(1) WOMEN AUTHORS REDISCOVERED. One of the books Danielle Trussoni reviews for the New York Times in “Grisly Slabs of Gothic Horror” is the Lisa Morton / Leslie Klinger collection Weird Women:
In the introduction to WEIRD WOMEN: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers 1852-1923 (Pegasus, 384 pp., $25.95), the editors Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger write that horror often seems to be a “genre bereft of female writers.” Here they set out to correct that misperception, highlighting stories by women writers whose work has fallen into obscurity.
One of my favorite stories in this excellent collection is by the British novelist Marie Corelli (1855-1924). A popular author in her day, she regularly outsold her contemporaries Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle, yet her work has all but disappeared from print. Her story, “The Lady With the Carnations,” is a compact masterpiece in which a woman is drawn to a portrait in the Louvre and begins to encounter the subject of the painting — a lady with carnations — first at the opera and again in Brittany. She concludes that the woman is an illusion, but whether she is real or a figment of her mind doesn’t matter: The narrator carries the scent of carnations with her like a curse.
(2) BARELY HANGING ON. Twenty percent of independent bookstores across the country are in danger of closing says Vox: “How bookstores are weathering the pandemic”.
The pandemic arrived early for Emily Powell, owner of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. The state had one of the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US in February. As she watched more cases pop up across the country, “I felt an increasing sense of panic and crisis,” she said. On March 15, she abruptly closed her stores in the middle of the day. She immediately shrank her staff from 500 to 60 who were “just helping us turn the lights off and put out-of-office messages on the website.” Almost overnight, she shifted her business entirely to online orders.
She’s since been able to bring back around 150 employees, and thanks to a flood of online sales, a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal Small Business Administration, and partial reopenings of her stores, she’s made it this far.
Still, Powell’s and other independent bookstores across the country face an uncertain and undoubtedly difficult future: Government assistance has dried up, foot traffic is still low,…
(3) 2023 WESTERCON BID RESOURCES. The Tempe in 2023 Westercon bid’s website and Facebook page are live.
(4) DC BREAKS THROUGH. “The Other History of the DC Universe’s John Ridley on Giving New Voices to Legacy Characters” — Io9 has a Q&A with the author.
DC Comics’ long-awaited The Other History of the DC Universe from Oscar-winning writer John Ridley is set to debut next month. io9 spoke with Ridley recently about what it’s been like figuring out how to give fresh voices to an expansive cast characters who, while well-known in certain circles, have been historically marginalized both on the page and in the real world.
In the first issue of Ridley’s The Other History, you’re shown the birth of the modern age of superheroism from the perspective of a young Jefferson Pierce, the man fated to become a world-famous athlete, a teacher, and eventually, the hero Black Lightning. Unlike the Black Lightning we’ve been introduced to in DC’s various other continuities where he frequently works alongside legacy heroes, The Other History’s Jefferson is initially a much younger, angrier man with the firm belief that the world’s superheroes aren’t doing enough to help those in marginalized, overlooked communities like his own. Though Jefferson’s feelings about heroes seem harsh, they’re relatable and give you a sense of his own traumatic history featuring the death of his father and then a lifelong pursuit to be the best, strongest version of himself….
(5) A MYTHBUSTER’S LEGACY. “‘Mythbusters’ Host Grant Imahara Honored With Educational Foundation” – details in The Hollywood Reporter.
In honor of the late Mythbusters host Grant Imahara, a foundation has been established to empower young people to get involved in science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics.
The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation will provide mentorships, grants, and scholarships to students — regardless of socioeconomic status, race or gender — who demonstrate interest in those areas.
“There are many students, like my son Grant, who need the balance of the technical and the creative, and this is what STEAM is all about,” said Carolyn Imahara, Grant’s mother and Foundation co-founder. “I’m so proud of my son’s career, but I’m equally proud of the work he did mentoring students. He would be thrilled that we plan to continue this, plus much more, through The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation.”
(6) TOP BAT AVERAGE. CrimeRead’s Olivia Rutigliano in “The 50 Best, Worst, And Strangest Draculas Of All-Time, Ranked” says a lot is at stake. (Aaarrgh!) Would you like to guess where Martin Landau’s performance in Ed Wood ranks?
… And I love Dracula movies, though very rarely does an adaptation emulate the novel and deliver a satisfactory retelling (there are complicated reasons for why this has been the case). The number of times Mina and Lucy get switched, or one of them turns out to be the reincarnation of Dracula’s dead wife (or the number of derivatives that are based on the insipid Hamilton Deane/John Balderstone theatrical rewrite instead of the actual book) is going to drive me to an early grave (only me, no one else cares). But today, specifically, we’re on the search for the most satisfying portrayal of everyone’s favorite vampire.
(7) SAIL ON. James Davis Nicoll finds characters who are gaining experience – but will they live long enough to get the benefit? “Five SFF Books Driven by Terrible Choices and Appalling Judgment” at Tor.com. On his list —
The Wreck of the River of Stars by Michael Flynn (2003)
The interplanetary trader River of Stars has been lucky…so far. It works low-profit routes, has little cash to spend on repairs, and neglects maintenance. Eventually maintenance arrears catch up with the craft when a critical pump is disabled by asteroid debris. This setback might not be fatal for a competent crew. Unfortunately for the River of Stars, Captain Hand has assembled one of the least competent crews since the Méduse set off for Africa. This is all that is needed to turn calamity into catastrophe.
Appalling judgment: Captain Hand.
(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
From the Profiles in History Icons & Legends of Hollywood auction catalog John King Tarpinian learned that the helmet worn by Michael Ansara in the Harlan Ellison-scripted Outer Limits episode “The Soldier” was also worn by Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy.
(9) RANDI OBIT. Famed skeptic, magician James Randi, died October 20. The AP profiled his career:
James Randi, a magician who later challenged spoon benders, mind readers and faith healers with such voracity that he became regarded as the country’s foremost skeptic, has died, his foundation announced. He was 92.
The James Randi Educational Foundation confirmed the death, saying simply that its founder succumbed to “age-related causes” on Tuesday.
Entertainer, genius, debunker, atheist ? Randi was them all. He began gaining attention not long after dropping out of high school to join the carnival. As the Amazing Randi, he escaped from a locked coffin submerged in water and from a straitjacket as he dangled over Niagara Falls.
Magical as his feats seemed, Randi concluded his shows around the globe with a simple statement, insisting no otherworldly powers were at play.
“Everything you have seen here is tricks,” he would say. “There is nothing supernatural involved.”…
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- October 25, 1989 — Thirty-one years ago the first part of Doctor Who’s “The Curse of Fenric” aired on BBC. This Seventh Doctor story involved ancient Viking curses, the Ultimata code breaker and vampires from the far future coming together during WW II. Ian Briggs wrote this story. He also wrote the ‘Dragonfire” story which introduced Sophie Aldred as Ace, the main companion to the Seventh Doctor. Briggs would later novelize both stories for the Target Books franchise.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 25, 1881 – Pablo Picasso. The symmetric and invertible year (try it) could hardly be more appropriate to this revolutionary artist. He made this (The Old Guitarist) and this (The Ladies of Avignon). Here he is on Gravity’s Angels (back cover Three Dancers, front cover Three Musicians). Here he is on The Cyberiad. (Died 1973) [JH]
- Born October 25, 1909 — Whit Bissell. You most likely know him as Station Manager Lurry on “The Trouble With Tribbles”, but his major contribution to the SFF genre was being in all thirty episodes of The Time Tunnel as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk. He also did one-offs on The Invaders, I Dream of Jeannie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Science Fiction Theater, The Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits. And yes, in the Time Machine film. (Died 1996.) (CE)
- Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. He shows up in a number of genre films, some well-known such as Legend and Willow, some not so well known such as the Thirties Alice in Wonderland where he was the White Pawn and Bride of Frankenstein. It’s worth noting that he’s in Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings as Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. (Died 2000.) (CE)
- Born October 25, 1932 – Kanamori Tôru, 88. Here is Captain Future and the Seven Space Stones. Here is The Emerald Elephant Gambit. Here is Run, the Spearmaker. Here is David Bull’s page about Kanamori-sensei’s Star Trek art. [JH]
- Born October 25, 1939 – Fred Marcellino. Yale man. Five dozen covers, half a dozen interiors for us; much else. Began as an abstract-expressionist; record jackets for Capitol, Decca, PolyGram; fifteen years a mainstream book-jacket designer at 40 jackets a year; then children’s books. Here is The Handmaid’s Tale. Here is The Bonfire of the Vanities. Here is World’s End. Here is Dragondrums. His Puss in Boots won a Caldecott Honor. Here is The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Wrote and illustrated I, Crocodile. (Died 2001) [JH]
- Born October 25, 1940 – Janet Fox. Author of prose and poetry, founder and sometimes editor of Scavenger’s Newsletter growing from the Small Press & Writers Organization of which she’d been secretary-treasurer. Wrote all the Scorpio novels but the first, under a house name. Ninety shorter stories, as many poems. Taught English and foreign languages at Osage City High School. Collections A Witch’s Dozen; Not in Kansas (though she was born and died there). (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born October 25, 1955 — Gale Anne Hurd, 65. Her first genre work was as Corman’s production manager on Battle beyond the Stars.(A decent 42% among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) From there, we’ve such films as Æon Flux, the Terminator franchise, Aliens, Alien Nation, Tremors, Hulk and two of the Punisher films to name just some of her genre work. (CE)
- Born October 25, 1960 – June Brigman, 60. Five covers (with husband Roy Richardson), half a dozen interiors. Co-created preteen superheroes Power Pack; some work for DC Comics, more for Marvel. Illustrated and colored Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Drew Brenda Starr 1995-2011; now drawing Mary Worth. Inkpot Award. Here is Trapped in Time. Here is Power Pack Grow Up! Here is a 2016 birthday poster from Tampa Bay Comic-Con. Here is a Wonder Woman monochrome. Here are Mr. Boometrix (at left) and Jerry O’Leary. Here is Lonesome Dove. [JH]
- Born October 25, 1963 — John Gregory Betancourt, 57. Writer best known most likely for his work In Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star Trek, Hercules, Robert Silverberg’s Time Tours, Dr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Adventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. (CE)
- Born October 25, 1982 – Victoria Francés, 38. Wider known since the XII Saló del Manga, Barcelona (2006). Favole Trilogy (see Integral Favole, 2011), Misty Circus (2 vols. so far), Dark Sanctuary (book + CD with a band of that name). Eleven covers for Shadow Kingdom (in German), two for Realms of Fantasy. Here is Clark’s Saving Solace. Here is one of VF’s vampires. This is from a YouTube of VF drawing one. [JH]
- Born October 25, 1989 — Mia Wasikowska, 31. She’s Alice in Tim Burton’s creepy Alice in Wonderland and equally creepy Alice Through the Looking Glass. Rotten Tomatoes gave the first a 53% rating and the second a 29% rating. And no, I’ve no desire to see either. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Garfield finds an amusing new setup for a familiar magical joke.
- Are there going to be trick-or-treaters? If we postulate there will be, Real Life Adventures has the right idea about a scary costume.
- The Argyle Sweater has its own joke about scary costumes.
- The Argyle Sweater also has a great ghost joke.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a new idea about the fastest gun in the West.
- Then there’s this serious scientific cartoon by Perscheid:
(13) HEAR JAMES AND DUE DIALOG. The virtual LA Times Festival of Books will present “Marlon James, Author of ‘Black Leopard Red Wolf,’ Winner of the Inaugural Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, in Conversation with Tananarive Due” on October 28 at 9:00 p.m. Pacific. Register free here.
See the novelist Marlon James discuss his novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” a work of science fiction, with Tananarive Due, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an expert in Black horror and Afrofuturism, as part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books — now in its 25th year. Mr. James is also the author of 2014’s “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which won the Man Booker prize.
(14) POPOL VUH. On Monday, October 26, at 4:30 p.m. PT, LA Review of Books’s Editor in Chief Boris Dralyuk will join Greenlight Bookstore and Ilan Stavans to discuss the latest project from the publisher of Restless Books and acclaimed Latin American author and scholar: Popol Vuh: A Retelling. Learn more and register for the free online event here
Publisher of Restless Books and acclaimed Latin American author and scholar Ilan Stavans presents his latest project, Popol Vuh: A Retelling, an inspired and urgent prose retelling of the Maya myth of creation. Cosmic in scope and yet intimately human, the Popol Vuh offers invaluable insight into the Maya way of life before being decimated by colonization—their code of ethics, their views on death and the afterlife, and their devotion to passion, courage, and the natural world. Popol Vuh: A Retelling is a one-of-a-kind prose rendition of this sacred text that is as seminal as the Bible and the Qur’an, the Ramayana and the Odyssey. Stavans brings a fresh creative energy to the Popol Vuh, giving a new generation of readers the opportunity to connect with this timeless story and with the plight of the indigenous people of the Americas. Boris Dralyuk, Executive Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and award-winning literary translator, joins Stavans at this special virtual book reading and talk, with an audience Q&A to follow!
(15) IMPRESSIVE. “Amazing LED screen in Chengdu Wait for it…”
(16) ACCIO DÉCOR. “A wizard makeover! Creative mother gives daughter, seven, her dream Harry Potter-themed bedroom for just £350 – using props, optical illusion wallpaper and a hand-painted night sky ceiling” – a photo gallery in the Daily Mail.
…Taking inspiration from the Narnia room her Nana Elizabeth had created for her as a young girl, Sophia created a magical reading tent using a double duvet cover.
‘The keys I glued wings on, put fishing wire on and hung to the ceiling with command hooks, and same with the floating candles.
‘I revamped her blinds by glueing wallpaper to them with bookbinding glue, and I did the same for the wardrobe doors.
To keep her room clutter-free, Sophia created a miniature Prison of Azkaban where her daughter could keep all of her plush toys.
(17) BOUND FOR BENNU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature went to press just as NASA’s OSIRIS REx probe took two years to get to asteroid Bennu, arriving at the end of 2018. Since then it has been mapping the 500 metre-wide asteroid. It had been hoped that the asteroid’s surface would be smooth but instead they found it covered in boulders that make a brief touch-and-go landing dangerous. Nonetheless, as this week’s Nature; went to press OSIRIS REx went in to collect a sample.
The interest in Bennu is that it formed between 100 million and a billion years ago when it broke away – presumably due to an impact from another asteroid – from its parent body. That parent body seems to have been geologically active as Bennu seems to have veins of carbonate which suggests that at one time hot water was percolating through carbonaceous material.
The aim is for OSIRIS REx to collect 60 grams of material from the surface and return them to Earth. This will be NASA’s first sample return but not the first ever asteroid sample return. Japan’s JAXA space agency previously sent Hayabusa-2 to asteroid Ryugu.
The OSIRIS REx mission’s other goal is to gain as much information as to the nature of the asteroid and its rocks so as to devise a way to possibly deflect it. The asteroid orbits uncomfortably close to the Earth. There is a small chance (fortunately only small) that Bennu could strike the Earth sometime in the 22nd century.
(18) HAIR’S TO YOU, MRS. MICRO ROBINSON. “Physicists 3D Print a Boat That Could Sail Down a Human Hair” – Gizmodo takes a close look.
Researchers at Leiden University have 3D printed the smallest boat in the world: a 30-micrometer copy of Benchy the tug boat, a well-known 3D printer test object. This boat is so small, it could float down the interior of a human hair.
… The most interesting thing is how they were able to print the little boat’s cockpit, an open space that requires lots of geometric trickery to build.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by JJ.] From the catalog of “not really helpful, just wanted to prove I could do it.”
Special video to celebrate 5 years on YouTube! Join the Party, Pizza on us. Making Pizza is an art and love, making Pizza with Lego it is fun and satisfaction.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]