(1) IT AIN’T ME BABE. George R.R. Martin is not at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Now, normally, I would not feel the need to post about where I’m not and what I am not doing… only I am getting reports from friends in San Diego, and friends of friends, that I have been sighted at the con.
It’s not me.
Really. It’s not. It’s some other old fat guy in a Greek sailor’s cap and pair of suspenders, maybe. Who may or may not be consciously cosplaying as me.
((And you have no idea how weird it feels to be typing that sentence. Way back when the show was first starting, there were a couple of Daenerys Targaryen cosplayers at San Diego, and I thought that was way cool. Fans dressing up as my characters, hey, hot damn! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that anyone would ever want to dress up as me. But now I seem to encounter it wherever I go….))
((And just to be clear, no, I do not disappove of fans cosplaying as me. I do find it surreal, but hey, what they hell, have fun… so long as they don’t actually pretend to be me)).
Damn near as funny to me, a friend of mine who uses the handle kalimac truthfully answered:
I am also an old fat guy with a Greek sailor’s cap and a pair of suspenders, though my beard is not yet as white as yours. But I’m not at Comicon either!
(2) FILE EIGHTY-EIGHT FORTY-FOUR. From News.Mic — “Turkish Protesters Are Spray Painting ‘220.127.116.11’ and ‘18.104.22.168’ On Wallls – Here’s What It Means”.
As hard as the Turkish government might try, shutting down Twitter isn’t as easy as it seems. At 11:30 p.m. Thursday the Turkish government officially blocked the country’s 33 million Internet users from Twitter, but clever, tech-savvy Turks are sharing a simple and effective method to help fellow citizens bypass the ban — and they’re sharing it everywhere.
Just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “root out” Twitter, graffiti has been popping up around Istanbul with two IP addresses anyone can use to circumvent the government’s ban. The two numbers — 22.214.171.124. and 126.96.36.199. — refer to Google’s Public DNS, which can be easily utilized to maintain access to Twitter.
And it’s working. Despite a short blackout, many Turks are back on Twitter, and there’s nothing the government can really do to stop them.
” … it seems that masses of ordinary citizens are learning how to use this technology,” wrote Serhatcan Yurdam, a blogger who lives in Istanbul. “Everybody is teaching each other how to change their DNS, how to use VPNs … and clearly they’re catching on quickly, since so many people are still tweeting!”
Step-by-step instructions like this are being widely shared by Turkish Internet users.
Erdogan’s motivation was to “eradicate” social media, which he considers “the worst menace to society.”
(3) MARKO KLOOS KISSES FACEBOOK GOODBYE. You’ll still find him on Instagram and Twitter, but as of today Marko Kloos is done with Facebook.
I’ve known for a while that it had become more distraction than useful or fun tool, but today things kind of tipped over for me when one of my real-world writer acquaintances got pissed off over a comment I left on their post. (It was, of course, about politics, and that always spells trouble on Facebook because most people who post about politics don’t look to argue or debate. This election in particular has cranked up everyone’s sensitivity up to eleventy-twelve, and 95% of political posts are just there to have one’s opinion reaffirmed by The Tribe, not to actually talk about the subject.) It was my mistake, of course, but it was the proverbial straw for me…..
I’ve had to curate my posts on Facebook for years. Most of my publishing friends are on the left side the fence, and quite a few of my real-life non-publishing friends are libertarians or (GASP!) conservatives. When you have to make sure you have the right audience button selected before you post a picture or an opinion lest you offend half your friends list inadvertently, it stops being fun and starts becoming work–and hazardous work at that, like tap-dancing through a minefield. The drawbacks have now outweighed the benefits of the platform, at least for me.
(And to be honest–it’s a massive time-waster designed to make you come click for your dopamine pellet a hundred times a day. If I had written fiction in all the times I’ve wasted time scrolling through Facebook over the last five years, Frontlines would now be a 20-book series.)
(4) BUT NOT ONE WORD ABOUT ANY REDSHIRTS. Once he drafted today’s post about Trump’s speech, John Scalzi cleansed his palate by reviewing Star Trek Beyond.
One complaint I do hear from longtime Trek fans is that the new Trek films don’t give enough lip service to Gene Roddenberry’s humanistic ethos, and I have a couple of thoughts on that. The first was that while that ethos was and is laudable, Roddenberry was as subtle about it as a sledgehammer, which is why TOS episodes sometimes now play like Very Special Episodes where learning happens (some TNG episodes play that way too, notably in the first couple of seasons). As a viewer I don’t actually want the Roddenberry Moral Sledgehammer. I’m not a child. The second is that as it happens Beyond is the Kelvin-era film that most overtly signals in the direction of that Trek ethos, both in what it says and what’s on screen. And for me it was the right amount — enough to know it’s there and important, not enough that you feel like you’re being lectured by a tiresome hippie uncle.
(5) SNEAK PREVIEW. Star Trek actors attended the White House’s advance screening of Star Trek Beyond on Tuesday. The highlight was a little gaffe by the First Lady.
After greeting the actors and welcoming the military families, Michelle Obama concluded her remarks with a phrase that was made famous by that other sci-fi franchise, “Star Wars.”
“May the force be with you,” she said. (We think she was kidding by invoking the rival films, but who knows — President Obama once mixed the two by referring to a “Jedi mind meld”).
Urban, slightly sheepishly, added his film’s signature line: “And live long and prosper!”
(6) THE AUTHOR/EDITOR RELATIONSHIP. At Magical Words, Melissa Gilbert used dating as an analogy to help advise self-published authors how to choose the right editor.
Decide you want a date:
First, you have to decide that you want to hire a freelance editor and why. Do you want to self-publish? Do you want to learn more and improve your craft? Do you want to improve your chances of getting picked up by an agent? Basically, what’s your endgame? Like a date, are you looking to develop a long term relationship or just have some fun? ….
The First Date:
The first edit is much like a first date. You both are looking to see if you’re a good fit for each other. Writers, the editor is evaluating you as much as you are evaluating the editor, so professional courtesy should be extended by both parties.
Editors: don’t change the writer’s voice, be honest about the level of edit needed, be straightforward about your pricing and other policies, and communicate with the writer.
Writers: don’t rush the editor (ex: if it’s your first novel, your edit will likely take more than a few days, so don’t plan a huge release party!), reply promptly to their emails, remember that their job is to critique your work so it won’t be rainbows and butterflies the whole way through, and communicate with the editor.
(7) LIKE HELL. Playlist says these are the “50 Best Sci-Fi Films of the 21st Century So Far”.
The ease with which we sailed to 50 titles and the number we still felt bad about excluding speaks volumes about the health of this thriving and somehow ever-more-necessary genre. We’re hardly the first to notice that recent world events feel distinctly dystopian, and seeing various scenarios play out as extended thought experiments is something that only this genre really affords us.
And number one?
- “Children Of Men” (2006) Not just the best sci-fi movie of the last 16 years, but one of the best movies period, Alfonso Cuaron’s bravura dystopian masterpiece cemented the Mexican helmer’s status as not just a fast-rising star, but as one of our very, very best. Based on P.D. James’ novel, it’s set in a world where no children have been born in two decades, and society has collapsed as humanity waits to die out. Theo (Clive Owen) is entrusted with transporting a young immigrant woman (Claire-Hope Ashitey) who is pregnant, the first person in a generation to be so. Aside from its central premise, everything about “Children Of Men” is chillingly plausible, and Cuaron’s vision is brought to life seamlessly with subtle VFX and the never-bettered docudrama-ish photography of Emmanuel Lubezki (including two of the greatest extended shots in cinema history). The cast, including Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Peter Mullan, and Danny Huston, is impeccable, it’s disarmingly funny, deeply sad, enormously exciting, fiercely political, and endlessly inventive, and people will be stealing from it for decades to come. Though many dismissed it on release as being too bleak (and everything from the Zika virus to Brexit is proving it to be all to prescient), that was to miss the point: “Children Of Men” is a film about hope, and in the 21st century, we need all the hope we can get.
(8) FAN ART FOR THE MASSES. Well, to be precise, it’s a fan’s art, but it’s not fan art, nevertheless, Nick Stathopoulos’ portrait of Deng is currently plastered all over Sydney as part of an ad campaign for the Archibald Prize exhibit.
(9) MERCURY MISSION CONTROL. Larry Klaes covers the launch for Galactic Journey: “[July 22, 1961] Into Space – and the Deep Blue (The Flight of Liberty Bell 7 )”. Regardless of what you may have heard, Gus didn’t screw the pooch….
After three failed attempts just this week, yesterday (July 21, 1961), astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom finally became this nation’s second (and the world’s third) man to reach outer space. Grissom achieved another sort of milestone when his spacecraft unexpectedly sank after splashdown – and almost took the astronaut with it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean!
(10) PROTIPS FOR CHRONONAUTS. “10 Things You Should Never Do While Time Traveling” is a pretty damn clever and well-researched post – at B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog.
- Signal your presence The protagonists of Replay, by Ken Grimwood, have an odd method of time travel. Upon death, their consciousness is sent back 25-odd years into their own bodies, with all future memories intact, to relive the same number of years time until they die again, at the exact same moment—creating a kind of Groundhog Dayloop. Naturally, the first thing anyone does is fix old mistakes and use their foreknowledge to become fabulously wealthy, then begin mucking about with history. These actions reach their peak when one of the replayers decides to enlist George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to make her a science fiction film, with the specific intent of finding and meeting other people replaying their lives. It also turns out to be a horrible idea, since at least one of said travelers is a deranged murderer, and a shadowy government agency may be actively seeking replayers for their own nefarious purposes. Telling people when you’re from is usually a bad idea in general anyway.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 22, 1899 — Director James Whale is born in The Black Country region of England. And what did he do, I asked? Does Frankenstein count? How about Bride of Frankenstein? The Invisible Man?
(12) MOANA. Entertainment Weekly reports from “Comic-Con 2016: Moana heroine won’t have a love interest in the film”.
Disney’s Moana doesn’t hit theaters until November but Comic-Con attendees not only learned the plot of the animated film, they also got to see several clips at the Thursday panel moderated by EW’s own Marc Snetiker.
Set 2,000 years ago in the South Pacific, Moana is the story of the titular 16-year-old girl, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who goes in search of a banished demi god named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) in order to, naturally, save the world….
[Directors] Musker and Clements made a point to say that Moana doesn’t have a love interest in this story and that it’s a film about the heroine finding herself.
(13) FANTASTIC BEASTS. Hypable presents the poster released at San Diego Comic-Con for Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
Newt is looking over his shoulder in the middle, holding a wand in one hand and a suitcase (with a beast trying to get out!) in the other. Supporting characters Graves, Jacob, Queenie, and Tina appear in the wings. Also here: Our very first looks at two female characters. We believe the one in the bottom left is Mary Lou, played by Samantha Morton. The guy on the right is Credence played by Ezra Miller.
(14) KEVIN AND URSULA EAT CHEAP. Cally pointed out this opportunity in a comment: If you want to hear someone eat a Carolina Reaper live, here’s the episode of Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap where Our Wombat’s husband Kevin eats a Reaper that Ursula grew in the garden – “Fear The Reaper Redux”. Buildup to Reaper eating begins at about minute 12, actual eating stars at 13:50.
Now that Cally has helped me discover this podcast, here are links to a couple of the most recent installments.
We’re back from Anthrocon, and who should arrive on our doorstep this week, than the chairman himself, Uncle Kage! He has come bearing gifts in the form of Sake and ShoChu, which we pair with Velveeta Chipotle Mac & Cheese, Hot Pockets, pastry puffs, and w hole range of things found on our travels.
Be warned, this one is not for the faint of heart, when We Eat It, So You Don’t Have To!
(Also of note – there is a glitch towards the end, due to a disk issue on the recording machine, so expect a bit of a jump in there)
This week, we have a margarita mixer, which means we break out the tequila, which leads to drunken geekery. We also have the biggest frozen pizza we’ve found to date, beer, mac & cheese, and lots and lots of chocolate. We even have duck fat caramels. Yes, you read that correctly : DUCK. FAT. CARAMELS.
This is not a drill folks, this week when We Eat It, So You Don’t Have To!
(15) SHOT AT A FREEBIE. LA area fans interest in seeing The Pit and the Pendulum free on July 26 should go to Facebook and sign up.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has graciously offered a block of FREE TICKETS to our customers of CREATURE FEATURES for their archival revival screening of Roger Corman’s THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM starring Vincent Price, this Tuesday, July 26th at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills at 7:30pm. Featuring a brand new 35mm print, the screening will highlight a Q&A with Roger Corman & Julie Corman, along with four newly restored trailers from other Corman classics. To sign up for your free ticket, simply click “Going” on this event before 11pm on Monday, July 25th and your name will be at the Will Call desk at the theatre entrance. Seating is limited and first come first served, while space lasts. Theater reserves right to limit admission as necessary. Based on the classic shocker by Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum, with a screenplay by Richard Matheson, deviates somewhat from the original, but Roger Corman, who also produced and directed, succeeds in translating Poe’s eerie mood to the screen. Set in the 16th century, horror film icon Vincent Price stars as a Spanish nobleman whose wife (Barbara Steele) dies under mysterious circumstances. Despite its modest budget of $300,000 over 15 shooting days, Corman employs his legendary “bag of tricks” and the mastery of cinematographer Floyd Crosby to create a colorful, visually impressive and atmospheric film. Cast: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynn Bernay, Larry Turner, Mary Menzies, Charles Victor
(16) ALTERNATE HISTORY. Original fiction by Jonathan Edelstein at Haibane.info – “Saladin at Jerusalem: A Friday Story”.
This is another alternate history vignette, originally posted here and centering on Abdelkader El Djezairi, one of the most fascinating and heroic characters of the nineteenth century. The story takes place some years after the end of his resistance to French colonization in Algeria, and after an incident in Damascus which ironically made him into a friend of France. Those who know what happened there might have some idea of where this story will go… or maybe not.
(17) MORE MIÉVILLE. Tor.com has posted an excerpt from China Miéville’s new book The Last Days of New Paris. Here is the description of the story –
1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.
1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse. But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.
(18) YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND. Steve Fahnestalk has a great tribute to “MY PAL, JERRY SOHL!” at Amazing Stories –
Most of you are familiar with Jerry’s main Star Trek script; the episode is called “The Corbomite Maneuver”; but you may not know that as Nathan Butler (one of his pseudonyms) Jerry also wrote and/or co-wrote either the script or the original stories for “Whom Gods Destroy” (with Lee Erwin) and “This Side of Paradise” with D.C. Fontana. Earlier in his career, Jerry was in a writing group called “The Green Hand” which included variously, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan and several others from time to time. When Beaumont fell ill with several Twilight Zone episodes due, Jerry wrote them (“Living Doll,” “Queen of the Nile,” and “The New Exhibit”) to be submitted under Beaumont’s name; Beaumont insisted that Jerry keep half the money. (Jerry was especially proud of “Living Doll”—“My name’s Alicia and I’m going to kill you!” being a line he repeated to me several times.
(19) MYSTERY SOLVED. Did anyone get a memo about there being a “blackout”? What about The Guardian, the LA Times, and other such outlets which have covered the Hugos this year?
(20) STUCK IN THE STONE. Digital Antiquarian tells the developmental history of Infocom’s game “Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur”.
And so at last, twelve years after a group of MIT hackers had started working on a game to best Crowther and Woods’s original Adventure, it all came down to Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, Infocom’s 35th and final work of interactive fiction. Somewhat ironically, this era-ending game wasn’t written by one of Infocom’s own long-serving Imps, but rather by the relatively fresh and inexperienced Bob Bates and his company Challenge, Incorporated, for whom Arthur represented only their second game. On the other hand, though, Bates and Challenge did already have some experience with era-ending games. Their previous effort, Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, had been the last text-only Infocom game to be published. As Bates’s buddy Steve Meretzky delights in saying, it’s lucky that Challenge would never get the chance to make a third game. What with them having already “single-handedly killed” the all-text Infocom game with Sherlock and then Infocom as a whole with Arthur, a third Challenge game “probably would have killed the entire computer-game industry.” We kid, Bob, we kid.
(21) THE BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. This is supposed to be a new product from Discworld Emporium (it was on their FB page) but I can’t find it in the online catalog. It’s still funny anyway.
(22) HOW THE MOON GOT ITS BLACK EYE. The BBC relays a theory that “Vast asteroid created ‘Man in the Moon’s eye’ crater”. Well, of course it did. But now, math.
One of the Moon’s biggest craters was created by an asteroid more than 250km (150 miles) across, a study suggests.
It smashed into the lunar surface about 3.8 billion years ago, forming Mare Imbrium – the feature also known as the right eye of the “Man in the Moon”.
Scientists say the asteroid was three times bigger than previously estimated and debris from the collision would have rained down on the Earth.
The research is published in the journal Nature.
It would have been a catastrophic period of timeProf Peter Schultz, Brown University
The asteroid was so big it could be classified as a protoplanet – a space rock with the potential to become a fully formed world….
(23) CHART OF THE UNKNOWN. The Literary Gift Company is selling a “Science Fiction and Fantasy Literary Map” of the British Isles created by Jonathan Coleclough.
These writers have created amazing new worlds, or have re-imagined the world we think we know. In turn we have mapped their landscapes: the towns and regions that created or inspired these writers. We meet Tolkien not in Middle-Earth, but the Midlands, for example, and we spy Philip Reeve in his current Dartmoor setting. From Angela Carter to Mervyn Peake, by way of John Wyndham, Alistair Reynolds, and over 200 other authors this stunning hand-lettered poster has been compiled and designed by Jonathan Coleclough.
(24) PLEASE DON’T PET THE ACTORS. Movie Pilot writer Tisha Mae Eaton tries to convince fans “Celebrity Is Not Consent”.
During cons, meeting one of your favorite celebrities can be an incredibly exciting experience, especially if you are able to walk right up to them. Your first instinct may to be a gushing adoration of all of their work, or to get nervous and clam up, or maybe even to just fling your arms around them. While the first two are understandable, the latter is actually quite inappropriate, and it’s become an increasing problem at conventions.
(25) THE HUNGER GAME. Those of you who haven’t followed Marko Kloos out the door at Facebook can click on this silly cat graphic posted by Janis Ian.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcocki, JJ, Aziz Poonawalla, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, David Langford, Bartimaeus, Cally, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]