(1) THE DOCTOR IS IN. Stylist got the Thirteenth Doctor to revisit social media about her casting: “Watch: Jodie Whittaker brilliantly responds to Twitter trolls”.
Although the announcement regarding Whittaker being cast in the role was met with many sexist comments last year, the reaction, on the whole, has been a positive one.
“We live in a very unique time, people upload every moment to the internet so you can see the excitement and, in some instances, the fear people have,” Whittaker said, in reference to reading reactions online. “But when you see those videos, from all different ages of all different people from all different worlds about a show – and I hadn’t even done it yet – that’s ace because, if they’re accepting me into their family, what we want to do is make that family bigger.”
Which is why Whittaker popped into the Stylist office to look back on the Twitter reactions from a year ago – the good and the bad.
(2) FISH TICKS. Ian Sales (brilliantly) nitpicks the science in the movie Meg in the service of a greater truth about sff storytelling — “The megalodon in the room”.
…And yet… this is, I hear you say, completely irrelevant. It’s a film about a giant fucking prehistoric shark. Which reached lengths of 18 metres (bigger in the this film). Why cavil about submarines and submersibles and depths and pressures when the film is about a giant fucking prehistoric shark? All those facts quoted above, they mean nothing because it’s a film about a giant fucking prehistoric shark!
This is where we part company – myself, that is, and my imaginary critic(s) – because the megalodon, as the title of this post indicates, that’s the central conceit. The story is its scaffolding. Science fiction tropes work the same way. They’re either bolstered by the plot, or by exposition, or by the entire corpus of science fiction. Such as FTL. Or AI. Complete nonsense, both of them. But no one quibbles when they appear in a science fiction because the scaffolding for them has been built up over a century or more of genre publishing…
In every science fiction, we have a megalodon in the room. Sometimes it’s the central conceit, sometimes it’s what we have to tastefully ignore in order for the conceit not to destroy the reading experience. But that science fiction, that conceit, is embedded in a world, either of the author’s invention or recognisably the reader’s own….
(3) ROANHORSE. Paul Weimer’s “Microreview [book]: Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse” at Nerds of a Feather makes me want to read the book —
…That’s where Maggie Hoskie comes in. She’s been trained as a monster hunter by the very best, but she is new to fighting monsters on her own. And it is in the fighting monsters on her own that she is drawn into a plot that will not only gain her a partner, but also uncover a threat to the entire world inside the walls and the people who live there. Can Maggie protect herself, and those around her, when she must also restain an even greater monster–herself? And just what DID happen to her old mentor, anyhow?
This is the central question at the heart of Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel, Trail of Lightning.
There is plenty to love in Trail of Lighting, and Maggie as a main character is front and center the heart of the novel and she makes the novel sing….
(4) OKORAFOR AT EMMYS. As The Root sees it, “She Got That Glow: Writer Nnedi Okorafor Gets the Escort of a Lifetime to the 2018 Emmys”.
When you’re an emerging name in the realm of fantasy and science-fiction writing and your first novel is being adapted into a series by award-winning premium network HBO, there are few things better than being invited to the Emmys.
That is, of course, unless your escort for the evening is none other than network darling and best-selling author George R.R. Martin, whose Game of Thrones once again nailed the Outstanding Drama Series award (its 47th Emmy) at this year’s ceremony—oh, and did we mention that Martin is executive producing your series, too?
This is exactly the dream writer Nnedi Okorafor was living on Monday night as she attended the Emmys alongside Martin, whom she says brought her with him for all of his red carpet interviews to promote the upcoming Who Fears Death, a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story of a young North African woman, based on the Chibok, Nigeria schoolgirls who were kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014….
(5) LOOKING FOR HELP. Olav Rokne and a couple friends at the Hugo Awards Book Club started discussing about film adaptations of Hugo-shortlisted works. He says, “In the ensuing debate, we started compiling a list of various films and TV shows, which ended up being the seed for a blog post on the subject” — “Hollywood has a mixed history adapting Hugo-shortlisted works”. For instance —
Flowers For Algernon is probably the Hugo-winning work that has been adapted most often. On top of various stage productions, there were four movies including one that won an Academy Award, a Tony-nominated musical, and a video game. Several of these adaptations — such as the 1968 movie Charly — seem to have been produced with an understanding of what made the original resonate with audiences.
Rokne hopes Filers will do more than just read the post: “Reason I’m sending this to you, is that I know that there are probably works that are missing from this list. We deliberately excluded Retro Hugo shortlists from the list, as well as adaptations of graphic stories. So this is just prose works from contemporaneous Hugo shortlists that have been adapted. Do you think you, or anyone in your File 770 community would know of movies or TV shows that my friends and I missed from this list?”
(6) STAR WARS MILITARY PAPERWORK. Angry Staff Officer shows what it would look like “If the Hoth Crash was an Air Force Investigation”.
…The mishap aircraft was assigned to Rogue Squadron, assigned to the defenses of Hoth. The mishap crew consisted of a mishap pilot and mishap gunner, both assigned to Rogue Squadron. It was determined that the mishap gunner died instantly, and the mishap pilot was able to escape the Hoth system in an unassigned X-Wing.
The board president found clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was due to the pilot failing heed sound crew resource management (CRM) principles and ignoring repeated warnings from the mishap gunner regarding failed mission essential systems. Furthermore, the board found other causal factors relating to poor maintenance standards and practices, and contributing factors relating to unsound tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs)….
(7) QUIS CUSTODIET? BBC reports “IBM launches tool aimed at detecting AI bias”.
IBM is launching a tool which will analyse how and why algorithms make decisions in real time.
The Fairness 360 Kit will also scan for signs of bias and recommend adjustments.
There is increasing concern that algorithms used by both tech giants and other firms are not always fair in their decision-making.
For example, in the past, image recognition systems have failed to identify non-white faces.
However, as they increasingly make automated decisions about a wide variety of issues such as policing, insurance and what information people see online, the implications of their recommendations become broader.
(8) GARBAGE COLLECTION. In space, no one can hear you clean — “RemoveDebris: UK satellite nets ‘space junk'”.
The short sequence shows a small, shoebox-sized object tumbling end over end about 6-8m in front of the University of Surrey spacecraft.
Suddenly, a bright web, fired from the satellite, comes into view. It extends outwards and smothers the box.
“It worked just as we hoped it would,” said Prof Guglielmo Aglietti, director of the Surrey Space Centre.
“The target was spinning like you would expect an uncooperative piece of junk to behave, but you can see clearly that the net captures it, and we’re very happy with the way the experiment went.”
(9) THE INSIDE STORY. BBC explores “Captain Marvel: Why Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is a Marvel game-changer”.
Captain Marvel is the hero that Samuel L. Jackson, as Shield boss Nick Fury, called for help at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
She’s super strong, can fly, survive in space and project energy (among other things) making Carol Danvers to The Avengers what Superman is to Justice League: the big hitter.
“She’s more powerful than, possibly, all The Avengers combined,” says Claire Lim, a huge comic book fan and a presenter for BBC’s The Social.
“It’s important they’re actually putting a female front and centre as a superhero powerful enough to beat this threat.”
(10) BBC RADIO 4. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie sends links to a pair of BBC radio highlights —
- BBC Radio 4 religion program (British BBC not US bible belt take) Beyond Belief on the religious dimensions to Frankenstein.
Frankenstein, the tale of a scientist who creates a creature that ultimately destroyed him, has been a popular subject for films for many years. But the religious content of the original novel written by Mary Shelley is lost on the big screen. Her story centres on the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who plays God. His creation identifies first with Adam and then with Satan in Paradise Lost. He has admirable human qualities but is deprived of love and affection and becomes brutalised. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are Andrew Smith, Professor of Nineteenth Century English Literature at the University of Sheffield; Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Professor of English Literature at the University of the West of England; and Dr James Castell, Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University.
“Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, this is an interesting world I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, don’t you think?”
Douglas Noel Adams wasn’t even fifty when he died in 2001, but his imagination had already roamed far. He created The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Meaning of Liff and several episodes of Doctor Who, plus the Dirk Gently character and Last Chance to See.
Nominating him is his co-writer on Last Chance to See, the zoologist Mark Carwardine. Mark’s role, Adams said later, was to be the one who knew what he was talking about. “My role was to be an extremely ignorant non-zoologist to whom everything that happened would come as a complete surprise.”
Joining Mark Carwardine and Matthew Parris in the bar where this was recorded is Douglas Adam’s biographer, Jem Roberts. With archive of Stephen Fry, John Lloyd, Naomi Alderman, Griff Rhys Jones and Geoffrey Perkins.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 19, 1964 — The Outer Limits first aired Harlan Ellison’s “Soldier.”
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 19, 1922 – Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us either. His 1950 short story, ‘To Serve Man’ was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, ‘The Itching Hour’, appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.
Ok, it’s going to hard briefly sum up his amazing genre career so but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer until F&SF refused to run a run of his. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s Pavement, The Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes that ‘In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.’
- Born September 19, 1947 — Tanith Lee. Writer of over ninety novels and over three hundred short stories. She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award best novel award for Death’s Master. I am very fond of the Blood Opera Sequence and the Secret Books of Paradys series. World Horror Convention gave her their Grand Master Award and she also received multiple Nebulas, World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Awards and a Lambda Literary Award as well.
- Born September 19 – Laurie R. King, 66. Writer best known for her long running series that starts off with a fifteen-year-old Mary Russell (she was born on 2 January 1900), who runs into a middle-aged individual she realises is, in indeed, Sherlock Holmes – the former consulting detective of Baker Street, now retired to Sussex, where he tends bees. She however has written one SF novel to wit Califia’s Daughters which is set in the near future and inspired by the ancient myth of the warrior queen Califia.
- Born September 19 – N.K. Jemisin, 46. One of our best writers ever. Author of three outstanding series, The Inheritance Trilogy the Broken Earth and Dreamblood series. Better than merely good at writing short stories as well. Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture which she co-wrote with Stephen H. Segal, Genevieve Valentine, Zaki Hasan, and Eric San Juan is highly recommended.
Only winner as you know of three Hugo Awards for Best Novel in a row which got the Puppies pissed which allows me to congratulate her for getting Beale kicked out of SFWA. Oh and also won myriad Nebula, Locus, Sense of Gender and even an Romantic Times Award.
Damn she’s good.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- From 2005 but it’s news to me – “Cartoonland legalizes gay marriage” at Reality Check.
(14) ALL HALLOW’S EVE HEDONISM. Looking for an exotic and expensive Halloween event in LA? How about an evening of food, booze and drama for $300/night as the “Disco Dining Club & Grim Wreather Present: The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid“, H.G. Wells’ botanical horror short story, set in a Victorian greenhouse on the grounds of the 1906 Rives Mansion in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A 3-night, botanical horror dinner party.
This 50-person an evening dinner party will take place Friday October 26th, Saturday October 27th, and Sunday October 28th.
Exploring the symbiotic relationship between man and flower, The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid’s uniquely decadent interpretation of Halloween dares to elevate the Fall season. This is your favorite holiday exaggerated with all the opulence, grandeur and hedonism of any Disco Dining Club soiree.
(15) BRANDON SANDERSON IS ONE ANSWER. Last night on Jeopardy! there were a couple of sff-related answers during Double Jeopardy in the “I Got Your Book” category — Show #7822 – Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Do you know the right questions?
(16) NOT THAT HOT. Spacefaring Kitten is not all lit up about the latest adaptation of Bradbury’s classic: “Microreview [Film]: Fahrenheit 451” at Nerds of a Feather.
…Of course, there’s only so much the film can do, given its source material. Fahrenheit 451 is ultimately making a philosophical armchair argument, and transforming that into high-adrenaline political action was never an easy task. For anybody living in 2018, banning fiction as a way to lessen tensions between different worldviews is as nonsensical a proposition as it gets, because practically all other imaginable kinds of human interactions (social media, journalism etc) are much more effective in polarizing societies around the world today. Perhaps this would have been an interesting theme to look into in the movie adaptation, and quite possibly something that Bradbury would be thinking about if he was writing Fahrenheit 451 today….
(17) ASK MCKINNEY. In “The YA Agenda — September 2018” at Lady Business, Jenny (of the Reading the End bookcast) has five questions for L.L. McKinney.
What were you watching, eating, and listening to when you were working on A Blade So Black?
Coffee. Always coffee. And sometimes red bull. If I went to a cafe, I’d get a chai latte and pumpkin something. Maybe pumpkin bread or a muffin, or a scone during that season. As far as watching, lots of TNT reruns, and Frozen. My nephew was in love with Frozen. When it came to listening to stuff, for the most part, I listened to a particular playlist. Before Spotify, it was a watchlist of music videos on YouTube. Now, well, we got Spotify. I think you can still find both lists if you search A Blade So Black on either platform.
(18) FINDING THE LATEST SF IN THE FIFTIES. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett says about “On the Newsstand”, “This particular post is mostly by a fellow by the name of Dave Mason and goes into great detail about magazine distribution and promotion in the fifties. I can assure you the topic is far less dry than you’re assuming. Trust me on this one.”
…Poor Joe Fan! All he wants is to buy the latest issues of Astounding, Galaxy, and if he’s feeling particularly sophisticated, F&SF. Unfortunately for Joe the delivery of his favourite reading material was a cooperative effort. In order for Joe to set eyes upon any magazine the delivery process required not just a publisher but a printer, distributor, and retailer as well. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that none these businesses cared about Joe’s reading preferences. In particular Joe’s druggist had little incentive to sell that one extra copy of any title. Even today the average retailer of magazines has hundreds of magazines in stock, and really, so long as all these titles as a group sell a decent number between them each month what does it matter to the business if a particular title sells 6 copies or only 5?
(19) CHIBNALL UNDER THE MICROSCOPE. Seems a little early to be debunking the new Doctor Who showrunner. Nevertheless! NitPix delves into Chris Chibnall’s resume, discovers he has written only four Doctor Who episodes and hasn’t written a Doctor Who episode in 5 years. Then they analyze those four episodes and are decidedly unimpressed. (Because who ever wanted to watch a YouTube video by somebody who is impressed by their subject?)
(20) PROSPECT. The trailer and poster for Prospect (a DUST film) are out (VitalThrills.com: “Prospect Trailer and Poster Preview the Sci-Fi Film”). The film, starring Pedro Pascal, Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Andre Royo, Sheila Vand, and Anwan Glover, will have a theatrical release on November 2 and will come to the DUST site some time in 2019.
A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.
[Thanks to JJ, Mark Hepworth, Lenore Jones, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the frighteningly imaginative Niall McAuley.]