A link to Paul Fraser’s critique of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume 1, 1970, edited by Robert Silverberg, set off such lively discussion in comments that the June 21 Scroll became the month’s most-read post.
In the Scroll-free Top 10, two of the three posts getting the most attention reported about Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore, destroyed by fire, and fundraising efforts to help owner Don Blyly.
Here are the top 10 posts for June 2020 according to Google Analytics.
(1) YOU ARE NUMBER SIX — ACROSS. Robert Sawyer discovered his book is the first clue in today’s Sunday Mirror (UK) “Quizword and Crossword” puzzle.
(2) GENE WOLFE. Thomas Mirus’The Catholic Culture Podcast devoted a recent episode to “Gene Wolfe, Catholic Sci-Fi Legend”. Sandra Miesel (a three-time Hugo nominated fanwriter in the Seventies) and Fr, Brendon Laroche weigh in.
After much popular demand, Thomas pays tribute to legendary Catholic sci-fi writer Gene Wolfe, who passed away last year. Though not known to the general public, Wolfe is a sci-fi author’s sci-fi author—a number of his contemporaries considered him not only the best in the genre, but in American fiction at the time (Ursula Le Guin said “Wolfe is our Melville”). Among today’s writers, one of his biggest fans is Neil Gaiman.
One critic described Wolfe’s magnum opus, The Book of the New Sun, as “a Star Wars–style space opera penned by G. K. Chesterton in the throes of a religious conversion.”
Wolfe also held the patent on the machine that makes Pringles. That’s his face on the can.
In this episode, Fr. Brendon Laroche comments on Wolfe’s works, while Wolfe’s friend, Catholic historian and sci-fi expert Sandra Miesel, shares personal reminiscences.
… Already we can see the wheels beginning to come off. Are these stories by Sturgeon, Heinlein, Leiber, and Clarke really the best these writers wrote in the pre-1965 period? Do A Martian Odyssey and Twilight really belong in the same list as Flowers for Algernon or Nightfall?
The selection procedure becomes even more muddled as editor Silverberg bodges his way through the rest of the list: Arthur Clarke’s The Star is in the top fifteen but is bumped by The Nine Billion Names of God; one writer (Bradbury, I assume) has four stories on the original ballot but none in the top twenty, so Silverberg includes Mars is Heaven, “the story that the writer himself wished to see included in the book” (this, rather than the more obvious There Will Come Soft Rains or The Sound of Thunder)3; another writer’s stories “made the second fifteen, one vote apart; but the story with the higher number of votes was not the story that the writer himself wished to see included in the book” (presumably that is why the middling Huddling Place is here rather than the slam-dunk Desertion).
Definitive? I think not, and this will become even more apparent when we look at the stories themselves….
This footnote is a masterpiece of subversion:
2. The SFWA has, at various times in its history, been as dodgy an electorate as any other—as one can see from the high correlation of peculiar winners to individuals holding office in the organisation (who conveniently had access to the mailing list of members)—and that’s before you factor in the tendency for a group of professionals to engage in “Buggins’ Turn” (see the Wikipedia article).
Let us also not forget that roughly the same set of voters made sure that the 1971 Nebula Award short story result was “No Award” so that none of the “New Wave” nominees would win, a partisan act that led to the mortifying scene where Isaac Asimov announced Gene Wolfe’s The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories as the winner at the Nebula Awards before having to correct himself.
(4) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 21, 1985 — Cocoon premiered. Directed by Ron Howard, it was produced by David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck. The screenplay was written by Tom Benedek off a story by David Saperstein. It starred Don Ameche, Wilford Brimle, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware and Tahnee Welch. Music was by James Horner who did the same for The Wrath of Khan and Avatar. The film was overwhelmingly positively received, did very well at the box office and currently holds a rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of 67%.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 21, 1839 – Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. Called the greatest writer of Latin America; the greatest black literary figure. Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas – i.e. written after the grave – has been translated into Catalan, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French. Two dozen shorter stories; recent English collections in 2018, 2019. (Died 1908) [JH]
Born June 21, 1882 – Rockwell Kent. “I don’t want petty self-expression,” he said; “I want to paint the rhythm of eternity.” Illustrated Moby-Dick. Here is Peace Oath. Here is a bookplate. His jazz-age-humorist side was signed “Hogarth, Jr.” in the original Vanity Fair and Life magazines. Memoirs, This Is My Own and It’s Me, O Lord. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born June 21, 1938 — Mary Wickizer Burgess, 81. I noticed sometime back when searching iBooks for genre fiction that there was something called Megapacks showing up more and more such as The 25th Golden Age of Science Fiction Megapack, The Randall Garrett Megapack and The Occult Detective Megapack. They were big, generally around five hundred pages in length, and cheap, mostly around five dollars, but occasionally as little as ninety cents, in digital form! Starting in 1976, Mary and her husband, the now late Robert Reginald founded Borgo Press which has published hundreds in the past forty years. By the turn of the century, they’d already published three hundred Megapacks. I bought them for the purpose of getting as little as one story I wanted to read. (CE)
Born June 21, 1938 — Ron Ely, 82. Doc Savage in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, a film I saw a long time ago and remember little about. He was also, fittingly enough, Tarzan in that NBC late Sixties series. Somewhere Philip Jose Farmer is linking the two characters… other notable genre roles included being a retired Superman from an alternate reality in a two-part episode “The Road to Hell” of the Superboy series, and playing five different characters on the original Fantasy Island which may or may not be a record. (CE)
Born June 21, 1944 – Hori Akira. His Solar Wind Node won the 1980 Nihon SF Taisho Award; Babylonian Wave won the 1989 Seiun. A dozen shorter stories, translated into English, German, Hungarian; “Open Up” is in Speculative Japan 2 (i.e. in English). Non-fiction, Two People’s Trip on the SF Road (with Musashi Kanbe). [JH]
Born June 21, 1947 — Michael Gross, 73. Ok, I’ll admit that I’ve a fondness for the Tremors franchise in which he plays the extremely well-armed graboid hunter Burt Gummer. Other than the Tremors franchise, he hasn’t done a lot of genre work as I see just an episode of The Outer Limits where he was Professor Stan Hurst in “Inconstant Moon” (wasn’t that a Niven story?) and voicing a few Batman Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series characters. (CE)
Born June 21, 1948 – Sally Syrjala. Active particularly in the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; edited Tightbeam, Kaymar Award, President 2008-2009. Elsewhere in fanzines e.g. Lan’s Lantern, LASFAPA (L.A. Scientifiction Fans’ Amateur Press Ass’n), indeed a regular correspondent of Vanamonde. High school valedictorian. Chaired the Friends of Cape Cod Museum of Art, trustee of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. Her File 770 appreciation is here. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 21, 1955 – Sue Burke. Translator (four books so far of Amadís de Gaula), fan, pro. Recent novels Semiosis, Interference; two dozen shorter stories, poems, in Abyss & Apex, Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Broad Spectrum, Clarkesworld, Interzone, Slate. Alicia Gordon Award. Milwaukee, Austin, Madrid, Chicago. Her Website is here.
Born June 21, 1957 — Berkeley Breathed, 63. ISFDB on the basis of a chapbook called Mars Needs Moms is willing to include him as genre but I’d argue that Bloom County which includes a talking penguin is genre as they are fantastic creatures. And he contributed three cartoons to the ConFederation Program Book. (CE)
Born June 21, 1964 — David Morrissey, 56. His most well known role is playing The Governor on The Walking Dead (which is a series that I’ve not seen and have no interest of seeing as I don’t do zombies) but I saw his brilliant performance as Jackson Lake, the man who who believed he was The Doctor in “The Next Doctor”, a Tenth Doctor adventure which was an amazing story. He was also Theseus in The Storyteller: Greek Myths, and played Tyador Borlú in the BBC adaption of China Mieville’s The City & The City. I’ll admit that I’m very ambivalent about seeing it as I’ve listened the novel at least a half dozen times and have my own mental image of what it should be. He has also shows up in Good Omens as Captain Vincent. (CE)
Born June 21, 1965 — Steve Niles, 55. Writer best-known for works such as 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, Simon Dark and Batman: Gotham County Line. I’ve read his Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories and the the graphic novel — great bit of horror! Sam Raimi adapted 30 Days of Night into a film. (CE)
Born June 21, 1984 – Theresa Hannig. Steffan Lübbe Prize. Seraph Prize for The Optimizers; next novel The Imperfect. Just now a panelist at First Virtual Book Fair of the Saar (19-21 June). Has been a project manager for solar-power plants. [JH]
[Kris Vyas-Myall and Cora Buhlert team up to cover two of the better Ace Doubles to have come out in a while. Enjoy!]
The Ballad of Beta-2, by Samuel R. Delany, and Alpha, Yes! Terra, no!, by Emil Petaja (Ace Double M-121)
I have generally been disappointed by the Ace Doubles so far this year. Those I have read have seemed to me to be quite old fashioned and I had been wondering if they were going to be heading into a more conservative route with them this year. Thankfully, this new Double I have found has been one of their best…
(7) THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is Ambrose Bierce’s “Working for an Empress”. The explanation of how this story came to be is rather involved. Part of it is —
…Captured during the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III was deposed in September 1870 and lived in exile with the Empress and their entourage at Camden Place, a palatial country house in Kent, until his death in January 1873. James Mortimer, an American who served in France as an imperial private secretary, followed Louis-Napoleon and Eugénie to England and, with their financial support, established the London Figaro, the weekly that hired Bierce to write a column. In the spring of 1874, when Bierce had been in England for two years, Mortimer wrote him with a strange proposal: to edit and write a new publication called The Lantern, which was to be modeled after the seditious French journal published years earlier by Rochefort. Because Mortimer’s patron and friend, the Empress Eugénie, regarded the just-escaped Rochefort as “a menace and a terror,” Bierce was puzzled and discomfited by the offer. But his qualms were mostly overcome when was also told that the new magazine, like its predecessor, should be “irritatingly disrespectful of existing institutions and exalted personages”—a prospect that “delighted” Bierce. Still, the purpose of the new enterprise mystified him.
…When asked by a customer why larger 400g squeezy jars were hard to get hold of at the moment, the firm replied: “Due to brewers yeast being in short supply (one of the main ingredients in Marmite) Supplies of Marmite have been affected. As a temporary measure we have stopped production of all sizes apart from our 250g size jar which is available in most major retailers.”
Brewers slowed and stalled production when pubs were forced to shut in an attempt to slow the Covid-19 pandemic.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Thomas Mirus, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Note, the article says, “You’ll only be able to
use the space feature—and experience the hyperspace tunneling—on desktop
versions of Chrome,” but I’m seeing something that seems to be that effect
on my (Win 10 desktop) Firefox browser.
You’ll only be able to use the space feature—and experience the hyperspace tunneling—on desktop versions of Chrome, but it’s easy to find and use:
Click the “Satellite view” button at the lower-left of the screen.
Click the super-tiny “Global view” button at the top of the navigation controls in your browser’s lower-right corner.
Using either the “-” key, your mouse wheel, or the Google Maps zoom controls, zoom out until you’re in the planetary view of Earth.
Select one of the various planets and moons from the list on the left, and you’ll blast through hyperspace to your new destination. Eligible destinations include Mars (to visit Dr. Manhattan), Europa (to recreate the journey of that 2013 sci-fi film), and the International Space Station (to say hello to everyone currently zooming around our planet).
A throwaway line spoken early into the first episode of the newly released Draculaplaces the Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss-produced vampire series within the expansive Doctor Who universe.
…As an oblivious Jonathan rides a rickety carriage towards Dracula’s castle, he pours over a letter from his beloved fiancée, Mina. In it, she writes of life back in England. Whovians were quick to notice that among the details mentioned by Mina was one familiar to watchers of the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi era of Doctor Who. Doctor Who as run by Steven Moffat has a history of being self-referential itself.
Mina writes to Jonathan of “the adorable barmaid at the Rose and Crown.” The 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special (re)-introduces audiences to Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman). Although the character eventually goes on to become the sharp companion to both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors, in the 1892-set episode, she is a barmaid-cum-governess once earning her income at the Rose & Crown Inn.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. The December 2019 entry in Slate’s Future Tense Fiction series is “Actually Naneen,”
by Malka Older, a new short
story about robot nannies from the author of Infomocracy.
…The question of automating child care is political, economic, and ideological all at the same time. Despite decades of educational research, we still put most children through systems designed a century ago to train factory workers and farmhands. Mountains of psychological studies have done little to prevent me from making parenting mistakes—some of them, inevitably, recapitulating my childhood, while others are totally new mistakes I’m adopting into our family like so many holiday traditions. Parenting is the most intensely personal, long-haul project many humans ever take on. What other task averages so many hours over so many years, with such little external oversight or reliable feedback? There is no one correct way to parent because every parental situation is different, and navigating those differences requires all the intelligence, compassion, patience, and humanity we can throw at it.
But it also requires resources, and the idea of outsourcing parenting has always tempted those who could afford it….
When Robert Downey Jr. was preparing for his new role in Dolittle, a movie in which he plays a doctor who lives with a house full of animals—and talks with them—he began to wonder, “How does anyone relate to this guy?” And then he looked out the window of his home in Malibu, Calif., and saw his alpaca Fuzzy looking back at him.
In addition to his wife of 14 years, Susan, and their two kids, son Exton, 7, and daughter Avri, 5, Downey lives with dozens of animals they’ve taken in over the past 10 years. There are pigs (kunekunes, a New Zealand breed), Oreo cows (with that distinctive white belt), pygmy goats, a larger rescue goat named Cutie Boots, a bunch of chickens and two cats, Montgomery and D’Artagnan. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah,’” he says with a laugh. “‘You’re completely surrounded by animals!’”
… I’ve been thinking about why it’s disappointing. In the ’80s, it could seem plausible to “solve” the looming threat of nuclear war by creating the worldwide fear of an alien invader, “a force so dreadful it must be repelled, all enmities aside,” as Veidt declares. But this elegant twist — by which the savior of mankind is also a supervillain who kills millions of people, and gets away with it — was an elegant genre subversion because the antihero really was novel and subversive in the mid-’80s. By making the original Superman a Hitler-sympathizing vigilante literally clothed in KKK iconography, Moore and Gibbons were demonstrating the genre’s disavowed logic, and what Moore says so explicitly in that 2017 interview is pretty easy to find in the comic itself. There’s literally a comic within the comic, in which a shipwrecked sailor tries to save his family and town from pirates and ends up killing his family and town and then joining the pirates, all to hammer the point home: to save humanity from a nuclear holocaust, Veidt kills three million people; because he calculates the inevitability of The Event, he intervenes to bring it about; to be the hero, he becomes the villain. Since 1985, this once-novel idea has been absurdly generative and influential to the point of cliché: from the Watchmen-esque “The Killing Joke” through the Nolan Batman movie through the MCU up to Thanos, the superantihero has been at the heart of the modern post-9/11 revival of the superhero movie. What if the villain is the hero? What if the hero is the villain? “You know how you can tell the difference between a superhero and supervillain?” the comic asked, and then answers, “Me neither!”
What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I tend to binge, so I have to try to avoid genre fiction, but I’m attracted to mysteries, detective novels partly because they come in a series — so I would find myself working through the 10 novels Simenon wrote in 1931 to see what that explosion was about. I had a Patrick O’Brian addiction at one point. When I read Ursula Le Guin, who grew up in Berkeley, I thought that I had discovered that I loved science fiction, and read a lot of it and discovered that I just loved Ursula Le Guin, unless Calvino and Borges count as science fiction.
(7) LESS THREAD, MORE FILLING. N.K. Jemisin will still be
on Twitter, just not as much.
…Since the release of The Rise of Skywalker, viewers have been divided over their feelings about the film. This came to a head Thursday as an anonymous, unverified Reddit post suggested that the film was subject to a significant amount of studio meddling, prompting the hashtag #ReleaseTheJJCut to trend across social media. While Monaghan didn’t speak to these latest conspiracy theories, he does wish for the release of a director’s cut given the sheer volume of unused footage that Abrams shot.
“Like a lot of Star Wars fans, I’m hoping there will be a director’s cut so we’ll get to see more and more of the stuff that was filmed,” Monaghan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t there all the time, but even in the short time that I was there, there was so much stuff filmed that didn’t make it to the theatrical version…. Oh, man, there was so much stuff!”
Star Trek‘s William Shatner is famous for playing Captain James T. Kirk. In 2019, he took on the role of local Santa Claus for the Los Angeles Police Department. Sources within the organization tell TMZ that Shatner visited his local precinct’s police station. He didn’t show up empty-handed, reportedly coming with corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, bagels, lox, and cream cheese to help feed the officers on duty on Christmas Day. Shatner reportedly thanked the on-duty officers and left a holiday card behind as well as a few hundred dollars to help feed the officers throughout the remainder of the day.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 5, 1882 — Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film Drácula, although Wolfman certainly helped make him famous as well. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.)
Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves. Yes, he was just forty five when he apparently committed suicide. Best known obviously for being Clark Kent and Superman in the Adventures of Superman which ran for six seasons. It was preceded by two films, Superman and the Mole Men and the now public domain Stamp Day for Superman. Reeves had one long running SFF series prior to this series, Adventures of Sir Galahad, a fifteen-part serial in which he played the lead. This clip is the only English one I found of him in that role. (Died 1959.)
Born January 5, 1940 — Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the Queen can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a SFF connection that’s will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that time about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones but barely nine to this day. Among the SFF folk that have had a role in the band are Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.)
Born January 5, 1959 — Clancy Brown, 61. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive too list here, but I’ll single out his voice work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of My best loved weird series, the truly strange Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
Born January 5, 1975 — Bradley Cooper, 45. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact, he is here just for that role.
Born January 5, 1978 — Seanan McGuire, 42. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novelsbut they didn’t tickle my fancy. Not sure why though.
The latest features the new character Narek, played by Harry Treadaway. Narek is a Romulan agent who joins up with Jean-Luc Picard and his crew to investigate the Romulans’ new interest in Borg drones. You can watch the teaser above. And speaking of Borg drones, last week’s teaser featured Seven of Nine, again played by Star Trek: Voyager‘s Jeri Ryan.
(12) ON TARGET. The GoFundMe to help Virgil Finlay’s daughter
met it $5,000 goal. She sent
her thanks in an update.
I want to thank everyone who so kindly contributed to help me save my father’s artwork, letters, and poetry. We will continue to work on restoring them piece by piece. My daughter and I both thank you for your kindness! Sincerely, Lail and Brien
(13) RETRO RESEARCH. SF Magazines’ Paul Fraser put together a page on his
blog listing nearly all
of the Retro-Hugo eligible stories from 1944, with hyperlinks to copies on archive.org, as well as one or
two other bits and pieces.
The table below* contains the 1944 fiction eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards, and links to copies of the stories on archive.org. Please use the contact form below to inform me of any omissions.
(* The table includes the contents of Amazing Stories, Astounding Science-Fiction, Captain Future, Fantastic Adventures, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Weird Tales magazine, plus miscellaneous others—e.g. Olaf Stapledon’s Sirius, Robert Graves’ The Golden Fleece. There was no original fiction in Famous Fantastic Mysteries during 1944.)
California has gone through several difficult fire seasons in recent years. Now, some cities are investing in unconventional fire prevention methods, including goats.
Anaheim, a city southeast of Los Angeles, has recently re-upped its contract with the company Environmental Land Management to keep goats grazing on city hillsides nearly year-round.
The goats are stationed in places like Deer Canyon Park, a nature preserve with more than a hundred acres of steep hills. Beginning in July, roughly 400 goats worked through the park, eating invasive grasses and dried brush.
The company’s operations manager Johnny Gonzales says that Deer Canyon, with its peaks and valleys, is just the right kind of place to use goats for fire prevention.
“This is the topography that poses challenges during these wildfire events,” Gonzales says. “And we can go ahead and reduce the fuel loads and take out the invasive plants, and establish the native plants on these banks; you’re re-establishing the ecology.”
…What makes the goats important isn’t just their ability to climb steep hillsides. According to Hogue and Gonzales, the animals eat invasive plants and grasses while only minimally grazing on native plants.
(15) SPACE FORCE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Should the Vulcans choose this time to finally drop in on
us here on Earth, the US Space Force has a new unit designation ready made for
at least one of them. Air Force News press release: “14th Air Force redesignated as Space Operations Command”.
By order of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, effective Dec. 20, Fourteenth Air Force was officially redesignated as Space Operations Command.
[…] The SPOC directly supports the U.S. Space Force’s mission to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations.
[…] The SPOC provides space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing, on behalf of the USSF for USSPACECOM and other combatant commands.
[…] Additional details about SPOC will be available in early 2020 – highlighting Space Operations Command’s critical roles and responsibilities in support of national security objectives.
…The best part of an Iannucci show is typically the insults. (I can’t remember the plot of Veep, but when I close my eyes I can still see and hear Julia Louis Dreyfus cursing out Jonah Ryan or calling him an “unstable piece of human scaffolding.”). Avenue 5 cares more about its plot than its barbs. There are twists, turns, big reveals, and cliffhanger endings that will have you impatiently waiting for next Sunday’s episode. It’s still funny, but don’t expect the mile-per-minute foul-mouthed humor that made Veep so great.
The setting of HBO’s new sci-fi comedy is as impressive as the comedy: A massive gleaming vessel — or, as one character describes it, a “giant dildo floating through space.” The interior sets are all curved, shiny white surfaces and huge windows revealing the infinite outer space all around them; this backfires after some unfortunate space debris ends up orbiting the ship, which is somehow large enough to create its own gravity field.
Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game, had soared to the top of the download charts. Within weeks, millions of people were chasing the digital animated creatures all over the world — and going places they should not go.
More than three years later, Canadian military officials have shared internal documents with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Network that show how the military, both curious and confused, reacted to the wildly popular app.
Maj. Jeff Monaghan, an official based in Kingston, Ontario, wrote in an email: “Plse advise the Commissionaires that apparently Fort Frontenac is both a Pokégym and a Pokéstop. I will be completely honest in that I have not idea what that is.”
At least three military police officers, stationed at different bases, were assigned to wander around with smartphones and notepads in hand to search for Pokémon, Pokéstops and Pokégyms, according to the documents. (Users can find Pokéballs at Pokéstops, use their Pokéballs to capture Pokémon, and train and join teams at Pokégyms.)
“We should almost hire a 12-year-old to help us out with this,” David Levenick, a security expert at a military base in Borden, Ontario, wrote in an email.
Weeks after the app became available, Canadian officials noticed an increase in suspicious activity.
One woman was found on a military base as three children with her climbed on tanks. She was playing Pokémon Go.
(18) THE BEGINNING. In the Washington Post, John Kelly
discusses an exhibit at the University of Maryland about Jim Henson’s college
years, including sketches and drawings Henson made at college and how Henson
created a silk-screening business in school to make money and help perfect his
Henson was born gifted. At U-Md., he became even more talented.”
…Though the single-room exhibit is composed of just a few cases, a few walls and a few TV screens, it gives a good sense of the breadth of Henson’s interests and his love of experimentation. In his short animated film “Drums West,” colored shapes dance across a black background in time with a percussive soundtrack. Yellow and orange rectangles make starburst patterns as the (unseen) drummer, Chico Hamilton, plays the high-hat; blue dots pop as he thumps the bass drum. It’s an abstract visual representation of the music.
How was it done? At the end, the camera pulls back to reveal Henson seated at a workbench. In front of him is a black surface about the size of an LP cover. It’s surrounded by bits of colored paper that Henson has been painstakingly arranging with tweezers, then filming a frame at a time.
As for those souvenir Wilkins and Wontkins Muppets, they’re there too, inside a glass case. In 1958 you could have had a pair by sending in $1 and the last inch of winding band from a can of Wilkins Coffee or a Wilkins Instant Coffee label. “Made of soft but durable vinyl,” a newspaper ad explained, “you only need to move your fingers inside to create 1,001 funny faces.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse
Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
As Yahoo reports, Besson has long denied that his 2012 thriller, “Lockout,” was a copy of Carpenter’s Kurt Russell-starring actioner. In Carpenter’s film, Russell plays a former government agent who is tasked with retrieving the U.S. president from the island of Manhattan — which has been turned into a massive prison — after his plane crashes there (thanks, Air Force One, thanks a lot). In “Lockout,” Pearce is a convict sent to a giant space jail who is given the chance to win back his freedom if he can rescue the U.S. president’s daughter, who is trapped in said giant space jail.
The court ruled that Besson’s film had “massively borrowed key elements” of Carpenter’s feature…
[Via Ansible Links.]
(2) MIDAMERICON LOSES HOTEL. The MidAmeriCon II committee announced on Facebook that one of its hotels will be unavailable, and members who reserved there are being shifted elsewhere:
HOTEL UPDATE: The Courtyard/Residence Inn has let us know that their construction has run over schedule and they will not be open in time for MidAmeriCon II. We have been working with their staff and Passkey to contact those displaced to advise them of the situation and to find our members a hotel room with one of our other contracted properties. Please be aware that the new reservations will not be in the individual hotel systems until later this week. Once that occurs, the affected members will be contacted with information on where they have been relocated and provided new confirmations. Any questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed the captain’s chair aboard the starship U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031. It’s very much in line with classic captains’ seats, with the swept open armrests of Jean-Luc Picard’s luxurious, tan cathedra.
Have you been waiting forever for your special letter to come? OMG! Don’t wait anymore! You can receive your very own letter, stating that you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts and feel the magic! Makes the perfect Hogwarts gift for anyone of any age and it is fully personalised with their very own name and address.!
What you get is a PDF file – when you pay only $5, you have to provide your own bells and whistles….
While Snow White’s dwarfs seem pretty standard—they’re short, unsocial, and obsessed with treasure—Diplotti explains that Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves from a centuries-old Norse epic called the Voluspa, which has a section devoted to dwarf names and their meanings. Durin? That’s “Sleepy,” thank you very much. Dwalin, or “Dvalinn” in the “Voluspa,” is torpid, lazy, or sleepy. Oin? That would be “shy,” a.k.a. “bashful.” Well, that’s creepy!
Certainly one in a position of privilege does have a moral imperative to state, “This atrocity is wrong.” But when you buckle down to engage the haters on any issue, consider what your end goal is in having that conversation, and consider what other valuable work you could be doing with that time. I can pretty much guarantee you that, say, writing The Geek Feminist Revolutionand getting it into people’s hands was worth about a billion times more than spending that time arguing with dudes on the internet who were just there to distract me. They aren’t here to change minds. They are here to keep us from doing the work that changes the world.
We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Those of us with chronic illness or who have had near-death experiences appreciate that more than others. I feel that it’s my moral imperative to remind you that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if you did, would you regret how you’d spend the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year before?
My goal is to live the sort of life where I won’t feel I’ve wasted my time if I die tomorrow. It has kept me on target through a lot of bullshit. The truth is that all this shit is made up, and because it’s made up, it can be remade. But only if we focus our efforts on creating the work that moves the conversation forward, instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the distraction.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
July 30, 1932 — Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.
Frank Darabont, the filmmaker behind The Shawshank Redemption who helped launch The Walking Dead on AMC, is parting ways with some of his most prized possessions.
The director is putting more than two dozen rare items up for the gavel Saturday as part of Profiles in History’s art and movie memorabilia auction — including plenty of items that would make fanboys and fangirls weak in the knees.
“One thing I’ve always known is this amazing art wouldn’t be mine forever. It couldn’t be. We don’t own these things. We can only be their caretakers for a time, enjoying them as much as possible until inevitably they must pass on to the next caretaker” Darabont said in a statement. “For me, that time has come. I won’t lie to you and say that parting with these things is easy. Trust me, it really, really isn’t. But the time for everything passes, and so has my position as caretaker. I will be ever grateful for the joy these wonderful pieces of art have brought me. I can only hope that they will bring their next caretakers (and all caretakers after that, ad infinitum) equal or greater joy.”
Following the hugely successful sale of Frank Frazetta art from the collection of Dave Winiewicz, this unique auction will be presented in two sessions. Session One, The Frank Darabont Collection, includes original works by master artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Sanjulian, Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Eric Powell, Bob Peak, Rich Corben, Vaughn Bode, a bronze of the “Cyclops” creature by Ray Harryhausen, and rare movie posters including the only known Frankenstein 1941 Italian 4-fogli, and much more.
Session Two comprises a superb collection of vintage comic and illustration artwork featuring the finest original oil paintings by Frank Frazetta ever offered at auction, including “Sea Witch” (pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) and “Bran Mak Morn” (pre-sale estimate of ($450,000 – $550,000), the most expensive Frazetta paintings ever offered at auction. These two paintings have never been offered for sale. The sale also features a wealth of works by “The Studio” artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, Jeffery Jones, and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as Spider-Man art by John Romita, a Golden Age cover by Jack Kirby, horror and fantasy art by Richard Corben, an important work by John Buscema, among many other pieces by notable masters of the comic medium. Most of these works have been hidden away in private collections for decades, and this sale represents the first and likely only chance to obtain them.
Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.
“If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental,” said Mr Jaksa.
“We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”
The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metres north.
So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m.
Chip Hitchcock commented, when he sent the link: “A fascinating reminder that the world we live on is still changing. (I’d love to see comparable numbers for the US, cf the Grand Canyon docent snarking ‘If you want to go to Europe this is the year, because it will never be any closer.’) The story also quotes a claim that this inaccuracy affects self-driving cars, but I’d hope such cars would rely on immediate observation rather than stored memories of coordinates of fixed objects like curbs.”
A joke might be funny the first time, but by the fourth time you hear it, the punchline gets tired.
“Tired” is a good description for “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens,” which premieres Sunday on Syfy. Although the parody movie is as absurd and silly as the first three installments were, this time around the whole thing feels forced.
On one hand, you can tell stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and David Hasselhoff are having fun. Ziering even manages to mock his stint as a Chippendales dancer. But the novelty of this campy killer-shark franchise has clearly worn off, and now the nudges and winks from the made-for-TV flick’s cast and writers border on punishing.
An online controversy over a South Korean voice actress’s tweeted image of a T-shirt has escalated into what is now being called East Asia’s version of Gamergate — a reference to the vitriolic controversy that pitted gamers, largely men, against women in tech.
Twelve hours after posting a photo of a shirt reading “Girls Do Not Need A Prince,” Kim Jayeon — who had been providing a voice for the popular video game Closers — was out of her job.
Part of the problem was the source of the shirt. It’s put out by Megalia4, a South Korean feminist group.
When Kim’s tweet surfaced on July 18, scores of male gamers demanded that she apologize for supporting what they call a “anti-man hate group.” When Kim refused to budge, they bombarded Nexon, her employer and publisher of Closers, with complaints and refund requests, and soon, she was out.
“We have to be responsive to our customers’ opinions,” Nexon told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean news outlet. “The voice actress exacerbated the issue by posting inflammatory tweets such as ‘what’s wrong with supporting Megalia?'”
(14) HANDICAPPING THE HUGOS: This reader predicts Chuck Tingle will get a rocket.
MidAmeriCon II will be closing online pre-registration for all classes of membership on Friday, August 5, 2016. Fans planning to attend the convention are encouraged to buy their membership before this date, both to take advantage of the best membership rates and for maximum convenience when they arrive at the convention. Full (five-day) Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $210 now to $240 at the door, while Young Adult and Military Attending Membership rates will increase from $100 now to $120 at the door. Pre-registered members may collect their badges and other membership materials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16. Members who can collect their materials on these days can expect to benefit from reduced waiting times.
“Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles” will debut at the premiere of Star Trek Beyond, at the IMAX Embarcadero Marina Park on July 20, and Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21 – 24. It will also available at the “Star Trek Las Vegas” convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino from August 3 – 7, 2016. Then in the fall, Shmaltz will bring Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant to the Mission New York Convention at the Javits Center from September 2 – 4, 2016.
Perhaps the most famous of Verne’s protagonists is Captain Nemo, skipper of the magnificent submarine, the Nautilus. In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, adapted to film in 1953, Nemo led a one-man crusade against war, sinking the world’s warships in the cause of pacifism.
My daughter and I just came back from the premiere of Mysterious Island, the latest translation of a Verne novel. It is a sequel of sorts to 20,000 Leagues, though this is not immediately apparent from the beginning. The initial setting is the siege of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War. Four Yankee prisoners make a daring escape in a balloon along with an initially wary, but ultimately game, Confederate prisoner. The film begins with no indication of where it’s going other than the title (and the mention of Nemo in the cast list – an unfortunate spoiler).
An audience of some 250 people took part in the evening event, which was dominated by a huge Saturn 5 moon rocket perched overhead. The occasion raised funds for Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to be passionate about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.
The anniversary gala was hosted by George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and movies….
Takei had a special surprise video beamed in from one of his “Star Trek” crewmates — William Shatner, who played USS Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk.
Shatner said he wished he could be present at the Apollo 11 anniversary event. He was in Los Angeles, tied to a previous engagement with the other starship captains of “Star Trek” celebrating the past 50 years, Shatner said.
How bad is the sexism and misogyny? I mean, can we cut it some slack because it was published in 1977?
Um. No. The 1970s were the 1970s, but there were still lots of remarkable writers creating compelling stories with well-rounded characters back then.
All the female characters in the first two novels occupy a narrow range of man-created stereotyped roles that were already fossils in the 1970s. Anthony has:
the dumb love interest,
the smart love interest,
the nagging love interest, and
the cautionary tales for Bink’s choice of love interest.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
This weekend I attended the 2016 Nebula Conference here in Chicago, where CJ Cherryh received the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Part of the Friday afternoon programming included “An Hour With CJ Cherryh, SF’s Newest Grandmaster.” I sat in the front row, with Nebula nominees Ann Leckie and Lawrence M. Schoen, and captured the first part of the speech, in which Cherryh entertained the audience with recollections of her childhood ambition to be a writer, discovering science fiction, her early career, selling her first novel to Donald Wollheim at DAW Books, and her recent marriage to fellow novelist Jane Fancher.
(5) SAME NIGHT, AT THE BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Ace Antonio Hall knew from the look of Scott Edelman’s piñata-colored jacket there was still some candy left….
The dungeons and castles located on the continent of Westeros have kept the families known from the tv-show “Game of Thrones” safe and sound for centuries. What if several properties from the show were suddenly listed for sale? Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg, leading expert on castles for the real estate agency Engel & Völkers, checked out some of the unreal estate objects….
Andrew Porter is skeptical about these exorbitant valuations:
I don’t believe any of the properties have indoor plumbing, and the thought of being shot with a crossbow while sitting on the throne (no, not the Iron Throne!) may give you second thoughts about buying any of these…
When Tolkien writes in the Foreword to The Lord of the Rings that ‘by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead’, he is referring to his friends in a clique formed at school but later bonded by the First World War – the TCBS. Of these, Robert Quilter Gilson was the first to be killed, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago this July. Tolkien’s shock and grief infuses one of the first items in The Letters of JRR Tolkien: ‘His greatness is … a personal matter with us – of a kind to make us keep July 1st as a special day for all the years God may grant to any of us…’
Geoffrey Bache Smith never returned from the Somme either; only Tolkien and Christopher Luke Wiseman, a naval officer, survived the war. The letters written by Tolkien, Gilson, Wiseman and Smith form the heartbeat of my book Tolkien and the Great War. For Gilson, thanks to the wonderful generosity of his relatives, I was also able to draw a little from the many letters he wrote home from the training camps and trenches to his family and to the woman he loved.
Now, with my help, Gilson’s letters have been used as the basis for a 40-minute documentary by the school, King Edward’s in Birmingham.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born May 15, 1856 – L. Frank Baum. John King Tarpinian has a Baum story —
A number of years back I went to an author event for a friend. She raises Cairn Terriers aka Toto Dogs. The author, a grand nephew of Baum was using a rubber stamp made from an imprint of Toto’s paw to sign the books.
Baum’s house was in Hollywood, just behind Musso & Frank Grill. It is now a mid-60s apartment building. In those days just about every house had an incinerator for burning trash, my parent’s home had one that also worked as a BBQ & wood burning oven.
Shortly after his death a niece came over to the house to visit her aunt to see how she was doing. Baum’s wife was in the back yard burning his papers. She figured since all of his books were on the shelves there was no need for the old papers. The niece explained to her why that was not a good idea to continue. You could feel the people in the event audience shudder at the thought.
(9) CHOOSING HELL. Brad R. Torgersen takes SFWA’s choice of Max Max: Fury Road for its dramatic award as the text for his message, in “The Martian and Mad Max”.
…Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.
Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?
I know, I know, I am a broken record about this stuff. But it never ceases to amaze me (in an unhappy way) how the so-called writers of Science Fiction, seem to be in such a huge hurry to run away from the roots of the field. I’ve read and listened to all the many arguments — pro and con, from both sides — about how Campbell rescued the field from the Pulp era, but then New Wave in turn rescued the field from the Campbell era. So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?
Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center. The two “sides” in the discussion have been taking shots at each other since long before I was born. The enmity may be so ingrained — in the internal conversation of SF/F — that nothing can reverse it. Save, perhaps, the total explosion of the field proper….
Comic book fans were deeply saddened by the recent news that Rat Queens, the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, was going on hiatus. As fans likely know, Rat Queens has had a tough run since the series launched in 2013. In 2014, artist/co-creator Roc Upchurch was removed from the series after being arrested on charges of domestic violence. His departure made room for Tess Fowler, who was a natural fit artistically – but also seemed to some a symbolic choice, given her history of speaking up for women in comics. Unfortunately, it seems that is at an end. Fowler announced she would beleaving the series a few weeks ago, with creator Kurtis Wiebe making the news of a hiatus official…
A Perfect Spy, Francis Hamit’s memoir from fifty years ago of his adventures as an undercover police operative fighting the drug trade while a student at the University of Iowa has been awarded runner up (or second place) in the Biography/Autobiography category by the 2016 San Francisco Book Festival. It is an excerpt from a larger forthcoming work entitled OUT OF STEP: A Soldier’s memoir of the Vietnam War Years.
The book also includes Hamit’s encounters with notable figures such as novelist Nelson Algren, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and the poet Donald Justice, and his enthusiastic participation in the Sexual Revolution even as he resisted the onslaught of the drug culture. It was a transformative time for him that led to his abandonment of a theatrical career for one as a writer and his enlistment in the U.S. Army Security Agency at the height of the Vietnam War when most of his contemporaries were trying to evade military service.
(15) NEW BFG TRAILER. Disney’s The BFG comes to theaters July 1, 2016.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Mark-kitteh, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]