Looking ahead, in SeptemberSF² Concatenation will (hopefully, depending on its lock-down) have its autumnal (northern hemisphere) edition. This will consist of some articles and some standalone book reviews. (Many thanks to its book review panel members who have been sending in their reviews on USB memory sticks by old-fashioned snail-mail post as SF² Concatenation’s mission control is digitally isolated.) Alas, there will be no seasonal news page in September for the autumn as publishers are going rather quiet on the book promotion front, cinemas are closed to new films, and all SF conventions have been cancelled.
Looking further aheadSF² Concatenation will be suspending operations (other than receiving books from publishers for review). They will not be checking their e-mails (their mission control is digitally isolated during UK lock-down — ironically to prevent computer virus infection/master site hacking etc.) but they will pick up articles submitted by e-mail at some point in the future when they can get to their office.
Still further into the future, they aim to resume their seasonal editions three months after British lock-down ends. (This is because many publishers have ceased sending out physical review copies of books during the current SARS-CoV-2 crisis and so they will have to wait to accrue a season’s worth of books and review them before they can resume full editions.) They say they will though pick up their e-mails as soon as lock-down ends and liaise with contributors at that time. SF² Concatenation will also monitor publishers’ catalogues as soon as the resumption of production of new ones recommences and so their first seasonal news page may have lengthier forthcoming books listings as these will include recent releases not previously covered.
We know that it will come as no surprise to any of you to hear that we have decided that we have to cancel this year’s FKO.
While we may have been able to wait a while longer and see how things develop, we felt that it was our responsibility to make a decision and inform everyone sooner, rather than later, in the hopes that people are able to change their plans
We love our community, and deeply regret cancelling. However, we don’t feel that getting together at the height of a global pandemic, to sing in a closed environment, is in the best interests of that community. I’ll say no more on that point, as I am sure you are all as aware of the factors involved as we are……..
…The current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is now affecting the national and international science fiction community. Already some SF fans living in northern Italy have experienced a few weeks of self-isolation with all but necessary travel banned by law under penalty of a three month jail sentence. Descriptions of life from these have included as if being in an SF film. Meanwhile, as the virus spreads, and cases of the resulting disease (COVID-19) mount, questions are being asked as to the viability of some forthcoming SF events: some at the time of writing (March 2020) have already been cancelled. It therefore may be useful to have a basic, preliminary briefing on the science and likely fan impacts that goes a little beyond the arguably cautious, limited statements some authorities have made. This is an on-going situation, so irrespective of the below, it is always best to seek guidance from regional health authorities and international bodies as well as, of course, your own clinician….
His qualifications for writing the post are —
Jonathan Cowie is an environmental scientist who has had a career in science communication, including science publishing and policy, working primarily for UK learned biological societies. Then in the early 2000s he turned to focus on climate change concerns: principally the Earth system, biological and human ecological impacts. Among other things, including writing climate change university textbooks, and his 2009 online essay, ‘Can we beat the climate crunch‘ has been somewhat prescient as demonstrated from subsequent work by others. Since the mid-2010s he has shifted his attention to the Earth system and the co-evolution of life and planet. Of passing relevance to this briefing, in his mid-1970s, pre-college gap period he spent 18 months working at NIRD as a junior technician. The former National Institute for Research into Dairying was not hidden in a remote area in Nevada, concealed in the sub-basements of a legitimate Department of Agriculture research station, but was a genuine MAFF Research Institute attached to the University of Reading. His work there included that in its SPF and Germ Free Units. One of the outputs of this was providing Specific Pathogen Free eggs for children in isolation undergoing bone marrow transplantation. He has therefore kind of done the Andromeda Strain thing.
Universal said that by Friday recently released films like “The Invisible Man,” “The Hunt” and “Emma” will be available for digital rental for $19.99 in the U.S., or the equivalent value in overseas markets. Paying the rental fee will allow customers 48 hours to watch the movie. In an even bolder move, Universal also said “Trolls World Tour” will open simultaneously in theaters and at home on April 10. Universal released “The Hunt” in theaters over the weekend while “The Invisible Man” and “Emma” both came out late last month. Costing just $7 million to make, “The Invisible Man” has already had a successful run in theaters, grossing $122.4 million globally in three weekends.
This year’s Cinema Poster Live Auction has over 300 posters, including an amazing selection of posters and original artwork from the collections of well-known comic-art artist Jock, Academy Award®-winning special effects cinematographer, Richard Edlund, former Lucasfilm Executive and Assistant Director Howard Kazanjian, and so much more!
So, sit back, relax, and get up-close and personal with some of our featured lots from the auction…
“See Earth attacked by flying saucers! See teenagers vs. the saucer men!”. Examples of classic 1950’s B-movie science fiction don’t come better than this superb 1957 country of origin US One-Sheet for Samuel Z. Arkoff’s 1957 production “Invasion of the Saucer Men”. Truly outstanding Albert Kallis artwork that features the alien “cabbage head” invaders from space. Originally folded, this is now presented linen-backed with light restoration and it looks ‘out of this world’. Any paper ephemera from this movie is scarce and far more difficult to obtain than other examples from the more famous 1950s horror/sci-fi titles as it played in far fewer theaters than Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, or other more mainstream science fiction titles.
Artist: Albert Kallis
Estimate: £3,000 – 5,000
(7) THE STORY OF THE FUTURE. In “The
Big Idea: Ann VanderMeer” at Whatever, she explains “The goal: To use storytelling to intrigue
and inspire the public about our possible futures, brought about by the work
XPRIZE is doing today.”
…We face many challenges in the modern world, what with climate change, health issues, global conflicts, access to education, and poverty. At XPRIZE, people are working together to find solutions for the future. And the stories being expressed with the XPRIZE anthologies give rise to the imagination. Indeed, storytelling is often used for applied creativity in problem solving.
The relationship between science fiction stories and actual science has always been there. Many scientists who became involved in the Space Program at NASA were early readers of science fiction and were inspired to make a career of science. It’s not just that certain technologies and ideas that originated from science fiction stories become real in our modern day, but also that some SF readers go on to pursue careers in the sciences and make an impact in the world.
I was first approached last year to edit the Current Futures anthology to promote World Oceans Day. I had the opportunity to bring in new voices and work with other writers that I knew and admired. It was a dream project and I was thrilled to see writers like Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Deborah Biancotti and Karen Lord get excited about stories and work with them again. I was also thrilled to work with other writers for the first time, including Malka Older, Madeline Ashby and Gu Shi….
Were you very conscious of balancing those spiritual or fantastical elements with realistic fiction?
I love “genre” fiction like speculative and fantasy fiction. Those are fun books to read, but a lot of times a deeper exploration of the human condition is lacking. So while I really enjoy the freedom of genre fiction—you can push the boundaries of a story in interesting ways—I wanted to make it feel like something that was still believable. I was very concerned about integrating these myths and legends in a way that felt experienced by the characters. I didn’t want to reinforce stereotypes about how Hawaii is some sort of exotic land. I tried to make the “magical” elements feel more realistic so that readers wonder if things are really happening or characters are just imagining them.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 16, 1961 — The Absent-minded Professor premiered. Yes, it’s genre at least as Disney defined it. It was based on the short story “A Situation of Gravity” by Samuel W. Taylor which was originally published in the May 22, 1943 issue of Liberty magazine, a magazine of religious freedom. It was directed by Robert Stevenson, and starred Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard. It holds a good 63% audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 16, 1883 — Sonia Greene. Pulp writer and amateur press publisher who underwrote several fanzines in the early twentieth century. Wiki says she was a president of the United Amateur Press Association but I can’t confirm that elsewhere. And she was married to Lovecraft for two years. (Died 1972.)
Born March 16, 1900 — Cyril Hume. He was an amazingly prolific screenplay writer with twenty-nine credits from 1924 to 1966 including The Wife of the Centaur (a lost film which has but has but a few scraps left), Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan the Ape Man, The Invisible Boy and Forbidden Planet. (Died 1966.)
Born March 16, 1920 — Leo McKern. He shows up in a recurring role as Number Two on The Prisoner in “The Chimes of Big Ben”, “Once Upon a Time” and “Fall Out”. Other genre appearances include Police Inspector McGill in X the Unknown, Bill Macguire in The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Professor Moriarty in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, The Voice of Gwent in “The Infernal Machine” episode of Space: 1999. (Died 2002.)
Born March 16, 1929 — Ehren M. Ehly. This was the alias of Egyptian-American author Moreen Le Fleming Ehly. Her first novel, Obelisk, followed shortly by Totem. Her primary influence was H. Rider Haggard of which she said in interviews that was impressed by Haggard’s novel She at an early age. If you like horror written in a decided pulp style, I think you’ll appreciate her. (Died 2012)
Born March 16, 1929 — A. K. Ramanujan. I’m going to recommend his Folktales from India, Oral Tales from Twenty Indian Languages as essential reading if you’re interested in the rich tradition of the Indian subcontinent. Two of his stories show up in genre anthologies, “The Magician and His Disciple“ in Jack Zipes’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Anthology of Magical Tales and “Sukhu and Dukhu“ in Heidi Stemple and Jane Yolen’s Mirror, Mirror. (Died 1993.)
Born March 16, 1961 — Todd McFarlane, 59. Best-known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spawn.
Born March 16, 1971 — Alan Tudyk, 49. Hoban “Wash” Washburne in the Firefly universe whose death I’m still pissed about. Wat in A Knight’s Tale. (Chortle. Is it genre? Who cares, it’s a great film.) He’s K-2SO in Rogue One and yes, he does both the voice and motion capture. Impressive. He also had a recurring role on Dollhose as Alpha, he voiced a number of characters in the Young Justice series streaming on DC Universe, and he was a very irritating Mr. Nobody on the Doom Patrol series.
There are millions of planets out there that could contain intelligent life. We can’t look at them all, so which should we focus on? Using nothing but statistics, astronomer Fergus Simpson predicts the aliens will be living on small, dim planets, they’ll have small populations, big bodies, and will be technologically backward.
This goes against many astronomers’ working assumption that the earth is typical of inhabited planets – and that our sun is an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy. Fergus argues that this is an example of the “fallacy of mediocrity” which we fall for time and time again, whether it’s in our assumptions about gym membership, taxi drivers, or train overcrowding.
Daniel Radcliffe’s new play Endgame has become the first major London production to be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Samuel Beckett play started at the Old Vic theatre in January and had been due to run until 28 March.
The venue said it was scrapping the final two weeks “with great sadness”.
It comes as a long list of other plays, TV shows, gigs and movies have postponed performances and film shoots as the virus continues to spread.
Citing travel and other restrictions, the Old Vic said it was “becoming increasingly impractical to sustain business as usual at our theatre”.
The show also starred Alan Cumming, Jane Horrocks and Karl Johnson.
The theatre said: “We are very sympathetic to people’s personal circumstances, as we are to the audiences who are still excited to visit the theatre and see our productions. We are also extremely aware of our employees’ financial dependence on work being presented and tickets being purchased.”
The theatre warned that giving full refunds for all lost performances would be “financially devastating for us”, so asked ticket-holders to consider the ticket price as a donation.
In return, those who do not ask for their money back will receive a filmed recording of the play from earlier in the run and a private video message of appreciation from the cast.
Meanwhile, the Young Vic theatre has cancelled all remaining performances of Nora: A Doll’s House.
For most of last week, movie theater executives clung grimly on.
At issue, among other things, was CinemaCon, an annual Las Vegas event intended to bolster the most fragile part of the film business: leaving the house, buying a ticket and sitting in the dark with strangers to watch stories unfold on big screens. The National Association of Theater Owners was under pressure to call off the convention because of the coronavirus pandemic, but worries abounded about potential consumer fallout.
What message would canceling the confab send to potential ticket buyers, including those increasingly likely to skip cinemas — even in the best of times — and watch films on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus? American cinemas, after all, were staying open in the face of the pandemic.
Reality eventually made the association pull the plug on CinemaCon, another example of how seemingly every part of American life has been disrupted because of the coronavirus. For movie theaters, however, the pandemic could be a point of no return.
The National Association of Theater Owners has insisted that streaming services are not a threat. “Through every challenge, through every new technology innovation over the last twenty years, theatrical admissions have been stable and box office has consistently grown,” John Fithian, the association’s chief executive, said in a January news release titled “theater owners celebrate a robust 2019 box office.” Ticket sales in North America totaled $11.4 billion, down 4 percent from a record-setting 2018.
Many analysts, however, see a very different picture. Looking at the last 20 years of attendance figures, the number of tickets sold in North America peaked in 2002, when cinemas sold about 1.6 billion. In 2019, attendance totaled roughly 1.2 billion, a 25 percent drop — even as the population of the United States increased roughly 15 percent. Cinemas have kept ticket revenue high by raising prices, but studio executives say there is limited room for continued escalation. Offerings in theaters may also grow more constrained. Even before the pandemic, major studios were starting to route smaller dramas and comedies toward streaming services instead of theaters.
And now comes the coronavirus, which has prompted people to bivouac in their homes, theaters to put in place social-distancing restrictions and studios to postpone most theatrical releases through the end of April. Rich Greenfield, a founder of the LightShed Partners media research firm, predicted that the disruption would speed the ascendance of streaming….
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the company’s board to spend more time on philanthropic activities.
He says he wants to focus on global health and development, education and tackling climate change.
One of the world’s richest men, Mr Gates, 65, has also left the board of Warren Buffett’s massive holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Mr Gates stepped down from his day-to-day role running Microsoft in 2008.
Announcing his latest move, Mr Gates said the company would “always be an important part of my life’s work” and he would continue to be engaged with its leadership.
But he said: “I am looking forward to this next phase as an opportunity to maintain the friendships and partnerships that have meant the most to me, continue to contribute to two companies of which I am incredibly proud, and effectively prioritise my commitment to addressing some of the world’s toughest challenges.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit
goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) CON CANCELLED. MediaWest*Con 40 will not be held – the pioneering
sf/media con in Lansing, MI declares it’s the “End
of an Era”. The con had been scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in
…Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.
Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.
(2) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 1632. Eric Flint posted a 20-year retrospective of 1632 and the
book series it proved to be a launching point for: “Tempus Fugit”.
…I’ve lost track of how many authors have been involved in the Ring of Fire universe, and how many words have been written in the series. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 authors, and we’re now well beyond 10,000,000 words—of which at least 5,000,000 have been produced in paper as well as electronic format. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twenty times as long as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and sixteen times as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And—wait for it! wait for it!—it’s now much longer than the Bible. (Which comes in at 783,137 words, in the King James edition.)
There are now at least two million copies of the 1632 series books in print. And—this is where grubby scribblers chortle with glee—the royalties earned by the authors have just gone over the $2,000,000 mark. Yay for us!
Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives in the United States.
According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”
…The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020. You can see the full requirements and apply here. The winner will be announced in September. The prize is sponsored this year by Biblio, Swann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.
Again, we have a strong ballot in this category. G.V. Anderson is certainly one of the best short fiction writers to have emerged in recent years. Her novelette “A Strange Uncertain Light” is also the only Nebula finalist to have originated in the print magazines. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll is a lovely little story and I’m happy that it made the ballot. Sarah Pinsker and Caroline M. Yoachim are both excellent writers of short fiction, though I haven’t read these particular stories. I also must have missed “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal, even though I usually read the Tor.com stories. However, I have enjoyed other stories by Mimi Mondal that I read. Finally, I’m very happy to see Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo on the Nebula ballot and not just because we featured it at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year. This is the first Nebula finalist we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, by the way, though we have featured finalists and even winners of the Bram Stoker and Sir Julius Vogel Awards.
Diversity count: Six women, two international writers, two writers of colour
Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).
Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.
The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatizing. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.
But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world….
Whatever happened to that girl? You know the one I mean: long hair, old-fashioned dress, with a dark, looming house in the distance and a look of anxiety on her face. She’s most often running from said dark house.
The girl from the Gothic novels.
I’m talking about the mid-20th century Gothic novels, not the original crop of Gothic books, like The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho. No, it’s that second wave of Gothics—termed Gothic romances—that were released in the 1960s in paperback form that I’m referring to. This was a category dominated by authors such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney, and their covers fixed in the minds of a couple of generations what ‘Gothic’ meant….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 20, 1955 — Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode which was also directed by Arnold. It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 20, 1906 — Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based of a member of the French Foreign Legion, and was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contains four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
Born February 20, 1912 — Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
Born February 20, 1925 — Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full blown horror film. And, of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
Born February 20, 1926 — Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
Born February 20, 1943 — Diana Paxson, 77. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
Born February 20, 1954 — Anthony Head, 66. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
Born February 20, 1964 — Rodney Rowland, 56. His best remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film that frankly sounds horrid. He’s got one-offs in X-Files, Welcome to Paradox, Dark Angel, Seven Days, Angel, Charmed and Twin Peaks.
Born February 20, 1967 — Lili Taylor, 53. Her most recent role was as Captain Sandra Maldonado in the short lived Almost Human series, with her first genre role being in The Haunting off Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
(11) ARE WE STILL ALLOWED TO LAUGH? Art Spiegelman reviews SCREWBALL!:
The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey, and a museum
exhibition of Rube Goldberg’s art, in “Foolish
Questions” at the New York Review of Books.
…Now that comics have put on long pants and started to strut around with the grownups by calling themselves graphic novels, it’s important to remember that comics have their roots in subversive joy and nonsense. For the first time in the history of the form, comics are beginning to have a history. Attractively designed collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, and so many more—all with intelligent historical appreciations—are finding their way into libraries.
Paul Tumey, the comics historian who co-edited The Art of Rube Goldberg book seven years ago, has recently put together a fascinating and eccentric addition to the expanding shelves of comics history.3 The future of comics is in the past, and Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four-hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago. The book is a collection of well-researched short biographies of fifteen artists from the first half of the twentieth century, accompanied by generous helpings of their idiosyncratic cartoons. Goldberg—whose name schoolchildren learn when their STEM studies bump into chain reactions—is the perfect front man to beckon you toward the other less celebrated newspaper cartoonists who worked in the screwball vein that Tumey explores.
The Force is strong with Hasbro’s new animatronic Baby Yoda toy.
The actual-sized figure of The Mandalorian‘s The Child comes to life with animatronic motions and sounds taken directly from the hit Disney+ series. Arriving in Fall 2020, this lifelike recreation of The Asset will retail for $59.99 and is intended for ages four and up. He also comes with the Mandalorian’s pendant, as given to him by his mentor Din Djarin.
US customs officers made an unusual discovery when they carried out a spot check on a Canadian mail truck – a human brain inside a jar.
The brain was found at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, on 14 February, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.
It was inside a shipment labelled “Antique Teaching Specimen”.
The shipment originated in Toronto and was destined for Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Upon opening the shipment, CBP officers found the package to contain a human brain specimen inside of a clear glass mason jar without any paperwork or documentation in support of its lawful entry into the United States,” the agency said in a statement.
In case you missed it, the end is nigh. Ever since Jared Diamond published his hugely popular 2005 work Collapse, books on the same theme have been arriving with the frequency of palace coups in the late Roman Empire. Clearly, their authors are responding to a universal preoccupation with climate change, as well as to growing financial and political instability and a sense that civilization is lurching towards a cliff edge. Mention is also made of how big-data tools are shedding new light on historical questions. But do these books have anything useful to share?
The upside of societal collapse is that while it
may be the end of the world for them, it can help with innovation and renewal,
if not there then elsewhere. Also, even if the end of the world cannot be
prevented, learning from past societal collapses may help us soften the
A SCIENCE REPORTER. Andrew Porter advises “Print it out, put it in your wallet! (Put your own
name over the one that’s there.)” Was this what he used to get in and
cover events for SF Chronicle?
Rita Ebel, 62, has come up with a novel way of helping wheelchair users like herself enjoy their shopping experiences in the western German town of Hanau.
Rita, who has been using a wheelchair since a serious car accident 25 years ago, has been building ramps from Lego and distributing them around town.
(17) SCIENTISTS GRASP THE OBVIOUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Horror films make you scared. It’s official. Shock, horror, drama, probe!!!! Psychologists in Finland used functional magnetic resonance imaging on 37 subjects watching horror films to see their ‘hemodynamic brain activity’, which is a psychologist’s poncy way of what we biologists call ‘blood flow’. (Why use two words when you can use three longer ones). Different parts of the brain were stimulated when another group was shown non-horror films. Or in the psychologists’ words: “[Their] main finding was that acute fear elicited consistent activity in a distributed set of cortical, limbic, and cerebellar regions, most notably the prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, amygdala, cingulate cortex, insula, PAG, parrahippocampus, and thalamus.”
…Here we studied the brain basis of sustained and acute fear using naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enabling analysis of different time-scales of fear responses. Subjects (N ?= ?37) watched feature-length horror movies while their hemodynamic brain activity was measured with fMRI….
…Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony said Wednesday that it will not participate in next week’s PAX East gaming exposition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, out of concern about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Sony announced its decision in a post on its PlayStation blog:
“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
In response, PAX East organizers vowed that the show would go on, but with extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state, and federal public health guidelines,” the organizers said on the PAX website. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
A new deepfake puts Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, “The Cage” — and I kind of love it. In this particular AI-powered face swap, Bezos plays a Talosian alien with a huge bald head, while Musk plays Captain Christopher Pike (who is the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk).
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Karl-Johan Norén, Bill
Wagner, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) NOT FAR FROM THE TREE. Apple TV+ has dropped the
Amazing Stories — Official Trailer. The show debuts March 6 on the Apple TV app –
if you have an Apple TV+ subscription: Amazing Stories.
From visionary executive producers Steven Spielberg and Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, this reimagining of the classic anthology series transports everyday characters into worlds of wonder, possibility, and imagination
(2) IN THE AUDIENCE AT BOSKONE. Filer Mlex posted a report about the sessions he attended at this weekend’s “Boskone 2020”.
Fairy Tales from the Dark Side
Theodora Goss started off this session by noting that she spent some years of her childhood in Budapest and that she takes particular interest in the fairy tales of Hungary, with their typical strong heroines. She went on to say that fairies vary quite a lot, not only in different cultural traditions, but depending on the date and conditions where they were formed. Victorians had their small flower fairies, for example, and subtle messages could be presented in the form of fairy tales about feminism or other social and political movements. Think of the women brewing eels, bats, herbs, and potions. The fairy represents the human encounter with the magical other.
Isabel Yap noted that Fillipino fairies do not play by human rules. They are not so clearly anthropomorphized and might often turn into fish, or other creatures. These fairy tales might be quite violent, and the fairies are not on our side.
(3) LISTENING TO A CULTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] There is something of a theme
taking place in British culture this spring.
And finally, back at
the BBC, Radio 4 has just launched another season of its SFnal Dangerous
Visions the first episode of 4
is ‘Blackout’ and concerns what happens when the internet (hence power as the
grid is web managed) crashes…
Be thankful you can
still read this post….
(4) VISUALIZING THE CULTURE. I don’t know how I missed this — The Culture: Notes and Drawings by Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod is set for a November 26 release date.
Iain M. Banks, the modern master of SF, created many original drawings detailing the universe of his bestselling Culture novels. Now these illustrations – many of them annotated – are being published for the very first time in a book that celebrates Banks’s grand vision, with additional notes and material by Banks’s longtime friend and fellow SF author Ken MacLeod. It is an essential addition to the collection of any Iain M. Banks fan.
No matter who you are or where you come from, there are boundaries and barriers that dictate what you can do, where you can go, and who you can become. Invisible threads running through society, pulling you this way or that, tripping you when you try to better yourself, ensnaring and holding you back. Invisible Threads is an anthology of dark sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories that examine these barriers.
Confirmed authors include Alix Harrow, Andi Buchanan, Maurice Broaddus, Fran Wilde, Chesya Burke, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Stephanie Malia Morris, Jordan Kurella, K.T. Bryski, ZZ Claybourne, A.C. Buchanan, Damien Angelica Walters, Beth Dawkins, Geoffrey Girard, Sabrina Vourvoulias, A.C. Wise, and Michael Wehunt. We plan to hold an open submissions call should we fund.
(6) EVEN IF IT IS JOSHI. The John Hay Library at Brown University invites
applications for its 2020-2021 S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research
relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application
deadline is March 13,
The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others. The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library (projects do not need to relate to Lovecraft directly). The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $2,500 for up to two months of research at the library between July 2020 and June 2021. The fellowship is open to students, faculty, librarians, artists, and independent scholars.
(7) DOOM IN
BLOOM. In “The
Pleasure (Reading) of Impending Doom” at CrimeReads, Tosca Lee recommends novels by Ben H.
Winters, William Fortschen, A.G. Riddle if you want to read novels about global
As a lifelong lover of a good doomsday story, I’ve always considered the tenacity and resourcefulness of the human spirit to be the category’s major appeal—along with the it-could-really-happen scary plausibility and ingenious “prepping” specifics, of course. But it wasn’t until I started writing my apocalyptic thriller, The Line Between, that the real charm of the genre became apparent to me.
I’d recently married a single father and become an insta-mom to four. Life was busy and crowded with details. But as I began to plot my literary cataclysm, the chaos of daily life—work, bills, school schedules, errands, house stuff, holidays, political noise, grocery lists, social media, bucket lists, and those ever-elusive last ten pounds—fell away in the face of a story with a single goal: survival. Suddenly, that looming list of to-dos doesn’t seem so insurmountable—or even important—compared to savoring time with those we love while we’re all here on earth together.
…Nakahara portrayed Nurse Kellye Yamato for 167 episodes of the hit show (according to IMDb). It would go on to be her largest and most memorable role. She followed it up with bit parts in television series such as At Ease, Hunter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and with film roles in Clue (the cook, Mrs. Ho), Black Day Blue Night (as Fat Mama), and Eddie Murphy’s version of Doctor Dolittle (credited as Beagle Woman).
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 17, 1959 — The Cosmic Man premiered. It produced by Robert A. Terry and directed by Herbert S. Greene. The film stars John Carradine, Bruce Bennett and Angela Greene. The film was shot quickly, primarily on a hotel lobby set, and in Griffith Park in L.A., where the Griffith Observatory was used as stand-in for the Pacific Institute of Technology. At least in Los Angeles, it played on a double bill with House on Haunted Hill. With the notable exception of Variety who really didn’t like it, most critics at the time found it to be a pleasant, fun experience. The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes does not reflect that — it has a 0% rating from the very few, only thirty four, who’ve given it a score. You can see it here.
February 17, 1966 — On this day in Dublin, The Projected Man premiered. It was directed by Ian Curteis from a script by Peter Bryan, John C. Cooper, and Frank Quattrocchi, and starred Bryant Haliday, Mary Peach, Norman Wooland, Ronald Allen, and Derek Farr. Universal Studios released it on a double bill with Terror Island. Critics noted the monster’s resemblance to that of one in The Fly but those involved here denied that film inspired the look of the creature in this movie. It was featured in a ninth season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and currently the audience over at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 3% rating. You can see it here.
February 17, 1966 — In the
United Kingdom, Episode Twenty-one of the first season of The Thunderbirds,
“The Duchess Assignment”, aired. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson,
and. filmed by their production company. The electronic marionette puppetry which
they called Supermarionation was combined with scale-model special
effects sequences. It was the fifth such project by their company. You
can see this episode of the Thunderbirds here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 17, 1903 — Kenne Duncan. He’s got a number of genre credits starting with the 1938 Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars serial where he was the Airdrome Captain. He’d play Ram Singh, the butler to the Spider, in The Spider’s Web and The Spider Returns serials, and he’d be Lt. Lacy in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial. Several years later, he’d be Cheney Hencheman Barnett in The Adventures of Captain Marvel serial. You can see him in the first chapter of Spider’s Web serial here. (Died 1972.)
Born February 17, 1912 — Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with some fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
Born February 17, 1920 — Curt Swan. He’s the artist most associated with Superman during the Silver Age, and he produced hundreds of covers and stories from the Fifties through the Eighties. He would be let go in the DC reorganization of the Eighties with his last work as a regular artist on Superman being the 1986 story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” that was written by Alan Moore. (Died 1996.)
Born February 17, 1930 — Ruth Rendell. I’ve read and enjoyed some of her mysteries down the decade but am not familiar at all with the three listed as genre by ISFDB (The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid). Who of you is familiar with these? (Died 2015.)
Born February 17, 1931 — Johnny Hart. The creator of B.C. and The Wizard of Id. (Brant Pant was the other creator of the latter strip.) He certainly wasn’t without controversy as this strip attests. (Died 2007.)
Born February 17, 1954 — Don Coscarelli, 66. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person
Born February 17, 1971 — Denise Richards, 49. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. She’ll be a few years later Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She’s been announced as playing Victoria Darw in the still to be scheduled Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
Born February 17, 1974 — Jerry O’Connell, 46. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind the broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Justice League Dark, The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent.
(11) SH-BOOM. High Seas Trading Co. has reason to brag
about its “Outer
The Hawaiian Shirt that the Astronauts wore on Aloha Friday on the International Space Station.This space themed Hawaiian shirt is out of this world.
(12) FRESH LID. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 14th February 2020” maps
the abstractions of nautical horror with Underwater and The
Lighthouse, take a look at the amazing Parasite and shows him
learning to Hack the Panic!
In Thomas Disch’s 1967 novel Echo Round His Bones, Nathan Hansard is transmitted to America’s Camp Jackson Mars via teleporter. This is a routine operation…or so it is believed. Wrongly. Hansard is surprised to discover himself somewhere other than Mars. Teleportation creates phantom duplicates on Earth, living ghosts dependent on the phantom duplicates of supplies sent to Mars. Food is in short supply, but no matter. Some of Hansard’s predecessors have solved the problem in a straightforward manner: by eating their fellow phantoms….
But if they eat The Phantom, who will remain to leave comments on Lela Buis’ blog?
Scientists say they have “decisively” overturned the prevailing theory for how planets in our Solar System formed.
The established view is that material violently crashed together to form ever larger clumps until they became worlds.
New results suggest the process was less catastrophic – with matter gently clumping together instead.
The study appears in Science journal and has been presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.
…The claim arises from detailed study of an object in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Named Arrokoth, the object is more than six billion km from the Sun in a region called the Kuiper belt. It is a pristine remnant of planet formation in action as the Solar System emerged 4.6 billion years ago, with two bodies combining to form a larger one.
Scientists obtained high-resolution pictures of Arrokoth when Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft flew close to it just over a year ago. It gave scientists their first opportunity to test which of the two competing theories was correct: did the two components crash together or was there gentle contact?
The analysis by Dr Stern and his team could find no evidence of violent impact. The researchers found no stress fractures, nor was there any flattening, indicating that the objects were squashed together gently.
Netflix and Mattel TV announced an expansive voice cast for its upcoming “Masters of the Universe” series from Kevin Smith. The cast is led by Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn and Chris Wood as Prince Adam aka He-Man.
The new series, “Masters of the Universe: Revelations,” will focus on the unresolved storylines of the original 1982 TV series, picking up many of the characters’ journeys where they left off decades ago.
In addition to those three, the cast also includes Sarah Michelle Gellar (Teela), Liam Cunningham (Man-At-Arms), Stephen Root (Cringer), Diedrich Bader (King Randor/Trap Jaw), Griffin Newman (Orko), Tiffany Smith (Andra), Henry Rollins (Tri-Klops), Susan Eisenberg (Sorceress), Alicia Silverstone (Queen Marlena), Justin Long (Roboto), Jason Mewes (Stinkor), Phil LaMarr (He-Ro), Tony Todd (Scare Glow), Cree Summer (Priestess), Kevin Michael Richardson (Beast Man), Kevin Conroy (Mer-Man) and Harley Quinn Smith (Ileena).
(17) INSPECTOR SPOT-ET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spot may not be designed to follow the Three Laws (yet?),
but it is starting to protect humans by taking over certain hazardous and/or
mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. Of course, some people would argue that it’s also
starting to threaten humans by taking over certain hazardous
and/or mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. SYFY Wire:“Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog gets a job working an offshore
See Spot walk. See Spot sit.
See Spot roll over. See Spot
run onto a Norwegian oil rig to sniff out lethal gas leaks!
Boston Dynamics’ next-generation robotic device, affectionately nicknamed Spot, will soon be embarking on a new test mission aboard an offshore oil rig for petroleum product producer Aker BP and AI software company Cognite. The newly announced project will be rolled out to test a number of advanced robots and drones on Aker BP’s Skarv installation in the Norwegian Sea later this year.
[…] “Our vision is to digitalize all our operations from cradle to grave in order to increase productivity, enhance quality, and improve the safety of our employees,” Aker BP’s CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik said in a press release. “Exploring the potential of robotics offshore underpin our digital journey.”
Sculpting – **** The sculpt isn’t particularly detailed, but the original robot had a lot of smooth surfaces.
What sets this guy apart is all the individual pieces that went into making him, particularly inside and attached to the dome. Check out the levers and doo-dads which would spin and turn and clack along as he spoke and moved, demonstrating the very analog way we looked at robots back then. You could almost see the zeroes and ones flitting through his mechanical brain. Of course none of the interior dome pieces on this figure move, but the detail work is quite impressive for this price point.
The body recreates the original look quite well, although the proportions are a smidge off. Still, at a solid 14″ tall, he’s about the right height and scale to fit in great with other sixth scale figures, including the old Lost In Space characters.
(19) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. (A) Vous Regardez Un Film on Vimeo is
a cartoon by Jon Boutin about the drudgery of going to the office.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Mlex, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who scores a Rishathra hat trick.]
The impact of romance books on the culture is outsize because everyone is interested in romance, whether they admit it publicly or not.
…But there’s inevitably a small contingent of writers who simply can’t handle being criticized, whether directly or indirectly. Vitriolic responses to critics are hardly limited to well-known writers; those who aspire to become household names are equally prone to them. Having your work dissected, discussed and sometimes even demeaned, however, is part of putting it out into the world. All writers know this — or at least they should — and writing romance novels is no exception.
(2) FOLLOW THE MONEY. Jason Sanford continues releasing
interviews he conducted with sff
magazine editors in conjunction with his well-researched report#SFF2020:
The State of Genre Magazines.
Jason: You said Fireside pays its editors a fee for each issue of the print magazine, with the fee based on Fireside’s word rate and the revenue to pay for this coming entirely from subscribers. Was there a break-even point with subscribers where this started to work? Do you still rely on any fundraising to support the magazine?
Pablo: I think using a word like ‘fundraising’ is misleading. Fireside is not a non-profit, and it’s not a charity – so we’re not ‘raising funds’ for anything. Using vocabulary linked to non-profits and charities implies that the people who support us are doing so out of the kindness of their heart, without receiving any direct value in return. The stories, artwork, and publications that Fireside publishes have value, our customers recognize that, and are willing to pay money for it.
Jason: According to this year’s Locus Magazine survey, Escape Pod has an audience size of 37,000 people, making it one of the largest English-language SF magazines in the world. What percentage of your audience supports the magazine with donations? Any thoughts on how to convinces more genre readers and listeners to support the magazines they love?
Mur: I believe we have the typical 1% rate of donation. We have no funding but our listeners, and the couple of times we’ve been in trouble, we’ve been honest with saying, hey, we can’t keep delivering the show to you if you don’t support us, and they’ve always stepped up. With Patreon it’s much easier to allow people to donate on a sustaining level and get rewards as well!
…On Monday, Terrio walked back that explanation, saying that the real issue with Rose had nothing to do with visual effects.
He told Vulture: “I badly misspoke if in an earlier statement I implied that any cut scenes between Rose and Leia were the fault of our VFX team and the wizards at ILM. In that earlier interview, I was referring to a specific scene in which Leia’s emotional state in ‘Episode VII’ [‘The Force Awakens’] did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in ‘Episode IX’ [‘Rise’] and so it was cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done.”
Terrio underscored to the Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the issue did not involve “photorealism,” as he earlier stated. “I would sometimes come and sit at the VFX reviews and my jaw would drop at seeing Leia live again.”
(Representatives from the film have not yet responded to a request from The Post to speak with Terrio.)
Every year, around Christmas and New Year a round-robin is sent to many members of the SF² Concatenation team asking for their favourite SF/F/H books and films of the previous year. If just two or three nominate the same work then it gets added to a list of Best SF/F/H works of the previous year. This list appears in the Spring (northern hemisphere academic year) edition’s news page. It is simply a bit of fun and not meant to be taken too seriously but as a pointer for our regulars to perhaps check out some recent works. Yet over the years, each year sees a few from these lists go on to be short-listed, and even win, a number of SF awards.
…Parisot remembers Colantoni’s audition inventiveness setting the tone for the Thermians. After a solid read, the direct says he could tell the actor was holding back on his way out the door.
“For some reason I said, ‘Rico, it seems like you’ve got something on your mind,’” recalls the director. “He goes, ‘Well, I have this voice. I don’t know if it works.’ I said, ‘What is it? Try it.’ He did it and I just went, ‘Oh my God, that’s it!’
“The Thermians came out of that voice,” Parisot continues. As more actors were added to the Thermian ranks, that voice became the reference point with every addition, including Missi Pyle (Laliari), Jed Rees (Teb), and Patrick Breen (Quellek).
“We had alien school and we would come up with things like the walk,” Parisot remembers. “Rather than swinging in the direction most people do, we went the opposite direction with the arms, and the posture because they’re basically giant calamari hiding in human shape.
India’s space agency says that four astronaut candidates have been selected for its first human mission, targeted to launch by 2022, but they’ve not been publicly named or identified.
India hopes to join the United States, Russia and China as the world’s fourth nation capable of sending people to space. It has been developing its own crewed spacecraft, called Gaganyaan (or “sky vehicle” in Sanskrit), that would let two to three people orbit the Earth on a week-long spaceflight.
K Sivan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, held a press briefing on New Year’s Day and told reporters that the four astronauts would start their training in Russia in a few weeks.
(9) NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION DAY. There’s even
entry – unfortunately, one that makes it sound like a big commercial. That
attitude would make more sense to me if I’d ever seen a Hallmark card for the
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 2, 1996 — The Demon Headmaster aired the first episode of its three seasons. Based on the children’s series by Gillian Cross of the same name, the later books were based off the screenplays for the series which Cross wrote. The cast included Terrence Hardiman, Frances Amey, Gunnar Atli, Cauthery and Thomas Szekeres. A sequel series was done.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 2, 1920 — Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarize him here so I won’t. My favorite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction but I’ll be damn if I can recall any of it specifically right now. (Died 1992.)
Born January 2, 1940 — Susan Wittig Albert, 80. She’s the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a series of mysteries featuring that writer. Really. Truly. Haven’t read them but they bear such delightful titles as The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She has non-genre series involving an herbalist and a gardening club as well.
Born January 2, 1948 — Deborah Watling, Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.)
Born January 2, 1952 — Caitlín Matthews, 68. Fiction writer. Well she sure as Odin’s Beard isn’t a scholar in any meaningful sense. With her husband John, she’s written such works as King Arthur’s Raid on the Underworld: The Oldest Grail Quest, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures and on her own, Mabon and the Mysteries of Britain: An Exploration of the Mabinogion. They’re entertaining as long as you accept that they’re really mostly fiction.
Born January 2, 1959 — Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 61. Wiki in a fit of exuberance list him as a “editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger”. Which is true. He’s won three Hugo Awards for Best Editor Long, and he won a World Fantasy Award for editing the Starlight 1 anthology.
Born January 2, 1967 — Tia Carrere, 53. Best remembered for her three-season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a lot of one-offs on genre series including Quantum Leap, Hercules, Tales from The Crypt, Airwolf, Friday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13.
Born January 2, 1979 — Tobias S. Buckell, 41. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection.
Born January 2, 1983 — Kate Bosworth, 37. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series done the superb Len Deighton novel. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I- Land Netflixseries where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns.
(12) SOLAR TO BLAME. Mark Lawrence’s “Star
one stars!” features bad reviews that Amazon customers gave books, complaining
about things that aren’t in the writer’s control. His first example —
I was recently the lucky recipient of this 1* review on Amazon. It struck me as worthy of note because not only is it not a review of the book, it’s not even a criticism of Amazon. It’s more of a critique of the customer’s own life skills…
“1*: Can’t remember ordering these books. Not my type of subject. Unable to find a method of cancelling the transaction”
(13) LIGHT ‘EM UP. Cora Buhlert tells how she celebrated a “Happy New Year
2020” in Germany, where fireworks are part of the tradition – but for how
…However, this year some organisations are calling for a complete ban on private fireworks. The initial reasons given were environmental – fireworks release smoke and microparticles, but then other reasons like animal welfare and health and safety were also given. Plus, there is a call – echoed by various charities – that fireworks are a waste of money and that the people should rather donate the money spent on fireworks to charity. One figure that’s often bandied about is that in 2018, 130 million Euros were spent on fireworks in Germany. That sounds like a lot – until you do the calculations and realise that this figure means that every person in Germany spent 1,57 Euros per year on fireworks on average. And 1,57 Euros per person is not a lot of money, especially if you consider that the total figure of 130 million Euros also includes money spent on professional fireworks.
So why are fireworks suddenly so controversial, especially since they are limited to one night of the year – with the occasional firecracker going off a few days before or after? IMO, the underlying reason is just that some people find fireworks annoying, because they are noisy, frivolous and the wrong kind of people (teenagers, immigrants, poor people) are having fun. In recent times, there has been a resurgence of the kind of joyless moralism that dominated the 1980s. And not coincidentally, the “Give to charity rather than buying fireworks” campaign originally also dates from the 1980s.
(14) IN TIMES TO COME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] Nature points out “The
science events to watch for in 2020”. This includes… 2020 will
see a veritable Mars invasion as several spacecraft, including three landers,
head to the red planet. NASA will launch its Mars 2020 rover, which will stash
rock samples that will be returned to Earth in a future mission and will also
feature a small, detachable helicopter drone. China will send its first lander
to Mars, Huoxing-1, which will deploy a small rover. A Russian spacecraft will
deliver a European Space Agency (ESA) rover to the red planet — if issues with
the landing parachute can be resolved. And the United Arab Emirates will send
an orbiter, in the first Mars mission by an Arab country. Closer to home, China
is planning to send the Chang’e-5 sample-return mission to the Moon.
is a pic of the forthcoming Mars lander being tested.
3600-SOME-ODD SHOPPING DAYS ‘TIL. In “The
2030 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide” on Vice, Tim Maughan
foresees what the hot holiday items of ten years from now will be, including
Barron Trump’s rap albums and Marvel Vs. Star Wars VI: The Final Conflict.
…Want to take a low flying helicopter ride over the Texas Refinery District Toxic Exclusion Zone? Try urban scuba deep under what was once the Miami waterfront? Or maybe you want to take a leaf out of your favorite influencer’s book, and get your photo taken on the rim of the crater that was once the Space X test facility? The Unlimited Dream Company can make it happen, with its range of exclusive, customizable tourist trips. You’ll be given full safety training and orientation—including an entry level handgun course for trips in disputed states—and will be accompanied by medical staff*, Darklake certified security agents, and tour guides with unmatched local knowledge.
True story, Word of Honor: Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer now dead, and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?” And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?” And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” Not bad! Rest in peace!
It isn’t hard to imagine yourself inside an Edward Hopper painting — having a coffee at a late-night diner, or staring out the bedroom window at the bright morning sun.
Now, for $150 a night, you can sleep in one — or a reproduction of one — at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Designers have constructed a 3D version of Hopper’s 1957 Western Motel, and invited Hopper fans to sleep over.
It feels a little funny getting undressed for bed in a museum. (There are plenty of nudes on the walls, but you don’t expect to be one yourself.) But suddenly there you are, in your jammies — a guard outside in the hallway — turning off the goose-neck lamp on the bedside table, tucking yourself under a deep burgundy bedspread, and looking out the big picture “window” at a green Buick parked outside.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to get its first transgender superhero.
“And very soon. In a movie that we’re shooting right now,” Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said during a Q&A at the New York Film Academy.
Asked by a fan whether there were any plans for more LGBT characters in Marvel’s films, “specifically the T, trans characters”, Kevin said: “Yes, absolutely. Yes.”
This year, The Eternals will introduce Marvel movies’ first gay character.
There have been reports since 2019 that Phase 4 of the MCU – the films following the Avengers Infinity saga – would star a trans character.
Marvel has also said it will introduce its first deaf superhero in The Eternals and its first Asian-American superhero, in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
“You look at the success of Captain Marvel and Black Panther. We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen,” Kevin Feige previously said.
Love the Fralinger String Band? Then you came to the right place. We’ve got Fralinger’s 2020 Mummers Parade performance video of their “Lunar Effect” theme and some photos below.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy,
Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
(1) QUEEN’S NEW YEAR HONOURS. Over a thousand people are on the list. It is a very good New Year to be a musician with the surname “John” — both Olivia Newton-John and Elton John received honours.
As for literature and genre…
Queen’s New Year’s Honors list, literary agent Felicity
Bryan was given an MBE for services to publishing, and novelist Rose
Tremain was made a Dame.
Director Sam Mendes received a Knighthood for services to
drama. He was Executive Producer of Penny Dreadful, and his two James
Bond movies, the Oscar winning Skyfall and Spectre, released in
2012 and 2015 respectively, are the most successful in the history of the
(2) THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES. Jason Sanford has released “a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age” — “#SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines”. His report is loaded with information and includes observations by a dozen magazine editors.
Back in August I tweeted congrats to the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies for achieving their fundraising goal. Which again, excellent news! But I then foolishly used that thread to try and demonstrate why BCS’s success was proof that science fiction and fantasy magazines were doing better than ever.
Spoiler: I was wrong. As multiple editors and publishers of genre magazines quickly pointed out.
In addition, the boon of e-publishing has lowered the traditional printing and distribution cost barriers to creating new genre magazines. This allows more people than ever, including marginalized and diverse voices, to create their own magazines without the need for a large company or trust fund to support their dreams.
But despite all this, times are still tough for many magazines. A number of high-profile and award-winning genre magazines have shut down in the last two years, including Apex Magazine, The Book Smugglers (although their review site continues), Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Shimmer.
And during this same time period Neil Clarke, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Clarkesworld, has been speaking publicly about the many issues faced by genre magazines and warning that the short fiction market was “oversaturated when compared to the number of paying readers.” He believed this might eventually result in a market correction and said a big part of the problem was that having so many SF/F short stories available to read for free had “devalued short fiction.”
(3) CLIMATE CHANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie.] Not strictly SF but since climate fiction
is arguably a sub-branch of SF —
The BBC Radio 4 morning Today programme is the
most listened radio news programme in the British Isles.
In the dead period between Christmas and New Year,
when Westminster and Capitol Hill are shut down, the Today programme
gives over editorial control to guest editors. This morning (30th Dec) we
had Greta Thunberg as the day’s editor who brought on folk from Antarctic
researchers to the head of the Bank of England.
It is a three-hour programme interspersed with the
general news of the day — such as the Australian wildfires. Rarely do we
get such an intense, diverse burst of climate information on a news programme. You
can listen to it here.
Back then I was perhaps considered as depressing and
even a few might have thought a little controversial alarmist. However over the
subsequent decade I have bullet-point listed the key science developments since my
original writing of the essay. These show how the overall science view
has slowly migrated to my own perspective. In fact, today my own views
might be considered by some as positively conservative…
But if you want a short (8 minute) summary as to how
well we are doing addressing the issue then here’s Thunberg herself earlier
Map lovers will be thrilled by the possibility to peruse some of the world’s most unique historic maps. Over 91,000 maps from the exhaustive David Rumsey Map Collection have been placed online for the world to view and download, making it a treasure trove of information related to cartography. The collection, which was started over 30 years ago, is now housed at Stanford University.
In the 1980s, David Rumsey, president of the digital publishing company Cartography Associates, began building his collection by first focusing on maps of North and South America. With materials dating from the 16th to 21st centuries, the collection is unique in its scope of maps focusing on the United States. From 19th-century ribbon maps of the Mississippi to the world’s largest early world map, the collection is filled with special gems that show the wide variety of artistic maps produced throughout history.
If you’re a pantser you are not in sole charge of the work. The characters, the plot, the theme, all chip in and drag the book to new and exciting places. You want them to do that. This is the whole point of pantsing in the first place. The book will go to places that you, if you outlined it at the beginning, could never have imagined. You know the thing’s really alive, when it gets up and runs!
But to get this to happen, you have to listen…
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1865 — Rudyard Kipling. Yea, Kipling. I didn’t do him last year and he’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “ The Cat that Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that I should’ve of done so. Or there’s always The Jungle Books, which run to far more stories than I thought. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
Born December 30, 1922 — Jane Langton. Author of the Hall Family Chronicles series which is definitely SFF in nature having both fantasy and SF elements in these charming tales for children. The eight books herein are mostly not available digitally though Kindle has the final novel but the Homer Kelly mysteries which both Fantastic Fiction and ISFDB list as genre or genre-adjacent are partially available. (Died 2018.)
Born December 30, 1942 — Fred Ward, 77. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins which was pleasant but forgettable upon finishing. Co-lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series. My favorite role for him? Detective H.P. Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell. Is he that Lovecraft? Maybe, maybe not.
Born December 30, 1945 — Concetta Tomei, 74. Blank Dominique, operator along with Blank Reg (the late Morgan Shepherd) of Big Time Television, on Max Headroom. She’s had one-offs on Touched by an Angel, Numb3rs, Ghost Whisperer, and Voyager.
Born December 30, 1950 — Lewis Shiner, 69. Damn, his Deserted Cities of the Heart novelwas frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I see is on the DC Universe app. Yea! Anyone that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on Kindle with Joe Lansdale? It looks interesting.
Born December 30, 1951 — Avedon Carol, 68. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund to Albacon II in Glasgow, And she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3.
Born December 30, 1959 — Douglas A. Anderson, 60. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there. Today he’s saying a few words about Holdstock.
Born December 30, 1976 — Rhianna Pratchett, 43. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her father. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot. For her father, she’s overseen and being involved several years back in The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel, to print. She was also with Simon Green the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They, of course, helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 39. First genre role was Faith in the Buffyverse. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One which is quite well done and definitely worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out as of note. One is is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies – view here. The other role is fascinating — The Lady In Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.
Born December 30, 1986 — Faye Marsay, 33. Shona McCullough In a Twelfth Doctor story, “The Last Christmas”. She also was on A Game of Thrones for several seasons as The Waif. (Who that is I know not as I didn’t watch that series.) She also played Blue Colson in Black Mirror’s “Hated in the Nation” tale. Her theater creds include Hansel & Gretel, Peter Pan and Macbeth — all definitely genre.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump – a superhero joke so obvious you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it first.
…The most recent teardown on our list, this 1937 Cheviot Hills house was the home of author Ray Bradbury for more than 50 years. In January 2015, starchitect Thom Mayne began deconstruction of the house, much to the chagrin of Bradbury fans and local preservationists. Mayne claimed, “I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house. It was not just un-extraordinary, but unusually banal.”
In Retrospect: Rowling’s Hugo Award is very likely one of the most controversial in the history of the award – while beloved, the Harry Potter novels have never quite received their due as literature. They are books for children and the series is wildly popular, a combination which is great for success and less great for earning respect (such that it truly matters).
The main thing working against Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for its place in Hugo Award history, though, is that it won the award over A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin (as well as novels from Ken MacLeod, Robert Sawyer, and Nalo Hopkinson). A Storm of Swords is, notably, the third novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire sequence and widely considered the finest novel in not only that series but in Martin’s acclaimed career. To those who care about such things, Martin is considered “core genre”, writing epic fantasy and being a lifetime part of the Worldcon community. Rowling was an outsider who writes children’s books. I’m sure there is a segment of the old guard Worldcon crowd who still has not gotten over Rowling’s win and Martin’s loss….
After first pledging to upend the way people worked, WeWork vowed to change how they lived: WeLive, a sleek dormitory for working professionals with free beer, arcade games in the laundry room and catered Sunday dinners, would spread around the world.
It has not quite turned out that way.
WeLive has not expanded beyond its first two locations and efforts to open sites in India and Israel have collapsed. In addition to long-term rentals, WeLive offers rooms at its only locations, in New York City and Virginia, for nightly stays on hotel sites.
…Now WeLive’s chances of surviving as the We Company tries to recover from its failed initial public offering are slim, said Scott Galloway, a business analyst and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“I bet WeLive is wonderful for everyone except the shareholders and We,’’ Mr. Galloway said. “There was a total lack of internal controls. Where were the board’s basic questions like, ‘Why are we doing WeLive?’”
The uncertainty about WeLive comes as other co-living companies are thriving and expanding. A London-based company, The Collective, has plans to build a co-living building in Brooklyn, while another company, Common, has more than 12,000 beds under development in multiple cities, including a 600-unit building in Miami.
Constance: Ooh, this is tricky, and actually, Veronica Mars is a good case study here.
Veronica Mars went on as long as it did entirely because of its fandom. In the ’00s, fan mail-in campaigns got it renewed for a second and third season despite low ratings. In 2013, the fan Kickstarter campaign raised over $5 million to pay for the movie’s production budget. This year, the show’s history of intense fan engagement is an enormous part of what led to the Veronica Mars Hulu revival — and in that revival, Veronica’s love interest Logan dies, destroying the ship that large swaths of the fandom were hugely invested in and, with it, their fannish investment in the show.
My impulse when Logan died was to think, “Well, that sucks, but certainly showrunner Rob Thomas is entitled to do whatever he wants with his characters. He doesn’t owe me or his fans anything.” But a number of fans disagreed: Rob Thomas, they said, had taken advantage of their desire to see Veronica and Logan together, using their investment as shippers to leverage not just their time and attention, but the literal dollars out of their pockets. In that case, didn’t he owe them something? Wasn’t killing Logan a betrayal of the contract Thomas had made with the fandom?
To be honest, I can see the argument. When a show’s survival depends this heavily on its fans, the power dynamic between creator and fandom does change dramatically. The Veronica Mars fandom went above and beyond to keep that show coming back again and again, and the showrunner responded by destroying the piece of the show that a huge part of the fandom cared about most. Emotionally, that does feel like a betrayal.
Emily:…I think a lot about a quote from Joss Whedon that I heard when I was a teenager and decided was accurate without a ton of reflection: “Don’t give people what they want; give them what they need.” Of the many bits of storytelling wisdom Whedon has dispensed in interviews over the years, this is the one that has most taken on a life beyond his fandom, because it speaks to something that I think we’re all a little wary of in 2019: anesthetizing art against the horrors of the world so much that it becomes a sort of safe space.
…That rich worldbuilding seen in the first novel is extended and expanded on here. From the nature of magic, to the political structure of the capital (including the true structure of the Queen’s Men), the novel enfolds rich details of the main character’s world. Both Ellisberg and now, Dannsburg come across as distinct, real cities that you can imagine walking down the streets of (although do mind the smell of the first, and all the guards in the second)….
(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s Final Jeopardy, contestants
showed they can draw a blank on non-sff literary items, too. Andrew Porter took
Answer: In a New Yorker profile, he said, “Where I like it is out west in Wyoming, Montana, & Idaho, & I like Cuba & Paris.”
Wrong questions: “Who is Kerouac?” and “Who is John Wayne?”
In this episode of Kurzgesagt, they’re talking about building engines powerful enough to move entire stars, dragging their solar systems along with them….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Alan Baumler, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) DARK MARK WALKED BACK? Christine Feehan tweeted another
update, saying that she “asked my trademark lawyer to withdraw all of the
current single word applications that have been filed and are causing so much distress.”
The statement, screencapped below, has been greeted with a mix of approval and skepticism
– see comments in the thread which starts here.
(2) MULAN. A second trailer for Disney’s Mulan dropped
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
… The Doctor Who and Broadchurch star is fronting the eight-part drama, which is produced by Slim Film + Television.
Following an outrageous bet, Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, played by rising French actor Ibrahim Koma, take on the legendary journey of circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days, swiftly joined by aspiring journalist Abigail Fix, played by The Crown’s Leonie Benesch, who seizes the chance to report on this extraordinary story.
Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, where the famed 19th-century author and literary critic lived during the 1830s, has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries, a nationwide advocacy group and division of the American Library Association.
The Poe House will be Maryland’s first Literary Landmark, but not the first involving Poe. Philadelphia’s Edgar Allan Poe House, one of several places the author called home while living in Philly, was added to the list in 1988. And a stuffed Grip, Charles Dickens’ pet raven and the inspiration (so many believe) for Poe’s poem (the one Baltimore named its NFL team after), resides in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. It was named to the list in 1999.
The national registry of Literary Landmarks, begun in 1986, singles out sites and objects with special literary significance….
(5) EREWHON LIT SALON. Carlos
Hernandez and C.S.E. Cooney will be the readers at the Erewhon Literary Salon
on December 12. The event takes place in the
office of Erewhon Books in the Flatiron/NoMad district of Manhattan. For
full information and policies, and to
RSVP, click here. Event address
and information will be emailed to those who have RSVPed a few days before the
CARLOS HERNANDEZ is the author of over 40 SFF short stories, poems, and works of drama. His critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria came out in 2016 from Rosarium, and his middle-grade novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe was published by Disney Hyperion in 2019. Carlos is a CUNY professor of English and a game designer and enthusiast. Look for Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe in May 5, 2020.
C.S.E. COONEY is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories. Her work includes the Tor novella Desdemona and the Deep, three albums: Alecto! Alecto!, The Headless Bride, and Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and a poetry collection: How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Sword and Sonnet anthology, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and elsewhere.
…There are more tricks available, but every solution boils down to three things: make sense, make it matter, and make it clear.
“Make sense” means that whatever you do needs to feel true. The disruption to the available speculative elements needs to be either baked into the world, or clearly explained, so that it doesn’t feel like the exception is just there to allow the story to be told (even though that’s totally why you did it)…
(7) RETRO LANDS IN
HOUSTON. The late Fritz Leiber won a Retro Hugo at Dublin 2019 –
it’s now safely ensiled at the University of Houston Libraries:
(8) WEINER OBIT. Canadian sff writer Andrew Weiner, whose
first published story was “Empire of the Sun” in Again, Dangerous Visions (1972),
died December 3. The family obituary is here.
He wrote three novels, Station Gehenna (1987), Getting Near the End (2000),
Among the Missing (2002), and many shorter
works. The first of his several short story collections was Distant Signals
and Other Stories (1990)
of Science Fiction’s John Clute says, ” Craftsmanlike,
witty and quietly substantial, Weiner never gained a reputation befitting his
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 5, 1954 – The Shadow radio show aired “Murder by Proxy”. Starring Bret Morrison as The Shadow (Lamont Cranston) Gertrude Warner as Margot Lane. The script was by Judith Bublick and David Bublick, who contributed many scripts during the last two years it was on the air. (This “Murder by Proxy” is not the same script as an earlier show of the same name.)
December 5, 1956 — Man Beast premiered. It was directed and produced by Jerry Warren. It starred Rock Madison and Asa Maynor. The film was distributed in the States as a double feature with Prehistoric Women. Critics generally intensely disliked, and it has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 5, 1980 — Flash Gordon premiered. Directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino De Laurentiis of Dune fame, it starred Sam Jones, Max von Sydow and Melody Anderson. Most critics sort of liked it although Clute at ESF definitely did not. It holds an 80% rating among viewers at Rotten Tomatoes and it did exceedingly well at the Box Office.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. (Died 1976.)
Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney . With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). (Died 1966.)
Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
Born December 5, 1936 — James Lee Burke, 83. This is one of the listings by ISFDB that has me going “Eh?” as to it being genre. The Dave Robicheaux series has no SFF elements in it and despite the title, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, neither does that novel. The character makes it clear that it’s likely he’s hallucinating. Great novel.
Born December 5, 1943 — Roger Robinson, 76. Owner of Beccon publications, a British small-press publisher specializing in SF and filk. He’s looked at filk (On the Filk Road), reviews (Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 by Gary K Wolfe), fiction (Elizabeth Hand’s Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol) and Fred Smith’s Once There was a Magazine ~~, a look at Unknown Magazine).
Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-Piscatello. SF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
Born December 5, 1954 — Elizabeth R. Wollheim, 65. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction. DAW is, despite being headquartered at Penguin Random House, a small private company, owned exclusively by its publishers.
Born December 5, 1971 — Kali Rocha, 48. She is best remembered for her recurring role on Buffy as Anya’s vengeance demon friend, Halfrek, and as William the Bloody’s love interest, Cecily. She appeared with fellow Buffy alum Emma Caulfield in TiMER. And she’s in Space Station 76 which has remarkably good reviews.
Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 46. Her fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Born December 5, 1980 — Gabriel Luna, 39. He plays Robbie Reyes who is the Ghost Rider rather perfectly in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Much better I’d say than Nick Cage did in the films. He was also Terminator Rev-9 in Terminator: Dark Fate, and he did voice work for the BlackSite: Area 51 video game.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio finds it impossible to escape the long reach of Disney.
(12) PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS. In “A
Tube Map of SF&F Genres” Camestros Felapton has designed an irresistibly
amusing representation of the field.
As with any London Tube style map, distance on the map has no connection with distance in reality. Position is about how to make everything fit. I feel like it needs more stops on the big pink Fantasy circle line. Green stops allow you to change services to mainstream rail lines. Purple stops allow you to change to the horror tram services.
There is a foot tunnel between Cyber Punk and Steam Punk.
(13) A CHRISTMAS SUGGESTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] What to get the SF fan who has
nearly everything? SF²; Concatenation has a seasonal suggestion in their
advance-post (ahead of their spring edition) — Joel
Levy’s latest non-fiction: From Science Fiction to Science Fact: How
writers of the past invented our present, a colorful exploration of the
science fiction visions that came to be technological realities.
has recently been published under two different titles, one for each side of
the Pond. It is published in N. America as Reality Ahead of Schedule: How
Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact.
Packed with full
color illustrations and well researched, it is an ideal gift for fans of all
persuasion (or even a Christmas present to themselves). SF²; Concatenation
From Science Fiction to Science Fact may not be an encyclopaedic work, but there is sufficient here (and it is structured to be navigable) that those who personally like to study SF, as opposed to simply consuming it, will find this quite useful as a reference work of pointers. It will also be a welcome addition to any SF aficionado’s bookshelf if not coffee table. Here, the production values are high.
(14) IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE CW. [Item by Daniel
Dern.] Why (some of us) love the WB tv series
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow…
…because they do goofy great.
(15) GAHAN WILSON ON NPR. A nice snippet from a 1986 interview with Gahan Wilson from Fresh Air on NPR was replayed December 2 to commemorate Gahan after his recent passing. “The linked webpage has a transcript for those who do not wish to listen to the audio,” says Tom Boswell-Healey. “I think the audio is worthwhile as it contains Gahan’s verbal effects.”
GROSS: When you came to New York with your portfolio of cartoons and tried to sell them to magazines, was it hard to get in initially?
WILSON: Very. Very, yeah because I’m still regarded as sort of far-out in some circles, and at that point, I was really, really far out. And I mean, I was really bizarre. They – what I’d – what had happened to me was this singularly frustrating scene where the editors would say, look at this stuff, and they’d laugh at it hysterically and just think it was marvelous and compliment me on – this is – kid, you’re really great. This is great stuff, kid, but our readers would never understand it. And then they would hand it back to me. And that was my big block, was that they figured that I was beyond the – those jerks out there.
GROSS: Could you maybe describe a couple of those early cartoons?
WILSON: Oh, sure. Let’s see. There’s this fellow, and he’s in a cannibal pot. He’s being cooked. And he has a evil look on his face, and he has a bottle of poison, and he’s pouring the poison, and the water is being cooked in. And that was one. And then let me see – oh, they were – there was one where there’s this little kid, and he’s with his father, and they’re in a snowstorm. And there’s this dead bird on the snowbank with his feet in the air, and the little kid’s pointing at it. And he says look, Daddy – the first robin.
An unprecedented mission to venture close to the sun has revealed a strange region of space filled with rapidly flipping magnetic fields and rogue plasma waves.
These surprises are among just some of the first observations by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which blasted off last year to get up-close-and-personal with our nearest star.
Scientists say the findings, described in a series of reports in the journal Nature, could help explain long-standing mysteries — like why the sun’s extended atmosphere is hotter than its surface.
They also could help scientists better understand and predict solar storms that might disrupt vital artificial satellites that orbit our planet.
…From Earth, during a total solar eclipse, it’s easy to see the sun’s corona, an aura of plasma that is the sun’s outer atmosphere. The Parker Solar Probe is designed to plow through the corona with instruments that measure magnetic fields, plasma, and energetic particles.
All of this lets researchers explore the origin of the solar wind, charged particles that continually spew out of the sun.
It turns out that close to the sun, the wind seems to get sped up by powerful, rogue waves that move through the magnetic field, says Kasper.
“We’d see suddenly a spike in flow, where in just a couple seconds the solar wind would start flowing 300,000 miles an hour faster,” he says.
A newly discovered planet offers new insights into the Solar System after the Sun reaches the end of its life in 5-6 billion years.
Astronomers observed a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf, the small, dense objects some stars become once they have exhausted their nuclear fuel.
It’s the first direct evidence planets can survive the cataclysmic process that creates a white dwarf.
Details of the discovery appear in the journal Nature.
The Solar System as we know it won’t be around forever. In about six billion years, the Sun, a medium-size yellow star, will have puffed up to about two hundred times its current size. In this phase, our parent star will be known as a Red Giant.
As it expands, it will swallow and destroy the Earth before collapsing into a small core – the white dwarf.
Researchers discovered a white dwarf that lies 2,000 light-years away had a giant planet thought to be about the size of Neptune (though it could be larger) in orbit around it.
“The white dwarf we’re looking at is about 30,000 Kelvin, or 30,000C. So if we compare the Sun, the Sun is 6,000 – almost five times as hot. This means it’s going to be producing a lot more UV radiation than the Sun,” said Dr Christopher Manser, from the University of Warwick.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborvilleis getting into the spirit with a snowy present-filled makeover of Giddy Park, a social hub where plant and zombie players can mingle and duke it out. Alongside update 1.03, PopCap went ahead and booked Sir Patrick Stewart to recite a festive poem.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John
King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie, Tom Boswell- Healey,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) ONE STOP SHOPPING. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’sAutumn
2019 edition is up. Voluminous
seasonal news and reviews page of both SF and science which includes the major
UK SF/fantasy imprint book releases between now and New Year. (Many of
these will be available as imports in N. America and elsewhere.)
(2) LEM V. DICK. [Editor’s note: I apologize for what amounts to misspelling, but characters that WordPress would display as question marks have been changed to a letter of the alphabet without marks.]
[Item by Jan Vanek Jr.] Yesterday the English-language website of the Polish magazine Przekrój published (and started promoting on Facebook, hence my knowledge) the translation of a 2,700-word excerpt (not a self-contained “chapter” as they claim) from Wojciech Orlinski’s 2017 biography of Stanislaw Lem detailing what led to “the famous Lem-Dick imbroglio” with PKD’s “famous Lem report to the FBI”: “access to previously unpublished letters […] resulted in what is likely the first accurate description of the incident, as well as the ultimate explanation as to how the concept of ‘foreign royalties under communism’ is almost as much of a mess as ‘fine dining under communism’ (but not quite as fine a mess)”:
…It all began with Lem’s depiction of Dick – in the third of his great essay collections, Science Fiction and Futurology as little more than a talentless hack. Lem had a poor opinion of almost all American authors, and never thought much of the literary genre of which he himself was an exponent (think of his equally critical view of Pirx the Pilot, for example, or Return from the Stars)….
I found it a quite informative and interesting read, although “Lem’s unfortunate expulsion from the SFWA” that ensued is mentioned only briefly and I think misleadingly (I have checked the Polish book and there is nothing more about it, but it has been described in American sources, many of them online).
(3) ABOUT AO3’S HUGO AWARD. The Organization for Transformative Works has clarified
to Archive of Our Own participants — “Hugo
Award – What it Means”.
We’re as excited as you are about the AO3’s Hugo win, and we are shouting it to the rafters! We are grateful to the World Science Fiction Society for recognizing the AO3 with the award, as well as to the many OTW volunteers who build and maintain the site, and all of the amazing fans who post and enjoy works on it.
The World Science Fiction Society has asked us to help them get the word out about what the award represented—specifically, they want to make sure people know that the Hugo was awarded to the AO3, and not to any particular work(s) hosted on it. Therefore, while we can all be proud of the AO3’s Hugo win and we can all be proud of what we contributed to making it possible, the award does not make any individual fanwork or creator “Hugo winners”—the WSFS awarded that distinction to the AO3 as a whole. In particular, the WSFS asked us to convey this reminder so that no one mistakenly describes themselves as having personally won a Hugo Award.
Thanks for sharing our enthusiasm, and consider yourselves reminded! We appreciate every one of your contributions.
So far there are 80 comments, any number by Kevin Standlee making Absolutely Clear Everybody Must Understand Things Exactly The Way He Does. One reply says, “You aren’t doing a particularly good job of reading the room here.”
(4) ARISIA PERSISTED. Arisia
2020 has issued its first online
Progress Report. Key
points: (1) It’s happening! (2) It’s (back) at the Westin Boston Waterfront. (3)
The headliners are Cadwell Turnbull, Author Guest of Honor, Kristina Carroll, Artist
Guest of Honor, and Arthur Chu, Fan Guest of Honor.
Halloween’s almost here… well, OK, it’s more than a month away, but that means it’s time for Halloween haunts — aka Halloween mazes, aka scary Halloween things at theme parks and the like, to start.
Halloween Horror Nights has been taking over Universal Studios Hollywood for 21 years, and we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of two of the brand new mazes, Ghostbusters and Us. We were guided through by Creative Director John Murdy, the man in charge of creating the stories and the scares inside all of the mazes.
He works with an art director to design every moment, writing treatments for each attraction than can run up to 100 pages.
“It’s a narrative from the guest’s POV — everything I see, hear, smell, etcetera, as if I’m going through the maze,” Murdy said. “But it also has a very elaborate technical breakdown by scene, by discipline, down to the timecode of the audio cues.”
…On Wednesday, the day before WorldCon officially started, I helped with move in and set-up at Point Square. This involved carrying boxes, assembling shelves for the staff lounge and crafting area, taping down table cloths and helping to set up the Raksura Colony Tree model. This was my first time volunteering at a WorldCon and it was a great experience. Not only do you get to help to make a great project like WorldCon happen, no, you also get to meet a lot of lovely people while volunteering. Especially if you’re new to WorldCon and don’t know anybody yet, I recommend volunteering as a way to meet people and make friends. What is more, I also got a handful of groats (which I used to buy a very pretty necklace in the dealers room) and a cool t-shirt.
(7) MEMORIAL. Jim C.
Hines tweeted the link to his post about the Memorial held for his wife,
Amy, on September 8, a touching and highly personal tribute.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 14, 2008 — The Hunger Games novel hit bookstores. (For some reason, the bookstores did not hit back.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 14, 1915 — Douglas Kennedy. No major SFF roles that I see but he’s been in a number of films of a genre nature: The Way of All Flesh, The Ghost Breakers, The Mars Invaders, The Land Unknown, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, The Alligator People and The Amazing Transparent Man. Series wise, he had one-offs on Alcoa Presents, Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits. (Died 1973.)
Born September 14, 1919 — Claire P. Beck. Editor of the Science Fiction Critic, a fanzine which published in four issues Hammer and Tongs, the first work of criticism devoted to American SF. It was written by his brother Clyde F. Beck. Science Fiction Critic was published from 1935 to 1938. (Died 1999.)
Born September 14, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. (Died 1997.)
Born September 14, 1932 — Joyce Taylor, 87. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series.
Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig, 83. Best-known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester on Babylon 5. Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there.
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
Born September 14, 1947 — Sam Neill, 72. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which he reprised in Jurassic Park III. He was also in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, Bicentennial Man, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, Thor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit.
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 58. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.
Construction of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is in full swing.
On Friday, Lucas — along with his wife and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — watched as construction crews helped bring his vision to life.
And he thanked them for the tireless effort.
“You’re doing the impossible — thank you so much,” Lucas said.
“Millions of people will be inspired by this building. We were just in our board meeting for the museum and George said you are the artists so you’re the artists of this art museum,” says Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the museum’s co-founder.
Henry Lien teaches law and creative writing at UCLA Extension. A private art dealer, he is the author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series, which received New York Times acclaim and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
High school can be a turbulent time for any budding teenager, but when you’re allowed to dress up as your favorite movie or television character, facing picture day isn’t the daunting challenge it once was. Per a report from The Huffington Post, North Farmington High School in the suburbs of Detroit allowed its senior pupils to assume the persona of their favorite pop culture icon for the sake of ID photographs. What followed was a parade of Woodys (Toy Story), Shuris (Black Panther) Fionas (Shrek), creepy twins (The Shining), and so many more!
…Now, because her fans kept asking, she is getting more personal than ever. The Eisner Award-winning author who launched her publishing empire with 2010?s “Smile,” about her years-long dental adventures as a kid, is prepared to bare new parts of her interior world with “Guts,” available Tuesday, which centers on how fear affected her body.
“This is the reality of my life,” Telgemeier told her fans. She quickly got to the heart and GI tract of the matter: “I was subject to panic attacks and [was] worrying that something was really wrong with me.”…
(15) SIGNAL BOOST. Naomi Kritzer offers an incentive for
supporting a cause that needs a cash infusion.
And there may be a financial cost. Over the Sept. 6-8 weekend, New Line and director Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two opened to $91 million domestically, a 26 percent decline from the first It, which debuted to $123.4 million on the same weekend in 2017. The sequel ran a hefty 169 minutes, 34 minutes longer than its predecessor.
“Andy had a lot of story to tell in concluding his adaptation of Stephen King’s book, which is more than 1,100 pages,” says Jeff Goldstein, chief of distribution for Warner Bros., New Line’s parent. “We strategically added more shows and locations to counterbalance losing a show on each screen.”
Adds a rival studio executive regarding It: Chapter Two, “look, $91 million is a great number. But anytime the second film in a hoped-for franchise goes down — and not up — that’s not what you wish for. And I do think the fact that it was so long didn’t help.”
(17) COLBERT. Stephen Colbert’s “Meanwhile…” news roundup
includes a furry joke related to the movie Cats, and a bit on “The 5D Porn Cinema No One Asked For.”
These items start at 2.02 — here on
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cinema verite of author Liz Hand on
Vimeo. A 5-minute video of Hand
at work and play
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew
(1) DEFINITELY A FIRST. Somtow Sucharitkul’s full day included
release of the Czech translation of his short story collection — Den v Mallworldu
What a day!
Siam Sinfonietta was honored by being made Orchestra in Residence of the International Music Festival in Olomouc
I received a medal for my work in cross-cultural outreach from Festa Musicale
My book was launched, the first book by a Thai author ever to appear in Czech
…Amazingly, while taking my orchestra on tour in Central Europe, well known fan and translator Jaroslav Olša organized the publication of all my stories that have previously appeared in Czech as a collection and I am having a book launch today – followed by conducting the orchestra in Martinu Hall! This has got to be a SF first, I would think!
A lot of people are going to wonder how did you make a Jurassic World short film without anyone getting wind of it?
TREVORROW: We shot it in Ireland last winter. They have a grove of redwood trees outside Dublin that look exactly like the national parks in Northern California. I honestly never thought we’d make it this far without getting found out. The Irish can keep a secret….
Netflix has a Jurassic World animated series arriving next year. Do you guys have an idea of how long you want the animated series to go for? Do you have a plan if the show is a huge hit?
TREVORROW: Camp Cretaceous. The animation is gorgeous, it’s really exciting and emotional. I think kids are going to love these characters. The writers are so deeply invested in making something we can all be proud of. If it’s a hit and people want more, we’re ready. Just say the word
The Pixel Project is a worldwide coalition of grassroots activists and volunteers who strongly believe that men and women must take a stand together for the right of women and girls to live a life free of gender-based violence. Our team, our allies, and our supporters use the power of the internet to mount a global effort to raise awareness about and hopefully mobilize communities around the world to get involved with ending violence against girls and women.
…Hang on a minute, you say. I was with you up to the magic paintings, but aren’t we writing historical fiction here? Isn’t that supposed to be, you know… accurate?
For the most part, yes. That’s why it’s so important to get the details right. To make sure everything else is meticulously researched and faithfully rendered, so that when that moment of departure comes, it makes a big impression. It helps if you can even ground your supernatural elements in real life – for example, by referring to unexplained incidents that actually exist in the historical record. For Murder on Millionaires’ Row, I researched ghost stories in the New York Times, selecting a few that took place at roughly the same time and even turning one of the real-life investigating officers into a major secondary character. Readers can go back to 19th century newspaper clippings and connect the dots between murders, ghosts, and a few other surprises—all against the backdrop of an otherwise historically accurate Gilded Age New York.
(6) TODAY IN
September 12, 1958 – The Blob premiered.
September 12, 1993 — CBS first aired Rockne S. O’Bannon’s Seaquest DSVon this date in 1993. Seaquest DSV would last just three years.
September 12, 1993 — Genre fans were treated to latest version of the Man Of Steel when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman debuted this day.
[Compiled by Cat
Born September 12, 1897 — Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
Born September 12, 1914 — Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period that Q was not in. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
Born September 12, 1916 — Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow). Yes, you know her better as just Mary Stewart. Genre wise, she’s probably best known for her Merlin series which walks along the boundary between the historical novel and fantasy. Explicitly fantasy is her children’s novel A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic. (Died 2014.)
Born September 12, 1921 — Stanislaw Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. Both iBooks and Kindle have generous collections of his translated works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1922 — John Chambers. He’s best known for designing Spock’s pointed ears, and for the prosthetic make-up work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. Some of those character creations, including Cornelius and Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes series, are on display at the Science Fiction Museum. He worked on the Munsters, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Mission Impossible, Night Gallery and I Spy along with uncredited (at the time) prosthetic makeup work on Blade Runner. (Died 2001.)
Born September 12, 1940 — Brian De Palma, 79. Though not a lot of genre in his resume, he has done some significant work including Carrie. Other films he’s done of interest to us are The Fury which most likely you’ve never heard of, and the first Mission: Impossible film along with Mission to Mars. Not genre, but I find it fascinating that he directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video which has a genre connection as actress Courtney Cox would be in the Misfits of Science series and the Scream horror franchise as well.
Born September 12, 1940 — John Clute, 79. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
Born September 12, 1942 — Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1962 — Mary Kay Adams, 57. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”.
(8) DOCTOR WHO
COLLECTIBLES. If you’re at the New York Comic Con (October 3-6) you might
have a shot at these —
WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Kerblam!” Kawaii TITAN
Titan Entertainment are proud to present the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor Kawaii TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re showcasing the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the seventh episode of season eleven “Kerblam!” Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!
WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Rosa” Classic TITAN
Titan Entertainment are thrilled to announce the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor classic TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re debuting the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the third episode of season eleven “Rosa”. Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!
That Mr. Williams wrote his score for “Star Wars” in the same year as “Close Encounters” speaks to his versatility. One is a grand space opera, with catchy Wagnerian leitmotifs and blaring immensity; the other is atonal and elusive, full of amorphous sound that rarely coalesces into melody. (Mr. Williams, ever adaptable, later wrote playfully enchanting music for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which the Philharmonic will perform in December.)
If you listen closely, there are signs that “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” share a composer: an affinity for Ligeti comes through in both, as does a mastery of cosmic Romanticism. But their differences are clear from the first measure. Where “Star Wars” begins with fanfare and a brassy overture, Mr. Spielberg’s movie doesn’t open with any sort of memorable theme….
Steven C. Smith, in his biography “A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann,” repeats a quip from the composer that Hitchcock completed only 60 percent of any film.
“I have to finish it for him,” Herrmann said.
That’s not too outrageous; in the films they collaborated on between 1955 and 1964, from “The Trouble With Harry” to “Marnie,” Herrmann’s soundtracks were vital in setting tone and offering insight into psychology.
In a small trial, drugs seemed to rejuvenate the body’s ‘epigenetic clock’, which tracks a person’s biological age.
A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age.
For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.
The results were a surprise even to the trial organizers — but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.
The new fantasy series sees Artemis’s twin brothers at the helm of a dangerously fast-paced adventure. With their brother, criminal virtuoso Artemis Fowl, away on a five-year mission to Mars, the younger Fowl children, 11- year-old twins Myles and Beckett, have been left alone at the Fowl family home.
One day, the twins manage to accidentally get caught up in an interspecies dispute when a troll burrows out of the Earth’s core right in front of Beckett’s eyes! In the events that follow the boys are shot at, kidnapped, buried, arrested, threatened and even temporarily killed but, despite their differences, the twins find that there is no force stronger than the bond between them.
(13) THE TESTAMENTS ON RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 are doing a Book
at Bed Time, Atwood’s The Testaments. They must have been quietly
working on this as I only heard of it yesterday (usually I am pretty genned up
on Radio 4 as it is piped to my study).
If you want an abridged audio book then this could be
it for you. Episodes begin Monday 16th Sept (so not downloadble yet) starting here.
Margaret Atwood’s powerful and hugely anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale picks up 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown. Now shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
For centuries rumours have persisted about a powerful and mysterious substance. And these days, adverts and videos offering it for sale can be found online. Why has the story of “red mercury” endured?
Some people believe it’s a magical healing elixir found buried in the mouths of ancient Egyptian mummies.
Or could it be a powerful nuclear material that might bring about the apocalypse?
Videos on YouTube extol its vampire-like properties. Others claim it can be found in vintage sewing machines or in the nests of bats.
There’s one small problem with these tales – the substance doesn’t actually exist. Red mercury is a red herring.
The hunt for red mercury
Despite this, you can find it being hawked on social media and on numerous websites. Tiny amounts are sometimes priced at thousands of dollars.
Many of the adverts feature a blurry photo of a globule of red liquid on a dinner plate. Next to it there will often be a phone number scribbled on a piece of paper, for anybody foolish enough to want to contact the seller.
(16) EXIT INTERVIEW. [Item by Jo Van.] In New Zealand, the law requires that people going for an employment-related meeting or medical consultation be permitted to bring a support person, who may be there to provide emotional support, other kinds of support for a mentally- or physically-disabled or ill person, or translation services in the case of someone whose English comprehension may not be strong. “Auckland adman hires professional clown for redundancy meeting” in the New Zealand Herald. (“redundancy” = “down-sized” or “laid off”.)
…The Herald understands that the clown blew up balloons and folded them into a series of animals throughout the meeting.
It’s further understood that the clown mimed crying when the redundancy paperwork was handed over to the staffer.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome,
Jo Van, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) WORLDCON PHOTOS. Simon Bubb, part of Dublin 2019’s staff
photography team, has posted albums of his photos from the Worldcon at
Facebook. Beautiful photos. So many
good memories for those who participated.
(2) DINO SQUIRREL REVIVAL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s episode of Stranger than Sci-Fi on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 was the penultimate episode. Next week is the final in the series and is on telekinesis.
The latest episode, “Jurassic Park” (available
for a month), looked at de-extinction. Crichton not only read up on the
science, he was so taken with one paper that hypothesized possibly near-future
DNA technology that he went to visit the researchers. And the rest is
The programme pointed to the limits of de-extinction
but did say that we could digitize DNA of current endangered species and bring them
back if we had to.
Astro-physicist Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science and sci-fi.
Starting with the latest books and films, they discover real life science that sounds too strange to be true – from babies grown in bags, via black hole Jacuzzis, to flowers that behave like our ears.
In this episode, they tackle the question everyone wants to know the answer to – can we bring the dinosaurs back to life? They talk to the journalist Britt Wray about the surprising origin story for the book Jurassic Park. Then they dive into the world of de-extinction research and find out why there is a group of scientists who focus all their time on reviving extinct species.
They ask if we might soon see woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian steppe once again. What are the potential pitfalls of resurrecting the dead?
I’m going to give you the Hollywood elevator pitch in order to secure your attention: This is a Japanese steampunk novel for fans of Blade Runner. Do I have your attention now? Good. Because we’re going to flash back in time to 2009, when Haikasoru popped into the world.
…Unfortunately, Haikasoru didn’t quite catch the imagination of the public in the United States. Its biggest hit was probably All You Need is Kill, adapted into the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow, but otherwise it sadly went on being ignored by most of the speculative fiction fans, while ironically producing the stuff fans say they hunger for.
…But the first incarnation of the imprint has one last, lyrical swan song before it drifts to sleep: Automatic Eve, a mosaic novel.
I like mosaic novels thanks to having read Clifford D. Simak’s City as a teenager. Some people despise them, the break with non-linearity, the short episodes building up to something more, frustrate certain readers. But even if you don’t exactly fancy that format, Rokuro Inui’s Automatic Eve, translated by Matt Treyvaud, works well. Characters, situations and plot points reoccur during the course of the book, so that you are left with a feeling of coherence rather than of stories thinly strung together, which can be the issue that turns readers away from mosaic novels in the first place – and sometimes earns them the pejorative term of “fix-ups.”
Much of the wonder of the book derives from its setting and mechanics. In a steampunk Japan where artisans can produce automatons that perfectly mimic humans and animals, an intricate web of deceit and secrets has been laid down. At the center of this web sits the beautiful, mysterious Eve and her father, an inventor with ties to both the shogunate and the ruling imperial house, which are locked in a battle for power.
(5) CORRECTION. The participants James Davis Nicoll is recruiting participants for the next phase of Young People Read Old SFF must have been born after 1990. The post still says “1980,” however, he later corrected this in the comments. Uh, never mind!
A FAN DOES TO A $40K CAR. [Item by Dale Arnold.] Baltimore area fan Miriam Winder Kelly recently bought a brand new
Tesla Model 3 for over $40,000.00 and immediately put bumper stickers for
her favorite causes on it. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, The Red Cross
and Middle Earth? The BSFS bumper sticker is quite old and apparently she
saved several from 20 years ago so she could always have one on her car.
By the way the bumper sticker was designed by a committee chaired by the late costuming fan Bobby Gear. (wife of the late multiple Worldcon Masquerade MC Marty Gear) Bobby said when she delivered the design, “I am never helping design anything with a committee again!”
(7) LOOMIS OBIT. Game publisher Rick
Loomis of Flying Buffalo Incorporated died August 24, his birthday, after battling
cancer. He was 73. A “Help Gaming Legend Rick Loomis” for his
medical expenses had been started just recently.
Rick was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association and served as its President several times when they needed him. He started Flying Buffalo Games back in 1970 and was one of the first people to ever run a Play-by Mail game on a dedicated computer. He has traveled the world to promote role-playing and card games and over the years Rick has befriended hundreds (thousands!) of people at conventions from his Flying Buffalo Games booth and company. He published Tunnels & Trolls, the Nuclear War Card Game, Grimtooth’s Traps and so much more…
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
August 25, 1851 — George Parsons Lathrop. Noted for co-authoring In the Deep of Time novella with Thomas A. Edison which ran in English Illustrated Magazine on the third of March 1897. (Died 1898.)
August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.)
August 25, 1913 — Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released Pogo in six stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1960. They’re planning to do all of his strips eventually. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on Dumbo, Pinocchio and Fantasia? (Died 1973.)
August 25, 1930 — Sean Connery, 89. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly.
August 25, 1940 — Marilyn Niven, 79. She was a Boston-area fan who lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons. In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
August 25, 1947 — Michael Kaluta, 72. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988.
August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 64. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most.
August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird.
August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 49. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading.
In “When We First Met,” we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Riccardo N., we look into the first time that Clark Kent’s apartment was given the address of 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D.
Obviously, in the early days, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were not really all that considered about world-building. No one in comics really was. Batman’s set-up was different from issue to issue early on (my favorite is where Bruce Wayne just kept his Batman costume in a chest at the foot of his bed). So when they say Superman is in his apartment, there really was no thought into it beyond “Superman is in his apartment”…
During his first-ever visit to Philadelphia at Keystone Comic Con, Tom Holland teased his third live-action Spider-Man film, teasing that it’s already been pitched and will be “something very special and something very different” from what we saw inHomecoming and Far From Home, while having a deep personal connection to the actor’s own life. Moreover, he gave an enthusiastic “of course!” when asked if Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a long-term romantic shot with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
“Uh, it’s been a crazy week,” he said, echoing his statement at D23 Expo yesterday. “The news came as a bit of a shock, but we’ve made five great movies … you guys have made it so special for me and it’s not the end of me playing Spider-Man. There’s definitely more to come … I’m just really excited for everything … It’s only gonna get bigger and better … It’s pretty crazy.”
(12) COINING A WORD. John M. Jordan, in “The Czech Play
That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’” on the MIT Press website reminds us that, although we might
know that Karel Capek coined the term “robot” most people don’t know
the plot of Capek’s play R.U.R. or know that robota is Czech for
“forced labor.” The post is an excerpt from Jordan’s MIT Press
The contrast between robots as mechanical slaves and potentially rebellious destroyers of their human makers echoes Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and helps set the tone for later Western characterizations of robots as slaves straining against their lot, ready to burst out of control. The duality echoes throughout the twentieth century: Terminator, HAL 9000, Blade Runner’s replicants.
The character Helena in “R.U.R.” is sympathetic, wanting the robots to have freedom. Radius is the robot that understands his station and chafes at the idiocy of his makers, having acted out his frustrations by smashing statues.
In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.
This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.
Day responded to a complaint in comments:
It’s not a democracy. And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.
Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.
And in another comment he said:
I was told a lot of things that didn’t come to pass too. So I am not going to accept being held accountable for things that were entirely contingent upon other’s responsibilities.
If you want a refund, we’ll give you one. You have that option. But I’m not going to waste my time or the backers’ resources on projects that should not have been done in the first place. We all meant well, but the foundation was not solid.
We are going to be in the red on this no matter what due to the need to produce 18 comics. So I want to make sure at least some of them will sell well enough to give us a shot at breaking even on it.
…So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.
We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.
The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three….
Of all the things I love about being a girl, I love doing nail art the most. But I’m also a scientist, and scientists aren’t usually associated with perfectly manicured nails. Nail art became my way of debunking some common stereotypes, including those that associate scientists with being cold or unapproachable.
I got into nail art four years ago after a friend of mine bought a beginner nail art kit. It contained one metal plate with various nail-sized designs etched on the surface – animals, flowers, food – along with nail polish, a scraper and a silicone stamper.
…At the time, I was working as a research scientist studying Alzheimer’s disease at Cornell University, where I was looking for ways to get lay people interested in science. On Instagram, I found some science communicators using drawings or video to explain concepts like how stem cells help heal wounds.
Then I had an epiphany! None of these science communicators were using nail art as a platform. And none of the nail artists I followed were doing scientific designs.
I had been blogging about science for a while, but I wanted to try something new. So on October 10, 2018, I started an Instagram account (@nailsciart) where I’d use nail art to reach a very specific demographic: teenage girls. I wanted to show them the fun side of science through an art form many of them could find appealing — and that it’s possible to have polished nails and work on cool science.
[Thanks to Simon Bubb, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Dale Arnold, Eric Wong, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
BravoLimaPoppa, Danny SIchel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike
Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day Xtifr.]