(1) RUTGER HAUER DIES. Variety pays tribute: “Rutger Hauer, ‘Blade Runner’ Co-Star, Dies at 75”.
Hauer’s agent, Steve Kenis, confirmed the news and said that Hauer’s funeral was held Wednesday.
His most cherished performance came in a film that was a resounding flop on its original release. In 1982, he portrayed the murderous yet soulful Roy Batty, leader of a gang of outlaw replicants, opposite Harrison Ford in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir opus “Blade Runner.” The picture became a widely influential cult favorite, and Batty proved to be Hauer’s most indelible role.
More recently, he appeared in a pair of 2005 films: as Cardinal Roark in “Sin City,” and as the corporate villain who Bruce Wayne discovers is running the Wayne Corp. in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.”
… Hauer increasingly turned to action-oriented parts in the ‘80s: He toplined the big-budget fantasy “Ladyhawke” (1985), reteamed with fellow Hollywood transplant Verhoeven in the sword-and-armor epic “Flesh & Blood” (1985), starred as a psychotic killer in “The Hitcher” (1986), and took Steve McQueen’s shotgun-toting bounty hunter role in a modern reboot of the TV Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1986).
WIRED kicks off its collection of memories with the iconic speech: “Remembering Rutger Hauer, Black-Armored Knight of the Genre”.
Let’s get the monologue on the table, first thing, because he wrote it himself, and it’s brilliant:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
That’s Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, playing the artificial person Roy Batty in his death scene…
(2) ACCESSIBLE GAMING. The Mary Sue has discovered “The Surprising Ways Blind Players Have Made Games Like Dungeons & Dragons Accessible”.
… Then, in 2017, a friend introduced me to Roll20, an online platform that serves as a digital tabletop, and everything changed. On a computer, I have the power to alter my settings—I can zoom in, change colors, and make whatever tweaks I need in order to make things accessible for my specific visual impairment. And things I lacked the power to change, my DM could: giving tokens borders with higher contrast, adjusting the lighting on a map, or—if I got lost looking for something—shifting my view in the direction I needed to be focusing.
I could roll dice directly on the platform and see my result easily, and best of all, I had a digital character sheet I could alter easily and at will, rather than a few pieces of paper I’d require another player to edit for me. And then I discovered other websites, like DnDBeyond, which made it easy to look up stats and spells online—again, in a medium far more accessible for me.
I still required a dungeon master willing to take the time to describe certain things to me and to make whatever color and contrast adjustments I needed, but even playing with strangers via Roll20’s Looking For Game system, my experience has been positive. Thanks to the websites I used, the things I needed didn’t require all that much work on their end, and now I was able to fully immerse myself in a hobby I’d once believed would be impossible for me because of my disability.
(3) ABLEGAMERS. And in the Washington Post Magazine, Christine Sturdivant Sani has a profile of AbleGamers, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities enjoy video games: “How a West Virginia group helped make video games accessible to the disabled”.
In 2018, when Sony Interactive Entertainment unveiled the latest versions of two of its top-grossing video game titles — “God of War” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” — they included new features that meant a lot to a specific subset of players: those with disabilities. To aid people with motor skill impairments, for instance, “God of War” introduced an option to press and hold a single button instead of tapping it repeatedly; it also let players with hearing disabilities adjust individual audio settings such as volume, dialogue and sound effects. For players with visual impairments, the subtitles in “Spider-Man” are now resizable and include tags that always indicate who is speaking.
Five years ago, according to Sam Thompson, a managing senior producer at Sony Interactive, it was possible to count on one hand the number of video games that had features catering to people with disabilities. Today, there are hundreds of such games. The shift, says Thompson, is “kind of amazing” — and he gives credit to a small nonprofit in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
The group, called AbleGamers, was the brainchild of Mark Barlet, a 45-year-old disabled Air Force veteran and entrepreneur…
(4) GAIMAN AUDIOBOOKS. AudioFile editorJenn Dowellsays – lend Neil Gaiman an ear! “Good Omens and Good Audiobooks: The Best of Neil Gaiman”.
… Where to start? Whether you’re a longtime fan of GOOD OMENS, Gaiman’s funny book about the apocalypse co-written with the late Terry Pratchett almost 30 years ago, or a new convert thanks to the sparkling new Amazon/BBC series, now is the perfect time to hear (or revisit) the audiobook.
… For something darker that’s perfect for an extended road trip, Gaiman’s 2001 epic novel AMERICAN GODS, in which old gods clash with new ones, also comes in two unabridged versions: one narrated by Golden Voice George Guidall, and a Tenth Anniversary Edition performed by a full cast. Can’t get enough gods? Follow up with ANANSI BOYS, about trickster god Anansi, read by Lenny Henry, and NORSE MYTHOLOGY, read by Gaiman.
… In the mood for nonfiction? THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS and ART MATTERS collect Gaiman’s essays and speeches and will give listeners insights into Gaiman’s wide-ranging interests and his writing process—and maybe even inspire you to make your own art.
… P.S. If you fell in love with Michael Sheen and David Tennant’s performances in the Good Omens series, don’t miss their own star turns on audio: Sheen gives a wonderfully immersive, Earphones Award-winning narration of Philip Pullman’s THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage, and Tennant brings his acting chops and Scottish charm to The Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon series by just-named UK Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell.
(5) INKLINGS. Bruce Charlton revisits “Humphrey Carpenter’s The Inklings – 1978″ at The Notion Club Papers blog.
…Yet, in the end, Humphrey Carpenter failed in his attempt to throw the Inklings into the dustbin of irrelevance; because overall the book had the opposite effect of its intent – awakening for many, such as myself, a long-term and intense fascination with a ‘group of friends’ who were also, in reality, so much more than merely that.
(6) FROM THE BEEB. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has aired the second in the science and SF series Stranger Than Sci-Fi where astro-physicist Dr Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science and sci-fi.
Last week’s was on artificial wombs. Today’s is on black holes (or frozen stars if you are of Russian persuasion and wish to avoid the rude connotation) — “Black Hole Jacuzzis”.
The program will be downloadable from BBC for a month once it is broadcast
(7) MINORITY REPORT? Atwood’s novel is not in bookstores but it’s already up for the Booker. BBC has the story — “Booker Prize 2019: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale sequel on longlist”.
Margaret Atwood’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale is one of 13 novels on the Booker Prize longlist, despite not being published for several weeks.
The Testaments is out on 10 September and comes 33 years after the original book was nominated for the same award.
(8) KRASSNER OBIT. Pop culture figure Paul Krassner died July 21: the New York Times has a profile — “Paul Krassner, Anarchist, Prankster and a Yippies Founder, Dies at 87”.
Mr. Krassner was writing freelance pieces for Mad magazine in 1958 when he realized that there was no equivalent satirical publication for adults; Mad, he could see, was largely targeted at teenagers. So he started The Realist out of the Mad offices, and it began regular monthly publication. By 1967 its circulation had peaked at 100,000.
“I had no role models and no competition, just an open field mined with taboos waiting to be exploded,” Mr. Krassner wrote in his autobiography.
The magazine’s most famous cartoon was one, drawn in 1967 by the Mad artist Wally Wood, of an orgy featuring Snow White, Donald Duck and a bevy of Disney characters enjoying a variety of sexual positions. (Mickey Mouse is shown shooting heroin.) Later, digitally colored by a former Disney artist, it became a hot-selling poster that supplied Mr. Krassner with modest royalties into old age.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- July 24, 1948 — Debut of Marvin the Martian in Bugs Bunny’s “Haredevil Hare.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 24, 1802 — Alexandre Dumas. The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. Are they genre? Good question. (Died 1870.)
- Born July 24, 1878 — Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three, for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the review here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I’m going to link to another review on Green Man as it’s an audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
- Born July 24, 1895 — Robert Graves. Poet, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book), two volumes called the Greek Myths, Seven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list and more short fiction that bears thinking about. (Died 1985.)
- Born July 24, 1916 — John D. MacDonald. Primarily a mystery writer whose Travis McGee series I enjoyed immensely, he wrote a handful of genre works including the sublime The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. ISFDB lists a collection, End of the Tiger and Other Short Stories, which I presume is genre. (Died 1986.)
- Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 83. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
- Born July 24, 1945 — Gordon Eklund, 74. He won the Nebula for Best Novelette for “If the Stars Are Gods”, co-written with Gregory Benford. They expanded it into a novel which was quite good if I remember correctly. So would anyone care to tell the story of how he came to write the Lord Tedric series which was inspired by an E.E. Doc Smith novelette?
- Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 68. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl.
- Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 55. Comics artist and writer. work worth particularly worth noting she’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, “Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerised Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran.
- Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 38. An impressive run in genre roles as she’s was. River Tam in Firefly and of course Serenity, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (Is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow.
- Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin, 37. Sookie Stackhouse in the True Blood series. Rogue in the X-Men franchise. She also shows up in Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams as Sarah in the “Real Life” episode.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Poorly Drawn Lines has a funny entry that actually references the phrase “sense of wonder.”
- A well-known nanny visits the seashore in Rhymes With Orange.
- Bizarro shows how to bring the full social media experience to live book signings.
(12) STRONG KEEP. John Scalzi tells what he thinks about “A Couple of Bits on Hugo Award Proposals and Attempted Wikipedia Deletions” which we have been covering here. When it comes to the Wikipedia —
… You might think that I, who was the target of much Sad Puppy whining and mewling, would be sitting here happily munching on popcorn while this bit of Wikidrama unfolds. But in fact I think the deletion attempt is a problem. Neither Williamson nor Hoyt are exactly on my Christmas card list at the moment, but you know what? Both of them are solid genre writers who for years have been putting out work through a major genre publisher, and who are both actively publishing today. They are genuinely of note in the field of science fiction and fantasy. One may think their politics, in and out of the genre, are revanchist as all fuck, or that their tenure and association with the Puppy bullshit didn’t do them any favors, or that one just doesn’t care for them on a day-to-day basis for whatever reason. But none of that is here or there regarding whether, on the basis of their genre output, they are notable enough to be the subject of a damn Wikipedia article. They are! Wikipedia notability is kind of a middlin’-height bar, and they get themselves over it pretty well.
Or to flip it around, if neither Williamson nor Hoyt is notable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia, there’s gonna be some bloodletting in the site’s category of science fiction and fantasy writers, because there are a fair number of Wikipedia-article-bearing genre authors who are no more notable than Hoyt or Williamson. If they go, there are legitimately many others on the chopping block as well.
According to Camestros Felapton, “John Scalzi is wading into the Wiki-fuss”, Scalzi also made entries to the Wikipedia deletion discussion itself. He probably did, and although the links aren’t working for me Camestros has the full quotes anyway.
(13) FUTURE SHOCK. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing in The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum takes a look at the BBC/HBO co-produced near-future science fiction series Years And Years. The series, which is built around the conceit of moving through years at a rapid pace — often three years in a one-hour episode, provides a mostly-realistic future that won’t fill many viewers with hope. ““Years and Years” Forces Us Into the Future”.
“Years and Years” keeps leaping forward, forcing us into the future, as the economy crumbles, the ice caps melt, authoritarianism rises, and teen-agers implant phones into their hands. It’s an alarmist series, in a literal sense: it’s meant to serve as an alarm, an alert to what’s going on in front of our eyes, and where that might lead, if we don’t wake up.”
In the wake of Boris Johnson’s elevation to the post of Prime Minister, I’d say that the series might seem overly optimistic about the future of the United Kingdom. But I’d heartily recommend seeking out the series.
(14) MORE URGENT. “Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months”
Do you remember the good old days when we had “12 years to save the planet”?
Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.
Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.
But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.
The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world’s top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.
“The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute.
The sense that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change is becoming clearer all the time.
(15) CLOSING THEIR EARS. Meanwhile, the \outpatients\troglodytes were out in force: “Greta Thunberg speech: French MPs boycott teen ‘apocalypse guru’”.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg has lashed out at French lawmakers for mocking her in a speech to parliament that was boycotted by far-right politicians.
The 16-year-old addressed legislators on Tuesday, telling them to “unite behind the science” of climate change.
She and other children were invited to France’s parliament by a cross-party group of politicians.
“You don’t have to listen to us, but you do have to listen to the science,” she said.
Ms Thunberg, whose solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament inspired the school climate strike movement, has been lauded for her emotive speeches to politicians.
But lawmakers from French parties, including the conservative Republicans and far-right National Rally, said they would shun her speech in the National Assembly.
Urging his colleagues to boycott Ms Thunberg’s speech, leadership candidate for The Republicans, Guillaume Larrive, wrote on Twitter: “We do not need gurus of the apocalypse.”
Other French legislators hurled insults at Ms Thunberg ahead of her speech, calling her a “prophetess in shorts” and the “Justin Bieber of ecology”.
Republicans MP Julien Aubert, who is also contending for his party’s leadership, suggested Ms Thunberg should win a “Nobel Prize for Fear”.
Speaking to France 2 television, Jordan Bardella, an MEP for the National Rally, equated Ms Thunberg’s campaigning efforts to a “dictatorship of perpetual emotion”.
(16) TO SIR WITH LOVE. BBC reports “Sir Michael Palin to have heart surgery”.
Comedian and broadcaster Sir Michael Palin is to have surgery to fix a “leaky valve” in his heart.
The Monty Python member discovered a problem with his mitral valve – a small flap that stops blood flowing the wrong way around the heart – five years ago.
It had not affected his general fitness until earlier this year, he said.
“Recently, though, I have felt my heart having to work harder and have been advised it’s time to have the valve repaired,” he wrote on his website.
“I shall be undergoing surgery in September and should be back to normal, or rather better than normal, within three months.”
(17) PICARD & COMPANY. TV Line did a mass interview — “’Star Trek: Picard’ Cast on the Return of Patrick Stewart’s Iconic Captain.”
The cast of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ previews the CBS All Access series with TVLine’s Kim Roots at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
[Thanks to John A Arkansawyer, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Olav Rokne, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]