(1) LIBERTYCON CANCELLED. The Chattanooga, Tennessee convention has been called off for this year. They announced on their website:
Sadly, we recieved the news from the convention center that we will be unable to have LibertyCon this year.
Brandy, LC Chairman, posted a video on Facebook explaining the situation and the sad message we have to give you all. It can be seen by clicking on this link.
LibertyCon 33 will be held June 25-27, 2021
(2) SAVE THE INDIES. George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema tells how to buy a ticket to a virtual showing of Extra Ordinary to support them
The staff of the Jean Cocteau Cinema would like to thank you for your support during the COVID-19 crisis. Your participation in this and other virtual screenings gives us an invaluable revenue stream to help us stay afloat until the quarantine is over and in-person screenings can resume. We owe everything to you, our patrons, and we look forward to the return of normalcy and to continuing to provide a cozy community-focused local cinema and performance space to Santa Feans for years to come! Stay safe, stay sane, and above all be excellent to each other!
(3) NASA AT WORK. Are your SJW Credentials in on this conspiracy?
(4) MEANWHILE, BACK AT BAIKONUR. Then there’s the cosmonaut program. An Ars Technica writer declares, “I was bored, so I watched the movie that astronauts must view before launch”.
…This Soviet-era building in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, is where astronauts spend their final days before launching into space on board the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Cassidy’s crew is due to launch on Thursday afternoon, at 1:05pm local time. (This is 4:05am ET Thursday, and 8:05am UTC.) They will spend about six hours catching up to and docking with the International Space Station.
The Russians have the oldest space program in the world and by far the most traditions and superstitions related to launch, including peeing on the wheel of the bus that takes the crew to the launch pad—a tradition that dates back to Yuri Gagarin’s first human spaceflight in 1961.
Among those traditions is watching a movie the day before launch in the Cosmonaut Hotel. It’s always the same movie, White Sun of the Desert. No one is quite sure why this Soviet-era film, which came out in 1970, is always watched (yes, it’s mandatory). But it likely dates to Soyuz 12, in 1973, when cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov watched the movie before their mission. This return-to-flight mission followed the disastrous Soyuz 11 flight two years earlier, when the spacecraft depressurized as the crew prepared to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, killing all three men. Soyuz 12 proved a success, and the movie came to be seen as a good luck charm. Since then, over the course of five decades, the Soyuz has never lost a crew….
(5) TENTACLE TIME. Camestros Felapton presents “The Being Not Human Awards” – a highly amusing ceremony.
… I’d like to discuss with you all what it is to be you. Now I must apologise in advance. There are many you in the audience, people I love dearly, who may take offence at what I am going to say next. Yes, yes, I am looking at you Mr Spock and yes, you C3PO and there’s no point waving that screwdriver at me Doctor, nor hiding behind Gimli’s axe Legolas. I love you all but I’m sorry, this really is not about you. Yes each of you is distinctly not human in deep and notable ways as explained in great detail in the backstory section of your Wikipedia pages. However, for our purposes tonight while you may be the big stars, this is not your turn in the spotlight. We love you but we love you because you have to admit that your are not exactly not-human….
(6) INTERVIEWED IN ISOLATION. Scott Edelman invites listeners to shelter in place as he answers the questions in Episode 113 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.
It’s been exactly one month since I joined Michael Dirda for lunch to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, and the way things are going in this age of social distancing, it will likely be many more months before I’ll be able to sit down at a restaurant with a guest to record another. The three episodes I’d planned to harvest for you during the final days of March all had to be cancelled. So what’s a podcast predicated on breaking bread to do when bread can no longer be broken?
What it means for this episode is that it’s time for the interviewer to become the interviewee, as you join me for lunch in my kitchen while I continue to shelter in place. Last episode, I asked listeners to send in questions for things which might not have been revealed about my life as a writer, editor, publisher, podcaster, and fan during the previous 118 episodes. I also reached out to my former guests to see if they’d like to turn the tables and ask questions instead of just answering them.
I ended up with 93 questions, which I knew was far more than I’d be able to answer in a single episode. But I printed them, folded them up, tossed them inside the head of a Roswell alien, and then pulled them out randomly one at a time and tried to answer as many as I could over the course of my meal.
(7) HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR UK WRITERS. “ALCS Offers Additional Financial Support To Writers Through The Society Of Authors’ Emergency Fund”.
ALCS – alongside the Royal Literary Fund, TS Eliot Foundation, English PEN, Amazon UK and, as of 7 April, Arts Council England – has contributed to the Society of Authors’ fund that will be paid out in grants to writers who have found themselves financially affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak.
ALCS is a collecting society set up by writers, for writers. Paying money to writers through licensing when their works have been used is at the core of what we do. Later this week, we will pay £24 million to over 89,000 writers – and since 1977 we’ve paid over £500 million to writers – but these are difficult and unique times, so we wanted to see what else we could do to support all writers….
Applicants do not need to be ALCS or SoA members; the fund is open to all professional authors who are resident in the UK or British subjects for whom author-related activity makes up a substantial amount of their annual income. The SoA have run this fund since 1960, so they have a great deal of experience in assessing applications and their approach is broad, agile and fast; aiming to turn around applications within weeks.
(8) DO YOU KNOW YOUR WHO? RadioTimes reports “Doctor Who fans plan massive virtual pub quiz over Easter Weekend”.
Now, though, they can finally engage in every Doctor Who fan’s favourite activity – proving how much arcane trivia they know – because long-running real-life pub quiz The Quiz of Rassilon (which has hosted Doctor Who trivia nights since 2010) has announced that it’ll be hosting an online version of the event over the Easter Weekend.
“The Quiz has always been a place where fans from all corners of the fandom can come together for a bit of fun and to talk about their favourite show,” Quiz of Rassilon co-creator Michael Williams told RadioTimes.com.
… During the quiz itself most participants (who are expected to number in the hundreds) will have their microphones muted in the main hosting room, with each team given their own “private TARDIS” (in other words a separate videocall meeting) where they can confer, chat and screen share, before they’re pulled back to the main call after a few minutes.
“We’ve designed this Quiz using Zoom’s ‘breakout rooms’ feature which gives teams the opportunity to have their usual table at the Pub where they can discuss between themselves and enjoy some time with their friends,” explained Williams.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- April 10, 1966 — Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter premiered. It was directed by William Beaudine and produced by Caroll Case. It was written by Carl K. Hittleman. It starred John Lupton, Narda Onyx, Estelita Rodriguez, Cal Bolder and Jim Davis. The film was first released as part of a double feature along with Billy the Kid Versus Dracula. It was not treated well by critics at the time with one saying “it sucks”, and currently the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eleven percent rating. We cannot determine if it’s in the public domain so we’re not providing a link.
- April 10, 1987 — Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home enjoyed its first theatrical release which was in the United Kingdom. Starring the entire original cast, the story was by Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy with the screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett. It was a box office success making far, far more than it cost to produce. The critics loved it for the most part, and it currently has a stellar rating of eighty-one percent at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 10, 1897 — Eric Knight. Decidedly better known for his 1940 Lassie Come-Home novel which introduced Lassie, but he had one genre undertaking according to ISFDB, the Sam Small series. I’ve never heard of them, nor are they available in digital form though Lassie Come-Home of course is. Anyone read them? (Died 1943.)
- Born April 10, 1921 — Chuck Connors. His first genre role was as Senator Robert Fraser in Captain Nemo and the Underwater City followed by being Tab Fielding in Soylent Green. He’s Captain McCloud in Virus, a Japanese horror film, and he one-offs in The Adventures of Superman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island and a recurring role as Captain Janos Skorzenyn in Werewolf. (Died 1992.)
- Born April 10, 1929 — Max von Sydow. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes, I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
- Born April 10, 1940 — Raul Julia. If we count Sesame Street as genre, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it. Ok, how about as Aram Fingal In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better? He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in the superb Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.)
- Born April 10, 1953 — David Langford, 67. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the Encyclopedia of SF, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for “Different Kinds of Darkness”.
- Born April 10, 1955 — Pat Murphy, 65. I think her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. And The Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual digital suspects.
- Born April 10, 1957 — John M. Ford. Popular at Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (Did 2006.)
- Born April 10, 1978 — Hannu Rajaniemi, 42. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds and his Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon weirdness. Quite fascinating.
- Born April 10, 1992 — Daisy Ridley, 28. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) RINGO AWARDS 2020 NOMINATIONS OPEN. The public can vote until June 25 – click here to participate.
The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill, and fun of comics. The awards return for their third year on Saturday, October 24, 2020 as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-Con.
Unlike other professional industry awards, the Ringo Awards include fan participation in the nomination process along with an esteemed jury of comics professionals.
More than 20 categories will be celebrated with top honors being given at the awards ceremony in October.
(13) TRAILBLAZERS. James Davis Nicoll salutes that Promethean resource — “All Hail The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Bringer of Knowledge!” – at Tor.com.
Imagine, if you will, a dark age in which information was not at the tip of one’s fingertips, in which acquiring it required a trip to the library or the bookstore, in which tidbits of useful information might be limited to brief introductions and afterwords, in which there was no guarantee that the information would exist in an accessible form anywhere at all. Imagine further that one was a
snoopyhighly inquisitive young reader, curious about the authors whose works he was consuming and eager to know more about the works themselves. Imagine the frustration….
(14) BEHIND THE MASK. ScreenRant’s Mike Jones says “Alien Facehugger Inspired Face Mask Is Creepy & Effective”. Mike Kennedy admits, “Not sure I could wear this, no matter how effective it is are.” See it here.
… In addition to preventative measures such as social distancing and lockdown/quarantining, many people around the world have taken to wearing masks when out in public. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for citizens to get their hands on masks. Fortunately, people can make their own adequate replacements, and some have even gotten very creative with this practice.
To add a little levity to the issue of wearing a mask, Facebook user Lady Frankenstein added images of an extraordinary homemade mask. By taking a cue from Alien, the mask in question was made to resemble the classic film’s dreaded facehugger. Victims of the facehugger later experienced the slightly uncomfortable arrival of an alien, but thankfully, Lady Frankenstein’s mask will ultimately keep its wearer far safer than the facehugger’s victims.
(15) TWISTING THE ROPE. “The Oldest String Ever Found May Have Been Made By Neanderthals”.
Tiny bits of twisted plant fibers found on an ancient stone tool suggest that Neanderthals were able to make and use sophisticated cords like string and rope.
Cords made from twisted fibers are so ubiquitous today that it’s easy to take them for granted. But they’re a key survival technology that can be used to make everything from clothes to bags to shelters.
This prehistoric piece of string, described in the journal Scientific Reports, was preserved on a flint tool that dates back to around 41,000 to 52,000 years ago. It came from a cave-like rock shelter in southern France that was once inhabited by Neanderthals.
(16) WHERE FANS ONCE TROD. The BBC shows us how the exhibits hall of the 1995 Worldcon is being repurposed: “Look inside Glasgow’s temporary NHS hospital”.
More images have been released of a temporary hospital which is being built at he Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.
The emergency facility, called NHS Louisa Jordan, will take up a 10,000 sq m hall and will have capacity for 516 beds.
Since construction started on 31 March, nearly 800 contractors and NHS staff have been working on site.
…So far, partitions between beds have been erected, 8,000 pieces of medical equipment have been ordered and the flooring has started to be laid.
A new bespoke system which will deliver an oxygen supply to every bed has also been put in place.
The NHS Louisa Jordan is named after a nurse who died from typhus while serving in Serbia during the height of an outbreak.
(17) THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE. “Coronavirus Turns Urban Life’s Roar to Whisper on World’s Seismographs”.
Geoscientists are getting a clearer picture of what’s going on beneath our feet as lockdowns keep many of us at home.
Seismometers may be built to detect earthquakes, but their mechanical ears hear so much more: hurricanes thundering hundreds of miles away and meteoroids exploding in the skies on the other side of the planet. Even the everyday hum of humanity — people moving about on cars, trains and planes — has a seismically detectable heartbeat.
But coronavirus has upended our lives. Hoping to curtail the pandemic’s spread, nations have closed their borders, cities have been shut down and billions of people have been instructed to stay home. Today, in cities large and small, the thumping pulse of civilization is now barely detectable on many seismograms.
“It did make the scale of the shutdowns a bit more real to me,” said Celeste Labedz, a graduate student in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology.
In person, you can see only your neighborhood’s dedication to remaining home. With seismometers, Ms. Labedz said, you can see the collective willingness of millions of the world’s urban dwellers to hunker down. As a result, the planet’s natural quavering is being recorded with remarkable clarity.
This seismological experiment began with Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels. He wanted to see what happened to his city’s anthropogenic hiss after its lockdown began in mid-March. His finding, that it had declined precipitously, was shared on Twitter and via news organizations, prompting seismologists elsewhere to look at their own city’s lack of shakes. Many used Dr. Lecocq’s bespoke coding to eke out the human noise in their seismic data.
…A cleaner and more frequent detection of Earth’s seismic activity grants seismologists a less filtered look into the planet’s interior. Although many seismometers are purposefully located far from cities, plenty of urban areas — especially those in seismically hyperactive parts of the planet — are peppered with seismometers. In this time of human quiescence, the creaking of some potentially dangerous faults may be detected better than ever.
(18) UNMANNED MISSIONS ANNOUNCED. “NASA Selects Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System”. More details at the link.
The selected proposals are:
DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus)
DAVINCI+ will analyze Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it formed, evolved and determine whether Venus ever had an ocean….
Io Volcano Observer (IVO)
IVO would explore Jupiter’s moon, Io, to learn how tidal forces shape planetary bodies….
Trident would explore Triton, a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, to understand pathways to habitable worlds at tremendous distances from the Sun….
VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy)
VERITAS would map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history and understand why Venus developed so differently than the Earth…..
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Terry Gilliam’s Closet Pick” on YouTube is a video about how Gilliam paid a visit to the Criterion Collection in 2019 and shared anecdotes about Brazil and The Brothers Grimm as he loaded a bag with free DVDs.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]