Panel, Young Adults versus the world!
Michael Scott, Lucienne Diver, Ian McDonald, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee
The rest of Dern’s Saturday gallery follows the jump.Continue reading
Panel, Young Adults versus the world!
Michael Scott, Lucienne Diver, Ian McDonald, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee
The rest of Dern’s Saturday gallery follows the jump.Continue reading
A cold truth surfaces…
The Dublin Convention Centre is too small for the size of this convention. By a lot. Thursday was chaos in the halls leading into the meeting rooms. Packed solid with people trying to exit rooms where panels had ended and others who were wanting to get into those same rooms for the next round of panels. Convention Centre staff became the traffic police in a mostly vain attempt to keep everybody moving.
By Friday the chaos had abated by a bit, but there have still been severe people flow problems. Overnight each floor of the Convention Centre was taped off into queue lanes, one for each meeting room. It’ll not quite an airport boarding lounge situation but very similar. And this created addition confusion until, finally, everybody started to figure it all out. But this system created lots of delays and there are usually lines of people waiting access for some rooms even after the scheduled panel starting time.
This has resulted in plenty of people with frayed tempers, from what I’ve observed, but no meltdowns. At least for now but there are still three days to go.
One other thing I observed— the traffic police are not to be messed with! More than one person was firmly directed to clear out of some area where queues would be forming. Don’t think anybody has dared to jump a line after seeing them in action!
Heicon Memories panel
Panel opened with round of applause for Silverberg when he stated that this is his 66th Worldcon. He has the record, I think.
Suzanne Tompkins, Ginjer Buchanan, Robert Silverberg, and Mary Burns.
Bill Burns and Geri Sullivan. Unsurprisingly, most everybody in the room not only knew about the site, they also were frequent visitors. And many of us even have Fanzines hosted by the site!
Keith Kato’s Chili Party
…was held in Oscar Wilde’s House. There was even a docent tour.
Keith Kato’s term as President ended – “amicably and by my own wishes” he notes — with the adjournment of THS’s online Annual Meeting last Sunday and the announcement of its new Board:
Other Board members, listed by seniority:
Incoming President Rule says:
Our previous two presidents have left us a great foundation to build upon. Mike Sheffield was the driving force behind the founding of our very successful Scholarships program, and supported the creation of Heinlein For Heroes during his service as President. Dr. Kato led the Society and ‘Heinlein’s Children’ to the creation and placing of a bronze bust of Robert A. Heinlein in the state capitol building of Missouri in 2016, and leave service as President with membership in the Society, and Society financial assets, at all-time highs in our 20 year history. The membershgip recognized him with a well-earned thank you vote by acclamation at our recent annual meeting.
Rule has served on the Board of Directors of the Society since 2007, and as Vice President-Secretary since 2014. He joined the Society in 2002, and considers himself luck to have had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Virginia (“Ginny”) Heinlein on Society business in the last year of her life.
[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]
(1) NO, IT AIN’T COOL. Indiewire reports “Harry Knowles Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Austin Woman Two Decades Ago, and Drafthouse Owners Didn’t Take Action”.
An Austin-area woman said Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles sexually assaulted her at an Alamo Drafthouse event — but the reason she’s speaking out now is she believes change is coming.
“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” said Jasmine Baker. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”
The specifics are described at the link. Knowles denied the accusations.
Alamo Drafthouse has severed ties with Harry Knowles, who had a business relationship with the owners, and had cofounded a convention with them.
As a result of the charges, several Ain’t It Cool News staffers have left — Eric “Quint” Vespe, Steve “Capone” Prokopy, and “Horrorella.”
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) September 25, 2017
An announcement about my leaving Ain't It Cool News. pic.twitter.com/4vyJIhMycQ
— Steve Prokopy (@SteveProkopy) September 25, 2017
(2) WRITING ABOUT HEINLEIN. Farah Mendlesohn answers some pointed questions about her forthcoming Heinlein book in “Q&A with Ken MacLeod”.
KMM: Heinlein is a hero to and an influence on the ‘right’ of the SF field. I remember many years ago being surprised to hear you being enthusiastic about Heinlein, and I probably asked you something like this: As a feminist of the left, why do you find Heinlein so intriguing?
FJM: Heinlein has always been a hero to parts of the left as well, particularly to the anarcho-left of which I am, loosely, a part both as a feminist and because I’m a Quaker (Quakers invented anarchist decision practice, and it’s interesting that anti-pacifist Heinlein has a soft spot for them). But to return to the question: at the age of 12-20 it was because he was pretty much the only male sf writer writing women who had jobs, adventures, access to engineering jobs, and who got to be spies and ornery grandmas, and be liked by men who weren’t as smart as they. Believe me, when you are a smart girl in school, that’s pretty reassuring. In my late teens and twenties I started to get annoyed with the requirement to be “sexy” but attracted to the arguments about consent; frustrated with the performativity of the romances, and irritated by everyone wanting babies but attracted to the arguments about the different ways to construct families. This time round I’ve been fascinated by the way it’s clear that Heinlein knows what his women are up against; I’ve ended up with very different readings of Podkayne, Friday and Maureen (To Sail Beyond the Sunset) in which all three of them become resisters of other people’s narrative of them.
The crowdfunding appeal has reached 80% of its goal as of today.
(3) HEINLEIN COLLECTIBLES. Keith Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, announces: “Ensign’s Prize Offer now open to Non-Members!” Keith explains —
The “Ensign’s Prize” are multiple titles of pirated Heinlein works that Ginny Heinlein won in a lawsuit. She donated them to The Heinlein Society for fund-raising. Until now we have limited sales only to THS members, but as you can see in the link, purchases are now open to anyone while supplies last. There are different numbers of remaining copies of the various titles, and being a pirated version, the quality is what it is (though surprisingly not bad).
More info at the Society website:
There are some rare editions here to add to your collection. A prime example is the only known hardcover edition of The Notebooks of Lazarus Long with lettering by D.F. Vassallo.
The numbers of available individual copies varies by book with no individual copies of Methuselah’s Children. Only a handful of individual copies of Stranger in a Strange Land (5) are available. All individual copies will be offered for a suggested donation of $60 each except for The Notebooks of Lazarus Long which is offered for a suggested donation of $75 each with shipping & insurance on single books at $6.00 in the US. Overseas shipping will be determined at time of donation.
These books/sets are used as a fundraiser to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to paying it forward. Proceeds from these books/sets will be used to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society such as the scholarship program and Heinlein For Heroes.
This link will take you to a page where you can read a description of the books being offered and then click the “Details” link at the bottom of the page to be directed to the ordering site.
(4) BONES OF THE EARTH. “’Biggest Dinosaur Ever’ Discovered in Argentina” — GeologyIn has the story.
New Species of Dinosaur Is the Largest Land Animal to Ever Walk the Earth
One hundred million years ago, a colossal creature the size of a 737 thundered through the forests of South America, picking trees clean with its head extended five stories in the air and sending ferocious T. rex-like therapods scattering like mice below its trunk-sized legs. It’s the largest dinosaur ever found — a titanosaur so huge that its skeleton can’t even fit into a single room in its home at the American Museum of Natural History. Scientists this week unveiled their first study on the ancient beast alongside its new, official name, Patagotitan mayorum, or, The Giant from Patagonia. Astoundingly, the Big Apple’s biggest resident wasn’t even fully grown when it died (scientists don’t know if it was male or female) — and an even more whopping cousin could be waiting to be uncovered, experts said Wednesday. “This animal [hadn’t] stopped growing at the time of death,” said Diego Pol, an Argentina paleontologist who helped dig it up.
…The scientists reproduced the skeleton in 3-D models, but the specimen was too large to fit in any local museum, Pol said, so they sent a fiberglass cast to New York last year. It has been welcoming visitors to the museum’s dinosaur floor ever since — literally, because its massive skull extends all the way out into the elevator bay. “[It’s] probably one of the world’s great selfie spots,” said John Flynn, the museum’s curator of fossil mammals.
(5) A VACUUM CLOSER THAN SPACE. “Australia commits to establish space agency with no budget, plan, name, deadline …” says The Register.
Mission plan: retrieve lost votes from deep within black hole of democratic disillusionment…
Cash’s statement says the agency “will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement”, but there’s no detail on the agency’s name, budget, start date or anything else that would tell us what it will actually do. The fact that its future existence was first revealed to media in the city of Adelaide suggests one mission: help revive the city’s economy, which has struggled since auto-makers left in recent years (along with many votes for the governing Liberal Party).
(6) MAKE YOURSELF A GIBSON. Martin Morse Wooster says, “I finished Conversations With William Gibson and learned about this story, which was new to me. This is from an episode of the Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley, who interviewed William Gibson in 2012. This probably took place in the early 1990s.
GEEK’S GUIDE: So when I first started going to science fiction conventions, I heard this funny story about you, and I’ve never been sure if it was true or if it happened the way I heard it, and I was wondering if you knew what I was talking about. It was this story where you go into a hotel to check in, and you say, ‘Hi, I’m Mr. Gibson,’ and everyone acts all shocked at the hotel.”
GIBSON: It was the Beverly Hills Hotel, and I don’t know, somebody had checked me in.It was when I had started doing some contact screenplay work after the ALIEN 3 script. So I got there, and it was like, you know, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. The desk people looked gobsmacked and really unhappy. So the bellman takes me up to this very fancy suite, and in this suite there’s a table lavishly arrayed with very expensive wines and liquors and expensive floral displays, and a bit thing that says, ‘The Beverly Hills Hotel welcomes Mel Gibson.'”
And so I looked at the bellman, and I said, ‘No, no, I’m not him. Take this stuff away.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, you can keep it.’ And I said, ‘What am I supposed to do with it?” He said, ‘Call some friends, have a party.'”
(7) NAMING CALLS. While the writer’s mostly interested in Republican shenanigans, “8 Notable Attempts to Hack the New York Times Bestseller List” ends with a shout-out to a science fiction immortal.
…[DJ Jean] Shepherd decided that he wanted to get a book on the bestseller list—an imaginary book. “What do you say tomorrow morning each one of us walk into a bookstore, and ask for a book that we know does not exist?” he asked his listeners. The book they decided to ask for was I, Libertine, its author, Frederick R. Ewing, published by Excelsior Press, an imprint of Cambridge University Press. And ask they did…
…What is true, though, is that this book became real through sheer force of will. After only a few months, the story broke: I, Libertine was a hoax. But then it was un-hoaxed: Theodore Sturgeon, a friend of Shepherd’s, actually wrote the book, and Ballantine Books published it.
(8) TODAY’S DAY
The purpose of Batman Day is to celebrate the anniversary of the character’s first ever appearance, which was in Detective Comics #27 way back in May 1939. Since those early comic book appearances, Batman has grown into one of the world’s best-loved and most recognizable fictional characters, and is the focal point of television shows, animated cartoons, video games and Hollywood blockbusters.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian suspects there is something missing after reading The Wizard of Id.
(11) BIT PARTS. After reporting a leak about the forthcoming Star Wars movie, CheatSheet also tells about some of the more interesting appearances in earlier films of the franchise: “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: A Few Major Celebrities Will Make a Surprising Cameo”.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi still upcoming, John Boyega let confirmation of a few major cameos — specifically, Princes William and Harry — slip out in an interview on BBC Radio (via Screen Rant). As he stated:
I’ve had enough with those secrets. They came on set. They were there. I’m sick of hiding it. I think it was leaked, anyway. There were images. Every time I get asked, I have to dodge it. I’m tired of dodging it. They were there. Tom Hardy was there too.
Hardy is certainly a major cameo. But he’s actually just one of many big names to show up in a film from the Star Wars franchise.
As fans look forward to the surprise appearances that are set to come in The Last Jedi, we take a look back at the history of celebrity cameos in the Star Wars franchise — including some you may not have noticed or heard about.
(12) FAN FEUDS. I was struck by David Gerrold’s observation about fan feuds, from a long post mainly about something else, although I’ve kept the first line for context. What he says about fan feuds is spot on.
Yes, I did ask Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza to back off on the Axanar stuff — not just because of my respect for Alec Peters, but also because of my equal respect for Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza, both of whom I have worked with. Fan-feuding helps no one. It hurts everyone. It destroys possibilities. It destroys opportunities. (I know of two entities who decided not to engage with Jody and Carlos because of their efforts in the anti-Axanar movement.) I speak from a half-century of direct experience on this.
But yeah, my bad. I should know better than to ask fans to disengage from a feud. Especially this one. I should have known better because internecine warfare is always more important than mutual support and partnership in any endeavor. It’s much more fun to have enemies — war is the most profitable human product, because it gives you not only the illusion of power and authority, it creates the opportunity to control how others think and act…
(13) YOUR SECOND-BEST SUIT. Electric Literature thought today is a good time to revisit “The 5 Weirdest Lawsuits About Authors Stealing Ideas”.
Claim: J.K. Rowling stole the word “muggle”
J.K. Rowling has been accused of idea theft, and vice versa, so many times that there’s a whole Wikipedia page for “legal disputes over the Harry Potter series.” The earliest was American writer Nancy Kathleen Stouffer, who sued Rowling for infringement in 1999, when only three of the books had been published (although it was already clear that the series was turning a handsome profit). Stouffer claimed that she’d invented the word “muggle” in her vanity-press book The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, and that another of her works featured a character named Larry Potter. This is thin enough—but the court didn’t just rule that the similarities were too vague to amount to much. It actually found that even Stouffer’s weak evidence may have been fabricated.
Two other cases involve Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Cassandra Clare’s Darkhunter series.
(14) ON OR OFF THE SHELF? The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “Banned Books Week: Why are illustrated books being challenged more than ever?”, notes that the top two books in the American Library Association’s list of banned books for 2017 were graphic novels. He then looks at graphic novels that censors fund particularly irritating.
Some industry observers say that the spike in challenges to illustrated books can be attributed to the recent rise in the literary form’s popularity and accessibility on bookshelves, as well as the subject matter.
“Graphic novels are more popular and widely read than ever,” said Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an advocacy organization. “Their authors are speaking directly to the real concerns of their audiences in an accessible way.”
Brownstein noted, too, that the illustrated form can attract challenges that other books might not.
“There are many other factors to weigh, including the medium’s reliance on the power of the static image,” he said. “Graphic novels are frequently reduced to a single image or sequence of images that can be removed from the larger context of the work, and used to justify censorship. Comics’ use of images and words give the stories added power that resonates with audiences, and makes works like ‘This One Summer’ and ‘Drama’ even more compelling. These works must be considered as a whole to be fully appreciated. When that happens, the complexity, nuance and sophistication of the stories can be fully appreciated.”
The CBLDF director pointed, as well, to how comics are perceived by many parents and officials. “In many cases, comics are still regarded as lesser reading,” he said. “Some people don’t expect comics to have the kind of complexity or depth that earned ‘This One Summer’ the Caldecott honor and ‘Drama’ a Stonewall honor. We’ve seen cases where comics are challenged because the conversations that they raise were unexpected.”
(15) ALL WRAPPED UP. The Bangor Daily News makes a new novel sound tantalizing: “Kings of fiction: Father and son combine for ‘Sleeping Beauties’”.
In this year of all things King, with nearly two dozen movies, TV shows or miniseries based on Bangor’s own horror-meister in production or on screens, it makes perfect sense to add another Stephen King-thing to what has become a total-immersion experience.
Enter “Sleeping Beauties,” a novel that’s a team effort by Stephen King and his son, Owen. Published by Scribner, it goes on sale on Tuesday, Sept. 25 ($32.50 hardcover).
The duo’s first tandem effort on a novel, “Sleeping Beauties” is an ambitious work that combines some age-old Stephen King themes — the potential end of the world, the battle between good and … well … not so good, if not evil — with a distinctly sci-fi premise.
Simply put: Women around the world are falling asleep, and being covered in wispy cocoons. They may never wake up (and in true Stephen King fashion, those who try to rouse the females from their slumber quickly learn that doing so was a big, bad, bloody mistake).
Is the human race’s demise insured? Will a world with no women become a reality (for a time)? Or is there another option that we just can’t see on this side of the story? Good questions, all
(16) UNDER THE HAMMER. The Daryl Litchfield Collection of Arkham House & H.P. Lovecraft goes on the auction block October 5. So do a great many volumes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and other sff authors.
More than 300 lots of fine literature, from the 18th through the 21st centuries, are included in this exciting auction. Headlining the sale is the Daryl Litchfield collection of Arkham House and H.P. Lovecraft. The collection includes the earliest work by Lovecraft and a near complete collection of Arkham House publications. Many other science fiction and fantasy first editions are also offered, including nearly fifty lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, many in the rare original dust jackets. Also featured are more than fifty lots of Black Sparrow press limited editions of the writings of Charles Bukowski, many signed by the author. Other rare literary works from the last 300 years are also offered, including titles by Dickens, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Stowe, Twain, Wilde, and many others.
See the online version of the catalogue at www.pbagalleries.com
Direct link to the online catalogue: http://www.pbagalleries.com/view-auctions/info/id/434/
To view as ebook: http://pbagalleries.com/content/ecat/626/index.html
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In an Entertainment Weekly video “The Walking Dead cast explains 100 episodes in 30 seconds”.
(18) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. In March 1971, General Mills introduced the chocolate-flavored Count Chocula and the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry.
[Thanks to Keith Kato, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Wendy Gale, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories.. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who inquires “Not having read all the Dune books (by Frank Herbert, and then the non-FH prequels), and not remembering all of those I did read… did any of the individual sandworms have names (i.e., not ‘Shai Halud’ (sp?), which was the general name). E.g. ‘Big Fella,’ ‘Spot,’ ‘Masterful Mighty Wriggler of Doom,’ ‘Fluffy’?”]
(1) STAR TREK DISCOVERING. Camestros Felapton takes you from photon soup to Klingon nuts: “Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Episodes 1 & 2”. Although not especially spoilery, good form still demands a SPOILER WARNING!
However, Russell T Davies made a smart move from which Discovery could have learnt. Set a new series in a time that follows a catastrophe that creates both a bridge to the previous series, and allows the viewers to re-encounter familiar protagonists in a new way. That doesn’t imply a new Star Trek would need to have a post-apocalyptic vibe, rather some sort of event that disrupted galactic civilisations sufficiently that the Federation is needing to rebuild (a gamma-ray burst, a contagion that spreads via transporter beams, a big-bad alien did more damage than usual).
Discovery hasn’t taken that option but the setting kind of looks like it did. The technology is both old and new, the spaceships look both updated and more grungy, some aliens are now more familiar and closer to humans (e.g. the Vulcans) while others have become even more alien and Star Fleet understands them less (the Klingons). The whole feel of the show implies a setting where change has occurred but which claims that it is about changes that will occur and I find that somewhat annoying.
(2) ALLEGRO CON TROPE. The Independent is more enthusiastic — “Star Trek: Discovery season 1 episode 1 & 2 review: Tropes and unprecedented surprises balance out for an intriguing new Trek iteration”. But who are you going to believe?
The team behind Star Trek: Discovery could be forgiven for feeling under pressure. They had to deliver a show that satisfies one of the most rabidly pedantic fan bases out there, while still catering to normies only not really au fait with Trek beyond a few action movies about good-looking people having fights in space.
But, despite a reportedly troubled gestation, they’ve somehow managed to deliver, audaciously using their first two episodes to set up several seemingly key characters before wiping the slate clean in the closing moments. In truth, the first two episodes that arrive on Netflix today – ‘The Vulcan Hello’ and ‘Battle at the Binary Stars’ – function more as a standalone TV movie, setting up the tone and feel of the show while leaving about as much wiggle room for the future as conceivably possible.
(3) ROCKET SCIENCE. Video highlights of last Saturday’s Atlas V launch of NROL-42 from Vandenberg. Via United Launch Alliance.
(4) FUSION. The Register says it’s happening — “Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham”.
Geek’s Guide to Britain I’m in a room that, in normal circumstances, is not fit for human habitation. It features a number of big red buttons surrounded by illuminated yellow rings – just in case. “Push button to switch off Jet. Press only in case of extreme emergency,” the signs read, informatively.
This is the Torus Hall, a 40,000m3 space the size of an aircraft hangar with two massive fly-towers that house 1,100-tonne doors to seal the room off from an adjacent assembly hall. The walls and ceiling are two metres thick. The atmospheric pressure inside the hall is kept lower than pressure outside so that in the event of a breach, air would be sucked in rather than vented.
The hall houses possibly the closest thing on Earth to the centre of a star: the Joint European Torus, the world’s biggest fusion reactor at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, UK. Jet is a tokamak, a circular structure shaped like a doughnut that employs powerful magnets to control that stuff of science fact and fiction: plasma.
…Jet is a European project involving 40 laboratories and 350 scientists. In 1997 it set a record, producing 16MW of fusion power from a total input power of 24MW.
Iter, however, is a scaled-up version of Jet currently under construction in the south of France planned to open in 2025 – a fusion reactor that aims to use 50MW to generate 500MW for 500 seconds. Iter, in turn, will pave the way for Demo, one or more proof of concept fusion power stations, with South Korea aiming to put a Demo live in 2037.
For now, however, Jet is the world’s biggest fusion device and proves that nuclear fusion can generate power – it’s just not big enough to create more power than it uses….
(5) HOW ONE AUTHOR GETS PAID. A post at Metafilter attempting to use Amazon stats to estimate writers’ sales provoked John Scalzi to explain why that is a futile effort: “Can You Tell My Earnings From My Amazon Sales? Spoiler: Nope, Not at All”.
…So what does this all mean? Well, it means that for a non-self-pubbed author, often none of their annual earnings from a book are directly related to how many of those books sell in a year (or any other specified time frame). In fact, depending on how the advance is paid out, three-quarters or more (even all!) of the author’s earnings from a book are disbursed before the book has sold a single unit.
Book is contracted: 40% of the advance (“signing installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0.
Book is turned in and accepted: 20% of the advance (“delivery and acceptance installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0
Book is published in hardcover: 20% of the advance (“hardcover installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0 (there may be pre-orders, but the sales don’t usually start being counted until this time).
Book is published in paperback: Final 20% of the advance goes to author. Books sold to date: Hopefully some! But even if the number is zero, the final installment gets paid out (if so few books are sold that the publisher foregoes the paperback release, there’s still usually the contractual obligation to pay out)….
(6) CROWDFUNDING THREE ANTHOLOGIES. Joshua Palmatier’s “Guilds & Glaives, Insurgency, and Ur-Bar Anthologies!” Kickstarter has less than three days to run and is still looking to raise about $3,000 of its $20,000 goal.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR anthology kickstarter is nearing its goal! If we can reach $20K by Noon, September 28th, EST, then there will be an open call for submissions for the remaining slots in the anthologies. If you have a story idea that fits one of the anthology themes, write it up, revise it, polish it, and send it in for consideration. I’ve posted the guidelines below. Note that the kickstarter still has a few days left and there are still some pretty awesome reward levels left…
(7) AS YOU WISH. “‘The Princess Bride’ Turns 30: Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal Dish About Making the Cult Classic” is a Variety piece full of interviews about the beloved 1987 fantasy film.
“It was an impossible sell,” said Reiner. “The funny thing about it was that before I made ‘Stand by Me’ — I had made ‘Spinal Tap’ and ‘The Sure Thing’ — I had a meeting with this executive at Paramount. She said, ‘We love your films. What do you want to do next? I said, ‘Well, you don’t want to do what I want to do.’ She said, ‘No, that’s not true. I want to do what you want to do. I said, ‘No, no. You want me to do what you want to do.’ She said, ‘No, no. I want to do what you want to do. What is it?’ I said ‘The Princess Bride.’ She said, ‘Well, anything but that.’”
(8) PALS FOR ETERNITY. SyFy Wire contributes to the nostalgia in “The Princess Bride at 30: Why Fezzik and Inigo have one of the best friendships in film”. Reason number one is —
Helping each other deal with a difficult boss, Vizzini
Vizzini is clearly not an easy man to work for, and he doesn’t treat Fezzik or Inigo very well as his employees. After they kidnap Buttercup, Fezzik expresses his opinion that it’s not right to kill an innocent girl, but Vizzini isn’t interested in his hired help doing anything beyond what they are hired to do. He immediately insults Fezzik, and when Inigo voices his agreement with Fezzik, insults him as well before turning on Fezzik again. Once Vizzini walks away though, Inigo goes to Fezzik and the two rhyme together happily, much to Vizzini’s annoyance.
The scene captures how the two friends have each other’s back in this perhaps less than ideal work environment. Inigo didn’t have to voice his agreement with Fezzik after seeing Vizzini’s reaction, but he did. Then he tries to turn the mood around by doing something Fezzik enjoys and excels at: rhyming. It reminds Fezzik that he’s more than the dumb brute Vizzini wants him to be, and that Inigo recognizes his gifts, even if Vizzini does not.
(9) DONATIONS NEEDED. The father of Pierre Pettinger died recently due to a house fire, and Pierre has set up a Gofundme campaign to help cover the funeral expenses — Pierre Pettinger [Sr.] Funeral Fund. Their target is $13,000.
While it appears that insurance will cover the costs of repairing and restoring the home, the expenses for Dad’s funeral were significant and have put some strain on all the members of our family. Pierre will be administering the funds and will see to it that they go directly to the funeral home. The goal we have set represents the total cost, but any help you would care to offer would be received with gratitude.
Pierre the younger and his wife Sandy are Fan GoH for Worldcon 76. They’ve done wonders in Masquerades for years, winning many awards, and Pierre is Archivist for the International Costumers Guild.
(10) REED OBIT. SF Site News reports author Kit Reed (1932-2017) died on September 24 from an inoperable brain tumor.
Reed was a Best New Author Hugo nominee in 1959. Reed was up for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award three times, had a novel, Where, on the John W. Campbell Memorial Award shortlist, and received the ALA Alex Award for Thinner Than Thou. Reed’s most recent novel, Mormama, was published earlier this year.
(11) JACOBS OBIT. Harvey Jacobs (1930-2017), a 1998 World Fantasy Award nominee for his novel American Goliath, died September 24 from an infection brought on by brain cancer treatment. An author sometimes compared with Vonnegut and Roth, he published his first story in 1951, contributed regularly to New Worlds and F&SF in the Sixties, and continued to produce a modest number of sff stories thereafter.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(14) POURNELLE MEMORIAL. Jennifer Pournelle’s eulogy of Jerry Pournelle, delivered at the memorial service held September 16, has been posted at Chaos Manor.
He was generous as a husband. He adored his wife. He loved deeply, and passionately, and never anyone more than her. The parable of the widow’s alms teaches us the truest measure of generosity: when that of which you have the least, you give most freely. So by “generous,” here I do not mean with obvious things like, like gifts and jewelry and public events (though with those too). I mean that, although always awkward as a schoolboy in showing his feelings for her, he did his utmost with what he knew how to do: jokes, and puns, and praise, and respect, and walks, and stalwart support of her career, and four sons.
And especially—and this is most telling—by listening to her, and to her alone. Certainly not always. Probably not often enough. But I do not believe that any other human being on the planet had the capacity to tell him “no” and make it stick. Because of his generous love for her, he listened, and learned how to be a better father, and an outwardly more affectionate one. To say the words out loud. She taught him that the great light of a generous heart need not be hidden beneath a bushel. He listened, and let his generous light shine on her, and everyone around them.
It certainly shined on us, his children. He was generous as a father. OK, let’s start with the obvious. There was never a check he would not roll his eyes, groan, and write. School fees? Of course. Wrecked car? Harrumph. No problem. College expenses? Well, it’s your job to get the best deal you can. It’s my job to pick up the rest. Airplane tickets, tailored mess uniforms, personal sidearms? Here you go. Need a tool, a meal, a book, a computer, a printer, a place to sleep, a bottle of white-out? There’s one here somewhere in the house. Go find it. Help yourself.
But his real generosity was with imagination. He believed in space. He believed in adventure. He believed in deep truths in myth, and deep lessons in legend. He believed in science. He believed in nature. He believed in fun. And he combined them all. Road trips, hiking trips, shooting trips; flights of imagination; cooking (badly), reading (well), brainstorming plot lines, standing up to bluster, figuring out what you need to know, then figuring out who could tell you. He’d pick up a phone in a heartbeat if he thought he could marshal support or make a contact. He’d invite you to dinners across thresholds you’d never otherwise cross—and then always pick up the tab.
And when you finished what you started, or achieved what you’d aimed, or found success in your field, his outpouring of respect was spontaneous and generous—and never seeking to curry your favor….
(15) KEITH KATO. Keith Kato posted his own extensive memories of Jerry Pournelle and account of the memorial service at The Heinlein Society website.
Of course he knew not only all the Mercury astronauts, but also knew the candidates who did not make the cut. Jerry once told a funny story about turning John Glenn upside down and shaking him over a smoky fire, while fake-arguing with the staff, and dropping manhole covers on the floor. Glenn kept a dot in a circle, and his heartbeat remained rock steady (except for one momentary blip when the manhole covers landed), after which Glenn glaringly said “You son of a [redacted for the delicacy of our readers’ um…eyes?]!”
(16) MASTERCHEF. On the making of videogames: Jason Sheehan reviews Walt Williams’s Significant Zero: Heroes, Villains, and the Fight for Art and Soul in Video Games: “Leveling Up In The Video Game Industry, Without Checkpoints: ‘Significant Zero'”.
I learned this recipe from Walt Williams, whose debut book, Significant Zero, is all about the making of videogames. And also about the making of Walt Williams who, for years, has been involved (both seriously, tangentially, and in every way in between) with the production of some of the best videogames ever created: Bioshock, Star Wars Battlefront, Mafia II, Spec Ops: The Line. Mostly Spec Ops, which is one of the darkest, most haunting, and most narratively daring games I’ve ever played. Spec Ops was Williams’s masterpiece and Significant Zero is the story of everything it took to make it and everything it cost him — beginning years before, ending years after. Sure, it’s a workplace memoir (more or less): A writer writing about writing, which can be the most annoying thing in the world. Except for one thing.
Walt Williams is basically a ghost.
(17) OVERWHELMING SUCCESS. The BBC writes the biography of a product in “How plastic became a victim of its own success”.
He became so famous that Time magazine put his face on the cover without needing to mention his name, just the words, “It will not burn. It will not melt.”
What Leo Baekeland invented that July was the first fully synthetic plastic.
He called it Bakelite.
(18) EXTENDED MAINTENANCE. How would you like this job? “Airlander 10: ‘How we fix the world’s longest aircraft'” (short video)
Two technicians have told how they had to learn how to rope climb to fix the world’s longest aircraft.
The Airlander 10 – a combination of plane and airship – has been at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, for the last four years.
Technicians Ivor Pope and Darren Gurney have overseen the aircraft since early 2016.
“Being up on the hull is a fantastic experience,” said Ivor Pope, the maintenance, modification and ground operations manager.
(19) BIKE RECYCLERS. Leave no trace? “Abandoned at Burning Man, bicycles now head for Houston and the Caribbean”.
After nine days of parties, music and larger-than-life art installations, the 2017 season of Burning Man came to a close on 4 September. In theory, all evidence of “Black Rock City” – which attracted 70,000 attendees to the dusty desert – was supposed to vanish. One of the festival’s core tenets is “leave no trace”.
However, clean-up crews found thousands of perfectly useable bicycles abandoned by attendees. Bikes are the most common form of transportation around Black Rock City, and the way they are tossed aside at the end has long been a problem.
Burning Man partners with local charities to take, refurbish and sometimes donate the bikes to needy families, but this year, the sheer number of bikes overwhelmed even these partners. An estimated 5,000 bicycles were left behind.
(20) I SWEAR THAT IT’S ALL TRUE. Past Daedalus: Whale tails and the human-powered watercraft speed record: “Water speed record that’s surprisingly hard to break”.
However, an Oxford University spinout called Animal Dynamics, co-founded by zoologist Adrian Thomas, is spending £200,000 ($260,000) to do just that. Their craft, the Malolo, is a hydrofoil-like Decavitator. Unlike its rival, the Malolo’s design is inspired by the way whales swim through water – instead of a propeller, it has the kind of large, arched tail that you sometimes spot above the water when a whale dives.
Now two years after starting work on the project, the team have begun testing their third prototype off the south coast of England. According to Thomas, they have already reached speeds of about 12 knots (13.8mph/22km/h).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Nancy Sauer, Cat Eldridge, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Results of The Heinlein Society’s board of directors elections were announced at its Annual Meeting, a phone-in teleconference held September 10. On the line were the 2017-2020 class of three seats on its nine-seat Board of Directors. An impressive 66.5% of eligible voters participated in an online election via the SimplyVoting.com website. The three incumbent Directors standing for re-election, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, John Seltzer, and John Tilden, all won re-election, which was certified by Simply Voting on 28 August 2017.
The passing of Dr. Jerry Pournelle on September 8, after the election and certification of results, has led to the Society’s remaining Board to invoke Article II, Section 5D of its Bylaws to fill this vacancy. At the Society’s September 11 Board Meeting, Walter Boyes, an Illinois SF writer, technologist, futurist, and fan, was selected to fill the open seat. As a Board appointment, Walt is required to stand for a ratification vote in the 2018 Society elections.
At the same September 11 Board Meeting, Society officers Dr. Keith Kato of California, Geo Rule of Minnesota, and John Tilden of Maryland, were retained as President, Vice President-Secretary, and Treasurer respectively. Keith Kato stated this would be his last year in office. The remainder of the new Board, by seniority, is Joe Haldeman, John Seltzer, Elizabeth Wilcox, Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Dr. Beatrice Kondo, and Walter Boyes.
[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]
The Heinlein Society marked Robert A. Heinlein’s birthday (July 7) by announcing the 2017 winners of its Heinlein Society Scholarships.
Three winners were selected from a record field of 163 applicants — almost twice as many as last year.
The other top ten finalists, in alphabetical order, are:
The three winners will receive $1,250 each, an increase of 25% over last year. Society President Keith Kato adds, “All of the Top-10 finishers will receive a certificate which, we hope, can be used as a ‘letter of recommendation’ if not egoboo.”
The 2017 selection committee was chaired by THS past president Michael Sheffield, and consisted of Dr. Pauline Bennett, Dr. Marie Guthrie, Dr. Keith Kato, Dr. Beatrice Kondo, Geo Rule, and Elizabeth Wilcox.
(1) NEAR FUTURE MARINES. The Marine Corps Security Environment Forecast: Futures 2030-2045 (MCSEF) provided “a high level snapshot of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory/Futures Directorate’s continual examination of the deep future.”
Chuck Gannon and several other writers traveled to Quantico last February and coached uniformed service members who produced Science Fiction Futures, the narrative accompaniment to the MCSEF. Writers included Commander Phillip Pournelle USN. The near-future military fiction they wrote can be downloaded as a free PDF at the link.
(2) ON THE OTHER HAND. Nancy Jane Moore tells Book View Café readers why she’s not wild about Rogue One.
I was primed to be reflective about the movie because it was preceded by twenty minutes of trailers for truly dreadful movies that I don’t plan to see. About halfway through them, I said to myself, “No wonder the world is falling apart.” The prevailing narrative seems to be fighting and war as a response to everything.
Many of these movies strike me as right-wing narratives (though I suspect most of the people involved in making them don’t vote that way): Humans fighting either evil aliens or evil supernatural creatures. Others focus on the outsider who fights for us all, but gets no thanks – not a story about people coming together to solve their problems.
Stories like Rogue One might be seen as having a liberal bias – rebels fighting a fascist, dictatorial regime. But in every case the story assumes that the solution is to blow things up.
It’s not the violence and killing that I’m objecting to – I agree with pacifists about many things, but I’m not one – but rather the idea that those things are the only solution. A lifetime in the martial arts has taught me that while there are times when a physical fight (or a war) may be the best choice, those times are few and far between.
(3) UHLENKOTT OBIT. Rochelle Uhlenkott (1960-2016) died shortly before Christmas, reports Keith Kato, of complications from a flu infection. She was a UCI Extension instructor in Optical Engineering, and in SFF did a little bit of writing and editing. Her short story “The Gift” (as Rochelle Marie) was published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XI: An Anthology of Heroic Fantasy (1994),
(4) ICONIC HAIR. Chip Hitchcock says, “It’s unclear where Princess Leia’s cinnabon hairstyle came from, but George Lucas’ account is certainly wrong”.
According to Brandon Alinger, the author of Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, the buns do not even appear in any of the concept artwork done for Leia in the preparation of the film.
In later interviews, Star Wars creator George Lucas said he looked to Mexico’s female revolutionaries, or “soldaderas”, who joined the uprising at the start of the 20th Century.
“I went with a kind of south-western Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico,” Lucas told Time in 2002.
It makes sense to look to such a band of women when creating a character far removed from a traditional princess awaiting rescue.
(5) DOUBLE TROUBLE. The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor, in “Even on this, America is divided: Was Cinnabon’s Carrie Fisher tweet offensive?”, discusses how Cinnabon leaped very deeply into the culture wars when they tweeted a photo of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia with a Cinnabon replacing one of the buns in her hair and the line “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.”
(6) DON’T LET THE YEAR MUG YOU ON THE WAY OUT. Everyone, be careful out there!
I've never actually felt like a year was malevolent before.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 29, 2016
If 2016 tries to jump me, I will kick it right in the fucking teeth. https://t.co/FnXYrrEOyt
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 29, 2016
(7) PROGNOSTICATION. Our secret agent informs us this wall mural will be on next week’s Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest at Blast from the Past in Burbank.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) LET THE CUTE BE WITH YOU. This German Star Wars-themed Christmas ad for Kaufland is really sweet – and you don’t need to know any German to enjoy it.
(10) TOVE JANSSON NEWS. In the Financial Times, art critic Jackie Wullschlager reviews “Adventures in Moominland”, which is showing at the Southbank Centre in London through April 23. British fans prepping for Worldcon can see this exhibit by Finland’s greatest fantasy writer and her creation, the Moomins, including discussions of why Tove Jansson thought herself more of an artist than a writer, how her lesbianism informed her work, and why she owned and read Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West.
You reach the Southbank Centre’s Adventures in Moominland by opening the cover of a giant book that turns out to be a door. Flit through a few gauze curtains painted with Jansson’s illustrations and you find yourself standing in a storybook installation: a snow-clad Finnish forest with gleaming lights and a lost troll. “The sky was almost black but the snow shone a bright blue in the moonlight” when Moomintroll, the first troll not to hibernate, stepped out alone into a cold new world. Moominland in Midwinter (1957) is a small existentialist masterpiece — the story of a frightened, angry, isolated young troll who eventually comes in from the cold to understand “one has to discover everything for oneself, and get over it all alone”.
(11) FINAL TROPE. At The Book Smugglers, Carlie St. George says this is the final installment of Trope Anatomy 101 — “Choose Your Own Family”.
When we discuss common tropes in pop culture, we’re often analyzing them as inherently negative things, stereotypes or clichés that are in desperate need of subversion. And often, we’re right to do so; in this past year, we’ve already looked at some seriously problematic tropes in this column, from the waving away of chronic conditions and disabilities to the variety of fat-shaming tropes that arise time and again in film, television, and literature.
However, not every trope is harmful and some are actually quite delightful when embraced. Honestly, one of the reasons I love fanfiction as much as I do is that it downright revels in its tropes. They’re frequently used as signposts, specifically, welcome signs: “Are you looking for Huddle For Warmth Romances? How about Body Swapping Fics with a focus on Team Building? Come in, come in, you’re in the right place!”
…If those terms mean nothing to you, found family stories are about characters that come together and make their own family unit, despite not being related by blood. (Generally. Sometimes, a few characters in found families will be biologically related; think River and Simon Tam in Firefly, siblings in a disparate crew of misfits and criminals (who all just happen to share meals and celebrate birthdays with one another, deep in the black of space.) Very often these characters have been orphaned, disowned, or have otherwise extremely strained or stressful relationships with their biological families; the second family functions to support, celebrate, and mourn with one another in a way that their blood relatives will not or cannot.
(12) ROYAL COSPLAY. The Queen’s wardrobe selection for her Christmas broadcast led to a wave of science fictional levity —
Amazing the Queen finds time to give a speech while also being the USS Enterprise science officer ? pic.twitter.com/m8M262IX8r
— Mat Ricardo (@MatRicardo) December 25, 2016
[Thanks to Gregory Benford, Keith Kato, John King Tarpinian, Martn Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]
By Keith Kato, President: The Heinlein Exhibit for the Hall of Famous Missourians was unveiled at the MidAmeriCon II Art Show.
After the Worldcon, about 30 (!!) Heinlein fans travelled to the Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City for the Induction Ceremony. We had a group dinner at the Capitol Plaza Hotel on August 22, which was attended not only by the aforementioned Heinlein fans but by state Representatives T. J. Berry and Patricia Pike, who co-sponsored the Induction Resolution for Heinlein, plus Rich Beckwith of the Speaker of the House’s office, who helped moved things along behind the scenes.
Afterwards, most of the group gathered to view videos of Ginny Heinlein’s acceptance speech for Robert’s NASA Distinguished Service Medal (a reading of Heinlein’s “This I Believe” article for Edward R. Murrow, first shown at the 2007 Heinlein Centennial, which transforms seamlessly from Ginny’s voice to Robert’s), a tribute of Heinlein by Arthur C. Clarke, also shown at the Centennial, and general discussion. Eric Picholle and Anouk Arnal, Heinleiners from Nice, France, could come only for the dinner, but were given a private night tour of the Capitol Building by Representative Berry and Rich Beckwith.
On August 23, 10:30 a.m., the Robert Heinlein’s Induction Ceremony was held in the House Chambers. Representatives Berry and Pike spoke briefly, as did Society President Keith Kato and sculptor E. Spencer Schubert.
Spencer’s comments were especially enthusiastic, since he had sculpted several busts for the Hall, some of them “just jobs,” but he was a long-time Heinlein reader and fan, so the Heinlein bust was especially meaningful to him.
Making impromptu comments were Buckner Hightower, Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust, the Heinlein’s “adopted granddaughter” Dr. Amy Baxter, and SF author and Heinlein online Archivist Deb Houdek Rule.
After the Ceremony, cake and punch was served in the House ante-room, where a quick Heinlein exhibit had been set up with the 46-volume Virginia Edition, the Lady Vivamus sword from Glory Road, Heinlein’s Hugos for Double Star and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress along with the newly-won Retro-Hugos from MidAmeriCon II for Novella “If This Goes On—“ and Novelette “The Roads Must Roll,” and select photos and quotations.
The official House Photographer has posted for our use, the Facebook link with photos from the Induction Ceremony in Jefferson City, and the Associated Press filed a story, too. There are some Facebook links from the Society, including photos and video, as well here.
I can’t thank you and File 770’s readers enough for your help in the Hall of Famous Missourians endeavor. You provided the pathway to Jeb Kinnison to put us financially over the top to make it happen.
In other Society news, it was announced at our September 11, 2016 phone-in Annual Meeting that two incumbents for the Board of Directors, SFFWA Grandmaster Joe Haldeman and Minnesota fan Geo Rule had won re-election for another three-year term. SFFWA Grandmaster Connie Willis had chosen not to stand for re-election, so the third elected Board member is Dr. Beatrice Kondo, Baltimore fan and daughter of SF author and astrophysicist Dr. Yoji Kondo. Yoji served on The Heinlein Society’s Board in the early years, so Beatrice is now the first second-generation Board Member. What made this election noteworthy was that six candidates ran for the three available Board seats, and 63% of eligible electors filed ballots.
And finally, at the first Board meeting after the Annual Meeting on September 19, the new Board met and voted to retain the incumbent officers, President Keith Kato, Vice President-Secretary Geo Rule, and Treasurer John Tilden, for another year. The present Board, in order of seniority, is Joe Haldeman, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Vice President-Secretary Geo Rule of Minnesota, President Dr. Keith Kato of California, Treasurer John Tilden of Maryland, John Seltzer of Washington, Betsey Wilcox of Texas, Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland of Maryland, and Dr. Beatrice Kondo of Maryland.
While I missed reporting a lot of news stories while I was hospitalized, I want to pick up the ending of a story I’ve been following for a couple years – Robert A. Heinlein’s induction to the Hall of Famous Missourians.
Jeb Kinnison, whose contribution made possible the production of the Heinlein bust, has a lot of photos of The Heinlein Society’s unveiling ceremony at MidAmeriCon II in his Worldcon report.
Then, immediately following the Worldcon, lawmakers in Jefferson City, the Missouri state capital, officially inducted Heinlein to the Hall.
Lawmakers on Tuesday inducted science fiction writer Robert Heinlein to the Hall of Famous Missourians to a cheering crowd of fans who call themselves “Heinlein’s children.”
The Missouri native won science fiction awards for some of his most famous works including “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “Starship Troopers,” a story about a war against arachnid-like aliens that later was adapted for film.
Fans, including a state lawmaker, said his work also inspired readers to pursue careers in science and space exploration. State Rep. T.J. Berry, of Kearney near Kansas City, said Heinlein encouraged others to “strive for the stars, for the moon” and “for what’s next.”
“Our devotion to this man must seem odd to those outside of the science fiction field, with spaceships and ray guns and bug-eyed monsters,” Heinlein Society President Keith Kato said. “But to Heinlein’s children, the writing was only the beginning of doing.”