(1) OKORAFOR ON BBC. BBC World Service’s program In the Studio features “Nnedi Okorafor: Creating sci-fi worlds”.
The award-winning science fiction author Nnedi Okorafor always has a project—or three—on the go. From her home outside Chicago she creates stories driven by what she describes as Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism for children and adults -a legacy of her Nigerian roots. Her work now ranges across comics for Marvel, screenplays and yet another new novel due out in the summer.
But she wasn’t always destined to be a writer. She spent her youth training hard to be a top class athlete until she developed curvature of the spine, which put an end to her dreams. After corrective surgery she became temporarily paralysed and it was then, during her darkest time, that she began to create stories.
Now, as Chicago, like the rest of the US endures lockdown, Nnedi’s been adapting to her changed life and restricted movements. Mark Burman talks to her about her work and how her creative process has been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During recordings made in April and early May he eavesdrops on some of her writing moments including her fruitful collaboration with the Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu and their story of an A.I. traffic police robot—and hears about the therapeutic distraction of her trumpet-playing daughter and magnificent cat which now has his own Twitter account!
(2) Q&A AND SLF. The Speculative Literature Foundation has been posting interviews Mary Anne Mohanraj conducted with sff writers at various conventions on their YouTube channel this month.
- Scott Woods
- Kate Elliott
- Nalo Hopkinson
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Vida Cruz
(3) ULTRAMAN. Marvel’s The Rise Of Ultraman #1 hits stands this September, featuring a cover by Alex Ross. Ultraman has been a pop culture staple since the franchise debuted in the 1960s, and his stories have been depicted on both the page and the screen – and the 2007 Hugo base.
…Storytelling masters Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Winter Soldier) and Mat Groom (Self/Made), together with superstar artists Francesco Manna (Avengers, Fantastic Four) Michael Cho (Captain America) and Gurihiru (The Unstoppable Wasp) will take fans back into the days of darkness, where the terrifying Kaiju lurk….
“Across the globe, Ultraman is as iconic and well-recognized a character as Spider-Man or Iron Man, so when the opportunity arose for us to introduce his mythos to a new generation, as seen through the Marvel lens, we didn’t take that responsibility lightly,” said Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “For fans of the classic 1966 series, there’ll be plenty of Easter eggs that you’ll recognize. But for those who’ve never experienced an Ultraman story before, this series will start at square one—launching an epic showdown fit for the modern age.”
“With release of Marvel’s The Rise of Ultraman series, Tsuburaya Productions and our partners at Marvel Comics are taking ULTRAMAN a massive step forward onto the global stage,” said Tsuburaya CEO Takayuki Tsukagoshi. “Marvel’s rendering of the ULTRAMAN story has been faithfully created with the highest level of respect, quality and creativity resulting in a storyline that expands the ULTRAMAN universe.”
(4) RESOUNDING. Marc Laidlaw, is busy on his YouTube channel, too. He’s been reading short stories and posting them for a few months, but just today he began posting chapters of his new novel, Underneath The Oversea. It’s the first novel involving his long-running character, Gorlen Vizenfirthe. Marc will be posting all 28 chapters as an audio serial, over the next month or so…however long it takes.
(5) THEY GOT WET. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “‘Gremlins 2’ at 30: Director Joe Dante talks ‘crazy, manic movie’ and contributions of Rick Baker and Christopher Lee”, uses a 2015 interview with director Joe Dante, where Dante talks about how special-effects wizard Rick Baker came up with many of the crazy gremlins in Gremlins 2 and how Sir Christopher Lee deserved credit for playing his role as mad scientist “Dr, Catheter” relatively straight.
…“Rick Baker didn’t want to come on if he had to redo [original creator] Chris Walas’s gremlins because what’s in it for him? And so to induce him, we changed the story so that there was a genetics lab run by Christopher Lee,” Dante says of the plot, which finds our furry friend Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) once again spawning dangerous offspring, this time in a Manhattan skyscraper. “They turned the gremlins into different kinds of gremlins. So all the designs and ideas that Rick had, we could come up with and we could make different kinds of gremlins out of them. And plus he changed the designs of Gizmo and the regular gremlins a little bit.”
This Key & Peele takeoff about the Gremlins sequel is funny:
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 16, 1896 — Murray Leinster. It is said that he wrote and published more than fifteen hundred short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Among those was his 1945 Retro-Hugo winning “First Contact” novella which is one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator in science fiction. So naturally his heirs sued Paramount Pictures over Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed. I’m guessing they filed just a bit late given the universal translator was used in Trek prior to that film. (Died 1975.) (CE)
- Born June 16, 1920 – Ted Dikty. Active fan from 1938; with Bob Formanek, fanzine Fantasy Digest; headed Indiana Fantasy Ass’n, published IFA Review; also 1940 Who’s Who in Fandom, see a PDF scan of it here – no, really, do see it; even more interesting from our perspective. Worked on Chicon I and II (2nd and 10th Worldcons). Married Julian May (she chaired Chicon II), each developing pro careers. With Everett Bleiler, our first annual “best” series, Best SF Stories 1949 and five more, Year’s Best SF Novels 1952 and two more; also Imagination Unlimited. Then alone, Best SF Stories 1955 through 1958, several more e.g. Great SF Stories About Mars, Great SF Stories About the Moon, Worlds Within Worlds. With Robert Reginald, The Work of Julian May. Sampo Award (given 1970-1980 for services to fandom). Co-founded Shasta Publishers and Starmont House. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1991) [JH]
- Born June 16, 1924 — Faith Domergue. Dr. Ruth Adams in the classic Fifties This Island Earth. She has a number of later genre roles, Professor Lesley Joyce in It Came from Beneath the Sea, Jill Rabowski in Timeslip (aka The Atomic Man) and Dr. Marsha Evans in Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet. She amazingly did no genre television acting. (Died 1999) (CE)
- Born June 16, 1925 – Jean d’Ormesson. More fully Jean Bruno Wladimir François de Paule Le Fèvre d’Ormesson, a count of France; his father the Marquis of Ormesson was Ambassador to Brazil. Starting 1956, fifty books, novels, plays; in 1971 alternative history The Glory of the Empire – full of detail, all fictional – won the Grand Prix du roman (as novels are called in French; tr. English 1974, Amazon has a Kindle edition here) of the Academie Française; in 1973 its youngest member; in 2009 its longest-serving member and dean. Both staunch on the Right politically and a good friend of socialist Mitterrand; played M in film comedy Haute Cuisine about M’s chef. Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. Officer, National Order of Merit. Ovid prize (Romania). Macron called him “the best of the French spirit … intelligence, elegance, and mischief”. (Died 2017) [JH]
- Born June 16, 1938 — Joyce Carol Oates, 82. No Hugos but she has garnered a World Fantasy Award in Short Fiction for “Fossil-Figures”, and has won more Stokers than I thought possible, the latest one for her most excellent collection of horror and dark fantasy stories, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror. She has written pure SF in the form of Hazards of Time Travel which is quite good. (CE)
- Born June 16, 1940 — Carole Ford, 80. She played the granddaughter and original companion of the First Doctor. She reprised the role for The Five Doctors, the Dimensions in Time charity special, and of course for The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her first genre role was as Bettina in The Day of the Triffids, and she had an earlier role as an uncredited teen in the hall of mirrors in Horrors of the Black Museum. (CE)
- Born June 16, 1939 — David McDaniel. A prolific writer of Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels penning seven of them, with such names as The Vampire Affair and The Hallow Crown Affair. He also wrote a novel for The Prisoner series, The Prisoner: Number Two. As a fan, he was quite active in LASFS, serving as its Director and Scribe, writing for various APAs (he aspired to be in all of them) and is remembered as a “Patron Saint” for his financial support of the club. (Died 1977) (CE)
- Born June 16, 1958 – Don Sakers. Half a dozen novels, two dozen shorter stories; the Reference Library in Analog since 2009; Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three and three more anthologies; SF Book of Days. [JH]
- Born June 16, 1963 – Robert Beatty. Pioneer in cloud computing. Co-founded Beatty Robotics with two daughters. Narrative magazine 2005-2013. Champion sabre fencer; licensed wildlife rehabilitator; Website shows him and wife with wedding-puppies (they lure-coursed whippets). Four novels about Serafina secretly in the basement of the Biltmore estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the first two and Willa of the Wood being New York Times Best Sellers. Here is his cover for his Dream Dance artbook about Ed Emshwiller. [JH]
- Born June 16, 1969 – Hélène Boudreau. Acadian author of children’s books, a dozen so far; four for us about real mermaids e.g. they don’t sell seashells. “I’m a compulsive walker and train for half marathons and also love dark chocolate, bacon, and Perrier water (in that order).” [JH]
- Born June 16, 1972 — Andy Weir, 48. His debut novel, The Martian, was adapted into a film directed by Ridley Scott. He received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His next two novels are Artemis and Project Hail Mary, the latter which is forthcoming. Intriguingly, he’s written one piece of Sherlockian fan fiction, “James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal“ which is only available as an Audible audiobook. (CE)
- Born June 16, 1981 – Salla Simukka. Critic, editor, reviewer, scriptwriter for Finnish Broadcasting Co. Translator of books into Finnish as well as writing Finnish versions; a dozen of her own so far, three for us (As Red as Blood, As White as Snow, As Black as Ebony put Snow White into Finnish – told Sumukka’s way: see the 27 Sep 13 Publishers Weekly). Topelius Prize, Finland Prize. I couldn’t attend the Helsinki (75th) Worldcon; did you? Did you meet her? [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- Pickles warns us that Grandmas can have mutant super-powers too,
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal concisely explains FTL. Or is that dubiously.
- What Speed Bump shows is less a super power and more of a super convenience.
(8) UNDER THE DOME. Warner Bros. passed on the invitation to be part of the online San Diego Comic-Con. Instead, they’ll host their own DC FanDome, a free, global, 24-hour virtual convention taking place on August 22.
SYFY Wire has distilled the press release: “DC Sets 24-Hour ‘Fandome’ Event With Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman, Snyder Cut And More”.
With San Diego Comic-Con set to be held online this year due to the global pandemic, Warner Bros. is making its own plans to show off its movies, TV shows and everything else. Needless to say, the studio won’t be sitting out the annual pop culture convention scene. Far from it.
The studio has decided to host its own free-of-charge virtual event in late August called “DC FanDome.” It’s basically a 24-hour Hall H livestream during which the company will tease out its most anticipated comic book projects like Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman, Black Adam, The Suicide Squad, Superman & Lois, and the Snyder Cut of Justice League.
“The global event will immerse fans into the DC Multiverse, with new announcements from WB Games, Film and TV, and comics, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to hear from the casts and creators behind your favorite feature films and TV series,” reads the release.
(9) SPOT ON THE MONEY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Until now, if you wanted your very own Spot the Robot Dog you had to lease one. No longer. You now have the option to buy your very own Spot from maker Boston Dynamics, assuming you have about $75K to spare. You can even pick up a pair of them, but no more than that for now. WIRED has the story: “You Can Now Buy Spot the Robot Dog—If You’ve Got $74,500”.
Spot, Boston Dynamics’ famous robot dog, dutifully follows my every command. The machine traipses forward, then automatically scrambles over a raised bed of rocks. I make it side-step. I command it up a flight of stairs, which it tackles with ease. It meets its match when I steer it at a medicine ball, though; it takes a tumble, and for a moment lies paralyzed on its back. But with a click of a button, Spot twists and rights itself, and recommences its ramblings.
Such unfailing obedience, yet I’m nowhere near Spot, which is roaming about the company’s testing grounds in Boston. I’m piloting the robot through my web browser from the comfort of my apartment in San Francisco, 3,000 miles away. With almost zero latency, I either use the robot’s front camera feed to click on bits of terrain—think of it like scooting around in Google’s Street View—or flicking my keyboard’s WASD keys in the most expensive videogame imaginable….
(10) KEEPING BUSY. “Star Trek: Next Generation fan rebuilds bridge set” – BBC video.
One model maker could have reached the final frontier of construction with his latest work.
Geoff Collard, from Paulton in Somerset, has spent 500 hours recreating the bridge set from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
His model has won praise from Star Trek fans for its realism.
(11) TREK MAKE-OVER. William Shatner hasn’t lost his touch for cringe-inducing tweets – but the photo gallery is intriguing.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Darrah Chavey, Lise Andreasen, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]