(1) ALL KNOWLEDGE IS CONTAINED IN FANZINES. CBR.com’s Brian Cronin reveals a little-known origin story — “Comic Legends: The Surprising Possible Inspiration for Superman’s S Logo”.
A rather familiar S shield was used as the sign-off to a classic 1930 science fiction fanzine
This is an interesting legend because I’m not trying to prove that something is a specific influence or anything like that, which I normally do in stuff like this (or, in the alternative, show that it WASN’T an influence). No, here, the POSSIBLE inspiration is so interesting in and of itself that I’m still going to feature it. It’s just THAT freaky.
… [Mort] Weisinger and the others (including [Julie] Schwartz) referred to themselves as “The Scienceers.”
In the third issue of The Planet (and yes, by the way, there’s a reasonable chance that the name of the fanzine, itself, was an inspiration for the Daily Planet, as well), they tried out a logo for “The Scienceers”.
(2) WILD (LIFE) IMAGINATION. “How Animals Behave When We Aren’t Looking By Artist Julien Tabet” – at deMilked.
Julien Tabet is a 21-year-old French artist who creates incredible photo manipulations of animals. He started creating his clever edits a little over a year ago and in this short time gathered a whopping 95k followers on Instagram.
(3) JEOPARDY! GOAT. [Item by David Goldfarb.] I went back and watched the first episode of the Jeopardy! “Greatest of All Time” tournament (yes, this is out of order: I blame Hulu’s UI) and there was a category “Greatest of All Time Travelers” in the preliminary round of the second game. All answers were successfully questioned. I’ll put the answers first, in case readers want to try themselves:
$200: In Stephen King’s “11/22/63”, Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent this event from ever happening.
$400: In this Audrey Niffenegger novel, Clare is married to Henry, who suffers from Chrono-Displacement Disorder.
$600: In chapter 16 of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, Hank meets this woman whose first name is the same as his surname.
$800: In this 1969 classic, Tralfamadorians abduct the protagonist who has unfortunately become “unstuck in time”.
$1000: “Kindred”, about an African-American woman transplanted back to a plantation in antebellum Maryland, is a novel by this author.
And here are the questions:
$200: What is the Kennedy assassination?
$400: What is “The Time Traveler’s Wife”?
$600: Who is Morgan Le Fey?
$800: What is “Slaughterhouse-5”?
$1000: Who is Octavia Butler?
Also, in the Double Jeopardy round of that game, this was the $800 answer in the category “Potpourri”:
When she said she was leaving “Star Trek”, MLK asked her to stay, saying, “Through you, we see ourselves and what can be”.
I assume that all File 770 readers will know, “Who is Nichelle Nichols?”
(3) A FAR, FAR BETTER THING. James Davis Nicoll starts “Five SF Works Involving Epic Space Journeys” starts by telling Tor.com readers he’s running for DUFF – because he, too, wants to make an epic journey, get it?
… Of course, the tradition of sending people very far away for various laudable reasons is an old one. Unsurprisingly, this is reflected through the lens of science fiction. Various SF protagonists have been sent quite astonishing distances; sometimes they are even permitted to return home. Here are five examples.
(4) NOW ON SALE. Stephen Blackmoore, one of the game designers for Evil Hat’s game Fate of Cthulthu, wants to make something very clear:
Somebody asked why, then, try to monetize Lovecraft’s material at all? How dare someone ask a question like that! Jeeeze, dude, next thing you’ll be asking the Emperor where’s his clothes!
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 25, 1905 — Margery Sharp. Her best remembered work is The Rescuers series which concerns a mouse by the name of Miss Bianca. They were later adapted in two Disney animated films, The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen the first one a very long time ago. Her genre novel, The Stone of Chastity, is according to her website, based on English folklore. Other than the first volume of The Rescuer series, she’s not really available digitally though she is mostly in print in the dead tree format. (Died 1991.)
- Born January 25, 1918 — King Donovan. Jack Belicec in the original and by far the best version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Thirty years later, he’d be Lunartini Husband in Nothing Lasts Forever, a SF comedy film with a contentious history. His only other genre appearence was a one-off on Night Gallery. (Died 1987.)
- Born January 25, 1920 — Bruce Cassiday. Under two different pen names, Con Steffanson and Carson Bingham, he wrote three Flash Gordon novels (The Trap of Ming XII, The Witch Queen of Mongo and The War of the Cybernauts) and he also wrote several pieces of nonfiction worth noting, The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, with Dieter Wuckel, and Modern Mystery, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. The latter done in ‘93 is safely out of date and OOP as well. Checking the online digital publishing concerns shows nothing’s available by him. (Died 2005.)
- Born January 25, 1931 — Dean Jones. An actor in some of the sillier and most entertaining genre and genre adjacent films undertaken in the Sixties. He was Jim Douglas in The Love Bug, Steve Walker in Blackbeard’s Ghost and Peter Denwell in Mr. Superinvisible. May I count his later appearance in Agent Zeke Kelso in That Darn Cat! as a SJW cred? Around the the time of the film, he was a Dean Webster Carlson in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. His final role before he retired from acting was as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge & Marley. (Died 2015.)
- Born January 25, 1943 — Tobe Hooper. Responsible for the Texas Chainsaw Maasacare, which heco-wrote with Kim Henkel. That alone gets him Birthday honors. But he has also directed the Salem’s Lot series, also Poltergeist, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars. And this is hardly a full listing. (Died 2017.)
- Born January 25, 1950 — Christopher Ryan, 70. He’s played two different aliens on Doctor Who. First in the Sixth Doctor story, “Mindwarp,” he was Kiv where he looked looked akin to Clayface from the animated Batman series. Second in the era of the Tenth Doctor (“The Sontarian Experiment”, “The Poison Sky”) and the Eleventh Doctor (“The Pandorica Opens”), he was the Sontarian General Staal Commander Stark.
- Born January 25, 1958 — Peter Watts, 62. Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower linked short stories sound intriguing. Queen of Air and Darkness he’s written lot!
- Born January 25, 1963 — Catherine Butler, 57. Has published a number of works of which his most important is Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Anotherimportant work is Reading History in Children’s Books, with Hallie O’Donovan. Her website ishere.
- Born January 25, 1973 — Geoff Johns, 47. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him in on Batman: Gotham Knights, Justice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was way overly ambitious but really fun. Oh and I’d be remiss not to notehis decade long run on the Green Lantern books.
(6) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld predicts the Jack Reacher series will veer off in surprising new directions.
(7) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Yahoo! Entertainment sets the table: “Star Trek’s George Takei Reacts to Donald Trump’s Space Force Logo: ‘We Are Expecting Some Royalties'”.
On Friday, Trump unveiled the new insignia for the United States Space Force — which was signed into effect in late December — and was met with a flurry of comparisons to the emblem worn by the members of Star Trek‘s fictional Starfleet organization.
“After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers, and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!” Trump tweeted alongside the Space Force’s new logo.
George Takei, who starred as Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, was quick to respond. Amid accusations from other Trekkies that the emblem had copied the Starfleet logo, the actor responded to Trump in a tweet, “Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this…”
“Is Trump’s Space Force Logo a Copycat of Starfleet’s From ‘Star Trek’? (Sure Looks Like It)”. The Wrap makes sure to magnify the uproar before eventually remembering where the Space Force logo really comes from.
…Compare and contrast: On the left side of the image above is the logo for Space Force (which, for those of you wondering, is part of the air force and not actually a separate branch of the military); and on the right is the emblem of Starfleet Command, the scientific and military space force for the United Federation of Planets.
…Now, in fairness, the new Space Force logo is actually based on the preexisting Air Force Space Command logo, which was established in 1982 and rendered obsolete by Space Force. Here’s what that looks like:
Okay, here, I’ve run the story – you all can stop sending me links to it.
(8) FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLETIN. WIRED reports “An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus”.
On January 9, the World Health Organization notified the public of a flu-like outbreak in China: a cluster of pneumonia cases had been reported in Wuhan, possibly from vendors’ exposure to live animals at the Huanan Seafood Market. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had gotten the word out a few days earlier, on January 6. But a Canadian health monitoring platform had beaten them both to the punch, sending word of the outbreak to its customers on December 31.
BlueDot uses an AI-driven algorithm that scours foreign-language news reports, animal and plant disease networks, and official proclamations to give its clients advance warning to avoid danger zones like Wuhan.
Speed matters during an outbreak, and tight-lipped Chinese officials do not have a good track record of sharing information about diseases, air pollution, or natural disasters. But public health officials at WHO and the CDC have to rely on these very same health officials for their own disease monitoring. So maybe an AI can get there faster…
(9) SIGN AWAY. “Facebook and YouTube moderators sign PTSD disclosure” – BBC has the details.
Content moderators are being asked to sign forms stating they understand the job could cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to reports.
The Financial Times and The Verge reported moderators for Facebook and YouTube, hired by the contractor Accenture, were sent the documents.
Moderators monitor objectionable materials and often view hundreds of disturbing images in a day’s work.
Accenture said the wellbeing of workers was a “top priority”.
In a statement the company added only new joiners were being asked to sign the forms, whereas existing employees were being sent the form as an update.
“We regularly update the information we give our people to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the work they do,” Accenture said in a statement.
(10) SPOT INSPECTION. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Tested Labs has begin a year-long series of tests of Boston Dynamics dog-like robot Spot. Former Mythbuster Adam Savage will be a tester and the on-camera host of the video series, available on their YouTube channel. Nerdist: “Adam Savage Tested Boston Dynamics’ ‘Spot’ Robot Dog”
Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, “Spot,” has been in the news ever since the robotics company debuted its ancestor, BigDog, a decade ago. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen Spot evolve from prototype into polished product, and now it’s finally time to see how the mechanical quadruped performs out in the real world. And what better way to do that than by having legendary myth-buster Adam Savage put the robo-pup through its paces?
Savage and the rest of the Tested YouTube channel crew recently announced they’ll be testing Spot over the next year, with an initial video (above) showing the team unboxing the robot dog and having it perform some initial tasks including walking, climbing, and crawling; feats, incidentally, that would make most other four-legged droids quake in their metallic foot cups.
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Time Travel in Fiction Rundown” on YouTube, Minute Physics explains different theories of time travel, including in Ender’s Game and Harry Potter.
[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, N., Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, David Goldfarb, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris S.]