Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were first given in 1996. The award takes
its name from Murray Leinster’s 1934 short story “Sidewise in Time,”
in which a strange storm causes portions of Earth to swap places with their
analogs from other timelines.
[Thanks to Steven H Silver and Mark Hepworth for the story.]
Jon Del Arroz says that on Friday his latest application for SFWA
membership was denied:
Same form letter as last time. No one will respond, no one will call. Looks like nothing’s changed within the org. Still a bunch of unprofessional people. I couldn’t imagine people acting like this in my real job.
Immediately after Mary Robinette Kowal took office as SFWA’s new President in July, JDA blogged that his application for membership was is already in her inbox (“A New Dawn For SFWA!” [Internet Archive link]), and he posed as a supporter: ‘Things are changing at SFWA as my friend Mary Robinette Kowal has been installed as president, after I endorsed her candidacy early on.”
Over the weekend, I was pronounced banned from SFWA, an act which is both a heavy blow to me as a professional writer trying to make a name for myself, and an atrocious act as standards are applied to me, a Hispanic author, which are not applied to many of their white members….
In contrast to JDA’s first time around, SFWA hasn’t publicly addressed
its latest action. In January 2018, the organization said on the SFWA Blog that
they had denied
an unnamed person’s membership application, which Jon Del Arroz promptly identified
as his own. Their 2018 statement began:
Recently, a science fiction writer made a very public announcement of his application to join SFWA. SFWA Bylaws section VI.1.c.i gives discretion to the membership credentials committee “regardless of qualifications.” Based on the behavior of and online statements by this writer over the preceding year or so, which the credentials committee believes is inconsistent with the obligations that SFWA members have to one another, the committee has determined that it has good and sufficient cause to deny this membership.
…At least one major publisher, Simon & Schuster, has already deemed the program illegal. In a statement released by a spokesperson, S&S said: “We have informed Audible that we consider its Captions program to be an unauthorized and brazen infringement of the rights of authors and publishers, and a clear violation of our terms of sale. We have therefore insisted that Audible not include in Captions any titles for which Simon & Schuster holds audio or text rights.”
The Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild issued statements that also said Audible’s contracts do not give the company the right to create a text product. “Existing ACX and Audible agreements do not grant Audible the right to create text versions of audiobooks, whether delivered as a full book or in segments,” the Guild statement noted. “The Captions program appears to be outright, willful copyright infringement.”
(2) DOODLE. The July 18 Google Doodle is a 4-minute
animation of the Apollo 11 mission narrated by astronaut Michael Collins.
50 years ago, NASA’s Apollo 11 mission changed our world and ideas of what is possible by successfully landing humans on the surface of the moon?—and bringing them home safely?—for the first time in history. Today’s video Doodle celebrates this moment of human achievement by taking us through the journey to the moon and back, narrated by someone with firsthand knowledge of the epic event: former astronaut and Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins.
Thank you to everyone who donated to Gahan’s gofundme. The response was amazing. We have stopped taking donations. We think that we have raised enough to take care of Gahan. Negotiations have begun again with the State and we believe that in a few months time, he could be back on State aid. Gahan is doing well. He retains his sense of humor and he is well cared for with constant support from his family. This is, and continues to be, a hard road. I’m sure there are many of you out there who have gone through this (or, are going through it). Again, Gahan’s family thanks all of you for helping. We will keep the campaign up (without taking more donations) so that we can continue putting up the updates.
Evanier started his comic book career way back in 1969, and over the years has written issues of Blackhawk, Groo the Wanderer, DNAgents, and (like me) Welcome Back, Kotter. He worked as Jack Kirby’s production assistant, which eventually resulted in his award-winning book Kirby: King of Comics. He’s won multiple Will Eisner Awards, as well an an Inkpot Award and a Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.
Our meal took place at Canter’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles, resulting in a sense of terroir greater than any other episode. As you’ll hear, he’s eaten there with both Jack Kirby and Stan Lee over the years — though not together — and he has plenty to say about both of them.
He’s also celebrating this milestone by introducing a new icon, one which better represents what the show’s all about.
By the way, those 100 episodes have featured 165
guests in 173 hours and 19 minutes of ear candy.
If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it. One of the most compelling things about NASA is its approach to failure. Failure is not penalized in its culture; it is valued for the things that it can teach to save lives or resources in the future. As Bobak Ferdowsi, a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has said, “our best mistakes are the ones we can learn from.”
What are the lessons to be learned from NASA’s failure to fly women during the Apollo era?
The most recent lesson emerged in April, when NASA had scheduled a spacewalk that was, quite by accident, staffed by two female astronauts. The agency had to restaff the spacewalk because it had only one spacesuit that was the correct size for both women.
This is not an indictment of NASA in 2019. But it does demonstrate a causal chain that begins with the Apollo program and leads through to present-day staffing choices.
Explore five iconic spacesuits in 3-D and more than 50 years of spaceflight in a dialogue between The Washington Post’s space industry reporter Christian Davenport and fashion critic Robin Givhan.
…Christian: Unlike mission patches for other flights, the Apollo 11 patch did not have the names of the crew members. Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins felt their names should be left out because the flight represented all of humankind and the 400,000 people involved in the Apollo program.
…Robin: I love that there was so much attention paid to the idea that we are doing this for peace, for exploration and for scientific discovery. Despite how big and potentially intimidating this suit could be, it is not, it looks like a happy uniform. And the patches are so Boy Scout.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 19, 1972 — The Thing With Two Heads starring Rosie Greer and Ray Milland stalked into theaters.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 19, 1883 — Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. (Died 1972.)
Born July 19, 1927 — Richard E. Geis. I’m reasonably sure I met him at least once when I was living out there. Interesting person. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. His The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo once in a tie with Algol), and once in sole first place. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his soft core porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
Born July 19, 1937 — Richard Jordan. Actor who was in Dune as Duncan Idaho, Logan’s Run as Francis, and the Queen of Air and Darkness help him, Solarbabies as Grock. He also the lead in Raise the Titanic as Dirk Pitt, a perfectly awful film as well. Not to mention he was Col. Taylor In Timebomb, a film that got a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 33%. (Died 1993.)
Born July 19, 1947 — Colin Duriez, 72. Yes, an academic, this time devoted to Lewis and Tolkien. Author of such works as J. R. R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, The C. S. Lewis Chronicles: The Indispensable Biography of the Creator of Narnia Full of Little-Known Facts, Events and Miscellany and, errr, Field Guide to Harry Potter. Well money is nice, isn’t it?
Born July 19, 1950 — Richard Pini, 69. Husband of husband-and-wife team responsible for creating the well-known Elfquest series. I’d say more but there’s nought information to be had on him.
Born July 19, 1957 — John Pelan, 62. Committed (more or less) the act of opening serial small publishing houses in succession with the first being Axolotl Press in the mid-Eighties where he published the likes of de Lint and Powers (before selling it to Pulphouse Publishing) followed by Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and finally co-founding Midnight House. All have been inactive for quite awhile now and he’s been editing such anthologies as Tales of Terror and Torment: Stories from the Pulps, Volume 1 for other presses though even that has happened for some years.
Born July 19, 1963 — Garth Richard Nix, 56. Writer of children’s and young adult fantasy novels, to wit the Keys to the Kingdom, Old Kingdom, and Seventh Tower series. The Ragwitch which I read quite some time ago is quite excellent and being a one-off can give you a good taste of him without committing to a series.
Born July 19, 1969 — Kelly Link, 50. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did a magnificent job. All of collections, Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honoured having won a Hugo Award, three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant.
Born July 19, 1976 — Benedict Cumberbatch, 43. Confession time: I really didn’t care for him in the Sherlock Holmes series, nor did I think his Khan In Star Trek Into Darkness was all that interesting but his Stephen Strange In Doctor Strange was excellent. He did do an superb job of voicing Smaug inThe Hobbit and his Grinch voicing in that film was also superb. I understand he’s the voice of Satan in Good Omens…
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range reveals the head of the alien invasion force.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969, the U.S. Postal Service is pleased to reveal two stamp designs commemorating that historic milestone. Additional details are coming about the date, time and location for the first-day-of issue ceremony.
One stamp features a photograph of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin in his spacesuit on the surface of the moon. The image was taken by astronaut Neil Armstrong. The other stamp, a photograph of the moon taken in 2010 by Gregory H. Revera of Huntsville, AL, shows the landing site of the lunar module in the Sea of Tranquility. The site is indicated on the stamp by a dot. The selvage includes an image of the lunar module.
(12) ROBOTECH REBOOT. Titan Comics announced at SDCC 2019 plans to publish Robotech Remix #1 – a radical reimagining of the sf mecha anime classic.
A new Robotech saga starts now! Robotech is reborn from the ashes of Event Horizon! New writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and artist Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron, Marvel Mangaverse) boot up Robotech: Remix, an all-new series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before
First airing in the USA in 1985, Robotech was the gateway to anime for many fans – capturing their imagination with its epic generational storyline involving war, romance, and, of course, the transforming Veritech fighters that defend the Earth against extra-terrestrial attacks.
Produced by Harmony Gold USA, the original 85-episode series delved into humanity’s struggle against a series of alien invasions, from the gigantic Zentraedi to the mysterious Invid, battling for control of advanced alien technology that crash-landed on Earth.
Thank you for joining this month’s edition of Galactoscope, where we plow through all the books that came out this most recent month of June/July 1964! Don’t thank us; it’s all part of the job…
Time Travel has been a staple of the genre since before the genre had been formalized. H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine is still a classic, and it was written last century. In the Journey’s short tenure, we have encountered at least a dozen tales involving chronological trips, with notable books including John Brunner’s Times without Number and Wallace West’s River of Time, not to mention the stand-out tales, All you Zombies!, by Robert Heinlein (and his less stand-out tale, By His Bootstraps) and The Deaths of Ben Baxter, by Robert Sheckley.
This month, we have two variations on the theme, both invoking time in their title:
… A few days before that fateful day in 1988, he had been visiting his sister-in-law’s farm when he saw something that got his heartstrings tugging and his wheels turning: a two-year-old goose who had been born with no feet, struggling to follow his fellow geese across a gravel road.
“Because I’m a Shriner,” Gene later told People magazine, “my natural instinct was to help him.” First, he tried making a fowl-sized skateboard, figuring the goose the could push along with one stump while balancing on the other, but no dice. The goose was patient, though, and Gene soon hit on a solution: a pair of patent leather baby shoes, size 0 and stuffed with foam rubber. By the time Jessica got home from school, the goose was running pell-mell around the yard, tugging at the other end of the leash. Soon, they were calling him Andy.
… Twelve-year-old Jessica may have been over Andy, but Gene’s friend at the Hastings Tribune, Gary Johansson, saw the goose’s potential. He wrote up a few lines, and almost overnight, Andy went 1980s-viral. “We had newspapers from all over the world contacting us and wanting to do stories,” says Jessica. He got on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where he shared billing with Isabella Rossellini and Martin Short. Reader’s Digest did a profile, and Peoplesplurged on a photo spread. When Nike learned that Andy preferred their brand of baby shoes, they sent him a crate, making him almost certainly the first goose to get a major sponsorship deal.
…But it couldn’t last. On October 19, 1991, Gene and Nadine got the kind of phone call every goose owner dreads. “Is Andy OK?” asked an anxious voice on the other end. A couple of Hastings residents had been out metal detecting in a local park, and had found a dead goose sporting telltale sneakers. The Flemings rushed out to the hutch. There were fresh footprints in the dirt, much bigger than size 0. Andy and his mate Paulie were nowhere to be found…
All around the world, there are conspiracy theorists who believe the Earth is flat. And their community seems to be growing, judging by attendance at flat Earth conferences and events.
Flat Earthers say YouTube was key in helping them spread their message. One researcher found that of attendees at a flat Earth conference, nearly all said they first came to the idea through the video-sharing platform.
The Google-owned company says it’s taking action to prevent conspiracy videos from reaching large numbers of people.
So how – and why – did YouTube enable the flat Earth community to grow?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus
Eckerman, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Terry Hunt,
Scott Edelman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker
LeVar Burton says that he expects to be invited to appear as Geordi La Forge on the upcoming CBS All Access series ‘Star Trek: Picard’ starring his old ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ captain Patrick Stewart. Furthermore, Burton expects other cast members to return as well. But not all at the same time.
“Each of us, I would say certainly, right? It is unreasonable to assume that he doesn’t know those people anymore, or that he stopped talking to them. And if he did there’s good storytelling in why. Are you gonna see all of us together, again, in a scene or episode? I don’t know. There’s a lot of paper that needs to be papered, before we get there.”
Alan Turing, the scientist known for helping crack the Enigma code during the second world war and pioneering the modern computer, has been chosen to appear on the new £50 note.
The mathematician was selected from a list of almost 1,000 scientists in a decision that recognised both his role in fending off the threat of German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic and the impact of his postwar persecution for homosexuality.
The announcement by the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, completes the official rehabilitation of Turing, who played a pivotal role at the Bletchley Park code and cipher centre.
In this week’s episode, R.S. Benedict is joined by Gareth and Langdon of Death Sentence, a podcast about books for people who hate books, podcasts and capitalism but like metal. And in order to Rite Gud, you’ve got to Reed Gud — in particular, why you need to read books other than Harry Potter.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with reading and enjoying Harry Potter. But you also need to read other books. Cultural intake is like a diet. There’s nothing wrong with eating chicken fingers and fries sometimes, but to be healthy you really need a variety of foods, and as an adult you probably should develop a more refined palate than just eating the same tater tots and spaghettiOs you lived on as a kid.
(5) SHORT SFF RECS. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong
says, “RSR’s monthly ratings for
July 2019 has been posted with 10 RSR-recommended stories out of 70 reviewed.”
— “July 2019 Ratings”.
Here are some quick highlights by pivoting the July Ratings by story length, new writers, and authors. (Click links to see the different views.)
New Writers: 9 stories by Campbell-eligible writers (1 recommended, free online).
Authors: 5 authors out of 65 had more than one story here: Leah Cypess, Tegan Moore, Dominica Phetteplace, Natalia Theodoridou, and Nick Wolven.
(6) LIU AND KOWAL IN NYT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The Sunday July 15, 2019 NY Times dead-tree edition
has a special section, The Next Leap — articles and photos on space
exploration, including two by sf’ers:
pp 24-25, “In Space, Unisex
Won’t Fly,” by Hugo-winner Mary Robinette Kowal. (not online yet)
Lots of pages of pix, not sure whether all will be
(7) DC IN 2021 DISSENT. Nick Larter, who identifies himself
as a Dublin 2019 member, tweeted the
following message about a motion he
may submit to the business meeting:
I am extremely disquieted by the idea that in a few weeks, we, the international science fiction community, will probably be rubber-stamping a Worldcon in the United States for 2021.
If the 2021 Worldcon goes ahead in Washington DC, then it is going to transpire that some science fiction fans who would like to attend are going to be prevented from doing so, because of their nationality, religion, or ethnicity, on account of the current immigration policies of the US. More still will run the risk of intrusive personal inconvenience or other unacceptable disruption to their travel plans, during the immigration process.
As evidence of this I cite the recent news that last year, Star Wars actor Riz Ahmed, was prevented by the US authorities from attending a US event relating to the movie. If this can happen to a public figure like Ahmed, how many ordinary fans are going to get caught up?
In all honesty, I don’t understand why the Washington DC bidders haven’t looked at the current situation in the US and said, “Y’know what, this won’t do, so we’re just going to put on plans on hold for a few years, until the open, welcoming America we once knew and loved, has come back again.”
For these reasons, I believe that our community, which has an excellent record of embracing diversity and inclusivity of all kinds, has a duty to reject Washington DC as the venue for the 2021 Worldcon. It would be grossly delinquent of us to act in any other way.
The WSFS Constitution provides for
what to do if members reject the eligible bids, but as I recall, it doesn’t
authorize the business meeting to refuse to seat a bid picked by site selection
voters. If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct me in five… four… three…
(8) DRAGON AWARDS DEADLINE. The Red Panda Fraction reminds
everyone that the
deadline for the nominations for the 2019 Dragon Awards is this Friday, July 19.
Here’s the link to the nominations
page. The Pandas have also borrowed an idea from Renay and created an
eligible works spreadsheet:
We also had many more people work on the Dragon Awards Google Docs spreadsheet (Dragon Awards Eligible Works 2019) this year since we got it up much earlier than last year. The anonymous contributors did a lot of work and even added extra information about possible nominees that I hadn’t thought of. It should make it easier for folks to find nominees.
(9) SHECHTER OBIT. Andi Malala Shechter died this morning,
at the end of a months-long battle with an aggressive cancer called a glioblastoma, stage 4, otherwise known as
Shechter lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston and Seattle over the years. Her time in fandom dates at least to the New
York Star Trek conventions of the Seventies. Toward the end of that decade she
married Alva Rogers (1923-1982), who had co-chaired the 1968 Worldcon. In the
Eighties, she moved to Boston, was active in Boskones, and served as a division
head for Noreascon 3, the 1989 Worldcon. In the Nineties, she moved to Seattle
with her long-time partner, Stu Shiffman (1954-2014).
Shechter was a powerful force in both sff and mystery fandom. She wrote numerous mystery reviews, and twice chaired Left Coast Crime, in 1997 and again in 2007. She was named fan guest of honor of LCC in 2001.
In 2013 Andi and Stu, who had been together for 25 years, announced their engagement. At the time Stu was trying to recover from a stroke. On June 18, 2014 they married in a ceremony at University of Washington’s Burke Museum with nearly 100 in attendance. Very sadly, Stu passed away before the end of the year.
Many of Andi’s friends are leaving
tributes on her Facebook page
– some are set to public, others are set to closer accessibility.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 15, 1769 — Clement C. Moore. I know it’s High Summer, but it’s His Birthday. Author of the Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, first published anonymously in 1823 which led to some bitter dispute over who wrote it. It later became much better known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” (Died 1863.)
Born July 15, 1796 — Thomas Bulfinch. Author of Bullfinch’s Mythology, which I’m certain I had in at least several University courses taught by older white males. They are the classic myths without unnecessary violence, sex, or ethnographic background. And heterosexual of course as Bullfinch was an ardent anti-homosexual campaigner. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology would mercifully supersede it. (Died 1867.)
Born July 15, 1918 — Dennis Feltham Jones. His first novel Colossus was made into Colossus: The Forbin Project. He went on to write two more novels in the series, The Fall of Colossus and Colossus and the Crab, which in my opinion became increasingly weird. iBooks and Kindle have the Colossus trilogy plus a smattering of his other works available. (Died 1981.)
Born July 15, 1927 — Joe Turkel, 92. I first noticed him as Lloyd, the ghostly bartender in The Shining followed by his being Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner. He’s the Sheriff in Village of the Giants based somewhat off on H.G. Wells’ The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, Malcolm (uncredited) in Visit to a Small Planet and Paxton Warner in The Dark Side of the Moon. Series wise, he’s been on Fantasy Island, Tales from the Dark Side, Land of the Giants and One Step Beyond.
Born July 15, 1931 — Clive Cussler, 88. Pulp author. If I had to pick his best novels, I’d say that would be Night Probe and Raise the Titantic, possibly also Vixen 03. His real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private maritime archaeological group has found several important wrecks including the Manassas, the first ironclad of the civil war.
Born July 15, 1944 — Jan-Michael Vincent. First Lieutenant Jake Tanner in the film version of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley which somehow I’ve avoided seeing so far. Is it worth seeing? Commander in Alienator and Dr. Ron Shepherd in, and yes this is the name, Xtro II: The Second Encounter. Not to mention Zepp in Jurassic Women. (Don’t ask.) If Airwolf counts as genre, he was helicopter pilot and aviator Stringfellow Hawke in it. (Died 2019.)
Born July 15, 1957 — Forest Whitaker, 62. His best known genre roles are such as in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Saw Gerrera and in The Black Panther as Zuri. He’s had other genre appearances including Major Collins in Body Snatchers, Nate Pope in Phenomenon, Ker in Battlefield Earth for which he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, Ira in Where the Wild Things Are, Jake Freivald In Repo Men (anyone see this?) and he was, and though I’ve somehow managed not to see any of it, Host of Twilight Zone.
Born July 15, 1963 — Brigitte Nielsen, 56. Red Sonja! What’d a way to launch your film career. Mind you her next genre films were 976-Evil II and Galaxis…
Born July 15, 1967 — Christopher Golden, 52. Where to start? The Veil trilogy was excellent as was The Hidden Cities series co-authored with Tim Lebbon. The Menagerie series co-authored with Thomas E. Sniegoski annoyed me because it never got concluded. Straight On ‘Til Morning is one damn scary novel.
Born July 15, 1979 — Laura Benanti, 40. Her foremost genre role was was a dual one as Alura Zor-El and Astra In-Ze on Supergirl. Interestingly she took on that role on CBS just before assuming the role as Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, another CBS property. She also has a long theatrical career including playing The Goddess in The Tempest and Cinderella in Into the Woods.
The idea of turning a Hostess snack cake into cereal isn’t totally insane. That was proven by the first two Hostess products that were introduced in bowl-worthy form courtesy of Post last year: Honey Bun Cereal and Donettes Cereal. Both honey buns and mini-donuts can be breakfast. Are they the healthiest breakfasts? Obviously not. But probably most everyone reading this has eaten one of those things for breakfast in the past — and at the very least, if someone told you they ate a Hostess Honey Bun or a pack of Donettes for breakfast, you wouldn’t stare them down in disgust. However, if someone told you they ate a Twinkie for breakfast…
(13) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter reports the game
show’s latest stfnal reference. (Photo by Brett Cox.)
Final Jeopardy – Women Authors
Answer: An award for works of horror, dark fantasy & psychological suspense honors this author who came to fame with a 1948 short story.
People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.
It’s a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it’s raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.
“It is noteworthy that we’re in our 260th day of a flood fight on the Mississippi River, the longest in history, and that this is the first time in history a hurricane will strike Louisiana while the Mississippi River has been at flood stage,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in response to a question about climate change at a Friday news conference.
Computer pioneer Fernando Corbato, who first used passwords to protect user accounts, has died aged 93.
…Dr Corbato reportedly died as a result of complications caused by diabetes.
…He joined MIT in 1950 to study for a doctorate in physics, but realised during those years that he was more interested in the machines that physicists used to do their calculations than in the subject itself.
Using computers during the 50s was an exercise in frustration because the huge, monolithic machines could only handle one processing job at a time.
In a bid to overcome this limitation, Dr Corbato developed an operating system for computers called the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS).
…Passwords were introduced to CTSS as a way for users to hide away the files and programs they were working on from others on the same machine.
Burning Man started three decades ago as a low-key gathering of friends who celebrated summer solstice on a West Coast beach by setting a wooden man aflame.
Now, event organizers say the counterculture gathering of arts, music and communal living is eyeing attendance in the six figures, leading to a months-long struggle with federal regulators over whether its swelling size will cause long-term harm to the environment and even make the event vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
The battle is heating up as Burning Man officials attempt to secure a new 10-year permit to allow the August gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to jump from its current capacity of 80,000 to 100,000. But the Bureau of Land Management is clamping down.
In a recent report assessing Burning Man’s environmental impact, the BLM capped the festival population at 80,000, citing an abundance of trash generated by the thousands of revelers and a host of safety concerns for eventgoers as well as for the federally protected land.
A preliminary report from the BLM called for new regulations, including an attendance cap, mandatory security screenings and a concrete barrier to encircle the perimeter. Federal officials have since eased those controls for now, except for the population cap.
Still, longtime participants say the government tightening its grip on the growing event threatens the anarchic principles that underpin the festival.
(19) AREA 51 WARNING. All those
of you who never watch Fox News should shut your eyes at this point:
Officials warn public of dangers at secretive Nevada base and signal that the Air Force stands ready; national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin report from the Pentagon.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, mlex,
Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew
It seems likely that at least some characters from Picard’s past might show up on our screens again—here are 25 Next Generation characters ranked from least likely to most likely that they’ll beam-in and hang out with Jean-Luc.
(2) DOTS NICE. Edmund
Schluessel shares his experiences at Finncon 2019, which took place this past
weekend in a place with lots of dots in the name in Finland.
…Finncon 2019 took place 5-7 July in Jyväskylä, which as a town hardly seems like a place — the city, center is just a half dozen square blocks. Nonetheless the University of Jyväskylä is a major center of learning in Finland and their hosting of the Con afforded a good venue eerily devoid of students in the high summer. The Con ran seven or eight program items at once, spread across three floors, and filled many of them up to the fire limit. As is the norm for Finnish conventions, there was no registration fee and many people simply arrived as they pleased.
…The con boasted four guests of honor, author Charles Stross, editor Cheryl Morgan, translator Kersti Juva and professor Raine Koskimaa who headed up the academic track. This lineup underlines one of the things that sets Finnish conventions apart and allies them more closely with Eastern European and Continental fandom: conventions in Finland are seen as not just fandom events but literary events, where people attend not just to enjoy and appreciate genre works but discuss them and their cultural contexts seriously and to examine the process of creating them….
(3) BLISH 1970 GOH TALK. A photo-illustrated 38-minute audio recording of James Blish’s GoH speech at Sci-Con 70, the 1970 British Eastercon, has been uploaded to Fanac.org’s YouTube channel.
An interesting talk tracing the history of science fiction from well accepted general literature to a literary ghetto and back to general respectability. With wit, insight and quiet passion, James Blish (who was also the respected critic William Atheling Jr.) talks about science fiction before the debut of Amazing ,and his perceptions of the malign influence of the specialty magazine. Jim discusses the impact of technology on society’s attitude towards science fiction, and where we might go from here. Audio recording enhanced with 40 images. Recording and photos provided by Bill Burns, who was part of the Sci-Con 70 committee.
(4) POP CULTURAL ABUNDANCE. Alasdair Stuart is back with a refill: “The Full Lid 5th July 2019”. “This week, we go to Glastonbury for Stormzy and Lizzo, to Steven Universe for Sarah Gailey’s extraordinary comics debut, The Walking Dead 193 for the end of the line and Spider-Man: Far From Home for life after Endgame. And then, we tie them all together.” Here’s the beginning of the Steven Universe segment —
After another successful mission, Amethyst hits a sad spell. The other Crystal Gems know to leave well alone but Steven, worried about his friend, sets out to cheer her up.
This comic needs to be taught in schools and workplaces. Not just because it’s a great piece of visual storytelling, it is. Sarah Gailey‘s script maps onto the big action, fast moving and weirdly peaceful world of the series and its characters beautifully. Rii Arbrego’s art is expressive, kinetic and kind. Whitney Cogar’s colours and Mike Fiorentino’s letters nail the feel and pace of the world to a tee. If you love the show, you’ll love this book.
But that’s not the reason this one hit me between the eyes. It did that because this is a story about depression, living with it and living with people with depression. One that uses the vehicle of the show to communicate clearly and directly a vital message that gets lost far too often.
(5) MULAN TRAILER. Disney has dropped a teaser trailer
for its live action version of Mulan.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
However, fans have noticed a couple of major omissions from
(6) ICE CREAM GRIDLOCK. John King Tarpinian heard a
lot of folks are accepting the invitation to Step Inside Scoops Ahoy
– Baskin-Robbins’ tribute to Stranger Things’ new season: “A friend
drove by yesterday. She said the line of people was around the block and
the queue of cars wanting to enter was equally as long.”
Step Inside Scoops Ahoy
Sail on over to our Burbank, CA location*, where Scoops Ahoy has been recreated exactly as the Hawkins gang would have experienced it over 30 years ago. It will feel like you’ve stepped right into the show – but it won’t be here for long!
*Scoops Ahoy Address: 1201 S Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. Open July 2 –16.
Last month, I talked about the successful German film series based on the novels of British thriller writer Edgar Wallace as well as the many imitators they inspired. The most interesting of those imitators and the only one that is unambiguously science fiction is the Dr. Mabuse series.
Dr. Mabuse is not a new character. His roots lie in the Weimar Republic and he first appeared on screen in 1922 in Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse – The Gambler, based on the eponymous novel by Luxembourgian writer Norbert Jacques.
Brauner was a fascinating person, a Holocaust survivor who went on to produce more than a hundred movies, ranging from forgettable softcore erotica to Academy Award winners. Most of the official obituaries focus on his serious Holocaust and WWII movies, but he did so much more. His genre contributions include the Mabuse movies, the 1966/67 two part fantasy epic The Nibelungs and the 1959 science fiction film Moon Wolf.
Born July 8, 1942 — Otto Penzler, 77. He’s proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City who edits anthologies. Oh, does he edit them, over fifty that I know of, some of genre interest including The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! and The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories which an original Lester Dent story in it.
Born July 8, 1951 — Anjelica Huston, 68. I’m going to single her out for her performance as The Grand High Witch of All The World, or Eva Ernst in The Witches, a most delicious film. She was also wonderful as Morticia Addams in both of the Addams Family films, and made an interesting Viviane, Lady of the Lake in The Mists of Avalon miniseries.
Born July 8, 1914 — Hans Stefan Santesson. Trifecta of editor, writer, and reviewer. He edited Fantastic Universe from 1956 to 1960, and the US edition of the British New Worlds Science Fiction. In the Sixties, he edited a lot of anthologies including The Fantastic Universe Omnibus, The Mighty Barbarians: Great Sword and Sorcery Heroes and Crime Prevention in the 30th Century. As a writer, he had a handful of short fiction, none of which is available digitally. His reviews appear to be all in Fantastic Universe in the Fifties. (Died 1975.)
Born July 8, 1955 — Susan Price, 64. English author of children’s and YA novels. She has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for British children’s books. The Pagan Mars trilogy is her best known work, and In The Sterkarm Handshake and its sequel A Sterkarm Kiss, will please Outlander fans.
Born July 8, 1958 — Kevin Bacon, 61. The role I best remember him in isValentine “Val” McKee in Tremors. He also played Sebastian Shaw, Jack Burrell in Friday the 13th, David Labraccio in the most excellent Flatliners and Sebastian Caine in the utterly disgusting Hollow Man.
Born July 8, 1958 — Billy Crudup, 61. William “Will” Bloom in Big Fish is a most wonderful role. His take on Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen is quite amazing. And he’s in Christopher Oram in Alien: Covenant, a film I’ve no interest in seeing as that series as it’s run far too long.
Born July 8, 1978 — George Mann, 41. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favorite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work.
MISSION? Mary Robinette Kowal noted an anomaly about a new commemorative Lego
figure. (Hamilton did this a
few years later.)
In March 1966, a group of 14 scientists, working on behalf of NASA, produced an astonishing report about a delicate topic: How to go to the Moon without polluting the Moon.
The conclusion: You can’t.
Simply landing a spaceship and astronauts on the Moon was going to bring with it an astonishing fog of alien pollution.
The lunar module’s rocket engine, hovering the spaceship down from orbit and running until the moment the lunar module touched the surface, was burning almost 1,000 pounds of fuel every 30 seconds, and spraying its exhaust across the Moon nonstop.
The lunar module itself vented both gases and water vapor, and when the astronauts got ready to leave for a Moon walk, they emptied the entire cabin—humidity, air, any particles floating in the atmosphere—right out onto the Moon.
When the lunar module blasted off to head for orbit, the ascent engine would again spray the surface of the Moon with chemicals.
“Look at it this way,” he said. “Suppose there were germs on the moon. There are germs on the moon, we come back, the command module is full of lunar germs. The command module lands in the Pacific Ocean, and what do they do? Open the hatch. You got to open the hatch! All the damn germs come out!”
Buzz Aldrin made a similar point as footage showed the astronauts being disinfected as they were on a raft next to the spacecraft they’d splashed down to Earth on.
He said that the rescuers had cleaned him down with a rag – and then thrown that same rag straight into the water….
PLURIBUS SPACE. Live in the US? NASA now has an
interactive map to let you know what your state’s contribution to their mission
is. Zoom in and click away — NASA in
the 50 States.
1) “A Witch’s Guide To Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” Alix E. Harrow
This does have a plot, one that’s heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time: a librarian/witch who gives a broken foster kid the Book he needs most, and with it the means to escape his life into another world. The fact that the author uses examples of real books (Harry Potter, et al) to illustrate her story’s points give it real power, and is one of the reasons I couldn’t forget it. When you can’t get a story out of your head, no matter how much reading you’ve done since, that makes a story award-worthy. As I said, I would be happy if just about any of these stories won…but I’m pulling for this one.
I’ll begin with a bit of an ongoing gripe: once again, the actual home of short-form dramas in the 1940s – the ubiquitous and very popular radio shows – has been ignored in favour of cartoon shorts and movies which aren’t quite long enough to reach the Long Form cut-off point. Harrumph, say I, harrumph.
WHAT A WEB THEY WEAVE. What has 24 legs and catches
flies? In “Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man”, SYFY Wire looks
at the first solo films for each of the three tries at Spider-Man in the last
decade plus. Let’s just say the article expresses strong preferences.
…When Tobey Maguire was cast as Peter Parker, Spidey fans had all but given up hope ever to see the webhead on the big screen. Rights issues and development hell had besieged the character for years, so when Spider-Man finally made it to theaters, audiences were thrilled. That goodwill extended through Spider-Man 2, but when Spider-Man 3 came around in 2007 … there was some frustration. Five years later, Andrew Garfield swung into our collective conscious as the Amazing Spider-Man. Then, in 2014, Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out, and the less said about that one the better. Finally, Marvel Studios got their most popular character back to make a home in the MCU, and in 2017 Tom Holland made his solo debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
(18) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter on the game show beat
files this report:
The category: Fictional Languages; contestants had to guess who created them.
Answer: Valyrian, Braavosi.
No one got: Who is George R.R. Martin?
(19) SPOUSAL DISPUTE. Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman disagree
whether Neil used to sport a mullet. There is a photo…
Before Jarret Stopforth takes his first sip of coffee, he adds cream and sugar to mask the bitterness.
But then, he thought, why settle for a regular cup of joe? So the food scientist decided to re-engineer coffee, brewing it without the bitterness — or the bean. “I started thinking, we have to be able to break coffee down to its core components and look at how to optimize it,” he explains.
Stopforth, who has worked with other food brands like Chobani, Kettle & Fire and Soylent, partnered with entrepreneur Andy Kleitsch to launch Atomo. The pair turned a Seattle garage into a brewing lab, and spent four months running green beans, roasted beans and brewed coffee through gas and liquid chromatography to separate and catalog more than 1,000 compounds in coffee to create a product that had the same color, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel as coffee.
“As we got deeper into the process, we learned more about the threats to the coffee world as a whole — threats to the environment from deforestation, global warming and [a devastating fungus called] rust, and we were even more committed to making a consistently great coffee that was also better for the environment,” Stopforth says.
The future of coffee is uncertain. The amount of land suitable for growing coffee is expected to shrink by an estimated 50 percent by 2050, according to a report by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
(21) THE SPLASH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL. Translate tweet: “I’m so grateful when anybody pays attention to me. Thank you! Please don’t stop!” You’re welcome, Richard.
(22) ROBERT MCCAMMON RAP VIDEO. Bestselling author Robert McCammon
wrote a song about his creations and worked with filmmaker Chuck Hartsell to produce
a music video that features some of them.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Edmund
Schluessel, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Soon Lee, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike
Kennedy, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) IN OPINIONS YET TO COME. Brooke Bolander is the latest
sff author to pen a futuristic op-ed for the New York Times.
As Tor.com puts it –
Asking “Who Should Live in Flooded Old New York?” Bolander imagines a time in which it’s illegal to live in the flooded remains of NYC, with the only residents being those who are too poor to move elsewhere. In this future, Mr. Rogers’ theme song has turned into an “old folk song,” and “draconian federal regulations” punish those remaining, while millionaires running illegal tourism schemes in the city get off scot-free.
Sanford interviewed Fritz Foy, president and publisher of Tom Doherty Associates, the unit
of Macmillan that includes Tor, who shared “an unprecedented look at their
…To discover if library ebook lending was indeed hurting sales, Macmillan used their Minotaur imprint as a control group and Tor Books as an experimental group. The two groups have books which sold in similar patterns along with authors and book series which drove steady sales from year to year.
Foy was surprised by the experiment’s stark results.
“All but one title we compared (in the Tor experiment group) had higher sales after the four month embargo on ebook sales to libraries,” he said. “And the only title where we didn’t see this happen had bad reviews. And when you looked at the control group, sales remained the same.”
Amazon Studios’ high-profile The Lord of the Rings TV series has made a key hire. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been tapped to direct the first two episodes of the big-scope fantasy drama, following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson, who directed the feature adaptations of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novels.
…Bayona’s first feature film, critically acclaimed thriller The Orphanage, executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, premiered to a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and later won seven Goya Awards in Spain, including best new director.
Bayona most recently directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide last year. He also directed the features The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, as well as the first two episodes of Showtime’s hit series Penny Dreadful.
Amazon’s $1.5 billion (£1.19bn) Lord of the Rings series looks set to begin filming in New Zealand this month, after producers reportedly got cold feet about shooting in Scotland.
The NZ Herald reports that a “huge” part of the series, said to be the most expensive TV show ever made, will be produced in Auckland, specifically at the Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios, with an official announcement coming this month. The report states that pre-production on the Amazon show has been based at the two studios for the last year.
Producers were also said to be considering Scotland as a production base, but New Zealand’s public-service radio broadcaster Radio New Zealand (Radio NZ), claims “the tumultuous Brexit situation hindered Scotland’s pitch”.
(5) RESNICK RETURNS TO FB. Mike Resnick gave
Facebook readers a medical update about his frightening health news:
Sorry to be absent for a month. 4 weeks ago I was walking from one room to the next when I collapsed. Carol called the ambulance, and 2 days later I woke up in the hospital minus my large intestine. Just got home last night.
competition is open to original, unpublished short stories of not more than
6,000 words by non-professional writers. The award, established in 2000, offers
non-professional writers the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone, the UK’s leading sf magazine. The
deadline for submissions was June 28. The winner will be announced in August.
(8) JUMANJI. The next sequel
will be in theaters at Christmas.
In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 3, 1958 — Fiend Without A Face premiered.
July 3, 1985 – Back to the Future was released.
July 3, 1996 – Independence Day debuted in theaters.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 3, 1898 — E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, also angered many Southern readers. (Died 1998.)
Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well, that is his bio. Rotsler was a four-time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a “Retro-Hugo” for his work in 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He responsible for giving Uhura her first name, created “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”, popularized the idea fans wore propeller beanies and well, being amazing sounding. (Died 1997.)
Born July 3, 1927 — Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run. Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar Man, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Wonder Woman, Knight Rider, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Altered States is his best known SF film but he’s also done The Devils, an historical horror film, and Alice in Russialand. Russell had a cameo in the film adaptation of Brian Aldiss’s novel Brothers of the Head by the directors of Lost in La Mancha. And, of course, he’s responsible for The Who’s Tommy. (Died 2012.)
Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 82. Screenplay writer, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which is adjacent genre if not actually genre. Also scripted of course Brazil which he co-authored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeow. He also did the final Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade final rewrite of Jeffrey Boam’s rewrite of Menno Meyjes’s screenplay. And finally Shakespeare in Love which he co-authored with Marc Norman.
Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 76. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue Thunder, The Terrible Thunderlizards, The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Men in Black: The Series, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Judtice League, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern and Beware the Batman. His last role was as Vernon Masters as the superb Agent Carter.
Born July 3, 1962 — Tom Cruise, 57. I’m reasonably sure his first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in the abysmal Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in the even far more abysmal War of The Worlds. I’ve not seen him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas then Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy.
The purpose of the Aurora Awards Voter Package is simple. Before you vote for the Aurora Awards this year, we want you to be able to read as much of the nominated work as possible, so you can make and informed decision about what is the best of the year. Please note: the package is only available while voting is open. Remember voting ends September 14, 2019 at 11:59:59 EDT!
The electronic versions of these Aurora Award nominated works are made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. If you like what you read, please support the creators by purchasing their works, which are available in bookstores and online.
(14) EN ROUTE. John Hertz, while packing for his journey to Spikecon,
paused to quote from the classics:
Farewell my friends, farewell my foes;
To distant planets Freddy goes;
To face grave perils he intends.
Farewell my foes, goodbye my friends.
(16) JDA REAPPLIES TO SFWA. Mary Robinette Kowal took
office as SFWA’s new President at the start of the month. Jon Del Arroz says
his latest application for membership is already in her inbox: “A
New Dawn For SFWA!” [Internet Archive link].
Things are changing at SFWA as my friend Mary Robinette Kowal has been installed as president, after I endorsed her candidacy early on.
…As she has featured my books on her blog not once, but twice, I know that Ms. Kowal’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is important to her, and she will be doing everything she can to change the perception that SFWA is a place where Conservatives and Christians are not welcome to be called professional authors.
As such, I have reapplied to SFWA as of yesterday, and let Ms. Kowal know, so we can begin the long journey of working together to ensure equality for Conservative and Christian authors. I’ve offered my services as an ambassador to the community, so she will directly be able to hear the grievances of such authors who have been treated as second class citizens — dare I say, 3/5ths of a professional author — for so long now within the science fiction community.
On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.
But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.
A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.
In Joe and Jack C. Haldeman’s There Is No Darkness, English is an obscure language, spoken only on backwater worlds and a few places on Earth. We don’t know exactly when the book takes place, as year zero has been set to the founding of the (future) Confederacion. We are told the year is A.C. 354.
What we see of a future Texas suggests that it’s still as recognizably American as Justinian’s Constantinople would have been recognizably Roman. While the region seems a bit down at heel, it’s also one of the more optimistic takes on a future America.
(19) SCALZI GIVEAWAY. Or maybe Christmas will come early and
you can read this:
Aigamo is a Japanese farming method that uses ducks to keep unwanted plants and parasites out of rice paddy fields. This duck crossbreed is able to keep the paddy clear without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and the fowls’ waste actually works as a pretty good fertilizer.
The method was first introduced in the 16th century but soon fell out of favor. It wasn’t reintroduced as a natural farming method until 1985 and it quickly became popular across the country as well as in China, Iran, France, and other countries.
About 15 ducks can keep a 1,000-square-meter area clear of insects, worms, and weeds, and they even enrich the water with oxygen by constantly stirring up the soil. But as humans are prone to do, an engineer from Nissan Motor, needed to build a better mousetrap, although this one may not have too many beating down a path to his door.
Created as a side project, the Aigamo Robot looks less like its namesake and more like a white, floating Roomba with eyes. While the ducks can be trained to patrol specific areas, the robot employs Wi-Fi and GPS to help the robot stir up the soil and keep bugs at bay, though no word yet on how much ground it can cover in a single day.
(21) SPIDER TO THE FLIER. Have you seen “United–Fly Like a
Superhero” on YouTube? The Spider-Man version of the United Airlines
safety video? Too bad it’s
not as much fun as the Air New Zealand hobbit videos.
(22) STRANGE VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “9 Ways To Draw A Person” on Vimeo, Sasha
Svirsky offers a strange video that doesn’t actually tell you how to draw a
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jason
Sanford, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chip
Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
(1) KLOOS SIGNS OFF TWITTER. Marko Kloos left Facebook
seven months ago, and today deleted his Twitter account, too. He explains why
in “Writing and the
I have to come to realize that over the last few years, the Internet has had a profoundly corrosive effect on my professional output and occasionally even my emotional health.
This effect has been especially severe in two areas: social media and email, both of which basically constituted my consent to being easily and directly available to contact by anyone with an Internet connection. In Twitter’s case, that contact has also been fully public, which means that anyone with a Twitter account has been able to see and share any conversation I’ve had with people outside of direct messages.
As of today, I am withdrawing that consent by getting off social media and curtailing my availability via email.
Late last year, I got so tired of the constant necessity to curate my Facebook feed and the drama resulting from pruning my Friends list that I pulled the plug for good and deleted my account. In the seven months since then, I have not missed it, and beyond a few concerned messages from long-time Facebook acquaintances, my absence has been inconsequential to the world and a lot less aggravation and anxiety in my life. Last night, I deleted my Twitter account as well, for slightly different reasons that boil down to the strong feeling that it will have a similar life-improving consequence….
… To put it bluntly: I can no longer allow anyone with a smartphone and a data plan the potential ability to darken my day or interrupt my work by trying to pick an argument or fill my Twitter feed with aggravating stuff. Most emails and Twitter interactions with fans have been fun and positive, but there have been exceptions. And even the well-meaning emails from happy readers take a slice out of my writing time.
… And hoo boy, their expectations were met. That inaugural installment of Jessica Jones was a true humdinger. It was distinctive without being flashy, mature without being ponderous, ambitious without being self-satisfied, sexy without being exploitative, and just … good. I can’t tell you how much of a revelation a good superhero show was at that time. We were used to spandex outings that were inane, formulaic, and utterly uninterested in pushing a single envelope. But here was a tale that seemed like it was going to grapple with everything from PTSD to queerness and do it all with style. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg and star Krysten Ritter genuinely seemed to be elevating the game. As soon as the screening was done, I rushed to the lobby to get reception and email my editor like an old-timey reporter clamoring for a pay phone just after getting a hot scoop. I have seen the future of superheroes, I thought, and it is Marvel Netflix.
If it ever was the future, it is now the past. This week sees the barely ballyhooed release of the third and final season of Jessica Jones, which is itself the final season of Marvel’s four-year Netflix experiment. Its death has been agonizingly and humiliatingly gradual: Over the course of the past few months, each of the five ongoing series that made it up has been given the ax, one after another. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher; their fans saw them all go the way of the dodo — without fanfare….
(3) ENDS WITH A BANG. Fast Company’s article “The most expensive hyphen in history” unpacks an historic incident in the U.S. space program (that inspired a scene in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars.)
Mariner 1 was launched atop a 103-foot-tall Atlas-Agena rocket at 5:21 a.m. EDT. For 3 minutes and 32 seconds, it rose perfectly, accelerating to the edge of space, nearly 100 miles up.
But at that moment, Mariner 1 started to veer in odd, unplanned ways, first aiming northwest, then pointing nose down. The rocket was out of control and headed for the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. Four minutes and 50 seconds into flight, a range safety officer at Cape Canaveral—in an effort to prevent the rocket from hitting people or land—flipped two switches, and explosives in the Atlas blew the rocket apart in a spectacular cascade of fireworks visible back in Florida.
… A single handwritten line, the length of a hyphen, doomed the most elaborate spaceship the U.S. had until then designed, along with its launch rocket. Or rather, the absence of that bar doomed it. The error cost $18.5 million ($156 million today).
(4) BATMAN AT 80. The Society of Illustrators is opening several momentous Batman exhibits at its New York museum.
Join us for a celebration of three momentous exhibits:
Starting out with Dirk Gently, Adams breaks away from the science-fiction/comedy genre a bit, creating a “ghost-horror-detective-time travel-romantic comedy epic” as the promotional copy on the hardback release claims. It does combine several divergent plotlines that mostly come together at the end. The main characters include a computer programmer, a mysterious detective, and an eccentric professor along with an Electric Monk, and an ancient ghost (as well as a more recent one). Part of the plot line of the book is similar to the Doctor Who story “City Of Death” with the main characters involved with an alien being from the past and using a time travel machine to defeat it. The time travelling done in Dirk Gently seems to be done by TARDIS. The professor in the book is Professor Chronotis from the Doctor Who story Shada that was written by Douglas Adams but was never completed. The setting of Cambridge, is also the same. Overall, it is an enjoyable book, although a bit hard to follow at times.
With the release of the HHG Companion book, even more links with Doctor Who are made known. Neil Gaiman has done a good job chronicling the history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide along with the rest of Douglas Adams career to date.
(6) CHANDLER AWARD. This is what the 2019 A. Bertram Chandler Award looks like – Edwina Harvey posted the photo.
The Lorax would be devastated to hear that the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss’ 1971 children’s book has fallen.
The Monterey Cypress tree was at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, California, the seaside community where author Theodor Seuss Geisel lived from 1948 until his death in 1991.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 18, 1964 — The Twilight Zone aired its series finale: “The Bewitchin’ Pool”.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. He was voiced both the Man of Steel and Clark Kent on The Adventures Of Superman radio show in the Forties on the Mutual Broadcasting System. He also voiced them in the animated The New Adventures of Superman which was a Filmation production. Joan Alexander voiced Lois Lane in both shows. (Died 1969.)
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. You likely know him as Paladin on Have Gun – Will Travel, but he does have some genre appearances including on The Last Dinosaur as Maston Thrust Jr. and in Rankin Bass’s The Hobbit the voice of Smaug. He also played Robert Kraft in I Bury the Living, a horror flick that I think has zombies and more zombies. (Died 1981.)
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. He was a fan who was a legendary book dealer that really hated being called a huckster. He was active at SF conventions from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. He was guest of honor at ICON (Iowa) 12. Fancyclopedia 3 says it was themed “money-grubbing capitalist con” in his honor. (Died 2012.)
Born June 18, 1942 — Paul McCartney, 77. Well, I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre, but I’m not. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album.
Born June 18, 1945 — Redmond Simonsen. Coined term ‘games designer’. Best remembered for his design of the Seventies games Starforce: Alpha Centauri, Battlefleet Mars and Sorcerer. He cofounded Simulations Publications Inc (SPI) with James Dunnigan. (Died 2005.)
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 72. Best known for playing Tara King in The Avengers. For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the Saint, Tales from the Darkside, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, F/X: The Series and Monsters.
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 70. He won two Caldecott Medals for U.S. picture book illustration, for Jumanji and ThePolar Express, both of which were made into films. Guess which one I like? He illustrated A City in Winter by Mark Helprin which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 61. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for Daw Books in 1985. Her latest was Michelle West’s First Born that came out this year on Daw Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Close To Home is there when diplomas are handed out at the Academy of Paranormal Studies.
A star of Avengers: Endgame, one of the biggest movies of all time, was completely excised from a modified pirated version of the film — along with everything else in the film seen as feminist or gay.
An anonymous fan edited out shots, scenes and characters in a “defeminized” version circulating now on an illegal streaming site. As well as losing Larson’s character, Captain Marvel, the defeminized edit is missing a scene where Hawkeye teaches his daughter to shoot. (“Young women should learn skills to become good wives and mothers and leave the fighting to men,” the editor opined in an accompanying document.) The role of Black Panther is minimized. (“He’s really not that important.”) Spider-Man doesn’t get rescued by women characters anymore. (“No need to.”) And male characters no longer hug.
(15) PITCH MEETING. Step
inside the pitch meeting that led to the final season of Game of Thrones!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
Die Kasseler Liste is a growing database that presently comprises 125,000 data sets. It documents the global scale of censorship. Book bans persist across the world, on all continents, with varying reach and intensity, depending on political and social contexts.
Die Kasseler Liste covers vast territories and a large time frame. The earliest entries are taken from the „Index Librorum Prohibitorum,” which the catholic church first published in 1559 and which is represented in the database in its final version from 1948. It is but one example for censorship originating not only from government institutions. Civil and religious institutions similarly have their own history of systematically infringing on the right to freedom of expression. The Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, also featured in Die Kasseler Liste, is another case in point, where rigid and coercive reading directions provide the members with a tiered index. On the other hand, school districts and school libraries in the United States of America also have a record of systematically banning books from their collections.
…But even taking the known problems with the Retro Hugos into consideration, the breadth and variety of stories on the 1944 Retro Hugo ballot is astounding (pun fully intended), as is the fact that quite a few of them don’t really fit into the prevailing image image of what Golden Age science fiction was like. And this doesn’t just apply to left-field finalists such as Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse in the novel category or Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Magic Bed-Knob by Mary Norton in the novella category, neither of whom I would have expected to make the Hugo ballot in 1944, if only because US science fiction fans wouldn’t have been familiar with them. No, there also is a lot of variety in the stories which originated in US science fiction magazines.
So let’s take a look at the novelette category at the 1944 Retro Hugos….
…The message of The Phantom Menace is that even the most stable of societies can topple with the smallest push — in this case a minor trade dispute that sets the stage for the rise of a previously obscure senator with imperial ambitions. As he did with A New Hope, Lucas cloaked that larger lesson in a PG-rated adventure that’s made with children in mind … but not the children who saw Star Wars in theaters in the ’70s. And so — unhappy with a Star Wars movie that wasn’t the Star Wars they remembered — a sizable segment of the fanbase made their displeasure known, embracing an image of themselves as the keepers of the flame, which meant that their opinion of Star Wars was the only correct opinion of Star Wars.
They found an outlet on the still-young medium the internet, where like-minded critics could congregate and launch their arguments or personal attacks anonymously out on the franchise’s creator and other fans as the prequel series continued…
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
One of these movies did not feature Jar Jar Binks. I hope it isn’t too toxic of me to point that out.
May 19, 1966 — The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters premiered in theaters.
May 19, 1999 — Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released theatrically.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens, before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. (Died 2019.)
Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of all-time favourite films. Also an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero and The Six Million Dollar Man. (Died 1993.)
Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 71. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last genre role to date was Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl.
Born May 19, 1948 — Paul Steven Williams. Editor, Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and the PKDS Newsletter. Writer, The Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick of Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon, Storyteller. (Died 2013.)
Born May 19, 1966 — Polly Walker, 53. She’s performed on Caprica as Clarice Willow and on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Charlotte Dupres, as well as performing the voice work for Sarkoja in John Carter. And she was in Clash of the Titans as Cassiopeia.
Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 53. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).
…The robot vanguard has already set forth. Later this year India will attempt to become the fourth nation to land a probe on the moon; an Israeli attempt to get there failed in April, but its backers plan to try again. China has landed two robot rovers on the moon’s surface in the past five years. One visited the near side, the familiar pockmarked face seen from Earth; the other went to the overflown-but-never-before-visited far side. The Chinese space agency has talked of sending humans in their wake, perhaps in the early 2030s.
They may be beaten to it. Last year Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur and art collector, signed a contract with SpaceX, the rocket firm founded by Elon Musk, for a flight around the moon. He intends to take a crew of as-yet-unspecified artists with him…
…That setup is the start to a stunning story that impressively blends together Martine’s fantastic and immersive world, a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera that together make up a gripping read. Mahit’s situation is the perfect introduction to an unfamiliar world, as Martine moves her through the gilded halls of the Teixcalaanli capitol, meeting the politicians she’s been sent to interact with, the fantastical technologies installed in the city, and the poetry that represents the pinnacle of high culture for the empire.
Bending and stretching its conventions to imagine new, more feminist futures and new ways of experiencing gender, visionary women writers have been from the beginning an essential if often overlooked force in American science fiction. Two hundred years after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of this female tradition, from the pioneers of the Pulp Era to the radical innovators of the 1960s New Wave, in a landmark anthology that upends the common notion that SF was conceived by and for men….
Visit the companion website for more on these stories and writers, including author biographies, appreciations by contemporary writers, original pulp covers and illustrations, adaptations into other media, press coverage, and more.
(11) WHEN IN CRETE. Israeli author Yakov Merkin is not impressed. I recognize his name as someone JDA interviewed for his YouTube show.
(12) CRUMB CONTROVERSY, In “Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics” in Reason, Brian Doherty looks at pioneering underground comics artist R. Crumb and the vigorous debate about whether he should still be read or is so irretreivably racist and sexist that he should be “cancelled.”
…The brief against Crumb is both specific to his famous idiosyncrasies and generally familiar to our modern culture of outrage archeology. His art has trafficked in crude racial and anti-Semitic stereotypes, expressed an open sense of misogyny, and included depictions of incest and rape. Crumb’s comics are “seriously problematic because of the pain and harm caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual violence,” the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) explained last year when removing Crumb’s name from one of its exhibit rooms.
Such talk alarms Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, the premiere American publisher of quality adult comics, including a 17-volume series of The Complete Crumb Comics. “The spontaneity and vehemence” of the backlash, Groth says, “surprised me—and I guess what also disheartened me was, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people booing Crumb are not familiar with his work.…This visceral dislike of him has no basis in understanding who Crumb is, his place in comics history, his contribution to the form.”
(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker’s creator, did the opening sequence animation along with the animation of Bella Lugosi’s Dracula turning into a bat for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]