(1) FREQUENT FLYER. For me, it’s either Field of Dreams or Patton.
(2) FIXING A HOLE WHERE THE SPACE GETS IN. “Cosmonauts Slice Spacecraft For Clues To Cause Of Mysterious Hole” — a Giphy clip of them at work accompanies the NPR post.
It was all part of an attempt Tuesday to solve the mystery of the leaking International Space Station.
“The cosmonauts spent hours using knives and what looked like garden shears to cut away at the insulation around the spacecraft’s orbital module, to peek at the damaged area,” NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel reported. “All along, mission control in Moscow pleaded with them to take it slow so they wouldn’t make the situation worse.”
(3) ABOUT THAT SPACE SUIT. What if the ISS damage is sabotage? Matthew Reardon explains “The Space Law of Sabotage on the ISS” to readers of the SFWA Blog. (Why would the law in space be any clearer than the law on earth?)
…The first thing we can hope is that there haven’t been criminal acts, sabotage or other, committed on the ISS. Because the relevant space law is a bit of a mess currently, and without any precedent, it could turn into a muddle that would hinder our expansion into space for a long time.
The first thing to point out is that the ISS isn’t a single legal entity. Under the Intergovernmental Agreement signed by the fourteen countries participating in the ISS, each State’s laws remain applicable in the elements it registers. Therefore, in criminal matters, even though the Agreement clearly states that each State’s laws regulate the activities of its nationals on the ISS, each individual piece of the ISS is ruled by different penal law depending on the country that provided that piece.
Theoretically, U.S. criminal law is applicable inside the Destiny lab module (which still raises the question of which U.S. States’ criminal law, but at least that’s a question that can be resolved internally to the U.S.), Russian criminal law in the Zvezda module, Japanese law in the Kibomodule, and so on.
(4) THE KITE FLYERS. David Rooney finds plenty to praise — “‘Mary Poppins Returns’: Film Review” at The Hollywood Reporter.
Belated Hollywood sequels have sunk more often than soared in recent years, but Disney shrugs off those odds with Mary Poppins Returns, an enchanting movie musical that picks up the threads of the studio’s cherished original more than half a century after its 1964 release. Sticking close to the enduring classic’s template while injecting plenty of freshness to give the follow-up its own distinct repro vitality, this lovingly crafted production delivers both nostalgia and novelty. Ideally cast from top to toe, and graced by tuneful songs from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman that genuflect to the invaluable contributions of the Sherman Brothers on Mary Poppins, this is a charmer only cynics could resist.
(5) ACROSS THE CON SPECTRUM. Michael Lee answers the question at TwinCities Geek: “Just What Is This Convention, Anyway? A Guide to Different Types of Cons”.
What follows is an explanation of some of the terms used among convention attendees and convention runners to describe the most common types of conventions. One of the goals I have in this article is to focus on terms that don’t also have value judgments. In my experience, there are good and bad examples of almost every type of convention, and everyone’s taste in conventions is slightly different. Hopefully, this will help you narrow down what types of conventions you might like to attend!
Here are the first couple entries in his catalog —
Anime conventions are centered around Japanese animation and related subjects. One of the big things to keep in mind with anime conventionsis that they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and some are organized by nonprofits while others are for profit. In the Twin Cities, we have fan-run anime conventions like Anime Detour and Anime Fusion. There are a number of large ones around the country, like A Cen (Anime Central) and Anime Expo.
Less often seen in the Twin Cities, bidded conventions move around a region, country, or all over the world. Either a previous convention’s membership or a board of directors chooses the location and committee leadership of an upcoming con. The premier example of a bidded convention is the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), but other examples include the World Fantasy Convention, the NASFIC (the North American Science Fiction Convention), Gaylaxicon, and Costume-Con.
(6) MILES MORALES SWINGSBA CK INTO FRAME. Marvel reintroduces the character:
Just as he is making his big-screen debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales is swinging back into the pages of Marvel Comics in an all-new debut with MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #1! Written by Eisner Award winner Saladin Ahmed (Exiles) with art by celebrated Marvel Young Gun Javier Garrón (Ant-Man & The Wasp) and a cover by Brian Stelfreeze (Black Panther), Miles’ latest adventure brings Miles back to Brooklyn basics… but things definitely aren’t simple when a simple robbery is complicated with a big Spidey-Villain and an even bigger mystery!
“It’s very much intended for folks who might not know the character or might not even have read a Spider-Man comic, and for them to be able to access what’s universal and what’s immediately appealing about this character and about the Marvel Universe,” said Ahmed.
(7) GERNSBACK VIDEO. A Twitter video clip of Sam Moskowitz and Hugo Gernsback from a 1965 BBC Horizon documentary about the relationship between SF and science. First time I’ve seen any video of Gernsback.
(8) CURIOSITY TO EXPLORE STRANGE NEW WORLDS. rcade calls this “Some of the best File 770 reader microtargeting I’ve ever seen.” — “2019 StarTrek TNG Cats Wall Calendar” — “…the Enterprise-D’s adventures (only with cats) …”
When there’s a Red Alert on this bridge, everybody lands on their feet. If you’re a fan of the Star Trek Cats series by Jenny Parks, you need this 2019 calendar. If you’re not, allow us to explain. Parks has created a hilarious new take on ST:TNG characters and scenes by illustrating the characters as cats. Star Trek plus cats. What could be better?
(9) FOR SOMEONE ON YOUR GIFT LIST. Just what message you’ll be sending is up to you! Here’s an alarming concept — “Fiji Mermaid Tiny Skeleton Deluxe Miniature Model Kit With Glass Display Dome and Assembly Tools Box Set – Paper Sculpture”.
The Fiji Mermaid Deluxe Kit includes everything you need to successfully assemble the tiny skeleton model for display. Each kit comes with the pre-cut Fiji Mermaid bones, 59mm borosilicate glass display dome, exhibit base, glue, tweezers, and a magnifier.
Tinysaur Kits assemble into tiny skeletons from a postage stamp sized laser cut pattern. Assembly generally takes 20-30 minutes and the completed Fiji Mermaid models stand roughly 1 inch tall.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 12, 1946 – Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale The Feather of Finist the Falcon. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writers such as Mercedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies, and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.
- I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf. Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago, “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech” (Died 2012.)
- Born December 12, 1949 – Bill Nighy, 69. He’s got a very, very long genre association staring with being an unnamed ENT physician in Curse of the Pink Panther. He was Martin Barton in The Phantom of the Opera, Edward Gardner in Fairy Tale: A True Story, Viktor In Underworld and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Philip in Shaun of the Dead, an hilarious Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a quite unrecognisable as him Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Rufus Scrimgeour In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1… I’m stopping right before this get really long. Fortunately his television genre credits may be limited to an uncredited appearance in the “Vincent and the Doctor” episode of Dr. Who as Dr. Black.
- Born December 12, 1965 – Toni Weisskopf, 53. Editor and the publisher of Baen Books In 2015, Weisskopf was nominated for a Hugo Award.
- Born December 12, 1970 — Mädchen Amick, 48. TwinPeaks: Fire Walk with Me was not actually her first genre role as she played a Young Anya on Star Trek:The Next Generation a year or a so earlier. She’s shapeshifter on the rebooted Fantasy Island and yet another shapeshifter, a black cat this time, on Witches of East End. Typecasting I think.
- Born December 12, 1970 – Jennifer Connelly, 48. First genre was as Sarah Williams in Labyrinth. Later appearances in our community include as Jenny Blake in The Rocketeer a film I love, Emma Murdoch / Annan in Dark City, Betsy Ross in the 2003 Hulk, Helen Benson in the 2008 remake of the 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still and no, it’s not anywhere as good as the original, Roxane in Inkheart, Virginia Gamely in Winter’s Tales based on the novel of the same name that I never finished, and a voice-only appearance only as Karen in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- Born December 12, 1975 – Mayim Bialik, 43. Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, PhD on the Big Bang Theory series which I’m not sure is genre but is certainly genre friendly. Appearance in other genre undertakings as the Pumpkinhead horror film, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 and The Adventures of Hyperman.
- Born December 12, 1976 – Tim Pratt, 42. I think his best work was his very first novel which was The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl but there’s no doubt that later work such as The Constantine Affliction, Bone Shop and The Stormglass Protocol are equally superb. That’s not to overlook his short fiction which you’ve not tried it you should and I’d recommend Little Gods as a good place to start.
(11) THE WHAT-DID-THEY-DO-TO-THAT-FOOD CHANNEL. I’d watch this. (Maybe I shouldn’t admit it.)
(12) 2001. On December 20, Chicago’s Adler Planetarium will be showing 2001: A Space Odyssey followed by a discussion of the film by astronomer Mark Hammergren and SF critic Gary Wolfe: “Adler After Dark: Space Odyssey”.
- Join astronomer Mark Hammergren and sci-fi editor, critic, and biographer Gary Wolfe in a spirited discussion on the impact 2001 had on film-making and its role in “blowing our minds” during the Apollo era
- Try your hand at stopping the devious HAL 9000 from taking over the event in a museum-wide scavenger hunt
- Learn more about film-making techniques, ranging from sound design to stop-motion animation
- Checkout rarely-seen items from the museum’s collection—like paintings from renowned space artist Chesley Bonestell—whose work directly influenced Kubrick’s vision of the Moon in 1968
- And don’t miss a special improv show where we’ll explore the future as imagined inyour fav sci-fi films!
(13) EDUCATIONAL POP-UPS. “Before they were relegated to the domain of children, books with movable mechanisms explained anatomy, astronomy, and more to adults.” — “When Pop-Up Books Taught Popular Science” in The Atlantic.
One of the most successful popular astronomy books of the 16th century was Peter Apian’s Cosmographia, a work that went through almost 40 editions in Latin, Dutch, French, and Spanish. Apian included five different volvelles in the book. One of these volvelles demonstrates the relationship between the moon and the sun and the phases of the moon.
The volvelle consists of two paper wheels connected with a small piece of string to a printed circle. The topmost wheel has a circular hole, revealing the lower wheel beneath. Both wheels can be rotated freely in either direction. The top wheel of the volvelle has an indicator with the moon on it. Spinning this wheel represents the moon’s west-to-east monthly circuit around the Earth. The lower wheel has an indicator with the sun on it. Spinning this wheel represents the sun’s yearly west-to-east motion. When the reader moves the two wheels, the phases of the moon appear in the hole cut out of the top wheel.
(14) VISIT FROM THE CREATOR. William F. Nolan posed beside the poster for the Logan’s Run movie while visiting the Pasadena Museum’s sff exhibit earlier this year.
(15) CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD.Print’s Don Vaughan interviews storyboard artist Mark Bristol in “Storyboarding: Drawing from Script to Screen”.
“Every production is different,” Bristol says. “The process is usually the same, but how the storyboards are utilized depends on the director and their own process.” Chris McQuarrie, the director of Mission: Impossible–Fallout, tends to rely heavily on storyboards, Bristol notes, whereas Terrence Malick, with whom Bristol worked on The Thin Red Line and Tree of Life, is more of an “in the moment” director for whom storyboards are merely a suggestion.
(16) BEREZIN OBIT. “Word processor pioneer Evelyn Berezin dies aged 93” – BBC has the story.
The woman who created and sold what many recognise as the world’s first word processor has died aged 93.
Evelyn Berezin called the device the Data Secretary when, in 1971, her company Redactron launched the product.
She grew Redactron from nine employees to close to 500 and was named one of theUS’s top leaders by BusinessWeek magazine in the year she sold it, 1976.
(17) NAMING CONVENTIONS. Poul Anderson loved alien names with apostrophes stuck in the middle – and he may have used up the genre’s quota in the process. At least, I think that’s what Sarah A. Hoyt is warning against in “Words and the Lonely Writer, part 5 – Made Up Languages” at Mad Genius Club.
….Why do apostrophes make the baby Jesus cry? Because while perfectly acceptable as a marking they were a) overused by early sf/f writers so those of us who’ve read deeply into the field roll our eyes to the back of our heads when we see them. b)because they’re not THAT common in English, particularly not mid-word. So when I see R’neker’vir I pause for a couple of seconds. This can be enough to break the spell. Sure, your writing can overcome it, but why make it more difficult? Do you have so many readers you need to cut down some?
Okay, so you aren’t a linguist, and you’re not as weird as the rest of us, and you’ve never made up a language. BUT your new world absolutely needs it.
Start small. First, if you’re doing weird names, decide what the parts of the name mean and whether they bear on the society or the hierarchy or just on your species.
For instance, a species born from eggs (external, laid eggs, smarty pants) might have a lot of names with egg or shell or whatever. One that’s incredibly hierarchical might build in things that mean “second son of the lowest sweeper.”
After that consider your society. Is there some feature so weird, so outlandish you feel the need to emphasize it with a made up word?
(18) WHAT ABOUT THE REST OFTHE STORY? ScreenRant did not end the season a fully satisfied customer: “Elseworlds:7 Unanswered Questions After This Year’s Arrowverse Crossover”.
While Elseworlds ended in a suitably epic fashion, this final chapter did raise a number of issues. Along with some continuity problems and questions about the science involved in the final battle, there are a few Easter Eggs to consider along with some major questions of events to come in the Arrowverse. Here are six questions to consider in the wake of Elseworlds‘ conclusion….
(19) BENNU NEWS. This asteroid was rode hard and put away wet: “NASAmakes amazing discovery on asteroid Bennu”. It sometimes seems like every astronomical body we study closely ends up having more water than expected. Bennu is the latest to join that crowd: (“OSIRIS-REx Discovers Water on Asteroid Bennu”).
Scientists have made a fascinating discovery on asteroid Bennu thanks to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.
Recently analyzed data from the probe has identified water locked inside the asteroid’s clay, the space agency has announced. The spacecraft’s two spectrometers revealed the presence of “hydroxyls,” which are molecules containing oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together.
(20) CRISIS FOR SANTA’S SLEIGH? It’s looking bad: “Climate change: Arctic reindeer numbers crash by half”.
The population of wild reindeer, or caribou, in the Arctic has crashed by more than half in the last two decades.
A new report on the impact of climate change in the Arctic revealed that numbers fell from almost 5 million to around 2.1 million animals.
The report was released at the American Geophysical Research Union meeting.
It revealed how weather patterns and vegetation changes are making the Arctic tundra a much less hospitable place for reindeer.
(21) SOME LIKE IT HOT. On the other hand, chickens find the climate quite salubrious: “‘Planet of the chickens’: How the bird took over the world”.
A study of chicken bones dug up at London archaeological sites shows how the bird we know today has altered beyond recognition from its ancestors.
With around 23 billion chickens on the planet at any one time, the bird is a symbol of the way we are shaping the environment, say scientists.
Evolution usually takes place over a timescale of millions of years, but the chicken has changed much more rapidly.
The rise of the supermarket chicken mirrors the decline in wild birds.
“The sheer number of chickens is an order of magnitude higher than any other bird species that’s alive today,” said Dr Carys Bennett, a geologist at the University of Leicester, who led the study
“You could say we are living in the planet of the chickens.”
(22) FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE. You would have predicted this — “Why emojis mean different things in different cultures” — but some of the variations are surprising.
…Equally, in China, the angel emoji, which int he West can denote innocence or having performed a good deed, is used a sign for death, and may be perceived as threatening.
Similarly, the applause emojis are used in the West to show praise or offer congratulations. In China, however, this is a symbol for making love, perhaps due to its resemblance to the sounds “pah pah pah”…
(23) SIR-PRISE. Meanwhie, back at the patriarchy — “Films with female stars earn more at the box office”.
If you liked Wonder Woman and Moana in part because they were films led by strong female characters, then it looks like you weren’t alone.
Conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that male stars are a bigger box office draw, often the reason given for their higher salaries.
But that may have been a miscalculation according to new analysis, showing films with female leads earn more.
Researchers looked at the top 350 grossing films between 2014 and 2017.
The correlation was true irrespective of how big the production budget was: films where female stars had top billing, made more money than those with male stars.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Michael O’Donnell, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, John A Arkansawyer, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]