugo award eligibility criteria”: “Announcing
the Launch of The Very Official Dead Dog Art Zine”
Well, we’re putting our money where our mouths are. It’s important to us that there be as much access to Hugo Award eligibility as possible. That means both fixing the constitution (the root problem) and also providing an outlet for people while the amendment is ratified.
The only submission criteria for the Very Official Dead Dog Art Zine is that you follow our submission template. That’s it. The entire point of this zine is that everyone’s art is worthy of inclusion. There is no jury, no one will tell you that your art isn’t good enough. You made it. That’s enough for us.
In 2019 the Hugo Committee ruled that, for the purposes of the Best Fan Artist category, art that has only been displayed online does not meet the requirements of this definition.
However! Fanzines that only exist online still count. (Don’t think too hard about this logic, it goes nowhere.) By publishing this zine at the very end of the year, we are offering a last rules-compliant venue for potential fan artists to display work they finished too late to display anywhere else.
Dublin 2019 Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte declined to comment when I asked him whether the above statement is an accurate corollary to the ruling he gave them about what could be allowed in last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, i.e., that art from an online fanzine would have satisfied his interpretation of the rules.
(2) WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN? This week two different
writers have posted Hugo statistics showing the male/female ratio of nominees
over the course of the award’s history. The Fantasy Inn created a
animated graphic about the Best Novel category.
When I heard people were apparently upset about the gender balance of this year’s Hugo winners, I thought I could give the records a quick eyeball and fill the empty abyss of daily existence for a short time establish once and for all whether or not this year was particularly atypical. If there’s one thing known about human nature, it is that concrete numbers resolve all arguments.
questioned about the purpose of his post, James Davis Nicoll said, “Actually, I just like counting stuff. I don’t know why people
read agendas into a presentation of numerical data.”
For myself I’d say — I read all six novels on the Hugo ballot. There wasn’t one I thought didn’t belong. The field was surprisingly strong. And the book I expected to like the least (before I’d read any of them) is the one I ended up voting in first place. Does this ballot need to be defended?
(3) DINO ROCK. The third Jurassic World movie is scheduled
for a 2021 release. Meantime, Director
Colin Trevorrow is keeping up interest. He’s unveiling another short dinosaur
adventure September 15 on FX.
Time erodes. Time erodes author reputations. When new books stop appearing, old readers forget a once favorite author and new readers may never encounter writers who were once well known.
It’s fortunate that we live in something of a golden age of reprints, whether physical books or ebooks. This is also the golden age of finding long-out-of-print books via online used book services. Now authors perhaps unjustly forgotten can reach new readers. I’ve been reminded of a few such authors; let me share a few of them with you.
(5) A THEORY ABOUT SFF FANS. After rereading John W. Campbell Jr.’s The Moon is Hell! James Wallace Harris asked himself, “Why Read Outdated Science Fiction?” Bear in mind this answer comes from the fan who writes the Classics of Science Fiction blog.
…Reading “The Moon is Hell!” showed me I didn’t care about science. Nor did I care about Campbell’s growing bad reputation. The story is everything. That’s what it comes down to. I’m also in a Facebook group that’s discussing “In the Walls of Eryx” by H. P. Lovecraft, another outdated story about intelligent life on Venus by another shunned writer. Again, it’s the story stupid.
We don’t read for facts. We don’t care about literary standing or the author’s morality. Few readers compare the books in their collection to find the best one to read next. We select books on random whims. If the story grabs us we keep reading. Readers are simple creatures of habit. I could clear a shelf of my books without looking at the titles and it wouldn’t matter, because I’ve got plenty more to randomly grab.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. Playwright of A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony which is a genre version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Really, it is. Published in 1912, it was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921) and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates. It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924.)
Born September 11, 1928 — Earl Holliman, 91. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaption of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode.
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1934 — Ian Abercrombie. He played a most excellent and proper Alfred Pennyworth on Birds of Prey, a Professor Crumbs in Wizards of Waverly Place, was Wiseman in Army of Darkness and Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (Died 2012.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 67. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading. They won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2012.
Born September 11, 1960 — William Tienken. Mike has an obituary here. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 54. Winner of an astounding thirteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on iBooks and Kindle. Off to buy both now.
This is my Harlan Ellison story: I saw & met him in 1978 at the World Science Fiction Convention in Phoenix AZ over the Labor Day weekend. It was IguanaCon II, the 36th Worldcon, and Harlan was the Guest of Honor.
Harlan had boasted that he could write anywhere, any time — so the con organizers put up a clear plastic tent in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency, gave him a table, a chair, a manual typewriter, and a ream of paper… and there he sat, for much of three or four days, banging out a short story while fans went about their way. The result was “Count the Clock that Tells the Time”.
Forty years ago a landmark moment in Star Trek’s history arrived, in the form of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It’s an important chapter in the series’ survival, the turning point from canceled cult classic to enduring icon of science fiction. But there is a reason we remember The Motion Picture’s place in history more than we remember The Motion Picture: It’s boring as all hell.
As fans across America prepare to revisitTMP this month in celebratory screenings ahead of its actual 40th birthday this December, what they’re about to re-experience is a moment in history that is perhaps best remembered as such than for what it actually is. The Motion Picture’s existence is paradoxical. It’s both an important moment to be remembered, and a movie so cosmically overwrought and forgettable that to contemplate seeing it again in the dark environment of a movie theater once more is to challenge your eyelids to an existential test of endurance.
When Avenue Victor Hugo Books met the end of its nearly 30-year run on Boston’s Newbury Street, the building’s monthly rent had been raised from $12,000 to $25,000, and Diesel Jeans was slated to move in.
That was 2004. The redolent, woody fragrance of cedar and oak, emanating from millions of crusty pages in a dusty atmosphere — held dearly by those who valued the space as a literary haven — faded away.
Fifteen years later, the store is newly located in a bucolic red barn in Lee, beside a white farmhouse where owner Vincent McCaffrey now lives with his wife, Thais Coburn, and their daughter and son-in-law. After moving to Lee three years ago, McCaffrey and Colburn decided to revive the erudite escape.
It’s a reincarnation of the Back Bay shop, with the same wistfulness and feeling of being homesick, yet not knowing what for. But in New Hampshire, the barn is rent-free and has its own parking. There’s also little-to-no traffic on the quiet country road.
Avenue Victor Hugo opened in 1975, following McCaffrey’s ventures selling books from a pushcart and working as a desk clerk at a city hotel….
Scientists have discovered the earliest direct evidence of milk consumption by humans.
The team identified milk protein entombed in calcified dental plaque (calculus) on the teeth of prehistoric farmers from Britain.
It shows that humans were consuming dairy products as early as 6,000 years ago – despite being lactose intolerant.
This could suggest they processed the raw milk into cheese, yoghurt or some other fermented product.
This would have reduced its lactose content, making it more palatable.
The team members scraped samples of plaque off the teeth, separated the different components within it and analysed them using mass spectrometry.
They detected a milk protein called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) in the tartar of seven individuals spanning early to middle Neolithic times.
…Genetic studies of ancient populations from across Eurasia show that lactase persistence only became common very recently, despite the consumption of milk products in the Neolithic. The mutation had started to appear by the Bronze Age, but even at this time, it was only present in 5-10% of Europeans
• “SS Venture” steamship filming miniature from King Kong (1933).
• “Dorothy Gale” scene specific screen used black and white gingham pinafore from The Wizard of Oz.
• 20th Century-Fox President Spyros Skouras’s Best Picture Academy Award for Gentleman’s Agreement.
• Orson Welles “Charles Foster Kane” coat from Citizen Kane.
• Marilyn Monroe “Clara” nightgown from A Ticket To Tomahawk.
• Property from the estate of Martin Landau including his Golden Globe awards for Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood.
• The very first Emmy Award for “Best Film Made for Television” ever presented.
• Original “Dragula” coffin dragster from The Munsters and Munster, Go Home!
• Original Type-2 Phaser Pistol used in the Star Trek: TOS episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – from the collection of Nichelle Nichols.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “One Unique Creature” on Vimeo, Frances
Haszard explores a mysterious hotel.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chris Rose, JJ, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat
Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
Jack’s an old friend I see far too infrequently ever since he moved to Australia. I was privileged to publish a story of his in Science Fiction Age back in the ’90s, but that’s the least of his accomplishments. His first novel, The Man Who Melted, was nominated for a 1984 Nebula Award, and since then he’s gone on to win a Nebula Award, two World Fantasy Awards, three Ditmar Awards, and the Peter McNamara Award for Excellence. His short story collections include Timetipping, Jubilee: the Essential Jack Dann, and Visitations. His 1998 anthology Dreaming Down-Under (co-edited with his wife Janeen Webb) is a groundbreaking work in Australian science fiction.
He’s also created some amazing stories in collaboration with the likes of Michael Swanwick, Gardner Dozois, Barry Malzberg, and others, and since you know from listening to Eating the Fantastic that collaboration completely baffles me, we dove into a discussion of that as well.
We stepped out to The Chowder House, which has been in operation since 1985, but has a history which goes all the way back to 1920, when Darcy’s Irish Pub opened — and over the decades expanded into a row of family-owned restaurants. It was a comfortable spot, with good food, and the perfect place for us to catch up after far too long apart.
We discussed the novel he and Gardner Dozois always planned to write but never did, how a botched appendectomy at age 20 which left him with only a 5% chance of survival inspired one of his most famous stories, why he quit law school the day after he sold a story to Damon Knight’s Orbit series, the bad writing advice he gave Joe Haldeman early on we’re glad got ignored, the secrets to successful collaborations, the time Ellen Datlow acted as referee on a story he wrote with Michael Swanwick, how it felt thanks to his novel The Man Who Melted to be a meme before we began living in a world of memes, why he’s drawn to writing historical novels which require such a tremendous amount of research, the time he was asked to channel the erotica of Anaïs Nin, the gift he got from his father that taught him to take joy in every moment — and much more.
(2) RSR LAUNCHES IMPROVEMENT. Rocket Stack Rank announces
“New Filtering and Simplified Highlighting” in an
article that analyzes the most awards won, award nominations earned, and inclusion
in year’s best TOC for short fiction from 2015-2018 by using the new filtering
features added to RSR.
You can now filter stories in a table to show only the ones recognized with SF/F awards, year’s best anthologies, or prolific reviewers. Click the “Show:” drop-down list in the table header and choose one of the options (see image on the right). This is an easy way to dis-aggregate scores to see which stories received the most recognition by each type of recommendation for readers who favor one type over a combined score of all three.
(3) THE DELTA QUADRANT PRIMARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Senator Cory Booker is trying to acquire the votes of undecided Trekkies by showing off his nerd cred. The 50-year-old challenger for the Democratic nomination spoke to the New York Times today about his love for all things Star Trek, and how the show has influenced his politics: “How ‘Star Trek’ Pushed Cory Booker to Make It So”.
What did your father see in Trek?
It was hope.
“Star Trek” was more than just an escape. It was a portal to say the future is going to be different. It’s incredibly hopeful and a belief that we’re going to get beyond a lot of these lines. We’re going to unite as humanity. It’ll be a place where your virtue guides you, the highest of human aspirations. I think there’s something about that he found really powerful.
Do you think you took it in differently as a person of color?
I took it in through that lens because I really believe that was the lens that compelled my father. My dad loved UFOs. When that television series “Project Blue Book” came out, that was another thing. He was fascinated by the universe and excited about it.
This idea that we as humans, where we are right now, are literally just not even at the foothills yet of the mountains of discovery that are out there. He was a man of infinite hope. “Star Trek” gave him that. It showed him that we are going to overcome so much of the stuff that rips at humanity now.
In July, the author Xiaolu Guo was expecting the delivery of a book that would not be published until September: Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments,” the highly anticipated follow-up to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Guo was getting her copy so early because she is a judge for this year’s Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. There was just one problem, Guo said in an interview on Tuesday: When the courier turned up, she was late getting home from the airport. The courier refused to give the book to her brother and sister-in-law, who were visiting from China.
Guo missed the courier’s visit the next day, too, as she was out running errands. By the time she finally got the book, she was furious, she said.
“For me, it was quite over the top, the whole security issue,” Guo added, laughing.
The secrecy around Atwood’s new novel, which is on the Booker Prize shortlist that was announced this week, has complicated the judging process this year. The prize’s organizer had to sign a nondisclosure agreement on behalf of all the judges, said Peter Florence, the chairman of the judging panel.
Secrecy agreements were not required for the 150 other novels that judges read to create an initial list of books in the running that was announced at the end of July. They then reread and argued over those thirteen titles to choose the final six.
At the shortlist announcement on Tuesday, all six books were piled on a table in front of the judges, among them Salman Rushdie’s “Quichotte” and Lucy Ellmann’s “Ducks, Newburyport.” But the copy of “The Testaments” was actually a dummy.
“That’s not the real Atwood, by the way, in case anyone’s thinking of stealing it,” Gaby Wood, the prize’s literary director, told reporters.
The collected edition of ‘Avengers: The Children’s Crusade’ has come under fire for featuring a kiss between two male characters.
In an unexpected move, Rio de Janeiro mayor Marcelo Crivella has announced that the translated edition of the Marvel comic book series Avengers: The Children’s Crusade would be removed from the literary festival Riocentro Bienal do Livro so as to protect the city’s children from what he described as “sexual content for minors.”
The so-called sexual content in question is an on-panel kiss between two male characters, Wiccan and Hulkling, who are in committed relationship. Both characters are clothed in the scene.
“The issue concerning Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge-themed soda bottles has recently been brought to our attention by the general public, as these items could reasonably be seen by some as replica hand grenades. We appreciate the concerns being raised, because replica explosives are not permitted in either carry-on or checked bags. We have completed our review, and instructed our officers to treat these as an oversized liquid. Because these bottles contain liquids larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters), they should be put in checked baggage or emptied to be brought on as carry-on item. TSA officers will maintain the discretion to prohibit any item through the screening checkpoint if they believe it poses a security threat.”
It’s 1962 in Milan and a former fashion model, Angela Guissana, is looking for material for a small publishing house she and her sister Luciana have opened. She studies the reading tastes of the local commuters and concludes that thrillers—such as those featuring criminal mastermind Fantomas—are in.
Rather than hire someone else to forge ahead with their new thriller, she and her sister write the book themselves. To increase its appeal, they present the book as a fumetto, an Italian variation on the comic book format that has recently proven so popular in Europe with Tintin and Tex Willer—also thrillers. They make sure that each volume can fit inside a businessman’s coat pocket.
Thus, the Guissana sisters create Diabolik, which has in the 60 years since its inception, sold more than 150 million copies.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 6, 1953 — Hugo awards first presented at Philcon II (the second Philadelphia Worldcon).
September 6, 1956 — Fire Maidens from Outer Space premiered. A group of astronauts lands on a moon of Jupiter only to find it inhabited with sexy maidens. Well, and a hideous monster of course.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 6, 1904 — Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting The Best of Science Fiction fromCrown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are fairly a mix of the obscure and well known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up here. (Died 1968.)
Born September 6, 1943 — Roger Waters, 76. Ok, I’m stretching it. Is Pink Floyd genre? The Wall maybe. Or The Division Bell with its themes of communication. Or maybe I just wanted to say Happy Birthday Roger!
Born September 6, 1946 — Hal Haag. Baltimore-area fan who found fandom in the early Eighties and who chaired Balticon 25 and Balticon 35 and worked on Balticon and quite a number of regionals. He Co-founded BWSMOF (Baltimore/Washington SMOFs) along with Inge Heyer from Shore Leave, a regional organization whose purpose it is to discuss running regional conventions of all types. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society put together a very touching memorial site which you can see here. (Died 2006.)
Born September 6, 1953 — Patti Yasutake, 66. Best-known for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consult a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but made for a nice coda on her story.
Born September 6, 1958 — Michael Winslow, 61. Though he might bear as the comically voiced Radar Technicianin Space Balls, I’m more interested that his first genre role of significance was giving voice to Mogwai and the other gremlins in Gremlins, a role he didn’t reprise for the second Gremlins film.
Born September 6, 1972 — China Miéville, 47. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City is the one I’ve re-read the most, followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot. And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does.
Born September 6, 1972 — Idris Elba, 47. Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. And let’s not forget him as the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond.
Born September 6, 1976 — Robin Atkin Downes, 43. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episode of Angel. Ditto for Repo Men as well. He does get as the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Born September 6, 1976 –– Naomie Harris, 43. She’s Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall, Spectre and the forthcoming No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name. She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Molly Ostertag drew a K&S comic strip for Sam and Frodo. Hampus Eckerman says, “I think a lot of filers might enjoy this little comic.” Thread starts here.
The team that took the first ever image of a black hole has announced plans to capture “razor sharp” full colour video of the one at the centre of our galaxy.
Satellites would be launched to supplement the existing network of eight telescopes to make this movie.
The researchers say the upgraded network will be able to see the supermassive black hole consuming the material around it.
The team has been awarded the Breakthrough Award for Physics.
Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the idea of the so-called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), told BBC News that the next step was to see a black hole in action.
“Just like planets, a black hole rotates. And because of its incredibly strong gravity, it distorts space and time around it. And so seeing this very weird effect of space itself being rotated is one of the holy grails of astrophysics.”
Tristan Da Cunha is the most remote yet inhabited island in the world. With just 297 people living on the volcanic enclave, it’s more than 1,750 miles away from its nearest coast of South Africa. There are no airports, hotels, or bars and it is only reachable following a six-day boat ride. Yet for all it lacks, the island still has access to the internet. There is virtually nowhere on earth where you can truly escape from technology.
Authors, like me, who write speculatively about tech, are only limited by our imaginations. And that’s why we are fascinated by it, because it offers limitless potential.
Often it is far more of a challenge to create characters and worlds that are overshadowed by tech that goes askew than tech that gets it right.
(15) 20/20 HINDSIGHT. I was soon won around to the name changes, but feel a bit jaded to read such confident reassurances from people who a month ago had no more idea than anyone else that this was coming:
…Given the list of winners at the Hugos — which are fan awards and therefore a good marker of what the people who love their SF/F think is important — times have changed dramatically. I see no reason why Ng or anyone else needs to pay homage to Campbell, who is clearly going to be a marginal person in the genre if he’s mentioned at all fifty years from now.
…Many of the stories published in the 1950s gave us those possibilities, but they did so in the trappings of their times. Confusing those trappings with science fiction makes us misunderstand what the genre is truly about. And being nostalgic about the trappings is silly.
The world that gave us those stories has changed, and stories set in outdated realities, even good ones, often don’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t live in that period. There are a lot of times when you need context, which doesn’t mean saying someone is a “product of their times” and skipping over what they did, but looking at other layers in the story (assuming it’s a story that’s worth spending that much time on).
These days the audience for science fiction is much broader than the mythical 13-year-old (white) boys the Golden Age fiction was supposedly aimed at. We have a strong need for science fiction that breaks us out of the misogyny and racism and colonialism on which so much of western culture has been built. And the audience is worldwide, drawing from their own cultures and experiences.
If you believe storytelling is a vital part of being human – and I do – you have to realize that there are a lot of ways to tell a story and a lot of different ideas of who might be the hero.
…This will no doubt start another round of anguished wailing from certain quarters about the erasure of John W. Campbell from the annals of science fiction history. The answer to this is he’s not being erased, he’s merely being reassessed. And the reassessment is: His extensive paper trail of bigotry, reactionary thought and pseudo-scientific nonsense wasn’t a great look at the time — a fact amply detailed by a number of his contemporaries in the field — and it’s even less of a great look now. As a result, his name is being taken off some things it was on before, because it staying on them means those things (and the people administering those things) would then have to carry the freight of, and answer for, his bigotry, reactionary thought and pseudo-scientific nonsense. And they would rather not.
…People aren’t perfect and you take the good and the bad together — but every generation, and every person, gets to decide how to weigh the good and the bad, and to make judgments accordingly. In the early seventies, in the wake of Campbell’s passing, such was Campbell’s reputation in the field of science fiction that he could be memorialized by two separate awards in his name, and apparently nobody batted an eye (or if they did, they didn’t count). Nearly fifty years later and at the end of the second decade of the 21st century, such is Campbell’s reputation in the field of science fiction that Campbell’s name is off one award, and may be off the other soon enough. In another 50 years, Campbell’s reputation in the field may be different again, or may simply be what so many things are after a century, which is, a historical footnote.
(16) SCAVENGER’S FEAST. Meanwhile, Richard Paolinelli is hastening to fill the sudden vacuum of Campbell-named awards by adding one to his personal collection of honors: “New Category Added To The Helicons in 2020” [Now links to toxic original blog].
“The Helicon Society is proud to announce that the 2020 Helicon Awards will also feature the inaugural John W. Campbell Diversity In SF/F Award.
The Society looks forward to honoring the award’s first-ever recipient next spring.”
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty interested in finding out who this will be. Aren’t you?
These antics apparently help Paolinelli sell books. When he inaugurated his Helicon Awards earlier this year, Paolinelli also announced a pair of awards whose namesakes had recently been removed from awards by the American Library Association: the Melvil Dewey Innovation Award and Laura Ingalls Wilder Best New Author Award.
The past and present merger activity of the Milky Way galaxy has recently been put into sharp focus through the analysis of data from the Gaia astrometric satellite.
The emerging picture created is one of persistent disequilibrium, with high merger activity some 10 billion years ago that plausibly created the stellar halo and thick disk (see the figure), followed by a lull during which only lower-mass satellite galaxies were accreted. The Milky Way is now acquiring the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, which is likely sculpting the galaxy’s thin disk….
…The first data release (DR1) from Gaia provided the position on the sky and apparent brightness for over a billion stars. One result stands out from Gaia DR1: the discovery by Belokurov et al. (3) of a population of stars with distinctive motions, which were identified as debris from a massive satellite that merged into the Galaxy a long time ago. These stars are moving on unexpectedly radially biased orbits and they dominate the stellar halo, particularly close to the peak of its chemical abundance distribution.
You might not immediately identify Ontario’s University of Waterloo as a hotbed of speculative fiction writing. The establishment is far better known for its STEM programs, baffled-looking first-year students, the horrifying things in the tunnels, and vast flocks of velociraptor-like geese. So you may be surprised to learn that the University has produced a number of science fiction and fantasy authors over the years
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Eric Wong, Hampus Eckerman, Chip
Hitchcock, SF Cocatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these
stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
(1) ASTOUNDING AWARD. CoNZealand will use the new name immediately. (At least one very well-known business meeting regular has been trying behind the scenes to convince other conrunners they don’t have the authority to make the change, and failed.)
Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”
Becky Chambers just earned a Hugo Award for her blisteringly optimistic Wayfarers trilogy, and coming off that win, she’s shifting gears with a new, standalone novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate. In the 22nd century, scientists make a big breakthrough that will help astronauts adapt to the harsh realities of space, opening up distant destinations in the cosmos to human explorers.
One team of astronauts ventures out to a solar system 15 light years away, and as they transform and adapt to their new home, so too is Earth. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “Chambers packs an immense amount of story into a novella worthy of full-length praise.”
TAKEAWAYS. Eric Wong and
Greg Hullender cover their Ireland tour and Dublin 2019 in “Dublin
2019 Recap “. Says Greg, “Yeah, it had a few issues, but we had fun.”
Greg was on the “Fanzines Now!” panel, and that was the only panel we participated in this year. This panel was a discussion about the state of fanzines today. We had a good mix of people doing online fanzines (Rocket Stack Rank, Journey Planet, and Nerds of a Feather Flock Together) as well as Joe Siclari, who runs the Fanac History Project.
As usual for fanzine panels, the audience included lots of people involved with the traditional paper-based fanzines. Somewhat to our surprise, they were broadly supportive of modern online efforts. Joe remarked at one point that he had thought he’d be the conservative one on the panel, but he found himself standing up for the idea that “a blog is a fanzine, even if it only has one contributor, and even if no one ever comments on it.”
In 1979, the year before he was awarded the World Fantasy Professional Award, DMG published Acts of Providence, The Road of Azrael, Lack Colossus, The Black Wolf, Tales of the Werewolf Clan, Jewels ofGwahlur, Lovecraft’s Providence and Adjacent Parts, Mayhem on Bear Creek, and Hawks of Outremer.
The year after Grant won the award, Stephen King approached him with the rights to publish the first edition of any and all books in the Dark Tower series. King didn’t believe they would have a wide appeal among his general audience.
(5) TIPTREE DISCUSSION. Geoff
Ryman’s thoughts about the call to rename the award (which the Motherboard
today declined to do) is here on
Facebook and attracted comments from writers including David Gerrold, Nisi
Shawl and Eileen Gunn.
(6) MONGOLIAN HANDMAID. Ferret Bueller checks in from a
Mongolian bookstore once again. (Eat your heart out Locus!)
I don’t think I’ve had free time to visit File770 more than three times the past several months, but I saw the newest Mongolian SFF translation at the bookstore near my office today and immediately thought I’d pass on a picture if anyone was interested?. First is the full view and then the picture cropped to give a good look at the book at the top left, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (the translation of the title is exact). It’s next to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera (though that title is rendered in Mongolian as Love in a Time of Plague), both of which were released about a month or two ago, maybe longer.
(7) DICKS OBIT. Perhaps the most prolific contributor to Doctor
Who, Terence Dicks (1935-2019) died August 29. Working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script
editor from 1968 to 1974, he was credited in 156 episodes of Doctor
Who. He wrote several Doctor Who serials and scores of novelizations. His final short story Save Yourself will be published next month in BBC Books’ Doctor Who: The Target Storybook. He wrote for TV’s The Avengers, the soap opera Crossroads,
and co-created and wrote for the series Moonbase 3. He also worked as a
producer on Sunday Classics. He authored several children’s series,
including about a cat call Magnificent Max and, his longest running, another
about a golden retriever The Adventures of Goliath. He received the 2015 Scribe Grandmaster career award for
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. He’s in Doctor Who with the First Doctor as Kublai Khan in “Mighty Kublai Khan” and “Assassin at Peking”. He’s Professor Spencer in The Avengers in “The Master Minds” and he shows up in The Prisoner as Number Fifty Four in “It’s Your Funeral”. He also showed up as Dutrov in Department S in the series finale, “The Perfect Operation”. (Died 1969)
Born September 2, 1909 — David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character that became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapting his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. (Died 2003.)
Born September 2, 1911 — Eileen Way. She appeared on Doctor Who in An Unearthly Child, a First Doctor story, as Old Mother Karela the series first on-screen death, and in The Creature from the Pit, a Fourth Doctor story, as Karela. She would appear yet again in the 1966 Peter Cushing film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (as Old Woman), based on the serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth. (Died 1994.)
Born September 2, 1936 — Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin” was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lots of tales. (Died 2016.)
Born September 2, 1964 — Keanu Reeves, 55. Ok Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a lot better film than its sequel. And I find the Matrix franchiseto be a pretentious mess that almost works. And let’s not talk about Johnny Mnemonic which bore little resemblance to the brilliant Gibson story.
Born September 2, 1966 — Salma Hayek, 53. Her performance as Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. I do like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
Born September 2, 1968 — Kristen Cloke, 51. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum Leap, The X-Files, Millennium and The Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which is base64 code for “Followers”.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Batman’s arch-nemesis in a new origin-story movie. But is this dark, dingy drama any better than any of the other supervillain films?
Now that Hollywood studios are running out of superheroes to make films about, they’re turning to supervillains instead, starting with Suicide Squad and Venom, and moving onto Batman’s smiley-faced arch enemy, the Joker. Todd Phillips’ revisionist origin story is different from those other entries in the bad-guy sub-genre, though. Devoid of fist fights and bank robberies, Batcaves and Batmobiles, Joker is a dark, dingy drama about urban decay, alienation, and anti-capitalist protests, with a distinctive retro vision and a riveting central performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Whether these differences make it much better than other supervillain movies, however, is open to question.
The film doesn’t specify when it is set, but its Gotham City is modelled on the graffiti-sprayed, litter-strewn pre-gentrification New York of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. This is the home of Arthur Fleck, played by Phoenix as a greasy, disturbingly emaciated figure with ribs and vertebrae poking out at all angles. No male actor has been this skinny since Christian Bale – yes, Batman himself – starved himself to stick-insect proportions for The Machinist.
…The film traces his gradual uncovering of family secrets, and his slow descent into homicidal mania – and I do mean slow. Joker doesn’t have much of a plot, let alone any subplots, so there are only a couple of major sequences that haven’t already been in the trailers. Phoenix is a magnificent presence – always believable, how outrageous he becomes – and I was quite happy to sit and watch him skipping around in his outsized shoes and striking balletic poses on beautifully grimy staircases. But, however unusual its grungy 70s styling may be, Joker is ultimately nothing but a flimsy, two-hour supervillain origin movie, so the viewer is just waiting for Arthur to become the fully-fledged Clown Prince of Crime. If it had been chopped down to an hour and then intercut with a Batman plot, what a film that might have been.
In May 1937, John W. Campbell, Jr. was looking for work. He was in good company — the unemployment rate in the United States was fluctuating around 15%, reflecting the lingering economic malaise of the Great Depression. Despite his degree in Physics and some success as a writer of science fiction stories, Campbell hadn’t found a steady gig.
This was to change in the Fall of that year when Campbell was hired as the Editor of Astounding Stories, where he reigned until his death in 1971….
The bottom of this page begins a critical passage that relates Campbell’s relationship with Mort Weisinger, a former editor of Science Fiction Digest / Fantasy Manazine, the most prominent fanzine of the mid-1930s. At the time of this letter, Weisinger had crossed into the professional ranks as Editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories.
This page essentially says that Weisinger taught Campbell how to be an editor, and wrote a letter of recommendation for him in that vein. It seems likely that both the advice and the reference played key roles in Campbell acquiring his job at Astounding. This is a tremendous testament to the role that prominent fans played in establishing science fiction as an industry during this period.
What do hideous mall t-shirts, emo bands from the mid-aughts, and gorgeously-wrought realist novels about dissolving marriages have in common? Simply this assertion: Life Sucks. And it does suck, undoubtedly, even for the happiest and/or richest among us, not one of whom is immune from heartbreak, hemorrhoids, or getting mercilessly ridiculed online.
Still, at certain points in life’s parade of humiliation and physical decay almost all of us feel a longing—sometimes fleeting, sometimes sustained—for it to never actually end. The live-forever impulse is, we know, driving all manner of frantic, crackpot-ish behavior in the fringier corners of the tech-world; but will the nerds really pull through for us on this one? What are our actual chances, at this moment in time, of living forever? For this week’s Giz Asks, we spoke with a number of experts to find out.
Answers are essayed by Alice
Parker (“Dean’s Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Southern California, whose research focuses on
reverse-engineering the human brain, among other things”), Lindsay Wu (“Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head
of the Laboratory for Ageing Research at the University of New South Wales,
Sydney”), David Sinclair (“Professor of Genetics and
co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard
Medical School, whose research focuses on why we age and how to slow its
effects”), and Mark
McCormick (“Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center”).
In the nearly two decades since a co-founder of Dragon Con was accused of molesting teenage boys, a strange legal odyssey has unfolded, including a proposed move to Israel, a trial delay because of a presidential election and an extradition by air ambulance.
Now, Ed Kramer faces new charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
As one Disney movie continues succeeding at the box office, another falls another spot down on the all-time charts. Thanks to another steady weekend at the box office, The Lion King hyper-realistic reimagining has passed Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite The Avengers on the worldwide all-time box office chart. The Lion King is now seventh on the chart with $1.56 billion while the Marvel Studios hit drops to eighth with $1.52b.
It appears that’s the highest Jon Favreau’s remake will go on the worldwide charts as Jurassic World is sixth with a hefty $1.67b.
Three full truck loads of dinosaur fossils were shipped out of the “Mission Jurassic” dig site in North Wyoming as scientists brought the 80-day excavation season to an end.
The specimens included skeletal parts from giant herbivorous sauropods and meat-eating theropods.
The fossils will now be cleaned to see precisely which species they represent.
Mission Jurassic is a major undertaking involving researchers from the US, the UK and the Netherlands.
It is led by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCMI) which has taken out a 20-year lease on a square mile (260 hectares) of ranch land.
The BBC was given special access to the site in July.
The fossil beds exposed at the secret location in the Big Horn Basin record dinosaur activity around 150 million years ago – and the summer’s work confirms the site is particularly rich.
One three-tonne block of rock lifted on the final day last week was embedded with multiple remains all stacked one on top of the other.
“Overall we must have moved something like 500-600 bones; it’s just a huge amount of material we’ve been able to shift in one year,” said Prof Phil Manning, a University of Manchester palaeontologist and TCMI scientist in residence.
A British inventor has taken up the challenge to deliver a letter across open water through donning a jet engine-powered suit, 85 years after the idea of rocket post failed.
Richard Browning has followed in the footsteps of German entrepreneur Gerhard Zucker, who tried to send mail by rocket to the Isle of Wight, in 1934.
The distance from Hurst Castle in Lymington to Fort Albert in Freshwater is 1.3 km, and is the furthest Richard has ever flown.
(18) MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD. BBC reminds
everyone about “The ‘ghost work’ powering tech magic”. Chip
Hitchcock notes, “It’s ironic that Amazon’s collaborative tool is named
Mechanical Turk, considering the fraud behind the original.”
Armies of workers help power the technological wizardry that is reshaping our lives – but they are invisible and their jobs are precarious.
Next time you ask Alexa a question, your voice might fly halfway round the world to Chennai, India, where human workers toil away to fine tune her artificial intelligence- (AI-) powered responses.
In nine-hour shifts workers transcribe audio, classify words and phrases into categories, and evaluate responses from Amazon’s digital assistant. It’s one of many Amazon centres around the world where “data associates” prepare millions of chunks of data to train Alexa’s AI.
The work can be relentless, says a former employee. He was crunching roughly 700 Alexa questions a day with strict benchmarks for how long each should take. Workers’ performance figures were circulated daily and targets crept up over the time he spent there. The work was monotonous, but the volume and pace were mentally exhausting, and he eventually quit.
“It’s not possible to work like a machine every day,” he says. “The system is built in such a way that every time you have to give 100%. From the point of a human, it’s not possible.”
To users, digital assistants, search engines, social media and streaming services seem like software wizardry, but their smooth running relies on armies of humans whose contribution often goes unrecognised.
(19) WIKIPEDIA TODAY. When he saw the Wikipedia had selected “the Nebula Award for Best Short story” for on Today’s Featured Article, John King Tarpinian snapped his screen. So to speak.
There are so many words and phrases that we use in science fiction—and even science—without giving it much thought. But where did we get terms like “death ray,” “terraforming,” “hive mind,” “telepathy,” and “parallel universe”?
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Egg” on YouTube is an animated adaptation of a short
story by Andy Weir about the meaning of life
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, JJ,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Hampus
Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
(1) FAREWELL. Martin Hoare’s funeral was
held today. Pete Young shared a photo of the casket (posted here with permission.)
Yes, it was used for Martin. He was inside, then Martin + Tardis were cremated. I could not get any closer but I believe the Tardis was painted on it; I think it was Hazel Langford who told me it was Martin’s girlfriend’s idea. Needless to say the coffin was bigger on the inside…
(2) SURVIVABILITY OF SHORT SFF. Neil Clarke speaks again
about the problems with the current economic model of short fiction in the sff
field. Thread starts here.
…I hadn’t realised how apparently old-school I was until I discovered that one panel at WorldCon was entitled Continuing Relevance of older SF, which questioned whether 20th-century writing was still relevant in the 21st (answer: yes). Among the writers it listed as older and of a past era were Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood – yikes, really?
The discussion was lively and intense and intelligent – and this was the real joy, for me, of this entire colossal event, alongside the surprising (and vast) range of the hundreds upon hundreds of sessions over five days.
My assumptions were immediately and happily demolished. I’d looked forward to learning about some new writers and had thought there might also be some intriguing overlap with technology. But the science element was just as high-profile as the fiction….
Mike and Carol Rensick are at a loss for words about how successful this GoFundMe campaign has become. (Which says a lot, since as a storyteller Mike is well known for his words.) They cannot thank everyone enough–there are not the words to say how much all of you have changed a very bad year for the better.
Many people have asked them why, with so many weeks in ICU and bills much surpassing any modest number, we had only set the fundraiser goal to $15;000. But in Mike’s mind, $100 is a lot to ask for, let alone $15,000. He had not realised how beloved in the field he is, and how much we all love the opportunity to “pay it back” for all he has given to the science fiction and fantasy community.
Mike is composing and thank you message as we speak–once he can pick up his jaw up from the ground and find the words–but in the meantime we have been encouraged to increase the GoFundMe goal, and so we have! We have doubled the number to $30,000.
(6) LIBRARIES AND
DIGITAL BOOKS. Tom
Mercer, Senior Vice President of cloudLibrary, has written an email about the
many changes impacting libraries and their ability to offer high-quality
digital lending services to library users. He discusses why these shifts are
happening, how libraries can respond, and what bibliotheca is doing to support
libraries — “bibliotheca
leadership responds to publisher model changes”.
…Now, fast-forward to the digital library lending market today, where we’re seeing a shift from several of the major publishing companies. Blackstone Audio is embargoing audiobook titles for 90 days, Hachette has changed from perpetual access to two-year expirations (also implemented by Penguin Random House last October), and Macmillan will limit the quantity of frontlist titles effective November 1. It’s unlikely that all of these publishers would be changing their terms without external pressures. So, where is the pressure coming from? ?There is evidence to suggest that in recent years, authors and agents have come to feel that the library market is eroding their revenue. I think it’s telling that Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed his letter about the library model change to “Macmillan Authors, Macmillan Illustrators and Agents.”
This begs the next question: if authors and agents are voicing concerns about library lending, where are they getting their data from? I doubt it’s publishers, since a report on library lending is not part of an author’s royalty statement. There is only one company that has access to readers’ digital retail purchases as well as users’ digital library borrowing habits, and that is Amazon.
In 2009, Amazon created a publishing division, Amazon Publishing, which doesn’t sell any of its eBooks or audiobooks to libraries. They have teams of people talking with authors and agents trying to secure rights and make them as exclusive as possible to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s highly probable that they use the data provided by library users to argue that library lending is undercutting retail sales. This is a major concern that we need to understand and to face together as an industry.
…Captain America reflects on the symbolism of his costume in a newly published essay by Mark Waid, which was changed from an earlier version in which he called his country “deeply flawed.”Marvel Entertainment
The page, written by Mark Waid and drawn by John Cassady, is narrated by Captain America. In earlier versions of the page that comic-book retailers received in July, the star-spangled hero opened with: “I’m asked how it is possible to love a country that’s deeply flawed. It’s hard sometimes. The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably.”
He went on to say that fixing America’s system is “hard and bloody work” but that it could be done when enough people take to the streets, call for revolution and say, “Injustice will not stand.”
Captain America concludes: “That’s what you can love about America.”
The version that arrived in stores and online, however, has new text, also written by Waid, in which Captain America ruminates on his own image, not the United States: “Captain America isn’t a man. It’s an idea. It’s a commitment to fight every day for justice, for acceptance and equality, for the rights of everyone in this nation.” The hero says that those qualities — “not hatred, not bigotry, not exclusion” — are the values of true patriotism.
Marvel and Waid declined to say why the page was changed. But in an email message, Waid expressed frustration at how his original text was being presented. “I’m disappointed that the cherry-picked quotes circulated by the media severely mischaracterize what was actually written,” he wrote. While the essay was critical, he added, “As written, Cap is supportive of America as a whole.”
(8) A WORD FROM OUR WILDLIFE. The Red Panda Fraction asks
that I remind everyone there is only a little more than 24 hours remaining to
vote in the Dragon
Awards. Request a ballot at the link.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 29, 1854 — Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” becomes Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series! Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
Born August 29, 1904 — Leslyn M. Heinlein. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I. There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
Born August 29, 1939 — Joel Schumacher, 80. Director of The Lost Boys and Flatliners, not mention Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Ok, so those might not be the highlights of his career… However his Blood Creek vampirefilm starring Michael Fassbender is said to be very good. Oh, and his The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a very funny riff the original The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Born August 29, 1942 — Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full rememberence post is here. (Died 2017.)
Born August 29, 1942 — Gottfried John. He’s likely best known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written as collected by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
Born August 29, 1945 — Robert Weinberg. Author, editor, publisher, and collector of science fiction. At Chicon 7, he received a Special Committee Award for his service to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. During the Seventies, he was the genius behind Pulp which featured interviews with pulp writers such as Walter B. Gibson and Frederick C. Davis. (Died 2016.)
Born August 29, 1951 — Janeen Webb, 68. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction, winner of a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her isa wonderful novel that I do also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle.
Born August 29, 1953 — Nancy Holder, 66. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you, but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Today’s pop culture figure, tomorrow’s museum exhibit — Bizarro.
…[Jeannette] Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”
(12) ABOUT THOSE EDITORIALS. A tweet highlights one
problematic view – the Wikipedia
article covers this one and many more.
A year after Rotten Tomatoes announced plans to boost diversity among its approved critics, the review aggregation site revealed it has added 600 new film commentators.
In an effort to increase representation and inclusion across the industry, the company also renewed $100,000 in grants for 2020 to assist critics from underrepresented groups to attend film festivals and industry events. In 2018 and 2019, Rotten Tomatoes has helped over 160 journalists attend film festivals by donating grant money to festivals like Toronto, Sundance and SXSW.
Last August, Rotten Tomatoes refurbished its criteria to look at an individual’s qualifications, rather than just their employer when it comes to verifying critics. The initiative also expanded its pool to newer media platforms like digital videos or podcasts. Of the new critics added this year, 55% are women, 60% are freelancers and 10% publish reviews on more modern platforms like YouTube.
Engineers attached a helicopter to the Mars 2020 rover ahead of its launch next summer. And if it flies successfully, it’ll be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, NASA said.
The solar-powered Mars Helicopter will be safely stowed underneath the rover until it lands at the Jezero Crater, where scientists believe water once flowed. The craft will detach from the rover and explore Mars from the air while the rover collects samples on the ground, NASA said.
If the helicopter flies, it can provide a unique vantage point for scientists to observe Mars.
If all goes well, the autonomous aircraft will snapshot aerial views of Martian cliffs, caves and craters that the land-bound rover can’t explore. And even if it doesn’t take flight, the rover can still gather important data from the surface.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “I Wrote A Song Using Only Hate Comments” on YouTube,
Madilyn Bailey provides a song where all the lyrics come from comments made by
[Thanks to Standback, John King Tarpinain, JJ, Lis Carey, James Bacon,
mlex, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, StephenfromOttawa,
Hampus Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Trey.]
The next phase of Young People Read Old Science Fiction focuses on a single reference text, Journey Press’s Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958 – 1963). To quote from Journey Press’ site:
“The Silver Age of Science Fiction saw a wealth of compelling speculative tales — and women authors wrote some of the best of the best. Yet the stories of this era, especially those by women, have been largely unreprinted, unrepresented, and unremembered.
“Volume one of REDISCOVERY represents a historic first: fourteen selections of the best science fiction of the Silver Age, written by the unsung women authors of yesteryear and introduced by today’s rising stars. Join us and rediscover these lost treasures…. “
James is also recruiting participants:
I am looking for reviewers born after about 1980. The deadline for application is September 1, with a target date for the inaugural Young People Read Old Science Fiction: Rediscovery! post of October 1. If you are interested, please contact me at jdnicoll at panix dot com.
Where previous phases have involved each contributor working on their own, this chapter will feature a round table approach. Each contributor will be provided by me with a copy of the ebook.
(2) IN CONS TO COME. Cheryl Morgan assesses the competition
to host a future Worldcon in “The
Race for 2023”.
… Prior to Dublin the extant bids for 2023 were Nice (France), Chengdu (China) and New Orleans (USA). The New Orleans bid has, I understand it, collapsed. However, some US fans were busily organising a bid for another city. Apparently they viewed this as essential to prevent yet another non-US Worldcon. I think they have settled on Memphis but it was a bit confused.
The Chengdu bid is controversial for two reasons, one of which is that it is very hard to get into China. Elizabeth Bear told me that she has been denied a visa because she is a writer. That could happen to a lot of us. My own view is that a Chinese Worldcon won’t happen without government approval, and if that approval exists then it should be possible to set up a system whereby visa applications can be expedited. This is China, after all
(3) FINAL FANZINE SOLUTION. Cheryl Morgan also reacts to
Nicholas Whyte’s statistics showing that the Best Fanzine Hugo category is
skating on the edge of the abyss in “Whither Fanzine?”?
…On Twitter Aidan Moher has been calling for more appreciation for video fanzines. (Booktube appears to be the name for such things.) People making them certainly deserve recognition, but they belong in the Fancast category which is for:
Any generally available non-professional audio or video periodical devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects
Aidan also suggests collapsing Fanzine and Fancast to create a single category of fan-created works. Much as I would like to see fewer Hugo categories, I can’t see that happening. Neither the podcast people nor fanzine fandom would be happy….
(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST. The
National Fantasy Fan Federation’s annual short story contest is accepting
entries through December 31, 2019. There are no entrance fees, but there are
cash prizes. First prize is $50, second $30, and third $20. Read about it here:
“2019 N3F Amateur Short Story Contest”.
The judge is SF author Jefferson Swycaffer. Results will be announced by March
1. This contest is open to all amateur writers in the field, regardless of whether they’re members of the National Fantasy Fan Federation. For the purposes of this contest, we define an amateur as someone who has sold no more than two (2) stories to professional science fiction or fantasy publications or publishing houses.
2. Stories entered in the contest must be original, unpublished, not longer than 8,500 words in length—and must be related to the science fiction, fantasy, or similar genres in the opinion of the judge.
For the past year, a group of teens in Nigeria called the Critics Company have been uploading short sci-fi films to their YouTube channel. Using a smartphone with a busted screen, makeshift equipment, open source 3D tools like Blender, and green sheets hung on walls, the self-taught group has produced some professional-grade special effects. Check out this 10-minute short they uploaded in January, Z: The Beginning.
(6) MORE ON CAMPBELL. Comments by David Bowles, including
some quotes from Campbell. Thread starts here.
…Rothman will need to deliver Marvel-less fare that lives up to hype of the Spider-Man character’s MCU appearances. “If the two sides don’t come to a compromise, it’s a lose-lose for everybody,” argues Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for industry website Boxoffice. “Marvel won’t be able to resolve the cliffhanger in future movies, which is saying something when it’s their most popular hero. And for Sony, who has had success, Far From Home doesn’t get to a billion dollars without Feige and Marvel’s involvement.”
Adds Robbins, “The other big question is, ‘How are fans are going to react to a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie that is not set in the MCU?’ That is a roll of the dice that no studio should take.”
A Facebook event, hosted by three fans, was set up on Tuesday. The event, according to its description, involves dressing up in Spider-Man costumes and bringing “our boy home!” (to the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
The raid is planned for Oct. 31, aka Halloween. The perfect guise.
This fan rage spawned from a report Deadline published Tuesday of a high-level dispute between Sony and Marvel. That dispute means Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige won’t produce any more Spider-Man films and Marvel will no longer be involved in the Spider-Man movie universe.
(9) CRYSTAL CLEARING. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance premieres August 30 on Netflix.
As power-hungry overlords drain life from the planet Thra, a group of brave Gelfling unite on a quest to save their world and fight off the darkness.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 22, 1907 — Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
Born August 22, 1909 — Paul W. Fairman. His story “No Teeth for the Tiger” was published in the February 1950 issue of Amazing Stories. Two years later, he was the founding editor of If, but he edited only four issues. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic which he would hold for three years. There are several films, Target Earth and Invasion of the Saucer Men, based on his stories, plus some TV episodes as well. (Died 1977.)
Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to regularly works by him. (Died 2012.)
Born August 22, 1925 — Honor Blackman, 94. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”.
Born August 22, 1948 — Susan Wood. Of extremely fragile health, she received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer in 1974, 1977, and 1981, and a Best Fanzine Hugo as coeditor of Energumen in 1973. In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing the very first feminist panel at a con, at MidAmericon. The reaction to this helped lead to the founding of A Women’s APA and of WisCon. While teaching courses in SF at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson. “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” which is his first published story was written as an assignment in her SF class. (Died 1980.)
Born August 22, 1955 — Will Shetterly, 64. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, and Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing.
Born August 22, 1959 — Mark Williams, 60. He was Arthur Weasley in seven of the Potter films. He also played Brian Williams in the BBC series Doctor Who, appearing with the Eleventh Doctor in “The Power of Three” and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He was also Olaf Petersen on Red Dwarf. His first genre role was as Fearnot’s Brother in the “Fearnot” episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.
Born August 22, 1963 — Tori Amos, 56. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams) and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman is based on her.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Speedbump has a very funny variation on an old theme, with a little environmental message.
The Green Towns Green Town is to Bradbury what Derry and Castle Rock are to Stephen King: an invented town that brings to life the community of the author’s childhood dreams, shot through with an undercurrent of the supernatural. The town is based on Waukegan, Illinois, where Bradury spent his boyhood years, and his fond memories and great love for the place shine throughout the Green Town series’ four novels, the most widely read of which is Something Wicked This Way Comes.
…I bet you didn’t know that Crazy Ex Girlfriend creator and star Rachel Bloom is quite possibly his biggest fan. In 2010, she went public with her adoration and shared “F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury” with the world. (In 2011, the video was even nominated for a Hugo Award!)
So, celebrate Ray Bradbury today with lyrics like: “Since I was 12, I’ve been your number one fan / Kiss me, you illustrated man. / I’ll feed you grapes and dandelion wine / And we’ll read a little Fahrenheit 69.” You’re welcome.
(14) ON THE AIR. “Fast radio
bursts” feature in today’s Nature. Their origin has been a mystery
and some have (seriously) proposed ET intelligence origin (like pulsars were
but you know how that turned out). There are also repeaters… “Haul of mysterious cosmic bursts excites astronomers”.
Discovery of more ‘repeater’ fast radio bursts should help to reveal signals’ origins…
Astronomers are edging closer to finding out what causes brief, powerful flashes in the sky known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), after a Canadian telescope discovered eight more of the most intriguing type of these blasts — those that repeat their signals. FRBs are intensely energetic events that flare for just milliseconds, seemingly all over the sky and from outside the Galaxy. But their cause has remained a mystery since the first FRB was identified in 2007. Astronomers hope that studying bursts that repeat their flashes, rather than flare just once, can help to elucidate the origins of FRBs. That’s because it’s easier for high-resolution telescopes to make followup observations of ‘repeaters’ and trace their origins compared with one-off blasts.
Russia has launched a rocket carrying a life-sized robot to the International Space Station (ISS).
It was launched from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday and is set to arrive at the station on Saturday.
The robot, named Fedor (Experimental Demonstration Object Research), is the first ever sent into space by Russia.
In order to test a new emergency rescue system, the robot was the Soyuz rocket’s only passenger.
Fedor stands some one metre and 80 centimetres tall (5ft 11 inches) and weighs 160 kilograms.
During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as “connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher,” said Alexander Bloshenko, the Russian space agency’s director for prospective programmes and science.
It is hoped that Fedor will eventually carry out more dangerous tasks such as spacewalks.
Gamescom 2019 kicked off in Cologne, Germany on Monday night, and as usual, the annual trade fair has been full to bursting with announcements, trailers, and exciting new details about upcoming games. But one development is making a bigger splash than the rest: Visionary video game auteur Hideo Kojima’s next game, Death Stranding, will feature the kind of hyper-realistic urination gameplay action that gamers crave. Drench your eyeballs in this leaked footage from Gamescom’s opening night stream to see Death Stranding star Norman Reedus take the most lavishly digitized piss in video game history…
…Mystery House (On-Line Systems, 1980)
Roberta and Ken Williams are rightfully hailed as two of the most influential game designers in history, but their first attempt to break gaming’s pee barrier was an abject failure. Mystery House, the very first graphical adventure game, was also the very first graphical adventure game to feature a drawing of a toilet….
[Thanks to Rich Horton, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Mike Kennedy, DMS, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Alan Baumler, George Phillies, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Authors Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Black, Seanan McGuire, and John Scalzi, as well as many other writers outside of the genre, will be at the “2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival”. The Festival will be held in Washington, DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on August 31. Check out the Festival blog.
(2) ON THE WAY TO THE MOON. The first two episodes of the new Washington Post podcast Moonrise focus heavily on John W. Campbell and Astounding Science Fiction, and it looks like there’s a lot more to come. Episodes can be downloaded from various distributors, or listened to through the Post’s website.
Want to uncover the real origin story behind the United States’ decision to go to the moon? In the 50 years since the moon landing, as presidential documents have been declassified and secret programs revealed, a wild story has begun to emerge. “Moonrise,” a new Washington Post audio miniseries hosted by Lillian Cunningham, digs into the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, the transformation of American society and politics ?— and even the birth of science fiction ?— to unearth what really drove us to the moon. Listen to the episodes as they’re released each week, and come along with us on a fascinating journey from Earth to the moon.
(3) WHAT IS “SENSE OF WONDER”? In
Men and Original Sins” at Image, Adam
Roberts reviews the movie First Man, Catherine Newell’s Chesley
Bonestell biography Destined
for the Stars: Faith, Future, and America’s Final Frontier, and Kendrick Oliver’s To Touch the Face of God, in
order to discuss the sense of wonder many feel about space.
PROFANE IS AN INTERESTING WORD. Etymologically the word describes the ground outside—or, strictly, in front of (pro)—the temple (fanum). How do we understand the profanity, or otherwise, of space travel? Is earth the temple and outer space the outer (pro) fanum? Or could it be that the heavens are the temple, and it’s we who are stuck down here in a mundane, profane antechamber? Is the sense of wonder that attends space exploration fundamentally a religious impulse? Or is the achievement of Apollo a triumph of solidly non-spiritual science, engineering, technology, and materialism?
This matter is addressed by To Touch the Face of God, Kendrick Oliver’s absorbing social history of the space program. Oliver has sensible things to say about the limitations of simply mapping the religious convictions of NASA scientists and astronauts onto a project like Apollo, but nonetheless he assembles a convincing picture of just how interpenetrated the undertaking was by a kind of providentialist, Protestant ethos, exploring the pros and cons of considering spaceflight as a religious experience. He’s especially good on the way the program channeled national concerns about the separation of church and state, a debate that had been galvanized by the 1963 Supreme Court judgment ruling mandatory school prayer unconstitutional.
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon in December of 1968, astronaut Bill Anders informed “all the people back on earth” that “the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.” They then read the creation account of Genesis 1 aloud. The reading, Oliver shows, had an enormous impact. The Christian Century ran an editorial declaring themselves “struck dumb by this event,” and Apollo flight director Gene Kranz wept openly in the control room: “for those moments,” he later recalled, “I felt the presence of creation and the Creator.”
(5) STUDENT JOURNALISTS LOOK INTO SCA. Paul Matisz was one
of the people interviewed by the student magazine The Tattler for its
article about “The Dark Side of Medieval Reenactment.” (The issue is here, and the article is on pages 17-19.) Matisz, who formerly
participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism as Fulk Beauxarmes, has
posted the full text of his responses on his blog “Interviewed
for an Article on the SCA”. He praised the thoroughness of their
Here’s a clipping from the article:
(6) RINGS A BELL. While skimming Shelf Awareness, Andrew Porter spotted a notice for The Best of Manhunt edited by Jeff Vorzimmer (“… the crime-fiction magazine Manhunt (1952-1967)….editor Jeff Vorzimmer has pulled together 39 gripping and pitiless tales…”) That seemed an uncommon name and he wondered if this fellow was any relation to Fifties fan Peter Vorzimer (with one “m”, his fannish AKA spelling). Indeed, Jeff is his son, as confirmed by this blog post: “Death in Hollywood” (2017). I’ve heard of Peter myself – his name was still cropping up in anecdotes about the old days of LASFS when I joined in the Seventies. Most of this excerpt quotes a reminiscence written by Peter himself:
My father was in the last half of his senior year at Hollywood High and … he was inconvenienced by losing his driver’s license for a year.
“It was on the way to HAC one day, March 17th, 1954, that I got involved in an accident in which I killed an elderly pedestrian. Which, though she had made some negligent contribution, cost me my driver’s license for one year. It also took the wind out of my senior year of high school.
“My lack of wheels forced me to concentrate on my writing skills—particularly my editorship of an amateur science fiction magazine, Abstract, a fanzine, as they are called. This brought me closer to a group of similarly minded young men. Charley Wilgus was my closest friend, followed by Don Donnell, Jimmy Clemons and Burt Satz. Don was the most creative and, at 16, already a good writer; Burt, who was universally picked on by the rest, was the best read (Hemingway, Joyce, and a host of others). Clemons introduced me to the world of Science Fiction and the L. A. Science Fiction Society—whose meetings were attended by E. E. “Doc” Smith, Ray Bradbury, and the agent Forry Ackerman. Possibly because of its controversial—read argumentative—editorials, its excellent mimeographed and often salacious art, Abstract became quite popular in the world of science fiction fandom. The high point of my early career was my bus trip to San Francisco to meet various pen pals: Gilbert Minicucci, Terry Carr, Bob Stewart, and Pete Graham. It took something for my mother to permit her 15-year-old son to go up by bus to San Francisco from L.A. to attend a Sci Fi convention on his own for a week!”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 30, 1911 — Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course, most of us do. (Died 1992.)
Born July 30, 1927 — Victor Wong. I’ll single him out here for his role as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, a film I adore. He also appeared in Beauty and the Beast as Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode, and in Poltergeist: The Legacy as Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode. (Died 2001.)
Born July 30, 1948 — Carel Struycken, 71. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Homn on Next Gen, companion to Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen…
Born July 30, 1961 — Laurence Fishburne, 58. Appeared in The Matrix films of which I watched at least two before deciding I could be reading something more interesting. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man.
Born July 30, 1966 — Jess Nevins, 53. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I didn’t know he was an author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident.
Born July 30, 1970 — Christopher Nolan, 49. Obviously the Batman films of which I think I’ve seen several (too noisy, too vivid). However The Prestige is magnificent as is Inception and Interstellar.
Born July 30, 1975 — Cherie Priest, 44. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is quite good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks. I’ve not read Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how they are.
Born July 30, 1984 — Gina Rodriguez, 35. Anya Thorensen in Annihilation based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novels which I’ve read though I’ve not seen the film. She was also Robin I the “Subway” episode of the Eleventh Hour series, and directed the “Witch Perfect” episode of the new Charmed series.
Here’s a pair of vintages that should be engaging to “Star Trek” fans.
The first two selections in a new Star Trek Wines series are available with one celebrating the United Federation of Planets, the other paying tribute to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” character Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart.
The 2016 Chateau Picard Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux, France, is timely as Stewart’s Picard returns next year in a new CBS All Access series, “Star Trek: Picard.” That wine can be purchased along with a numbered, limited edition of the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve for $120 (Only 1,701 packs will be sold. Star Trek fans will know 1701 as the starship Enterprise’s identification number.)
The wines, available at StarTrekWines.com, are being brought to market by Wines that Rock, which sells wines carrying the labels of rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and The Police and Woodstock. They will be poured at the Star Trek Las Vegas event, which runs Wednesday to Sunday.
(10) DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? Who needs a Hugo Award when
you’ve got an SJW Credential?
…This was the start of what Emett called his “machines.” He gained international fame for designing the contraptions featured in the 1968 film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Soon, companies began hiring him to create fanciful machines to use in their marketing.
As for the sculptures at Air and Space, “The Exploratory Moon-Probe Lunacycle M.A.U.D.” was on loan and eventually went back to Britain. The museum commissioned “S.S. Pussiewillow II” — imagine a wispy dirigible — but removed it from display in 1990 after a motor caught fire, burning a “flying carpet” that was part of the work.
Despite that, “Emett’s machines are remarkably reliable,” said Tim Griffiths, founder of the Rowland Emett Society, a group of enthusiasts. “The motor that failed on the Pussiewillow wasn’t the original and was possibly installed because of the difference in voltages between the U.K. and U.S.”
It’s a cameo that makes perfect sense and at London Film and Comic Con last weekend, Robert Picardo (The EMH and Dr Zimmerman from Star Trek Voyager) confirmed that his agent was in talks with CBS to possibly return in Season 2 of Star Trek Picard.
“I am pleased that they (CBS) have expressed interest in me. They have reached out to my agent about next season. So I’m looking forward to seeing what it is. As you know I play two characters, primarily the Doctor but also Lewis Zimmerman.”
Robert Picardo – Sunday 28th July, LFCC.
A recording of the entire interview is here —
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Alec Nevala-Lee, John
King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of thee stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MCINTYRE TRIBUTE BOOK
PLANNED. At CaringBridge, Jeanne
Gomoll invites people to participate in a “Vonda
Stephanie Ann Smith and I are collecting memories of Vonda from folks who loved Vonda. We plan to collect the material into a book and would like to see it made available both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. We are looking for stories, poems, artwork, photos, tributes, ANYTHING you would like to contribute. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2825 Union Street, Madison, WI 53704. I will keep you up-to-date on the publication here. Thank you!
In allowing for the nomination of AO3, the Hugo Awards are broadening what it means to contribute to the experience of fiction. This process, they have recognized, goes beyond interacting with a work of fiction as it is — it also encompasses interacting with what the work might be. The imaginations and creativity of fans also contribute to the story of that original story. Talking about art by working within it is not particularly different from talking about art from a remote perspective.
As any fanfiction writer will tell you, transformative works are constantly in dialogue with the original piece. That dialogue may take the form of a Coffee Shop AU rather than an essay, but it is equally as involved in the work of commentary and reflection. Far beyond the academic or critical space, fanfiction probes and challenges original works, bolstering themes and reworking flaws.
As a thing in itself, AO3 is a monumental achievement and a huge expression of fan activity. It’s this last aspect that I think makes it a good fit for the Hugo Awards which are themselves derived from a similar drive of fannish self-organisation and expression.
The cultural narrative that’s built around films starring DC Comics superheroes over the course of the past decade or so reads thusly: DC films are too dark and dour, and the company should take a cue from Marvel, whose films always leave room for the fun and whimsical elements so crucial to the superhero genre.
It’s a gross oversimplification, but there’s no denying the kryptonite-hard nugget of truth there: Years ago, Warners/DC executives looked at the runaway success of Christopher Nolan’s dark and dour The Dark Knight trilogy, and concluded that they’d cracked how to approach the superhero genre, once and for all.
…It would be easy to say that the latest DC superhero outing, Shazam!, represents DC/Warners finally learning how to pivot, how to come at a given hero in the mode that suits them best. It’s certainly true that the film’s stuffed to its gills with goofy gags and clever winks, and that the film’s resident good guy (his name’s “Shazam!” in the credits, but in the movie’s reality, it’s more an open-question kind of deal) is a puffed-up, square-jawed galoot in a tomato-red getup played by Zachary Levi. But it also frequently stops dead in its tracks to dutifully attend to more familiar, straight-ahead genre business…..
I know you write at a lot of different story lengths. Do you have a particular preference nowadays, and has that changed any over time?
I have less of a preference than I used to. For a long time, my natural length was flash, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write things longer—adding threads, having more characters, sometimes playing with the structure to force myself to draw out the story more.
The two projects I’m currently working on are relatively longer lengths—I’m currently finishing up a trio of inter-related short stories (which in some ways is like a novelette in three parts), and when that’s done I have a novella that I drafted last year and need to go back and revise.
I’ve seen comparisons to Starship Troopers–how do you feel that, for positive and negative, the novel has influenced this novel and other stories and novels of your work?
It’s more like the film than the book! In book form, I’d say it more closely resembles The Forever War in tone and approach, but really The Light Brigade is its own beast. I loved a lot about the film adaptation of Starship Troopers; it didn’t take itself too seriously while also being very serious. You can say important things about war, fascism, freedom, corporal punishment, and conscription while telling an exciting story. People who live in dystopias don’t always believe they’re living in one, especially when they’re young. They’re raised to believe it’s the only sane and rational way to be.
Vonda N McIntyre, who has died aged 70, was foremost among a legion of new female science-fiction authors in the early 1970s inspired by humanist writers such as Ursula K Le Guin, Joanna Russ and Samuel Delany. With Dreamsnake (1978), she became only the second woman to win the Nebula award and the third to win the Hugo award for best novel.
Masquerade, Hall Costuming Awards, and Cosplay are just the tip of the iceberg – meet Kitty Krell, cosplay Guest of Honor for Westercon 72. A wonderful Corset and Costume maker, cosplay advocate, artist and Kitty will be here in July!
(8) CAMPBELL HOLDING FORTH.
On Fanac.org’s YouTube channel,
hear Fred Lerner’s 1962 radio interview with John W. Campbell, Jr. I
corresponded with Campbell but never met him, so this was a new experience for
John W. Campbell and his views on science fiction are showcased in this intriguing audio interview (presented with illustrative pictures) from 1962. Fred Lerner, noted librarian, bibliographer and historian, was just 17 when he interviewed John W. Campbell, the man that shaped much of science fiction for decades. Campbell was both a successful author and the long time editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog). Topics discussed include Rudyard Kipling as a science fiction writer, the government’s interest in Cleve Cartmill’s fiction, and the nature and value of science fiction. If you like Golden Age science fiction, this is an opportunity to hear one of the giants of the field in his own voice
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 4, 1902 — Stanley G. Weinbaum. His first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to general accolades in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year-and-a-half later. ISFDB lists two novels, The New Adam and The Dark Other, plus several handfuls of short stories that I assume were out for consideration with various editors at the time of his death. (Died 1935.)
Born April 4, 1932 — Anthony Perkins. Without doubt, he’s best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and its three sequels. Three sequels?!? One sec.. H’h, I missed the third one in the Nineties. Genre wise, I don’t see a lot otherwise by him though he was in The Black Hole as Dr. Alex Durant and was in Daughter of Darkness as Prince Constantine. (Died 1992)
Born April 4, 1948 — Dan Simmons, 71. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read some of the Hyperion Cantos but I’ll be damned if I remember it clearly now.
Born April 4, 1952 — Cherie Lunghi, 66. Her fame arise from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there. Those there were very impressed by it.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne.
Born April 4, 1954 — Bruce Sterling, 65. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things.
Born April 4, 1958 — Phil Morris, 61. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three-part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role.
Born April 4, 1960 — Hugo Weaving, 59. He is known for playing Agent Smith in The Matrix franchise, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, V in V for Vendetta and Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. He also voiced Megatron in the first three films of Transformers franchise.
Born April 4, 1965 — Robert Downey Jr., 54. Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Charmingly enough, he’s playing the title role in the ‘20 release of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
Born April 4, 1967 — Xenia Seeberg, 52. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev BeLexx in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve also see her playing Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela In the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070.
Born April 4, 1968 — Gemma Files, 51. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer and four of them have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series.
My students were fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the best scholars around: Charlie Starr, Mike Glyer, Scott Key, and Sørina Higgins took an active role and read draft chapters and gave advice. It was wonderful to see these undergraduates joining the scholarly conversation. Did you order your copy?
(11) STAR POWER. The manicurist didn’t get the story quite
right, but look how MRK celebrated her Hugo nomination:
Thirteen years after it was released, Guillermo del Toro is fleshing out his iconic film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ with a novel titled ‘Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun.’ In its pages, you will find the full tale from the movie which was co-written with Cornelia Funke
(13) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Microsoft
is getting out of ebook selling – and the books its customers bought will be
going away too: “Books
in Microsoft Store: FAQ”.
The books category is closing
Starting April 2, 2019, the books category in Microsoft Store will be closing. Unfortunately, this means that starting July 2019 your ebooks will no longer be available to read, but you’ll get a full refund for all book purchases. See below for details.
While you can no longer purchase or acquire additional books from the Microsoft Store, you can continue to read your books until July 2019 when refunds will be processed.
…But just think about that for a moment. Isn’t it strange? If you’re a Microsoft customer, you paid for those books. They’re yours.
Except, I’m afraid, they’re not, and they never were – when you hand over money for your “book”, what you’re really paying for is access to the book. That access, per the terms and conditions of every major eBook store, can be taken away at any moment.
…People sometimes treat me like my decision not to sell my books through Amazon’s Audible is irrational (Audible will not let writers or publisher opt to sell their books without DRM), but if you think Amazon is immune to this kind of shenanigans, you are sadly mistaken. My books matter a lot to me. I just paid $8,000 to have a container full of books shipped from a storage locker in the UK to our home in LA so I can be closer to them. The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.
Scramble across exposed rocks in the middle of Antarctica and it’s possible to find the mummified twigs of shrubs that grew on the continent some three to five million years ago.
This plant material isn’t much to look at, but scientists say it should serve as a warning to the world about where climate change could take us if carbon emissions go unchecked.
The time period is an epoch geologists call the Pliocene, 2.6-5.3 million years ago.
It was marked by temperatures that were significantly warmer than today, perhaps by 2-3 degrees globally.
These were conditions that permitted plant growth even in the middle of the White Continent.
(16) SEE SPOT
RUN. For the first time, scientists
studying Neptune have been able to track the blossoming of a ‘Great Dark Spot’
— an enormous, whirling storm in the planet’s atmosphere. The
academic paper is a tad dry, so here’s a snap the Hubble
JJ, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, Harold
Osler, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Paul Weimer, Andrew
Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]