Dozens of writers have put their names to a letter to the Guardian that urges UK voters taking part in Thursday’s European parliament elections to use their franchise to support the European Union, “unless they know what they are choosing to lose, for themselves and everyone they know, and are happy with that”.
The authors, who also include Neil Gaiman, Nikesh Shukla, Kate Williams and Laurie Penny, go on to say: “It seems to us that the same question is facing every industry and every person in the UK: what will you choose to lose? Because we used to hear about advantages in Brexit. We used to hear about the bright future, the extra money, the opportunities. Now the advocates of Brexit just assure us that it won’t be as bad as the last world war.”
We met at the Freer Gallery, and then wandered over for lunch at the Capitol Hill branch of Hank’s Oyster Bar, which opened in 2012.
I first met Kaaron slightly less than 10 years ago, at the 2009 Montreal Worldcon, where her novel Slights was one of the inaugural titles from Angry Robot Books. The publisher even had a robot rolling around the launch party! (It was not angry, however.) She’s published many more novels and stories since then, with one novel, The Grief Hole, winning all three of Australia’s genre awards — the Aurealis Award, the Ditmar Award, and the Australian Shadows Award. Her most recent novel is Tide of Stone. She’s published seven short story collections, the most recent being A Primer to Kaaron Warren.
We discussed how her recent Rebecca reread totally changed her sympathies for its characters, the disturbing real-life crime related to the first time she ever saw The Shining, the catalyst that gave birth to her award-winning novel Tide of Stone, how she came up with new angles for tackling stories about such classic characters as Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein, the way flea market bric-a-brac has led to some of her best ideas, the only correct method for preparing fairy bread, her go-to karaoke song, and much, much more.
…The first trailer for the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie definitely got people talking…just probably not the way the studio intended. Reaction to Sonic’s design—his muscular legs, his regularly-proportioned head, his teeth—was swift, loud, and overwhelmingly negative. The filmmakers heard the cries of the masses, and they responded with action, as director Jeff Fowler tweeted a few days after the trailer’s release that they would be working to tweak the design of the character…
(4) DRAGON RECOMMENDATIONS. Red Panda has created a “Dragon
Awards 2019 Eligible Work” based on Renay’s Hugo recommendation’s
spreadsheet. She says, “We’re trying to
get folks to pay attention to the Dragon Awards to prevent them from becoming
puppy awards by default. Here is a spreadsheet of eligible works – and people
are welcome to add to it as long as works fit the Dragon award rules.”
Now I don’t have a problem with either the 20Booksto50K group or their system. I don’t doubt that the group or their conferences help a lot of indie writers. And while their approach to writing and publishing isn’t mine, there are a nuggets of useful information in there.
Alas, the rest of the Martelle’s post engages in same tired “indie versus traditional publishing” rheotric that we’ve been hearing since 2010. “Traditional publishing is slow” – yes, it is, because their model is different, but that doesn’t make it bad. “Awards don’t matter, but whether stories resonate with readers does” – okay, so why are you so desperate to win an award then?
In February we ditched our pre-release “Want to See” percentage in favor of a more straightforward Want to See tally (kind of like the “likes” you see on social media). We also removed the function that allowed users to write comments about a movie prior to seeing it. You can read about these changes here.
What’s next? Today, we’re excited to introduce new features to our Audience Score and user reviews with the addition of Verified Ratings and Reviews.
So, let’s get to it.
Rotten Tomatoes now features an Audience Score made up of ratings from users we’ve confirmed bought tickets to the movie – we’re calling them “Verified Ratings.” We’re also tagging written reviews from users we can confirm purchased tickets to a movie as “Verified” reviews.
… The first Audience Score you see on a movie page – that’s it next to the popcorn bucket just to the right of the Tomatometer – will be the score made up of Verified Ratings. As with the current Audience Score, when the score is Fresh (that is, above 60%), you’ll see a red popcorn bucket; when it is Rotten (59% and below), the bucket will be green and tipped over (you can read more about that here). If you want to see a score that incorporates all included ratings – both verified and non-verified – simply click “more info” where you can toggle between the two….
…All this is a reminder that genre tales now dominate the entertainment landscape. The people behind all these platforms are fighting to attract the attention of us, the SF, fantasy and horror fandom.
But they are also fighting for our wallets. And while is is technically possible for one household to receive all these services, it is unlikely that very many households could afford to.
Once, producers essentially had two ways of monetising their entertainment. They could charge for it – for movie tickets, videotapes or discs; or they could give it to us via free-to-air television and sell our eyeballs to advertisers.
Now, we have a new eco-system where the producers are charging us, not for individual works, but for whole bundles of content. So we can get the Netflix package, the HBO package or the Hulu package, but not everything….
What is this in contrast to? Sure, things are different than when
all TV was free, however, not so different from periods when there were five or
eight or ten printed prozines coming out that you could only get by
subscription, unless you were lucky enough that your local library subscribed
to some (never all) of them.
KERR OBIT. British
children’s book writer and illustrator Judith Kerr died May 22 aged 95. Cora Buhlert
In spite of the title, her most famous work (at least in Germany) When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit is not genre, but about the Kerr family’s escape from the Nazis in the 1930s. The pink rabbit of the title was young Judith Kerr’s beloved toy, which she lost en route. But a lot of her children’s picture books are at least genre-adjacent and several feature SJW credentials. Besides, she was married to Nigel Kneale, British TV writer and creator of Professor Quatermass:
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 24, 1925 — Carmine Infantino. Comics artist and editor, mostly for DC Comics, during the late 1950s know as the Silver Age of Comics. He created the Silver Age version of the Flash (with writer Robert Kanigher) and the Elongated Man (with John Broome). He also introduced Barbara Gordon as a new version of Batgirl. Infantino wrote or contributed to two books about his life and career: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. (Died 2013.)
Born May 24, 1945 — Graham Williams. Producer and script editor. He produced three seasons of Doctor Who during the era of the Fourth Doctor. He went to be one of the producers of Rould Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 1990.)
Born May 24, 1946 — Jeremy Treglown, 63. Author of Roald Dahl: A Biography and Roald Dahl: Collected Stories. Amateur actor who met his first wife while both were performing Romeo and Juliet at University.
Born May 24, 1949 — Jim Broadbent, 70. He played Horace Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. He joined the cast of A Game of Thrones, playing a role of Archmaester Ebrose, in the seventh season. His genre credits include Time Bandits, Brazil, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, The Borrowers, The Avengers, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (well somebody had to be in it).
Born May 24, 1952 — Sybil Danning, 67. Her rise to fame began with her role in Roger Corman’s space opera cult classic, Battle Beyond the Stars. She went on to star in Hercules, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (which bears the charming alternative title of Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch), a faux trailer directed by Rob Zombie titled Werewolf Women of the SS for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse (I couldn’t make this stuff up!), the Halloween remake and finally she as in a horror film called Virus X. Series, She appeared in recurring roles of the The Lair as a vampire out for revenge.
Born May 24, 1953 — Alfred Molina, 66. His film debut was on Raiders of The Lost Ark as Satipo. He was an amazing Doctor Octopus on Spider-Man 2, and he also provided the voice of the villain Ares on the outstanding 2009 animated Wonder Woman. Oh and he was a most excellent Hercule Poirot on Murder on the Orient Express. I know, not genre, but one of my favorite films no matter who’s playing the character.
Born May 24, 1960 — Doug Jones, 59. Among his roles, I’ll single out as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy films, the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, the ghosts of Edith’s Mother and Beatrice Sharpe in Crimson Peak, and the Amphibian Manin The Shape of Water.
Born May 24, 1965 — Michael Chabon, 54. Author of one of the great baseball novels ever, Summerland. Then there’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay which is the best look I know of at the comics industry during the Golden Age. And The Final Solution: A Story of Detection may be an awesome home to the Greatest Beekeeper Ever.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Wondermark takes fan disappointment about Game of Throne’s final season in a hilarious new direction.
(11) REVISITING THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR. The highlights from February’s two-day conference on The Art of the Mimeograph at the University of Westminster include an appearance by fanhistorian Rob Hansen beginning around the 8:54 mark.
(12) OVERFLOWING LID. Alasdair
Stuart says his Full Lid for May 24 2019 “takes a look at DJ Kirkbride
and team’s excellent SF/crime/comedy comic series Errand Boys. I’ve also got a breakdown of the 2014 Godzilla in the first of two briefings
in the run up to Godzilla: King of the
Monsters. There’s a look at the excellent documentary Knock Down The House and the one thing about its structure that
bothered me. Finally, special guest Sarah Gailey drops by to do the Hugo
Spotlight feature, which, this week, features me.”
…The creative team behind Errand Boys is a who’s who of people whose work I pick up, sight unseen. DJ Kirkbride and Adam P Knave are two of the best writers and editors in the business and Frank Cvetkovic is one of the best letterers. They’re joined by a raft of artists whose work is unfamiliar to me but is all massively impressive, kinetic and fun.
I am pretty sure this is the first time someone has been a finalist both in a fiction category and in an art category (Antoine de Saint-Exupery). It is also the first time a father and son appeared on the same ballot–well, sort of. Fritz Leiber, Jr., is a finalist for three works of fiction; Fritz Leiber, Sr., (the actor) appeared as Franz Liszt in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), a Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) finalist.
As Disney plunders its archives for live-action remakes of animated classics, the question of “Why?” continues to be less evident on the screen than it is on the company ledger. The one quiet exception was Pete’s Dragon, which succeeded because it had no fidelity to the second-rate slapstick and songcraft of the original, and could re-imagine the premise from the ground up. When the catalog titles get as massive as Aladdin, however, the mission becomes to replicate it as closely as possible, which inevitably leads to stilted facsimile. No matter how sophisticated CGI gets, the speed and fluidity of animation is hard to reproduce.
The new Aladdin mostly has the beat-for-beat quality of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, the current standard-bearer for pointlessness, but there are elements of it that really pop, even for being bizarre missteps. Foremost among them is Will Smith’s Genie, whose entire look is a Violet Beauregarde nightmare of bright blue and CGI-inflated swole, with a top-knot/goatee combination that suggests 10,000 years away from the fashion pages. Yet Smith is the only member of the cast who’s bothered to rethink the original character: He doesn’t bother to imitate Robin Williams’ manic schtick, but draws on his own ingratiating silliness and kid-friendly hip-hop flavor instead. If everyone else had followed suit, this Aladdin wouldn’t necessarily be any better, but at least it would be its own thing….
Facebook says it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts from October to March. That’s twice the number of fraudulent accounts deleted in the previous six-month period.
In the company’s latest Community Standards Enforcement Report, released Thursday, Facebook said nearly all of the fake accounts were caught by artificial intelligence and more human monitoring. They also attributed the skyrocketing number to “automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time.”
The fake accounts are roughly a billion more than the 2.4 billion actual people on Facebook worldwide, according to the company’s own count.
Love your beloved classics now—because even now, few people read them, for the most part, and fewer still love them. In a century, they’ll probably be forgotten by all but a few eccentrics.
If it makes you feel any better, all fiction, even the books people love and rush to buy in droves, is subject to entropy. Consider, for example, the bestselling fiction novels of the week I was born, which was not so long ago. I’ve bolded the ones my local library currently has in stock.
Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, JJ,. Mike Kennedy Cat Eldridge,
Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Hansen, Carl Slaughter,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770
contributing editor Peer.]
Die Kasseler Liste is a growing database that presently comprises 125,000 data sets. It documents the global scale of censorship. Book bans persist across the world, on all continents, with varying reach and intensity, depending on political and social contexts.
Die Kasseler Liste covers vast territories and a large time frame. The earliest entries are taken from the „Index Librorum Prohibitorum,” which the catholic church first published in 1559 and which is represented in the database in its final version from 1948. It is but one example for censorship originating not only from government institutions. Civil and religious institutions similarly have their own history of systematically infringing on the right to freedom of expression. The Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, also featured in Die Kasseler Liste, is another case in point, where rigid and coercive reading directions provide the members with a tiered index. On the other hand, school districts and school libraries in the United States of America also have a record of systematically banning books from their collections.
…But even taking the known problems with the Retro Hugos into consideration, the breadth and variety of stories on the 1944 Retro Hugo ballot is astounding (pun fully intended), as is the fact that quite a few of them don’t really fit into the prevailing image image of what Golden Age science fiction was like. And this doesn’t just apply to left-field finalists such as Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse in the novel category or Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Magic Bed-Knob by Mary Norton in the novella category, neither of whom I would have expected to make the Hugo ballot in 1944, if only because US science fiction fans wouldn’t have been familiar with them. No, there also is a lot of variety in the stories which originated in US science fiction magazines.
So let’s take a look at the novelette category at the 1944 Retro Hugos….
…The message of The Phantom Menace is that even the most stable of societies can topple with the smallest push — in this case a minor trade dispute that sets the stage for the rise of a previously obscure senator with imperial ambitions. As he did with A New Hope, Lucas cloaked that larger lesson in a PG-rated adventure that’s made with children in mind … but not the children who saw Star Wars in theaters in the ’70s. And so — unhappy with a Star Wars movie that wasn’t the Star Wars they remembered — a sizable segment of the fanbase made their displeasure known, embracing an image of themselves as the keepers of the flame, which meant that their opinion of Star Wars was the only correct opinion of Star Wars.
They found an outlet on the still-young medium the internet, where like-minded critics could congregate and launch their arguments or personal attacks anonymously out on the franchise’s creator and other fans as the prequel series continued…
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
One of these movies did not feature Jar Jar Binks. I hope it isn’t too toxic of me to point that out.
May 19, 1966 — The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters premiered in theaters.
May 19, 1999 — Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released theatrically.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens, before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. (Died 2019.)
Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of all-time favourite films. Also an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero and The Six Million Dollar Man. (Died 1993.)
Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 71. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last genre role to date was Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl.
Born May 19, 1948 — Paul Steven Williams. Editor, Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and the PKDS Newsletter. Writer, The Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick of Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon, Storyteller. (Died 2013.)
Born May 19, 1966 — Polly Walker, 53. She’s performed on Caprica as Clarice Willow and on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Charlotte Dupres, as well as performing the voice work for Sarkoja in John Carter. And she was in Clash of the Titans as Cassiopeia.
Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 53. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).
…The robot vanguard has already set forth. Later this year India will attempt to become the fourth nation to land a probe on the moon; an Israeli attempt to get there failed in April, but its backers plan to try again. China has landed two robot rovers on the moon’s surface in the past five years. One visited the near side, the familiar pockmarked face seen from Earth; the other went to the overflown-but-never-before-visited far side. The Chinese space agency has talked of sending humans in their wake, perhaps in the early 2030s.
They may be beaten to it. Last year Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur and art collector, signed a contract with SpaceX, the rocket firm founded by Elon Musk, for a flight around the moon. He intends to take a crew of as-yet-unspecified artists with him…
…That setup is the start to a stunning story that impressively blends together Martine’s fantastic and immersive world, a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera that together make up a gripping read. Mahit’s situation is the perfect introduction to an unfamiliar world, as Martine moves her through the gilded halls of the Teixcalaanli capitol, meeting the politicians she’s been sent to interact with, the fantastical technologies installed in the city, and the poetry that represents the pinnacle of high culture for the empire.
Bending and stretching its conventions to imagine new, more feminist futures and new ways of experiencing gender, visionary women writers have been from the beginning an essential if often overlooked force in American science fiction. Two hundred years after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of this female tradition, from the pioneers of the Pulp Era to the radical innovators of the 1960s New Wave, in a landmark anthology that upends the common notion that SF was conceived by and for men….
Visit the companion website for more on these stories and writers, including author biographies, appreciations by contemporary writers, original pulp covers and illustrations, adaptations into other media, press coverage, and more.
(11) WHEN IN CRETE. Israeli author Yakov Merkin is not impressed. I recognize his name as someone JDA interviewed for his YouTube show.
(12) CRUMB CONTROVERSY, In “Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics” in Reason, Brian Doherty looks at pioneering underground comics artist R. Crumb and the vigorous debate about whether he should still be read or is so irretreivably racist and sexist that he should be “cancelled.”
…The brief against Crumb is both specific to his famous idiosyncrasies and generally familiar to our modern culture of outrage archeology. His art has trafficked in crude racial and anti-Semitic stereotypes, expressed an open sense of misogyny, and included depictions of incest and rape. Crumb’s comics are “seriously problematic because of the pain and harm caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual violence,” the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) explained last year when removing Crumb’s name from one of its exhibit rooms.
Such talk alarms Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, the premiere American publisher of quality adult comics, including a 17-volume series of The Complete Crumb Comics. “The spontaneity and vehemence” of the backlash, Groth says, “surprised me—and I guess what also disheartened me was, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people booing Crumb are not familiar with his work.…This visceral dislike of him has no basis in understanding who Crumb is, his place in comics history, his contribution to the form.”
(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker’s creator, did the opening sequence animation along with the animation of Bella Lugosi’s Dracula turning into a bat for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced the winners of the 54th Annual Nebula Awards in Woodland Hills, CA on May 18.
The Nebula Awards, given annually, recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the previous year. They are selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.
2018 NEBULA AWARD WINNERS
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard
The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com
“The Secret Lives of the Nine
Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of
Tomorrow & Netflix)
The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and
The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction
or Fantasy Book
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt;
(1) NEBULA LIVESTREAM. You
can see it on SFWA’s YouTube channel at 8:00 p.m. Pacific.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are presenting the 2018 Nebula Awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing, live from the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA.
The Starship Enterprise has travelled far and wide throughout the galaxy, encountering countless civilizations — and now it is sitting in a garage in eastern Toronto.
…Bill Doern, a 51-year-old who runs a boutique public relations and marketing firm in Toronto, watched reruns of the original Star Trek television series as a boy. His favourite character is Spock. His favourite captain is Picard. When his wife was pregnant with their first child, he hoped to name the boy Mr. Sulu (they ended up naming him Elijah).
Mr. Doern is, in other words, about as much of a Trekkie as a Trekkie can be.
The Saturday before Mother’s Day, he was driving home from doing some grocery shopping when he saw a scale replica of the Enterprise NCC-1701-A, last seen in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, released in 1991, on a neighbour’s front lawn.
Mr. Doern stopped to get a picture of the ship, which is about as big as a small car. As he was snapping a pic, the homeowner came out with a “For sale” sign.
…It should come as no surprise then that a joint team comprised of members of MIT’s Media Lab (Artificial Intelligence Division) and Hanson Robotics was recently formed to address the need for Fanbots – electronic replacements for geeks and nerds.
“This project actually began in Hollywood”, said Dr. Calvin, Chief Administrator for the project. “Studio heads approached us a few years ago and asked us to blue-sky a response to the negativity that was surrounding, among other things, Disney’s evisceration of the Star Wars extended universe, not to mention Paramount’s problems with Star Trek fan films, the on-going complaints about Fox’s cancellation of Firefly, the regular eruption of re-make hysteria, the encroachment of real world politics into entertainment.”
Calvin went on to explain that the studios were expressing grave concern over the reliability of fans, and concern over the increasing sense of “ownership” fans were expressing regarding favored properties. One director stated that he was “sick and tired of being told what prior works he had stolen his ideas from; another expressed dismay over fan’s insistence that some degree of logicality accompany the plots of entirely fictional characters; marketing division heads complained about the complete and utter unreliability of fan audiences who seemed to select favorites and stinkers in an entirely arbitrary and fickle manner.”…
Three years before he died last year, the brilliant caricaturist, illustrator, animator and comic strip artist, Robert Grossman completed his as-of-then unpublished magnum opus, a decade long passion titled Life On The Moon: A Completely Illustrated Novel (Yoe Books). Grossman prided himself on illustrating “the un-illustratable” — an historical graphic novel based on the “Great Moon Hoax,” the most successful fake news story ever published.
Robert Grossman and the Moon
In 1835, The New York Sun published a series of six articles declaring the discovery of life–and advanced civilization–on the moon, which the newspaper attributed to the famous contemporary astronomer Sir John Herschel. According to the Sun, the lunar inhabitants included unicorns, bison, bipedal tail-less beavers, and intelligent humanoids with bat-like wings.
…Nor is the contagion confined to American authors. Last month John Boyne, best known for the Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, received such a barrage of abuse prior to the publication of his latest book, My Brother’s Name Is Jessica, which features a transgender central character, that he was briefly forced off Twitter. Critics labelled the book ‘transphobic’, suggesting that because Boyne is not transgender the story ‘lacked authenticity’ and its title ‘misgendered’ the fictional protagonist.
At almost the same moment that Boyne was deleting his Twitter account, Lincolnshire-based Zoe Marriott, a prolific writer of YA fiction, was also being hounded on the site over her new fantasy novel, The Hand, the Eye and the Heart, because it’s set in ‘fairy-tale China’. One prominent YA blogger warned: ‘White authors need to stay the hell away from the stories of people of color.’ Curiously, said blogger’s day job involves manning the tills at Foyles, one of London’s most revered bookshops — pity the poor sod who dares trouble her for a copy of Othello, or Tolkien for that matter. The father of fantasy fiction has come in for criticism for his portrayal of orcs in The Lord of the Rings. Some feel his work is ‘racialized’. And what’s a sensitive young bookseller to do if a young customer requests a C.S. Lewis, whose Narnia books were branded ‘blatantly racist’ and misogynistic by fellow fantasy author Philip Pullman? Pullman has since been labelled ‘transphobic’ himself after tweeting in October that he was ‘finding the trans argument impossible to follow’.
…Though the rule in question specifically targets the promotion or display of “fictitious Nazis or Nazi-like organizations,” Anime NYC has been highly inconsistent in its application of the rule. Tanya the Evil, a series specifically noted in the rules, features allusions to aspects of World War II (such as the appearance of the World War II-era MP40 submachine guns or a character based on Werner Von Braun) but is entirely set in a fictional country based heavily on World War I-era Europe.
Furthermore, in a move deemed hypocritical by some fans, the close professional partnership between LeftField Media and Crunchyroll led to Anime NYC promoting a special screening of The Saga of Tanya the Evil – the Movie:…
… The show did indeed take a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that downturn goes way deeper than the usual suspects that have been identified (new and inferior writers, shortened season, too many plot holes). It’s not that these are incorrect, but they’re just superficial shifts. In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.
At its best, GOT was a beast as rare as a friendly dragon in King’s Landing: it was sociological and institutional storytelling in a medium dominated by the psychological and the individual. This structural storytelling era of the show lasted through the seasons when it was based on the novels by George R. R. Martin, who seemed to specialize in having characters evolve in response to the broader institutional settings, incentives and norms that surround them.
After the show ran ahead of the novels, however, it was taken over by powerful Hollywood showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Some fans and critics have been assuming that the duo changed the narrative to fit Hollywood tropes or to speed things up, but that’s unlikely. In fact, they probably stuck to the narrative points that were given to them, if only in outline form, by the original author. What they did is something different, but in many ways more fundamental: Benioff and Weiss steer the narrative lane away from the sociological and shifted to the psychological. That’s the main, and often only, way Hollywood and most television writers tell stories….
We’re pleased to see that an inter-city bus carrier has begun to sell tickets for intercity bus service Reno-Tonopah-Las Vegas-Phoenix, starting July 3, 2019. This should give people traveling to Tonopah by air to Reno or Las Vegas an additional way of getting to Tonopah without having to rent a vehicle or group with other people doing so.
Due to attempted vandalism, Social Justice Warriors may not travel on Streamliner. Social Justice Warriors include:
Persons self-proclaiming to be “Social Justice Warriors” or “SJWs”.
Persons supporting California regulations prohibiting or restricting Streamliner operations.
Persons supporting boycotts, sabotage, agitation, protests, and terrorism against Streamliner.
(9) SMITH OBIT. Artist Dennis Neal Smith, chair of the first WesterCon in San Diego in 1966, has died reports Greg Bear.
Fond farewell to Dennis Neal Smith, famous for many things, and scholar of many things, who inspired Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” with his richly textured illustrations, and who illustrated my first story collection for Arkham House, as well as Joanna Russ’ collection.
Jackie Estrada says Smith died of
But his biggest claim to fame was his artwork. Harlan Ellison based several of his short stories on drawings by Dennis, including “Bright Eyes,” “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” and “Delusions for a Dragonslayer.” He also did the art for the first progress report for the 1972 San Diego Comic-Con and served on the committee back then.
The 1966 San Diego Westercon hotel
inspired Poul Anderson to write the immortal filk “Bouncing Potatoes”.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
May 18, 1962 — The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” based
on a story by Ray Bradbury.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series. Some are outstanding, some less so. Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think read is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out. (Died 2007.)
Born May 18, 1934 — Elizabeth Rogers. Trek geeking time. She had two roles in the series. She provided the uncredited voice for “The Companion” in the “Metamorphosis” episode. She also portrayed Lt. Palmer, a communications officer who took the place of Uhura, in “The Doomsday Machine”, “The Way to Eden”, and the very last episode of the series, “Turnabout Intruder”. She also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants, Bewitched, The Swarm and Something Evil. (Died 2004.)
Born May 18, 1946 — Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. His first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He alsohad appearances on Alien Nation, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Millennium, Star Trek: Enterprise and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. (Died 2006.)
Born May 18, 1948 — R-Laurraine Tutihasi, 71. She’s a member of LASFS and the N3F. She publishes Feline Mewsings for FAPA. Not surprisingly, she’s had a number of SJW credentials in her life and her website gives honour to them here.
Born May 18, 1949 — Rick Wakeman, 70. English musician who did a number of genre themed recordings including Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Nineteen Eighty-four.
Born May 18, 1952 — Diane Duane, 67. She’s known for the the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse.
Born May 18, 1958 — Jonathan Maberry, 61. The only thing I’ve read by him is a number of works in the Joe Ledger Series which has a high body count and an even higher improbability index. I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra.
Born May 18, 1969 — Ty Franck, 50. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that s James Corey, author of the Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it!
(12) SCARES THAT CARE.[Item by
Dann.] Episode 219 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene
included an announcement of the 3rd Horror Show telethon to benefit the Scares That Care charity. The
first telethon in 2017 raised over $10,000, last year’s telethon raised over
$20,000. Both events took place in Pennsylvania and heavily featured
guests living on the east coast of the United States.
This year’s event will take place on September 27-28
at Dark Delicacies
located at 822 N. Hollywood Way located in Burbank, CA. This is a new
location for the bookstore that bills itself as the “Home of Horror”.
One feature of holding this year’s event in California
is the ability to draw on the talented people in the horror genre that live and
work on the west coast of the United States.
Unlike the first two telethons, this year’s event will
take place in a location with less room for live viewing. It is hoped
that attendees will circulate in and out of the viewing area that patrons of
the store will still be able to shop.
The telethon will be broadcast live via one of the
streaming services. Online fundraising will be performed via the Scares That Care website.
Fans wanting to participate in a Scares That Care event
on the east coast can attend the “Scares
That Care Weekend from August 1 to August 4 in Williamsburg, VA.
…The sword, Valofax, is a giant sentient blade that is the embodiment of all swords and knives throughout the universe. It changes the life of a small family: Grandfather Emmett Quinlan, his son, and his son’s wife and young daughter. The story takes us from Texas to Hell and finally to the far-off home of Valofax, whose creator wants the sword back even as his planet dies all around him….
Does that mean it’s supposed to be a long distance between Texas and Hell?
If you plunked down your $2 for a Worldcon membership (Pacificon II in San Francisco this year), then you probably sent in your nominations for the Hugo Awards, honoring the best works of 1963. Last month, you got the finalists ballot. Maybe, like me, you were surprised….
What do you think accounts for the recent boom in speculative fiction?
There’s been a trend over the last 20 years of “mainstream” literary authors dipping into speculative fiction — Margaret Atwood, John Updike. (But) we’re living in a time where everything is a little more science fictional. Technology has transformed lives in a short time, things like smartphones, medical technologies. A third thing is that speculative fiction is finally opening out and including authors who had previously been kept out of the genre: people of color, women, queer people, transgendered people, disabled people. That, I think, leads to an explosion of creativity and a ton of really interesting stories.
(18) NEBULA CONFERENCE VIDEOS.
SFWA has posted several panel discussions from this weekend’s event.
Shifting To Games. With Phoebe Barton, Kate Dollarhyde, Darusha Wehm, Natalia Theodoridou, and Kate Heartfield.
Now What? Emerging writers discuss life after their debut. With Rebecca Roanhorse, Peng Shepherd, Mike Chen, R.R. Virdi and R.F. Kuang
How do the writers of 2019 incorporate modern themes while writing in past settings? With Susan Forest, Connie Willis, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kate Heartfield
(19) STAR WARS PITCH.ScreenRant lets you step inside the pitch meeting that led to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope!
Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Jim Caughran, Dann, Nancy Sauer, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mike
Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
In last week’s poll (“Which of
These Are the Top 5 Awards in SFF?”) I invited File 770 readers to tell me which of the field’s awards mean the
most to them. Ninety-two participants here and on Facebook picked up to six from
a list of 31 suggested awards (write-ins were also accepted).
The Hugo and Nebula Awards proved near-unanimous choices. The World
Fantasy Awards and Locus Awards were named by almost three-quarters of the
voters. And BSFA Awards, James Tiptree Jr. Award, and Arthur C. Clarke Award were
the next three awards with the greatest support.
Here for your entertainment is the complete list. (Apologies for a little formatting problem I was unable to overcome.)
(1) EUROVISION. In “Eurovision
2019 Is Here: Science Fiction Fans, Rejoice!”, Tor.com’s James Davis Nicoll supplies plenty of examples to show
that “Although Eurovision itself may
not be exactly SF, some of the pieces are definitely science fiction-adjacent.
The visuals are often glorious, and the show as a whole is well worth viewing.”
(2) THEY’RE BACK. The Bounding
Into Comics Facebook
group was restored on May 9. Supposedly they still don’t know why it was
shuttered, apart from a notice that they had violated “the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
…As you can see the last post was our Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer article, which was posted on May 6th.
When we asked for further clarification on why the page was taken down. We did not receive a response.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired the archives of the Locus Science Fiction Foundation, publisher of Locus, the preeminent trade magazine for the science fiction and fantasy publishing field.
The massive collection—which arrived in almost a thousand boxes—includes first editions of numerous landmarks of science fiction and fantasy, along with correspondence from some of the genre’s best-known practitioners, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Octavia E. Butler, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Dean Koontz, Robert A. Heinlein, and hundreds more.
…A tireless advocate for speculative fiction, [founder Charles N.] Brown was also a voluminous correspondent and friend to many of the writers featured in the magazine. Many of them wrote to him over the years to share personal and professional news, or to quibble about inaccuracies and suggest corrections. The letters are often friendly, personal, humorous, and occasionally sassy.
Reacting to a recent issue of Locus that featured one of her short stories, the science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler wrote, “I am Octavia E. Butler in all my stories, novels, and letters. How is it that I’ve lost my E in three places in Locus #292? Three places! You owe me three E’s. That’s a scream, isn’t it?”…
Directed by Dome Karukoski from a script by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, this picture about the pre-fame days of the author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” teems with many on-the-nose moments. And it does so while hewing so strongly to the Distinguished British Biopic ethos (including the “England: Land of Magnificent Sunsets” trope) that it teeters on the edge of genuine obnoxiousness. Surprisingly, the emphatic score by the customarily more nuanced Thomas Newman is one of the prime offenders.
Nevertheless, “Tolkien” manages several scenes of credible emotional delicacy. And it doesn’t shy away from the conspicuously literary, treating the writer’s explorations of Wagner (sparked by his love interest and future wife Edith, played by Lily Collins) and passion for philology (sparked by chats with the intimidating professor Joseph Wright, played by Derek Jacobi) with a commendable amount of detail.
Have you ever questioned the moral fabric of the Pokémon universe?
Sure you have. For starters: In what kind of world would “Pokémon battles” — in which two humans force two excessively cute creatures to a fight until one of the beasts faints — constitute an acceptable social convention? And isn’t the whole Trainer/Pokémon relationship more than a little … problematic? Who decided that wild Pokémon, who demonstrate a level of intelligence several degrees above that of other animals, should live out their lives under the constant fear of capture and exploitation by humans?
Your enjoyment of Pokémon Detective Pikachu will likely depend on your degree of investment in these sorts of existential questions.The strength of the film lies in the way it playfully undermines the Poké-verse, poking holes in a thing that, when reduced to its essentials, seems just real silly. Much like last year’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Pokémon Detective Pikachu looks itself in the mirror and remarks on what it sees there. And while it doesn’t pull off the trick nearly as well, there’s something admirable about a film that isn’t afraid to have some fun with a property so established — and beloved — by its core audience.
Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals have been announced, they have been combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. (The only one not yet integrated is the BASFF, which will likely be announced late in the year.) Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.
Deanna Destito: Before jumping into this, were you a Vampirella fan? What appealed to you about this project?
Christopher Priest: No, I wouldn’t call myself a Vampirella fan (which is sure to annoy Vampirella fans!), although I was certainly aware of the character. But I’d guess I viewed the property nostalgically. Fondly, for sure, but if I thought of Vampirella at all I thought of her in a kindly past-tense, as an artifact of the 1970s and my misspent youth….
Your companion book, Notes for Million Mile Road Trip, is actually longer than the novel! The idea of following up reading a novel with that kind of metadata is fascinating; can you tell us more about it?
It’s hard to write a novel. It takes a year or maybe two years of tickling the keyboard at your desk or using a laptop in a cafe, and doing that pretty much every day, even on the days when you don’t know what comes next. This is where writing a volume of notes comes in. When I don’t have anything to put into the novel, I write something in the notes. I might analyze the possibilities for the next few scenes. Or craft journal entries about things I saw [that day]. Or describe some the people sitting around me, being careful not to stare at them too hard. Or think about how hopeless it is to try to write another novel, and how I’ve been faking it all along anyhow. The more I complain in my notes, the better I feel. I publish the finished Notes in parallel with with the novel, not that I sell many copies of the notes. Long-term, the notes will be fodder for the locust swarm of devoted Rucker scholars who are due to emerge any time now from their curiously long gestation in the soil.
(9) LORD WINSTON OBIT. Zombie Squad, an international network of
dogs and other pets dedicated to protecting society from the walking dead, paid
its respects on Saturday to Lord Winston, the indefatigable West Highland
terrier who inspired the group’s creation in 2013 and had served as its official
leader until his death on 21 April, aged nearly 15. Despite losing the use of
his back legs following a series of operations, Lord Winston – via his British
owner – posted daily messages and regular videos on Twitter, where prospective
new members continue to be welcomed at @ZombieSquadHQ.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive.
Born May 10, 1886 — Olaf Stapledon. Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. (Neal Asher currently is making the best use of these in his Polity series.) He wrote about a baker’s dozen novels of which iBooks has pretty much everything available at quite reasonable prices. I know I read and enjoyed Star Maker many years ago but don’t recall what else I read. (Died 1950.)
Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film where the SJW credential was the defendant in a Perry Mason murder case, The Case of Black Cat. (Died 1940)
Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume. He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles he did. (Died 1987.)
Born May 10, 1935 — Terrance Dicks, 84. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the programme’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelisation of more than 60 of the Doctor Who shows. Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short-lived BBC series.
Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 56. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. Might be stretching the definition of genre (or possibly not), but he did the animation for “Spy vs. Spy” for MADtv. You can see the first one here:
Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 50. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly as well as the Interdependency series are excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey.
(12) MARVEL 1000. Marvel’s
celebration of its 80th Anniversary will include a new epic comic
book issue to celebrate the legacy of the Marvel Universe: Marvel Comics #1000.
Featuring 80 creative teams with luminaries from both classic and current comic books (and beyond!), this oversized one-shot will be packed with pages spanning across generations of Marvel’s iconic Super Heroes – with cover art from legendary artist Alex Ross!
Among those individuals, some of whom teased the project on social media this week, are long-time Marvel veterans — including Roy Thomas, Peter David, Gerry Conway, and Adam Kubert — and current creators — including Saladin Ahmed, Gail Simone, Chip Zdarsky, and Kris Anka — as well as talents outside of comics, like filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“We’re living in a time of walls,” said filmmaker Alex Rivera when introducing Sleep Dealer at the start of the 43rd Williamson Lectureship April 4-6, 2019 in Portales NM. “It’s a global obsession. How do we tell stories in such a world? In my film, I try to cross the consciousness of walls by looking at them, through them, and beyond them.”
…Though it divided critics on publication, Zanzibar has come to be regarded as a classic of New Wave sci-fi, better known for its style than its content. This seems a pity. When an excerpt appeared in New Worlds magazine in November 1967, an editorial claimed that it was the first novel in its field to create, in every detail, “a possible society of the future”.
There’s irony in some of what Brunner got wrong. He assumed, for instance, that the US would have at last figured out how to provide adequate, inexpensive medical care for all by 2010. Other inaccuracies are sci-fi staples – guns that fire lightning bolts; deep-sea mining camps; a Moon base. And yet, in ways minor and major, that ‘future society’ nevertheless seems rather familiar today. For example, it features an organisation very similar to the European Union; it casts China as America’s greatest rival; its phones have connections to a Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia; people casually pop Xanax-style ‘tranks’; documents are run off on laser printers; and Detroit has become a shuttered ghost town and incubator of a new kind of music oddly similar to the actual Detroit techno movement of the 1990s.
(15) NEBULA REVIEWS. A
full rundown of all the nominees for “The
2018 Nebula Awards” is preceded by an analysis of this year’s
kerfuffle at Ohio Needs A Train.
The accusations of slate-building, especially as it’s so close to the Hugos being basically completely turned aside for a couple of years there by slating antics 4, led to tensions running fairly high and people running fairly hot on the issue. The SFWA, for its part, says that it wants to take this sort of thing seriously and is looking into ways to try to keep stuff like this from taking over, without (as of the time of this writing) mentioning what steps it may be taking. I suppose that’s fine, but it’ll be interesting to see if anything is different about the nomination process next year.
Even from beyond its cosmic grave, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues to amaze us with the things it unearthed during its Saturn flybys — like the moons that have been lurking in its rings for billions of years.
When Cassini ventured as close as it would ever get to Saturn, it imaged the moons (which look like space ravioli) in enough detail to reveal that they were covered in the same stuff as its iconic rings. Some of them were even blasted with icy particles from nearby Enceladus. The posthumous images from Cassini’s flyby have given scientists unprecedented close-ups of these really weird satellites.
While he’s pretty much a pop-culture footnote in the 21st century, Dick Tracy was a household name in the 20th. Created by Chester Gould for the eponymous comic strip in 1931, Dick Tracy saw the hard-boiled detective stop a bunch of over-the-top criminals with cutting-edge technology. Gould foresaw the advent of smart-watches with Tracy’s “two-way wrist radio,” and the character was hugely popular.
It wasn’t long before Tracy was adapted to the big screen, first with movie serials in the 1930s and then four one-hour feature films in the 1940s….
Steve Green, Jason, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew
Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, mlex, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for
some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Jayn.]
The first image of a black hole, taken with the help of two Hawaii telescopes, was released today.
The supermassive black hole located in the center of Messier 87 galaxy was named Powehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation.
Astronomers consulted with Larry Kimura, of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language, who sourced the name from the Kumulipo, a primordial chant describing the creation of the universe.
“It is awesome that we, as Hawaiians today, are able to connect to an identity from long ago, as chanted in the 2,102 lines of the Kumulipo, and bring forward this precious inheritance for our lives today,” Kimura said in a press release.
The two Hawaii telescopes involved in the discovery — James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Submillimeter Array — are part of the Event Horizon Telescope project, a network of radio observatories around the world…..
(2) NEBULA CLARIFIED. SFWA’s Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy is now classified as a Nebula. This was not always so, as David D. Levine explains in his blog post “I am now officially a Nebula Award winner!” He first began to wonder if something had changed when he saw this tweet —
Suddenly I was Schroedinger’s Award Winner. Was I a Nebula winner or not? That depended on whether the change was deliberate and whether it applied retroactively. Not that it really mattered, of course. The award trophy is the same, and it means exactly as much or as little as it did before. But, for me, it would be huge if I could call myself a Hugo- and Nebula-winning writer. I always wanted to, and I had been disappointed to discover after winning the Norton that I couldn’t. But now I could. Or could I?
As Levine explains, the official answer is: Yes.
(3) LION KING TRAILER. Disney’s
The Lion King opens in theaters on July
Director Jon Favreau’s all-new “The Lion King” journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way, Disney’s “The Lion King” roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.
Paper, Panel and Round Table proposals are invited for the CoNZealand 2020 Science and Academic Stream, an academic convention traditionally included as part of the annual World Science Fiction Convention.
Contributions are sought for a multidisciplinary academic program that will engage audiences, including not only fellow academics but also many of the world’s top science fiction authors and a well-educated and highly engaged public. In addition to traditional academic research that engages science fiction as a subject of study, scholars are encouraged to present research on or about any academic or scientific subject that is likely to engage the imagination of this eclectic and forward-thinking audience.
Potential contributors should note that science fiction explores all aspects of the future of humanity, and academic presentations on the social sciences, humanities and the arts have historically been as popular as those on science and science-related topics.
(6) HEAR MARTHA WELLS. Nic
and Eric interview award winning author Martha Wells about her Murderbot series and other works. The
Wells interview starts at 36:43 in episode
190 of the All the Books Show.
(7) MARVEL HISTORY. TheHistory of the Marvel Universe arrives in July. A massive Marvel info dump? “This
is not that,” says writer Mark Waid.
The Marvel Universe is a sprawling, interconnected web of rich history, dating back to its very beginnings…and now, it’s all coming together in a huge new story!
This July, Marvel invites readers to join legendary writer Mark Waid (Avengers No Road Home) and Exiles artists Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez for a brand-new tale in what is destined to become the DEFINITIVE history of the Marvel Universe!
History of the Marvel Universe will reveal previously unknown secrets and shocking revelations, connecting all threads of the past and present from the Marvel Universe! From the Big Bang to the twilight of existence, this sweeping story covers every significant event and provides fresh looks at the origins of every fan’s favorite Marvel stories!
“We’ve seen Marvel histories and Marvel encyclopedias and Marvel handbooks, and I love that stuff. I absorb them like Galactus absorbs planets,” Waid told Marvel. “This is not that. There’s information here, but there’s also a story. The Marvel Universe is a living thing, it is its own story, and we’re trying to approach it with some degree of heart to find the heart in that story so it doesn’t read like 120 pages of Wikipedia.”
OBIT. The South Hants Science Fiction Group reports that Geoff
Thorpe (1954–2019) was discovered dead at home last week. Here’s their
announcement, courtesy of Terry Hunt:
We are sorry to hear that long-time SHSFG member Geoff Thorpe passed away last month. He discovered fandom later in life when longtime UK fan Fran Dowd met him online on Library Thing and convinced him that he might enjoy SF conventions. He attended the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow and was subsequently introduced to the SHSFG. He joined the group in 2006 becoming a regular, active member hosting Book Club meetings and Christmas parties. He remained a con-goer, attending Eastercons and World Cons as well as a host of smaller cons in the UK and continental Europe.
He also represented Cambridge University and England in domestic and international Tiddlywink competitions.
Thorpe began commenting at File 770 in 2012, and was involved in a number of discussions about WSFS rules.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 10, 1939 — Max von Sydow, 90. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes, I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka.
Born April 10, 1953 — David Langford, 66. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the Encyclopedia of SF, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to the Encyclopedia of Fantasy as well.
Born April 10, 1957 — John Ford. Popular at Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. (Died 2006.)
Born April 10, 1992 — Daisy Ridley, 27. She had the lead role of Rey in the Star Wars sequel films, starring in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She charmingly voiced Cottontail in Peter Rabbit. Though not genre, she is Mary Debenham in the most recent Murder on the Orient Express which I’m looking forward to seeing. Her first film, Scrawl which is horror, is due to be released this year.
“I’d actually recommend people think very critically about it before making a go at a career in comics,” Jaimes says. “You don’t have to make the thing you love your job. Prioritize your own emotional well-being above ‘making it’ in any classical sense.”
(12) DEL ARROZ STIRS THE POT. JDA really did try to sign up for the Nebula Conference, I’m told —
Bigfoot spends a lot of time alone, just thinking, as he wanders through the forest. As with anyone who has done that much self-reflection, he’s got a lot of wisdom. So, when you’re confused about what to do next, you could do worse than asking, “What would Bigfoot do?”
(15) INTRO TO RPG. Chris
Schweizer tells a neat D&D story. Thread starts here.
A friend’s photo might pop up on a timeline. A child’s video might show up in Facebook “Memories,” highlighting what happened on this date in years past. Sometimes these reminders bring a smile to the faces of friends and family left behind.
But Facebook’s algorithms haven’t always been tactful. Unless someone explicitly informs Facebook that a family member has died, Facebook has been known to remind friends to send birthday greetings, or invite a deceased loved one to an event.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Monday announced that the social network will use artificial intelligence to determine when someone has died, and stop sending those kinds of notifications. Sandberg didn’t explain exactly how the new artificial intelligence features will work, but a Facebook spokesperson told NPR the company will look at a variety of signals that might indicate the person is deceased. The spokesperson wouldn’t provide details on what those signals may be.
As Game of Thrones returns for its final series, Dame Diana Rigg – aka Olenna Tyrell – looks back on her time with the hit HBO show.
She may have had many of the best lines on Game of Thrones, but Dame Diana Rigg says she has not watched the series “before or since” she appeared in it.
Accepting a special award at this year’s Canneseries TV festival in France, the British actress said she “hadn’t got a clue” about what was happening on the show.
Olenna left at the end of the last series by drinking poison – a death scene she said was “just wonderful”.
“She does it with dignity and wit, and wit is not often in final death scenes,” says the actress, who will celebrate her 81st birthday in July
(18) FAMILY REUNION. ComicsBeat
pointed out teaser for the animated Addams
Family, to be released October 11.
Give it a look-see below, and if it sends ya, you’ll be able to see it on Halloween (very apropos). The Addams Family stars Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll with Bette Midler and Allison Janney
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Charon D., Mike
Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) OBERST FROM COAST TO COAST. As reported the other day, Bill Oberst Jr.’s Ray Bradbury Live (forever) will launch with a performance at the South Pasadena Public Library on March 2. The show’s website says the next performances will be in Indianapolis, IN from May 3-5, then in Charleston, SC on dates to be announced.
Writing a series can be a long, strange journey. How do you best prepare for it, and where do you stop to refuel? And how do you do know when to keep going and when to bring things to an end? Join Seanan McGuire, Hugo-winning author of multiple series, as she shares secrets of not get lost along the way when undertaking such a trip.
(4) SHRINK RAP. Larry
Correia talks about “getting paid” all the time, and Harlan Ellison extolled
the importance of a writer’s work being acknowledged by a “check of money.” How
to explain everyone else who keeps pulling the handle on their typewriter? Camestros
Felapton searches for parallels between writing and an addiction in “Writing
One of the notable features of gambling (and a factor that can lead to it becoming a problem for some people) is that people still gain pleasure from it even when they are losing. The phenomenon called “loss chasing”…
Do you mind if authors read and/or comment on your review of their book?
“I don’t want them to comment on negative reviews, but I’m fine if they comment on positive reviews!” +12 with the same sentiment +11 same sentiment, also specifying that they would not tag an author in a negative review
“What I don’t like is when an author comments on my reviews to defend themselves or to try and guilt me into changing my opinions.” +6
“I don’t mind if they read, and a quick thanks for reading my book comment is fine— but nothing else.” +3
(paraphrased) Authors are not obligated to read reviews, but I’d like them to know that someone’s enjoyed it, and it would make me happy if they read my (positive tagged) review! +1
“I don’t mind though I’d rather have them contact me in private if they want to discuss it.”
“…would depend on the relationship you have with that specific author.”
“…from anyone with more power than me, NO.”
“…I wouldn’t mind them BOOSTING blog posts involving their books.”
“I don’t mind them commenting on my review in a tweet…but no comments on my actual blog.”
Though there seems to be a tendency to nominate debut novels for the Nebula in recent year—more than half of the nominees for the last three years have been first novels—there is a clear precedent for established novelists to actually take home the Nebula. The preference for books from established writers makes sense: not only have they had time to hone their craft, but, as and industry award, connections within the industry factor.
1. Like the movie’s human heroine, Goose comes straight from the comic books.
She’s named Chewie in the pages of the “Captain Marvel” series (named for the “Star Wars” Wookiee co-pilot), while the movie uses Anthony Edwards’ “Top Gun” sidekick as inspiration. But a lot of the hidden abilities Goose unleashes later in the film mirror the comic character’s cosmic connections as an alien Flerken.
Before they had a script, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck had a room with a whiteboard where they wrote a wish list of everything from the comics that they wanted to see in the movie, including the cat. After figuring out Goose’s role, Boden remembers giving an initial script outline to executive producer Kevin Feige “and him being like, ‘Yep, we’re going to need about 200 percent more (Goose) in the story.’ And he was right. It was so fun to find all the ways that she could participate in the film.”
‘Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi has signed on to co-write and direct the pilot for a series based on the 1981 Terry Gilliam film ‘Time Bandits’ for Apple‘s upcoming streaming service. Waititi will also serve as executive producer along with Gilliam and Dan Halstead (‘People of Earth’). This will be just one of many shows that Apple plans to offer for free to owners of its various devices, including Apple TV, iPhones, iPads and Macs. ‘Time Bandits’ will be co-produced by Anonymous Content, Paramount Television and Media Rights Capital.
Time Bandits is a dark, irreverent adventure about imagination, bravery and the nature of our dreams. It follows the time-traveling adventures of an 11-year-old history buff named Kevin who, one night, stumbles on six dwarfs who emerge from his closet. They are former workers of the Supreme Being who have stolen a map that charts all the holes in the space-time fabric, using it to hop from one historical era to the next in order to steal riches. Throughout the movie, they meet various historical and fictional characters, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Robin Hood, while the Supreme Being simultaneously tries to catch up to them and retrieve the map.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife — The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement. (Died 2005.)
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve read and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and its charms escape my understanding. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See, their travels to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
Born March 11, 1962 — Elias Koteas, 57. Genre appearances include the very first (and I think best of the many that came out) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, One Magic Christmas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (I did warn you, didn’t I?), Cyborg 2 (just don’t), Gattaca, Skinwalkers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Haunting in Connecticut.
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 56. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. (I don’t believe in spoilers.) I don’t see a lot of other genre work from her but she was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way.
Born March 11, 1967 — John Barrowman, 52. Best genre without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters (I think as I confess I’m not watching it currently) in the form of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul. He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdinand Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons.
Born March 11, 1982 —Thora Birch, 37. A very, very extensive genre history so I’ll just list her appearances: Purple People Eater, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hocus Pocus, Dungeons & Dragons, The Hole, Dark Corners, Train, Deadline, Dark Avenger series, The Outer Limits, Night Visions series, My Life as a Teenage Robot and a recurring role on the Colony series.
Born March 11, 1989 — Anton Yelchin. Best known for playing played Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really, he did. (Died 2016.)
(11) SO, DOES LOTUS TASTE
GOOD? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some science fiction has imagined a future where automation
of one sort or another replaces most or all jobs. Thinking about that sort of
future is slowly becoming mainstream but even if this leads to some version of
utopia, there will be a difficult transition period. An installment of an AI
series on The Verge (The Real-World AI Issue) looks at “How to protect humans in a
fully automated society” and asks the question “What happens when
every job is replaced by a machine?” It doesn’t get to an answer, but that
doesn’t make the question any less important.
People have been worried about machines taking jobs for a very long time. As early as 1930, John Maynard Keynes was warning about the new scourge of technological unemployment, which he termed as “unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor.” In short, automating ourselves out of a paycheck.
Mexican archaeologists announced last week that they discovered a trove of more than 200 Maya artifacts beneath the ancient city of Chichén Itzá in Mexico.
The discovery of the Yucatán Peninsula cave – and the artifacts, which appear to date back to 1,000 A.D. – was not the team’s original goal, National Geographic Explorer Guillermo de Anda, who helped lead the team, told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition.
A local resident told the archeologists about the secret cave, known as Balamku or “Jaguar God.” It had been known to locals for decades and about 50 years ago some of them told archeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto about the cave, but he ordered it sealed for unknown reasons, causing it to be forgotten. This time, the explorers decided to search the cave chambers, which involved crawling on their stomachs for hours to reach the coveted artifacts.
Anthem is a mess. There’s no nicer way of putting it. I can’t recommend it in any form today. The good(?) news is that it’s essentially unfinished but it’s a part of EA’s games-as-a-service strategy. Like so many other games-as-a-service shlooters (that’s loot-shooters, games like Destiny and The Division), it’s being patched frequently with new features, quality of life improvements, and bug fixes. The outstanding questions are can they fix this game post-release and do they have the will to keep working on this game?
Is there an efficient way to tinker with the genes of plants? Being able to do that would make breeding new varieties of crop plants faster and easier, but figuring out exactly how to do it has stumped plant scientists for decades.
Now researchers may have cracked it.
Modifying the genetics of a plant requires getting DNA into its cells. That’s fairly easy to do with animal cells, but with plants it’s a different matter.
“Plants have not just a cell membrane, but also a cell wall,” says Markita Landry, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
Scientists have tried different ways to get DNA and other important biological molecules through the cell wall – by shooting microscopic gold bullets coated with DNA into the cell using a gene gun or by hiding DNA inside bacteria that can infect plant cells.
Both methods have limitations. Gene guns aren’t very efficient, and some plants are hard, if not impossible, to infect with bacteria.
UC Berkeley researchers have found a way to do it using something called carbon nanotubes, long stiff tubes of carbon that are really small. Landry came up with the idea, and the curious thing is she’s neither a nanotechnology engineer nor a plant biologist.
BACKWARD. Remember in Armageddon where
Bruce Willis’ character says to the NASA manager, “You’re the
guys that’re thinking shit up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around
somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up!” Same
answer here – they’re looking for help from the public:
“It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change”.
When NPR interviewed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes in February about her Green New Deal, she said that her goal was bigger than just passing some new laws. “What I hope we’re able to do is rediscover the power of public imagination,” she said.
Well, we’re unleashing our imagination and exploring a dream, a possible future in which we’re bringing global warming to a halt. It’s a world in which greenhouse emissions have ended.
(Editor’s note: Each story has two sections, the first reflecting the present and the second imagining the world of 2050.)
Published in February 2019. Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?
Extensive cellars of the world’s best wines. Pristine slopes with no other skiers, the lifts at your disposal. A hotel kitchen with an endless supply of food that never spoils. The penthouse room available day in and day out for sleeping and leisure. Paradise calls, such is the tragedy of Graham Joyce’s touching 2010 The Silent Land.
“Captain America” found out he had a big fan in Congress after his mission to the US Capitol this week.
Chris Evans, known for playing the superhero in the Marvel movies, met up with Rep. Dan Crenshaw on a visit to Washington, and the two seemed to hit it off.
Crenshaw, who represents Texas’ 2nd Congressional District, lifted his eye patch to show off a Captain America-inspired glass eye to Evans. In a picture posted to Twitter on Friday, the eye resembles Captain America’s shield, with a five-point, white star in the middle surrounded by circles.
The BGR story talks about the possibility of Russian
fighters using drones (that fly with an AI assist) as a force multiplier.
Well, it seems Russian military officials don’t want to just stop with that fearsome new hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile that was tested last month, which we told you about and which Russia claims there’s no defense against. It would appear the country’s military forces have also been testing the feasibility of having AI-powered wingmen fly alongside Russian fighter pilots, executing commands issued by the human pilot an inaugurating a scary new chapter in aerial military combat.
News accounts of Russia’s efforts here are the result of images spotted on social media of a drone called Hunter, an unmanned combat vehicle, along with images of a jet called the Sukhoi Su-57. Of particular interest is that fighter jet’s tail. As you can see below, on the tail you can see the shape of a jet as well as an image that seems to be the “Hunter” drone, along with the image of a lightning bolt.
Meanwhile, PopSci takes a look at using big data and machine
learning to keep aging aircraft in the air instead of grounded.
Late in 2018, the Air Force (with help from Delta) retrofitted its aging C-5 and B-1 fleets to perform predictive maintenance. “It’s already doing amazing work, telling us things that we need to look at before they become critical,” Will Roper [(USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics)] says. “The data is there but it’s not in a discoverable format that you can layer in machine learning on top of it. A lot of what we had to do was reverse engineering, so that that data can be exposed in an algorithm friendly way.”
He says there are more than 100 algorithms running on the C-5 systems, and more than 40 examining the B-1. Each algorithm parses the information generated by specific systems, like the landing gear, wheels, temperature sensors, and anything that is deemed mission-critical.
So far, the A.I. found three maintenance actions on the C-5 “that we wouldn’t have found through traditional processes, that affect 36 different aircraft,” Roper says. Maintainers also removed 17 parts that were showing subtle signs of wear well before those parts had issues.
(20) WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
It’s D&D night at Ursula Vernon’s place. The thread starts here.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King
Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Adam
(1) WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat
Rambo shares her notes from Kay Kenyon’s class about plotting, “Mapping the
(2) OUTSIDE THE THEATER.
Abigail Nussbaum convincingly argues that the discussion around Captain
Marvel is more significant than the movie.
…Which is really the most important thing you can say about Captain Marvel: this is a movie that is important not because of what happens in it, but because of what happens around it. The most interesting conversations you can have regarding it all take place in the meta-levels–what does Captain Marvel mean for the MCU, for superhero movies, for pop culture?
…Another example is the way Captain Marvel refigures Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who functions here as Carol’s sidekick on Earth, where she crash-lands after being captured by Skrulls, the enemies of the Kree. Fury has been a fixture of the MCU since he showed up in the after-credits scene of Iron Man in 2008, and has always cut an imposing figure: a grey eminence, spymaster, and general who suffers no fools and always has plans within plans in his monomaniacal quest to defend the Earth from alien dangers. The version of Fury we meet in Captain Marvel is much more down to earth–funny, self-deprecating, willing to pause his serious pursuits in order to coo over an adorable cat, and inordinately pleased with himself over minor bits of spycraft, like fooling a fingerprint reader with a bit of tape.
It can be hard to square the Fury in Captain Marvel with the one we’ve known for twelve years in the rest of the MCU, and once again, when looking for solutions, one immediately turns to the metafictional. My first thought when the film’s credits rolled was “someone told Jackson to just do what he did in The Long Kiss Goodnight“.….
The Brie Larson/Samuel L. Jackson/Reggie the Cat sci-fi adventure opened with $153m in North America this weekend, which is the second-biggest solo superhero non-sequel launch behind Black Panther ($202m in 2018). It’s the third-biggest March opening of all time, sans inflation, behind Batman v Superman ($166m in 2016) and Beauty and the Beast ($174m in 2017).
You founded JABberwocky Literary Agency in 1994, and your agency has grown since, adding several agents and assistants. What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?
Make every word count! No excess description. No tossing facial gestures like smiles and smirks onto the page for no good reason. Never stopping to give a three-line description of every character when they come on stage. Quoting two of Bradbury’s 8 Rules:
• Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
• Start as close to the end as possible.
…Most writers don’t understand that an agent can only represent a limited number of authors, and that agents specialize in particular types of fiction. Can you discuss how many authors you represent and why you’ve settled on that number? Can you describe the areas that you specialize in and why you’ve chosen those areas?
In an alternate universe, the initial crop of mysteries I sold (my very first sale as an agent was a mystery) would have taken off and the sf/fantasy not done as well! I never consciously set out to be a specialist. I don’t count clients; I have “clients” who haven’t written a book in 20 years, so do I count them? And some I’m working with but haven’t yet sold. I don’t target a particular number of clients. I’d say it’s my ability to get through my reading pile that says if I can take on more or fewer; that’s the pressure valve that says if the apparatus can safely support more.
The series touches on immigration, racism, xenophobia and gun control. Did you have any idea how prescient it would be?
Well, it was very interesting what was happening when we did the first season of “American Gods.” The country has taken a serious lurch to the right, as much as they’d love to say it’s taken a serious lurch to the left. I don’t think America would know a socialist if they fell over him. They think it’s somebody who lives in a garret in Russia and has no telephone and no refrigerator. But that’s due to their lack of education. America’s been dumbed down over the years, which is a shame. It’s wonderful to see Congress now with a rainbow color, if you like, of immigrants and nationalities and people who love this country. They’re talking about it in a different way.
(6) THE PRICE ON THE BOUNTY
Mechanic’s article “The
Great Star Wars Heist” recalls that in 2017, an uncovered toy theft
ruptured the Star Wars collecting community. Two years later, the
collectors—and the convicted—are still looking for a way forward.
…After talking with Wise, though, Tann’s doubts reached beyond one Boba Fett. The legitimacy of the dozens of purchases he’d made from Cunningham were at stake. Were those stolen goods, too?
Tann shared a comprehensive list of his purchases with Wise and, sure enough, Wise recognized more collectibles of his. But he noticed something else, too. The large volume of items that Cunningham was selling suggested that he had been stealing from someone else.
And the quality of the collectibles left little doubt as to who it was.
(7) SHEINBERG OBIT. Universal
Studios executive Sidney Sheinberg died
March 7 reports the New York Times.
His career-launching connection with Steven Spielberg proved lucrative for
Mr. Sheinberg, who could be as tender as he was prickly, was the one who allowed Mr. Spielberg to make “Jaws,” giving him a budget of $3.5 million (about $17 million in today’s money). A problem-plagued shoot pushed the cost to more than twice as much. But Mr. Sheinberg… continued to support the film, which went on to become the prototype for the wide-release summer blockbuster.
“Sid created me, in a way, and I also re-created Sid, in a way,” Mr. Spielberg was quoted as saying in The New York Times in 1997.
Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park”(1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List,” which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title. Released in 1993, it won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat
Born March 10, 1891 — Sam Jaffe. His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script oddly enough. (Died 1984.)
Born March 10, 1921 — Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
Born March 10, 1932 — Robert Dowdell. He’s best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. After that series, he showed up in genre series such as Max Headroom, Land of the Giants, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 2018.)
Born March 10, 1938 — Marvin Kaye, 81. Currently the editor of Weird Tales, he has also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award.
Born March 10, 1958 — Sharon Stone, 61. Damn, she’s the same age I am. She’s been in three genre films, her first being Total Recall where she played the ill-fated Lori Quaid. Her next was Sphere where she was cast as Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Halperin, and last was in, errr, Catwoman where she was Laurel Hedare, an assassin.
Born March 10, 1977 — Bree Turner, 42. She’s best known for her role as Rosalee on Grimm. She also starred in the pilot episode (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”) of Masters of Horror. She was in Jekyll + Hyde as Martha Utterson. Confession time: I got through maybe three seasons of Grimm before giving up as it became increasingly silly.
3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to reread?
I’m in the middle of a slow reread of P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series so I can get caught up with the latest volumes in time for the new book to come out later on in 2019. I’ve just finished rereading God Stalk and Dark of the Moon, so Seeker’s Mask is next. It’s been rereleased a few times but this remains my favorite cover. If you are looking for a really splendid high fantasy series with a darker edge, intricate worldbuilding, a complex heroine and fascinating cast of characters, this is one of the best around.
(11) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Idris
Elba guest hosted Saturday Night Live.
His sketches included –
“The Impossible Hulk”
“Can I Play That/” in which actors are told they can’t play various parts because trolls on Twitter say they can’t.
(12) GONE CRUISIN’. I don’t know what to say… (See second tweet.)
(13) AKA JOHN CLEVE, Here’s
a curiosity: a scan of a 7-page andy offutt
letter to Bob Gaines from 1977, mostly a history/list of his porn novels,
but also about a page of current events about his career at the time.
(14) DENIAL DENIERS. Cody Delistraty, in “John
Lanchester’s Future Tells The Truth” on Vulture,
profiles British novelist John Lanchester, whose new sf novel THE WALL is an
attempt to educate readers about climate change without preaching to them.
…Something else sets Lanchester apart from crossover literary personalities of yore. He has the ability to deflect — and to notice, too, when most people want to look away from the truth. (He has a “deep sympathy” for climate-change deniers.) He knows where to find the most pressing emergencies facing humanity, as he’s proven time and again with his nonfiction. But, crucially, in his fiction, he also knows when and how people tend to avoid the toughest topics. A central goal of his recent novels — which grounds them in cold reality — is to draw attention to what we might otherwise not want to notice: What are the lies that we musttell ourselves? What must we believe in order to cope with the world? Questions that, perhaps unsurprisingly, spring directly from his own life.
…Danvers first appeared in 1968. Originally known as Ms. Marvel, the character had fought for feminist causes throughout her comic book history, but her depiction by male writers and artists had several problematic elements. The oft-scantily clad Ms. Marvel had a tendency of being objectified or oversexualized; one infamous storyline in 1980 even featured her being raped and impregnated by an intergalactic supervillain….
(16) LEGACY. Neil Gaiman
wrote this eulogy after Harlan Ellison
passed away last June. It ends:
He left behind a lot of stories. But it seems to me, from the number of people reaching out to me and explaining that he inspired them, that they became writers from reading him or from listening to him on the radio or from seeing him talk (sometimes it feels like 90% of the people who came to see Harlan and Peter David and me talk after 911 at MIT have gone on to become writers) and that his real legacy was of writers and storytellers and people who were changed by his stories.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A
clip from The Jack Benny Program with
John King Tarpinian, JJ. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hictchcock,
Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]