Knull is coming. The God of Symbiotes will make his long-dreaded arrival this December in King In Black, the Marvel Comics event that delivers on everything Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman have built up in their groundbreaking run on Venom. To celebrate this epic storyline, readers can see Knullified versions of their favorite Marvel heroes on twisted variant covers coming in December.
These chaotic versions of heroes like Captain America, Thor, and Storm reveal just what happens when Knull’s overwhelming darkness overcomes the Marvel Universe as we know it. See some of these glorious covers below, featuring an all-star artist lineup including Skan, Ken Lashley, Taurin Clark, Iban Coello, and more. Be on the lookout for more Knullified variant covers coming your way and brace yourself for Knull’s impact this December in King In Black.
From Werewolf by Night to Tomb of Dracula, Marvel has a proud history of horror-themed comics, and this October, these classic terrifying tales will be honored in a series of Horror Variant covers! See your favorite Marvel characters like you’ve never seen them before as Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Captain America live out nightmarish visions just in time for Halloween. You now can see these chilling creations by artists Aaron Kuder, Javier Rodríguez, and Mirka Andolfo in their complete trade dress, paying homage to classic horror serials of the past!
Those interested in blasting off to a distant world filled with strife and android parents are in luck: HBO Max has put the entire first episode of its new sci-fi show, Raised By Wolves, on YouTube for free.
It may have taken more than 44 years since the publication of her first-ever novel, but one of Octavia E. Butler‘s books has finally made it into the New York Times Best Seller List — something the widely-acclaimed science fiction author had envisioned for herself several years ago.
The novel to reach the list is 1993’s The Parable of the Sower, which offers an uncanny, but no less prescient glimpse at California in the early 2020s, a dystopian future where people are dealing with global climate change, as well as an economic crisis.
(3) ANTHOLOGY ROUNDUP. Mark R. Kelly, whose Science Fiction Awards Database is an incredible resource, told Facebook readers today he has expanded its usefulness in another direction: Anthologies.
Over at my science fiction awards website, sfadb.com, I have — after a year of work — greatly expanded the section about anthologies. There are now 118 pages compiling over 1400 anthologies, grouped by editor or theme and arranged chronologically, with descriptions, photos, tallies of authors and sources, and composite tables of contents. Total descriptive text on the 118 pages: about 30,000 words. There will always be more books to compile, of course, but for now I’m considering this done. Comments, corrections, and suggestions welcome.
The Constitution Illustrated(Drawn & Quarterly) is so easy to read (and inexpensive to buy) that even a man-child U.S. President might learn something about the laws, precepts and rights bequeathed to the nation he leads. R. Sikoryak, comics artist, cartoon historian and now Constitutional scholar, has drafted the styles of many of America’s great past and present comic strip artists (of all religions, creeds, genders and social backgrounds) —from Alex Raymond’s “Flash Gordon” to Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” to Alice Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” to Nicole Hollander’s “Sylvia” to Frederick Burr Opper’s “Happy Hooligan” to, whew, Art Spiegelman’s “Maus,” and many, many others.
(5) GREEN ASTRONAUT TO RED PLANET. The New York Times says now is the time to watch Away, Hilary Swank’s Martian Odyssey.
Where has Hilary Swank been the past few years? En route to Mars. This 10-episode drama stars Swank as Emma Green, the mission commander on the first manned (womanned?) mission to Mars.
In space, disaster lurks around every asteroid. Back on earth, Emma’s husband (Josh Charles) and their daughter (Talitha Bateman) face their own crises. Should Emma complete her mission or return home to care for her family? Working moms have it rough! Swank, backed by a nifty international cast, commits with her usual live-wire intensity. But the vibe remains gloomy and the heart-wringing, like the vast expanse outside the shuttle, goes on and on and on. Guess you can cry in space.
…By contrast, Frodo’s obstacles are primarily internal. He endured a lot of those same exterior challenges as Sam, but Sam did much to absorb their impact (see the Cirith Ungol rescue). Frodo’s challenges are the slow, steady erosion of a soul being asked to carry a tremendous internal darkness without being consumed by it. Everything he was became laser-focused on that monolithic spiritual and emotional task.
This is why, at the end, Frodo had to sacrifice far more than Sam. Because Sam’s primary struggle was against external forces, once those external forces were alleviated, he could go home, marry, have children, live as a functional member of his community. For Frodo, the cessation of exterior pressure could do nothing to mend the way his soul had been burning from the inside out….
…For decades, despite a booming cottage industry of Lewis biographies and endless academic theorizing about the last years of Lewis’s life, Douglas kept to himself the fact that Lewis struggled mightily to help his mentally ill stepson [David]. “We didn’t tell anybody,” he told me. “The only reason I’m releasing it now is because people should know what Jack put up with and what Warnie put up with and how heroic they were to do it at all.” It is time, he added, “that people understand what Jack and Warnie went through. Jack and Warnie didn’t know what the heck to do.”
Here’s a few ways that critique groups help you grow.
1.) Increase your output by reducing revision time.
Revision means re-vision. It’s common knowledge that all writers need distance from their work in order to see it in new ways. We all use tricks to help force along the re-vision process. We change fonts, change reading locations, read it out loud, and these will do in a pinch but there is no replacement for time.
Oh, wait. Except a literal new set of writerly eyes on your poem. This is where critique groups can help in areas that beta readers cannot: we’re all writers. When a writer sets their eyes on your draft, they are giving you a fresh look without you having to bury your poem in peat for seven months.
(9) DEFINING SPECULATIVE. Also at SPECPO, Melanie Stormm posted a three-panel infographic designed to answer the question “What Counts As Speculative?” Here is the first section –
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 4, 1966 — At Tricon in Cleveland, Ohio, Gene Roddenberry debuted Star Trek‘s “Where No Man Has Gone Before” episode. It was so well received that fans there demanded that he show them the black-and-white print he had with him of “The Cage”, the original Star Trek pilot. (Neither would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at NyCon 3 the next year as that would instead go to Trek’s “Menagerie“ episode, a reworking of “The Cage”.) Thus was born the popular legend that credits September 4th, 1966 as the true birth date of the Star Trek franchise.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 4, 1905 — Mary Renault. ISFDB only counts her Theseus series work as genre novels (The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea) by her. Is that right? I’m not familiar with her full body of work to say if that is or is not correct. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1916 – Robert A.W. “Doc” Lowndes. (Surname is one syllable, rhymes with astounds.) Founded the Stamford, Connecticut, chapter of the SF League, 1935. Edited Dynamic, Famous, Future, SF Quarterly, SF Stories; various other prozines outside our field. Founded Vanguard Records with James Blish. Four novels, fifty shorter stories, poems, under many different names. Nonfiction Three Faces of SF, The Gernsback Days (with M. Ashley), Bok (with C. Beck, H. Bok, J. Cordes, G. de la Ree, B. Indick). Guest of Honor at Lunacon 12, Boskone 10. Best-known fanzine Le Vombiteur; several more. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1998).
Born September 4, 1919 – Evelyn Copelman. After the Denslow-illustrated 1900 Wizard of Oz fell out of print, EC illustrated a 1944 ed’n showing the influence of the 1939 motion picture; then a 1947 Magical Monarch of Mo, and a further 1956 Wizard. Outside our field, many illustrations, another career in graphic design. (Died 2003)
Born September 4, 1924 — Joan Aiken. I’d unreservedly say her Wolves Chronicles were her best works. Of the many, many in that series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase featuring the characters of Bonnie Green, Sylvia Green and Simon is I think the essential work to read even though The Whispering Mountain is supposed to a prequel to the series I don’t think it’s essential reading. (Or very interesting.) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is certainly the one in the series I see stocked regularly in my local bookstores. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1928 — Dick York. He is best remembered as the first Darrin Stephens on Bewitched. He was a teen in the police station in Them!, an early SF film which is considered the very first giant bug film. He’d showed up in myriad Alfred Hitchcock Presents, several episodes of Twilight Zone and has a one-off on Fantasy Island. He voiced his character Darrin Stephens in the “Samantha” episode of The Flintstones. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1957 — Patricia Tallman, 63. Best known as telepath Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, a series I hold that was magnificent but ended somewhat annoyingly. She was in two episodes of Next Generation, three of Deep Space Nine and two of Voyager. She did uncredited stunt work on further episodes of the latter as she did on Voyager. H’h to the latter. Oh, and she shows up in Army of Darkness as a possessed witch. (CE)
Born September 4, 1962 – Karl Schroeder, 58. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories. With Cory Doctorow, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing SF. Essays, reviews in Analog, Bifrost (French), Locus, NY Review of SF, On Spec. Interviewed in Challenging Destiny, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed. Two Prix Aurora awards. Ventus a NY Times Notable Book. Past President of SF Canada (nat’l ass’n of SF pros). [JH]
Born September 4, 1963 – Linda Davies, 57. Six novels for us; Longbow Girl was the Mal Peet Children’s Book of the Year. Several others. Escaped, as she put it, from investment banking to write fiction, naturally including financial thrillers. [JH]
Born September 4, 1963 – Mike Scott, 57. His adventures with the much-loved fanzine PLOKTA, the Journal of Superfluous Technology (= Press Lots Of Keys To Abort), involved him with the PLOKTA Cabal, two Hugos, and notoriety as Dr. Plokta. Chaired CUSFS (Cambridge Univ. SF Soc.) and led the successful bid to hold Loncon 3 (72nd Worldcon). Married the horsewoman and fan Flick, another cabalist. [JH]
Born September 4, 1972 — Françoise Yip, 48. She was a remarkably extensive career in genre productions including Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda, Caprica, Fringe, Robocop: Prime Directives, Seven Days, Flash Gordon, Smallville, Millennium, Arrow and Sanctuary. Genre casting directors obviously like her. (CE)
Born September 4, 1973 – Jennifer Povey, 47. Seven novels, forty shorter stories; role-playing games. Horsewoman. Ranks The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress above Level 7, with which I agree. Collection, The Silent Years. [JH]
Born September 4, 1975 — Kai Owen, 45. Best known for portrayal of Rhys Williams in Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off I stopped watching after the first two series. He reprised his character in the Big Audio and BBC audio dramas. (CE)
(12) BOSEMAN TRIBUTE. Following the passing of Chadwick Boseman last week, the late actor has now been honored with a new piece designed by Ryan Meinerding, Head of Visual Development for Marvel Studios.
… Having affirmed its place in the firmament of animated classics, Mulan could have enjoyed a nice retirement. But Disney as it exists now is not content to let things rest, and so—after tackling live-action remakes of Cinderella,Beauty and the Beast,Aladdin, and Alice in Wonderland—they turned their necromancy to Mulan. Only, certain mores and cultural interests have changed in the last 22 years, meaning Disney didn’t feel quite comfortable simply literalizing the 1998 film, talking dragon and musical numbers and all. Instead, they wanted a big action epic in the style of many huge movies that have come out of the Chinese film industry, only directed by a New Zealander, Niki Caro.
Caro directed the lovely New Zealand coming-of-age tale Whale Rider, which earned its young star, Keisha Castle-Hughes, an Oscar nomination for best actress. In that way, she was a fine pick for Mulan, another coming-of-age story about a headstrong young woman bucking the rigid gender norms of her place and time. In other ways—being that Caro is not from China or of Chinese descent—her hiring rang alarm bells. Disney had to proceed carefully, not wanting to tarnish valuable I.P. or create a cultural blowback that would put its corporate progressiveness under the microscope.
What has resulted from all that needle threading is a movie, out on Disney+ on September 4, that’s been managed to death. The new Mulan is a sweeping action movie with lots of cool fight choreography, and yet it never musters up a sense of awe. Even the loathsome Beauty and the Beast remake was not this bland and perfunctory; that film at least had the darkly electrifying jolt of its awfulness. Mulan is not awful. It’s just inert, a lifeless bit of product that will probably neither satisfy die-hards nor enrapture an entire new generation of fans.
Although I first encountered Jeff VanderMeer through the excellent anthologies he co-edits with his wife Ann, he’s better known for his fiction. His Southern Reach Trilogy and Ambergris novels are both beloved by fans of weird fiction. Borne is the first in a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic city where people scavenge for biotechnological creations that have escaped into the wild while trying to evade a giant flying bear. No, that was not a typo, there really is a giant flying bear. His name is Mord….
You’ll need a D20 dice and the table below. Take the sentence “I believe that the science in science fiction should be X and Y” and replace X and Y with entries from the table, rolling the dice twice to get your exciting new take on the discussion….
(16) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Brad Bird (Maltin on Movies — Brad Bird). Bird explained that he first visited Disney in 1968, when he was 11. Three years later, he sent them a 15-minute animated film. This was a time when character animation was at its low point, where the only studio producing character animation was Disney, who produced one film every three years. Most of the animators who started working with Disney in the 1930s were still active 30 years later, but they realized they had no successors, so Bird was recruited. He discusses his apprenticeship with the great animator Milt Kahl and then went on to study at Cal Arts, where the one class for character animators met in the basement in room A113. Bird has remained friends with many of the students in that class, including Henry Selick, Tim Burton, and John Musker, and sticks “A113” as an Easter egg in all of his films. Also discussed: what Bird did for “The Simpsons,” and his surprise at being drawn as the villain Syndrome in The Incredibles.
(17) ASK NASA. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will hold a community town hall meeting with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and his leadership team at 12 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 10, to discuss updates to NASA’s science program and the current status of NASA activities.
Members of the science community, academia, the media, and the public are invited to participate by joining at the link here. (If prompted, please use event number 199 074 4251, followed by event password Zk4n3G48gbd.)
Users must provide their first and last name and organization and can submit their own questions or vote up questions submitted by others. The meeting leaders will try to answer as many of the submitted questions as possible.
Presentation materials will be available for download and a recording will be available later that day here.
(18) L. RON HUBBARD, COMMANDING. [Item by Dann.] I came across something interesting via one of my regular YouTube channels; The History Guy. THG is prepared by an actual history professor.
In this case, he was offering a window into the history of WWII vintage anti-submarine ships of the US Navy.
One of those ships, PC-815, reportedly engaged with a pair of Japanese submarines just off the northwestern coast of the United States. The sub-chasers expended all of their depth charges and had called in two blimps in pursuit of the two submarines.
In his lengthy and quite descriptive after-action report, the captain of the PC-815 claimed to have positively sunk one of the submarines and damaged the other. The after-action reports of the other US Navy air and sea vessel commanders involved in the chase did not support that claim.
Shortly thereafter, the PC-815 was diverted from coastal defense duty and was assigned to escort a ship down to San Diego for final outfitting. Upon arrival, the captain of the PC-815 had the ship moored off of some area islands and decided to conduct some nighttime gunnery exercises using those islands as targets. The islands belonged to Mexico and were defended by an installation of Mexican army soldiers.
Shortly thereafter, the captain of the ship, one L. Ron Hubbard, was removed from command and reassigned to other…non-command….duties.
If you want to skip to the part about Hubbard, it’s at the 12:33 mark of the video.
Other links are to the ever-questionable Wikipedia. Those pages seem to match up well with other sites that aren’t affiliated with the Scientology folks.
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
The worlds of Marvel and the Island collide in Nexus War in Fortnite Chapter 2 – Season 4. This new season will feature Marvel heroes crossing over with the world of the Fortnite via character skins, weapons, comics – and a new series of variant covers releasing in September and October.
Some of the industry’s top artists including Joe Quesada, Ed McGuinness, Sara Pichelli, Russell Dauterman, and more will showcase Fortnite favorites like Blaze and Carbide side by side with the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-Men.
Set in Marvel Comics continuity, the events of Nexus War take place between the panels of Thor #4, which released this past March. To learn more, don’t miss a special 10-page Fortnite/Thor crossover story written by Donny Cates and drawn by Greg Land in Fantastic Four #24.
The artwork for six of the Fortnite variant covers, plus a list of the others, follows the jump.
Yesterday, Marvel announced Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, a landmark special written and drawn by renowned Indigenous talent including celebrated artist and writer Jeffrey Veregge. Veregge, who just wrapped up his exhibition Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, also lent his talents to produce a series of variant covers that showcase Dani Moonstar, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor depicted in Veregge’s iconic artistic Formline style.
“The story of the hero is an ancient one. Starting with the very first cave drawings, artists and writers from across the globe have both captured and shared the fateful acts of their people’s heroes. Being from the Pacific Northwest, my own people, the S’Klallam Tribe, have used the art style known as Formline to record and share the stories of our people since time immemorial. The art style I use in my own work today is an extension of the same shapes and forms used for hundreds of years by Native artists from and around the very same region,” Veregge said. “As a lifelong comic fan, artist and Native American, I am truly honored to work with Marvel Comics today. Not only to create pieces that represent a voice for Indigenous People in honor of Native American Heritage month, but also for the opportunity to share the same storytelling spirit of my ancestors by sharing the tales of some of today’s heroes.”
(1) MARVEL’S VOICES EXPANDS. This November, Marvel celebrates Indigenous history with a landmark special, Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, written and drawn by some of the industry’s most renowned Indigenous talent along with talents making their Marvel Comics debut.
Celebrated writer and artist Jeffrey Veregge, who just wrapped up his exhibition Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, is leading this book alongside a team of acclaimed creators to explore the legacy and experiences of Marvel’s incredible cast of Indigenous characters.
Hugo, Nebula, and Locus-award winning Black/Ohkay Owingeh writer Rebecca Roanhorse and Tongva artist Weshoyot Alvitre tell an Echotale like none before as she is set to play a critical role in Marvel Comics. Geoscientist and Lipan Apache writer Darcie Little Badger joins acclaimed Whitefish Lake First Nation artist Kyle Charles for a Dani Moonstarstory where she will face the crucial question of what her Indigenous heritage means in the new era of mutantkind. And Bram Stoker-winning horror writer Stephen Graham Jones of the Blackfeet Nation teams up with Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation artist David Cutler to revisit one of the darkest spots of X-Men history!
(2) BRIAN KEENE SPOTLIGHTS HAYWARD ALLEGATIONS. Soon after Brian Keene posted “Behind Closed Doors” supplementing his podcast’s report of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct within the industry, he and Mary SanGiovanni were alerted to yet another situation involving allegations that author Matt Hayward sent inappropriate communications to several women.
…We believe the women. We believe writer and book reviewer Cassie ‘Lets Get Galactic’, who has stepped forward. And we believe those who have not stepped forward.
We have known Matt for several years. He and his wife Anna have been guests in our home. Anna’s publishing company, Poltergeist Press, has published books by both of us. We consider them dear friends.
Approximately one year ago, Matt sent a series of inappropriate messages to Mary. Matt has acknowledged this and apologized for it. Mary accepted the apology because Matt was inebriated when the messages were sent, and he was going through a rough time emotionally, having just experienced the death of his best friend. Brian followed Mary’s lead, and in the time since, Mary has received no further inappropriate messages from Matt. Cassie’s account tells a similar story, as do the accounts of those women who have not shared their experience publicly. There is a pattern of behavior.
Again, we believe the women. And we apologize for the hurt that someone we are close to has caused you….
Since that time, several of us have spoke with Anna Mulbach, wife of Matt Hayward. She wishes to continue publishing Russian language translations. The financial stability of that line impacts the livelihood of many Russian citizens, including translators and investors. The success the line has had so far is a testimony to Anna. I wish to encourage that. Further, the fact that this successful foreign-language publisher is run and operated by a woman is something else I wish to encourage, because it’s something our industry desperately needs more of.
Anna has assured me that Matt will not be involved in any aspect of the Russian-language operation, including production or design.
With all that in mind, I have decided to continue working with Anna for Russian-language translations….
…After that was announced. Rights for Dissonant Harmonies were reverted, and Bev Vincent and I sold it elsewhere. Geoff Cooper wanted some time to consider the reversion clause for Shades, since he is not plugged in to the business and wanted to talk to people and determine the facts before signing it. Then Anna Hayward of Poltergeist press announced that she was shutting down the company.
A few weeks later, Anna contacted several of us and indicated that she would like to keep the Russian language imprint open. It was her company — not Matt’s. She assured us that Matt would not be involved in any way with the production.
And so Jeff Strand, myself, and Mary SanGiovanni released a third statement last month, which can be read here.
This will be my final statement, because quite frankly, I am sick of talking about this.
This statement is my own. I do not speak for Mary SanGiovanni (whose own final statement can be read here). I do not speak for Robert Ford, Bev Vincent, Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Edward Lee, John Boden, Wesley Southard, Tim Meyer, Ronald Kelly or anyone else who has been impacted by this clusterfuck.
This statement will include foul language. It will include my personal opinions.
My personal opinions follow:
1. I support the victims. I have always supported the victims. Anyone who has listened to The Horror Show for the last 6 years knows that I support the victims. Anybody who has been following my career since 1996 knows that I support the victims. I was the first person to report on the then-whispered allegations involving Ed Kramer. I had my then budding-career threatened for doing so. I gave zero fucks then and I give zero fucks now. I will always support the victims. I myself am a victim, and several of the people most important in my life have been victims.
If you do not believe that I support the victims, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
2. I support and believe the victims in this case. I have seen people intimating online that the most vocal victim, Cassie, “made this all up” and others saying that she and the other victims “just want their 15 minutes of fame”. I don’t believe that. But I’ll tell you what, motherfuckers…lets buy into your conspiracy theory for a minute. Let’s say Cassie made it all up for 15 minutes of fame.
Mary SanGiovanni didn’t make it up. I know. I’ve seen the evidence. And Mary’s got an accomplished 20-year career. She doesn’t need fifteen minutes of fame. I believe Mary SanGiovanni. I believe Cassie. And I believe the other women who came forward.
If my belief in these women bothers you, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
(And to the fat fuck who looks like a dropout from Juggalo college and keeps repeating this “15 minutes of fame” bullshit, I’m not going to name you here, because you don’t deserve even a second of fame)….
Halloween is inevitably going to look a bit different this year with a number of highly-anticipated events canceled already, including Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure.
But fear not, the spooky holiday traditions will still be upheld in Costa Mesa thanks to this drive-through haunted house experience. Urban Legends of Southern California will conjure up all SoCal’s most terrifying urban legends, cursed souls and monsters that have haunted residents for generations. Whether it’s the mysterious winds that howl through the streets or the unnatural presences that make your hairs stand up, familiar stories will be brought to life through a series thrills.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll arrive in your vehicle at your allocated timeslot. From there, you’ll be guided through a journey of immersive scenes, dazzling special effects, and live performances. It’s bound to get your pulse racing as you scramble to lock your car door. You won’t have to worry about monsters getting to close though, they’ll be wearing masks and social-distancing at all times…
…See, for example, discussions about where to place The Fifth Season and Gideon the Ninth. Both works have elements generally associated with science fiction, as well as elements traditionally associated with fantasy. Hard classification will fail because the assumption that things are only one thing at a time is wrong. Utterly wrong.
[sarcasm] I am certain that having explained this so clearly, there will never be another argument on such matters. [/sarcasm]
(5) DYSTOPIAN LIFE IMITATES DYSTOPIAN ART. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In 2019, UK high school student Jessica Johnson won the Orwell Youth Prize for writing a short story depicting computer systems that undermine lower-income students by adjusting grades downwards. This spring, in response to COVID-shortened school years, the government of the UK implemented a computer system that “projected” students’ grades forward based on assumptions on how they were doing — and it adjusted the grades of low-income students downwards. Jessica Johnson was one of the students adversely affected by the computer error. “Student who wrote story about biased algorithm has results downgraded” in The Guardian.
She says: “I based [the story] on the educational inequality I already saw. I just exaggerated that inequality and added the algorithm. But I really didn’t think it would come true as quick as it did!”
DAVID GREENE, HOST: George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” turns 75 this week. The book is now considered a classic, but NPR’s Petra Mayer reminds us that it almost wasn’t published at all.
…MAYER: Orwell biographer D.J. Taylor says the 6-year-old nephew of one of Orwell’s friends read it…
D J TAYLOR: …And reported back via his uncle that he loved it because it didn’t contain any difficult words.
MAYER: But “Animal Farm” is a dark, upsetting book. The pigs take over, and bit by bit, they grow more cruel and murderous, masking each new outrage in revolutionary rhetoric. By the end, drinking liquor, snapping whips and gambling with the neighborhood farmers, they’re indistinguishable from the humans they originally overthrew.
Broadly, “Animal Farm” is a fable about tyranny, but specifically, it’s a satire on the Soviet revolution and how it led to Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror. So why tell such a painful story in such a childish manner? D.J. Taylor says that Orwell was influenced by “Gulliver’s Travels” and French fables. But also, at the time he was writing “Animal Farm,” he and his first wife, Eileen, were adopting a child. So not only did he have kids on his mind…
TAYLOR: The era in which he wrote for the 10 years previous, cinema screens had been full of cartoon animals. You know, it was the great age of the Disney cartoon.
MAYER: It was, in fact, turned into a cartoon a few years after he died, but it almost wasn’t a book at all. Orwell was shopping “Animal Farm” to publishers in 1944 when the Allied victory in World War II was far from assured. Again, D.J. Taylor.
TAYLOR: So this is effectively a satire of Stalin, who was then – even America regarded as avuncular Uncle Joe, you know, our great ally in the fight against Nazism.
MAYER: No one wanted to take a potshot at Uncle Joe. It took more than a year and multiple publishers, but “Animal Farm” finally came out in the U.K. in 1945, and it was a massive hit. Its success enabled Orwell to write his masterwork, “1984.” When people use the adjective Orwellian today, they’re almost invariably talking about “1984.”
Brad Listi: That’s interesting. It’s interesting to think of it that way. I feel like when we go to read something, we’re trying to feel something, or hoping to at least. And if somebody can scare the shit out of you, that’s a feeling.
Stephen Graham Jones: It is. Horror can change your behavior. It can make you turn off the lights in your house in a different sequence at eleven o’clock at night. It can make you edge along the wall to get to your bed instead of just walking brazenly across the middle of your bedroom floor. I love that horror puts you on a string like that. It turns into a puppet, a puppet not necessarily of the the writer, but a puppet of your own terror and your own dread. I think that’s beautiful.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 19, 2007 — Highlander: The Source premiered. The final film of the story that spanned both the film and television series, it saw the return of Adrian Paul reprising his character of Duncan MacLeod from Highlander: The Series and the fourth film, Highlander: Endgame. He also produced along with Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer while Brett Leonard directed. The screenplay was Mark Bradley and Steven Kelvin Watkins from the story by the former. Reception was universally negative if not downright hostile with it being the first film in the series not to get a widescreen distribution. SciFi Channel instead aired it. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a richly deserved 19% rating. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 19, 1894 – H.W. Wesso. After covers for Amazing, painted every Astounding cover under W. Clayton (Jan 30 – Mar 33; H. Bates ed.), then more, also Astonishing, Marvel, Strange Tales, Thrilling, five dozen in all; eight hundred interiors. Here is the Jan 30 Amazing. Here is the Jan 38 Astounding. Here is an interior from a 1930s Astounding; I haven’t found the date more exactly, can you? Here is an interior from the Jan 41 Thrilling. Again I recommend Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds. (Died 1948) [JH]
Born August 19, 1921 — Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed, his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1930 — D.G. Compton, 90. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping Eye, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near-future police stories are superb. Nearly everything he wrote of a genre nature is available from the usual digital suspects save Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something That Might Have Been Castor Oil. (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 — Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited, a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No idea it was if authorized but I’m betting it wasn’t as it’s not in print in either print or digital editions currently. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 –Diana Muldaur, 81. Student of Stella Adler. First woman President of the Acad. Television Arts & Sciences. Two Star Trek appearances (original series), later Katherine Pulaski, M.D., in The Next Generation. Voiced another physician in animated Batman (1992-1994). One appearance in The Hulk (1979). Don’t blame CE for omitting her, these things are hard. [JH]
Born August 18, 1945 – Roseanne di Fate. Teacher, mostly of nursery school, another hard thing; last position at Vassar, my grandmother’s college. Andrew Porter did a biography of R & Vincent in Algol 21 (Tim Kirk artwork! Bester interview of Heinlein! Benford on knowledge! Brunner on the art & craft of SF! Lupoff book reviews!). OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born August 19, 1947 – Dwain Kaiser. Active fan in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Used-book shop owner; had several, all called Magic Door; at his death he was operating his fourth, in Pomona (L.A area). Founded a Las Vegas SF Society, thus repaying Arnie Katz, one of whose fanzines (with Lenny Bailes) let DK know there was such a thing as fandom. Published many zines and took part in apas. OGH’s appreciation here; you will want to know more, but this is the best I can do for now. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born August 19, 1950 — Jill St. John, 70. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. (CE)
Born August 19, 1952 — Jonathan Frakes, 68. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen though I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at cons as Captain America. He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of five Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Librarians and The Orville. (CE)
Born August 19, 1961 – Randy Smith, 59. Wrote up the Hugo Awards Ceremony for the ConJosé Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Long helpful in the San Francisco area, currently a director of SFSFC (San Francisco SF Cons, the non-profit that hosted the 51st, 60th, 76th Worldcons; Westercon 53, 64, 66; and like that) and now tired but not exhausted having chaired its liaison committee for the 78th Worldcon we just virtually had. Relations with John Blaker a model of ecumenism (which, should they read this, they will blushingly try to disclaim). [JH]
Born August 19, 1988 – Veronica Roth, 32. Six novels, a dozen shorter stories. Divergent a NY Times Best Seller; it and first sequel sold five million copies before film version of Divergent released. Her gaze upon the world, says John Clute, is cuttingly sharp; she is said to be reading the Bible; “cuttingly sharp” could be said of Isaiah, though he did not give us dystopias; beyond that is beyond my pay grade. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Ziggy shows that wile you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can’t fool the bird.
(11) FOLLOW THE MONEY. In “The Big Idea: Thomas Levenson” at Whatever, the author of Money for Nothing tells about the famous figure who unexpectedly had to learn the hard way that what goes up must come down.
…Then it happened again. Deep into that story, I came across this: a stray mention that [Isaac] Newton had lost £20,000–roughly four million dollars in 21st century money–in a financial scam that happened exactly three centuries ago this year, an event called the South Sea Bubble. Afterwards, he told his niece that he could “calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of the people.”
That’s where Money for Nothing got its start: wondering why the smartest man of his day, someone who could surely do the math to expose the flaw in the South Sea scheme, got it so badly and expensively wrong. The book that’s finally here has traveled from that starting point to a much bigger and (I hope) more fascinating narrative: how the wild ferment in ideas and ambitions in Britain in the late seventeenth century that we now call the scientific revolution created a culture of number and measurement that mattered in the daily life of those who lived through it. From there, and how, as the Bubble played out, that disaster produced something very new: the modern financial capitalism that still plays out in all our lives, with all its wealth and woe….
(12) GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE.
Back in the Seventies there was a San Diego fan who had his van painted as the Enterprise’s shuttlecraft. The guy went by the name of “James T. Kirk” which I guarantee you doesn’t make it any easier for me to search for a photo.
…The Oort cloud is the most distant region in the solar system, residing much farther than the outer planets and the Kuiper Belt. Unlike the Kuiper Belt, which is shaped like a donut, the Oort cloud is a massive and thick spherical shell that envelopes the entire solar system. The inner Oort cloud starts at around 1,000 AU from the Sun (in which 1 AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun), while its outer edge stops at around 100,000 AU.
This region of space is filled with billions, possibly trillions, of rocky and icy objects left over from the formation of the solar system. According to the new paper, the overabundance of material presumed to exist in the outer Oort cloud is the result of our Sun’s early stint as a binary system.
To date, computers trying to simulate the formation of the solar system have failed to reproduce the proportion of objects seen in the outer realms of the Oort cloud and the scattered disc—a specific population of trans-Neptunian objects outside of the Kuiper Belt. As a result, the origin of the outer Oort cloud is “an unsolved mystery,” according to the paper, authored by astronomers Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj from the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian.
The new paper presents an elegant solution to the overpopulation problem: a second sun.
“A stellar companion to the Sun would increase the chance of trapping objects from the birth cluster of the Sun,” wrote Loeb in an email. “The Sun and its companion act as a fishing net that traps objects gravitationally as they pass near one of the two stars and lose energy by kicking it slightly.”
Besides the typical holidays that call for extravagant food spreads and homemade meals, there are tons of national food days that should be on your radar. They don’t all require a celebration but if you’re ever looking for an excuse to have a themed dinner or to drink a certain liquor by the truck load—you should keep some of these days in mind.
A pair of these fall on April 2 — National Burrito Day, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day – which shouldn’t inconvenience exotic burrito connoisseur John Scalzi.
(15) CORDWAINER BIRD OF A DIFFERENT FEATHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Burke’s Law S01E06 Who Killed Alex Debbs?” on YouTube is a 1963 episode of Burke’s Law written by Harlan Ellison. Ellison fans recall that he used the name “Cordwainer Bird” for work he disowned. Well, this episode is about the murder of Alex Debbs, founder of Debonair, a magazine vaguely like Playboy. The joke editor of the magazine is….Cordwainer Bird, and Bird is played by Sammy Davis Jr.! Bird’s appearance begins after the 16-minute mark. Burgess Meredith also appears as a very nearsighted cartoonist.
The image of a penguin might bring to mind an endless march across windswept ice. The reality of penguins is a bit different, says Grant Ballard of Point Blue Conservation Science.
GRANT BALLARD: There’s actually only two species of penguin that really love ice.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Only two species. Many others live in warmer waters.
BALLARD: So an emperor penguin could conceivably be dealing with something like minus 70 degrees or even colder than that, especially with wind chill. But a Galapagos penguin is encountering temperatures that are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
KELLY: So how did penguins evolve with such different lifestyles? A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has some answers.
RAURIE BOWIE: We’ve been able to resolve several long-standing questions about penguin evolution, in particular where penguins originated.
FADEL: Rauri Bowie of UC Berkeley is an author on that study. He says there’s been a long debate about where the first penguins evolved. Was it Antarctica or farther north in New Zealand, as others have suggested?
KELLY: Well, armed with genetic evidence from 18 species of modern-day penguins, his team has an answer.
BOWIE: Which turned out to be along the coast of Australia and New Zealand and nearby islands of the South Pacific.
KELLY: They say that happened around 22 million years ago.
FADEL: From there, the penguins surfed on a circular current at the bottom of the world.
…KELLY: If there is one thing the paper makes clear, it’s that the evolution of penguins is far from black and white.
(17) WASHED UP ON THE SHORES OF THE INTERNET. During my search for neglected Scroll titles today I rediscovered this gem by Will R. from 2015.
Just scroll right down and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this vile hive, aboard this tiny ship.
The Esk were mighty pixeled fen, the Blogger brave and sure, the Filers ticked the box that day, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
Discussion started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the filking of the fearless crew the comments would be lost. The comments would be lost.
The ship’s now lodged for good inside this Highly trafficked file, with Gilligan, the Blogger too, The reverend and the SMOFs, the wombat red, the dissenters and the grinning fan, here in Gilligan’s File.
(Ending verse) So this is the tale of our castaways, they’ll be here for a long, long time. They’ll have to make the best of things, it’s an uphill climb.
The first Esk and the Blogger too will do their very best, to make the others comfortable With their sordid rhetoric.
No threads, no lights, no time travel, not a single luxury. They’ll have to see what they can grow, like NASA’s Mark Watney.
So join us here each day my friends, you’re sure to get a smile, from countless dumbstruck Trufen brave… here in Gilligan’s File!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert tells Late Show viewers, “You Owe Kevin Costner An Apology For ‘The Postman.’” The parting shot is a corker.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Brian Keene, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Danny Sichel, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]
“I Am Phoenix!” are words that will take on new life this December when Jason Aaron and Javier Garron’s next Avengers epic, “Enter The Phoenix,” begins.
To anticipate the return of the cosmic chaos-bringer, your favorite Marvel characters will be reborn as Phoenix hosts this November in astonishing variant covers by some of the industry’s top artists including Salvador Larroca, Kris Anka, and Aaron Kuder.
Captain America, Black Panther, and She-Hulk are no longer the heroes you knew as they bond with the Phoenix Force to spread rebirth—or destruction—throughout the Marvel Universe. In the end, only one will be chosen to wield this terrifying and great power when the Phoenix Force chooses a new host. Find out more when “Enter The Phoenix” begins this December but in the meantime, check out the Phoenix Variant covers listed below and keep your eyes peeled for more coming your way in November!
AVENGERS #38 BLACK PANTHER PHOENIX VARIANT COVER by AARON KUDER with colors by MATTHEW WILSON
CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 CAPTAIN AMERICA PHOENIX VARIANT COVER by SALVADOR LARROCA with colors by FRANK D’ARMATA
DOCTOR DOOM #9 DOCTOR DOOM PHOENIX VARIANT COVER by DECLAN SHALVEY
IMMORTAL HULK #40 SHE-HULK PHOENIX VARIANT COVER by TAURIN CLARKE
FANTASTIC FOUR #26 NAMOR PHOENIX VARIANT COVER by KRIS ANKA
(2) FINDING WOMEN HORROR WRITERS. “Weird Women: The Forgotten Female Horror Writers of the 19th Century And Beyond” on CrimeReads is an excerpt from the introduction to a new anthology by Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton (also called Weird Women, but with a different subtitle) of women who wrote supernatural fiction in the nineteenth century who the editors think are neglected and should be better known today.
…Yet there were women writing early terror tales—in fact, there were a lot of them. During the second half of the nineteenth century, when printing technologies enabled the mass production of cheap newspapers and magazines that needed a steady supply of material, many of the writers supplying that work were women. The middle classes were demanding reading material, and the plethora of magazines, newspapers, and cheap books meant a robust marketplace for authors. Women had limited career opportunities, and writing was probably more appealing than some of the other avenues open to them. Though the publishing world was male-dominated, writing anonymously or using masculine-sounding names (such as “M.E. Braddon”) gave women a chance to break into the market. It was also still a time when writers were freer than today’s writers to write work in a variety of both styles and what we now call genres. A prolific writer might pen adventure stories, romantic tales, domestic stories, mystery or detective fiction, stories of the supernatural—there were really no limits.
Today, a coalition of eleven book industry associations, including Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), launched the official Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership (BIHIP), an alliance with Lighthouse Insurance Group (LIG) Solutions designed to provide members from across the associations with a choice of health insurance options.
As of August 2020, official BIHIP coalition members include American Booksellers Association, American Society for Indexing, Authors Guild, Book Industry Study Group, Graphic Artists Guild, Horror Writers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, Novelists Inc., Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Inc., and Western Writers of America Inc….
So, your book comes out. At that time, what did you know about the Dragon Awards? Had you heard of them, and if so, how and what had you heard? How did you react when you found you were nominated?
Brian Niemeier: Oh, yes. I was well aware of the Dragon Awards from the day they were announced. The industry was in desperate need of a true readers’ choice award open to anyone, and I applauded the Dragons for meeting that need. Learning that Souldancer had been nominated confirmed that my writing efforts were worthwhile. It was like receiving the mandate of greater science fiction fandom.
Kevin Anderson: I’ve been aware of the Dragon Awards since the beginning, and I was thrilled as a fan and professional to know there was one award big enough to truly exemplify the feelings of a large pool of readers and voters. I had been soured on other awards because of politics and in-fighting, but the Dragon Awards really reflective of what readers like. Sarah and I were very thrilled to find out Uncharted had landed on the ballot.
SM Stirling: I’d heard of them and thought they were a good idea; the other major awards had become dominated by small cliques of the like-minded, and we needed a broad-based fan award. I’ve been going to Dragon Con for many years now — it’s my favorite con, full of youthful energy and like sticking your finger into a light socket, but in a -good- way. I was delighted to be nominated; you’re always in good company at the Dragons. Didn’t expect to win, though.
.. Tim Maughan: I talk about surveillance to people who don’t think about surveillance all the time like I do and you do…And you walk in the house and they’ve got an Alexa. And you say, “I don’t like the Alexa because it’s a surveillance machine.” And they say to you, “Well, I haven’t got anything to hide. I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not a problem to me. It doesn’t matter if they’re listening to me. I’ve got nothing to hide.”
And it’s like, actually, the reason I dislike it isn’t the fact that I’m worried they might be listening to me now — it’s monitoring my behavior, and that’s what I’m worried about. I don’t care if it overhears what I say, or an algorithm is listening to it or even someone in an offshore call center. Even if they’re listening to it, that privacy thing isn’t what worries me. The issue that worries me is that they’re modeling my behavior, and they’re making judgments based on that, which might not be the right judgments for everybody. And they’re using that model to make decisions about people who aren’t even their users, too, or they’re using it to make decisions about their users.
It becomes a thing about like, well, okay, what information can we collect from Alexas about a neighborhood or just their Amazon use? What decisions can Amazon make geographically in physical spaces? This neighborhood in South Brooklyn, I used to live in, East Flatbush, it’s gentrified. And I’m sure Amazon can pull up a map of where all the Alexas are, where all their Amazon Prime accounts are and go, “Well, this is a neighborhood which is increasingly likely to be gentrified” — aka, more whites.
Tech workers are moving into the neighborhood. What can we do in that neighborhood for them? And suddenly you’re changing the nature of the neighborhood. …
Since 1948, several different studies have been made of the demographic characteristics of science-fiction readers, most by the editors of the commercial science-fiction magazines seeking to determine the characteristics of their own readerships. The results of these, along with data collected at two recent science-fiction conventions, have been admirably collected and summarized by Charles Waugh, Carol-Lynn Waugh, and Edwin F. Libby of the University of Maine at Augusta, whose work this paper used throughout for purposes of comparison.2 This study, conducted at the 31st World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto, September, 1973, is offered against the historical perspective of these earlier studies. As the Waughs and Libby discovered, there are difficulties in applying the findings of this survey to the entire science-fiction audience, since it is impossible to know exactly in what ways, if any, people at a convention differ from those who did not attend. Certainly science-fiction fans themselves are divided into groups, with some, notably those primarily interested in film and television SF, and members of the cult following of the series Star Trek, under-represented at this convention (see tables 20 and 21 below). However, the numbers of people responding to the questionnaire, and the diversity of their involvement in science fiction beyond attendance at the convention, suggests that the picture of fans is relativelyreliable forreadersof science fiction as a whole and, if qualified for the greater affluence of those who could afford to travel to Toronto, is at least as reliable as such commonly accepted-with-qualifications measurements as the Gallup polls….
… Nitpickers by profession, we ran into a problem right away. The instructions for Stet! suggest that you “play with three or more players” (is that redundant?), and we had been unable, during the pandemic, to scare up a third nerd. The game of Stet! comprises two packs of cards with sentences on them, fifty of them Grammar cards with indisputable errors (dangling modifiers, stinking apostrophes, and homonyms, like horde/hoard and reign/rein) and fifty of them Style cards, on which the sentences are correct but pedestrian, and the object is to improve the sentence without rewriting it. There are trick cards with no mistakes on them. You might suspect that there is something wrong with (spoiler alert) “Jackson Pollock” or “asafetida” or “farmers market,” but these are red herrings. If you believe that the sentence is perfect just as it is, you shout “Stet!,” the proofreading term for “leave it alone” (from the Latin for “let it stand”), which is used by copy editors to protect an author’s prose and by authors to protect their prose from copy editors.
In the pandemic, board games are back. And as NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports, many people are turning to a classic one from Germany.
(SOUNDBITE OF DICE ROLLING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Eight.
ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Eight again. More brick.
Family game night – we’ve done this a lot this year, thanks to the pandemic. And my family has dusted off Monopoly, Scrabble, but we usually settle on “Settlers Of Catan.”
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Two bricks for anything.
SCHMITZ: It’s a game of trade and development. Players compete for resources on an island and trade with each other in order to build settlements, cities and roads. The most successful developer wins.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Why in the world would I need brick?
SCHMITZ: Entrepreneurs love the game. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a fan, as is LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who plays the game in job interviews as a way to size up an applicant. In its 25th year, “Catan” has sold more than 32 million units. It’s one of the bestselling board games of all time.
…SCHMITZ: [Klaus] Teuber spoke with me over an old computer, and his voice sounded distant, so we asked one of our colleagues to read for him. He’s 68 now, and he’s just released his autobiography “My Way To Catan” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the game. Teuber was a dental technician, bored out of his mind by his job when he began creating games in his basement in the 1980s.
…SCHMITZ: And as families shelter in place, sales of “Catan” continue to climb. As the pandemic sent the global economy into a downward spiral, “Catan’s” sales skyrocketed by 144% for the first five months of this year. Teuber, whose two sons work for his company Catan Inc., says he still plays the game with his family, but he admits he’s not very good at it and that he rarely wins. He says what he enjoys most is playing it and being there with his family, something millions of other families are enjoying, too.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 4, 1992 — In the United Kingdom, The Lost World premiered. This is the third film made off the Doyle novel, the first being made in 1925. Another film would be made between these two in 1960, and four radio dramas would be as well. The 1944 one would have John Dickson Carr narrating and playing all parts, and the 1966 one would have Basil Rathbone as Professor Challenger. This film was directed by Timothy Bond and produced by Harry Alan Towers from a screenplay by Marion Fairfax. The primary cast was John Rhys-Davies, Eric McCormack, David Warner and Tamara Gorski whole character replaced that of Lord Roxton. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a twelve percent rating.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 4, 1792 – Percy Shelley. This great poet wrote in our sphere, e.g. Adonais, Prometheus Unbound, The Triumph of Life, the novel St. Irvyne. What about “Ozymandias”? David Bratman, what’s this I hear about “The Marriage of King Elessar and Arwen Undómiel” appearing over his name in a Sep 82 issue of The New Tolkien Review? I can’t get at it or I’d look instead of asking you. (Died 1822) [JH]
Born August 4, 1869 – Evelyn Sharp. For us a score of short stories, mostly collected in All the Way to Fairyland and The Other Side of the Sun; one novel (a dozen more of those). At that time there were both suffragettes and suffragists; she was vital. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born August 4, 1924 – Gumarcindo Rocha Dorea, 96. Brazilian writer, editor, publisher. His GRD Edições alternated translations with work by local writers, beginning in 1958 with Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet and in 1960 Eles herdarão a Terra (Portuguese, “They shall inherit the Earth”) by Dinah Silveira de Queiroz. Edited Antologia brasileira de ficção cientifica (1961), first local anthology of only Brazilian authors. His enterprise continued despite Brazilian politics and what Roberto de Sousa Causo calls a terminal inability to make money. [JH]
Born August 4, 1933 – Thé Tjong-Khing, 87. There are nine and sixty ways of transliterating Chinese these days, and every single one of them is right. He’s an Indonesian Chinese from Java living in the Netherlands. Illustrator. Likes Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Stan Drake’s Heart of Juliet Jones, Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates. He’s worked in that style, but see here, here, here – a thumbnailsworth of a long productive career. Three Golden Brush prizes, Woutertje Pieterse prize, Max Velthuijs prize. Website here (in Dutch). [JH]
Born August 4, 1937 — David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is.) (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born August 4, 1941 — Martin Jarvis, 79. He makes three appearances on Doctor Who over twenty years. Hilio, captain of Menoptra, in “The Web Planet”, a First Doctor story. He later is the scientist Dr. Butler in “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”, a Third Doctor story, and as the governor of the planet Varos in “Vengeance on Varos”, a Sixth Doctor story. He also voiced Alfred Pennyworth in the animated Batman: Assault on Arkham Adylum which is the real Suicide Squad film. (CE)
Born August 4, 1950 — Steve Senn, 70. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus. (CE)
Born August 4 – Taras Wolansky. Persevering contributor to Aboriginal, Alexiad, FOSFAX, The MT Void, NY Review of SF, SF Chronicle, Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review, SF Review. Good at asking questions, like “If he had been, would he have done anything differently?” Never mind that I’d leave off the last two letters. We’ve met in person, which is more than I can say for some people I know. [JH]
Born August 4, 1961 — Lauren Tom, 59. Voice actress for our purposes. She shows up on Superman: The Animated Series voicing Angela Chen. From there on, she was Dana Tan in Batman Beyond and several minor roles on Pinky and the Brain. Futurama is her biggest series to date where she voices Amy and Inez Wong. (CE)
Born August 4, 1969 — Fenella Woolgar, 51. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. (CE)
Born August 4, 1961 – Andreas Findig. It’s possible to be a Perry Rhodan author and an absurdist; he was. Six PR novels; two short stories and a novella Gödel geht tr. as “Gödel’s Exit” which may be impossible. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born August 4, 1981 — Meghan, the former Duchess of Sussex, 39. Yes, she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects” as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City, a series you likely never heard of. (CE)
(14) OH MY GOD, YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES. In the new episode of Two Chairs Talking, “Translations, transforms and traumas”, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss ConNZealand and the 2020 Hugo Awards, then take the Hugo Time Machine back to the very interesting year of 1963, when The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick won Best Novel, and “The Dragon Masters” by Jack Vance won Best Short Fiction.
…Elfman’s Pee-wee score, with its goofy oompah riffs, Looney Tunes references, and frenetic pacing, was a wild and whimsical ride; created with Oingo Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek, it became one of the most instantly recognizable scores in ‘80s cinema. Elfman acknowledges that he quickly became the movie and TV industry’s go-to “quirky comedy guy” — for instance, Matt Groening later enlisted him to compose the Simpsons theme song. It was a label that was tough for Elfman to shed when he was hired by skeptical producers to compose an uncharacteristically darker-sounding score for Burton’s Batman, four years after Pee-wee. But it turns out the most skeptical person in Hollywood was Elfman himself.
Unless you’re a historian or map buff, interpreting a map of the Roman Empire can be a daunting exercise. Place names are unfamiliar and roads meander across the landscape making it difficult to see the connections between specific cities and towns.
Today’s visualization, by Sasha Trubetskoy, has mashed-up two enduring obsessions – transit maps and Ancient Rome – to help us understand the connection between Rome and its sprawling empire.
At the height of the Roman Empire, there were approximately 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of roads, stretching from Northern England to Egypt and beyond. This impressive network is what allowed Rome to exercise control and communicate effectively over such a large territory….
A $250,000 donation from Science Applications International Corporation has pushed the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s “Save Space Camp” campaign over its initial goal just one week after the effort launched.
The campaign began July 28 with the hope of raising a minimum of $1.5 million to sustain museum operations and to be able to reopen Space Camp in April 2021.
…The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the Rocket Center, which closed March 13, 2020, in keeping with state health orders intended to combat the surge in coronavirus cases. The museum reopened in late May, but with far fewer than normal visitors. Space Camp did not reopen until June 28, and then with only 20 percent of its usual attendance. With limited admission from international students and school groups this fall and winter, Space Camp will again close for weeklong camp programs in September.
The Space & Rocket Center is continuing to ask for support for the campaign. For more information and to make a donation, visit savespacecamp.com.
(21) EVERYBODY FIGHTS, NOBODY QUIPS! [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Starship Troopers (ft. Casper Van Dien)” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the 1997 film “not at all based in the classic sci-fi novel” featuring soldiers whose bodies pulse “with the repulsive green goo they use to make Monster Energy” drinks.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) CAN VIRTUAL CONS BE MADE BETTER? In “What Lessons Can Future Conventions Learn From Virtual San Diego Comic-Con?”, Io9 staffers Beth Elderkin, Jill Pantozzi, Cheryl Eddy, James Whitbrook, Charles Pulliam-Moore, and Germain Lussier assess what didn’t work about SDCC 2020, “from a lack of support for the artists and vendors who would usually be on the show floor, to the lack of fan involvement, to how to create a sense of energy that the convention’s swath of ‘family Zoom call’ style pre-recorded panels were lacking.”
(2) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. HBO showed its Lovecraft Country trailer to San Diego Comic-Con’s @Home audience.
People might not be able to flock to San Diego Comic Con this year in person, but the virtual convention, Comic-Con@Home, has been running all weekend, with countless panels, sneak peeks, and teasers and trailers for upcoming TV shows—but not many films, because let’s be honest: it’s not looking so good for major theatrical film releases in the fall. On Thursday alone, we got the full trailer for Bill and Ted Face the Music, a teaser for the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost horror comedy Truth Seekers, and the first trailer for S2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials. Rather than continue to cover each individually, we decided to compile the remaining trailers of interest into a single roundup post.
(4) A CAUTIONARY TALE. Linda D. Addison offers her experience with Covid-19 as a warning in this public Facebook post.
I’m sharing what my life has been like since June 8 because I’ve seen too many people not taking Covid-19 serious. This virus is real. If sharing this wakes even one person up, it’s worth it.
I’ve been as safe as possible, going to the supermarket every two weeks for supplies, wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, however, 7 weeks ago I got very sick for 9 days with symptoms of mild coronavirus, talked to my doctor and stayed in self isolation for more than 2 weeks. I was fortunate that my temp never went high enough or my breathing bad enough that I had to go to the hospital. Since then, I’ve lived with continued cough, fatigue, shortness of breath (using inhaler from doctor helps).
This is happening to many people in recovery (look up Covid Long Haulers). So I’m sleeping a lot, healing will come, but this is so new there’s not much the medical field can do at this point. I’m ok. My friend, Jill, lives around the corner and has been helping by dropping off stuff.
PLEASE, wear a mask (if not for yourself, for anyone who crosses your path)!
…The wait for more Avatar has become something of a running joke, so much so that a Twitter thread I started when it was already a running jokeis now well into its sixth year. The first sequel was originally announced almost a decade ago, in October 2010, with a projected release date of December 2014. Since then, its opening date has, at regular intervals, been moved back one year at a time — except once, in 2017, when it moved back two years. But the film has also morphed from a two-sequel series into a four-sequel series, with a lingering sense that the mountain was being made bigger as a way of justifying the length of the climb.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 27, 1997 — Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it would run for its first five seasons. The show which was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. It’s based rather loosely off the Stargate film. The initial core cast was Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge. It would run for a decade with the last five years being on Sci Fi. Two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis which would run five seasons, and Stargate Universe which would last two seasons. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a stellar 91% rating. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc. Orator, poet,correspondent,sailor, satirist, soldier, activist. Cautionary Tales for Children includes “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably”; 1907 readers would quickly recognize the parody. A hundred fifty books; we can claim half a dozen novels (illustrated by G.K.Chesterton!), as many shorter stories. (Died 1953) [JH]
Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.) (CE)
Born July 27, 1891 – Ruth Plumly Thompson. Following Frank Baum’s death, she wrote two dozen Oz books. Three other novels, six dozen shorter stories, ten dozen poems. Also wrote for The Smart Set, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Jack and Jill. Many regard her as a worthy successor. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born July 27, 1908 – W.I. Van der Poel, Jr. Art director for Galaxy 1950-1960. A score of covers – but not, it seems, appearing there. He is however on this famous 1952 Emshwiller cover – see the key here. Look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. (Died 1987) [JH]
Born July 27, 1927 – Mel Hunter. A hundred book and magazine covers, eight dozen interiors. Here is the May 53 Galaxy. Here is The End of Eternity. Here is Double Star – the Great Lorenzo at right. Here is the Jun 58 If. Here is the Mar 61 F & SF. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best-known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost-beyond-counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 81. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format. (CE)
Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 72. She’s a New Zealand born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
Born July 27, 1949 – Cora Lee Healy, 71. Fanartist, has done some pro work. Here is a cover for Algol. Here is “Starward”. Here is another astronomical. She has been in Energumen and Granfalloon; she did the Ace of Cups in the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see this review by a Tarot collector; although the reviewer says the Deck is out of print; copies can still be obtained; if all else fails, ask me, John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057). [JH]
Born July 27, 1950 — Simon Jones, 70. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil and 12 Monkeys as well. (CE)
Born July 27, 1952 – Bud Webster. Our Gracious Host has done better than I could. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born July 27, 1958 – Kate Elliott, 62. Two dozen novels (some under another name), a dozen shorter stories; interviewed in Apex, Lightspeed, Locus, Mindsparks. “The Sword of Heaven [in two parts, An Earthly Crown and His Conquering Sword] I call my Mozart novel because of the speed it flowed out of me…. my Beethoven novel The Law of Becoming was like hacking through the jungle into unknown country…. Being a parent has made me a better writer.” Unconquerable Sun just released this month. Mills College woman. [JH]
Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 52. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which is up for a Hugo next week. Her work Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. (CE)
Born July 27, 1979 – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, 41. Three dozen short stories; poems; essays, reviews, interviews, in Analog, Clarkesworld, Foundation, NY Review of SF, Strange Horizons. Anthology (with Robert Silverberg), When the Blue Shift Comes. Traveler of Worlds, conversations with Silverberg. Good moderator of the Asimov centenary panel at Loscon 46.
Born July 27, 1984 – Hao Jingfang, Ph.D., 36. Vagabonds just appeared in English and Spanish this year. A score of shorter stories; Best-Novelette Hugo for “Folding Beijing”, first won by a Chinese woman. Translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish. Interviewed in Lightspeed, Monde chinois (in French). [JH]
“We wanted to tap into the zany energy of the 1940s stuff,” added supervising producer Alex Kirwan. “That was our favorite era of the shorts and we just wanted more of that. We didn’t want to set out to reinvent it and we didn’t want to set out to put new sensibilities on it … What we love about the shorts is that they’re wonderful slapstick humor and we just wanted to get back to [that] and be really true to the way they paired the characters and the way they built comedy dynamics.”
(10) WATCH ALEX ROSS AT WORK. Over the last two months, Marvel has revealed 28 “Timeless” variant covers created by Alex Ross, which will begin to hit local comic shops in September. See Ross craft his iconic painted covers, and see how his timeless imagery was made into a magnificent mural in Marvel’s NYC offices in this video.
Daredevil actor Peter Shinkoda says his storyline was cut after a Marvel executive said “nobody cares about” Asian characters.
Shinkoda played Nobu in the Marvel Netflix series, which was cancelled at the end of 2018.
But he says his character’s “back story was dropped” on orders from former Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb.
“I’m kind of reluctant to say this, but… I’m going to take this moment,” Shinkoda said during a virtual talk.
“Jeph Loeb told the writers’ room not to write for Nobu and Gao – and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and show runners – that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people,” he alleged.
The Canadian actor, who was taking part in a #SaveDaredevil roundtable discussion with actors from the show, said a storyline about Nobu’s journey to America ended up being dropped.
A small chunk of Mars will be heading home when the US space agency launches its latest rover mission on Thursday.
Nasa’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and which, until now, has been lodged in the collection of London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).
The rock’s known properties will act as a calibration target to benchmark the workings of a rover instrument.
It will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot might make.
This will be particularly important if Perseverance stumbles across something that hints at the presence of past life on the planet – one of the mission’s great quests.
“This little rock’s got quite a life story,” explained Prof Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team.
“It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don’t know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it’s going back to Mars,” she told BBC News.
It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to want to avoid the spotlight, right? But showing up dressed as Darth Vader to collect your check is a new one. It happened in a galaxy not so far away, in May Pen, Jamaica, when a man claimed his $95 million prize in a dark lord of the Sith costume.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Saruman is spinning Gandalf around, he “forces Gandalf to learn breakdancing against his will.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
This October, Marvel’s proud history of horror themed comics, from Werewolf by Night to Tomb of Dracula, will be honored in a series of Horror Variant covers. Prepare to see your favorite Marvel characters like you’ve never seen them before as the X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and more live out nightmarish fantasies just in time for Halloween.
Paying homage to the classic Marvel horror comics of yesterday, the industry’s top artists including Russell Dauterman, Mike Del Mundo, and Leinil Francis Yu, have reimagined Marvel’s heroes in delightfully creepy visions. See what happens when you cross Iron Man with the swamp monster, Man-Thing, or check out Black Widow staking out her prey as a creature of the night—all this and more when these chilling covers hit comic stores this October!
See below for a full list of October’s Horror Variant covers.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 50 SPIDER-MAN VAMPIRE HUNTER HORROR VARIANT COVER by AARON KUDER with colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
AVENGERS 37 WHERE AVENGERS DWELL HORROR VARIANT COVER by JAVIER RODRÍGUEZ
BLACK WIDOW 2 TOMB OF BLACK WIDOW HORROR VARIANT COVER by JOSHUA “SWAY” SWABY