[From a press
release.] When Marvels Snapshots begins in March, fans
will get to see Marvel’s greatest characters from the Golden Age to today, in
new legendary tales told through the eyes of ordinary people! As curator of
this landmark series, Kurt Busiek has handpicked the creative teams for each
standalone, double-sized issue and he’s put together an amazing assemblage of
talent to tackle April’s issues focusing on Captain America and the X-Men.
First up, Eisner
nominated writer Mark Russell will revisit Jack Kirby’s classic Madbomb
storyline from his 1970s run on Captain America.
“Some people, when
they call, you gotta pick up the phone. And Kurt Busiek is one of those
people,” says Russell. “I was pretty instantly sold on the project once he
started describing it to me— stories about the human cost of these famous
conflicts in the Marvel Universe. I truly enjoyed working on this with him.”
Known for his work on
books like Second Coming and Wonder Twins, Russell says Marvels Snapshot:
Captain America will focus on “the Madbomb’s impact in the South Bronx, a
community which had already been effectively abandoned by the rest of the
nation, that community’s struggle for survival, and of the search for heroes of
its own.” He will be joined by acclaimed artist Ramón Pérez (All-New Hawkey).
Next, in X-Men: Marvels
Snapshot, readers will see the rise of super heroes from the eyes of a
young orphan named Scott Summers, the boy who would grow up to be Cyclops. The
future X-Men leader couldn’t be in safer hands. Jay Edition, the co-host of the
popular X-Men podcast, Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, makes his Marvel
Comics debut with a tale about one of his favorite characters.
“This is a story
that’s pretty personal to me—because I’m me, and it’s a Cyclops story; but even
more because it’s about the ways that superheroes and the stories around them
can become lifelines. If I’m going to be really sappy about it (which I
absolutely am), I get to give one of my favorite heroes the same kind of
touchstone he’s been to me over the years,” says Edidin. “I’d say it’s a dream
come true, but given that I’m the kind of uptight overachiever who
overidentifies with Scott Summers in the first place, maybe also a bit of an
anxiety dream come true. That said, it’s been a blast to get to sit down and
play in a sandbox I’ve spent years cataloguing and analyzing and
Teaming up with Edidin
will be artist Tom Reilly, a rising star artist known for his recent work on
[From a press
release.] This April, Marvel Zombies are back in a big way when
the corpse of Galactus’ arrives on Earth in Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Leonard
Kirk’s Marvel Zombies: Resurrection. In anticipation for the coming of
this interstellar terror, your favorite heroes have been zombified in a
collection of hauntingly beautiful variant covers! Feast your decaying eyes on
them below and look for these horrors on the cover of our hottest titles this
AVENGERS 33 MARVEL
ZOMBIES VARIANT by RYAN BENJAMIN with colors by DAVID CURIEL
CAPTAIN AMERICA 21
MARVEL ZOMBIES VARIANT by PATCH ZIRCHER with
colors by EDGAR DELGADO
CABLE 2 MARVEL ZOMBIES
VARIANT by DAVID YARDIN with colors by MORRY HOLLOWELL
DAREDEVIL 20 MARVEL
ZOMBIES VARIANT by WILL SLINEY with colors by DAVID CURIEL
DOCTOR DOOM 7 MARVEL
ZOMBIES VARIANT by MIGUEL MERCADO
DR. STRANGE 5 MARVEL
ZOMBIES VARIANT by LUKE ROSS with colors by FRANK D’ARMATA
NEW WARRIORS 1 MARVEL
ZOMBIES VARIANT by DECLAN SHALVEY
(1) PROZINE REJOINS THE LIVING Compelling Science
Fiction has been saved from the scrapheap of history. Editor Joe Stech explains
how it happened:
We’re back in business and will be open to submissions once again on Monday, January 13th!
After I announced in September that Compelling Science Fiction would be shutting down for good, Nick Wells of Flame Tree reached out to me and suggested we work together to keep the magazine publishing our unique brand of science fiction stories. Over the last month we came to an agreement that will allow Compelling Science Fiction to continue publishing — you may recall that my issue was one of time, and Flame Tree will take over many of the most time-consuming aspects of the magazine. My role will transition to that of editor-in-chief, and Nick will take over the publishing role. I’m very excited to work with Nick and Flame Tree, and continue to support this genre of fiction that I love.
We’ll be transitioning to a quarterly schedule, and will also be accepting submissions much more often. Authors, we need your wonderful stories, so please send them our way! And readers, thanks for entrusting us with your time. I will always treat it with respect, and do my best to provide the types of stories you come here for.
(2) MORE SFF ON JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb says “The third episode of the ‘Greatest of All Time’ Jeopardy! tourney had a number of SFF-related questions.”
Here was the $800 answer in “Prequels and Sequels”:
Edited by the author’s son Christopher & published in 1977, it’s a history of Middle-Earth before “Lord of the Rings”.
Ken Jennings readily questioned, “What is Silmarillion?”
And the $400 answer:
Set for release in 2020 is Suzanne Collins’ “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, a prequel to this series.
James Holzhauer asked, “What is The Hunger Games?”
In the “TV Green Thumb” category:
$1200: On “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this wife of Commander Waterford has some pivotal scenes in her greenhouse.
Two wrong guesses, but nobody got, “Who is Serena?”
$1600: Played by Carolyn Jones in the ’60s, she loved to cut the heads off her roses, & rejoiced when her thorns came in sharp.
Crickets. “Who is Morticia Addams?”
And the $2000 featured a picture of Jean-Luc Picard and Boothby the groundskeeper: Jean-Luc Picard once helped Boothby, played by this one-time TV Martian, to replant some flowers at Star Fleet Academy.
Ken Jennings got it: “Who is Ray Walston?”
Goldfarb concludes, “The game in the second half (each day’s game is two regular games put together) had questions about Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et Le Bête’ and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, but I’m going to call those only genre-adjacent and not quote them.”
Then, Andrew Porter saw this go down —
Category: Book Marks
Answer: In this novel, Mark Watney says, “I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did.”
…Video game remakes work because, in many ways, they are the antithesis of film remakes. They honor the original vision by elevating it to what it was hoping to be but unable to achieve due to the limits of technology. The best remakes (in any medium) maintain the heart and soul of their source material while simultaneously modernizing them. In that regard, games have outshone film, delivering on the promise of the original while also updating them in a way that appeals to the nostalgia of longtime fans and the discerning eye of newcomers.
(4) STREAMING SEVENTIES SFF. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Criterion Channel, a streaming service that focuses
on art films and is based on the home video distributor The Criterion
Collection, will be featuring a wide range of science fiction films from the
1970s for most of January 2020. The service’s sci-fi offerings
for the month are:
No Blade of Grass (Cornel Wilde, 1970)
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) [based on the
Anthony Burgess novel of the same name]
The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971) [based on Richard
Matheson’s novel I Am Legend]
THX 1138 (George Lucas, 1971)
Z.P.G. (Michael Campus, 1972)**
Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973) Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) [based on Harry Harrison’s Make
Room, Make Room!]
Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974)
The Terminal Man (Mike Hodges, 1974)
Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975),
A Boy and His Dog (L. Q. Jones, 1975) [based on the Harlan
Ellison story of the same name]
Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975)
Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975)
The Ultimate Warrior (Robert Clouse, 1975)
Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1976)
Demon Seed (Donald Cammell, 1977)
Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)
Other genre-related SF films from the decade may already
be available on the service (Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris are
definitely there) .
(6) CROWDFUNDING WISDOM. Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights from “Crowdfunding and Kickstartering with M.C.A. Hogarth.” Thread starts here.
(7) GETTING THE ROCKETS READY. CoNZealand has posted a “Hugo Awards
Video” hosted by Tammy Coxen, this year’s awards administrator.
If you’d like to know more about the Hugo Awards, check out this new video from the CoNZealand team, talking about the history of the awards and why they’re so important.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 11, 1997 — in Japan, Barb Wire got released. Starring Pamela Anderson and a very brief outfit, it was based on a Dark Horse comic (written by John Arcudi and illustrated by a rotating group of artists), the film was made on a shoehorn budget (about the size of her outfit) of nine million but was still a box office bomb bringing in only four million. Excepting Ebert, most critics didn’t like it and the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are especially harsh, giving it just a 14% rating. And there’s a lot of them that don’t like it — 47, 276 so far!
January 11, 2013 — Survival Code (Borealis was its original name and it was called that in Canada), and it starred Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher and Michelle Harrison. It was directed by David Frazee. It won three Canadian Screen Awards at the Second Canadian Screen Awards for Best Dramatic Miniseries or Television Movie, Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries, and Best Original Score for a Television Program. The film was created to be a series pilot for Space, but the series never happened for reasons we can’t find but Space, its distributor, aired it instead as a television film. Yes it scored well at the Canadian Screen Awards, but the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less forgiving as it get just 33% there.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 11, 1906 — John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
Born January 11, 1923 — Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name, and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel was based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
Born January 11, 1923 — Wright King. He’s had roles in the SFF realm starting with Captain Video and His Video Rangers and including Johnny Jupiter, Twilight Zone, Out There, The Invaders, Planet Of The Apes , Invasion of the Bee Girls, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Logan’s Run. (Died 2018.)
Born January 11, 1930 — Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time Machine, Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
Born January 11, 1937 — Felix Silla, 83. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi.
Born January 11, 1961 — Jasper Fforde, 59. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted wordplay as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them.
Born January 11, 1963 — Jason Connery, 57. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the “Vengeance on Varos”story on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.
Born January 11, 1971 — Tom Ward, 49. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”. And he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles.
Born January 11, 1972 — Amanda Peet, 48. Not a long SFF précis but an interesting one none-the-less. She first shows up voicing Maria Montez in Battle for Terra. She was then Harlee in Martian Child which is at genre adjacent. She was ASAC Dakota Whitney in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Say did you know that Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey was paid for in part by NASA? Way cool. She voiced Ranger in it.
(10) BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY REMEMBERED. The London Review of Books has
linked to “Operation
Backfire” by Francis Spufford first published in 1999. This history
of the British space program mentions Arthur C. Clarke twice: first in
describing the British Interplanetary Society in 1944 and second a theological
debate Clarke had with Lewis and Tolkien in 1958.
In November 1944 a group of men met in a London pub. In this fifth year of the war, the capital was dingy, dog-eared, clapped-out, frankly grimy. Though Britain had not shaken off its usual inefficiencies at mass production, it had converted its economy to the needs of the war more completely than any other combatant nation. For five years there had been no new prams, trams, lawnmowers, streetlamps, paint or wallpaper, and it showed. All over the city things leaked, flapped, wobbled and smelt of cabbage. It was the metropole that Orwell would project forward in time as the London of 1984.
These drinkers were not the kind of people to let an unpromising present determine the shape of things to come. They were the inner circle of the British Interplanetary Society, and in 1938 they had published a plan for reaching the Moon using two modules, one to orbit, one to descend to the lunar surface. The cost of the rocket – as much as a million pounds – was far more than they could raise, but they did have enough money to make a couple of instruments for it. ‘We were in the position of someone who could not afford a car, but had enough for the speedometer and the rear-view mirror,’ Arthur C. Clarke would remember. They constructed a ‘coelostat’, a device to stabilise the image of a spinning star-field. It was made from four mirrors and the motor of Clarke’s gramophone; it worked, and was proudly displayed in the Science Museum.
(11) “FUN” IS OVER. For awhile Jon Del Arroz branded his videos
Diversity in Comics – but no more! “Why I’m Changing the
Channel Name Back to Jon Del Arroz”. Here’s the transcript of his explanation. (And
remember, YouTube talking head videos really do tend to be one endless run-on
…But for here I’ve used the name Diversity in Comics over the last I guess two three months helped grow the channel quite a bit so thank you everybody came by because you saw the name and thought it was funny and all that but there comes a time where jokes have to end and we had a funny joke for a bit there and it was great and at this point I’m seeing that there’s a couple things that are an issue with this which is one that yeah it is needlessly antagonizing some people who get really worked up about this and and while I I do enjoy triggering people who get triggered for no reason and all that there there comes a time where joke a stand and it’s it’s just not funny and it’s not funny even watching somebody lose their minds over something like this anymore so definitely don’t want that happening anymore don’t want to insult anybody who might be a comic book reader who might check out the books and things like that I definitely want that to be something uh you know to where we can have are buying comic books and and we’re coming back and changing it back to just my name and the reason we’ll go with my name instead of something fancy….
… As a Canadian writer who initially marked his territory in a future Japan, what attracted him to setting his post-Jackpot world in London? He doesn’t see it as so much of a jump. “On my first three or four visits to Japan I immediately thought that Tokyo had more in common with London than with any other city,” he says. “These disproportionately large sites of former empires, huge concentrated populations, recent wartime trauma, lots of fatalities. They’re capitals of island nations. But also cultural things: the fanatical attention paid to specific individual classes of objects. In London you could probably find a speciality shop for almost anything. And you certainly could in Tokyo. All these parallels. I’m curious that I’ve almost never seen it mentioned anywhere.”
The parents of a teenager who suffered a seizure while chatting online have thanked his friend who called emergency services from 5,000 miles away.
Aidan Jackson, 17, was talking to an American gamer from his bedroom in Widnes on 2 January when he had a fit.
His friend, 20-year-old Dia Lathora, from Texas, alerted police in the UK.
The first Aidan’s parents knew of the emergency was when police and an ambulance appeared at their front door, the Liverpool Echo reported.
Caroline and Steve Jackson then rushed upstairs to find their son “extremely disorientated”.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. They intend to live happily ever
Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film’s most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that’s only the beginning.
Watching David’s face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen. The set-up is great, but the magical moment when Loechler’s illustrated self tosses the engagement ring to his real-life self? That’s when we all toss up our hands and say, “OKAY, man. You win at proposing. Everyone else must bow before you now.”
The whole proposal—the re-illustrations, the heart jokes (David is a cardiologist), and the bride-to-be’s surprise when she finds surrounded by her friends and family—it’s all perfection. Just watch:
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Due to recent events in RWA, many in the romance community have lost faith in RWA’s ability to administer the 2020 RITA contest fairly, causing numerous judges and entrants to cancel their participation. The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognizing excellence in the genre. For this reason, the Board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances.
While we understand this will be disappointing news for some, we also understand that other members will support taking this step. Recent RWA Boards have worked hard to make changes to the current contest, striving to make it more diverse and inclusive, relieve judging burdens, and bring in outside voices, but those changes had to be voted on and implemented in a narrow window of time each year.
By not holding a contest in 2020, we will be able to move away from making piecemeal changes. Instead, we will have the opportunity to take a proper amount of time to build an awards program and process – whether it’s a revamped RITA contest or something entirely new – that celebrates and elevates the best in our genre. We plan on engaging a consultant who specializes in awards programs and a DEI consultant, as well as soliciting member input.
Members who entered the 2020 contest will be refunded their full entry fee by January 22, 2020. We extend our deep appreciation to the judges who volunteered their time this year.
When leading a discussion, don’t be afraid to go with the flow. Sometimes the oddest questions may be the most fruitful, or those questions may lead to additions for the future, sometimes even inspiring entirely new classes. The question of how to maintain a fruitful writing practice in the face of increasingly grey times, for example, led to a class on hopepunk that has become one of my favorites to teach and one which was even referenced in a Wall Street Journal article on the subgenre.
(3) MUTATIS MUTANDI. A trailer for The New Mutants has
dropped. Film comes to theaters April 3.
20th Century Fox in association with Marvel Entertainment presents “The New Mutants,” an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.
(4) PICARD TEASER. The show arrives January 23. Will this
be the bait that finally gets me to pay for CBS All-Access?
Join us when we celebrate “The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World” with our very special panel of guest Mike Avila – author and Emmy award-winning TV producer, Jason O’Mara – Star, “Wyatt Price”, Isa Dick Hackett – Executive Producer, David Scarpa – Co-Showrunner, Drew Boughton – Production Designer.
Discover the alt worlds of The Man in the High Castle with the cast and crew in this exclusive collection of art. Packed with concept art, final designs, and artist commentary plus previously unseen storyboards.
The Man in the High Castle is the hit Amazon series, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel, that offers a glimpse into a chilling alternate timeline in which Hitler was victorious in World War II. In a dystopian America dominated by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Juliana Crain discovers a mysterious film that may hold the key to toppling the totalitarian regimes.
This is a panel discussion and signing and will be wristbanded.
A wristband will be issued on a first come, first serve basis to customers who purchase “The Man in The High Castle: Creating The Alt World ” from Barnes & Noble in The Grove beginning January 8th • Limit 1 wristband per book • Check Back for more Details as they Become Available
For more information contact Barnes & Noble at The Grove — 189 The Grove Dr, Ste K 30, Los Angeles, California 90036
(6) FREELANCING IN CALIFORNIA. Publishers Lunch for January 2 includes the following: “Legal: California Freelance Law and
The Authors Guild has a look at California’s new law AB-5 that requires treating many freelance workers as employees. On the question of whether the law affects book authors, “We were assured by those working on the bill that trade book authors are not covered, and we do not see a basis for disagreeing since the bill clearly states that AB-5 applies only to ‘persons providing labor or services’ and authors provide neither ‘labor’ nor ‘services’ under standard book contracts—they instead grant copyright licenses or assignments. Additionally, royalties—even in the form of advance payments—are not considered wages. It is difficult to imagine how a court would conclude that a typical book contract is for labor or services.”
Some book contracts, though, such as work-made-for-hire agreements and “contracts where the author has ongoing obligations and the publisher has greater editing ability or control over the content” could be subject to the new law, though. And the AG recommends that, “Publishers and authors who want to be certain to retain a freelancer relationship should be careful to make sure the contracts are written as simple license grants and not as services agreements.”
Venkatraghavan delivers an assortment of stories by talented Indian writers. Three elements unite the stories: all are written by women, all are speculative fiction, and all are worth reading. A further element common to many (but not all) is an undercurrent of incandescent fury over the current condition of the world. Taken as a whole, the collection is not quite as upbeat as Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, but the craft of the writers is undeniable.
Please bring light refreshments to share, and note that this is an alcohol-free venue.
At this gathering we will share stories of Andi, honoring her life and fight for disabled access and political advantages for all.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
Handsel Monday — According to Scottish custom, the
first Monday of the new year was the time to give children and servants a small
gift, or handsel. Literally something given into the hands of someone else, the
gift itself was less important than the good luck it signified. The handsel was
popular as a new year’s gift from the 14th to 19th centuries, but it also had a
broader application to mark any new situation. It continues today in the form
of a housewarming gift to someone moving into a new home.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 6, 1973 —Schoolhouse Rock! premiered
January 6, 1975 — The first episode of The Changes premiered on BBC 1. It was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson’s The Changes YA trilogy (The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil’s Children. (The books were written in reverse order: the events of The Devil’s Children happen first, Heartsease second, and The Weathermonger third). It starred Victoria Williams and Keith Ashton. I find no reporting on it from the time, nor is it rated over at Rotten Tomatoes but that’s typical of these BBC series from this time.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 6, 1895 — Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders. It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play. The last role of his that I’ll note was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.)
Born January 6, 1905 — Eric Frank Russell. He won the first annual Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa” published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Sinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
Born January 6, 1954 — Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. (Died 2008.)
Born January 6, 1955 — Rowan Atkinson, 65. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor although who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.
Born January 6, 1958 — Wayne Barlowe, 62. Artist whose Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials that came out in the late Seventies I still remember fondly. It was nominated at Noreascon 2 for a Hugo but came in third with Peter Nichol’s Science Fiction Encyclopedia garnering the Award that year. His background paintings have been used in Galaxy Quest, Babylon 5, John Carter and Pacific Rim to name but a few films.
Born January 6, 1959 — Ahrvid Engholm, 61. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
Born January 6, 1960 — Andrea Thompson, 60. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arliss as it’s not genre. Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
Born January 6, 1969 — Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. (Died 2019.)
Born January 6, 1976 — Guy Adams, 44. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-works, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s written scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature.
Born January 6, 1982 — Eddie Redmayne, 38. He portrayed Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He was Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts film series.
Born January 6, 1984 — Kate McKinnon, 36. Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in that Ghostbusters film. I think her only other genre role to date was voicing various character on Robotomy, a Cartoon Network series. She is Grunhilda in the forthcoming The Lunch Witch film based off the YA novel by Deb Lucke.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur offers an alternate description of the afterlife.
Frank and Ernest find out the problems the cast of The Wizard of Oz has when looking for work.
Having just watched “Cats,” the movie version of the hit musical about something called “Jellicle cats,” it is clear that “Jellicle” must be cat-speak for “wackadoodle.”…
(14) SILENT RADIO. So far as I know, Camestros Felapton is
only on beer. But after reading “CATS!
An audio-free podcast review!” I plan to follow Abraham Lincoln’s
example and ask him to send each of us a barrel.
[Camestros] So let’s start. [in recitative] Did you find this film weird? [Timothy] Did it give us the frights? [Susan] Did it run far too long? [Camestros] Did the cast all wear tights? [Timothy] Was it bad C-G-I? [Susan] Was it moving and sad? [Camestros] Was it ineffably awful and indescribably bad? [Susan] (take it away Timothy!) [Timothy -sings] Because the movie of Cats is and the movie is not, It’s like the movie of Cats can and the movie can not, It’s not the movie of Cats is but also its not, While this movie of Cats should and really should not, And its because the movie of Cats is bad and bad it is not….
She was the first person to successfully fertilise a human egg in vitro, changing reproductive medicine forever – but few people know her name today.
…As a technician for Harvard fertility expert John Rock, Menkin’s goal was to fertilise an egg outside the human body. This was the first step in Rock’s plan to cure infertility, which remained a scientific mystery to doctors. He particularly wanted to help women who had healthy ovaries but damaged fallopian tubes – the cause of one-fifth of the infertility cases he saw in his clinic.
Usually, Menkin exposed the sperm and egg to each other for around 30 minutes. Not this time. Years later, she recalled what transpired to a reporter: “I was so exhausted and drowsy that, while watching under the microscope how the sperm were frolicking around the egg, I forgot to look at the clock until I suddenly realised that a whole hour had elapsed… In other words, I must admit that my success, after nearly six years of failure, was due – not to a stroke of genius – but simply to cat-napping on the job!”
On Friday, when she came back to the lab, she saw something miraculous: the cells had fused and were now dividing, giving her the world’s first glimpse of a human embryo fertilised in glass.
Audiobooks are having a moment. As they soar in popularity, they are becoming increasingly creative – is the book you listen to now an artform in its own right, asks Clare Thorp.
…Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast. Gone are the days of dusty cassette box-sets and stuffily-read versions of the classics. Now audiobooks draw A-list talent – think Elisabeth Moss reading The Handmaid’s Tale, Meryl Streep narrating Charlotte’s Web or Michelle Obama reading all 19 hours of her own memoir, Becoming. There are hugely ambitious productions using ensemble casts (the audio of George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning Lincoln in the Bardo features 166 different narrators), specially created soundscapes and technological advances such as surround-sound 3D audio. Some authors are even skipping print and writing exclusive audio content.
…While audiobook sales are up and physical book sales down, it’s not a given that the two things are related. In fact, audio is pulling in new audiences – whether that’s listeners who don’t usually buy books, or readers listening to genres in audio format that they wouldn’t pick up in print.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Is that Emperor
Palpatine on an air guitar, or a Force guitar?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, James Davis
Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Peace Is My Middle Name, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve
Last week, Marvel
announced Marvels Snapshot, a new series from Marvels co-creator
Kurt Busiek that brings together incredible creative teams to tell new tales
showcasing Marvel’s greatest heroes. The series debuts in March with a golden
age romp by Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway before this epic tour through the
Marvel Universe continues later that month with Marvels Snapshot: Fantastic
Four. This second installment will take readers into the zany silver age,
turning the spotlight on the Fantastic Four’s own Human Torch in a story by
comic book creators Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. Known for books like Beasts
of Burden as well as writing credits on animated series like Space
Ghost: Coast to Coast and Superman: The Animated Series, this duo
feels right at home penning this classic tale rooted in the Marvel mythos.
“I’m still blushing that Kurt chose Sarah Dyer and I to tell one of the Marvels Snapshot stories, especially this one, because the Fantastic Four was my favorite super hero team book as a kid, and Marvels did a great job of showing how the larger-than-life Marvel characters affect the average person on the street,” says Dorkin. “We’re trying to do right by both series, packing the story with as much heart, wonder and fun as we can for both older and newer fans to enjoy.”
Marvels Snapshot reunites Dorkin and Dyer with artist Benjamin Dewey
who brings this tale to life with the acclaimed art he’s known for from books
like The Autumnland and Beasts of Burden.
“Teaming up with Kurt,
Evan, and Sarah is delightful, challenging and a real education in the
deep-cuts lore of characters I thought I knew! I’ll do my best to bring the
same spark of joy and enthusiasm to the art that has clearly gone into the
writing process,” says Dewey. “Ultimately we want to offer a story that gives
fans a different angle on a beloved comics universe that they might not get
from any other project.”
All curated by
industry legend Kurt Busiek, this extraordinary series is sure to be a modern
classic! Here’s what Busiek had to say about the passion project:
I was thrilled to get the chance to do Marvels Snapshots — to get a look at the Marvel Universe through a variety of eyes, from people who know the super heroes personally to people inspired by them, scared by them…even one who eventually joins them.
In Marvels Snapshot, we range through time, getting a look at the Marvel Universe from the very early days (as in Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway’s Sub-Mariner story), through the dawning days of the Marvel Age, up through events of the 1970s, 80s, all the way up to today. And I went out looking for a wide variety of creators to do a wide variety of perspectives. I wanted lots of different approaches, and I was delighted that so many creators I admire were willing to join in, from longtime pros to relative newcomers, and from Marvel mainstays to those who’ve done very little with Marvel before.
In the second Marvels Snapshot, I asked Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer to write about the Human Torch’s ten-year high-school reunion as seen through the eyes of his ex-girlfriend Dorrie Evans, because they’ve done such warm, human, affecting work on material from Superman: The Animated Series to the awesome Beasts of Burden to Evan’s pop-culture-obsessed Eltingville Club stories, and I knew they’d embrace the crazy minutiae of comics history but bring that sense of heart and emotion to it. And I couldn’t get anyone better to draw it than Benjamin Dewey, bringing his impeccable craftsmanship and rich sense of character to the story.
And this is just the start — we’ve got plenty more to come!
This eight-part series
will be released twice per month over the course of four months and will
feature new painted covers by the legendary Alex Ross. Be on the lookout for
news about upcoming titles in this landmark series. Which of Marvel’s many
great moments will readers get to dive into next?
There have been many famous babies throughout history: The Lindbergh Baby. The Gerber Baby. Baby Jessica. Rosemary’s Baby. But has there ever been a baby as universally loved and fawned over as Baby Yoda?
For all the joy that Baby Yoda brings us, he can also be confusing. And not because of the obvious questions, like whether Baby Yoda is the real Yoda. Obviously he’s not. The Mandalorian—the Disney+ original series that’s given us our favorite non-English-speaking Star Wars character since BB-8—is set between Return of the Jedi (when the O.G. Yoda dies) and The Force Awakens.
It’s arguable that Baby Yoda could be the illegitimate love-child of Yoda and Yaddle, the lady Yoda from The Phantom Menace, and there’s been some scholarly speculation on that topic, including an investigative report with the refreshingly blunt title, “Did Yoda F**k?”
But whether the Yoda is Baby Yoda’s true daddy isn’t what fascinates us every time we tune into The Mandalorian. What keeps us coming back for more is trying to figure out what in the actual hell Baby Yoda is supposed to be….
(2) WRITE IF YOU GET WORK. Cat Rambo tweeted highlights
from the online class “The Freelancer’s Toolkit” with James L. Sutter for the
Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Thread starts here.
… “What has happened to me — A testimony of a Uyghur woman” recounts the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Muslim minority in western China that has faced relentless crackdowns from authorities in Beijing.The manga — as all comic-style works are known in Japan — describes Tursun’s imprisonment and torture by the Chinese government, the death of one of her young children while in custody, and the jailing of her husband for 16 years.
Amazon announced on Friday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool increased by one hundred thousand dollars in November 2019, to $26.1 million, from $26 million in October 2019.
At the same time the per-page rate royalty jumped to d $0.004925, from $0.0046763 in October.
(5) HIGH MAGIC. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer, in “Microreview: The Last Sun, by K.D. Edwards, reviews “an intriguing Urban Fantasy that uses genderqueer characters and the story of Atlantis to tell an intriguing magic-infused story.”
In a world very much like ours but where Atlantis existed, and existed into the modern era until the survivors of its fall emigrated to a new home in the New World, a scion of a fallen House is wrapped up in mystery and intrigue, as rivalries, schemes and long set plans collide with that scion’s destiny and coming into his true power.
Rune Sun is the last of his kind. House Sun, his tarot card named noble family, has long since fallen and he is the only survivor. A sword fighter and a sorcerer, he lives doing odd jobs here and there, a down on his luck existence especially given the wealth and power of his peers, and of his life, long ago. It is doing one of those odd jobs, against another noble House, that Sun gets hooked into an intrigue that extends across New Atlantis. That hook, too and just might provide an opportunity for Rune to prove and show his capability and true abilities. If it doesn’t wreck his homeland or get him killed first, that is.
(6) FOR BETTER OR WORSE. ScreenRant, in “DCEU:
5 Best Rivalries (& 5 That Make No Sense)”, says “the characters
in these movies and their conflicts are also not so black-and-white. Some of
them are good, but others are not.” Here’s part of their list:
6 Makes No Sense: Wonder Woman & Ares
Another pointless final battle in the DCEU includes the one in Wonder Woman. Not only did we expect another character to be Ares, but we also focused on a different conflict, which was Diana’s belief that Ares was causing wars and the reality that people weren’t just all good.
This is why the final battle feels so odd to most viewers. It is just a CGI mess with explosions that are meant to excite those who were expecting such action. But what could have been more logical would be for Diana to finally come to the realization that she was wrong and naive.
Welcome to the final issue of Compelling Science Fiction!
The last 3 years have been a fun ride. I wrote a blog post about some of the highlights from my perspective, but here I’ll just say: It was a privilege working with so many wonderful authors, and I hope people enjoy these stories for many years to come. I’ll be leaving every issue up online indefinitely.
As for this issue, I’m happy to say that we’re finishing strong — here are our final five fantastic stories that you can read right now…
Stech wanted hard sf, as he thought of it, but to communicate that
he came up with a less-fraught alternative term:
“Plausible science fiction,” in this context, means “science fiction that tries not to disrupt suspension of disbelief for people that have knowledge of science and engineering.” This can mean not blatantly contradicting our current knowledge of the universe, and it can also mean not blatantly ignoring how humans generally behave. It also means internal self-consistency.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 15, 1978 — Superman: The Movie premiered. It would win a Hugo at Seacon ’79 with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio program and Watership coming in second and third respectively. Likewise Rotten Tomatoes has 94% of their reviewers giving Superman a positive review. That it was boffo at the box office and a critical favorite is hardly surprising either.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson, 96. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept.
Born December 15, 1948 — Cassandra Harris. She was in For Your Eyes Only as the Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Pierce Brosnan, her third husband, met producer Albert R. Broccoli while she was shooting her scenes and was cast in four Bond films as a result. Her genre resume is short otherwise, an appearance on Space: 1999, and a likewise one-off on Shadows, a YA scary show. (Died 1991.)
Born December 15, 1949 — Don Johnson, 70. Though Miami Vice is where most will know him from, he has impressive genre creds including the lead in the Ellison-derived A Boy and Dog, voicing Wazir’s Son in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Office Andy Brady in the Revenge of the Stepford Wives film and another Sheriff, Earl McGraw, in the From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.
Born December 15, 1954 — Alex Cox, 65. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. No, what interests me is that he’s listed as directing a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
Born December 15, 1963 — Helen Slater, 56. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series. Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe though the DCU streaming app is my sole entertainment budget other than an Audible subscription. Her other genre appearances include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and Agent X.
Born December 15, 1970 — Michael Shanks, 49. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow!
(10) MILES TO GO. Marvel Comics presents “Rapid-Fire
Questions with Saladin Ahmed.”
Writer for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Saladin Ahmed, answers the hard-hitting questions about Kamala and Miles.
(11) OVERWHELMED BY RELATIVISM. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon
bid prompts Steve Davidson to ask a basket of questions in “The
Future for WSFS” at Amazing Stories.
As WSFS – empowered by its ever-shifting fannish membership – moves towards the greater realization of the initial word in its name – World – it will be increasingly called to task over issues and concerns that it has heretofore not had to grapple with. No longer can Fannish politics enjoy wide separation from real world politics. One of those questions will surely be How do we assess the fitness of a country to host a Worldcon?
That single question is replete with detail and nuance. Previously, we’ve applauded governmental support of Worldcons; Finland was underwritten by the Finnish government; New Zealand’s Prime Minister recently endorsed an upcoming convention. On the other hand Chengdou would be taking place in a city that has been designated as a center for science fiction by the Chinese Government and is undoubtedly receiving both financial and material support from the same.
When a government’s support and endorsement is limited to just a bit of funding and some promotional support, we’re unlikely to question its motives (of course they love fans), but at what point do we begin to question those motives? At what point does our desire for such impact other aspects of our community, and how much influence are we prepared to accept? (Remember that Scientology attempted to use promotional and financial support to co-opt as Worldcon and its awards.)…
(12) SOMETHING MISSING. Rob Latham identifies snubs and
surprises in a review of Gary K. Wolfe’s Sixties novel anthology for Library of
America in “An
Uneven Showcase of 1960s SF” at LA Review of Books.
…The shortcomings of this set derive, in large part, from constraints not wholly of the editor’s making. Probably because the press wanted to extend its coverage as much as possible, a decision was made to exclude writers who had been featured in the earlier 1950s volumes, meaning that talents who continued to produce compelling work into the subsequent decade — Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, James Blish, Frederik Pohl — were programmatically passed over. At the same time, major authors whose work has come to define the 1960s, but who were already spotlighted in single-author collections, were barred as well: hence, this set does not include Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) or Ubik (1969), Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), or Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) or Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). And the goal of gathering as many texts as possible into two manageable volumes meant that exceptionally long books could not be chosen, which ruled out the novel often voted by fans as the best ever written in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Finally, the goal of “balanc[ing] the halves of the decade” — as Wolfe puts it in his introduction — has produced a first volume that is significantly inferior, aesthetically, to the second, since (for reasons I explain below)…
Ask the Cats cast members why they wanted to be a part of the movie, and the answers all circle back to, well, memories—of the original musical.
Corden, 41, a Tony and Emmy winner perhaps best known for belting out music with celebrities on the hugely popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments on his Late Late Show on CBS, recalls seeing the production with his parents as a 13-year-old in London in the early 1990s. “I remember thinking, Man, this is a spectacle,” he says. “I knew the movie would be great fun.” Wilson, who attended theater school in her native Australia, was visiting London in the early 2000s and caught a performance from the cheap seats. “I had to watch it with little binoculars,” she recalls, “and I was still blown away.”
For Dench, 85, the film served as a Cats homecoming. Back in 1981, she was slated to be part of the original production but had to pull out because of an injury. “We were concentrating every minute of every day on behaving like cats and trying to translate that into a way of moving,” she says. “But I snapped my Achilles tendon during one of the rehearsals, and as anyone knows, that can take a while to heal.” She was “very pleased” to be invited to join the movie production.
The novel is called Thin Air partly because this refers to how the ‘terraform eco-magic’ has failed to generated atmospheric conditions beyond ‘four percent Earth sea level standard’. Why this pessimism? Can you also tell a little about the ‘lamina’ and about the role of nanotech in developing Mars?
There is a central conceit that I keep – not consciously, I swear! – returning to in my work. It takes different metaphorical guises, but at root it’s always the same sense of something grand and worthwhile being abandoned by vicious and stupid men in favour of short-term profit and tribal hegemony. You see it in the regressive politics of the Protectorate in the Kovacs novels, the way both the Yhelteth Empire and the – so-called – Free Cities fail their duty as civilisations in A Land Fit for Heroes. So also with Thin Air – the landscape is littered with the markers of a retreat from the grand scheme of terraforming and building a home for humanity on Mars, in favour of an ultra-profitable corporate stasis and an ongoing lie of highly emotive intangibles sold to the general populace in lieu of actual progress. Take a look around you – remind you of anything?
(15) FOUND FOOTAGE. In the “news to me” department – a 2010
episode of Pawn Stars featured a clump of silver rupees recovered from a
shipwreck found off the coast of Sri Lanka by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson
in 1961. The discovery became the basis for the book The Treasure of the Great Reef. Clarke’s name is mentioned several times
in episode’s “Taj Mahal sunken treasure” segment, which starts around
1:10 of this video:
(16) THE PERILS OF BLABBING. YouTuber TheOdd1sOut’s
review of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” was #1 on the trending tab.
Apparently because its anecdotes revolve around why Jim Henson’s daughter was
peeved at an earlier review and the nondisclosure agreement he had to sign before
screenings of the new series.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, N., and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
(1) MARVEL SNAPSHOTS. Kurt Busiek is overseeing a Marvel
showcase series featuring history-making characters.
This March, prepare to see the greatest moments of Marvel’s 80-year history told like never before! In MARVEL SNAPSHOTS, industry legend Kurt Busiek will bring together incredible creative teams for eight standalone, double sized issues showcasing Marvel’s most beloved characters from the golden age to today. Like 1994’s critically acclaimed MARVELS series, MARVEL SNAPSHOTS will be tales told through the eyes of ordinary people, offering unique insights on the legendary mythos of the Marvel Universe. MARVELS SNAPSHOTS also reunites Busiek with renowned MARVELS co-creator Alex Ross who will be providing the series with his iconic painted covers.
It all begins with SUB-MARINER: MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 when best-selling novelist and Emmy Award-winning TV writer Alan Brennert (L.A. LAW, TWILIGHT ZONE) and superstar artist Jerry Ordway (ALL-STAR SQUADRON, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS) unite to tell an unforgettable story about Marvel’s original antihero: Prince Namor!
Set circa World War II, things kick off with an action-packed tale featuring Namor, Betty Dean, and the All-Winners Squad–a dream come true for Brennert. “I can honestly say that I enjoyed working on this story more than any comics story I’ve done in years. I grew up reading (and loving) Marvel’s Golden Age heroes in the 1960s, in reprints in FANTASY MASTERPIECES. But I never thought I’d have a shot at writing them–especially the All-Winners Squad!–and I’m grateful to Kurt Busiek and Tom Brevoort for providing me the opportunity, and to Jerry Ordway for bringing it all to glorious life,” Brennert says. “I’m enormously proud of ‘Reunion’ and honored to be the first story published in MARVELS SNAPSHOTS.”
Artist Jerry Ordway is just as passionate about bringing this tale to life. “When I was offered this project, I jumped at it, being a big fan of the original MARVELS book by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. Getting to draw a Sub-Mariner story set in the 1940s, with appearances by the All-Winners Squad, lets me connect with Marvel’s World War II era history, and the work of Subby’s creator, Bill Everett,” says Ordway. “I’ve been a Marvel maniac from the age of 10, so this is pretty cool! Alan Brennert wrote a great script which fits neatly into the bigger tapestry that is the Marvel Universe. I’m thrilled to get to play in this sandbox after so many years as an artist.”
My guest this time around is Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, who was a winner of the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award earlier this year for her work as a Guest Editor of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue. She was also a 2019 Hugo Award finalist for Best Fan Writer. Her fiction has appeared in such magazines as Fireside and Uncanny, as well the anthologies Ghost in the Cogs and Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling. She’s written non-fiction for The Boston Globe, Barnes & Noble, Tor.com, and other venues. She is a feminist scholar and disability rights activist (which I knew), but also a burlesque historian (which I did not know).
We lunched at La Tavola, where I’d previously joined Marv Wolfman during the 2017 Baltimore Comic-Con. We discussed her roller coaster of emotions the night she won a Hugo Award earlier this year during the Dublin Worldcon, how that editorial gig increased her empathy, the way writing roleplaying games and being a Sherlock Holmes nerd taught her about world-building and led to her first professional fiction sales, the dinosaur-themed Twitter feed that gave birth to her most recently published short story, the novel she’s working on which she describes as The Conjuring meets The Stand, her expertise in obscenity law and fascination with the history of burlesque, why she felt the Bird Box novel handled blindness better than the movie, her background in competitive improv and the way that helped her within science fiction, advice on how not to let Internet trolls get you down, and much more.
(4) JUST PLAIN FOLKS TALES. RS Benedict has released another episode of the Rite
Gud podcast, “No
More Heroes with JR Dawson”. In this interview with sff short fiction author JR Dawson, they talk
about writing fiction that doesn’t focus on Big Important Heroes of Destiny. It’s
called No More Heroes.
Much of speculative literature focuses on superheroes and Chosen Ones. But what about ordinary people or flawed people who don’t save the world? Do they matter?
Sci-fi/fantasy author JR Dawson joins us to talk about why she writes about ordinary people, and how privilege and inequality warp our idea of whose story deserves to be told. She also talks about being a Midwestern writer, her favorite literary losers and that time Hans Christian Andersen got really weird with Charles Dickens’ family.
Cixin Liu might have become the best-known science fiction writers to come out of China, but he’s far from the only one. Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide is a far cry from Liu’s epic science fiction tales, taking a grim look at the near future of China, where impoverished workers struggle to make a living from the world’s electronic waste.
Waste Tide follows a series of people who come together in Silicone Isle: Mimi, a worker who heads there for work; Scott Brandle, an American who is trying to arrange a contract; and Chen Kaizong, a translator, all of whom find themselves wrapped up in a greater plot for control. It’s a book that reminded me quite a bit of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, with a pointed commentary on class warfare and the lifecycle of the devices we use.
One of SFF’s grand traditions is carefully filing the serial numbers off historical events (the American Revolutionary War, perhaps, or the Napoleonic Wars), or famous and classic works (Lord of the Rings, the Hornblower series, Zulu), and re-purposing the result as SFF. This is usually known as “research” (See Tom Lehrer on this point). Examples abound—my disinclination to deal with crowds of irate authors protesting at my door precludes naming them here….
(7) HOLLYWOOD HISTORY. Profiles in History’s “Hollywood: A Collector’s Ransom Auction” has all kinds of genre movie props, models, and figurines.
It even has examples of correspondence between director Sam Peckinpah and Ray
Bradbury. “Ray and Sam would lunch (hoist a few pints) at the Formosa Café,”
recalls John King Tarpinian.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote completes a quest that has consumed Terry Gilliam for thirty years, but as Leonard and Jessie learned, he bears his burdens lightly. He made his name supplying unique animated sequences for Monty Python’s Flying Circus and his films include Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, and The Fisher King. He’s a delightful man with stories to tell (about everyone from Robin Williams to Heath Ledger) and a great outlook on life.
Duha is a nice girl who lives with her family in a small humble house near Ramallah. Duha has an amazing idea: she decided to restore an old house to make it a library and a place to sell books and other stationery.
She went to Palestine for Credit and Development (FATEN) to request a loan to help her to cover all restoration expenses to convert the old house into a library. Duha hopes that all the students and residents of the area will benefit from the library.
Study the nuances of rejection In the miserable miasma of reading a fresh rejection, it can be easy to miss the nuggets of positivity and constructive feedback that are often contained in the message too. Some messages are form rejections, but it’s well-known that many venues have form messages that vary according to their take on the writer. A writer a venue wishes to encourage, for example, may get a standard message that’s quite different from the standard message that’s sent to a writer that for whatever reason they are never likely to publish.
So once the initial disappointment has subsided, make a point of going back to the message and seeing what you can learn from it for your next project or submission. Sometimes there is a valuable nugget in there (e.g. Try to use fewer adverbs or We felt we wanted to know more about what was happening from the protagonist’s perspective.) These are valuable insights that you can work with.
However disappointing the message, always send an acknowledgment – stay polite and professional. And if a venue says you should submit again, then do so, once or twice more at least. They didn’t have to say that, after all.
Amazon declined interview requests for this story. In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman wrote, “Privacy is foundational to how every team and employee designs and develops Alexa features and Echo devices. All Alexa employees are trained on customer data handling as part of our security training.” The company and its competitors have said computers perform the vast majority of voice requests without human review.
Yet so-called smart devices inarguably depend on thousands of low-paid humans who annotate sound snippets so tech companies can upgrade their electronic ears; our faintest whispers have become one of their most valuable datasets. Earlier this year, Bloomberg News was first to report on the scope of the technology industry’s use of humans to review audio collected from their users without disclosures, including at Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. Few executives and engineers who spoke with Bloomberg Businessweek for this story say they anticipated that setting up vast networks of human listeners would be problematic or intrusive. To them, it was and is simply an obvious way to improve their products.
… Several of the big tech companies tweaked their virtual-assistant programs this year after a steady drip of news reports. While Google has paused human transcriptions of Assistant audio, Apple has begun letting users delete their Siri history and opt out of sharing more, made sharing recordings optional, and hired many former contractors directly to increase its control over human listening. Facebook and Microsoft have added clearer disclaimers to their privacy policies. And Amazon has introduced a similar disclosure and started letting Alexa users opt out of manual reviews. “It’s a well-known thing in the industry,” Amazon’s Limp recently said about human transcription teams. “Whether it was well known among press or customers, it’s pretty clear we weren’t good enough there.”
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Cat Eldridge emailed that he needed urgent care for some physical problems – I hope they are able to get him feeling better soon. Go ahead and mention birthdays you know about in the comments.]
(13) STAR TREK SHIP IN A BOTTLE. So is there a teeny-tiny
Kirk and Spock in there somewhere?
On this episode of Ben’s Worx I make a ship in a bottle with epoxy resin and Australian burl.
Outside investigators have submitted a report to the Washington state house about the activities of the far-right Republican state representative Matt Shea, but legislators on both sides of the aisle remain tight-lipped about its contents.
…Last Monday the independent investigator, the Rampart Group, presented their findings to the chief clerk of the Washington state legislature . He in turn delivered the findings to the executive rules committee, composed of leaders of both parties in the house.
…Shea, meanwhile, was interviewed last week on Infowars’ David Knight Show, where he attacked perceived critics.
Shea then quoted Theodore Beale, whom the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes as a “champion of the alt right movement”, and whose blog is described as a home of “misogynistic, white supremacist diatribes”.
“Social justice warriors always lie, they always double down on their lie, and they always try to project on to you how they really are themselves,” Shea said.
The second-largest comic auction of all time, trailing only the $15,121,405 realized in Heritage Auctions’ Chicago Comics & Comic Art Auction in May 2019, this sale included 15 lots that sold for at least $100,000.
…The issue, with famous cover art by Frank R. Paul and interior art by a group of illustrators that included Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Paul Gustavson, was purchased by a Pennsylvania postal carrier who bought every No. 1 issue he could of both comic books and magazines, beginning in the 1940s. It’s grade of 9.4 on a scale of 1-10 makes it the best copy of the issue ever found, according to Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).
More than two dozen collectors made bids for Robert Crumb Your Hytone Comix #nn “Stoned Agin!” Inside Back Cover Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1971) before it closed at $690,000, breaking the record for the most ever paid for an interior piece of comic art. Created at the height of the artist’s popularity, the image is instantly recognizable, even by many who don’t know the work of Crumb, who is revered for his contribution to the underground comics movement in the 1960s. This iconic image was reproduced countless times, including on a blacklight poster, on pinback buttons, postcards and t-shirts.
Neal Adams Batman #251 Cover The Joker Original Art (DC, 1973) sold for $600,000, the most ever paid through Heritage Auctions for a piece of DC art. The spectacular image of one of the most famous Joker covers of all time debuted a new version of the villain, trumpeting the return of the Joker after a four-year hiatus from Batman comics….
On a June morning in 1974, a Marsh Supermarket cashier in Troy, Ohio, rang up a 67-cent pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum using something novel — the black and white stripes of a universal bar code.
The Universal Product Code is now a packaging mainstay on everything from cereal boxes and produce to electronics and airplane tickets, but it might not have worked without IBM engineer George Laurer.
Laurer, who died this month at 94 in North Carolina, had been given an assignment by his manager: Write a proposal for grocery executives explaining how IBM would take a previously invented bar code pattern, in the shape of a bull’s-eye, and make it work in supermarkets across the country.
But when that manager returned from a vacation, Laurer was there to meet him. “I didn’t do what you asked,” he said.
Instead, Laurer had created something else — the bull’s-eye was gone and in its place was a linear bar code. Laurer had deemed the bull’s-eye design unworkable. The circular code, inspired by Morse code and patented by N. Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver in 1952, was too small, and it would smear when run through the poor-quality printing presses used for most food labels at the time.
Because EA owns The Sims, and because EA also has the rights to Star Wars video games, we finally have a digital tie-in with the new live-action Mandalorian series. It’s not a Carl Weathers outfit. It’s not a “Bounty Hunter” job for your Sim. It’s a Baby Yoda statue you can buy and put in your yard.
In 2008, psychologists proposed that when humans are shown an unfamiliar face, they judge it on two main dimensions: trustworthiness and physical strength. These form the basis of first impressions, which may help people make important social decisions, from whom to vote for to how long a prison sentence should be.
To date, the 2008 paper — written by Nikolaas Oosterhof of Dartmouth College and Alexander Todorov of Princeton University — has attracted more than a thousand citations, and several studies have obtained similar findings. But until now, the theory has been replicated successfully only in a handful of settings, making its findings biased toward nations that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic — or WEIRD, a common acronym used in academic literature.
Now, one large-scale study suggests that although the 2008 theory may apply in many parts of the world, the overall picture remains complex. An early version was published at PsyArXiv Preprints on Oct. 31. The study is under review at the journal Nature Human Behavior.
The study is the first conducted through the Psychological Science Accelerator, a global network of more than 500 labs in more than 70 countries. The accelerator, which launched in 2017, aims to redo older psychology experiments but on a mass scale in several different settings. The effort is one of many targeting a problem that has plagued the discipline for years: the inability of psychologists to get consistent results across similar experiments, or the lack of reproducibility.
If you’ve wondered whether there were actually 30 people trying to book the same flight as you, you’re not alone. As Chris Baraniuk finds, the numbers may not be all they seem.
Ophir Harpaz just wanted to get a good deal on a flight to London. She was on travel website OneTravel, scouring various options for her trip. As she browsed, she noticed a seemingly helpful prompt: “38 people are looking at this flight”. A nudge that implied the flight might soon get booked up, or perhaps that the price of a seat would rise as they became scarcer.
Except it wasn’t a true statement. As Harpaz looked at that number, “38 people”, she began to feel sceptical. Were 38 people really looking at that budget flight to London at the same exact moment?
Being a cyber-security researcher, she was familiar with web code so she decided to examine how OneTravel displayed its web pages. (Anyone can do this by using the “inspect” function on web browsers like Firefox and Chrome.) After a little bit of digging she made a startling discovery – the number wasn’t genuine. The OneTravel web page she was browsing was simply designed to claim that between 28 and 45 people were viewing a flight at any given moment. The exact figure was chosen at random.
Not only that, the website’s innards were surprisingly blatant about what was going on. The bit of code that defined the number shown to users was even labelled “view_notification_random”.
For the first time, BBC News published a news story for every constituency that declared election results overnight – all written by a computer.
It was the BBC’s biggest test of machine-generated journalism so far.
Each of nearly 700 articles – most in English but 40 of them in Welsh – was checked by a human editor before publication.
The head of the project said the tech was designed to enhance the service provided rather than to replace humans.
“This is about doing journalism that we cannot do with human beings at the moment,” said Robert McKenzie, editor of BBC News Labs.
“Using machine assistance, we generated a story for every single constituency that declared last night with the exception of the one that hasn’t finished counting yet. That would never have been possible.”
VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Quail on Vimeo, Grant Kolton explains that if you want
to be a quail, it’s hard work!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
This March, Marvel’s
brightest heroes will defend their very right to save the world in Outlawed,
an event one-shot that will kick off one of 2020’s biggest events! A
devastating tragedy causes the government to crackdown on young vigilantes,
sending shockwaves throughout the entire Marvel Universe.
With the lives of
Marvel’s most popular heroes from Miles Morales to Ms. Marvel thrown into
chaos, Outlawed will raise tough questions that Chicago-based writer and
scholar Dr. Eve L. Ewing (Ironheart) is more than ready to tackle.
“To me, this story
isn’t just about young people being in conflict with the government, but much
bigger questions about what we ask of young people, how they’re expected to be
independent sometimes and subservient other times,” Ewing said in an exclusive
interview with A.V. Club.. “Every era of
history brings new challenges, and young people today are coming of age… yet we
often don’t recognize their wisdom and their insights. It’s like we get above a
certain age and lose all empathy. I just wanted to explore that tension, and
them being superheroes really ups the stakes because they’re literally out
there saving lives every day, but aren’t seen as full people or full citizens.
AND, at the same time, maybe the law is a good idea? Maybe it really is for
everyone’s protection? It’s intentionally kind of morally ambiguous.”
“We’re bringing the
next generation of heroes to the forefront in a major way and swinging for the
fences in terms of story, stakes and scale,” added Editor Alanna Smith. “Outlawed
introduces an ongoing status quo that will be reflected in books across the
line—almost every active character who’s under 21 (and even a few who are
older) will be affected by the decisions made in Outlawed, and they
won’t all agree on whether the new world order is good or bad. But there are
real, serious consequences now for those who go against the ruling passed down
in Outlawed, and it’ll interfere with their lives in a way they’ve never
experienced, leading to some really interesting stories.”
For the full
interview, chock full of insights from Ewing, Smith, and superstar artist Kim
Jacinto, visit A.V. Club.
… Across the room, the quest for new materials continues, with a wafting terylene dress from 1941, and a screening of the exuberant 1951 Ealing comedy The Man in the White Suit, with Alec Guinness as the naïve inventor of an indestructible textile fleeing from angry industrialists and workers, saved only when his magic material disintegrates around him. There’s a lot of fun, as well as science, in this show—and some joyous artistic accidents, like David Hockney’s encounter with a polaroid camera, which he used for the dazzling grid of Sun on the Pool, Los Angeles (1982). “Drawing with a camera,” he called it.
In the next section, “Human Machines,” the note of fear enters fully with the trauma of mechanized carnage in World War I. A case holds pioneering artificial limbs from the 1920s, and in Otto Dix’s Card Players (1920), three disfigured soldiers sit round a table, their torn limbs and missing jaws replaced by fantastical prosthetics. The destructive technology of warfare and the constructive skill of limb-makers have turned Dix’s men into monsters. Have they, perhaps, become machines themselves?…
(3) TOOLBOX 2020. Applications for Taos Toolbox will be
taken beginning December 1. The two-week Master Class in
Science Fiction and Fantasy will be taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy
Kress, with special guest George R.R. Martin and special lecturer E.M. Tippetts.
The class runs June 7-20, 2020.
The Terran Award full attending Scholarship is available again
this year, sponsored by George R.R. Martin, to bring an aspiring SF writer from
a non-English-speaking country to the Taos Toolbox. The award covers all
tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not meals or travel). Applicants
will need to speak and write in English, but must be from from a country where
English is not the primary language. WJW and the Toolbox staff will
select the winner.
Seven years ago, my house had 20 floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and about the same number of half-sized bookcases — about 5000 books, excluding the comics. The house was essentially full of books and comic books. Today I have ten tall bookcases, and a couple short ones. What follows is the road map from here to there — halving the number of books in my life. I have been hearing of many friends having to smallify their space, and maybe this will help!…
(5) ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT. It’s The Joker vs Pennywise in
the latest round of Epic Rap Battles Of History.
The Joker and Pennywise clown around in the eighth battle of ERB Season 6! Who won? Who’s next? You decide!
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 24, 1958 — Devil Girl From Mars premiered in Swedish theaters. It starred Patricia Laffan and Hazel Court, reviewers called this UK film delightfully bad. It however is considered just bad at Rotten Tomatoes with a 23% rating.
November 24, 1985 — Ewoks: The Battle for Endor premieredon ABC. Starring Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Paul Gleason and Carel Struycken, the critics found it mostly harmless. It holds a 51% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 24, 1882 — E. R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his much lesser known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. I’m reasonably that sure I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros but way too long ago to remember anything about it. Silverberg in the Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series edition of this novel said he considered it to be “the greatest high fantasy of them all”. (Died 1945.)
Born November 24, 1907 — Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. It’s worth stressing Walton is best known for her four novels retelling the Welsh Mabinogi. She published her first volume in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine which is inarguably a terrible title. Although receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully and none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty. The other three volumes followed quickly. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England and She Walks in Darkness which came out on Tachyon Press is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work but I’d be delighted to be corrected. She has won a number of Awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel along with The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.)
Born November 24, 1916 — Forrest J. Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a a Hugo forfor #1 Fan Personality in 1953 and equally telling that when he was handed the trophy at Philcon II (by Asimov), he physically declined saying it should go to Ken Slater to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. You want more? As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell. he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. Speaking of things pulp which she assuredly is, He appeared in several hundred films which I’ll not list here and even wrote lesbian erotica. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe him. His non-fiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science Fiction, A Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well he did. Just one location of his collection contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame who now have possession of many items of his collection. (Died 2008.)
Born November 24, 1948 — Spider Robinson, 71. His first story, “The Guy with the Eyes,” was published in Analog (February 1973). It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction. His first published novel, Telempath in 1976 was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogywas co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson. In 2004, he began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it? Oh, he’s certainly won Awards. More than can be comfortably listed here.
Born November 24, 1957 — Denise Crosby, 62. Tasha Yar on Next Gen who got a meaningful death in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. In other genre work, she was on The X-Files as a doctor who examined Agent Scully’s baby. And I really like it that she was in two Pink Panther films, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as Denise, Bruno’s Moll. And she’s yet another Trek performer who’s done what I call Trek video fanfic. She’s Dr. Jenna Yar in “Blood and Fire: Part 2”, an episode of the only season of Star Trek: New Voyages.
Born November 24, 1957 — John Zakour, 62. For sheer pulp pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend his Zachary Nixon Johnson PI series which he co-wrote with Larry Ganem. Popcorn reading at its very best. It’s the only series of his I’ve read, anyone else read his other books?
Born November 24, 1957 — Jeff Noon, 62. Novelist and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that Noon describes as a sequel to those works.
Born November 24, 1965 — Shirley Henderson, 54. She was Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was Ursula Blake in “ Love & Monsters!”, a Tenth Doctor story, and played Susannah in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film that’s if because of the metanarrative aspect.
(8) GAHAN WILSON IN HIS PRIME. Andrew Porter shared three photos
of cartoonist Gahan Wilson from the Eighties and Nineties.
If you’re hip to fanziner jokes – maybe I should’ve said hep, many of them started in the 1940s and 1950s – and the Cosmic Joker just now led me to mistype started with a v instead of the second t – you know we send poctsarcds. If you don’t, you can look it up here. Or it’s a good occasion to consult A Wealth of Fable (H. Warner, Jr., rev. 1992; see here).
Once in my fanzine Vanamonde I sleepily let stand the mistyping – or mis-mistyping – “poctsacrd”. Jack Speer promptly sent a letter of comment “Nothing is sacrd.”
(10) WISHLIST DESTINATIONS. Paul Weimer got a huge response
to his tweet – here are two examples.
Since I have more space (and fewer limitations on things like spoilers) on my own blog, I’d like to elaborate a little on the review, and particularly the sense I got that the Wormwood trilogy changed as it expanded from a standalone to a series. When I first read Rosewater (and even more so when I reread it last month, in preparation for writing this review) I was struck by how clearly it belonged to the subgenre of “zone” science fiction. Originating with the Strugatsky brothers’ 1972 novel Roadside Picnic (and the 1979 Tarkovsky film, Stalker, inspired by it), “zone” novels imagine that some segment of normal space has erupted into strangeness, a zone where the normal rules of physics, biology, and causality no longer apply, and whose residents–or anyone who wanders in–are irretrievably altered in some fundamental way. The zone also represents a disruption to existing power structures, and the plots of zone novels often revolve around characters who have been dispatched by the state to infiltrate the zone in an attempt to control or at least understand it–an effort that is doomed to failure. Recent examples of zone novels include Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X trilogy and M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy (and particularly the middle volume, Nova Swing). I’ve even seen a persuasive argument that the HBO miniseries Chernobyl can be read as zone science fiction, because of its unreal, heightened depiction of the region around the exploded reactor, and because the effects that the unseen radiation it spews have on people, animals, and plant life in the surrounding areas track so closely with the subgenre’s central trope of cellular-level change.
I saw Frozen II last night. It’s an OK movie – I didn’t love the first one very much, but I do appreciate the attempt to expand the story into a broader fantasy epic (even if it seems to borrow shamelessly from Avatar: The Last Airbender with barely even a fraction of that show’s skill at constructing plot and themes). But I’ve been thinking about the film’s handling of the theme of ancestral wrongs and making reparations for them, and the more I do the angrier I get, so here are some spoilery observations.
The issue, Marvel Comics No. 1 — published in October 1939 by Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel in the 1960s — sold for $1.26 million, the highest price ever at public auction for a comic made by the company, according to a Heritage Auctions press release.
The comic was given a 9.4 rating out of 10 by Certified Guaranty Company, and is the highest-rated copy of the issue in existence.
(16) RAINBOW CONNECTION. “Cinema Classics: The Wizard of Oz” on Saturday
Night Live provides an alternate ending to the 1938 film.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Michael
Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, N., Mike Kennedy, Ellen Datlow, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
Broaddus, who lives near Eagle Creek Reservoir on the northwest side of Indianapolis with his wife and two sons, is a busy guy. This past spring he scored a $175,000 three-book deal with TOR Books for a forthcoming fantasy series titled All the Stars. Tor Books, a subsidiary of Macmillan, is the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy in the United States.
Broaddus, 49, also was coping with the death of his father the previous week, but this wasn’t slowing him down.
“One of the ways I tend to cope with grief,” he said, “is to go into high production mode.”
To contain that grief, he wrote a short story, figuring that the word count would be around 5,000.
“But it turned out to be 20,000 words by the time I was done,” he said. The story, “Bound by Sorrow,” will soon appear in the online sci-fi/fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
Since the Heftroman issues of Perry Rhodan are published weekly now, the plot moves at a brisk clip. Furthermore, a monthly companion series of so-called Planetenromane (planet novels), 158 page paperback novels, premiered in September. The third issue just came out. Many Heftromane have paperback companion series, but most of them just republish old material, occasionally by literally stapling unsold issues together and adding a new cover. The Planetenromane, on the other hand, offer all-new stories, often side stories, which don’t quite fit into the main series.
(3) LAUGH TRACK. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertaiment
Everything we know about Marvel’s ‘first sitcom'” profiles WandaVision,
a sitcom featuring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, and
Paul Bettany as Vision which will begin streaming on DisneyPlus in the spring
of 2021 but which is reportedly shooting now.
WandaVision’s sitcom status was confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment by no less an authority than the Scarlet Witch herself. Catching up with Olsen and Bettany at Disney’s D23 event in August, the actress told us, “We can confidently say it is [a sitcom].” Her co-star quickly added, “That’s how it begins and it moves into more familiar epic territory later. But it’s absolutely a mash-up of sitcoms.” Based on our interviews and concept art unveiled at D23, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Father Knows Best seem to be some of the sitcoms that are being mashed-up. The teaser image shows Bettany and Olsen in a ’50s suburban setting, dressed more like the Cleavers than the Avengers. All that’s missing is the laugh track — and Olsen revealed that may not change, “That’s to be decided.”
(4) IN TECH TO COME. The
November 7 issue of Nature includes Andrew Robinson’s reviews of works like Reality
Ahead of Schedule by Joel Levy Smithsonian (2019).
This picture-packed volume by science journalist Joel Levy tours scientific advances sparked by ideas in science fiction. The title comes from a definition of sci-fi by Syd Mead, an industrial designer behind the look of futuristic movies such as Blade Runner (1982). But how prescient is sci-fi? Levy shows how H. G. Wells’s 1903 story ‘The Land Ironclads’ inspired Winston Churchill to promote the development of the military tank in 1915. But Wells did not envisage its key technical idea: caterpillar tracks, for added grip.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 7, 1951 — Flight To Mars debuted in theaters.
November 7, 1954 — Target Earth premiered.
November 7, 1997 — Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers premiered. Starring Casper Van Dien Dina Meyer and Denise Richards, this adaption of Heinlein’s novel wasn’t well received by critics or SF fans in general but currently garners 70% at Rotten Tomatoes and long since earned back its modest budget.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 7, 1910 — Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. (Died 1946.)
Born November 7, 1914 — R. A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language. His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards as novels but not winning either though he won a Hugo short story for “Eurema’s Dam”. He had received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, he received the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. (Died 2002.)
Born November 7, 1943 — Peter Straker, 76. He was Commander Sharrel in “The Destiny of The Daleks” a Fourth Doctor story. He’s also the Lead Choir Singer in, I kid you not, Morons from Outer Space.
Born November 7, 1950 — Lindsay Duncan, 69. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role Lady Smallwood on Sherlock in “His Last Vow”, “The Six Thatchers” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black Mirror, A Discovery of Witches, Frankenstein, The Storyteller: Greek Myths, Mission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers.
Born November 7, 1954 — Guy Gavriel Kay, 65. So the story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? Kay’s own Finovar trilogy is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy . My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called am urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award.
Born November 7, 1960 — Linda Nagata, 59. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech Succession, Stories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her site is here.
Born November 7, 1934 — Wendy Williams, 85. You know I’ll work a Doctor Who reference in and she was in a Fourth Doctor story, “The Ark in Space” as Vira. Other genre appearances include Jack the Ripper and The Further Adventures of the Musketeers.
In the acknowledgements for her novel “Spirit of Prophecy”, which is about a psychic detective in rural England, Hughes also said that extraterrestrials (ETs) are working with world governments in a “hush-hush” arrangement.
“The E.T’s, some of them less than apple pie wholesome or positive pumpkins, are already here working with our world governments, but that’s all hush-hush for now,” she said.
Hughes’ author bio tells of how she came to believe in reincarnation “when her old horse Red made a re-appearance, this time as a palomino called Hooray Henry”.
Remember those scary bees from Black Mirror? This ain’t that. Researchers at Harvard have developed a “RoboBee” that has soft artificial muscles, which allow it to crash into walls and the ground without breaking. The soft actuators, mechanisms that operate the robot’s wings, were made with a type of electroactive polymer that has elastic qualities.
To those of us who aren’t well-versed in data or computer science, data can seem foreign and intimidating. But Giorgia Lupi has devoted her career to making statistics accessible to everyone by transforming them into visually stunning patterns that tell engaging stories about the knowledge and the people behind the data. In the past, she’s run a data visualization company, and most recently, she joined the design firm Pentagram as a partner. But in her spare time, she’s been moonlighting as a fashion designer.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar, who gets a star.]