To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – Day Five
By Chris M. Barkley:
DAY FIVE: THE LAST DAY
Sunday, the very last day of Discon III, was a VERY busy day.
Juli and I had finished packing the night before.
I was also up early (again) because I had a 10am panel; “Inspired Or Copied, The Ethics of Art”, featuring artists agent Jane Frank, attorney at law Harold Feld, and authors Keith DeCandido, J.T. Greathouse and myself. As I looked in the program book, I did not see anyone listed as a moderator. Which made me wonder why I was on this panel to begin with. Oh well, I thought…
But first, there were two other issues on my plate that morning. As I got dressed, Juli informed me that I maybe in hot water with our friend, author Jonathan Brazee. Apparently, I misstated his rank in the United States Marine Corps as “Lt. Colonel” instead of his actual rank upon retirement as full Colonel.
If you think the distinction is rather minor, think again. Consider this; my brain fart is the equivalent of mistaking the rock band Nickelback for The Beatles. I have several friends and relatives who have served in the armed services and nothing upsets them more than civilians like myself getting aspects of their lives dead wrong. So, I got dressed, dreading the prospect of running into the Colonel.
The other thing that caught my attention was a Facebook post by Adam-Troy Castro. In it, Mr. Castro totally eviscerates Jon Del Arroz, a internet provocateur (troll) mostly known for his incredibly egotistical boasts of writing talent and notorious passive-aggressive attacks on progressive writers, women, the LGBTQ community and practically anyone else who casts doubts his on his “greatness”.
Needless to say, I picked up Mr. Castro’s post and spread it all over Facebook (including the DisCon III page) and on my Twitter page with the caption (gleefully borrowed from Game of Thrones): “He who SHOUTS that he is a King, is no king.”
THAT, dear readers, felt very, VERY satisfying.
On my way to my panel, I decided to grab a quick bite of something in the DisCon III Green Room (located just off to the side of the hotel’s main restaurant) to tide me over until I could eat a fuller breakfast. And guess who was there, having coffee with a friend —
As I started to apologize profusely, he laughed and said that he actually got a kick out of being one of the “luminaries” spotted at the bottom of the first column of this series of DisCon III reports. Totally relieved that I would not be set upon by angry veterans or service members of the armed forces, I grabbed a cup of tea and made my way to my panel. (Subsequently, Col. Brazee contacted me via text and said that no further public apology was necessary but I must disagree. When a mistake of that magnitude is made by a reporter, a correction is not only called for, it’s mandatory as far as I’m concerned.)
As I passed through the lobby, I stopped by the Information Desk for the last newsletter and the traditional hoax parody as well. I also saw that there were several dozen silver colored, Flash Gordon shaped foam rockets on the next table over. Curious, I went over and examined one and saw the red and black label, which is how I found out that the defense contractor Raytheon was an official sponsor of DisCon III. (WHAT? I should have been paying more attention during the con! In my defense, I was unsupervised…)
Thinking that these would make a nice trinket for my four grandchildren, I grabbed several of them. As I passed by Ellen Datlow, who was seated in the East Promenade eating from the grab and go buffet, I gifted her with one as well. She was very appreciative since this rocket was MUCH lighter than the Short Form Editing Hugo Award she had won yesterday evening.
[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]
Though this new post confirms that Gill has also “finished filming” on the next set of episodes, the BBC is yet to officially confirm if she will be departing her role as companion Yaz Khan.
Both stars will return for the show’s 13th series, set to air from 31st October on BBC One. This will be followed by two specials which will air in 2022, then one final feature-length adventure for Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary.
Speaking to Digital Spy, he explained: “It all depends. The moment you say yes to Doctor Who, even before you’ve done an episode, you’re being asked whether you’d go back after you finish. I don’t know if this happens to James Bonds. I don’t know if Pierce Brosnan gets asked if he’d go back to James Bond.
“Because there’s that element of fantasy, anything is ultimately possible. You should never say never to anything. I think that way madness lies.”
Well, that didn’t take long – Tennant is voicing the Doctor in a game:
David Tennant returns to the world of Doctor Who today with a special voice appearance in Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality, a video game that sees Tennant’s Time Lord sharing a screen with Jodie Whittaker’s incumbent version of the famous TV hero. But this return did come with a bit of “weirdness” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fans cried during the airing of the “Star Trek” episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This particular program would be proclaimed by many as the “greatest episode” in the franchise’s history. Written originally by science fiction scribe Harlan Ellison, “City” featured a story that taught the cruel lessons of time travel.
… Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) were able to travel into the past with the help of a living machine known as the Guardian of Forever….
(3) HITTING THE THEMATIC TARGET. Author and editor Michael A. Ventrella from the Pocono Liars Club chats with authors and editors Keith DeCandido and Randee Dawn on the topic of “Writing for Themed Anthologies” with lots of stories, laughs, and advice for writers and editors both!
[Note: iPlayer link only works in UK, but YouTube has the episode. This game segment comes after the 20-minute mark.]
(6) GUESS WHO’S A BIG JEAN-LUC FAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews and Roxanne Roberts say Jeff Bezos has been a Trekker since fourth grade, when he’s come home from school and watch classic Trek episodes. Andrews and Roberts note that Bezos’s favorite captain is Jean-Luc Picard, and that he nearly named Amazon makeitso.com. His current favorite sf writers are Alistair Reynolds, Ernest Cline, and Andy Weir and it’s not a coincidence that Amazon Studios saved The Expanse after the show was killed by Syfy. “Jeff Bezos and Star Trek: A love affair”.
…“For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie,” he said that year. “I am very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call: ‘You have to let Jeff Bezos be in your ‘Star Trek’ movie. ”
Bezos said he was willing to be unrecognizable but wanted a speaking part — and one that was central to the plot so it didn’t end up on the cutting-room floor.
Bezos appears in the first five minutes of the film as an alien Starfleet officer stationed at Yorktown Starbase in 2263 who scans Kalara as she pleads for help from Commodore Paris and Captain Kirk. “Speak normally,” Bezos tells her. The cameo role required such extensive makeup that he could only drink through a straw.
“He was awesome,” director Justin Lin told the Associated Press. “It was like a president was visiting, you know? He had a big entourage! But it didn’t matter because he was so into it. He had to wait around all day because it was one day we were shooting like three different scenes and, it was also credit to Jeff because … he just nailed it every time.”…
(7) YES BUCKS, YES BUCK ROGERS. I’m still catching up, and this seems a timely place to slip in Saturday Night Live’s “Billionaire Star Trek” sketch from a week ago.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1926 – Eighty-five years ago, A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, was first published in the United Kingdom. It is a collection of short stories with illustrations by E. H. Shepard. It was the first of two such collections, the second being The House at Pooh Corner. (Yes, it’d later be a song written by Kenny Loggins and performed by their Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their 1970 Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy album but I digress.) The book was well-received at release, and was an extraordinary success, selling some one hundred fifty thousand copies before the end of the year. Winnie-the-Pooh has been adapted in other media, most notably by Disney beginning with Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in the Sixties. Both books are free as part of the Audible Plus program.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 14, 1899 — Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo”. He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger Man, Department S, The Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral”. The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film though I’m obviously open to being told I’m wrong. (Died 1969.)
Born October 14, 1927 — Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. (Died 2017.)
Born October 14, 1946 — Katy Manning, 75. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Born October 14, 1949 — Crispin Burnham, 72. And then there are those who just disappear. He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was publishedin Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace.
Born October 14, 1953 — Richard Christian Matheson, 68. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing Stories, Masters of Horror, The Powers of Matthew Star, Splatter, Tales from the Crypt, Knight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
Born October 14, 1953 — Greg Evigan, 68. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”.
Born October 14, 1963 — Lori Petty, 58. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The Hunger, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager, Brimstone, Freddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
Born October 14, 1968 — Robert C. Cooper, 53. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed!
The Washington Post sums up the reasons for the stike:
…Members of the IATSE contend that television and film studios have raked in massive profits during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers turn to streaming options to fill more time at home. But those gains have not extended to workers, they say, who now put in significantly longer workweeks…
David Gerrold also discussed what the high (98%) vote portends and urged his readers to support IATSE.
Over 30 Paizo staff members from several departments have signed a letter announcing the formation of the United Paio Workers union, in coordination with the Communication Workers of America. This effort is the first of its kind in both the tabletop RPG and board game industry.
The letter states that Paizo workers have been organizing for some time but were spurred to act by September firing of customer service and community manager Sara Marie and what they call the sudden departure of customer service representative Diego Valdez and several others in the recent past. Many former and current employees, as well as freelancers and contract workers, took the opportunity to share stories of abuse, harassment, mistreatment and hostile management.
“These events, as well as internal conversations among Paizo workers, have uncovered a pattern of inconsistent hiring practices, pay inequity across the company, allegations of verbal abuse from executives and management, and allegations of harassment ignored or covered up by those at the top,” the letter said. “These findings have further galvanized the need for clearer policies and stronger employee protections to ensure that Paizo staff can feel secure in their employment.”
(13) DUNE MOTHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Raphael Abraham interviewed Rebecca Ferguson about her role in Dune.
(Timothee) Chalamet may be the star but Ferguson’s character is in many ways the story’s catalyst; her role amped up by (director Denis) Villeneuve–she has defied her mysterious religious order to bear a son and possesses supernatural powers that she attempts to impart to him. And, while other main players are killed off or become separated from the hero, it is Paul’s mother who remains by his side, battling on foot across the inhospitable desert planet of the title, evading enemies and giant sandworms. For Ferguson and Chalamet, this meant shooting under the Abu Dhabi sun in bulky space costumery.
‘We had to adapt to mother nature,’ the actress says. ‘We could only film for an hour and a half at dusk and dawn, and during the day we had to stay inside and not burn ourselves. It was a struggle running uphill in stillsuits but it was also so lovely doing it in the real environment–no bloody studio!’
…Fittingly, for his next creation, which will debut today at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, the 71-year-old crop artist is looking up to the sky for inspiration. Stretching 4,800 square feet in size, the piece coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child initiative and is also part of World Space Week, an annual event that celebrates global accomplishments in science and technology. Since this year’s theme is Women in Space, Herd has created a portrait of Stephanie Wilson, a veteran NASA astronaut with three space flights under her belt (she’s also the second African American woman to go into space), and one of 18 astronauts who are a part of Artemis, NASA’s lunar exploration program that is scheduled to send the first woman to the moon in 2024…
(16) GILLIAN ANDERSON VOICE ROLE. Robin Robin comes to Netflix on November 24.
Robin Robin, a holiday special from Aardman Animation, makers of Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit. “Starring Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Bronte Carmichael and Adeel Akhtar.” When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.
Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars
Observations from orbital spacecraft have shown that Jezero crater, Mars, contains a prominent fan-shaped body of sedimentary rock deposited at its western margin. The Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in February 2021. Researchers have analyzes images taken by the rover in the three months after landing. The fan has outcrop faces that were invisible from orbit, which record the hydrological evolution of Jezero crater. Researchers interpret the presence of inclined strata in these outcrops as evidence of deltas that advanced into a lake.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In this Saturday Night Live “Cut for Time” sketch, a dinner party (Owen Wilson, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffat, Ego Nwodim) disagrees on splitting a check. But wait! – There’s more, and it’s genre.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, John A Arkansawyer, Christian Brunschen, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) AMAZING STORIES ON HIATUS. Steve Davidson’s Amazing Stories issued a press release announcing that “A major licensing agreement using the Amazing Stories name has been terminated owing to non-payment.” As a result, the magazine won’t be coming out. (The website will remain active.)
… Due to the failure to pay and due to the many other costs directly related to this contract, Experimenter Publisher is currently no longer able to maintain the publishing schedule of Amazing Stories magazine, and that publication has been placed in hiatus pending the resolution of these issues…
The licensee is not named, although curiously the press release criticizes another company, Disney, by name. (Disney isn’t the licensee. And you don’t need to tell me in comments who you think it is – I know who it is. The point is this press release announces litigation yet refuses to speak the target’s name out loud.)
We licensed a major corporation several years ago and factored licensing fees into our budget. Unfortunately, those fees have not been received, which places us behind the 8-ball.
Our licensee has been formally notified of numerous breeches of our contract and our intention to terminate that contract. Service was sent to the contractually designated addresses and we have received no response, not even an acknowledgement of our notice to them.
This strongly suggests that they are planning on waiting to see what we are going to do and then will use their enormous budget and other assets to continue to ignore the fact that they no longer have the rights to use the name, or, perhaps even more problematic, sue us in order to remove us from the picture.
We can not afford to defend ourselves from such an unjustified action at this point in time. Further, the current state of limbo discourages any other studio from working with the property, preventing us from developing other potential revenue sources.
Perhaps “encouraging” us to go away was the plan all along – but given the lack of communication, we doubt we’ll ever know the real reasons behind why they have chosen not to honor their contractual obligations.
What we DO know is, fighting this fight has put us in a deep hole and if the licensee decides to fight (likely), we’ll be in an even deeper hole.
… Now from this daring and ever-shifting author comes “Hummingbird Salamander,” a volume more naturalistic, more like a traditional thriller than its predecessors, but one that also features hooks into the literary novel of paranoid conspiracy, a genre best exemplified by Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.” In fact, our doughty and frankly terrifying heroine, “Jane Smith,” might be the Oedipa Maas the 21st century needs.
(3) THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG. Joel Hodgson is running a Kickstarter — “Let’s Make More MST3K & Build THE GIZMOPLEX!” Did people think that was a good idea? Yes! In the first 24 hours they’ve raised $2,162,492 of their $2,000,000 goal. The reasons for returning to crowdfunding the series include —
In the not-too-distant past – about 6 years ago, November 2015 AD – we ran a Kickstarter to BRING BACK MST3K after 15 years in hibernation.
It was a little bit stressful, and a lot of work, but I’ve gotta tell you… the whole experience went better than we had ever hoped:
Thanks to you, our campaign broke a bunch of Kickstarter records.
Over 48,000 of you took up the cause… and together, we raised over $6 million.
With your help, we got picked up on Netflix and made 20 new episodes!
And you know, you can’t ever please everybody, but it seems like most of you were pretty happy with ’em…. and the critics were too:
Also, having those new episodes on Netflix, along with a lot of our “classic” episodes, helped a lot of folks discover Mystery Science Theater for the first time. So, if you weren’t there to help #BringBackMST3K… Welcome! We’re glad you’re here to help #MakeMoreMST3K.
…Anyway: as you know, nothing good lasts forever. Sometime in late 2019, during our third live tour, we got word: even though Netflix liked how our new episodes came out, they wouldn’t be renewing us for a third new season….
2.It’s time to try something new.
If enough of you want more MST3K, maybe we don’t need anyone to renew us.
From now on, we want you to decide how long MST3K keeps going.
We don’t need a network to “let us” make more MST3K. We can make it for you.
When we do, you should be the first ones to see it.
Super Heroes Assemble! As we’ve all been anticipating, I’m pleased to share that Avengers Campus – an entirely new land dedicated to discovering, recruiting and training the next generation of Super Heroes – will open June 4, 2021 at the Disneyland Resort!
…The first key area is the Worldwide Engineering Brigade – also known as WEB. It brings together bright innovators like Peter Parker who have been assembled by Tony Stark to invent new technologies and equip everyday people to become Super Heroes like the Avengers. WEB will house the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature the iconic friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!
We previously shared that Tom Holland will reprise his role as Spider-Man in the new family-friendly attraction, which invites you to put your web-slinging skills to the test and experience what it’s like to have powers alongside Spider-Man – a feat accomplished with innovative technology adapted specifically for this attraction, perfect for up-and-coming recruits of all ages.
(5) FEARS FOR WHAT AILS YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In“Scary Times Call for Scary Reads” on CrimeReads, Jennifer MacMahon says that scary books are what you should be reading during the pandemic.
Recently, I was talking with a friend who was excited to hear I had a new book coming out soon. “But is it scary?” she asked apprehensively. I told her a little about it: a woman returns to her old family home after her sister drowns in the spring fed pool—oh, and the pool is rumored to be bottomless and her sister believed there was something lurking in the water. So yeah, it’s a little creepy. My friend apologized and said that she just couldn’t read unsettling books because of how unsettling the world is right now. I would argue (and did!) that that is exactly when we need these books the most; they take us to dark places and help us explore our fears from the relative safety of our favorite reading spot…
At times on Yahoo Answers, the people asking questions of strangers lunged for the hallucinatory limits of human curiosity: What would a heaven for elephants be like? Should scientists give octopi bones?
It helped people identify their sense of self: Why do people with baguettes think they are better than me? Is being popular in high school a good skill I can use in a job interview?
It sought explanations for the unexplainable: Smoke coming from my belly button? Why is everything at my grandma’s house moist?
And it gave air to gaps in knowledge and admissions that perhaps had nowhere else to go: What does a hug feel like?
Yahoo, which is owned by Verizon Media, will be shutting down the question-and-answer service and deleting its archives on May 4, erasing a corner of the internet that will be widely remembered for its — to be charitable — less-than-enriching contributions to human knowledge since its arrival in 2005.
Less charitably, BuzzFeed News this week called it “one of the dumbest places on the internet.” Vulture said it was “populated entirely with Batman villains, aliens pretending to be human, and that one weird neighbor you’d rather climb down your fire escape in a blizzard than get caught in a conversation with.”
There is plenty of evidence for that position. People asked: Can you milk Gushers to make fruit juice? Can I cook raw chicken in the Michael wave? I forgot when my job interview is? What animal is Sonic the hedgehog? IS THIS YAHOO EMAIL SUPPORT?
Most famously, in a question that launched a meme, a confused soul who had learned little about reproductive science or spelling asked: How is babby formed?
It was never known how many of the questions were based in earnest ignorance and curiosity, and how much was intentional trolling. Answering required no expertise, and often displayed little of it.
But the site clearly was seen by some people, including children, as a comfortable space to ask the questions — sometimes important ones — they’d never dare to ask friends, families and teachers….
(7) ZOOMING INTO FANHISTORY. [Item by Joe Siclari.] The Fanac Fan History Project has three more Zoom Programs coming up over the next two months.
April 17, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – Early Star Trek Fandom, with Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam. Stories and anecdotes from Ruth and Devra about their entry into fandom, about the origins of Star Trek fandom, and how they came to publish T-Negative and Spockanallia. For those of us that came into fandom later, here’s a chance to hear how Star Trek was received in general fandom, how Trek fandom got started, who the BNFs were and what they were they like. How did the first Trek fanzines and Trek conventions affect fandom, and how did Trek fandom grow and become its own thing. RSVP to email@example.com.
April 27, Tuesday – 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 9PM London. An Interview with Erle Korshak by Joe Siclari. Erle Korshak is one of our remaining FIrst Fans (inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996) and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon). Erle was an organizer of the first Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, and was one of the Worldcon auctioneers for many years. He started Shasta Publishers, one of the first successful specialty SF publishers. He was also involved with early SF movies. In this session, fan historian Joe Siclari will interview Erle and his son Steve about early fandom, early conventions (including Worldcons), Shasta, and both Erle and Steve’s continuing interest in illustration art. Note: this is a midweek session. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 22, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – An Interview with Bjo and John Trimble. Bjo and John Trimble have had an enormous impact on fandom from the 1950s onward. They’ve pubbed their ish, and some of the zines are available on FANAC.org. Bjo created the convention art show as we know it today (pre-pandemic) with Project Art Show, and published PAS-tell to share info with interested fans everywhere. In LASFS, Bjo had a large role in reviving a flagging LASFS in the late 50s. Her most famous contribution was the successful Save Star Trek campaign which resulted in a 3rd year of the original series. Bjo was one of the organziers of Los Angeles fandom’s film making endeavors. John is a co-founder of the LASFS clubzine, De Profundis and an editor of Shangri-L’Affaires. Bjo and John were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJose (2002), and were nominated twice for Best Fanzine Hugos. Bjo was nominated for the Best Fan Artist Hugo. In this interview, expect stories and anecdotes of Los Angeles fandom, how the art show came to be, Save Star Trek and much more. RSVP to email@example.com.
… The rocket equation is vexatious for SF authors for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s math. 2) It imposes enormous constraints on the sort of stories the sort of author who cares about math can tell. Drives that produce thrust without emitting mass are therefore very attractive. Small surprise that persons with an enthusiasm for space travel and a weakness for crank science leap on each iteration of the reactionless drive as it bubbles up in the zeitgeist.
One such crank was John W. Campbell, Jr., the notorious editor of Astounding/Analog (for whom a dwindling number of awards are named). Because of his position and because authors, forever addicted to luxuries like clothing, food, and shelter, wanted to sell stories to Campbell, Campbell’s love of reactionless drives like the Dean Drive created an environment in which stories featuring such drives could flourish, at Analog and elsewhere….
(9) BONANNO OBIT. Author Margaret Wander Bonanno (1950-2021) has died reports Keith R.A. DeCandido. She wrote seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a collaborative novel with Nichelle Nichols, a biography, and other works. Her novel Preternatural was a New York Times Notable Book for 1997.[
…We remained friends over the years, and when she came back to writing Trek fiction in the 2000s, I got to work with her a few times: I served as the line editor on her Christopher Pike novel Burning Dreams, I was the continuity editor on her Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows, and best of all, I commissioned her to write the conclusion to the Mere Anarchy eBook series that celebrated Trek‘s 40th anniversary in 2006. Margaret did a superb job with the conclusion of this miniseries, which was entitled Its Hour Come Round, and which included one of my favorite scenes in any work of Trek fiction, a conversation between Raya elMora (one of the recurring characters in Mere Anarchy) and Klingon Chancellor Azetbur (from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
April 8, 1887 — Hope Mirrlees. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel apparently beloved by many. (I’m not one of them.) In 1970, an American reprint was published without the author’s permission, as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born April 8, 1907 – Vincent Napoli. Four covers, two hundred forty interiors for us; WPA (Works Progress Adm’n) muralist, e.g. this. Here is an interior for “Time and Time Again” – H. Beam Piper, Apr 47 Astounding. Here is one for “The Earth Men” – R. Bradbury, Aug 48 Thrilling Wonder Stories. Here is one for ”Dark o’ the Moon” – S. Quinn, Jul 49 Weird Tales. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born April 8, 1912 –Ted Carnell. Fan Guest of Honor at Cinvention the 7th Worldcon, brought by the Big Pond Fund. Chaired Loncon I the 15th Worldcon. Guest of Honour at Eastercon 11. Developed a pro career, editing New Worlds, Science Fantasy, SF Adventures, New Writing in SF; five dozen author profiles. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1972) [JH]
Born April 8, 1933 – Cele Goldsmith. Edited Amazing and Fantastic – both at once – living up to those names. Special Committee Award form Chicon III the 20th Worldcon. Amazing memoir years later in the Mar 83 issue. Andrew Porter’s appreciation here. Mike Ashley’s here. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born April 8, 1939 – Trina Hyman. Twoscore covers, a score of interiors for us; illustrated a hundred fifty books all told, e.g. A Room Made of Windows. Here is Peter Pan. Here is the Aug 88 F & SF. Here is The Serpent Slayer. Caldecott Medal, Boston Globe – Horn Book and Golden Kite Awards. (Died 2004) [JH]
April 8, 1942 — Douglas Trumbull, 79. Let’s call him a genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost. (CE)
April 8, 1967 — Cecilia Tan, 54. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted to erotic genre fiction. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She has two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy. (CE)
Born April 8, 1968 – Alex Toader, age 53. (Romanian name, “toe-AH-derr”.) Here is The Day Dreamer. Here is the Predator drop ship (Predators, N. Antal dir. 2010). Here is a Terra-to-Mars spaceport. Here is Tractor Beams Engaged. [JH]
April 8, 1974 — Nnedi Okorafor, 47. Who Fears Death won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Lagoon which is an Africanfuturism or Africanjujuism novel (her terms) was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti which led it off that trilogy won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award for best novella. Several of her works have been adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America. (CE)
Born April 8, 1978 – Natasha Rhodes, age 43. Eight novels, one shorter story. Motion pictures too, some of the novels are tie-ins. Interview here; among much else she says “There were a lot of male sulky faces and pouty lips when women’s rights came in and became the norm rather than the exception.” [JH]
April 8, 1980 — Katee Sackhoff, 41. Being noted here for playing Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica though I must confess I’ve only seen in her excellent role as Deputy Sheriff Victoria “Vic” Moretti on Longmire. She also played Amunet Black, a recurring character who showed up on the fourth season of The Flash. To my pleasant surprise, I see her on Star Wars: The Clone Wars in a recurring role voicing Bo-Katan Kryze. (CE)
April 8, 1981 — Taylor Kitsch, 40. You’ll possibly remember him as the lead in John Carter which I swear was originally titled John Carter of Mars. He also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was Lieutenant Commander Alex Hopper in Battleship which was based off the board game but had absolutely nothing to with that game. (CE)
… When I share the least fragment of this person’s extensive contributions to fanzines, science fiction, and fan culture, you’ll know immediately who I am talking about. But let’s pretend we don’t. He discovered science fiction at an early age in Wales (how green was his Soylent), and found fandom at the Oxford University SF Group….
Perseverance’s SHERLOC WATSON camera captured imagery of the Mast ‘head’ of the rover on April 6, 2021 (Sol 45). The imagery is combined with Martian wind audio captured by Perseverance on Sol 4.
(14) AN UNUSED SCROLL TITLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] As someone who didn’t watch TNG as it happened, only random in returns over the decades since, and who finds Q annoying at best, my thought is, potential title-wise:
(15) SACRE BLEU! Andrew Porter was tuned into tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! and witnessed this:
Category: Books by the number
Answer: Jules Verne’s first novel was “Cinq Semaines en Ballon”, or this long “In a Balloon”
Wrong question: What is 80 days?
Right question: What is five weeks?
John King Tarpinian, meanwhile, was pleased the show had a Bradbury reference, and sent this screenshot.
…What are the criteria we’re using to rank these portrayals? Fidelity to the source text? Creativeness of the interpretations? Resemblance to Sidney Paget’s illustrations? Quality of acting? Kind of. Simply put, portrayals are ranked in their ability to present a Holmes who makes sense as a derivation of the original character while exploring, interrogating, and expanding the character’s qualities in a thoughtful and meaningful way. And of course, yes, the quality of the performance itself matters.
The dog ranks ahead of Data! And the new number two is —
2. Basil Rathbone, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), etc.
The consummate actor Basil Rathbone, besides having my favorite name ever, is often considered to be the gold-standard for Holmes portrayals, having played Holmes in fourteen films in the 1930s and 40s. For many out there, he is *the* Holmes, and this is more than fair. Rathbone’s Holmes is an interesting take… very logical, though not wry, but also very vigorous. While he’s certainly very affable, there is little whimsy, nothing too nonconformist about him. It’s truly marvelous to behold (though more marvelous is how he never once turns around to flick Nigel Bruce’s idiot Watson on the head).
(17) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. “Leonard Nimoy As Sherlock Holmes: The Interior Motive (1976) Full Version” on YouTube is a 1976 episode of the PBS show “The Universe and I” in which Leonard Nimoy, as Sherlock Holmes, provides a science lesson about the nature of the earth’s core.
And here’s a clip featuring Peter Capaldi’s performance as Holmes — because you can never have enough Peter Capaldi.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Joe Siclari, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
(1) A DAY FOR VISIBILITY. On International Transgender Day of Visibility, one fan talks about the way Star Trek fandom helped her feel safe and seen as her full self: “Coming Out to My Star Trek Family”.
In October 2012, I stepped into a room full of people who’d known me for years, but most of them were about to truly meet me for the first time. I was scared out of my mind. At a science-fiction convention in Chicago, they were busy turning a hotel suite into a tiny nightclub, and I had arrived to step up my DJ gear, a now-familiar ritual. Only this time, I was wearing a full face of makeup and a dress… and an announcement needed to be made. I had new pronouns. And a new name. This was not some ultra-liberal organization of party throwers, either. It’s an organization known as Barfleet, whose only real ethos is “throw the best, safest convention parties”. And I was about to their first out, visibly transgender member….
(2) COSTUMER PHOTO HISTORY RETURNS. The International Costumers Gallery, the largest collection of costume photos in the world, includes photos from science fiction and fantasy conventions, masquerade competitions, fashion shows, historical dress competitions and other events and displays. The Gallery is returning online, featuring new software and new features at a new location: ICG Pat and Peggy Kennedy Memorial Archives.
The International Costumers’ Guild (ICG), founded in 1985, is an affiliation of hobbyist and professional costumers from around the world, dedicated to the promotion and education of costuming as an art form in all its aspects, and to fostering local educational and social costume events…
If there is one lesson Tolkien intended us to take from The Lord of the Rings, it is that NPC (non-player-character) bards are extraordinarily dangerous beings. Not because they might kill you (although some might) but because by their nature, they are adept at upstaging other characters. It’s probably only due to the merciful brevity of his appearance on stage that Tom Bombadil didn’t manage to transform LOTR into Tom Bombadil Saves Middle-Earth with the Power of Verse (also there were some hobbits).
First on the list is Manly Wade Wellman’s collection John the Balladeer. (If you don’t mess around with Jim, you certainly don’t mess around with John.)
I’m afraid that I must decline the invitation to be an author guest/program participant at Balticon 55, and have no plans to return to the convention any time soon.
The convention’s handling of the multiple harassment complaints against convention chair Eric Gasior is disappointing. All the more so because my wife Wrenn Simms and I were witnesses to the incident spelled out in one of those complaints. We were at Arisia 2016, and we observed Eric’s behavior toward one of the complainants. At the time, we thought it was an isolated incident due to a particular set of circumstances. We have since learned that there were at least three other complaints against Eric of a similar nature to that of the one we were privy to. Our names were passed on to the investigator that Balticon hired to look into the allegations, but we were never contacted. Now the investigation is said to be complete and finished, even though Wrenn and I were not questioned, despite being witnesses to Eric’s harassment in January 2016.
This is massively unacceptable and I cannot in good conscience support the con. Balticon is a favorite convention of ours, and I am disappointed to not be attending, but to attend now would be to give my tacit support to a convention committee that has proven to not care about the safety of its attendees.
An inexplicable event confers supernatural powers on a select group of people in Victorian London, who must battle prejudice and those who would exploit their abilities in The Nevers, a new original series coming to HBO next month.
Alexander Skarsgard: Even though I play a very peripheral character and no one cares, I still take my craft seriously. And that means a decade of studying geology and living, breathing the character. Just to give the audience that sublime performance that I give in the movie.
Uproxx: When you’re giving the technical jargon during the movie, viewers can rest assured that you know exactly what you’re talking about, because you studied for so long with trained geologists.
Skarsgard: Exactly. And they can see that in my eyes, that I’m not lying. I’m not pretending. I’m not acting. I’m not playing a geologist. I am a geologist.
(7) ATTACK THE MOCK. The Mitchells vs.The Machines comes to Netflix on April 30.
A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope!
March 31, 1987 — On this day in 1987, the Max Headroom series premiered on ABC. This is the America version of Max Headroom as the British version was Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future which is essentially identical to the initial origin episode of the American series. Matt Frewer as Max Headroom and Edison Carter, Amanda Pays as Theora Jones and W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg would reprise their characters from the British film. It ran from April of 1985 to March of 1987. A spin-off series, a talk show featuring Max was recorded, The Original Max Talking Headroom Show, this time in New York. It aired on Cinemax between the two seasons and lasted six episodes. And yes, Max had a lucrative gig shilling Coca Cola and other products here and in the United Kingdom.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 31, 1844 — Andrew Lang. To say that he is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales is a bit of understatement. He collected enough tales that twenty five volumes of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books for children was published between 1889 and 1913. That’s 798 stories. If you’re interested in seeing these stories, you can find them here. (Died 1912.) (CE)
Born March 31, 1918 – Beth Krush. Illustrator, mostly with husband Joe Krush, who survived her. Both did Mary Norton’s Borrowers books. BK did Eudora Welty’s only children’s book The Shoe Bird and sixteen with Sally Scott. Here is The Borrowers Afield. Here is A Spell Is Cast. Here is Countdown at 37 Pinecrest Drive. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born March 31, 1932 — John Jakes, 89. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. The novels seem to fix-ups from works published in such venues as Fantastic. Dark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From UNCLE novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968. (CE)
Born March 31, 1934 — Richard Chamberlain, 87. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He listed as voicing the Jack Kirby created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Chuck and Twin Peaks. (CE)
Born March 31, 1936 — Marge Piercy, 85. Author of He, She and It which garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel. Of course she also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Tiptree Award. (CE)
Born March 31, 1955 – Janice Gelb, age 66. Co-founded the Israel SF Ass’n and the Filk Foundation. Ran the Hugo Ceremony at L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon, has run Program Ops at eight. Fan Guest of Honor at Concave 22, Baycon 2003; Capricon 31 (with husband Stephen Boucher). Big Heart (our highest service award; with Boucher). DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate; her campaignzine is here; trip report not available electronically so far as I know: try E-mail to either of the DUFF Administrators as given here; or send paper mail to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., and we’ll arrange something. [JH]
Born March 31, 1957 – David Bratman, age 64. Librarian. Classical-music reviewer. Tolkien scholar; a dozen entries in the Tolkien Encyclopedia; edited Mythprint; edits & contributes to Tolkien Studies and Mythlore (about the Inklings). See here. Administered the Hugo Awards at three Worldcons, the Retrospective Hugos at one. Although he once said “We liked dancing ‘The Black Nag’ to annoy John Hertz”, my answer to the question of the day is yes. [JH]
Born March 31, 1957 – Gary Louie. Hard-working, much-missed Los Angeles fan. Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, L.A. Science Fantasy Society). Labored on nearly every Worldcon for years. When he arrived in L.A. fandom the mah jongg fad had begun (for which I bear some responsibility), and as he said, being Chinese he mixed right in. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born March 31, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 61. I see looking him up for this Birthday note that one of my favorite novels by him, Desolation Road, was his very first one. Ares Express which was the sort of sequel was just as splendid. Now the Chaga saga was, errr, weird. The Everness saga was fun but ultimately shallow. Strongly recommend both Devish House and River of Gods. Luna series just didn’t impress me me, so other opinions are sought on it. (CE)
Born March 31, 1971 — Ewan McGregor, 50. Nightwatch, a horror film, with him as lead Martin Bell is his first true genre film. That was followed by The Phantom Menace with him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role repeated in Attack of the Clones,Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. His latest role of interest, well to me if to nobody else, is as Christopher Robin in the film of the same name. (CE)
Born March 31, 1982 – Alaya Dawn Johnson, age 39. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories. Won a Nebula and an Andre Norton. Interviewed in Fantasy, Lightspeed. Guest of Honor at WisCon 39, ConFusion 42 (not its real name, which was “Life, the Universe, and ConFusion”). [JH]
Born March 31, 2010 – João Paulo Guerra Barrera, age 11. Two short stories in Portuguese and English. Won the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. And that ain’t the half of it. [JH]
(11) MANGA NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 22 Financial Times, Leo Lewis reports that Japan’s Financial Services Agency has “turned to a scatological cartoon character to teach children about money.” The character, “Unko Doriru” (“poo exercises”) was introduced by publisher Bunkyosha in 2017 to help children deal with all the memorization that it takes to learn to read and write Japanese.
“In the original books,” Lewis writes, “each new character is introduced with an excrement-based sentence by Unko-sensei, a smartly-dressed, bespectacled and mustachioed pedagogue whose head is a stylized stool. The author’s bet on the inexhaustible powers of faeces to entertain children has seen the series expand to mathematics, science, and other usually soberly-taught realms of Japanese education.”
The Financial Services Agency’s use of the character is an online multiple-choice quiz, “asking children how they would respond to various financial realities, such as having insufficient funds (to buy video games), sudden seasonal gluts of capital (gift money) and the appropriate evaluation of rendered services (washing up.) In each case, one of the available answers involves faeces.”
(12) YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO’S WRITTEN A BOOK. That’s what the email said. Even when it revealed that the subject was newly-released novel The Eighth Key by Laura Weyr I still needed the next clue – that Laura Weyr is the nom de plume of Janice Marcus, of the Galactic Journey Marcuses. Here’s the pitch for her new book:
The magic is gone…or is it?
Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.
Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…
(13) A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] 60 Minutes had a segment about Boston Dynamics. They went behind the scenes and had many interesting shots of company headquarters and some robots we’ve never seen. The most interesting fact in Anderson Cooper’s piece is that the humanoid robot that does all the leaping is only five feet tall. “Robots of the future at Boston Dynamics”.
…“If you read any publications that claim we have figured out how to break the speed of light, they are mistaken,” said one of the researchers, Gianni Martire, in an email to The Debrief. “We [instead] show that a class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today.”
… So, with the team assembled, Martire described how they first looked at the classical warp designs before trying to tackle the problem themselves. “[Harold] White’s paper makes heavy use of extra non-physical dimensions,” he said, “which, as you know, is incompatible with the current understanding of general relativity. Thus, the work is not usable in our reality. No warp metric was.
Hence, why they were all unphysical.”
With this limitation in mind, Martire and his co-author, Lund University Astrophysicist Alexey Bobrick, set out to design an entirely new type of Warp drive, a design they term a physical warp drive. “Our paper covers all the existing warp drives and all their possible modifications (i.e., Alcubierre),” Martire said in the email, “but the APL metric stands on its own, hence why it’s the first physical class of warp.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies note that the Snyder Cut is 2 1/2 times longer than Casablanca, which gives him plenty of room for many, many slo-mo scenes (including a slo-mo shot of Lois Lane’s coffee cup) and scenes where “the grey CGI villain reports in excruciating detail to his grey CGI boss and his boss’s grey CGI executive assistant.”
[Thanks to N., Lloyd Penney, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) PLAY IT AGAIN, JEAN-LUC. At Amazing Stories, Kimberly
Unger tells how Picard is doing in checking off “The
Required Plots of Star Trek”. She has an infographic with 13 of them.
A few years ago, I had the privilege to work on a game being built for Star Trek: Discovery (I will remain salty about the cancellation of this game until the day I die). While that game ultimately never made it to market, it gave me a chance to do a number of deep dives into one of my favorite properties. While we were in the early days of building the game design bible to give to the writers, I came up with a list of recurring broad plotlines that seemed to show up in every variation of Star Trek (and many other SF shows including Dr. Who, Stargate, etc.).
Now that Star Trek: Picard is on the air, I’m working my way down the list, watching to see which of these thirteen recurring plots show up.
Am I an expert in any of this? Hardly. I just try to keep up to date on what’s up while simultaneously not fall for conspiracy theories or mis/disinformation. (Harder than you’d think in this age, sadly.)
So, now we circle back around to say —
Hey, there are a lot of conventions, conferences and festivals coming up.
For me, these are writing- or book-related, but again, I see a lot on the horizon and some that just recently passed: toys, electronics, food service, etc.
It’s convention season.
And, apparently, coronavirus season.
So, if you’re running just such a conference, lemme give you some advice:
Get ahead of this now.
Do not make us e-mail you to ask you what’s up.
This isn’t about causing panic — it’s about undercutting it. It’s about reassuring us that you have this in your mind, with plans forming….
Regina Kanyu Wang, a council member of World Chinese Science Fiction Association
(WCSFA) and who lives in Shanghai, commented today on
Facebook about the situation.
Talking about the coronavirus (COVID-19), now the situation in China is OK, with doctors and nurses really fighting in the frontier as well as normal citizens sacrificing their convenience of daily life (Especially those who live in Wuhan and Hubei in general! They’ve endured so much.) I am in Shanghai and my life is as normal, but I have friends and friends’ families living in Hubei, who are really trading their normal life to win more time for the world to take control of the plague. Recently, there have been an increase in numbers of cases in Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and the US, and also first cases confirmed in more countries.
I realize that local governments may not tell the people how dangerous the virus is because they are afraid of panics and influences on economics. Wuhan and Hubei government did the same, and look what it’s like now….
… Pandemic novels, like pandemics, come and go in waves. The 60s had Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain.” The 70s saw the mega-success of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Robin Cook gave us “Outbreak” in the 80s. By the 2000s, Max Brooks’s “World War Z” and related “The Zombie Survival Guide” were deemed so plausible for emergency scenarios that Brooks now consults for the military. And in 2014, Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven,” about a deadly plague called the “Georgia Flu,” dominated award lists and won widespread recognition.
With the coronavirus on everyone’s minds, reading books about epidemics can either be a frightening turnoff or a fascinating “what if” thought experiment. For readers in the latter category, let’s talk about books you might dare to consider.
… Though the two had never met before, Delany has been hugely influential on Harris, and served as the basis for a character in the latter’s 2019 Black Exhibition, at the Bushwick Starr. And Delany was very aware of Harris. The superstar playwright made an indelible mark on the culture, and it was fitting that the two should meet on Broadway, in Times Square, Delany’s former epicenter of activity, which he detailed at length in his landmark Times Square Red, Times Square Blue and The Mad Man. …
Over turkey club sandwiches and oysters, Harris and Delany discussed identity, fantasy, kink, and getting turned on in the theater.
Can I ask you about the play? How are you processing it?
I was confused in the beginning, but then I realized, Aha! This is therapy. And then, Aha! The therapists are nuts! Then I traveled around having sympathy for all the characters, especially the stupid good-looking guy. He was sweet, I’ve had a lot of those. The character that I identified with most is the one who insists that he’s not white. I used to get that all the time, I mean, the number of times I was told by my friends at Dalton, Well, I would never know that you were black. As if I had asked them.
One of the best things that ever happened to me happened when I was about ten, which was a long time ago. I was born in 1942, so this is 1952, and I’m sitting in Central Park doing my math homework. This kid, he could have been about nineteen or twenty, and I think he was homeless, he walks up to me, and he says to me with his Southern accent, You a n****, ain’t you? I can tell. You ain’t gonna get away with nothin’ with me.
And I looked up at him, I didn’t say anything, and he looked at me and said, That’s all right. You ain’t gonna get away with nothing from me.
And I was so thankful for it. I realized, first of all, he was right. He was being much more honest with me than any of my school friends.
It was also my first exposure to white privilege. There were a lot of white people from the South who felt obliged to walk up and say, You’re black, aren’t you? They thought it was their duty. In case I thought, for a moment, that they didn’t know. This was part of my childhood: people telling me that I was black….
Rosel George Brown is a classic SF author of whom I have long been aware without managing to track down much of her work. Step IV was in fact the third Brown piece I ever read, after 1959’s ?“Car Pool”, and Earthblood, her 1966 collaboration with Keith Laumer. In large part this is because her career was cut tragically short. Aged just 41, she died of lymphoma in 1967. Most of her work is very much out of print.
Still, this particular story is available. What did my Young People make of it?
…During World War II, he was a civilian scientist with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command.
After the war, he came to the U.S. to study physics. Together with physicist Richard Feynman, he was able to reconcile two competing theories of quantum electrodynamics, the study of how sub-atomic particles and light interact. “He was able to show that all these different points of view were one and the same thing,” Dijkgraaf says. “He was a great unifier of physics.”
… Dyson permanently joined the Institute for Advanced Study in 1953. From his perch there, he pursued many other topics of interest. He helped to design an inherently safe nuclear reactor that could be operated “even in the hands of an idiot.” In 1958, he joined Project Orion, a plan to power a spacecraft with controlled nuclear explosions.
The spaceship was never built, but Dyson later described it as “the most exciting and in many ways happiest of my scientific life.” Dijkgraaf says Dyson was probably one of the few people on Earth that felt let down by the 1969 moon landings: “This all looked very disappointing in Freeman’s eyes,” he says. Dyson wanted to go to Saturn with nuclear-fueled rockets. “[He] was kind of envisioning jet planes, and in the end we took a bicycle.”
February 28, 1956 — The “A Pail of Air” episode of X-One first aired. A boy narrates tale of a lifeless Earth. The Earth has been pulled away from its orbit by a comet when he was a baby, and his family live in a nest. The script’s by George Lefferts from a story by Fritz Leiber. Two more episodes would be based on stories by him, “Appointment in Tomorrow” and “The Moon is Green”. The cast includes Ronnie Liss, Pamela Hamilton and Joe De Santis. You can hear it here.
February 28, 1989 — Journey To The Center Of The Earth premiered. It was written by Debra Ricci, Regina Davis, Kitty Chalmers, and Rusty Lemorande, as directed by Lemorande and Albert Pyun. It starred Emo Philips, Paul Carafotes, Jaclyn Bernstein and Kathy Ireland,. It was based on an uncompleted version for a different studio that Lemorande wrote and directed which was much more more faithful to Verne’s text. It was a sort of sequel to the film Alien from L.A.which has been noted here before. Critics usually used one word to describe it — “a mess”. Though it actually has a middling rating among the audiences Rotten Tomatoes at 42%.
February 28, 2011 — Tyrannosaurus Azteca premiered on Sci-fi. (Also known as Rex Aztec.) It was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith as written by Richard Manning. It starred Starring: Ian Ziering, Shawn Lathrop, Milan Tresnak, Marc Antonio, Dichen Lachman and Jack McGee. It was made on he cheap, less than a million in total and critics noted that the CGI at times is much less than believable. You can see it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 28, 1913 — John Coleman Burroughs. Artist known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations. He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
Born February 28, 1928 — Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a series planned of it. He also two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All off his work is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1984.)
Born February 28, 1942 — Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who is considered largely responsible for the program’s structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.)
Born February 28, 1946 — Leanne Frahm, 74. Australian writer whose “Deus Ex Corporus” won the Ditmar Award for best Australian short fiction. She won a Ditmar again in for “Catalyst”. Her story “Borderline” won an Aurealis Award for best science fiction short story. She’s won the Ditmar Award for best fan writer twice.
Born February 28, 1947 — Stephen Goldin, 73. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
Born February 28, 1960 — Dorothy Stratten. She played the title role in Galaxina. She also showed up on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Miss Cosmos in the “Cruise Hip to the Stars” episode. And she was Mickey on the Fantasy Island episode of “The Victim/The Mermaid”. (Died 1980.)
Born February 28, 1968 — John Barnes, 62. I read and really liked the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like? He’s decently stocked by the usual digital suspects.
Born February 28, 1970 — Lemony Snicket, 50. He’s the author of several children’s books, also serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Though I’ve not read the books, they’re very popular I’m told at my local bookstore. It has been turned into a film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and into a Netflix series as well which is named, oh you guess.
My guest this time around was Keith R.A. DeCandido, who has written novels and short stories in so many franchises — more than 30, including Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, Farscape, and on and on — that a decade ago he was named Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
He writes fiction in his own worlds as well, including multiple novels and short stories in the Dragon Precinct series, a police procedural set in a high fantasy universe. He also writes reviews and essays for tor.com, including his popular rewatches of multiple Star Treks, Stargate SG-1, and other series. And those are just a few of his facets, which include music, martial arts, and more.
…Young fans are interesting to us because the audience of people who have been most interested in our work so far is relatively small and skews to an older demographic. We cherish this community of long-time fans with some existing connection to the history we study, but we are also interested in reaching a younger audience who have little to no connection to early fan history.
This begs the question…
Are Young People Interested in Early Fan History?
This is a question we ask ourselves often..
Although almost none of the First Fans of the 1930s are still with us, we fortunately can learn something of their stories through the people that knew them. This is the core community of collaborators and readers that we have interacted with through the course of this project so far, and is one primary audience for our work.
But what about, for lack of a better phrase, young people? Do Millennials and Gen Z, born into the chaotic fullness of modern fandom, have any interest in the origin story of the SFF fan community?
Far below Toronto’s streets, Safe provides a refuge to beings living with marvelous gifts and onerous curses—people who, if caught by the authorities, would be subjected to unpleasant experiments. Some of the refugees have been so subjected before they escaped to Safe.
Matthew is able to pass for a regular human. He can venture above to buy necessary supplies without letting any normal know that Safe exists….
(12) THE DOCTOR. THE MASTER. THE CYBERMEN. “Set
course… for Gallifrey” The Doctor Who season 12 finale airs March
1 on BBC One.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Chip Hitchcock, assisted by Anna Nimmhaus.]
By Mark L. Blackman: The Beatles entered my consciousness not
through the bathroom window but with my brother telling me about a new singing
group with “haircuts like Moe” of the Three Stooges. (Decades later, he watched
Sir Paul perform in Tel Aviv.) Soon after I saw their landmark first appearance
on Ed Sullivan. By then Beatlemania had
erupted – the moptops were the Fab Four – everyone had to get them into their
lives. We followed their long and winding road from sweet love songs to India
and Sergeant Pepper and The End.
friends visited from England, they made a pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields – a
place to go – then across the street to the Dakota.
time of year is a sad one for Beatles fans. Last month saw the anniversary of
George’s death, next week will be that of John’s murder. A celebration of their
music, fame and legacy, what they meant, something to say that it’s O.K. and
make us feel good in a special way, is most welcome. We saw a reminder of their
status as The ’60s Icons last summer as fans gathered on the 50th
anniversary of Abbey Road on, where
else?, London’s Abbey Road.
on the evening of Tuesday, December 3rd – Giving Tuesday
– at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, the New York Review of
Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a launch party (we’re going to a party
party) for Across the Universe, an anthology
of 25 freaky and twisted (and shouted) speculative fiction
stories about the Beatles and alternative variations of the still-Fab Four.
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, the ticket to ride features
what-ifs by Spider Robinson, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Pat Cadigan, Gregory Frost, Gregory Benford, Matthew
Amati, Ken Schneyer, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough,
Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth Patterson, and Christian
Smith, coming together, plus the, um, Fab Five readers of the evening: Charles Barouch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Carol Gyzander,
Gordon Linzner, and Sally Wiener Grotta.
As we gathered, Beatles tunes played to get us into
the spirit of things. The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive
curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf (with WBAI-FM back on
the air, he’s no longer sitting in a nowhere land) welcoming the audience to
the last reading of 2019. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would be on
Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, plugging that the Café’s
kitchen would be open through most of the evening, and announcing that next
month’s readers (January
7th) would be Hildy Silverman and A.C. Wise (though without
glitter). He reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7
is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of
funds), and reported that the home audience may donate on its Patreon page, Jim
Bringing up guest host and the book’s co-editor Randee
Dawn, he reported that Across the Universe is actually the second such
anthology, the first being All Together
Now, edited by James Ryan. Dawn is a Brooklyn-based author and
entertainment journalist who focuses on speculative fiction, but is co-author
of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. After
recounting how she and Ventrella pretty much simultaneously came up with the
idea, presented it to Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books and launched a
Kickstarter campaign to realize it, she introduced the evening’s first reader.
Sally Wiener Grotta is the author of The Winter Boy and Jo Joe, a journalist and the co-curator of the Galactic
Philadelphia author reading series. She read from her story “The Truth Within,”
in which George goes to Key Biscayne and tries to get Nixon interested in
(“hooked on”) transcendental meditation: “Imagine a chilled Nixon at peace with
himself. … And poof! No more carpet bombing and napalm.”
Carol Gyzander, writer of various crossgenre ’punk
stories and the second reader, read from “Deal with the Devil”, which is one
answer to “how did the Beatles get so good?” Set in Liverpool after their
return from playing clubs in Hamburg (Pete Best is still their drummer), two
kids, fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne, using black magic to connect
with their idols, instead reach – through their old black and white “telly” –
Next up was Gordon Linzner, founder and former editor
of Space & Time Magazine, author of The Spy Who Drank Blood, and who, as lead singer of the Saboteur
Tiger Blues Band, has covered a fair share of Beatles songs. His story alludes
to a tv show with four protagonists, “The Hey! Team.” With John as leader and
wacko Richard “Ringo” Starkey in the Murdoch role, they try to prevent the
abduction of Chuck Berry’s guitar Maybellene, while being pursued by Colonel
Pepper (he was promoted).
“The Perfect Bridge,” Charles Barouch’s quickie was
another time travel story. A computer programmer in 1978, using a “Yellow
Subroutine,” reaches across to 1967 to plant an Appleseed.
the intermission, a raffle was held for those who donated, with three prizes:
from Carol Gyzander’s What
We’ve Unlearned; Sally Wiener
Grotta’s Jo Joe; and Gordon Linzner’s
The Spy Who Drank Blood. Freund
reported that the Brooklyn Commons was starting a series or festival of short
subject films and invited us to sign up electronically at a terminal up front.
Opening the second half of the show was Keith R.A.
DeCandido, who is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33
different universes, from Alien to Zorro.” In “Used to Be,” which is set sort of in his “Precinct” fantasy
police procedural series, the Beatles are recast as Jahn, Gyorg, Paol and
Starki, D&D tropes (Jahn is a bard, Starki a barbarian).
Filling in for the scheduled final reader, Dawn read Matthew Amati’s “Apocalypse Rock.” Set in an alternate
history where the U.S. lost JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis gamble, four musicians
wander a postapocalyptic landscape of gangs and cannibal mutants to a battle of
the bands at the titular site.
Then, in a bonus, the book’s publisher (“the guy who
writes the checks”), Ian Randal Strock, read “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson.
In the 1985 story, John is resurrected 24 years after his death at 40, making him…
Finally, it being a party party and all the world is birthday
cake, Dawn brought out a huge cake (though not honey pie or marshmallow pie) decorated
with a copy of the cover art by Dave Alvarez. (I took a piece but not too much.)
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books. The audience of close to 80, counting Freund and the
readers, included Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok,
James Ryan and Susan Bratisher Ryan.
It was a hard day’s night.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
By Mark Blackman: On the damp, almost-almost summer
evening of Wednesday, June 19th, the monthly Fantastic Fiction
Readings Series hosted authors Keith R.A. DeCandido and Chuck Wendig at its
venue, the aptly-named Red Room at the 2nd floor KGB Bar in
Manhattan’s East Village.
The event opened, as customary, with Series co-host Matthew
Kressel’s exhortation to support the Bar by buying a drink and tipping the
bartenders who help hydrate, and announcing upcoming readers:
July 17: Cadwell Turnbull, Theodora Goss
August 21: Lara Elena Donnelly, Paul
September 18: Sarah Beth Durst, Sarah
October 16: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Barbara
dates are the third Wednesday of the month. Details and lineup well into 2019
and the dawn of 2020 are available at the Series website.) He concluded by
introducing the evening’s first reader, Keith R.A. DeCandido (who is used to his name being misspelled or
Keith, whom I know from way, way back and who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fiction writing career, is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33 different universes, from Alien to Zorro” (one of his releases this year is Alien: Isolation, based on the classic movie series), which earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and even inspired one fan to cosplay him. His original work includes a fantasy police procedural series – the latest is Mermaid Precinct – and A Furnace Sealed, launching a new urban fantasy series set in the Bronx (a borough sorely neglected by urban fantasy, he feels), where he currently lives. He read from Chapter 5 of the latter novel.
Gold, MD, is, in his other profession, a courser, an agent for the Wardena, who
is in charge of all magic in the area, monitoring and, where necessary,
restricting it. While facing the pseudo-Haitian Madame Verité (“Mrs. Truth”),
he discovers that something is interfering with spells. (We meanwhile learn
that “unicorns are nasty” and, in detail, how difficult it is to drive and park
in the Bronx, even on Sunday.)
After an intermission, Series co-host Ellen Datlow took the podium
and introduced the second reader of the night.
Chuck Wendig was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His body of work includes the bestselling Star Wars: Aftermath, (like DeCandido, he is no stranger to media tie-in novels), the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and Wanderers (coming in July); he has also written comics, games, films and more, and served as the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his blog, terribleminds.com, and books about writing, such as Damn Fine Story.
His offering was the opening of Wanderers. In the wake of Comet Sakomoto (which became as famous as Halley’s and Hale-Bopp), a plague of sleepwalkers (more than a dozin’, sorry) have joined together and cross the country, accompanied by followers. Shana is the sister of Nessie, one of the sleepwalkers.
The familiar bookstore was not set up at the back of the room
(therefore they don’t get a plug here), but DeCandido had copies of some of his
Prior to the readings, as is customary, Datlow wended through the
audience, snapping away; her photos of the event may be seen at the Series
(1) A NICE ROUND NUMBER. Air
New Zealand just might take up George
R.R. Martin’s suggestion to fly a bunch of his fans to next year’s
(2) CONZEALAND. Here’s an interview with the 2020 Worldcon chair recorded not long ago, but before the events in the first item.
We are back with our video coverage from Wellygeddon 2019, this time we talked to Norman, one of the awesome people behind CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, which is happening on 29th July – 2nd August 2020, and they are looking for volunteers!
(3) NO CHESSIECON THIS
YEAR. Chessiecon 2019 has
been cancelled. The convention had been
planned for November 29-December 1, 2019 in Baltimore. Refunds
are promised. The committee says the con will return in 2020. Chair Joshua Kronengold explained:
None of us wanted this outcome. However, lack of responsiveness from the hotel, combined with information from current and former staff about its current state, has led us inexorably to a lack of confidence that the Red Lion is capable of hosting a convention to our standards. This hotel has been used by first Darkover since 1988 and Chessiecon from the start, but over the years we have received an increasing number of complaints about it, and this year the problems have become untenable. The committee discussed the options in considerable depth before reaching this decision, but see no way to continue for 2019 without sacrificing the quality of our convention. We decided it would be more productive to focus our energies on future years….
(4) THEY’LL BE BACK. Terminator: Dark Fate comes to theatres November 1, 2019.
Welcome to the day after Judgment Day. …Linda Hamilton (“Sarah Connor”) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (“T-800”) return in their iconic roles in Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and produced by visionary filmmaker James Cameron and David Ellison. …Also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.
Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and Wanderers coming in July 2019. He’s also written comics, games, film, and more. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and served as the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and books about writing such as Damn Fine Story. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith R.A. DeCandido is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fiction writing career. His media tie-in fiction — which earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 — covers 33 different universes, from Alien to Zorro. His original work includes stories set in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as the somewhat real locales of New York and Key West. His 2019 novels include Mermaid Precinct, the latest in his fantasy police procedural series; Alien: Isolation, based on the classic movie series; and A Furnace Sealed, launching a new urban fantasy series taking place in the Bronx, where Keith currently lives with assorted humans and felines.
The event takes place Wednesday, June 19, starting 7 p.m.
at KGB Bar,85 East 4th
Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY
… “Resistance” can mean something unintentional, like friction. It doesn’t necessarily mean a deliberate anti-commercial mission. At the roots of fandom, noncommercialism probably meant doing DIY things the mainstream wasn’t doing. Now, when some furries make a living from business with other fans, you can call it organically indie. That’s not exactly a coordinated alternative, like socialistic co-ops….
How commercialism creeps in and complicates the fandom: There’s an exchange when fandom had roots in the mainstream, built an alternative place, and then influences the mainstream back. To win over fans as consumers, outsiders might tiptoe up to a line between respectable and weird, but not cross it. They may get resistance while the line protects independence. In fandom or out, engaging can be shaky for projects that need serious support (like a movie that needs a budget to get made right.) Worthy projects can fail because you can’t please all the people all of the time. Others can succeed by pleasing people while scamming or exploiting the base that made it possible.
If furry is commercializing, it can be seen in success of furry game devs, Youtubers, or Esports stars (like SonicFox). On the outside, furries show up in commercials/ads and music videos of non-indie artists. Psuedo-fursuits at Walmart or cheap knockoffs at DHGate may rise closer to fandom quality….
The book features many of the great names we would expect to see—the Galileos and Einsteins—but you also draw attention to unheralded and underappreciated astronomers, many of them women. Is it fair to say that some of the lost remarkable work done over the past 100 years has been done by women, either as individuals or in teams, like the Harvard Computers?
They have had a huge impact. The Harvard Computers in the early twentieth century, including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and later Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, were responsible for making sense of the different types of stars, understanding how to measure vast distances in the universe, and figuring out what stars are actually made of. Other pioneering women include Vera Rubin, who solidified the evidence for invisible dark matter, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She discovered an entirely new type of spinning star that is so dense that a teaspoonful would weigh as much as a mountain.
(8) FANAC FOR THE MASSES. SF
fan Louis Russell Chauvenet
coined the word “fanzine” in 1940. It has since permeated popular culture – witness
the LA Zine Fest (happening May 26) which
encourages people “make a fanzine about a band, artist, activist, organizer,
writer…anyone who inspires you!”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 23, 1921 — James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in Flight? A Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he pumped them out — nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, 86. Edith Keeler in the “City of the Edge of Forever” episode — initial script by Harlan Ellison with rewrites by Gene Roddenberry, Steven W. Carabatsos and D. C. Fontana. I see she’s done a fair amount of other genre work including being Baroness Bibi De Chasseur / Rosy Shlagenheimer in the “The Galatea Affair” of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. andThe Siren Lorelei in the “Ring Around the Riddler” and “The Wail of the Siren” episodes of Batman.
Born May 23, 1933 — Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
Born May 23, 1935 — Susan Cooper, 84. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and just plain fun. I’d also recommend Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent.
Born May 23, 1979 — Brian James Freeman, 40. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
Born May 23, 1986 — Ryan Coogler, 33. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed, as he will Black Panther 2. Producer, Space Jam 2 (pre-production)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Brevity comes up with another delightfully dreadful Game of Thrones-themed pun.
…Modern crime fiction has nothing on the ingenuity, brutality and sheer bizarreness of the offenses committed in classic fairy tales. Moreover, fairy tales are ruthless. Our contemporary crime novels have the monopoly on moral ambiguity, true, but fairy tales take no prisoners and often offer no redemption. Mercy is not a hallmark of the genre and even the kindest, most benevolent maid-turned-princess isn’t afraid to take out her wicked stepmother.
A conversation with Arielle Saiber, Professor of Romance Languages at Bowdoin College. Covering topics that range from hallucinatory landscapes to Dante’s primum mobile, our conversation touched on the quest for harmony between the computational aspects of math and the physical aspects of writing, printing, and typography. Based on the lives of four scholars who lived during the Italian Renaissance, we explore their use of symbols and codes, their modes of teaching and expression, and the interdisciplinary nature of their work.
…But when you take it all together–the amazing series, the precipitous decline, and the absolute travesty of Season Eight… it final episode comes through as a good mood piece. This episode was the final death rattle of a show we once loved. It was a funeral for vision and beauty. Everything was dark and dreary and awful, and even the sunny day at the end was basically a spiteful sun-god laughing at all men’s follies; rather than cheerful.
(14) CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE
(AND EVERY OTHER) MAN. This robotic delivery concept is making news today:
Ford is teaming up with Agility Robotics to explore how the company’s new robot, Digit, can help get packages to your door efficiently with the help of self-driving vehicles. Not only does Digit work collaboratively with self-driving vehicles, but it can also walk up stairs and past unexpected obstacles to get packages straight to your doorstep.
Not only did Tama’s sweet nature and photogenic features make her popular with commuters on the Kishigawa railway, but the ‘cat master’ became so famous she was knighted.
On a bright May morning at Japan’s Idakiso train station, a small cat basked in the sun as her photo was taken by a group of tourists before getting a tummy tickle from a toddler. While the white, tan and black kitten purred and meowed in the arms of a visitor, one of the station workers looked on with a grin, interjecting only to gently reposition the cat’s brimmed conductor hat whenever it threatened to slip over her eyes.
“Having her around the station makes everyone happy,” he said, as the cat playfully swiped at a tourist’s iPhone. “I sometimes forget that she is my boss.”
Meet Yontama, the latest in a line of feline stationmasters that has helped save the Kishigawa railway line in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture, a largely mountainous and rural part of the country famous for temple-studded hillsides and sacred pilgrimage trails.
This story began in the late 1990s with a young calico cat called Tama. The kitten lived near Kishi Station – the final of 14 stops on a 14.3km line that connects small communities to Wakayama City, the region’s hub – and would frequently hang out by the railway, soaking up affection from commuters.
Israeli researchers have unveiled a “breakthrough” beer made from ancient yeast up to 5,000 years old.
Researchers from the Antiquities Authority and three Israeli universities extracted six strains of the yeast from old pottery discovered in the Holy Land.
It is believed to be similar to beverages enjoyed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
The team said it hoped to make the drink available in shops one day.
“I remember that when we first brought out the beer we sat around the table and drank… and I said either we’ll be good or we’ll all be dead in five minutes,” said Aren Maeir, an archaeologist with Bar-Ilan University. “We lived to tell the story”.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In
Anvil on Vimeo, Geriko tells about a
young woman downloading her brain in preparations for the afterlife.
Daniel Dern, Andrew, Keith Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat
Eldridge JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, Michael Toman, Andrew
Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
(1) EUROVISION. In “Eurovision
2019 Is Here: Science Fiction Fans, Rejoice!”, Tor.com’s James Davis Nicoll supplies plenty of examples to show
that “Although Eurovision itself may
not be exactly SF, some of the pieces are definitely science fiction-adjacent.
The visuals are often glorious, and the show as a whole is well worth viewing.”
(2) THEY’RE BACK. The Bounding
Into Comics Facebook
group was restored on May 9. Supposedly they still don’t know why it was
shuttered, apart from a notice that they had violated “the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
…As you can see the last post was our Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer article, which was posted on May 6th.
When we asked for further clarification on why the page was taken down. We did not receive a response.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired the archives of the Locus Science Fiction Foundation, publisher of Locus, the preeminent trade magazine for the science fiction and fantasy publishing field.
The massive collection—which arrived in almost a thousand boxes—includes first editions of numerous landmarks of science fiction and fantasy, along with correspondence from some of the genre’s best-known practitioners, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Octavia E. Butler, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Dean Koontz, Robert A. Heinlein, and hundreds more.
…A tireless advocate for speculative fiction, [founder Charles N.] Brown was also a voluminous correspondent and friend to many of the writers featured in the magazine. Many of them wrote to him over the years to share personal and professional news, or to quibble about inaccuracies and suggest corrections. The letters are often friendly, personal, humorous, and occasionally sassy.
Reacting to a recent issue of Locus that featured one of her short stories, the science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler wrote, “I am Octavia E. Butler in all my stories, novels, and letters. How is it that I’ve lost my E in three places in Locus #292? Three places! You owe me three E’s. That’s a scream, isn’t it?”…
Directed by Dome Karukoski from a script by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, this picture about the pre-fame days of the author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” teems with many on-the-nose moments. And it does so while hewing so strongly to the Distinguished British Biopic ethos (including the “England: Land of Magnificent Sunsets” trope) that it teeters on the edge of genuine obnoxiousness. Surprisingly, the emphatic score by the customarily more nuanced Thomas Newman is one of the prime offenders.
Nevertheless, “Tolkien” manages several scenes of credible emotional delicacy. And it doesn’t shy away from the conspicuously literary, treating the writer’s explorations of Wagner (sparked by his love interest and future wife Edith, played by Lily Collins) and passion for philology (sparked by chats with the intimidating professor Joseph Wright, played by Derek Jacobi) with a commendable amount of detail.
Have you ever questioned the moral fabric of the Pokémon universe?
Sure you have. For starters: In what kind of world would “Pokémon battles” — in which two humans force two excessively cute creatures to a fight until one of the beasts faints — constitute an acceptable social convention? And isn’t the whole Trainer/Pokémon relationship more than a little … problematic? Who decided that wild Pokémon, who demonstrate a level of intelligence several degrees above that of other animals, should live out their lives under the constant fear of capture and exploitation by humans?
Your enjoyment of Pokémon Detective Pikachu will likely depend on your degree of investment in these sorts of existential questions.The strength of the film lies in the way it playfully undermines the Poké-verse, poking holes in a thing that, when reduced to its essentials, seems just real silly. Much like last year’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Pokémon Detective Pikachu looks itself in the mirror and remarks on what it sees there. And while it doesn’t pull off the trick nearly as well, there’s something admirable about a film that isn’t afraid to have some fun with a property so established — and beloved — by its core audience.
Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals have been announced, they have been combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. (The only one not yet integrated is the BASFF, which will likely be announced late in the year.) Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.
Deanna Destito: Before jumping into this, were you a Vampirella fan? What appealed to you about this project?
Christopher Priest: No, I wouldn’t call myself a Vampirella fan (which is sure to annoy Vampirella fans!), although I was certainly aware of the character. But I’d guess I viewed the property nostalgically. Fondly, for sure, but if I thought of Vampirella at all I thought of her in a kindly past-tense, as an artifact of the 1970s and my misspent youth….
Your companion book, Notes for Million Mile Road Trip, is actually longer than the novel! The idea of following up reading a novel with that kind of metadata is fascinating; can you tell us more about it?
It’s hard to write a novel. It takes a year or maybe two years of tickling the keyboard at your desk or using a laptop in a cafe, and doing that pretty much every day, even on the days when you don’t know what comes next. This is where writing a volume of notes comes in. When I don’t have anything to put into the novel, I write something in the notes. I might analyze the possibilities for the next few scenes. Or craft journal entries about things I saw [that day]. Or describe some the people sitting around me, being careful not to stare at them too hard. Or think about how hopeless it is to try to write another novel, and how I’ve been faking it all along anyhow. The more I complain in my notes, the better I feel. I publish the finished Notes in parallel with with the novel, not that I sell many copies of the notes. Long-term, the notes will be fodder for the locust swarm of devoted Rucker scholars who are due to emerge any time now from their curiously long gestation in the soil.
(9) LORD WINSTON OBIT. Zombie Squad, an international network of
dogs and other pets dedicated to protecting society from the walking dead, paid
its respects on Saturday to Lord Winston, the indefatigable West Highland
terrier who inspired the group’s creation in 2013 and had served as its official
leader until his death on 21 April, aged nearly 15. Despite losing the use of
his back legs following a series of operations, Lord Winston – via his British
owner – posted daily messages and regular videos on Twitter, where prospective
new members continue to be welcomed at @ZombieSquadHQ.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive.
Born May 10, 1886 — Olaf Stapledon. Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. (Neal Asher currently is making the best use of these in his Polity series.) He wrote about a baker’s dozen novels of which iBooks has pretty much everything available at quite reasonable prices. I know I read and enjoyed Star Maker many years ago but don’t recall what else I read. (Died 1950.)
Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film where the SJW credential was the defendant in a Perry Mason murder case, The Case of Black Cat. (Died 1940)
Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume. He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles he did. (Died 1987.)
Born May 10, 1935 — Terrance Dicks, 84. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the programme’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelisation of more than 60 of the Doctor Who shows. Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short-lived BBC series.
Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 56. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. Might be stretching the definition of genre (or possibly not), but he did the animation for “Spy vs. Spy” for MADtv. You can see the first one here:
Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 50. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly as well as the Interdependency series are excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey.
(12) MARVEL 1000. Marvel’s
celebration of its 80th Anniversary will include a new epic comic
book issue to celebrate the legacy of the Marvel Universe: Marvel Comics #1000.
Featuring 80 creative teams with luminaries from both classic and current comic books (and beyond!), this oversized one-shot will be packed with pages spanning across generations of Marvel’s iconic Super Heroes – with cover art from legendary artist Alex Ross!
Among those individuals, some of whom teased the project on social media this week, are long-time Marvel veterans — including Roy Thomas, Peter David, Gerry Conway, and Adam Kubert — and current creators — including Saladin Ahmed, Gail Simone, Chip Zdarsky, and Kris Anka — as well as talents outside of comics, like filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“We’re living in a time of walls,” said filmmaker Alex Rivera when introducing Sleep Dealer at the start of the 43rd Williamson Lectureship April 4-6, 2019 in Portales NM. “It’s a global obsession. How do we tell stories in such a world? In my film, I try to cross the consciousness of walls by looking at them, through them, and beyond them.”
…Though it divided critics on publication, Zanzibar has come to be regarded as a classic of New Wave sci-fi, better known for its style than its content. This seems a pity. When an excerpt appeared in New Worlds magazine in November 1967, an editorial claimed that it was the first novel in its field to create, in every detail, “a possible society of the future”.
There’s irony in some of what Brunner got wrong. He assumed, for instance, that the US would have at last figured out how to provide adequate, inexpensive medical care for all by 2010. Other inaccuracies are sci-fi staples – guns that fire lightning bolts; deep-sea mining camps; a Moon base. And yet, in ways minor and major, that ‘future society’ nevertheless seems rather familiar today. For example, it features an organisation very similar to the European Union; it casts China as America’s greatest rival; its phones have connections to a Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia; people casually pop Xanax-style ‘tranks’; documents are run off on laser printers; and Detroit has become a shuttered ghost town and incubator of a new kind of music oddly similar to the actual Detroit techno movement of the 1990s.
(15) NEBULA REVIEWS. A
full rundown of all the nominees for “The
2018 Nebula Awards” is preceded by an analysis of this year’s
kerfuffle at Ohio Needs A Train.
The accusations of slate-building, especially as it’s so close to the Hugos being basically completely turned aside for a couple of years there by slating antics 4, led to tensions running fairly high and people running fairly hot on the issue. The SFWA, for its part, says that it wants to take this sort of thing seriously and is looking into ways to try to keep stuff like this from taking over, without (as of the time of this writing) mentioning what steps it may be taking. I suppose that’s fine, but it’ll be interesting to see if anything is different about the nomination process next year.
Even from beyond its cosmic grave, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues to amaze us with the things it unearthed during its Saturn flybys — like the moons that have been lurking in its rings for billions of years.
When Cassini ventured as close as it would ever get to Saturn, it imaged the moons (which look like space ravioli) in enough detail to reveal that they were covered in the same stuff as its iconic rings. Some of them were even blasted with icy particles from nearby Enceladus. The posthumous images from Cassini’s flyby have given scientists unprecedented close-ups of these really weird satellites.
While he’s pretty much a pop-culture footnote in the 21st century, Dick Tracy was a household name in the 20th. Created by Chester Gould for the eponymous comic strip in 1931, Dick Tracy saw the hard-boiled detective stop a bunch of over-the-top criminals with cutting-edge technology. Gould foresaw the advent of smart-watches with Tracy’s “two-way wrist radio,” and the character was hugely popular.
It wasn’t long before Tracy was adapted to the big screen, first with movie serials in the 1930s and then four one-hour feature films in the 1940s….
Steve Green, Jason, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew
Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, mlex, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for
some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Jayn.]
(1) WORLDS BEYOND HERE. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle is hosting Worlds Beyond Here from October 12, 2018 through September 15, 2019.
Looking at the connection between Asian Pacific Americans and the infinite possibilities of science fiction, World’s Beyond Here follows the path of a young Sci Fi fan becoming an empowered creator, limited only by imagination.
Popular science fiction has had a disappointing lack of Asian Pacific American (APA) representation in American media, based primarily on stereotypes. Despite this, APAs have had and continue to have a large impact in science fiction, often behind the scenes, and a number of pioneering APA artists, actors, designers, writers, animators, and directors have persevered and inspired new generations of fans/creators with their stories and visions. For many Asian Pacific Americans, science fiction addresses issues related to identity, immigration and race, technology, morality and the human condition, all while capturing the imagination through exciting adventures in outer space and time travel.
The exhibit covers pop culture touchstones like Star Trek, Star Wars, time travel, “cli-fi,” and sentient robots, as well as how APA creators are imagining silkpunk worlds, reclaiming the genre from Orientalism, envisioning exploration narratives free from colonialism, and grappling with the ethics and morality of technological access and development, as well as science fiction’s ever-present questions of what it means to be human—all through the lens of APA experiences and perspectives.
She has a Twitter thread, starting here, that includes photos and art.
I was one of the people the curators consulted at the start of the exhibit, and though I didn’t have time to get as involved as I would’ve liked, I think I helped reframe their initial concept away from just focusing on tokenization and exclusion towards examining and celebrating the historic and current work of APA SF creators.
They even included a little thing I wrote about Spock. Is this the first time I’ve had work in a museum? I think it might be!
I am beyond honored that Ken Liu appreciated my artwork illustrating the world of the Grace of Kings for his May 2015 Locus interview. He’s used it a couple times since to illustrate the idea of “silkpunk” for various publications, but a museum show is above and beyond!
This installment of Old People Read New SFF features JY Yang’s Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points. Some of us—well, me, mostly—only became aware of Yang when they read Yang’s Silkpunk works for tor dot com. Yang has in fact been active since 2012, published in venues from Clarkesworld to Apex. Some of us—well, me, mostly—should have been more observant. Although Yang’s protagonist Starling is in no sense human, it turns out Starling shares something vital with its human creators. But is that common element enough to endear it to my Old Readers?
The Society of Illustrators is pleased to announce a special exhibition of legendary artist Maurice Sendak’s work. Longtime friends and collectors Justin Schiller and Dennis M V David present a look at some of Sendak’s rarest pieces, including illustrations from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, a booklet commissioned by his British publishers as a 1967 Christmas keepsake. It is the only remaining manuscript for a published Sendak title still in private hands and is being exhibited for the first time publicly. In addition to these drawings, this exhibition will include more than a hundred watercolors, ink and pencil designs for Mr. Sendak’s various book, theatre and commercial work. All of the works will be available to purchase.
Admission to the exhibit will be free during special hours (Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm).
(4) KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED. In “Proof of life: how would we recognise an alien if we saw one?” on Aeon, Oxford postgrad Samuel Levin asks how you would recognize alien life from a photograph. How would it be different from a bunch of rocks The answer is that natural selection would show that aliens have adapted to their environment.
One thing that sets life apart from nonlife is its apparent design. Living things, from the simplest bacteria to the great redwoods, have vast numbers of intricate parts working together to make the organism function. Think of your hands, heart, spleen, mitochondria, cilia, neurons, toenails – all collaborating in synchrony to help you navigate, eat, think and survive. The most beautiful natural rock formations lack even a tiny fraction of the myriad parts of a single bacterial cell that coordinate to help it divide and reproduce.
(5) THE BOYS. Coming from Amazon Prime Video in 2019.
In a world where superheroes embrace the darker side of their massive celebrity and fame, THE BOYS centers on a group of vigilantes known informally as “The Boys,” who set out to take down corrupt superheroes with no more than their blue-collar grit and a willingness to fight dirty. THE BOYS is a fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven,” and Vought – the multi-billion dollar conglomerate that manages these superheroes. THE BOYS is scheduled for a 2019 release.
It’s been months since NASA engineers have heard from the sleeping Opportunity rover, which powered down after getting caught in a massive dust storm on Mars that obscured its surface from the Sun. But all hope isn’t yet lost, as the space agency said in an update Thursday that a coming windy season on the Red Planet could help clear dust believed to be obstructing Opportunity’s solar panels.
“A windy period on Mars—known to Opportunity’s team as “dust-clearing season”—occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover’s panels in the past,” NASA said.
In the meantime, engineers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—which oversees the 14-year-old rover’s operations—are increasing the number of commands to Opportunity and listening for any calls home in the event that it is still operational.
(7) THEY SCOPED OUT THE PROBLEM. But there’s good news about another piece of space exploring tech: Just a few days after putting itself in safe mode after a gyroscope failure, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has been diagnosed, the problem addressed, and the telescope on its way back to normal (NASA: “Chandra Operations Resume After Cause of Safe Mode Identified”). Science operations should resume shortly.
The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode. The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that in turn led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode.
The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve. Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week.
(8) PAUL ALLEN OBIT. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died October 15 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however: 1) most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10 percent of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) the amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 per hour.
Of course, just a few years later they secured a deal to provide the software for IBM PCs, the foundation of their success.
Paul Allen effectively left the company he named (“Micro-Soft”) in 1982 due to serious illness, but remained on the Microsoft board of directors until 2000, and retained his stock, so when the company went public he became a billionaire.
His investments and philanthropy have often made news.
In a Gehry-designed building near Seattle’s Space Needle he created a dual science fiction and rock music museum with many exhibits drawn from Allen’s own collections. (The cream of those sf collectibles had been bought from Forrest J Ackerman.) And in 2004 the Science Fiction Hall of Fame was transplanted from the GunnCenter for the Study of Science Fiction to Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum. However, not even Paul Allen’s money could sustain things as originally conceived. The Science Fiction Museum was de-installed in 2011 and the place has been reorganized as MoPOP, a pop culture museum that includes science-fiction-themed exhibits.
He was the sole investor behind aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft.
He also donated $30 million to build the Allen Telescope Array, run by the SETI Institute near Mt. Shasta, an enormous ear listening for any sign of intelligent life in the universe.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ — and a guest!]
Born October 15, 1911 – James H. Schmitz, Writer. An émigré from Germany to the U.S., he produced numerous short fiction works and novels, the best known of which is the space opera The Witches of Karres, which earned him one of his two Hugo nominations and has been translated into several different languages. Witches was an expansion of a novelette originally published in Astounding, where many of his stories were published. His short fiction, which also garnered four Nebula nominations, has been gathered into several collections, including a NESFA’s Choice “Best of” edition.
Born October 15, 1919 – E.C. “Ted” Tubb, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who between 1950 and his death in 2010 produced more than 230 short fiction works and 140 novels, the best known of which are his Dumarest series, and the Cap Kennedy series written as Gregory Kern. In the late 50s, he edited the magazine Authentic Science Fiction for two years. He was one of the co-founders of the British Science Fiction Association, as well as editor of the first issue of its journal, Vector. Interestingly, he also wrote several Space: 1999 tie-in novels in the 70s. He served on convention-running committees, and was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1970 Worldcon in Germany.
Born October 15, 1923 – Italo Calvino, Writer and Journalist who was born in Cuba, but grew up in Italy. His works range widely across the literary spectrum, across realism, surrealism, and absurdism. As a genre writer he is best known for his “cosmicomics”, linked stories which explore fantastical speculations about subjects such as mathematics, evolution, and human perception. At the time of his death in 1985, he was the most-translated Italian author, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
Born October 15, 1924 – Mark Lenard, Actor best known to genre fans as Sarek, father of Spock, in both the original and animated Star Trek series, as well as three of the films and two episodes of The Next Generation. He also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and had guest roles in genre series Mission: Impossible, The Girl With Something Extra, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Otherworld. During the same time period as the original Star Trek series, he also starred in the western Here Come the Brides, and SFF author Barbara Hambly famously worked a crossover of the two series into her early Star Trek tie-in novel for Pocket Books, Ishmael, where Lenard’s Brides character is one of Spock’s ancestors, and which also contained cameos by characters from Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica.
Born October 15, 1933 – Georgia Myrle Miller, 85, Writer under the name of Sasha Miller who produced a number of fantasy novels and shorter works, including collaborating with Andre Norton on the five novels in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan, a novel written in Norton’s Witch World universe, and GURPS Witch World with Ben W. Miller, a rule book for the role-playing game system.
Born October 15, 1935 – Ray “Duggie” Fisher, Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes.
Born October 15, 1938 – Don Simpson, 80, Artist and Fan who has done cover art and interior illustrations for numerous genre works. He also shows up in several of David McDaniel’s Man from U.N.C.L.E. tie-in novels as “Mr. Simpson of R&D”, and was the inspiration for the villain in McDaniel’s first U.N.C.L.E. novel The Dagger Affair. He is the proud possessor of a purchase order from the Smithsonian Institution for “One (1) alien artifact,” which he designed for the Air and Space Museum. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at a Westercon and other conventions.
Born October 15, 1942 – Lon Atkins, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally!. He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player.
Born October 15, 1969 – Dominic West, 49, Actor, Musician, and Director from England whose most recent appearance was as Lara Croft’s father in the Tomb Raider reboot, but has also appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, 300, John Carter, The Awakening, Hannibal Rising, and a version of The Christmas Carol, as well as providing voices in animated features such as Finding Dory and Arthur Christmas.
Born October 15, 1999 – Bailee Madison, 19, Actor who starred in The Bridge to Terabitha at the age of 7, the series The Wizards of Waverly Place at age 11, and the series Good Witch which is now in its fourth season. Other genre appearances include Afraid of the Dark, The Night Before Halloween, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, and Once Upon a Time.
[guest birthday bio from Mark Hepworth]
Born October 15, 1953 – Walter Jon Williams, 65, Writer. A versatile author who has skipped around genres, including writing his cyberpunk novel Hardwired without having heard of cyberpunk, while Metropolitan is a novel he insists is fantasy but fans persistently label as some flavour of science fiction. His near-future Dagmar Shaw series rather prophetically featured a Turkish revolution facilitated by social media just as the Arab Spring was gaining momentum. His longest-running series is the space opera Dread Empire’s Fall (Praxis), which he recently rebooted with the short novel Impersonations and the just-released novel The Accidental War. He has five Hugo nominations, ten Nebula nominations (winning twice), a Sidewise Award, and an assortment of other nominations including Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy, and Prix Imaginaire. He has been Guest of Honour for at least a dozen conventions, including WorldCon 75. Other work includes writing for Star Wars, Wild Cards, RPGs, TV, and historical novels, and he is founder and an instructor for the Taos Toolbox, an annual two-week SF writer’s workshop.
The sequence is the work of a visual effects artist only known as John Smith, who made his own opening back in 2010 as a 16-year-old fan and posted it to YouTube.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but was so excited for Matt Smith’s first series that I decided to try what every Whovian-turned-VFX-Artist does at some point… making my own title sequence for the show,” Smith wrote in a Facebook post.
Eight years later, Smith was tapped to create a real sequence for the latest series.
…Assuming that large red star isn’t just extremely close to the planet, it could be a red giant nearing the end of its life. What of the other? For clues, we can look to the planet’s flora.
The Tenth Doctor referenced trees with silver leaves. Lillian Ostrach, a research physical scientist at the US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center, told Earther the silver color could come from the absorption of strange metals from Gallifrey’s soil. It could also mean that those plants evolved to absorb a different type of solar radiation than Earth’s green plants do….
(13) HISTORIC SFF PHOTOS. The Forbidden Planet bookstore archive hosts images from their instore events — from 1978 to 1989, including signings with Mark Hamill and Dave Prowse, James Doohan, Nick Rhodes, Jon Pertwee, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, Anne McCaffrey and others.
Meaning ‘beyond the river’ in Lithuanian, Užupis is separated from the rest of the city by the Vilnele River. The republic celebrates its independence annually on 1 April, known locally as Užupis Day. On this day, travellers can get their passports stamped as they cross the bridge into the republic (every other day, the border is not guarded), use the local (unofficial) currency and treat themselves to the beer that flows from the water spout in the main square (yes, really).
(15) A LOT OF BIRTHDAYS AGO. Walter Jon Williams was interviewed about cyberpunk by phone in this 1991 episode of the Chronic Rift TV program.
In our second season premiere, Andrea Lipinski and Keith DeCandido welcome editor Brian Thomsen, physicist Joseph Pierce, and author Walter Jon Williams to our Roundtable discussion of the cyberpunk genre. The Memorable Moment is from the classic film, “H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond”. Trivia: We resolve the cliffhanger by introducing a race of beings called, “The Dork”. We also have a new animated sequence and theme song. The sequence was created by Mike Fichera who wanted to emulate the feel of the “Terminator” movie. The theme song was created by Victor Fichera. It would be the theme song for the rest of the series and was used when the podcast started. Victor recently updated the theme for our Facebook Live show. Originally Aired: September 2, 1991
In truth, however, the tsundoku fails to describe much of my library. I own a lot of story collections, poetry anthologies and books of essays, which I bought knowing I would probably not read every entry. People like Taleb, Stillman and whoever coined the word tsundoku seem to recognize only two categories of book: the read and the unread. But every book lover knows there is a third category that falls somewhere between the other two: the partially read book. Just about every title on a book lover’s reference shelves, for instance, falls into this category.
It’s the second month of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! As before, I’m breaking October’s offerings into two parts, the fiction and the poetry, and starting out with the six new stories exploring futures near and far. This month’s pieces definitely focus on some grim realities—hospitals and universities and families and cities where disabled people are not exactly the priority, or at least not in the ways they want. The stories look at characters trapped by circumstance and (largely) by tragedy, brought to a crisis because their situation is getting worse and worse. And in each case, they must make decisions either to sit down and be quiet or to fight back, to try to follow their own hearts. The works are often dark, often difficult, but ultimately I feel reaching for healing and for peace, for a space that the characters can have as their own, which is much more about freedom than confinement. To the reviews!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Outer Space” by Sabine Hossenfelder on YouTube is a video about space travel done by a singer whose day job is as a theoretical physicist.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jeffrey Smith, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]