By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from Vanamonde 1378-79)
Beyond the hills are
Mountains; beyond the mountains
Is the sky; beyond –
Shakespeare used Latin in stage directions. It was the thing to do at the time. Exit means one person leaves the stage; exeunt, plural. Manet means one person remains; manent, plural. But those are in the third person. We are in this play. Manemus means we remain.
Mike Resnick (1942-2020) and Steve Stiles (1943-2020) both left in January. The month is named for the Roman god Janus. He had two faces, to look back and forward.
When significant people die, we often hear “Their like will not be seen again”. In truth we don’t know that. How could we?
The more aching a death leaves us, the more its true significance – I propose – includes Grab that torch.
If we feel helpless at an important loss, we can take that as a kind of compliment to the actor who left the stage.
We can conclude Let us do as well in our way as he did (as it happens, Mike and Steve were men) in his way. This can even be among the challenges of diversity.
Mike Resnick at Chicon 7 (2012). Photo by Joel Zakem
A few years ago someone found Mike was the leading award-winner for short fiction among all speculative-fiction authors living or dead. His 5 Hugos (37-time finalist), 1 Nebula (11 nominations) – his novella “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” (1994) won both – 3 Ignotus Awards and 1 Xatafi-Cyberdark (Spain), 2 Prix Ozine Awards and 1 Tour Eiffel (France), 1 Seiun and 1 Hayakawa’s SF Magazine Readers’ Award (Japan), 1 Futura Poll Award (Croatia), 1 Nowa Fantastyka Poll Award (Poland), show he had the gift of reaching people, internationally.
In 2007-2018 he was a judge for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. He won the Skylark in 1995, the Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He was Author Guest of Honor at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention. He was executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, and founded Galaxy’s Edge, now in its seventh year. He edited forty anthologies. His papers are at the University of Southern Florida in Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Among his various collections the titles Once A Fan…. (2002) and ….Always a Fan (2009) are telling. Once has among various lists “My 25 Favorite Fanzines”. In the costume competition we call the Masquerade, he and his wife Carol, who survives him, won major awards at four Worldcons; he judged Masquerades and was Master of Ceremonies. Among his various anthologies are Alternate Worldcons (1994) and Again, Alternate Worldcons (1996). At the 60th Worldcon he led a fanhistory tour. Among things he called outstanding at the 50th Worldcon was the arrival of Harry Warner’s fanhistory A Wealth of Fable in a hardcover edition. He wrote for Challenger, File 770, Lan’s Lantern, Mimosa.
He believed that whether or not you can pay it back, you should pay it forward; he was known for giving a hand to authors younger in their careers, many now calling themselves Mike’s Author Children – besides his daughter Laura. Three of his Hugo finalists were Putting It Together: Turning Sow’s Ear Drafts into Silk Purse Stories (2001), I Have This Nifty Idea … Now What Do I Do With It? (2002), and The Business of Science Fiction (2011).
I’ll mention two moments I was in and one I saw. When The Dying Earth (J. Vance, 1950) was on the Retrospective Hugo ballot for Best Novel at the 59th Worldcon he said “If Kirinyaga [MR, 1998] is a novel, it’s a novel.” Another time, of Second Foundation (I. Asimov, 1953) he said “Having nearly destroyed the Seldon Plan with a Mule, he shouldn’t have saved it with a planet of Mules.” In one of his stints as Masquerade M.C. – he was otherwise unstinting – an entrant shot him with a tachyon gun: he froze, motionless: as Diana Morales sang in A Chorus Line (1975), What he did for love.
Steve Stiles in 1979. Photo by Jeff Schalles.
Steve, one of the best-loved fanartists in recent years, was already a Hugo finalist in 1967-68; then 2003-2008 and 2010-2018, winning at Midamericon II the 74th World Science Fiction Convention (17-21 Aug 16; Midamericon I was the 34th, 2-6 Sep 76; Kansas City, MO). Meanwhile he won fourteen Fan Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards, 2001, 2003-2006, 2010-2012, 2014-2018. He was in fanzines from Cry of the Nameless to Xero, including Vanamonde.
Jophan says, pub your ish; Steve did, sometimes; there were nine years between Sam 14 and 15, thirty-one between Sam 15 and 16. In Mimosa 18 he said the first two issues of Sam had appeared by 1956, when he was thirteen; in Sam 16 he said Sam 1 came in 1960; Sam 18, the latest I know of, is dated 2016. This is Fanzineland, where zines come and go; Science Fiction Five-Yearly – which also had his fanart, sometimes on the cover – was published on time for sixty years.
Also in 1968 he was already well enough known and loved that he was voted the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate, over Ed Cox and Ted Johnstone; his TAFF report Harrison Country, which began to appear in 1968, was completed in 2006, its various chapters collated and published in 2007, including TAFF Terror Tales 3 originally pubbed, as TAFF has sometimes done, to solicit votes in the next year’s contest, Stiles having become in turn the North America administrator: a pastiche of Krazy Kat (1913-1944), reprinted in Locus 56 and Chunga 12, where Randy Byers said (p. 6)
Steve managed not only to capture Herriman’s drawing style, but also the dialect of the characters, the wordplay, the ever-mutating abstract landscape, the self-awareness of the frame, and the strip structure that renders mini-stories within each strip but also builds a larger story between strips … fannish and also stefnal (or at least Dickian [i.e. Philip K.])…. fans were jiants in those days.
Science at its root
Tells us knowledge; are artists,
Voluptuously they look
Each to each at what and how.
Let’s look forward. We have to anyhow. In Mimosa 30 I called an article“Forward to the Basics” saying we couldn’t go back to the basics, because it wasn’t so clear we ever had them, and because anyhow we couldn’t go back. We can look back, and we should; but we can only go forward. In File 770 152 reporting the Yokohama (65th) Worldcon I said I was struck by the Japanese proverb On-ko chi shin, “Study the old to appreciate the new”.
If you feel you might be able to write, will you try it, please? If you find you can, will you, please? If you feel you might be able to draw, will you try it, please? If you find you can, will you, please? In any event will you look round for anyone whose work you think worthy – what do you care what other people think? – and encourage them, support them, help them, please? Forward.
Originally faan was an unhappy form of fan; the extra a, or more of them e.g. faaan, signified excess; enough of this lingered in 1975, when Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz started the FAAn Awards, that the name showed a self-depreciation thought suitable; the FAAn Awards were given 1975-1980, then 1994 to date; since their revival they have been associated with the annual fanziners’ convention Corflu (corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Jophan is the protagonist in The Enchanted Duplicator (Willis & Shaw, 1954; “Once upon a time in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan…. strange longings … from time to time perplexed his mind … which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could satisfy”; duplicator in the sense of a machine for printing fanzines); earlier Bob Tucker used “Joe Fann” in Le Zombie for quips he wished some reader had sent in; “Come on, publish the next [or first!] issue of your fanzine” is an encouragement for all; among many instances, Art Widner used to wear a T-shirt with ”Jophan says, pub your ish”. Stefnal, our old adjective, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction; Rick Sneary’s spelling is evoked by jiant. My poem at the beginning is in unrhymed 5-7-5-syllable lines, like Japanese haiku; at the end, an acrostic (read down the first letters of each line) in unrhymed 5-7-5-7-7-syllable lines, like Japanese tanka.
By Rich Lynch: It was back in 2001 that my late friend
Mike Resnick, in a fanzine article about what he’d include in a personal time
capsule, wrote something that came across as perhaps overly pessimistic but
also sadly prophetic: “My fandom is dying.
It’s been dying for years. It’ll
be decades more before the last remnants are gone, and I have every hope and
expectation that it will outlive me.”
At the time that Mike wrote that, he was nearly four decades into what
was a very successful career as a professional writer. But he was also very much a science fiction
fan, having discovered fandom in 1962 in the pages of a fanzine. And it was his perception, back then, that his
fanzine-centric fandom was in the midst of what seemed a steep decline. Which had brought on that bit of pessimism.
I can’t remember for sure when Nicki and I first met Mike – it was
probably about the time of the 1988 Worldcon – but I do know when we became friends. It was in 1994, during that year’s
Worldcon. We had an enjoyable long
conversation with him in the Cincinnati Fantasy Group’s hospitality suite,
where Mike had settled in after having missed out on winning a Hugo Award due
to a controversial decision by the award administrators. He told us that he had read a few issues of
our fanzine, Mimosa, and out of the
blue offered to write us an article for the next one. Which we gratefully accepted. It turned out to be one of the best pieces of
non-fiction he ever wrote: “Roots and a Few Vines”, where he described in
detail his experiences at the 1963 Worldcon in Washington, D.C. which made him
a fan for life and set him on the road to becoming a science fiction writer.
That article got so much positive reader response that Mike ended
up writing eight more articles for Mimosa,
including a series of four first-person remembrances of other Worldcons he had
attended. And he attended a lot of
them. Mike ostensibly used Worldcons as
opportunities to meet with publishers about book contracts and the like, but he
was actually there as a fan. From the
time we became friends until just a few years ago when health considerations
started to affect his ability to make long trips, he was a constant presence at
nearly every Worldcon. His most famous
fiction series, one which brought him awards and award nominations aplenty, was
Afrocentric in theme (one of Mike’s favorite travel destinations was Kenya) and
many of his friends, us included, started to affectionately refer to him as
‘Bwana’. I remember that he kept trying
to convince Nicki and me to come along with him on one of his Africa trips but
by that point in our lives we were not so much into that kind of an adventure. Instead, we preferred a more vicarious
experience by listening to him talk at conventions about his travels.
One of the shorter trips he took was back to his original home
city of Chicago. Near the end of the
“Roots and a Few Vines” article, Mike had written that: “I’ve won some awards, and I’ve paid some
dues, and I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic to assume that sometime before
I die I will be the Guest of Honor at a Worldcon.” It was a much-deserved honor that finally
came to pass in 2012, in Chicago, and I was happy to be on a panel with him
about a joint interest we both had – Broadway musicals. But it turned out that my knowledge on the
topic was not even close to what Mike and the other panelists displayed so I
spent most of the hour just reveling in the experience while trying not to
embarrass myself. After that we often
compared notes about musicals we’d seen and liked (and sometimes disliked). And that, in a way, was the inspiration for Mike’s
final fanzine article – a musical theater survey that was published in 2019 in
the fanzine Challenger. In it, he and eight other Broadway enthusiasts
(me included) listed our top twelve favorite musicals. Which, I’m sure, would have resulted in many
more enjoyable hours of discussion on that topic with him.
Instead, I’ve spent some time trying to organize my thoughts on how I would remember my friend Mike. Cancer is a cold, ruthless killer, and his last days from what I’ve read are not the way I’d want to go out. But my memories of him, indeed memories of him by all of his friends, live on. Of all the pleasant times, and there were many. I’ll end this remembrance by going back the time capsule article that Mike wrote for Mimosa. In it he listed all the things related to fandom he possessed that he would preserve in stasis, if he could, for fans of the year 2100 to discover. And he also would have included a contextual note for all those future fans:
Dear Citizen of 2100:
I hope you are living in the Utopia we envisioned when we were kids first discovering science fiction. I am sure you have experienced technological and medical breakthroughs that are all but inconceivable to me.
But I have experienced something that is probably inconceivable to you, at least until you spend a little time studying the contents of this capsule.
I wish I could see the wonders you daily experience. But you know something? As badly as I want to see the future, to see what we’ve accomplished in the next century, I wouldn’t trade places with you if it meant never having experienced the fandom that this capsule will introduce you to.
Enjoy. I certainly did.
I feel grateful to have been part of Mike’s fandom. And I feel regret for all those future fans of the year 2100 who won’t have the chance to meet Mike in person. But they can still meet him through his fiction and descriptions of his fandom, and that ought to make him larger than life for them. He already is for me.
(1) PSYCHICHISTORY. I can’t read minds, but I can read
blogs. Camestros Felapton took up the literary question of “How
to be psychic”.
Are psychic powers a trojan horse from the world of magic that have snuck into science fiction? Psychic powers are almost indistinguishable from wish fulfilment in aggregate and only take on a resemblance of speculation about reality when codified into subtypes with Graeco-Latin names with sciency connotations.
But psychic powers aren’t going to vanish from science fiction any time soon. Doctor Who has psychic paper and telepathic circuits in their TARDIS, Star Trek has empaths and telepathic Vulcans, and Star Wars has a conflict between psychic factions as its core mythology. Firefly and Babylon 5 had psychics. Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, Le Guin’s Ekumen universe, Asimov’s Foundation series, multiple Philip K Dick works, each contain various beings with mental powers. Science Fiction has a permission note for amazing mental abilities had has used that licence freely….
Starting February 28, Disneyland Park will welcome Magic Happens, the park’s first new daytime parade in nearly a decade—and one that reminds us wings aren’t needed to fly, shooting stars were created for wishes and magic doesn’t end at midnight!
With a wave of his wand, Mickey Mouse leads a cavalcade of fabulous floats, whimsically costumed performers and popular Disney pals like Anna, Elsa and Olaf around the park and into your hearts—all while moving to a high-energy musical score that puts a contemporary spin on classic Disney hits. In addition, a brand-new song co-composed by singer-songwriter Todrick Hall helps bring some of your favorite Disney tales to life like never before.
I’m tired of logging onto here and seeing nothing but propaganda and talking points freshly harvested from the meme farms. I feel that the company has helped shred the American political system, that it divides us more than it connects, that it profits off our private data while selling us out to foreign powers, and that it is a major component of a system that continues to facilitate active class warfare being waged by the current kleptocracy on the poor and middle-class in our country.
If you are being asked to hate certain people or groups, whether liberal or conservative — ask yourself for a moment, who benefits from you hating them? What’s getting slipped past you while the rhetorical smoke and mirrors are dazzling you? I can tell you: it’s your country and all the things that we own in common that’s getting dismantled so rich people can shove more money in their already bulging pockets….
Update on 2/13/2020: Carol and Laura Resnick would dearly love to thank everyone who has donated to Mike’s fundraiser. As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly hard month for them both and all the kind words and support they have received has been so valued and treasured. Unfortunately, with Mike’s passing, the bills did not stop coming in. Carol has literally been swamped with bills, and there is no longer any regular income coming into the house to cover the mortgage, utilities or daily necessities (she has some very tough decisions ahead). We understand many of you have donated before, so even if you could just re-share the fundraiser link again, we would be so very thankful. Carol has been so incredibly touched by all the kindness shown to her and she knows Mike would be so proud of the SF&F field he loved so much for helping to support his family in their time of need. As every book dedication said “To Carol, as always.” She was his world.
What price girl-power? Does the positive energy of a female-centric comic book movie—made by women—compensate for the nihilistic, super-violent nature of its content? Is this really a step forward for women, behind the camera and in the audience? That’s the conundrum presented by Birds of Prey (full title Birds of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)….now re-titled Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
… Take, for example, this passage from the second chapter of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade is on his way to a crime scene, and he stops at an overpass nearby to check out a few looky-loos interested in the murderous goings-on…
There’s nothing in this paragraph that relates to the murder he’s about to investigate or the case he’s working; the fleeing car doesn’t have any important characters in it, and the looky-loo never shows up again. This is pure worldbuilding. Spade’s world is one of cars and ads and fumes and concrete and people so bored and aimless that they’re willing to contort themselves to catch a glimpse of a dead body….
(7) GREEN TEASER. David Lowery’s upcoming movie The
Green Knight stars Dev Patel alongside Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton.
The fantasy is based on Arthurian legend and will hit screens in Summer 2020. The story is based on the poem of Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight.
(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Native English speakers unconsciously organize adjectives in a
particular order that is rarely deviated from, even in informal speech. The
order is: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose. For
example, it’s more common to hear “silly old fool,” rather than “old silly
fool.” One notable exception, however, is the Big Bad Wolf. Source: The Guardian
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 13, 1954 — Tom Corbett, Space Cadet first aired “The Space Projectile”. Frankie Thomas played the lead role in the series which was one of the rare series which aired on all four networks of the time. Joseph Greene of Grosset & Dunlap publishing house developed the series off of Heinlein’s late Forties Space Cadet novel but also based of his own prior work. Both a newspaper strip and radio show were intended but never went forward. You can watch this episode here.
February 13, 2000 — The last original Peanuts comic strip ran in newspapers
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 13, 1908 — Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story, “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode, and appeared once in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.)
Born February 13, 1932 — Susan Oliver. She shows up in the original Trek pilot, “The Cage” as Vina, the Orion slave girl. She had a number of one-offs in genre television including Wild Wild West, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Tarzan, The Invaders, Night Gallery and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 1990.)
Born February 13, 1933 — Patrick Godfrey, 87. His very first acting was as Tor in a First Doctor story, “The Savages. He’d be in a Third Doctor story, “Mind of Evil”, as Major Cotsworth. His last two acting roles have both been genre — one being the voice of a Wolf Elder in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle; the other Butler in His Dark Materials.
Born February 13, 1938 — Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, with his first credited role being Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. And can we skip past him as Sarm in Gor please? Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. (Died 1999.)
Born February 13, 1943 — Leo Frankowski. Probably best known for his Conrad Stargard series featuring the Polish time travelling engineer Conrad Schwartz, but I’m more fond of his stand-alone novels Fata Morgana and Copernick’s Rebellion. (Died 2008.)
Born February 13, 1954 — Mary GrandPré, 66. She’s best known for her cover and chapter illustrations of the Potter books in the Scholastic editions. She’s the author and illustrator of A Dragon’s Guide series which is definitely genre of aimed at children.
Born February 13, 1959 — Maureen F. McHugh, 61. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the Otherwise Award, impressive indeed. Her other novels are Half the Day Is Night, Mission Child and Nekropolis. She has an impressive collective of short stories. Both her novel and short story collections are readily available at the usual digital sources.
Born February 13, 1960 — Matt Salinger, 60. Captain America in the 1990 Yugoslavian film of that name which was directed by Albert Pyun as written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence J. Block. It’s got a 16% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes which matches what critics thought of it. As near as I can tell this is only genre role. You can watch the film here.
(11) A FILER’S PICKS. Ziv Witie’s (aka Standback) annual F&SF appreciation/recommendation thread is up. Thread starts here.
…Beyond stories in ‘New Writings In SF’, Damon Knight’s ‘Orbit’ and the ‘Other Edens’ anthologies, the ‘New Worlds’ connection continues, into its later reincarnation as a thick paperback series edited by David Garnett. The teasing conundrum “On The Shores Of A Fractal Sea” (in ‘New Worlds no.3’) draws on Graham’s close encounters with Rock music, via his contributions to Michael Moorcock’s Deep Fix. The fictional deceased Rock-star narrator persists in a virtual Lagoona where ‘the beach goes on forever’, and where he works on his concept-cycle triple-album. Maybe being dead means he’s unaware that Hawkwind’s seventh studio album is also called ‘Quark, Strangeness And Charm’ (Charisma, June 1977)! He talks to shape-changing French, to whom his reality exists as ‘a fragment of cloned tissue… awash with oxy-infused saline.’…
(13) READ WITHOUT CEASING. In “5
things I learned from binge-reading a 50-book crime series in 5 months”,
Sophia Rosenbaum says she read 50
novels by “J.D. Robb” (a pseudonym of Nora Roberts) in five months
and talks about what she learned from reading so many books in a series in so
short a time. This is a series that the Internet Science Fiction
Database classifies as “futuristic mystery.”
J.D. Robb is the pen name for the prolific romance writer Nora Roberts, who started writing the series in 1995 and releases at least two new titles a year.
In the very first book, “Naked in Death,” we are introduced to a slew of what become recurring characters: Eve’s former partner and trainer, who becomes a father figure; the esteemed police commander; the maternal staff psychiatrist; Eve’s criminal-turned-singer bestie; and most importantly, Roarke.
(14) MADAM I’M. In an article
in The Believer that begins “Palindrome,
Palindrome” and then has an
obscenity, Colin Dickey reprints Dan Hoey’s 543-word expansion of the
palindrome “a man, a plan, a canal—Panama.” Hoey was a
Washington DC-area fan who died in 2011.
Sometime in the mid-1940s, Leigh Mercer rescued from the trash several thousand index cards that his employer, Rawlplug, had thrown out. Mercer may not have yet had a plan, but he had an idea. He’d grown up in a family that cherished word games and had lived through the birth of the modern crossword puzzle craze, but he’d noticed that no one had seriously set their minds to the problem of palindromes. Though Mercer wasn’t interested in crosswords, he’d acquired a used copy of a book for crossworders that contained lists of words—no definitions—grouped alphabetically and according to length. Using this book and his new stash of recovered index cards, he began copying out possible palindrome centers—any word or snippet of a phrase that might be reversible. In 1946, he came up with one construction: “Plan a canal p.” It was, he himself later admitted, “not very hopeful looking,” but all great plans have to start somewhere.
It took him two years to find Panama.
…This kind of nonsense quickly spins out of control. Using a computer that trawled the dictionary, Dan Hoey created this monstrosity in 1984….
It technically works, but it relies on gibberish (“a bater,” “an em,” and “a say”), and it is long enough that all sense is lost and the palindrome topples into meaninglessness. The program used here was rudimentary enough that even Hoey knew his effort could be easily bested, and sure enough, Peter Norvig assembled a 21,012-word variation to commemorate the palindromic date of 6-10-2016, and it is absolutely as unbearable and unreadable as it sounds. And yet, even as everything falls apart, you reach the end—“a canal, Panama!”—and it’s like all is forgiven, like everything is somehow right once more.
The Royal Mint is releasing three new dinosaur-themed coins – the first ever in the UK.
The series of 50p coins is a collaboration with palaeoartist Bob Nicholls and experts at the Museum.
The coins will honour the first three dinosaurs ever named – Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus – although at the time they were named, ‘dinosaurs’ as a group didn’t exist. In fact, it was these three animals that made Sir Richard Owen realise that there was something different enough about them that they warranted being placed in a new group, which he named Dinosauria.
The three species will be featured on five series of collectors’ coins. Although they will be legal tender, they won’t go into circulation. Instead members of the public will be able to buy the coins, either individually or in sets.
Kubilay Kahveci’s flight was supposed to be in the air for more than six hours — an overnight voyage from New York City to London. But British Airways Flight 112 made the trek in under five hours, setting a new record for the fastest subsonic commercial flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Lore had it that the SS Cotopaxi was swallowed by the infamous Bermuda Triangle after the steamship, and all 32 crew members on board, inexplicably vanished in 1925.
In the sci-fi film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, aliens are responsible for the ship’s disappearance.
But a team of divers has identified the ship and debunked the fictions, theories and conspiracies that emerged over the years. And unlike in Close Encounters, the ship wasn’t found in the Gobi desert, but rather 35 miles off St. Augustine in Florida.
The Cotopaxi had set off on its normal route between Charleston, S.C., and Havana, carrying a cargo of coal, when it was caught in a powerful storm, Michael Barnette discovered.
The wreck isn’t located within the boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle — a region in the Atlantic Ocean with its corners at South Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico that has been blamed for unexplained disappearances.
A cartoon cat, sick of the annoying mouse living in his home, devises a plot to take him out with a trap loaded with cheese. The mouse, wise to his plan, safely removes the snack and saunters away with a full belly.
You can probably guess what happens next. The story ends as it almost always does: with the cat yelling out in pain as yet another plan backfires.
The plot may be familiar, but the story behind it may not be. From Academy Award wins to secret production behind the Cold War’s Iron Curtain – this is how Tom and Jerry, who turn 80 this week, became one of the world’s best known double-acts.
The duo was dreamt up from a place of desperation. MGM’s animation department, where creators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera worked, had struggled to emulate the success of other studios who had hit characters like Porky Pig and Mickey Mouse.
Out of boredom, the animators, both aged under 30, began thinking up their own ideas. Barbera said he loved the simple concept of a cat and mouse cartoon, with conflict and chase, even though it had been done countless times before….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian,
Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
Boskone has a deaf attendee who would like to attend and providing ASL Interpreters is not in our budget. They have contracted to get their own ASL Interpreters at the cost of about $1200 for the one day they are attending. We are creating a GoFundMe to raise money, to first give to them to pay for the Interpreters, and second (if we raise more than this year’s Interpreters cost) to start a fund for future years should Interpreters be necessary again.
They’ve raised $573 of their $1200 goal as of this writing.
(2) NEXT RESNICK COLLECTION. UFO
Publishing will soon be releasing a Mike Resnick collection of Harry the Book
stories titled The
Hex is In: The Fast Life and Fantastic Times of Harry the Book: “Introducing:
The Hex is In”
This book will collect, for the first time, all fifteen Harry the Book stories Mike has written. These stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and magazines spanning a decade. Several of them were only published in the United Kingdom, and one has never been published anywhere at all.
…Harry the Book yarns are humorous fantasy set in the alternate version of New York where magic is real and fantastical creatures are commonplace. In fact, this is a shared setting with Mike’s Stalking the Unicorn series.
Harry the Book is a bookie who takes bets on everything from horse races to dancing contests to political campaigns. And — always — the hex is in. Unscrupulous magicians meddle with the odds forcing Harry and his motley crew (which includes a four-hundred-pound flunky, a six-foot-ten zombie, and a lovelorn wizard) to scramble, dealing with the consequences.
These stories are written in a unique voice–meant to emulate and pay tribute to Damon Runyon (author of Guys and Dolls and other stories). Runyon was the bard of the New York underbelly of the early 20th century, celebrating the hustlers, gamblers, and gangsters of the era.
…Carol Resnick, Mike’s wife who is a Runyon fan and for whom Mike wrote these stories, will pen the introduction.
(3) MORE REASONS TO VISIT THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT. Mythcon 51, the
gathering of the Mythopoeic Society, will be held July 31-August 3 in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. The theme will be The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien —
This year’s Mythcon theme provides multiple opportunities to explore the Other in fantasy and mythopoeic literature. Tolkien spoke in “On Fairy-stories” of “the desire to visit, free as a fish, the deep sea; or the longing for the noiseless, gracious, economical flight of a bird.” We invite discussion about the types of fantasy that are more likely to put us into contact with the alien, such as time portal fantasy and space travel fantasy. In addition to Inklings, some writers who deal particularly well with the truly alien who might be explored include Lovecraft, Gaiman, Le Guin, Tepper, and others….
Rivera Sun is the Author Guest of Honor:
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Roots of Resistance, and other novels. Her young adult fantasy series, the Ari Ara Series, has been widely acclaimed by teachers, parents, and peace activists for its blending of fantasy and adventure with social justice issues…. Rivera Sun’s essays have been published in hundreds of journals nationwide. She is a frequent speaker and presenter at schools, colleges and universities, where The Dandelion Insurrection has been taught in literature and political science courses. Rivera Sun is also the editor of Nonviolence News, an activist, and a trainer in making change with nonviolence. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice and have appeared in journals nationwide. She lives in an Earthship house in New Mexico.
David Bratman is the Scholar Guest of Honor:
His earliest contribution to the field was the first-ever published Tale of Years for the First Age, right after The Silmarillion was published. Since then he’s published articles with titles like “Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit Names Aren’t from Kentucky,” and “Liquid Tolkien” (on Tolkien and music). He’s been co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review since 2013, and has written or edited its annual “Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies” since 2004. David edited The Masques of Amen House by Charles Williams and contributed the bio-bibliographical appendix on the Inklings to Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep.
French fashion house Louis Vuitton made headlines last week with an eye-catching campaign for its Pre-Fall 2020 collection: A star-studden homage to pulpy genre paperbacks from the 1980s. In it, Léa Seydoux is menanced by a giant spider, Samara Weaving deals with a valentine from a werewolf, and Jaden Smith stares down a robot apocalypse.
The titles for the fake paperbacks were made up for the lookbook, but the art was not. It’s from veteran illustrators, and much of it was used on the covers of actual books from the same era.
The postage stamp looks like a postage stamp is supposed to look… But it’s not a postage stamp, not really, because its country of origin is Sealand—a metal platform about the size of a tennis court, off the English coast. Sealand is one of the quirky, strangely numerous states known as “micronations,” or self-proclaimed polities with no legal recognition. Some of them, to simulate legitimacy or at least make a little money, have issued their own flags, passports, coins, and yes, postage stamps.
Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago, who organized an exhibition at the 2020 Outsider Art Fair in New York of stamps from micronations and other dubiously defined places, believes that these tiny squares are more than a toss-off: They’re art, proof of imagination, and rather sophisticated bids for public recognition….
What’s the micronation stamp with the most interesting story?
I’m drawn to Celestia, the Nation of Celestial Space. James Thomas Mangan, founder of Celestia, registered the acquisition of “outer space” with the Recorder of Deeds and Titles in Cook County, Illinois, on January 1, 1949. Magnan laid claim to outer space to prevent any one country from establishing hegemony there. Later in 1949, he banned all atmospheric nuclear tests, and notified the United Nations of his decision.
(6) KELLY OBIT. Paula Kelly, the
actress, singer and dancer who starred in the film version of Sweet
Charity and earned an Emmy nomination for her turn on Night
Court, died February 9. She was 76. Kelly’s genre appearances included
The Andromeda Strain (1971), and
Soylent Green (1973).
Kelly was married to British director Donald Chaffey (One Million Years B.C.)
from 1985 until his death in 1990.
OBIT. Ron McLarty, the character actor who also became a published author thanks
to a rave from Stephen King, died February 8 at the age of
72, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I remember him as Detective
Frank Belson in Spenser
for Hire. His first onscreen role came in The
Sentinel (1977). He also was in Kevin Costner’s The
Postman (1997). However, it’s his audiobook work that really
drew him into the orbit of genre
McLarty was a leading audiobook narrator; since the 1990s, his 100-plus credits included work for such authors as King, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, Anne Rice, Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Scott Turow and George W. Bush.
In 2001, McLarty persuaded the small company Recorded Books to produce his third novel, The Memory of Running, directly onto tape as an audiobook. (The actor also narrated what is believed to be the first recorded audiobook of an unpublished novel.)
King heard it and loved the story — about a 43-year-old man who, after his parents die, takes a cross-country road trip on an old Raleigh bicycle to find his sister’s body — and in 2003 devoted one of his “The Pop of King” columns in Entertainment Weekly to it, calling Memory “the best book you can’t read.”
The endorsement sparked a bidding war among publishers that led to McLarty getting a reported $2 million from Penguin that included rights to release the novel in 2004 (and later two others) in the traditional way….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 11, 1970 — Hammer Films’ Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed premiered. Directed by Terrence Fisher, it starred Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. It was the fifth Hammer film that featured Baron Frankenstein. The screenplay was by Bert Batt, with the story written by Anthony Nelson Keys and Bert Batt. Critics thought it was one of the better Hammer films in quite some time, and it holds a sixty eight percent rating among the nearly three thousand who rated it over at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.
February 11, 1991 – Today is the 29th broadcast anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Clues” that Filer Bruce D. Arthurs wrote. (“Story by” Bruce, final teleplay credit shared with Joe Menosky.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 11, 1887 — Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. Russian writer of Polish extraction who John Clute likes a lot. His works are translated into English by Joanne Trumbull. Clute describe his short stories as “the extravagances of Absurdist SF and the generic opportunism of Fantastika”. And miracle of all miracles, he’s available at the usual digital sources including The Letter Killers Club which sounds amazing. (Died 1950.)
Born February 11, 1908 — Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr. He did several short stories with a Robert E. Howard, “Diogenes of Today”, “Eighttoes makes a play” and “ Red Blades of Black Cathay”. Donald M.Grant would publish them together in the Red Blades of Black Cathay collection. The title story originally appeared in Oriental Stories, an offshoot of Weird Tales. (Died 1984.)
Born February 11, 1910 — L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas. Sleep No More isavailable from Kindle. (Died 1974.)
Born February 11, 1915 — Pat Welsh. She was the voice of E.T. in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She was also the voice of Boushh in Return of the Jedi who Lucas hired because of her raspy voice which he thought gave the character an ambiguous voice. Those two films and Waterloo Bridge, a Forties film, are her entire acting career. (Died 1995.)
Born February 11, 1926 — Leslie Nielsen. I know the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.)
Born February 11, 1920 — Daniel F. Galouye. His work appeared in Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction In the Fifties and Sixties. He also wrote five novels including Simulacron-3 which was made into Roland Emmerich’s Thirteenth Floor. His first novel, Dark Universe was nominated for a Hugo but came in second at Chicon III to Stranger in a Strange Land. (Died 1976.)
Born February 11, 1939 — Jane Yolen, 81. She loves dark chocolate and I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance which her son Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on.
Born February 11, 1948 — Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are mostly popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.)
Born February 11, 1950 — Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott).
Born February 11, 1953 — Wayne Hammond, 67. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on him that’s been done including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide.
(11) PROXIMITY TO THE CORONA. [Item
by Jonathan Cowie.] It
is well known that Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother is alive and well in China what
with new mobile users having to have their face scanned and geo-positioned
etc. Now the State has turned this into an app that it is claimed
can help keep people safe from coronavirus: “China
launches coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app”.
China has launched an app that allows people to check whether they have been at risk of catching the coronavirus.
The ‘close contact detector’ tells users if they have been near a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus.
People identified as being at risk are advised to stay at home and inform local health authorities.
Until now, all the pictures of the sun have been straight-on head shots. Soon, scientists will be getting a profile.
NASA and the European Space Agency are set to launch a joint mission on Sunday to provide the first-ever look at the sun’s poles. Previous images have all been taken from approximately the same angle, roughly in line with the star’s equator.
…After the NASA/ESA probe called Solar Orbiter takes off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, it’ll use Venus and Earth’s gravity to propel itself outside that equatorial plane where all the planets in our solar system orbit the sun. Orbiter eventually will be able to look down onto the poles of the sun.
There are many reasons why scientists want to know more about the sun’s poles. They think the poles might be driving some important aspects of space weather throughout the solar system, which can impact spacecraft and even humans on Earth. “It has real world effects on our satellites, our GPS, our power grid and things like that,” McComas says.
NASA is at a critical juncture in its push to get people back to the moon by 2024, with key decisions expected within weeks.
This effort to meet an ambitious deadline set by the Trump administration last year faces widespread skepticism in the aerospace community, even as the new head of human spaceflight at NASA insists that it can succeed.No one has been to the moon since 1972, even though, back in 2004, then-President George W. Bush laid out several goals for NASA, including a “return to the moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions beyond.”
…In March of 2019, however, Vice President Pence announced that “it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.”
That would mean a remarkable speedup for NASA, which had been working toward a moon landing in 2028. In September, a member of Congress asked Ken Bowersox, who was the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, how confident he was that the U. S. would have boots on the moon by this new, earlier deadline.
“How confident?” Bowersox replied. “I wouldn’t bet my oldest child’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that.”
(15) ARSENAL OF THE FUTURE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, pays
a visit to Modern Props.
Star Trek! Men in Black! Blade Runner! Starship Troopers! Name your favorite sci-fi movie or TV show of the last forty years, and Modern Props has probably made some of the coolest things in it!
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, Karl-Johan Norén, Alex
Shvartsman, Lynn Maudlin, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael J. Walsh, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
The world still thought Coriolanus rich, but his only real currency was charm, which he spread liberally as he made his way through the crowd. Faces lit up as he gave friendly hellos to students and teachers alike, asking about family members, dropping compliments here and there. “Your lecture on district retaliation haunts me.” “Love the bangs!” “How did your mother’s back surgery go? Well, tell her she’s my hero.”
(2) HELP NAME THE ROVER. NASA’s Name the Rover contest—for their next Mars
rover—has published its list of nine finalists. Students around the
country sent in over 28,000 essays supporting their suggested names.
Now the public is invited to chime in — “You Can
Help Name the Mars 2020 Rover!” The polls are open for another five
days. Each finalist comes with a
link to the essay describing why the nominators think it should win.
(3) NEW EDITOR. Galaxy’s
Edge publisher, Shahid Mahmud, has
announced Lezli Robyn will take over as editor.
As many of you know, Mike Resnick passed away recently.
He pretty much single handedly created this magazine with the aim to give writers, particularly newer writers, a new venue for their stories. He was known in the industry as someone who loved helping younger aspiring authors and there is a large group of writers out there who proudly call themselves Mike’s Writer Children.
One of his writer children was Lezli Robyn, who also works for me as my assistant publisher. During the last year she also helped Mike with the magazine, particularly as his illness started taking a greater toll on his health.
Lezli is an award-winning writer in her own right and has also collaborated with Mike on a number of stories. She will now be taking over as editor of the magazine. I know Mike was very pleased with that decision…to have someone who was very close to him take over something he put so much of his heart into.
Since the two of them were working together on the magazine for the last few months, the transition should be smooth and we expect issue 43 to be available on time, on March 1, 2020.
(4) GALLERY OF HUGO ELIGIBLE ARTISTS. Rocket Stack Rank has
posted their annual gallery of pro artists who are
eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. “2020 Professional Artists”.
It has 300+ images from 100+ pro artists whose art was
used for short fiction, magazine covers, and novel covers.
However, there is this note –
Thumbnail images with a highlighted link are professional works done in 2019. Thumbnails without a highlighted link were done earlier (shown in last year’s list), later (show in next year’s list) or fan art (published in a semi-prozine) and included to give more examples of the artist’s style.
(5) STET, I REPEAT, STET. Ursula Vernon fights back against
the Copyedits of Doom. Thread starts here.
It’s fine with me if the thriller pace slows down. I like your meditative stuff. so nice to have you doing real SF again! “Slash is electric once more.”
I love how Netherton is expecting to be in a superhero iron man peripheral, and then it’s squat and small, like part of an oil filled radiator. He’s a good anti hero, and you have fun tormenting him. He still works as a character being sober, still has the same outside attitude. When I had my character Sta-Hi be sober in Realware, some of my older fans were mad about it, grumbled that “Rucker has gone religious, he’s no fun anymore, etc.” But if they’d notice, Sta-Hi stays exactly as crazy as before, as does Netherton.
For me, what took over for Netherton in this book was his co-parenting! My first POV character with a baby to take care of! When I discovered how different that felt to write, I guess I decided to roll with it, getting some perverse satisfaction out of imagining poor fuckers who bought the book in an airport, just before jumping on an 8-hour flight, expecting to get the generic thriller hand-job, and bang, they’re parenting!
(7) VOTING AGAINST THE MUTANT REGISTRATION ACT. The National
of Parliament Hill” spotlights a new Canadian legislator with a link to
Lenore Zann, best known to the SFF community as the voice of Rogue in the classic X-Men cartoon series of the 1990s has a new role: as a legislator in the Canadian parliament. The 61-year-old actress was elected last autumn as part of the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau.
“X-Men is a deep show about deep themes that are universal. They’re almost like our Greek gods and goddesses — they’re like mythology for young people,” said Zann. “I sit on a plane watching what people are looking at on their TV screens in front of them. Most of them are watching stuff like that.”
Born in North Wales, Jones read English at Oxford University, where he met his long-term collaborator and friend, Michael Palin. The two would star together in the college’s comedy troupe The Oxford Revue, and after graduation, they appeared in the 1967 TV sketch comedy Twice a Fortnight.
Two years later, they created The Complete and Utter History of Britain, which featured comedy sketches from history as if TV had been around at the time. It was on the show Do Not Adjust Your Set where they would be introduced to fellow comic Eric Idle, who had starred alongside John Cleese and Graham Chapman in productions mounted by the Cambridge University theatrical club the Footlights.
The five — together with Terry Gilliam, whom Cleese had met in New York — would quickly pool their talents for a new show. Monty Python’s Flying Circus was born and ran on the BBC for four seasons between 1969 and 1974, with Jones driving much of the show’s early innovation.
Jones is a noted history buff who has written on Chaucer and hosted a number of documentaries, including one on the Crusades. He directed Life of Brian and Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life; apart from Monty Python he has directed the films Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows and written several children’s books. The son of a bank clerk, he was born in North Wales and attended Oxford University. He and his wife, a biochemist, live in London and have a son and a daughter. Jones regularly appeared nude (playing the organ) in the opening credits of the Monty Python television series; he also played the obscenely fat, vomit-spewing Mr. Creosote in The Meaning of Life.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 22, 2000 — Cleopatra 2525 first aired in syndication. It was created by R.J. Stewart and Robert G. Tapert. Many who aired it do so as part of the Back2Back Action Hour, along with Jack of All Trades. The primary cast of this SF with chicks not wearing much series was Gina Torres of later Firefly fame, Victoria Pratt and Jennifer Sky. (A sexist statement? We think you should take a look at the show.) it would last two seasons and twenty episodes, six episodes longer than Jack of All Trades. (Chicks rule?) it gets a 100% rating by its reviewers at a Rotten Tomatoes though the aggregate critics score is a much lower 40%.
January 22, 1984 — Airwolf would premiere on CBS where it would run for three seasons before ending its run on USA with a fourth season. Airwolf was created by Donald P. Bellisario who was also behind Quantum Leap and Tales of The Golden Monkey, two other SFF series. It starred Jan-Michael Vincent, Jean Bruce Scott. Ernest Borgnine, and Alex Cord. It airs sporadically in syndication and apparently has not developed enough of a following to get a Rotten Tomatoes rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 22, 1858 — Charles H. M. Kerr. He’s best remembered for illustrating the pulp novels of H. Rider Haggard. Some of his other genre-specific work includes the Andrew Lang-edited The True Story Book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Wrong Box and Arthur Conan Doyle‘s “The Sign of the Four”. You can see the one of the H. Rider Haggard novels he did here. (Died 1907.)
Born January 22, 1906 — Robert E. Howard. He’s best remembered for his characters Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, less so for Kull, and is widely regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. His Cthulhu mythos stories are quite good. I believe all of these were published in Weird Tales. If you’re interested in reading him on your slate, you’re in luck as all the ebook publishers are deep stockers of him at very reasonable prices. (Died 1936.)
Born January 22, 1925 — Katherine MacLean. She received a Nebula Award for “The Missing Man” novella originally published in Analog, March of 1971. She was a Professional Guest of Honor at the first WisCon. Short fiction was her forte and her two collections, The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy and The Trouble with You Earth People, are brilliant. I can’t speak to her three novels, all written in the Seventies and now out of print, as I’ve not read them. (Died 2019.)
Born January 22, 1940 — John Hurt. I rarely grieve over the death of one individual but his death really stung. I liked him. It’s rare that someone comes along like Hurt who is both talented and is genuinely good person that’s easy to like. If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty-year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in Watership Down as General Woundwort and in The Lord of the Rings as the voice of Aragon before appearing as Kane, the first victim, in Alien. Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four and had a cameo as that character in Spaceballs. He narrates Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound and will later be one of two of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. That role is simply magnificent. Ok, I’m just at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander In Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films, all four of them in total. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as Dr. Harold Oxley, one of the few decent things about that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot that I’ve not seen. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And fitting that he’s a dragon, isn’t it? And of course he played The War Doctor. It, despite the brevity of the screen time, was a role that he seemed destined to play. Oh, for an entire series of stories about His Doctor! Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable. If I’ve missed anything about him that you feel I should’ve touched upon, do tell me. (Died 2017.)
Born January 22, 1959 — Tyrone Power Jr., 61. Yes, son of that actor. He is the fourth actor to bear the name Tyrone Power. If you remember him at all, it’s as Pillsbury, one of the aliens, in the Cocoon films. Other than Soulmates, a horrid sounding sort of personal zombie film, in which he had a role, that’s it for his SFF creds.
Born January 22, 1959 — Linda Blair, 61. Best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in The Exorcist. She reprised her role in Exorcist II: The Heretic. (I saw the first, I had no desire to see the second film.) Right after those films she started she started starring in a lot of the really bad horror films. Let’s see… Stranger in Our House, Hell Night (fraternity slasher film), Grotesque, Witchery, Dead Sleep and Scream to name a few of these films. She even starred in Repossessed, a comedy parody of The Exorcist.
Born January 22, 1969 — Olivia d’Abo, 51. She makes the Birthday Honors list for being Amanda Rogers, a female Q, in the “True Q” episode on Next Generation. Setting that gig aside, she’s got a long and extensive SFF series history. Conan the Destroyer, Beyond the Stars, Asterix Conquers America, Tarzan & Jane and Justice League Doom are some of her film work, while her series work includes Fantasy Island, Batman Beyond, Twilight Zone, Eureka and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Born January 22, 1996 — Blanca Blanco, 24. She’s here today because she’s on one of those Trek video fanfics that seem to have proliferated a few years back. This one had her planning on playing someone on Star Trek Equinox: The Night Of Time but the funding never materialized. I’m fascinated by this one as a certain actor was reprising his Gary Mitchell role here. If it was decided that an audio series would be made instead but I can’t find any sign of that being done either. Any of you spotted it?
(11) WHEN THE GALAXY IS OUT OF ORDER YOU CALL… Guardians of
Someone has to guard the galaxy – but who will accept the mission? And will they survive it? See who answers the call in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 trailer featuring writer Al Ewing, Editor in Chief CB Cebulski, and Editor Darren Shan!
Cosmic peace is hanging by a thread as the major galactic empires bristle against each other. Amidst the chaos, the Gods of Olympus have returned — harbingers of a new age of war, reborn to burn their mark on the stars themselves! The legendary Star-Lord leads Rocket Raccoon, Nova, Marvel Boy, Phyla-Vell, and Moondragon on a mission to restore order to the stars!
“The galaxy is just one bad day away from complete and total collapse, and that day is here,” teases Shan.
“Guardians of the Galaxy is where the Marvel cosmic universe, as we know it, comes alive. Marvel space is about to come crashing into the Marvel Universe in a big way,” says Ewing.
… Take the recent Star Wars trilogy, whose entire existence is predicated on the revelation that Han, Leia and Luke all had a miserable old time of it after the events of Return of the Jedi. Before, any fan with R2-D2 on their jim-jams could envisage the three of them growing old together, with a grey-muzzled Chewbacca snoozing contentedly by a crackling hearth. The new films suddenly forced them to confront a new reality in which Han and Leia are estranged because their son became a mass-murderer, and a PTSD-ravaged Luke lives a life of solitude on a remote skerry somewhere uncannily reminiscent of Ireland. And what happens next? Oh, they all die. Miserably. Great. Thanks.
More than a century after the RMS Titanic sank to bottom of the sea — and nearly a quarter-century after its memory was dredged up for a Hollywood blockbuster — the U.S. and U.K. have implemented a formal agreement on how to safeguard and manage the ill-fated steamship’s remains.
British Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani confirmed the news Tuesday during a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the ship was built before setting off from the English port city of Southampton in 1912.
…”This momentous agreement with the United States to preserve the wreck means it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives,” Ghani said in remarks released Tuesday by the Maritime Ministry.
Ghani’s comments cap a long and winding journey for the deal, which representatives from the U.K., the U.S., Canada and France officially agreed to as part of a 2003 treaty. The Agreement Concerning the Shipwrecked Vessel RMS Titanic sought to sort out and regulate public access, artifact conservation and salvage rights within 1 kilometer of the wreck site, situated hundreds of miles off the coast of Canada in the North Atlantic.
But since the countries negotiated the treaty, the document has largely languished. It requires the ratification of at least two of the four countries to enter into force, and while the U.K. quickly ratified the agreement, both Canada and France have yet to do so. The formal approval of the U.S. government looked long in doubt, as well.
It isn’t just languages that are endangered: dozens of alphabets around the world are at risk. And they could have even more to tell us.
On his first two days of school, in a village above the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong, Maung Nyeu was hit with a cane. This was not because he was naughty. It was simply that Nyeu could not understand what the teacher was saying, or what was written in his textbooks. Although 98% of Bangladeshis speak Bengali as a first language, Nyeu grew up with Marma, one of several minority tongues in the region. Written, it is all curls, like messy locks of hair.
Eventually Nyeu managed to escape this cycle of bewilderment and beatings. After learning Bengali at home, he returned to school and went to university. Now he is pursuing a doctorate at Harvard. Yet Nyeu never forgot his early schooldays. He spends much of his time in the hills where he grew up, where he founded Our Golden Hour – a nonprofit fighting to keep Marma and a flurry of other scripts alive.
There are between 6,000 to 7,000 languages in the world. Yet 96% are spoken by just 3% of the global population. And 85% are endangered, like Marma.
Along with the spoken words, something else is also at risk: each language’s individual script. When we talk about “endangered languages”, most of us think of the spoken versions first. But our alphabets can tell us huge amounts about the cultures they came from. Just as impressive is the length people will go to save their scripts – or invent whole new alphabets and spread them to the world.
The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface.
The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.
Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.
Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.
Scientists and engineers met on Tuesday to begin planning the project. Industry representatives from Britain, Switzerland, Greece, the Czech Republic and Romania gathered at Esa’s technical centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire.
Last night, the National Weather Service called for lows in the 30s and 40s with a chance of falling iguanas. Apparently, the lizards can fall into a deeper slumber in the cold, and it is not uncommon for them to tumble from trees. The advice for you is watch your heads, and don’t bug the iguanas after they land. I mean, do you like being bothered when you’re just getting up?
Biologists say invasive green iguanas have been spreading in Florida, and they’re a major nuisance. The state encourages homeowners to kill iguanas on their property.
And for “historical context.” Bob & Ray “The
Komodo Dragon” (Live at Carnegie Hall, 1984)
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, Cliff Ramshaw, Martin Morse Wooster,
Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Rick Moen.]
…When I began writing my Worldbreaker Saga back in 2012, which begins with the novel The Mirror Empire, I too was obsessed with this idea of two choices: the light and the dark. I was writing fantasy, after all! While my protagonists might be morally messy early on, I always knew I was headed for a showdown where they had two choices: good or evil. Genocidal or self-sacrificing.
But it was a false choice.
And it literally took me years to realize this.
At some level I must have understood I was setting up a false choice as I finished the second volume, Empire Ascendant, and began the grueling process of tying everything up in the third and final book, The Broken Heavens. Emotionally, I was rebelling against my own embrace of these false choices, because no matter how many times I tried to get myself to write the ending I had in mind at the beginning of the series, it just never felt… right.
(2) BASE RUMORS. CoNZealand has extended the deadline for
entering the Hugo base design competition until January 31.
If you were thinking of entering the competition to design bases for the 2020 Hugo Awards and 1945 Retro Hugos, you’re in luck. The deadline for entries has been extended until 31st January 2020 (from the original deadline of 17th January).
(3) SCREAM QUIETLY. Paramount dropped a
trailer for A Quiet Place II.
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
For a long time Weird Tales (probably best known for short stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Robert. E. Howard, and later Ray Bradbury) was seen as the first fantastical magazine, publishing science fiction, weird fiction and horror. That history has been revised over the past few years. Der Orchideengarten (in English, The Garden of Orchids) was a Munich-based magazine first published in 1919, predating the better known American magazine by several years, and is now acknowledged as the first fantasy magazine (archived digitally here).
Only published until 1921 Der Orchideengarten is somewhat overshadowed by its better known, and more mainstream, Munich-based contemporaries, Jugend and Simplissicimus, yet the breadth of stories and unsettling art is worth looking at.
(5) WOLFMAN. One of the many cameos in CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths “Part 5” was the real Marv Wolfman, who co-wrote the original Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series which was published by DC Comics in 1985-1986. CBR.com has the dialog, from when Marv, playing a fan, stops Supergirl and The Flash to ask for their autographs.
“Wait, you know both of us?” Kara asks. “And it’s normal to see us together?” Barry adds.
“Well, normally, you’d also have Green Arrow and a Legend or two,” Wolfman explains. “Last year, even Batwoman joined in.” He points to the folder. “Would you make that out to Marv? Thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” Barry says as he scribbles. “Marv, as far as you know, how long have Supergirl and I and all the rest of us been working together on this Earth?”
…Meanwhile, Long Beach Opera, as ever priding itself with radically rethinking repertory, has done a full refashioning of the first great “King Arthur” opera (there aren’t many, but Chausson’s “Le Roi Arthus” is a neglected beauty). Arthur here becomes the comic book delusional fantasy of a pudgy, narcissistic, emigrant-phobic politico requiring psychiatric treatment.
…Arthur King is a patient at Camelot O’Neil, a behavioral residence mental health unit. His sexy nurse is Gwen E. Veer. His buddy is another patient, Lance E. Lott. Doc Oswald runs the dubious joint.
Mitisek then takes apart the opera, adapting Purcell’s music to fit new circumstances and a completely new theatrical structure. His cutup rearranges, revises, reorders and reduces Purcell’s score. The occasional Dryden line is retained, but much of the sung text is new. Five acts become a single uninterrupted one under two hours.
Our schlumpy, Trumpian Arthur thinks he can save the world from aliens. He can be ridiculously pompous, Drydenesque even. He can also be sympathetically vulnerable.
(7) MAISEL MASHUP. Marvel’s
Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan Enters the
Marvel Universe on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 15, 2010 — Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones novel premiered. It starred starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, and Saoirse Ronan. The screenplay was by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Although Ronan and Tucci were praised for their performances, it received mixed reviews from critics. It has a 32% rating at Rotten Tomatoes by reviewers.
January 15, 2008 – File 770 blog makes its first post. Happy birthday to us!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 15, 1879 — Ernest Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
Born January 15, 1913 — Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed with it — it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
Born January 15, 1926 — Maria Schell. German actress who had roles in Superman and The Martian Chronicles. I’m reasonably sure that the Village of The Damned was her only other SFF film appearance. (Died 2005.)
Born January 15, 1927 — Phyllis Coates, 93. Lois Lane on The Adventures of Superman series for the first season. She’s also in Superman and the Mole Men which preceded the series. And she was in Fifties horror film Teenage Frankenstein. Wiki claims she had an appearance on Lois & Clark but IMDB does not show one.
Born January 15, 1928 — Joanne Linville, 92. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulnan Commander Spock gets involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.) She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection.
Born January 15, 1935 — Robert Silverberg, 85. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t?
Born January 15, 1944 — Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best-known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read has Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
Born January 15, 1945 — Ron Bounds, 75. One of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees. He chaired Loscon 2. He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
(10) BINTI FOR TV. Author Nnedi Okorafor will co-write the
script alongside Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Watchmen) for Media Res.Shelf
Awareness reports –
Hulu has given a script order for an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning Binti trilogy. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Watchmen, PEN15,The Morning Show) will co-write the script with Okorafor. The studio is Media Res, the banner launched by former HBO drama head Michael Ellenberg, who will executive produce alongside Osei-Kuffour and Okorafor.
The first newly created branch of the U.S. armed forces in more than seven decades now has its first official member.
Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond was sworn in Tuesday as chief of Space Operations. It’s the top post in what since late last month is the Pentagon’s seventh military branch, the United States Space Force.
…But at the moment, there are no Space Force troops to command. Most of the 16,000 officers, airmen and civilians who Pentagon officials expect to comprise the new service branch in the next few months would likely be Air Force personnel drawn from the U.S. Space Command, which is to be the Space Force’s operational component.
Scientists have discovered the secret of how the ginkgo tree can live for more than 1,000 years.
A study found the tree makes protective chemicals that fend off diseases and drought.
And, unlike many other plants, its genes are not programmed to trigger inexorable decline when its youth is over.
The ginkgo can be found in parks and gardens across the world, but is on the brink of extinction in the wild.
“The secret is maintaining a really healthy defence system and being a species that does not have a pre-determined senescence (ageing) programme,” said Richard Dixon of the University of North Texas, Denton.
“As ginkgo trees age, they show no evidence of weakening their ability to defend themselves from stresses.”
In Carrie Vaughn’s Steel, fourth-rate fencer Jill Archer tumbles off her boat during a family vacation near Nassau. She hits the water in the 21st century; she is pulled out during the Golden Age of Piracy. Luckily for the teen, Captain Marjory Cooper offers Jill the choice between signing on as a pirate or remaining a prisoner. (Less savoury fates are not on offer.) She chooses piracy, a life that involves a lot more deck swabbing than Basil Rathbone movies would suggest. Jill’s astounding temporal displacement makes her of considerable interest to scallywag pirate Edmund Blane. Jill will need better than fourth-place sword skills to survive Blane and find her way home.
(14) TWO RESNICK TRIBUTES. One of them was a young writer longer ago than the other, but they both admire how Mike Resnick treated them then.
I don’t recall when I first met Mike, but it was a long, long time ago, back in the 1970s when both of us were still living in Chicago. I was a young writer and he was a somewhat older, somewhat more established writer. There were a lot of young writers in the Chicago area in those days, along with three more seasoned pros, Gene Wolfe, Algis Budrys, and Mike. What impressed me at the time… and still impresses me, all these years later… was how willing all three of them were to offer their advice, encouragements, and help to aspiring neo-pros like me. Each of them in his own way epitomized what this genre and this community were all about back then. Paying forward, in Heinlein’s phrase.
And no one paid it forward more than Mike Resnick.
People who had met me in real life found this hilarious. I think one of them was certain I was play-acting. I wasn’t, of course. I was terrified. I could stand outside a door that lead to a publisher party and hyperventilate.
Resnick?—?I called him Resnick, not Mike; I don’t remember why?—?understood that fear. He talked about being nineteen and terrified at his first convention. And I knew that if I went to a convention that Mike Resnick was at, I’d know at least one person. I’d have one friend.
From the looks of it, these are actually Golden Oreos that have been dyed pink and made to look like decorated Easter eggs. As @ThreeSnackateers pointed out, these aren’t any fancy flavor, they’re just festive and fun.
Just because the name suggests this will be a super sugary drink (based off the beloved jelly beans, of course) doesn’t mean that’s true. These seltzers are going to have zero calories and zero sweeteners and will only use two ingredients.
The cans will begin to stock shelves next week, and the drink comes in eight of the iconic Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors. You can take your pick between French vanilla, lemon lime, orange sherbet, piña colada, pink grapefruit, tangerine, very cherry, or watermelon. Each flavor is made only with carbonated water and natural flavors, so you can have a taste of the candy jar with zero of the cals.
Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire and the founder of online fashion retailer Zozotown—according to Forbes, as of today, he’s worth $2 billion…
Let me be perfectly clear: the Bachelor references are there for fun, and technically, Maezawa is looking for a female “life partner,” not a moon wife, but other than that, nothing else in this story is a joke. These are facts: Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire, is taking applications from women (aged 20 and up) who want to be his life partner. One of the things that life partner will do with Maezawa is go to the moon, and that’s not just a minor perk or something, it is his major selling point.
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in when a Jeopardy! contestant missed another chance:
Answer: This Netflix show is a chilling reworking of Shirley Jackson;s gothic horror tale.
Wrong question: “What is ‘The Lottery.'”
Correct question: What is ‘The Haunting of Hill House’?”
And somebody else took a header over this —
Answer: One of England’s most beloved tunes is the one by Hubert Parry names for this faraway Mideast city.
Bizarrely wrong question: “What is Van Diemon’s Land?”
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the sci-fi short film ‘Regulation'” on YouTube, Ryan Patch describes a dystopian future where children are forced to wear “happy patches” to fight depression.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster,
John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack
Both The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit are quite Traveller-esque, the first with its small commercial vessel crewed by a diverse assortment of characters struggling to stay afloat in a demanding universe, and the second features the sort of horrifying backstory implied by Traveller’s notorious character generation system.
(2) THE WHY. BBC’s The Why Factor analyzes the
appeal of “Dystopias”.
23 minute audio
Released On: 13 Jan 2020
Available for over a year
Dystopic fiction is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, but why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of stories where ordinary people struggle to survive against an all-powerful state or in a post- apocalyptic world? Is it because they reflect the anxieties we already feel about the world we live in, or because they allow us to escape it.
Shabnam Grewal asks Why is Dystopic fiction so appealing?
BBC Radio 4’s “Good Omens” webpage includes a section about “Terry
Pratchett on Neil Gaiman” which is an extract from the hardback
edition of Good Omens, published by Gollancz. This is probably not
recent, but it’s news to me…
…He also had a very bad hat. It was a grey homburg. He was not a hat person. There was no natural unity between hat and man. That was the first and last time I saw the hat. As if subconsciously aware of the bad hatitude, he used to forget it and leave it behind in restaurants. One day, he never went back for it. I put this in for the serious fans out there: If you search really, really hard, you may find a small restaurant somewhere in London with a dusty grey homburg at the back of a shelf. Who knows what will happen if you try it on?
Details about “Blood Celestial Karaoke Jam” aren’t being released just yet, but what we do know is that this episode will be different from the 1940s-set episode. That episode, which will be the fourth of the final season, reportedly will contain only two song performances and not a full plot built around singing and dancing. Even with that being the case, the noir episode should be highly entertaining for fans as it will offer an alternate version of Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) singing together. The rest of the cast will also be part of that episode but won’t be playing the characters fans are most familiar with in the series given its past setting.
“I can’t tease too much!” Ellis said previously about the episode. “I would say on this episode, we take a trip down memory lane with Lucifer. We tell a story that answers the question a lot of fans have been asking actually.”
When Harlan Ellison died, there were people who were quick to point out what a terrible human being he was. And yes, that was their experience of him. Okay.
Over here, Harlan was my big brother. He saved my life. I knew he had human failings. We all do. Harlan’s were considerable. (So are mine.) So what? His impact on me — and on many — was enormous. And those of us who had benefited from his various kindnesses were saddened by his loss. He was important to us.
But to those who needed to vent their unfulfilled angers — “Have you no decency? At long last, have you no sense of shame?”
In such a circumstance, I would ask, “Why do you want to add to the pain of the close friends and family? What do you gain?”
Or is your own self-righteous need to dredge up your own angers one more time so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?
What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.
What I have learned (the hard way) is that maturity and wisdom are best demonstrated by keeping one’s mouth shut and listening harder. There might still be something to learn that is more important than my own unresolved issues.
Does this have anything to do with any recent events in the SF community?
(6) MORBIUS. Sony Pictures has dropped a teaser
trailer for Morbius. “Teaser”? It’s almost three minutes long!
One of Marvel’s most compelling and conflicted characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero, Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.
UPDATE on 01/13/2020: Carol and Laura would like to very much thank all of Mike’s friends, peers, and donators for their condolences and amazingly generous donations. Carol is just now starting to discover how expensive everything is following Mike’s passing, and it has been quite overwhelming. Your support has helped comfort her through a very hard time.
As you may be aware, Carol does not earn an income herself, and Mike was unable to work for a good slice of this year, due to multiple surgeries and illnesses. Yet she still has funeral arrangements to cover, a mortgage to pay, food to put on the table, and way too many bills to pay off. Every dollar donated helps her set up a new existence without her life partner.
We have changed the fundraiser goal to help meet her current needs, and while we understand you may have donated already (for which we are profoundly grateful), we ask if you could please share the fundraiser on your social media accounts again to help raise awareness. Your well wishes alone, and supportive words, have been so valued. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 13, 1939 — Son Of Frankenstein premiered. It starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and was the third entry in Universal Studios’ Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster. Directed and produced by Rowland V. Lee, Wyllie Cooper wrote the script in which he created the Igor character. The box office was remarkable and Universal Studios ordered The Ghost Of Frankenstein several years later with Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. It has an amazing 91% rating among critics and 71% among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
January 13, 1964 — The Outer Limits aired the sixteenth episode of its first season, a comedy called “Controlled Experiment”. Yes comedy and the only one that they did. Written and directed by Leslie Stevens, it starred Grace Lee Whitney of Trek fame as Carla Duveen and The Martians in a story well worth seeing. You can see it here.
January 13, 1980 — Dr. Franken first aired. Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky and Jeff Lieberman from a script by Jeff Lieberman, it starred Robert Vaughn as Dr. Arno Franken in a modern retelling of this that tale. Robert Perault played the John Doe in Room 841 whom I assume was The Monster. The All Movie Site says no network or sponsor cared enough to purchase this pilot film for a weekly series emerge from it.
January 13, 1989 — Deepstar Six premiered. It was directed by Sean S. Cunningham and produced by him and Patrick Markey from a screenplay by Lewis Abernathy and Geof Miller from the story that Abernathywrote. (I know that’s a lot of credits.) The sprawling cast included included Greg Evigan, Nancy Everhard, Miguel Ferrer, Nia Peeples and Matt McCoy. It was extremely poorly received by critics and audience members alike. Currently it’s got a a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among critics but only seven have been found that expressed an opinion, and it gets just 23% among the many reviewers there gave their opinion.
January 13, 2008 — Fox Television
premiered Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It starred Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer
Glau, it lasted two seasons and thirty one episodes. (It actually had a wrap-up
to it.) It was narrated by Lena Headey who you’ll remember as Ma-Ma in Dredd. At Rotten Tomatoes, critics (77%) and reviewers
(85%) really liked it but it never got better than mediocre ratings.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 13, 1893 — Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him one of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft“. This is while some readers found him excessively morbid — as L. Sprague de Camp said of him, “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available in Kindle editions. (Died 1961.)
Born January 13, 1933 — Ron Goulart, 87. First I must acknowledge that he is very prolific and uses many pseudonyms, to wit Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did the see Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that the I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he’s prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like?
Born January 13, 1938 — William B. Davis, 82. Best remembered I say as the Smoking Man. (need I say which series? I think not.) He’s had a long career in SFF video with roles in The Dead Zone, Mindstorm, Beyond the Stars, Snakehead Terror, Rise of the Damned, Singularity Principle, and my fav title for one of his his works, Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf.
Born January 13, 1938 — Billy Gray, 82. Here’s here for being Bobby Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He’s certainly not here for CPO Fred Twining in The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, the other SFF film he did which rates a 26% by reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. His Wiki page has him retiring from acting in 1977 but he appeared in 1996 as the Majordomo in The Vampyre Wars which was his last acting role.
Born January 13, 1938 — Charlie Brill, 82. His best remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode that repurposed this episode to great effect. He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer Space, The MunstersToday, Sliders, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
Born January 13, 1943 — Richard Moll, 77. Most will best remember him best from Night Court — that’s not genre unless the Magic Judge Harry did was real — but I’ve found that he voiced Harvey Dent aka Two-Face on Batman: The Animated Series which I recognized him from. He had SFF other appearances on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Mork & Mindy, Fantasy Island, Jurassic: Stone Age, Headless Horseman, Scary Movie 2, The Flintstones and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.
Born January 13, 1945 — Joy Chant, 75. Chant is an odd case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of Red Moon and Black Mountain, The Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes. Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely brilliant, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her amazing retellings of the legends. I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone actually read it?
Born January 13, 1960 — Mark Chadbourn, 60. ‘ve read his Age of Misrule series in which the Celtic Old Gods are returning in modern times and they’re not very nice but they make for very entertaining reading. It’s followed by the Dark Age series which is just as well-crafted. His two Hellboy novels are actually worth reading as well.
Born January 13, 1968 — Ken Scholes, 52. His major series, and it’s quite worth reading, The Psalms of Isaak. His short stories, collected so far in three volumes, are also worth your precious reading time. He wrote the superb “ Rock of Ages” for METAtropolis: Green Space.
Born January 13, 1982 — Ruth Wilson, 38. She’s Marisa Coulter in BBC’s His Dark Materials series. She’s in Depp’s The Lone Ranger as Rebecca Reid. (Yes, it’s genre. There’s a wendigo as a story device,) in the horror film I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, she was Lili Saylor. Finally I note she was Sara (Number 313) in the remake of The Prisoner. Having seen and enjoyed the original series, I skipped this happily when it came out.
(10) MORE STEVE STILES. The artwork Steve Stiles did for
the Baltimore Sun in the Eighties and Nineties can be viewed here.
(11) IN THE QUEUE. Is it funny? Well, its at least well-told. Thread starts here.
…Migdal also wanted to create an inclusive erotic novel, one that would be a fun and exciting read for audiences of any orientation. But it took a little while to work out the kinks in his art style, said the author.
“I had to develop my artistic skills to draw naked people that didn’t look like a pile of legos,” Migdal said. “But also drawing images that were representing body positivity and figuring out how to get that on to the page.”
The story follows Ana?s Phalese, a Brooklynite who meets a visitor from another world — Fauna Lokjum, the Liquorice Princess of Candy World — who is on the run from an arranged marriage to a supervillain. The two hop across dimensions and explore their sexualities while trying to save the world from Fauna’s would-be fiance.
(13) BURN A LITTLE. Parts of the western US are
still arguing over how to back down from the old Forest Service policy of
preventing all fires, realizing that small fires helped reduce the fuel for
huge fires. Australia is now looking at the same issue: “Aboriginal
planners say the bush ‘needs to burn'”.
For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of Australia set fire to the land.
Long before Australia was invaded and colonised by Europeans, fire management techniques – known as “cultural burns” – were being practised.
The cool-burning, knee-high blazes were designed to happen continuously and across the landscape.
The fires burn up fuel like kindling and leaf detritus, meaning a natural bushfire has less to devour.
Since Australia’s fire crisis began last year, calls for better reintegration of this technique have grown louder. But it should have happened sooner, argues one Aboriginal knowledge expert.
“The bush needs to burn,” says Shannon Foster.
She’s a knowledge keeper for the D’harawal people – relaying information passed on by her elders – and an Aboriginal Knowledge lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
…While modern-day authorities do carry out hazard reduction burning, focusing on protecting lives and property, Ms Foster says it’s “clearly not working”.
“The current controlled burns destroy everything. It’s a naive way to practise fire management, and it isn’t hearing the Indigenous people who know the land best.
“Whereas cultural burning protects the environment holistically. We’re interested in looking after country, over property and assets.
…”Cool burning replenishes the earth and enhances biodiversity – the ash fertilises and the potassium encourages flowering. It’s a complex cycle based on cultural, spiritual and scientific knowledge.”
They also create a mosaic of ecologies, Ms Foster says, and this can lead to beneficial micro-climates.
(14) BE ALERT. Penguin
is releasing We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Call of Cthulhu as part of its new brand:
Orange you glad we included Penguin Orange? This vivid collection of beloved modern classics is a nod to our old-school, tri-band heritage design, featuring custom illustrations by artist Eric Nyquist that take everything to the next level.
The smells of ordinary life, from traditional pubs to old books, are part of our culture and heritage – and many of them are in danger of being lost.
Imagine an old leather-bound book just pulled out from a wooden shelf. Its yellowed pages release dust as they open. Even before you begin to read the book, the unique smell of it fills your nose.
This familiar scent is not only a simple pleasure for people who like to peruse libraries and bookshops. These smells have a cultural heritage value, and they are at risk of being lost. For every old book that falls apart, is thrown away or kept locked behind a temperature-controlled curatorial door, these scents become harder to experience. It is a problem that is far from unique to books – from perfumeries and pubs to entire cities, the background scents of our lives are changing all the time.
For Cecilia Bembibre, a researcher at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, the smell of old books is important. She is developing different techniques to recover “extinct” scents from the past and to preserve those around today for the future.
It’s a facet of heritage that is often, quite literally, overlooked. “The proposals made by cultural heritage spaces such as galleries, museums, historic houses, are mostly focused on the sight,” says Bembibre. “The engagement they propose tends to be visual. [With] some exceptions, the stimulation of senses, like the objects that can be touched or smelled, is reserved for children.”
…In 2003, Unesco adopted a convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, which includes social practices, oral traditions and performing arts. Where, though, were the scents? For centuries there have been cultural practices where smell plays a vital role, like the Spanish Fiesta of the patios in Cordova or the Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia. In 2018, the skills related to perfumery in Pays de Grasse, France, were included on the intangible heritage list. No scents themselves, however, are listed.
(16) TECHNICAL PROWESS. Sure, the excuse to
post this non-sff film is that it was shot on a phone – but the real reason is
that it’s very sweet.
A film about three generations of Chinese women coming together at Chinese New Year. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro. Directed by Theodore Melfi. Cinematography by Lawrence Sher. Starring Zhou Xun, China’s leading actress.
…Stewart says, in a post-President Trump and post-Brexit world, the United States and the United Kingdom, in particular, distanced themselves from what the United Federation of Planets — Star Trek’s fictional interstellar union of planets that share democratic goals — represented.
“The European Union always made me feel, well, we are heading towards our own Federation of Planets somewhere down the line that will come about. And I am angry, disappointed and embarrassed by our decision to leave the Union,” the English-born actor said in an interview with Weekend Edition Sunday.
Much like Picard, Stewart is uninterested in playing a part — fictional or not — if it doesn’t mesh with his beliefs.
It wasn’t until the producers described the transformed landscape they envisioned for Picard that Stewart got on board. “The Federation” has swung isolationist, and the new Picard is very different.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Way Out” on Vimeo,
Jeon You-jin explains what happens when little girls chase balloons.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Mike Resnick, who at his zenith was one of the most popular figures in the science fiction fan and pro community, died January 9. He was nominated for the Hugo Award 37 times, winning 5, and 11 Nebula nominations, with 1 win. He was a Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 in 2012.
His daughter, Laura Resnick, announced his passing in an update to
the GoFundMe created for his medical expenses.
He was diagnosed in November with a very aggressive form of lymphoma. Treatment initially went well, and we were very hopeful. But his health and strength began to decline sharply in mid-December, and a few days ago, the doctors told us they had made a decision to discontinue treatment, there was no hope, and they recommended hospice care.
Pop chose not to tell anyone how ill he was, because he was so convinced he’d get better and soon be his old self again. He mostly slept during his final days, but when awake he was in good spirits. He passed away quietly in his sleep, without pain or further suffering.
His connection to his friends, his readers, and his colleagues enriched his life, and he never stopped being delighted to meet people who read his work, who were interested in writing, who loved books and stories, and who shared his sense of wonder. He remained enthusiastic about his craft and devoted to his writing to the end of his life, and was always thrilled to be part of the science fiction community, as both a fan and a pro. He taught me a lot about being a writer and a professional.
My dad met my mom nearly 60 years ago and has been devoted to her ever since. She said to me this morning that no one could have had a better husband. My mom will miss him more than anyone, but we know he will be missed by many people.
He will be cremated, as per his wishes, in a private family service. We will plan a memorial/remembrance gathering for him later this year, at a location where we hope many of his friends can be present–maybe a convention.
Meanwhile, his long illness leaves his widow, my mom, with many large medical bills, while grieving his loss, and without him being here to generate any more income. In his memory, if you would like to help her, his medical GoFundMe is still running.
On my dad’s behalf, thank you for all the good times, good laughs, and good memories he enjoyed in what was a happy and fulfilling life.
UPDATE on 12/11/2019: Mike is now battling cancer on top of his previous major surgery, for which this fundraiser was created. The doctors are very optimistic and say he is responding to treatment incredibly well, but because of new surgery, radiation and chemo bills, he is in need of this fundraiser more than ever. As you can imagine, he is literally bleeding money at he moment. Every dollar helps. Thank you, again, for all the support you have given Mike! <3
3- For some reason your character has special knowledge.
This could be as inside-baseball as knowing it was the wrong tropical fish (I know NOTHING about tropical fish, btw) or how fanatic tropical fish collectors get. Or it could be as “generic” as she saw something she can’t tell the police, either because it’s not clear or because she wouldn’t want to rope in a person she’s sure is innocent.
So, she’s going to investigate.
BTW by now we should have already seen or heard of the murderer. No, you shouldn’t make it obvious. But it’s important, to avoid the elephant from the ceiling feeling. If not, we should see her or meet her early in the investigation phase. (Yes, it can be a him too, do I need to tell you that?)
At this point it might become obvious to everyone but your protag that love interest is interested.
(5) GREAT EXPECTATIONS. [Item
by Olav Rokne,] Prominent cultural critic
Dave Itzkoff writing in The Gray Lady delves into the creative turmoil
surrounding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and J.J. Abrams’ attempts
to live up to the mantle of the franchise. “A New Hype” is filled with interesting tidbits and observations about
the creative process. It’s an example of why I think so highly of Itzkoff as a
As [Abrams] slyly acknowledged, “Any great ending is a new beginning on some level.” But what the future of “Star Wars” might look like without its foundational narrative is something Abrams — who struck a lucrative overall deal with WarnerMedia in September — was in no hurry to envision. “I didn’t design that, so I don’t know,” he said.
…The author, who serves as showrunner on the studio’s forthcoming Star Trek: Picard for CBS All Access, has, alongside his writer wife, Ayelet Waldman, signed an overall deal with the studio. Under the pact, Chabon and Waldman will adapt the former’s 2000 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as a limited series for CBS TV Studios’ corporate sibling Showtime.
The series, which earned Chabon the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, will be written and exec produced by the husband and wife duo and has received a series commitment from the premium cable network. Chabon and Waldman will serve as showrunners on Kavalier and Clay. Chabon will transition to the new series, an epic tale of love, war and the birth of America’s comic book superhero obsession in big band-era New York, in 2020 and exit Picard. The series is a co-production with Paramount Television, which controlled the rights to the book.
…But starting back in 2013, a series of calamities almost derailed these time-honored traditions. That was when Baker — a man who bubbled over with creativity, but when it came to business, was a car wreck — was forced to sell the building, and the troupe became tenants in their longtime home. When Baker died the following year at the age of 90, the company members dedicated themselves to preserving his legacy.
“At the end of the day, we’d still be doing shows, and there’d be a hundred happy kids,” said Alex Evans, a scruffy-bearded 34-year-old who arrived at the theater in 2006 from New York after Googling “Los Angeles” and “puppets.” He is now the theater’s executive director and head puppeteer. “So it was easy to look around and highlight this as a beautiful moment.”
After Baker’s death, the group learned the landlord intended to raze the theater and replace it with a mixed-use development, which would include a spot for them to perform. “Then we looked at the plan and it was like, ‘We are essentially going to be squeezed into a space otherwise allocated to a Starbucks,” Evans said. “We were, like, ‘This won’t work. We can’t do that.’ ”
They visited dozens of places before finding the two-story former Pyong Kang First Congregational Church on a bustling, tree-lined street, across from a children’s park. Not only was it bigger than their original home — at 10,000 square feet compared to about 5600 — it was also zoned for assembly. “We could just open the doors and just go,” Evans said.
The Illuminatus! Trilogy is coming to television and Hivemind is in on the conspiracy. Hivemind, the production company behind The Expanse and Witcher, is partnering with writer-director Brian Taylor(Crank, Happy!) and the European production company Kallisti to adapt The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the off-kilter bookshelf series by authors Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea.
Originally published in the 1970s, The Illuminatus! Trilogy defies simple descriptions but the surreal and satirical milestone introduced “the Illuminati” lore to a global audience and sparked much of the contemporary American fascination with conspiracy theories and their modern rhythms.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 11, 1929 — The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says that “Fandom begins in New York with the first meeting of the Scienceers, 1929.” Timebinders has a history of that Club here as it appeared in Joe Christoff’s Sphere fanzine.
December 11, 1982 — Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann. Junk films are a great deal of fun (sometimes). Timerider is certainly junky. It’s directed by William Dear and starring Fred Ward as Lyle Swann, a cross country dirt bike racer. The film was scored, produced and co-written (with Dear) by Michael Nesmith of Monkees fame. There’s rating at Rotten Tomatoes but Amazon reviews really liked it as did some critics.
December 11, 1998 — Star Trek: Insurrection premiered. Directed by Frakes who was widely praised for doing so, it starred the Next Gen cast. It did very well at the box office and critics mostly liked it. The story was by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It currently has a rating of 44% by viewers over at Rotten Tomatoes where an amazing 62,772 have registered their opinion.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 11, 1922 — Maila Syrjäniemi. She was Vampira, the first tv horror host as she hosted her own series, The Vampira Show, from 1954–55 in the LA market. After it was canceled, she showed up on Plan 9 from Outer Space in one of the starring roles. (Died 2008.)
Born December 11, 1926 — Dick Tufeld. His best known role, or at least best recognized, Is as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprised for the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spider-Woman, Thundarr the Barbarian, Fantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
Born December 11, 1937 — Marshal Tymn, 82. Academic whose books I’ve actually read. (I find most of these sorts of works really boring, errr, too dry.) He’s written two works that I’ve enjoyed, one with Neil Barron, Fantasy and Horror, is a guide to those genres up to mid Nineties, and Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines with Mike Ashley as his co-writer is a fascinating read indeed. A Research Guide to Science Fiction Studies: An Annotated Checklist of Primary and Secondary Sources for Fantasy and Science Fiction is the only work by him available in a digital form.
Born December 11, 1954 — Katherine Lawrence. Short story writer and script writer for a number of animated SF series including Reboot, Stargate Infinity and Conan the Adventurer to which she contributed quite a number of stories. (Died 2004.)
Born December 11, 1957 — William Joyce, 62. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. Michael Toman in an email says that “I’ve been watching for his books since reading Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo back in 1988.”
Born December 11, 1959 — M. Rickert, 60. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got three collections to date, Map of Dreams, Holiday and You Have Never Been Here. I’ve not read her novel, The Memory Garden, and would like your opinions on it. The latter and You Have Never Been Here are her only works available digitally.
Born December 11, 1962 — Ben Browder, 57. Actor best known, of course, for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1. One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1” episode. He’d have an appearance in Doctor Who in “A town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts.
Born December 11, 1979 — Rider Strong, 40. Making Birthday Honors for his voice work Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles as Pvt. Carl Jenkins. If you’ve not seen this series, go watch it. He’s done a lot of voice work including for Star vs. the Forces of Evil and his live work is mostly horror.
William Shatner wants Scotty the judge to beam him up and out of his marriage, ’cause he’s calling it quits after 18 years … TMZ has learned.
The ‘Star Trek’ actor just filed for divorce against his wife, Elizabeth, whom he got hitched with back in 2001. Sources familiar with the matter tell us Bill and Liz’s split should move along relatively smoothly, as we’re told the couple has a prenup.
…Elizabeth is Will’s fourth wife — he was previously married to Nerine Kidd, Marcy Lafferty and Gloria Rand … and only had children with Rand. It’s Elizabeth’s second go-around … she was married to Michael Glenn Martin before William. He’s 88 … she’s 61.
… According to William’s divorce docs — obtained by TMZ — he lists their date of separation as Feb. 1, 2019.
(13) LOOSED LIPS. “Vault of the
Wordmonger” on The Dark Mountain Project is a short story by Nick Hunt about a future where words
have become imprisoned and are only gradually being freed.
Our father bought words once a week. He was a big man in our town and fresh words gave him status. He paid for them in animal parts from the farm our family owned and sometimes in mineral parts from the mine beyond the hill. He did not own the mine but he had interests there. The animal parts and mineral parts he carried there in his hands and the words he carried back in his mouth. That is the way to carry words….
Rudyard Kipling playfully wrote that zebras stripes were due to “the slippery-slidy shadows of the trees” falling on its body but are scientists getting closer to the truth?
In February 2019, at a horse livery yard in the UK, a fascinating experiment took place. A team of evolutionary biologists from the University of California, Davis, and their UK collaborators, investigated why zebras have stripes. In the name of science, they dressed several domestic horses at Hill Livery in zebra-striped coats, and studied them alongside actual zebras.
Owner Terri Hill keeps a herd of zebras which she has acquired from zoos across the UK – a collection which stems from Hill’s passion for the conservation of wild equids. Maintaining the herd, which live on a two acre paddock complete with sand pit and herb garden, is a way of maintaining breeding stock for zoos, and so helping to protect the animals against future extinction.
For Tim Caro, an ecologist from the University of St Andrews who has been studying zebra stripes for almost two decades, the livery yard’s relatively tame zebras provided a rare opportunity to stand within metres of them and observe them. “People have been talking about zebra stripes for over a hundred years, but it’s just a matter of really doing experiments and thinking clearly about the issue to understand it better,” he says.
How and why zebras evolved to sport black and white stripes are questions that have tested scientists for over a century. Scientists have put forward at least 18 reasons why, from camouflage or warning colours, to more creative explanations like unique markers that help to identify individuals like a human fingerprint. But, for a long time new theories were introduced without rigorous tests.
One of India’s most gridlocked cities has come up with an unconventional solution to rein in errant drivers.
Mannequins dressed up as traffic police have been placed on roads in the southern city of Bangalore.
Dressed in police caps, white shirts and brown trousers, and wearing sunglasses, the mannequins are now on duty at congested junctions.
It’s hoped drivers will mistake them for real police and think twice about breaking the rules of the road.
Home to India’s IT industry, Bangalore has eight million registered vehicles on its streets. This number is expected to grow to more than 10 million by 2022.
At 18.7 km/h (11.61 mph) traffic speeds in the city are the second slowest in the country after Mumbai (18.5 km/h), according to a study by an office commute platform, MovinSync Technology Solutions. Cameras at traffic junctions have recorded more than 20,000 traffic violations every day.
But commuters have mixed feelings on whether mannequins can actually step in to help their real police counterparts.
There are plenty of flashpoints for controversy littered among the grand pantheon of four-letter words. Plenty of examples probably come to mind immediately — from the relatively tame (“heck,” anyone?) to the kind of graphic profanity that may warrant an uncomfortable call from our ombudsman.
Still, one four-letter word has elicited more heated debate than most among grammarians lately. And it happens to be one that we’re free to print right here: they.
Merriam-Webster announced Tuesday that the personal pronoun was its 2019 Word of the Year, noting that the tiny, unassuming word had undergone a rather radical transformation in usage in recent years — and found itself at the heart of some wide-ranging cultural conversations in the process.
“English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years,” the dictionary publisher explained in a statement.
“More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.”
Do you ever just shove your hand all the way into the bottom of the Pringles can to get the just-out-of-reach last chip? Because same. And now I’ll be doing that even more willingly because Pringles is bringing back its Pickle Rick flavor.
The flavor is obviously an ode to Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim cartoon series with a super cult following. In a now-famous episode of the show, a scientist turns into a pickle to avoid going to family therapy…as one does? Thus, “Pickle Rick” was born.
(19) A BOUNTY FOR YOUR TABLE. N sent the link to Binging
with Babish: Bone Broth from The Mandalorian with the recommendation, “Unconventional, but I’m watching
this right now and everything he’s making with the broth is just too tasty
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Tolan, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, N., Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, and JJ
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Daniel Dern.]
NASA civil servants and contractors at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are bracing for high winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian. Ahead of the storm, they are securing rocket stages, spacecraft assembly areas and even hauling a 6.7-million-pound mobile launch tower, designed for the huge rocket being built for the Artemis moon program, back to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.
The 355-foot-tall gantry structure, carried atop a squat Apollo-era crawler-transporter, is scheduled to begin the 4.2-mile trip from launch complex 39B back to the protection of the VAB at dawn Friday — a journey that’s expected to take more than eight hours to complete.
Thursday (15th August) was the first full day – I spent a while in the morning doing some running for the Chair’s office – up and down the elevator with bits and pieces – highly important bits and pieces, of course! Then I got to attend two brilliant panels – ‘Invasions and the Irish Imagination’ and ‘When scientists write science fiction’ – before a quick bite for lunch with my friend Karina, and then a 3-hour Writers’ Workshop with the amazing Diane Duane. What was great about this workshop was the amazing DD, and the other fantastic participants – I made 2 lovely new friends – Eliana all the way from Paraguay, and Caoilfhionn from Kilkenny – we hung out at the bar lots together. There was an ‘interesting’ bit in the middle of the workshop when I was terribly rude and had to answer a phone call from my Featured Artist, Jim, who was having technical difficulties at his presentation – SO SO sorry to interrupt the flow of the workshop, but we got it sorted. The opening ceremony then was great, including the Retro Hugos. And seeing 3 members of my (real-life, work) company onstage with the rousing choir at the close : ‘where the strawberry fields…’.
…GRRM The Irish Connection with Colm Lundberg (Moderator) William Simpson, Peadar O’Guilin and Parris McBride Martin. It was a really enjoyable panel on their Irish Connections and great to have it confirmed that Westeros is indeed a map of Ireland upside down!
Afterwards he walked right by me and I said hello which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to him! We got chatting with William Simpson who is absolutely lovely, very passionate about climate change as is Abigail. William drew all of the storyboards for Game of Thrones and while we were chatting he drew a dragon for Abigail in her notebook! So very cool.
(3) NEXT YEAR’S WORLDCON. CoNZealand invites everyone to view
their promotional video from the Dublin 2019 closing ceremony, featuring
their Author Guests of Honour, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, NZ Artist Guest
of Honour, Greg Broadmore, and special guests, Tania Taylor, Sir Richard
Taylor, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Jacinda
“I just want to thank all the people who have contributed to my GoFundMe appeal. I’m still weak, but I can walk about 50 feet without a cane or a walker. Carol and I have been overwhelmed by your numbers, and by the absolute love we read in your messages. I’m back to work — not as fast as I’d wish — but I did sell 3 short stories in the last two weeks, so at least you know your good wishes and outporing of affection aren’t going into a black hole. I have been moved beyond belief.”
The donations passed $19,000 today.
(6) ROBOTS AND KNIGHTS. Jewish in Seattle recently published two items of interest to Filers. The first
is a short story entitled “Next
Year In” by Merridawn Duckler. It won the magazine’s short story
…The day of Team meeting for the spring robot fashion launch, it was raining hard. Other protectorates have man-made precipitation but here in New Cascadia we still have the real thing, from little eyelash dusters, to the full, sideways sliding downpour. I like real rain. I’ve experienced the human-made stuff and it’s just not the same; too uniform, each drop perfect, dries too fast. Plus, it stops. Still, I complain about the rain like everyone else. The last thing we need is for more people to emigrate here….
…And Yiddish? One Arthurian figure, Wigalois, has piqued the interest of Annegret Oehme, a University of Washington assistant professor of Germanics who specializes in pre-modern literatures and languages. She argues that the story of Wigalois (pronounced vee-gah-loy) is an intercultural production between medieval German and Jewish societies. Not only does Wigalois appear in Yiddish, but Oehme argues that it interacted with and influenced Germanic versions of the story.
“It’s really important to see that the Jewish community was familiar with courtly literature, they participated with transmission, and didn’t just read and produce religious texts,” Oehme says.
The son of prominent Arthurian knight Gawain, Wigalois grows up in a fairylike land with his mother before setting off to find his father in Camelot. While at court, he accepts the quest of a maiden seeking aid for her kingdom, which is under siege. Battling dragons and giants along the way, Wigalois successfully defeats the usurper and frees the kingdom, becomes a knight, and marries a princess.
The tale packs enough action for an HBO series, yet Oehme argues the real stakes of the story lie in what it tells us about early modern Yiddish culture….
(7) HINES’ SAD ANNOUNCEMENT. Jim C. Hines told Facebook
readers that his wife, Amy, died yesterday after a nine-month fight with
cancer. Read more on Facebook.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 30, 1797 — Mary Shelley. Author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus which I’ll admit that I’ve not read. Who here has read it? It certainly has spawned a multiverse of novels and films since it came, some quite good, some quite bad. (Died 1851.)
Born August 30, 1896 — Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.)
Born August 30, 1942 — Judith Moffett, 77. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Nolacon II for her Pennterra novel. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series.
Born August 30, 1943 — Robert Crumb, 76. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
Born August 30, 1955 — Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Thread magazine. (Died 2019.)
Born August 30, 1963 — Michael Chiklis, 56. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of. He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series.
Born August 30, 1965 — Laeta Kalogridis, 54. She was an executive producer of the short-lived excellent Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like.
Born August 30, 1967 — Frederique van der Wal, 52. She appeared in exactly one genre film — Wild Wild West as Amazonia. Oh well.
Born August 30, 1972 — Cameron Diaz, 47. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s an uncredited Bus passengers in Minority Report. Oh and she’s Lenore Case in the cringingly awful Green Hornet.
Born August 30, 1980 — Angel Coulby, 39. She is best known as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived Thunderbirds Are Go.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Incidental Comics by Grant Snider – “Reader’s Block”
(11) SUPERREALISM. In “Review:
The Boys (Amazon)”, Camestros Felapton indicates the show suffers from
certain inconsistencies in storytelling.
…Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is a young man whose girlfriend is brutally killed accidentally by the superhero A-Train — a Flash like superhero whose superspeed essentially explodes Campbell’s girlfriend in front of him. This early scene sets the confused tone of the series: gory, comical and shocking, with events often set up like jokes but then played out for emotional impact.
A distraught Hughie is recruited by Billy Butcher — Karl Urban sporting the accent he used as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok. Butcher is a foul-mouthed cockney rogue CIA agent on his own personal mission of revenge against the seven….
By the time a fetus is 6 months old, it is producing electrical signals recognizable as brain waves.
And clusters of lab-grown human brain cells known as organoids seem to follow a similar schedule, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
“After these organoids are in that six-to-nine-months range, that’s when [the electrical patterns] start to look a lot like what you’d see with a preterm infant,” says Alysson Muotri, director of the stem cell program at the University of California, San Diego.
The finding suggests that organoids can help scientists study the earliest phase of human brain development and perhaps reveal the earliest biological beginnings of conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.
But the presence of humanlike brain waves in a dish is also likely to focus attention on the ethical questions surrounding this sort of research.
Two real-life hoaxes managed to fool the creator of Sherlock Holmes – and they help to reveal our own ‘metacognitive illusions’ that influence our memory and perception.
On 21 March 1919, a committee including a paranormal investigator, a viscountess, a mind reader, a Scotland Yard detective, and a coroner were all assembled in a small flat in Bloomsbury, London. “I have spent years performing with fake mediums all over the world in order to disprove spiritualism,” declared their host. “Now at last, I have come across a genuine medium.”
The woman who entered the room was wearing a veil that concealed the lower half of her face. She began with a séance which involved a demonstration of “clairvoyance”. Each member of the committee had been instructed to bring with them a small personal item or written letter. Before the medium arrived all the objects were placed into a bag, which was then locked inside a box.
The medium held the locked box in her lap, and while the committee watched carefully, she proceeded to not only name the objects within, but to describe them in vivid detail. She divined that one of the objects was a ring belonging to the deceased son of the paranormal investigator, and even read the faded inscription.
…The creator of Sherlock Holmes declared that he was highly impressed with the clairvoyant demonstration, although he said he would need to see the ghost again before he would attest to its paranormality.
Today, Conan Doyle is best known for his detective stories, but the good doctor was also an illustrious paranormal investigator who often failed to see the frauds in front of his eyes. He famously fell for the photographs of the Cottingley Fairies, for instance, faked by two children – Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright. He attended séances, too. As a spiritualist, Conan Doyle also asserted that he witnessed mediums make direct contact with the spirits of the dead.
…Conan Doyle’s reactions to these hoaxes are clearly problematic, but they are also an illustration of psychological phenomena known as “metacognitive illusions”.
“Metacognition” is the idea of thinking about thinking. By extension, metacognitive illusions occur when people hold mistaken beliefs about their own cognitive systems. We all tend to feel like we are experts about the nature of our own perceptions and memories. After all, we generally perceive things and remember things successfully throughout most of our day-to-day lives. However, in many cases our intuitions about our own cognitive systems can be surprisingly unreliable – we are not always nearly as observant as we think we are and our memories can be surprisingly malleable.
In case there were any lingering doubts, Sarah Connor is most definitely back. Reprising her signature role for the first time in nearly 30 years, Linda Hamilton asserts her authority in the latest trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate by delivering the franchise’s most famous line … you know the one. (Watch the trailer.)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Danny Sichel,
Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Tolan, Jerry
Kaufman, and Chip Hitchcock, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]