(1) ANOTHER ESCAPEE FROM LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. Haffner Press will release as a chapbook Manly Wade Wellman’s unpublished story “Not All a Dream,” originally commissioned for Harlan Ellison’s never released anthology The Last Dangerous Visions,
“Not All a Dream” opens with poet/politician Lord Byron (1788-1824) musing over the status of his literary canon in years to come. Admiring the lasting legacy of John Milton, Byron accepts an offer to learn the truce place of his works in centuries hence—a nightmare vision gained by traveling into a dangerous future . . .
How can you get a copy of this story? By preordering Haffner Press’ two-volume omnibus of Manly Wade Wellman’s The Complete John the Balladeer between now and its release on October 31, 2019 at the World Fantasy Convention in Los Angeles. Those who do will receive the exclusive 32-page chapbook of “Not All a Dream” at no additional charge. See details here.
(2) WAR GOATS? Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, has a four book deal with Tor.
(3) BIOPIC. A second trailer for Tolkien is out. The movie arrives in theaters May 10.
TOLKIEN explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.
(4) CARDS REQUESTED. Martin Morse Wooster writes, “Long-time fan Ellen Vartanoff is receiving hospice care at home and would welcome humorous cards. Her address is 4418 Renn Street, Rockville, Maryland 20853.”
(5) ZENO’S THEOREM. Sometimes the arrow doesn’t go all the way — “‘Arrow’ to End With Abbreviated Season 8 on The CW”.
Arrow, the first of the network’s current roster of DC Comics dramas, will end with its previously announced eighth season. The final season of the Stephen Amell-led drama from executive producer Greg Berlanti and Warner Bros. TV will consist of a reduced order of 10 episodes and air in the fall. The final season will air during the 2019-2020 broadcast calendar.
The decision to wrap the series arrives as CW president Mark Pedowitz was open about needing to make way for a possible second phase of DC Comics-inspired series on the network. “Things will age and we want to get the next generation of shows to keep The CW DC universe going for as long as possible,” the executive told reporters in January at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.
What Culture thinks they know the reason why:
(6) REASONS TO VOTE. Find out what Abigail Nussbaum is putting on her Hugo ballot in the media categories. Not just a list, but a substantial discussion about each choice. For example, under Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
Sorry to Bother You (review) – The most original, boundary-pushing SF film of 2018 by far, not only because of its gonzo third act twist, but because of its focus on matters like labor rights and organization. One of the things I’ve noticed in writing A Political History of the Future is that we’re seeing more and more SF addressing the future of work, from the issue of automation to the question of how labor organizing might work in space. Sorry to Bother You fits perfectly in that tradition, as a movie in which unionizing is an important, necessary step towards building a better world. As important as it is for the Hugos to recognize works like Black Panther, I think it’s equally vital for them to acknowledge Sorry to Bother You as a major work of science fiction film.
(7) LA FESTIVAL OF BOOKS. Hundreds of authors will participate in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books from April 13-14 on the University of Southern California campus. Here are some of the names that jumped out at me from the announcement —
- Charlie Jane Anders
- Leigh Bardugo
- Cecil Castellucci
- K. Chess
- Ally Condie
- Cory Doctorow
- Roxane Gay
- Danica McKellar
- Walter Mosley
- Deji Bryce Olukotun
- Veronica Roth
- John Scalzi
- Paul Tremblay
- Ben H. Winters
- Maryelizabeth Yturralde
(8) PORK CHOP. “Cern cuts ties with ‘sexist’ scientist Alessandro Strumia” – BBC has the story.
The European particle physics research centre Cern has cut ties with the scientist who said that women were less able at physics than men.
Cern has decided not to extend Professor Alessandro Strumia’s status of guest professor.
The decision follows an investigation into comments, first reported by BBC News, made by Prof Strumia at a Cern workshop on gender equality.
(9) ALIEN AT 40. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated reader of the Financial Times, reports from behind the paywall:
In the February 25 Financial Times Nigel Andrews, the newspaper’s film critic, has a piece on the 40th anniversary of Alien. Andrews, collaborating with Harlan Kennedy, reported on the production of the film for American Film magazine and reprints what people involved in the film told him about the production in 1978,
Ridley Scott in 1978 said, “The story is Conradian, in the sense that you can compare the situation in Nostromo (the novel) with the situation of any group of human beings trapped in an enclosed world. The way the same environment and events affect different people. As for the horror, the reason I got interested in the script was that it was so simple, so linear. It took me 40 minutes to read it. I usually take about four days, but here it was just bang, whoomph, straight through.”
H.R. Giger in 1978 said, “They asked me to design something which could not have been made by human beings. I tried to build it up with organic-looking parts–tubes, pipes, bones. Everything I created in the film used the idea of bones. I mixed up technical and organic things. I made the alien landscape with real bones and put it together with Plasticine, pipes, and little pieces of motor.”
(10) BATMAN AT 80. The Hollywood Reporter shares “Batman 80th Anniversary Plans Unveiled by DC and Warner Bros.”
With Bruce Wayne’s alter ego celebrating his 80th year of crime-fighting this month, Warner Bros. and DC have unveiled a slate of celebratory events and publications for the Bat-versary, including live events, convention plans and the publication of the landmark 1000th issue of Detective Comics.
The celebration of Batman’s 80th, which will be marked online with the hashtag #LongLiveTheBat, will launch at SXSW in Austin, Texas, with the release of new exclusive merchandise, photo opportunities and the unveiling of a mural by a local artist. The festival will also feature a special event on March 15, when more than 1.5 million bats will fly over the city’s Congress Bridge.
Immediately following, DC will release two special anniversary comic books: the hardcover Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman — The Deluxe Edition on March 19, and the extra-length Detective Comics No. 1000, on March 27. Three days after the latter, Anaheim’s WonderCon will play host to a “Happy Birthday, Batman!” panel….
(11) THERE’S NO I IN COSPLAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] No matter how many times the story uses the “i” word, these cosplayers are not really achieving the impossible… but they do achieve a very high difficulty factor (ScreenRant.com: “18 Impossible Star Trek Cosplays That Fans Somehow Pulled Off”). There seem to be several criteria in ranking the selections, you can judge for yourself if they’re in the “proper” order.
Star Trek has been a massive cultural institution since the first episode aired back in the late-1960s. Since that time, the series expanded beyond the Original Series into an animated continuation, multiple spinoff series, prequels, comics, graphic novels, books, and more than a dozen movies. Ever since the series first began, people were quick to create costumes honoring their favorite characters. In the beginning, the costumes weren’t incredibly elaborate due to the limited budget on the series, but as things progressed with Star Trek: The Next Generation and additional feature films, the aliens got more impressive and difficult to emulate. While there are thousands of cosplayers and fans who have thrown on a Starfleet uniform or two over the years, it takes a lot of work and time to manage a cosplay of some of the more detailed and impressive aliens.
Cosplayers who put in the time, money, and creativity to emulate their favorite characters deserve recognition for their efforts. To honor their work, we thought it would be fun to dig around the Internet and find some of our favorite cosplayers’ creations devoted to all things Star Trek. You won’t find a simple recreation of Captain Kirk on this list, but those costumes that pay homage to specific moments in Trek history or manage an approximation of an alien that requires a great deal of makeup and prosthetics will likely have made the cut. Here are our all-time favorite Star Trek cosplayers and their various creations in this list of  impossible Star Trek cosplays that fans somehow pulled off
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 7, 1934 — Gray Morrow. He was an illustrator of comics and paperback books. He is co-creator of the Marvel Comics’s Man-Thing with writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, and co-creator of DC Comics’ El Diablo with writer Robert Kanigher. If you can find a copy, The Illustrated Roger Zelazny he did in collaboration with Zelazny is most excellent. ISFDB notes that he and James Lawrence did a novel called Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. No idea if it was tied into the series which came out the next year. (Died 2001.)
- Born March 7, 1942 — Paul Preuss, 77. I know I’ve read all of the Venus Prime series written by him off the Clarke stories. I am fairly sure I read all of them when I was in Sri Lanka where they were popular. I don’t think I’ve read anything else by him.
- Born March 7, 1944 — Stanley Schmidt, 75. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing fear by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013. He’s also an accomplished author with more than a dozen to his name. I know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now.
- Born March 7, 1955 — Michael Jan Friedman, 64. Author of nearly sixty books of genre fiction, mostly media tie-ins. He’s written nearly forty Trek novels alone covering DS9, Starfleet Academy, Next Gen, Original Series and Enterprise. He’s also done work with Star Wars, Aliens, Predators, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Batman and Robin and many others. He’s also done quite a bit of writing for DC, mostly media-ins but not all as I see Superman, Flash and Justice League among his credits.
- Born March 7, 1959 — Nick Searcy, 60. He was Nathan Ramsey in Seven Days which I personally think is the best damn time travel series ever done. And he was in 11.22.63 as Deke Simmons, based off the Stephen King novel. He was in Intelligence, a show I never knew existed, for one episode as General Greg Carter, and in The Shape of Water film, he played yet another General, this one named Frank Hoyt. And finally, I’d be remiss to overlook his run in horror as he was in American Gothic as Deputy Ben Healy.
- Born March 7, 1961 — Ari Berk, 58. Folklorist, artist, writer and scholar of literature and comparative myth. Damn great person as well. I doubt you’ve heard of The Runes of Elfland he did with Brian Froud so I’ve linked to the Green Man review of it here. He also had a review column in the now defunct Realms of Fantasy that had such articles as “Back Over the Wall – Charles Vess Revisits the World of Stardust”.
- Born March 7, 1970 — Rachel Weisz, 49. Though better known for The Mummy films, her first genre film was Death Machine is a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster.
- Born March 7, 1971 — Matthew Vaughn, 48. Film producer, director, and screenwriter who is best known for Stardust, Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fantastic Four, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and its sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
- Born March 7, 1974 — Tobias Menzies, 45. He was on the Game of Thrones where he played Edmure Tully. He is probably best known for his dual role as Frank Randall and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in Outlander” Randall in Outlander. Am I the person who has never seen either series? He was in Finding Neverland as a Theatre Patron, in Casino Royale as Villierse who was M’s assistant, showed up in The Genius of Christopher Marlowe as the demon Mephistophilis, voiced Captain English in the all puppet Jackboots on Whitehall film and played Marius in Underworld: Blood Wars.
(13) STAND BY FOR ADS! I received a press release which evidently is calling on me to publicize a forthcoming publicity campaign. Maybe we’ll get to the books later! Their headline is amusing –
GREAT POWER. NO RESPONSIBILITY.
Tom Doherty Associates is proudly launching the Magic x Mayhem campaign, on the heels of the 2018 Fearless Women campaign. 2018 was a year for breaking though barriers of gender and sex—but 2019 is the year for breaking all the rules. Gone are the days of simple good-versus-evil narratives; these are complicated times that call for complicated characters. From Game of Thrones to The Haunting of Hill House, pop culture has clearly shifted its attention to the messy, the morally ambiguous, and the weird. In short, fans want magic, and they want mayhem. The Magic x Mayhem campaign features an eclectic mix of daring new speculative fiction by fan favorite authors and new voices from the Tor Books and Tor.com Publishing imprints.
Magic and mayhem don’t just live on the pages of books; they’re doled out in fantasy realms and the real world alike by this impressive array of writers. Featured authors include Seanan McGuire (Middlegame), Cate Glass (An Illusion of Thieves), Sarah Gailey (Magic for Liars), Duncan M. Hamilton (Dragonslayer), Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth), Brian Naslund (Blood of an Exile), Saad Z. Hossain (The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday), JY Yang (The Ascent to Godhood) and more. This illustrious group of wordslingers includes bestsellers, award-winners, scholars, and influencers. Through this campaign, the authors will have a combined organic reach of 400,000, and they’re truly a rebel force to be reckoned with.
The campaign will include extensive outreach to social media influencers, a robust marketing and advertising campaign with outlets like Den of Geek and The Mary Sue, exclusive content from select participating authors, Magic x Mayhem branded events at BookExpo, BookCon, New York Comic Con and more. Follow the chaos with #magicXmayhem.
(14) THEY ALL FALL DOWN. “Penn and Teller and Mischief Theatre to produce Magic Goes Wrong” According to Chip Hitchcock, “The Play That Goes Wrong (on tour in the US) was even funnier to a former theater techie like me — my first reaction was that I wanted to have worked on all of those gimmicks. Now I’m hoping this show will also travel.”
If you went to see a show at the theatre where actors forgot their lines, props went missing or scenery collapsed, you’d probably ask for a refund.
But plays going wrong has proved to be a recipe for huge West End and Broadway success for British company Mischief Theatre.
Their current crop of shows – including The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery – are set the be joined by a new production later this year.
Magic Goes Wrong has been created by Mischief together with US magicians Penn and Teller – whose fame in the magical world is perhaps second only to Harry Potter’s.
(15) FAST FOOD. Here’s a place “Where you must catch your meal with chopsticks”.
In nagashi somen, one of Japan’s most delightful summertime food rites, noodles are sent down a bamboo chute ‘waterslide’ and you must catch your meal with your chopsticks.
It’s a sunny July day on a mountainside restaurant terrace on the island of Kyushu, Japan. A polo-shirted, 40-something Japanese businessman, a long-time friend of mine, is holding a clump of somen – thin, white wheat noodles – aloft in one hand, and beaming at me and his two foodie colleagues, who have joined us for this feast.
“Ii desu ka?” Are you ready?
“Ichi, ni, san – iku yo!”One, two, three – here they come!
He releases the noodles into a stream of water that is flowing down a 1.5m-long bamboo chute. We three are seated at the opposite end, and, as the noodles slide swiftly toward us, we plunge our chopsticks into the stream, trying to grab the slippery threads.
“Hayaku, hayaku!” – Quickly, quickly! – prim, pearl-necklaced Kimiko-san on my right exhorts herself. “Ahhh, dame da!” – Oh, missed it! – black-suited Eishi-san across from me groans. As more clumps of noodles flow toward us, we gradually lose all reserve, stabbing and laughing as we chase the elusive strands. Eventually we all raise our chopsticks, triumphantly displaying our glistening catch.
(16) WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY. BBC poses the question: “Would you want to stay in a space hotel?” “You” defined as someone with a lot of money…
Aurora Station plans to become the first hotel in space. But how likely is it we’ll be able to holiday in orbit around the Earth?
It was intended to set the travel world on fire: Aurora Station, the world’s first in-orbit hotel. The official announcement took place last April during the Space 2.0 Conference in San Jose, California. Housed aboard a structure about the size of a large private jet, guests would soar 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, enjoying epic views of the planet and the northern and southern lights.
A jaunt won’t be cheap: the 12-day-journey aboard Aurora Station, scheduled to be in orbit by 2022, starts at a cool $9.5m (£7.3m) per person. Nevertheless, the company says the waiting list is booked nearly seven months ahead.
“Part of our experience is to give people the taste of the life of a professional astronaut,” says Frank Bunger, founder and chief executive officer of Orion Span, the firm which is behind Aurora Station. “But we expect most guests will be looking out the window, calling everyone they know, and should guests get bored, we have what we call the ‘holodeck,’ a virtual reality experience. In it you can do anything you want; you can float in space, you can walk on the Moon, you can play golf.”
(17) NOT MAINLY IN THE PLAIN. “Climate change: Rain melting Greenland ice sheet ‘even in winter'”.
Rain is becoming more frequent in Greenland and accelerating the melting of its ice, a new study has found.
Scientists say they’re “surprised” to discover rain falling even during the long Arctic winter.
The massive Greenland ice-sheet is being watched closely because it holds a huge store of frozen water.
And if all of that ice melted, the sea level would rise by seven metres, threatening coastal population centres around the world.
The scientists studied satellite pictures of the ice-sheet which reveal the areas where melting is taking place.
And they combined those images with data gathered from 20 automated weather stations that recorded when rainfall occurred.
The findings, published in the journal The Cryosphere, show that while there were about two spells of winter rain every year in the early phase of the study period, that had risen to 12 spells by 2012.
(18) A PREVIOUS DELANY. At Fansided, Sarah Crocker details “20 legendary black science-fiction authors you need to know”.
…Even though some of the biggest sci-fi properties recognized today are all too often racially tone-deaf, black sci-fi authors have been producing work for well over a century. And, with the rise of more and more creators of color in sci-fi and beyond, there’s hope that the situation will get better.
What is “black science fiction”? Broadly, it’s sci-fi produced by black creators. Once you get more specific, though, it’s clear that there as many ways to write about science fiction as there are individual authors. Black sci-fi isn’t monolithic by any means. Some of the authors included here draw on American experiences, Caribbean folklore, Islamic history, modern international politics, and much, much more.
Please note that science fiction is a huge genre with many, many different subgenres, from cyberpunk, to space opera, to galactic westerns. Your own personal definition sci-fi may or may not line up totally with the one used here, but rest assured that, even if you want to quibble over particulars, these are all great works of fiction that you should read no matter what.
So, in honor of Black History Month, here are 20 incredible black science fiction authors who you should add to your reading list as soon as possible. Though this month is a good occasion to bring attention to black sci-fi and speculative fiction, don’t think this is a one-time thing. There are enough authors here to keep you reading for the rest of the year at least.
First on the list is Martin Delany:
…So, where does the science fiction come in? Starting in 1859, Delany published serialized portions of Blake, or the Huts of America, a utopian separatist novel (it wouldn’t be published in one volume until 1970). It follows Henry Blake, a revolutionary escaped slave who travels throughout the U.S. and Cuba in an attempt to organize a large-scale rebellion. The depiction of an active, intelligent, and driven black man was in strong contrast to more docile characters of the time.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]