Contact won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1997, beating four other films (the first time since 1992 that no TV episode was on the ballot, and only the second time since 1992 that a cinematic film won). The losers were, in order, Men in Black, Gattaca, The Fifth Element and Starship Troopers. I have seen Men in Black and Starship Troopers, and I really like them both, but I actually think Contact is better. IMDB users are not as impressed, rating it 13th of the year’s films on one system and 19th on the other, with all the other Hugo finalists ahead of it on the latter ranking and all but one on the former. Top IMDB spot for the year goes, of course, to Oscar-winner Titanic, on both rankings….
(2) NEXT TOLKIEN SEMINAR. The Tolkien Society has announced a call for papers for its third online seminar of the year: “Autumn Seminar: Translating and Illustrating Tolkien” which will be held November 6. (Probably won’t get as much press as the second, “Tolkien and Diversity.”) The event will be free for all. See the full guidelines at the link.
Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result…..
Papers may consider, but are not limited to the following:
Translations/illustrations of Tolkien’s fiction/non-fiction
Amazon gave us a tease today, however, of what we can expect for the Seven, Vought’s handpicked superheroes that help bolster their corporate image.
The five-minute clip is a newscast from Vought’s own channel, the Vought News Network (VNN for short). In a style that evokes Fox News, the “reporter” provides an update on its parent company’s Seven superheroes.
The unexpected death of the head of the children’s book publishing giant behind Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Clifford the Big Red Dog, produced a surprise ending of his own: He left control of his $1.2 billion company and all his possessions to the company’s chief strategy officer, a Toronto woman he reportedly had a romance with.
That M. Richard (Dick) Robinson Jr. left everything to Iole Lucchese rather than to his former wife, two sons, or his four siblings is causing alarm, family drama and potential high-stakes legal action, which is more than enough for a sequel to any story, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal.
Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi drama, which moved from Fox to Hulu in 2019 for its third season, was hit by the pandemic disrupting production, meaning fans were in for a pretty long wait after the second season premiered in 2018.
However, Jordan Helman, head of scripted originals at Hulu, has provided an update on progress. He said that he’s seen cuts of the show coming in and is hopeful of a premiere sooner rather than later.
“The past year and a half has been complicated on a variety of levels as it pertains to production,” he told Deadline. “I can’t share a launch date, but we’re really excited about what we’ve seen thus far.”
MacFarlane and Jon Cassar are directing episodes of the third season. Filming initially began in October 2019 but was halted in March 2020 with the arrival of Covid-19 with around half of production completed. Production resumed in December 2020 but was suspended again in January 2021 due to a surge. Filming resumed in February….
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1986 – Thirty-five years ago this weekend, Knight Rider ended its four-year, ninety-episode run on NBC. Arguably a more successful talking car series than My Mother the Car was in the Sixties which lasted but a single season, it had as its leads KITT the AI controlled car (voiced uncredited by William Daniels) and David Hasslehoff as Michael Knight. (You can decide which had a more vibrant personality.) This was his first genre role though he’d later play Nick Fury in Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a rather awful version of that character I’d add. It was created by Gary Larson who also responsible for Battlestar Galactica, Battlestar Galactica 1980, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Caprica, Automan, Magnum, P.I (which some of you have argued here is genre) and Manimal. Yes, Manimal. If you watched the series and had the jones for more fiction set in that universe, Larson and co-writer Roger Hill wrote five novels set there. The series somewhat inexplicably holds a ninety-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 7, 1918 — Jane Adams. Actress who showed in the Forties Batman and Robin film as Vickie Vale, Girl Reporter. (That’s how she’s created at the time.) Other genre credits were House of Dracula, Tarzan’s Magic Fountain, Master Minds (eat too much sugar and you can see the future) and the Adventures of Superman series. (Died 2014.)
Born August 7, 1933 — Jerry Pournelle. I first encountered not his fiction but his BYTE column for computer users. That said, I did read a lot of his CoDominium Universe though I suspect the Suck Fairy might judge it harshly now. His best work certainly is the one he co-wrote with Larry Niven, The Mote in God’s Eye, which was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon One. Did you know he won a Astounding Award for Best New Writer? Well he did. And he and Niven were joint winners of the Robert A. Heinlein Award from the Baltimore SF Society. (Died 2017.)
Born August 7, 1944 — John Glover, 77. He’s got a wealth of genre roles, so I’m going to be highly selective. (Go ahead and complain.) he was Brice Cummings in the Bill Murray fronted Scrooged, he voiced a great Edward Nygma who was The Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, in Brimstone, he was both The Devil and The Angel.
Born August 7, 1957 — Paul Dini, 64. First he is largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and yes, Duck Dodgers and Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cardigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it.
Born August 7, 1960 — David Duchovny, 61. Obviously Fox Mulder on X-Files. Now has he done any other genre? Well he was Dr. Ira Kane in Evolution, a comic SF film, and then there’s Denise Bryson, formerly Dennis Bryson, played by him, who’s a transgender DEA agent on the Twin Peaks series. He also voices Ethan Cole in Area 51, a first person video game shooter.
Born August 7, 1960 — Melissa Scott, 61. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver.
Born August 7, 1979 — Eric Johnson, 42. Scifi’s Flash Gordon on the series of that name that aired from August 10, 2007 to February 8, 2008. Look I’m used to Flash Gordon series that are nearly a century old so I had no idea no one had been done recently. Anyone see this? I’ll be writing it up as the Anniversary in a few days.
Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 64. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
Artifacts and memorabilia related to Dungeons & Dragons are now available for public viewing in the city where the popular roleplaying game was created.
The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, 723 Williams St. in Lake Geneva, officially opened, July 21. The museum features books, games, figurines, magazines, artwork, gaming dice and merchandise related to Dungeons & Dragons.
Jeff Leason, curator, said many Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts have toured the museum since it has been open to the public.
“We had a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, and they said, ‘We can’t believe we walked by and you were open.’ They were so excited,” Leason said. “It’s been wonderful. There hasn’t been anything negative that I’ve heard.”
…Most of the items either were donated by museum staff or former Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) employees. The museum building was TSR’s first commercial location for Dungeons & Dragons.
Leason said one of the more rare items at the museum is a boxset of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, which is worth about $10,000. He said another notable item is a full set of “Strategic Review,” which was an early Dungeons & Dragons publication….
(9) EXPLICATE! EXPLICATE! On Twitter, @Dunemovie challenged people to “Explain Dune in one sentence.” About one-third of the responses took it seriously, for example –
And about two-thirds did not. An example of those —
(10) SELECTED LONG AND SHORT SUBJECTS. Todd Mason, curator of “A night at the movies…”, seeks an audience for his repaired 2014 post, full of (mostly somewhat macabre) cartoons and such wrapped around a double-feature of Night Of The Eagle and The City Of The Dead (and links to “alternate” features Castaway with Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed and Testament Of Orpheus), with Harlan Ellison in-joke references at the headnotes…
(11) A SWING AND A MISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA has announced that Perseverance’s first attempt to gather a rock sample apparently failed. The titanium sample tube was left empty. There are 42 more tubes available to try to find the ultimate answer. “NASA’s Perseverance Team Assessing First Mars Sampling Attempt”.
“While this is not the ‘hole-in-one’ we hoped for, there is always risk with breaking new ground,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “I’m confident we have the right team working this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success.”
Perseverance’s Sampling and Caching System uses a hollow coring bit and a percussive drill at the end of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm to extract samples. Telemetry from the rover indicates that during its first coring attempt, the drill and bit were engaged as planned, and post-coring the sample tube was processed as intended.
“The sampling process is autonomous from beginning to end,” said Jessica Samuels, the surface mission manager for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “One of the steps that occurs after placing a probe into the collection tube is to measure the volume of the sample. The probe did not encounter the expected resistance that would be there if a sample were inside the tube.”
… Materialist interpretations of the cosmos eventually began to take the place of mythological ones. But the idea that there might be other beings in the sky has stayed with us, and it found its first protoscientific roots in Greece in the sixth century BCE.
Anaximander, a philosopher who lived in Miletus in modern-day Turkey, contributed one key idea. He was the first to propose that Earth is a body floating in an infinite void, held up by nothing. For someone who lived 2,200 years before Isaac Newton, this was a stunning insight. The philosopher Karl Popper called it “one of the boldest, most revolutionary, and most portentous ideas in the whole history of human thought.” Anaximander also thought Earth was a cylinder with the continents arrayed on one flat end, so he wasn’t right about everything. But he did invent the idea of space, a place with no absolute up or down. And just as important, Anaximander’s system was the first to leave open the possibility that there are other worlds like ours. (Though, to be clear, he may not have believed that these worlds existed elsewhere in space. He may have thought they preceded or would succeed Earth in time or perhaps coexisted in some parallel universe.)…
(13) SHARP POINTY TEETH. The second Venom: Let There Be Carnage trailer has dropped. In theaters this Fall.
Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of MARVEL’s greatest and most complex characters. Directed by Andy Serkis, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson, in the role of the villain Cletus Kasady/Carnage.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, Jennifer Hawthorne, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
With controversy engulfing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and major Hollywood players backing away from the embattled organization, NBC announced Monday that it will not air the Golden Globe Awards in 2022.
…The decision comes as influential studios continued to back away from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., with WarnerMedia joining Netflix and Amazon Studios in cutting ties with the organization until sweeping reforms are enacted.
The WarnerMedia letter says in part:
We understand the challenges ahead for you, as we work towards diversifying our own executive and employee ranks. However, we call upon you to move with greater urgency. The currently planned 18-month timeline runs through the 2023 Golden Globes, which means the same voting body will be impacting the next two nomination and voting cycles. The HFPA has a membership of less than 90 journalists. Lasting and meaningful change to your membership goals could be achieved in under 18 months. The HFPA cannot accurately reflect the best of our industry until your membership expands to reflect more of the social, cultural and ethnic diversity that exists in the stories we tell and the creators with whom we work.
We’re also asking for a strong commitment to significant change in talent press conferences. We are keenly aware of how much harder we’ve had to lobby to secure press conferences for a number of Black performers and creators, representing unquestionably worthy content. This same work has often then gone unrecognized in your nomination and awards process. In addition, our teams have endured press conferences where our talent were asked racially insensitive, sexist and homophobic questions. For far too long, demands for perks, special favors and unprofessional requests have been made to our teams and to others across the industry. We regret that as an industry, we have complained, but largely tolerated this behavior until now.
Our talent and our staff deserve a professional environment while doing their jobs promoting our series and films. Therefore, we would also like to see the HFPA implement a specific and enforced code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for unwanted physical contact of all talent and staff. We recognize that this conduct is not representative of your full membership, but we need assurances that there will be timely, actionable next steps to discipline members who exhibit inappropriate behavior.
…So you sent me this wonderful speech questioning the old Arthur C. Clarke line, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” what don’t you like about that line?
TED CHIANG: So, when people quote the Arthur C. Clarke line, they’re mostly talking about marvelous phenomena, that technology allows us to do things that are incredible and things that, in the past, would have been described as magic, simply because they were marvelous and inexplicable. But one of the defining aspects of technology is that eventually, it becomes cheaper, it becomes available to everybody. So things that were, at one point, restricted to the very few are suddenly available to everybody. Things like television — when television was first invented, yeah, that must have seemed amazing, but now television is not amazing because everyone has one. Radio is not amazing. Computers are not amazing. Everyone has one.
Magic is something which, by its nature, never becomes widely available to everyone. Magic is something that resides in the person and often is an indication that the universe sort of recognizes different classes of people, that there are magic wielders and there are non-magic wielders. That is not how we understand the universe to work nowadays. That reflects a kind of premodern understanding of how the universe worked. But since the Enlightenment, we have moved away from that point of view. And a lot of people miss that way of looking at the world, because we want to believe that things happen to us for a reason, that the things that happen to you are, in some way, tied to the things you did….
(3) AN EMMY FOR GINA CARANO? Here’s a surprising development: Disney+/Lucasfilms have included Gina Carano in their “for your consideration” advertising that promotes their works for the Emmy Awards. Carano was dropped from consideration in future Star Wars properties after she issued a series of tweets that Disney labeled “abhorrent and unacceptable”. The New York Post has the story: “Fired ‘Mandalorian’ star Gina Carano gets Emmy nomination push”.
Three months after Lucasfilm gave “The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano the axe for a series of controversial social-media posts, the company has included her in their 2021 Emmy Awards campaign.
The 39-year-old’s name is listed under the Supporting Actress category in a “for your consideration” poster promoting various Season 2 stars of the Disney+ show, CNET reported. The poster also advocates for lead actor nominations for Pedro Pascal, supporting actor noms for Giancarlo Esposito and Temuera Morrison, and guest actor nods for 18 actors, including Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo, Mark Hamill and Amy Sedaris.
(4) PENNSYLVANIA LIFTING RESTRICTIONS. And an in-person PulpFest is back on track:
On Tuesday, May 4, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that nearly all COVID-19 mitigation orders—including capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings—will be lifted on Memorial Day.
According to the coronavirus page of the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “Effective May 31, we are lifting COVID mitigation orders, except masking. The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.”
Pennsylvania’s acting Health Secretary, Alison Beam, encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. “Follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent handwashing and sanitizing, and social distancing,” Beam said.
But that’s not all. There’s more good news to share!
On the same day as Governor Wolf’s announcement, the convention’s host hotel—the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh – Cranberry —informed PulpFest that the meeting rooms where the convention is scheduled to be held will be available to the convention for the entire weekend.
So as things now stand, PulpFest 2021 will take place from Thursday, August 19, through Sunday, August 22….
After “Star Trek’s” launch, legendary actress Nichelle Nichols considered leaving the series — until an encounter with one of her biggest fans.
(6) OUTLANDISH CLAIMS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at Collider, Tom Reitman makes an excellent argument in favor of Sean Connery’s movie Outland. He argues that it is a piece of cinema worth reconsidering as an excellent example of how to remake movies. “Why Sean Connery’s Outland Is a Perfect Remake”.
By updating not only the setting of High Noon but also the moral conflict at its center, Outland successfully reinterprets the story for a new generation of moviegoers. Rather than simply redoing the movie with a new cast and modern dialogue and setpieces, Outland took the bones of its predecessor and created a more relatable exploration of the same themes, resulting in a movie that is both a perfect companion piece to High Noon as well as a captivating story that stands on its own.
Known the world over as ‘The Father of Television’, John Logie Baird’s contributions to the world of technology cannot be understated.
His groundbreaking exploration into moving images paved the way for a revolutionary invention that changed the world as we know it and his impact
is still being felt to this very day. However, his journey to television was far from easy, and was filled with obstacles and speed bumps along the way.
Find out more about the life and work of this legendary inventor.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these Novels is available from iBooks and Kobo. (Died 1920.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Genre work includes On The Beach, Finian’s Rainbow and The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. Did a surprising amount of acting for someone who’s Hollywood screen test result was “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.” (His non-genre 1958 TV special AnEvening with Fred Astaire won 11 Emmys, one of them shared by OGH’s father, NBC video engineer Harry Glyer.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1905 – Alex Schomburg. A hundred thirty covers, two hundred sixty interiors – not counting five hundred comic-book covers, although some are ours e.g. The Human Torch. Here is Son of the Stars. Here is the Apr 53 Galaxy. Here is the Oct 61 Fantastic. Here is the Westercon 37 Program Book (designed to look like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). Here is the Jan 93 Tomorrow. Here is his endpaper for the Winston SF books, later used by Vincent DiFate for Infinite Worlds. Frank R. Paul Award. Inkpot. Chesley for Artistic Achievement. Special Committee Award for Lifetime Achievement from Noreascon III the 47th Worldcon. First Fandom Hall of Fame. Artbook Chroma (with Jon Gustafson). (Died 1998) [JH]
Born May 10, 1935 – Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born May 10, 1936 – Anthea Bell. Translator from Danish, French, German, e.g. Hans Christian Andersen, Asterix, E.T.A. Hoffmann. Four Schlegel-Tieck Prizes. Three Marsh Awards. Wolff Prize. Earned four Batchelder Awards for three publishers. German Federal Republic’s Cross of Merit. Officer of the Order of the British Empire. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born May 10, 1944 – Bruce Pennington, age 77. A hundred ninety covers, a score of interiors. Here is Dune. Here is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Here is The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories. Here is Dreaming Spheres. Two British SF Ass’n Awards. [JH]
Born May 10, 1955 – Tim Illingworth, age 66. Chaired Eastercon 40 and 44 (combined with Eurocon 16; also SMOFcon 10 the next weekend). Doc Weir Award. [JH]
Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 58. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here. (CE)
Born May 10, 1964 – Pauline Alama, age 57. One novel, a score of shorter stories, poems. “Which part of the label are you questioning – science fiction or romance?” Website. [JH]
Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 52. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic, with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokeyfor my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few where I read every post. (CE)
Born May 10, 1975 – Jeremy Zimmerman, age 46. Two novels, a dozen shorter stories. Games. Mad Scientist Journal (with wife Dawn Vogel), six MSJ Presents anthologies. Website. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
On The Far Side, somebody must’ve made a wrong turn at Betelgeuse.
Come June, I won’t be able to play cards with Nelson Algren any more, I guess.
I am very pleased and proud to announce that my alma mater, Northwestern University, will be presenting me with an honorary doctorate at this year’s commencement, on June 14…
This year’s commencement will be virtual, so the presentation and my acceptance will be taped.
It is hard to believe that it has been half a century since my own commencement from Northwestern, in 1970. Where have the years gone?
If I could go back in time and tell 1970 Me that this would happen one day, he would never have believed me. (On the other hand, 1970 Me believed that one day he would vacation on the Moon, so… he may have written science fiction, but predicting the future was not his strong suit).
(11) BRIN INTERVIEW. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog Guest Lecturer David Brin answers questions about his drafting process:
You’ve written a number of stories in the Uplift universe, which is a science fiction series about biological uplift. How much planning for the series did you do ahead of time? Do you tend to be more of an outliner, or do you tend to write by the seat of your pants?
I’ve written two novels from strict outline and that went very well. Why do I do it so seldom, then? Starting a novel is hard for me because I don’t know the characters yet and I haven’t yet had multiple “aha!” moments when I discover what the story is really about. I end books really, really well. For more on the great idea of uplift, which could be done very badly and likely has already begun, see http://www.davidbrin.com/uplift.html.
… What if your shirt could sense that you’re sweating and adjust its temperature? Or what if your pants could notice that your stride has changed and alert you at the onset of injuries? That’s what the future may hold, textile researchers say. It might be years, possibly even decades, for the tech to reach consumers, but the foundation is being laid today with scientists creating pieces of fabric that push the boundaries of what’s been possible before.
In March, researchers from China’s Fudan University published findings on electronic fabric capable of turning clothing into a display screen. They hope to turn their attention to the consumer market next, according to Qibing Pei, a materials scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles who co-authored the study….
Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the “DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon” in the first quarter of 2022, with the company accepting the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as full payment for the lunar payload.
Geometric Energy Corporation announced the dogecoin-funded mission on Sunday, which SpaceX’s communications team confirmed in an email to reporters. The mission’s financial value was not disclosed.
DOGE-1 will fly a 40 kilogram cube satellite as a payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, with Geometric Energy Corporation saying its payload “will obtain lunar-spatial intelligence from sensors and cameras on-board with integrated communications and computational systems.”
SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Tom Ochinero said in a statement that DOGE-1 “will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce.”…
Dallas and Fort Worth hosted the 1976 dystopian film Logan’s Run. Several scenes were filmed in the Dallas Market Center, a shopping mall standing in for “The City,” an underground complex whose residents believe is the only safe place left on Earth. Another mall, the Hulen Mall in Fort Worth, was just completing construction during filming and was also used for some scenes.
(15) 60 MINUTES ON MARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes had a segment about Perserverance and Ingenuity. What makes this interesting is that JPL let them have test footage of Ingenuity showing how complicated the helicopter is based on early models that crashed. This reminds us of how complex an achievement the new Mars mission is. There is extra footage on 60 Minutes Overtime. “Perseverance rover, Ingenuity helicopter, and the search for ancient life on Mars”.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, the screenwriter explains that this Transformers movie has nothing to do with earlier ones because he trashed his DVD player by sticking a bagel in it and trying to toast the bagel by throwing the DVD player in the oven. Also, many pages of the script simply say, ‘EXPLOSIONS.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, John Hertz, Rob Thornton, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).
“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”
The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.
… I am not a spacecraft engineer, nor do I know this robot personally. But I am mortal, and we mortals tend to anthropomorphize robots and even have fuzzy feelings toward them. (The exception: If their appearance falls into the “uncanny valley” category, they can creep us out instead). A whole assortment of research on the relationship between people and machines shows that we can’t help attaching our little human feelings to the little mechanical robots we build. And NASA knows it.
As with other robotic missions, NASA maintains a Twitter account for Perseverance, the rover that brought Ingenuity to Mars in February, and dispatches are written from the perspective of the machine. “I love rocks,” Perseverance tweeted in February to its followers, who currently number 2.7 million. “I’m on the move!” it exclaimed in March as it took its first drive. “I’ve taken my first selfie,” the rover said earlier this month, showing us a picture of its robotic frame, with Ingenuity in the background. NASA has already shared imagery of Ingenuity’s flight—from Percy, stationed nearby, and from the helicopter itself, which captured its shadow flitting across the surface of Mars….
…Slow sci-fi can be a peaceful read between more action-packed books, or can give you the chance to grapple with a futuristic or otherworldly concept on multiple levels. Don’t be fooled — slow doesn’t mean shallow, and sometimes thoughtful sci-fi can give the horrors of a dystopia more time to develop, really drawing back before landing that gut punch. Here are some lower-action, thoughtful sci-fi reads to add to your TBR pile.
(4) THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT. Texas A&M Libraries will host “The Future at 25 Cents A Copy: The Material Culture of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines”, a virtual talk scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Noon (US Central). The participants are Jeremy Brett, an Associate Professor at A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection; Anna Culbertson, head of Special Collections & University Archives at San Diego State University, and Andrew Lippert, Special Collections Processing Archivist at UC, Riverside who works with the Eaton Collection. Register at the link.
“The “Pulp Era” of the 1920s-1940s was crucial to the formation of the science fiction genre in the United States. Pulp magazines were colorful, exciting vehicles for the work of countless creators, many of whom became major names. Librarians from three institutions with major pulp collections—Texas A&M University, the University of California, Riverside, and San Diego State University—will discuss the literary and genre legacy of pulps, including their significance as examples of mid-century American material culture.”
(5) DO YOU KNOW? Lise Andreasen would like to poll the audience.
(2) In “Surface Tension,” James Blish, talks about sowing people in the universe. The premier scientist is Chatvieux.
Does anybody know, whether this is a coincidence?
(6) EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. In return, Lise Andreasen offers to enlighten people who keep asking: How can this movie be nominated for the Hugo? She forwards these snippets from the Wikipedia plot summary:
Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest…
Katiana’s ghost appears to (redacted)…
Luckily, unseen elves save (redacted)…
(7) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU HANG UP? Marvel dropped a trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will be (only) in theaters September 3.
(8) PROVING LOVE. Netflix will release Love, Death, And Rockets, Volume 2 on May 14.
The NSFW animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Naked giants, Christmas demons, and robots-gone-wild… Consume irresponsibly.
Is there another Scalzi story in the new series? Youth wants to know.
(9) PROGRAMMED FOR FAILURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber, discusses Disco Elysium, a role-playing game created by “Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz and his friends during a night of drinking in 2005” and which won three gaming awards at the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of Oscars.
The brew of debauchery, failure, and resilience that marks this origin story is palpable in the 6,000 years of dense history Kurvitz and his team crafted around this detective game. The story unfolds across the impoverished district of Martinaise, abandoned by the law following a failed communist revolution and now under the heel of a corrupt labor union.
Your protagonist is similarly scarred, beginning the game with a bout of amnesia following a drug-fueled bender so destructive it makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like something for children. As you recover your memory it becomes apparent that you’re a cop with a murder case to solve, a task you are profoundly ill-equipped to handle. ‘The entire story is about how to react when you’re faced with failure,’ Helen Hindpere, lead writer on the Final Cut, tells me. ‘How do you come out of it? What do you do?’
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon. It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 18, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born April 19, 1923 – Lygia Fagundes Telles, age 98. Camões Prize. Commander, Order of Rio Branco. Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres. Grand officer, Order of Gabriela Mistral. Third woman elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Called First Lady of Brazilian Literature. Fifteen stories for us available in English, see collection Tigrela. Many other works, many other awards. [JH]
Born April 18, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here as it’s in the public domain. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born April 18, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born April 18, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 86. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. (CE)
Born April 18, 1946 — Tim Curry, 75. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as a year earlier he’d been in the Scottish Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player. (CE)
Born April 19, 1947 – Donald Eastlake III, F.N., age 74. Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 16. Served as President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Frequent chair of WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meetings, a particularly difficult thankless task. Fellow of NESFA (service). Guest of Honor (with wife Jill Eastlake) at Rivercon IX. See here. [JH]
Born April 19, 1948 – Christopher Yates, age 73. A dozen covers. Here is The Committed Men. Here is The Year of the Quiet Sun. Here is Solaris. Here is Rogue Moon. Here is Toyman. Here is The Bornless Keeper. [JH]
Born April 19, 1951 – Patricia Geary, age 70. Four novels. Vassar woman. P.K. Dick Award. Professor at Univ. Redlands. [JH]
Born April 19, 1967 – Steven H Silver, age 54. Chaired Windycon XXIX-XXX, 42 (so some are in Roman, some in Arabic numerals; do you think anyone asked me?); co-chaired Nebula Award Weekend 2010 (with Peggy Rae Sapienza, making SHS a Lawn Mower), chaired 2015-2016. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 49, Capricon 32. Fanzine, Argentus; three guest-editorships on Journey Planet. See here. [JH]
Born April 19, 1978 – Aleksi Briclot, age 43. A score of covers, two dozen interiors; comics, films, video games. Collection Worlds and Wonders in French and English (here is his cover). Here is the Sep 04 Deep Magic. Here is Galaxies 42. Here is The Rose of Sarifal. Here is Boundless. Here is Stranger Things 4. [JH]
… One of the other audacious things about Shooter’s story was that he actually added FOUR new Legionnaires to the Legion in that story! Can you imagine pitching an editor with a story where you add four new members to the team? But hey, it worked out! One of the things Shooter felt that the Legion lacked was action characters. He felt that everyone’s powers were too passive. Everyone just pointed and fired a blast from their fingers or whatever. So that’s why Shooter loved the idea of Karate Kid, and wow, devoting PAGES to a fight between Superboy and Karate Kid was a bold, bold gambit at the time…
The problem was, as Shooter explained to my pal Glen Cadigan in Glen’s seminal work, The Legion Companion (I’d link to it, but I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it does Glen any good for me to tell you go buy a used copy on Amazon, ya know?), “In my crummy drawings, he was Half-Asian…when Shelly drew him, he made him like an American. Which is a shame.” As I noted in another old Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the other Legionnaires introduced in that issue, Ferro Lad, was going to be Black, but Mort Weisinger wouldn’t approve it. Shooter was trying to diversify the Legion and he kept coming up short….
…[Curry] explained, “I went rather early on at the Waverly [Theatre] in New York where it started, and they thought I was an imposter. And they threw me out.” Curry noted he was not in costume when he was tossed.
The Waverly (now IFC Center) was the original home of the midnight audience-participation screenings of Rocky Horror, which then spread across the country and still takes place to this day.
Asked about his feelings on the audience-participation screening, he said, “I thought it was enormous fun. I was having a ball — and then I got thrown out.”…
By the 24th century, humans can be found everywhere in the solar system, from the inner system all the way out to the Kuiper belt. This is possible in large part thanks to a trade network spanning the system. The network ensures that vital resources like volatiles are transported cheaply and reliably from source to destination. A case in point: asteroid 25 Phocaea (and its one settlement, Zekeston) flourish because the settlement can import the volatiles it lacks.
What Zekeston accepts as necessity, others see as opportunity. A disaster leaves Zekeston short on volatiles. Ogilvie and Sons is the only company in a position to resupply Zekeston in time to save its population. Ogilvie and Sons is more than willing to do this, provided Zekeston submits to rule by Ogilvie and Sons. Zekeston’s head of resource management, Jane Navio, is determined to save her adopted community from the predatory corporation. Whether she can do so with the resources at hand—some sympathetic functionaries and a gang of plucky kids—is unclear.
(16) BIG EARS. YouTube has a sketch from last night’s The Simpsons called “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)” where Quilloughby of The Snuffs (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up in Springfield and charms Lisa Simpson. Morrissey of The Smith’s manager Peter Katsis loudly complained the show was making fun of the artist.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says there are “enough nautical-themed Maguffins to fill an entire movie” in the first ten minutes, but he notes that it’s never clear in the movie why Davy Jones has an octopus face.
[Thanks to Ben Bird Person, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
NASA has named the Perseverance rover’s landing place on Mars the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Landing Site, just as they had earlier named the Curiosity site for Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Landing). The location is marked with a star in the above image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
It’s a great choice, both for Butler’s inspiring work as a science fiction writer, and that she did much of her writing while living in Pasadena only a few miles away from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
…In the interest of full disclosure, I’m technically a Baen author. I have a story in a couple of Baen anthologies and another in an upcoming one. I also was the main decider in the choice to give Toni Weisskopf a Kate Wilhelm Solstice award in 2016 in acknowledgment of how much she has shaped the field. I have never been on their discussion boards, as far as I can remember….
She covers a half dozen subtopics before concluding —
…Online harassment is used by a number of folks to silence other people and it includes tactics like SWATting, contacting one’s employer, doxxing, and worse. Jason Sanford is experiencing some of this right now, to the point where he’s had to take his Twitter and Patreon private, but he’s not the first, nor will he be the last. It is shitty and invasive, and it’s something that can constantly ambush you.
Moreover, stochastic terrorism is a thing, and it’s one that some of the “my wishing you were dead wasn’t really a death threat because I didn’t say I’d do it personally” yahoos are hoping for. That hope that someone will be hurt as a result of their rhetoric flickers dimly in the depths of their creepy little souls, even when they claim otherwise, because here in America, it’s a possibility every time they stir up an audience to think of their opponents as NPCs rather than people. And it’s something that is particularly hard on the vulnerable. If you’re a white male experiencing harassment, know that if you were a woman of color, you’d be getting it a hundred times worse, whether you acknowledge that or not.
So… I don’t know what will happen with Baen’s discussion boards. I hope that they’ll do what sometimes happens as a result of these challenges: emerge as something better and more useful, something that creates more community ties than eroding them. Because it’s a time and place when we need more kind, brave words and less hateful, thoughtless rhetoric, and I feel any efforts to establish that is where true heroism lies. Thank you for issuing the challenge, Jason. I hope people rise to meet it.
Sheree Renée Thomas, who is set to co-host the 2021 Hugo ceremony, gives extended commentary about the implications for the Worldcon in a 16-tweet thread. Thread starts here.
Malka Older, the other 2021 Hugo co-host, aired her views in a thread that starts here.
Leona Wisoker does an overview of the Jason Sanford and Eric Flint essays and where they fit into the immediate present day in “Baen’s Bar Fight”.
… The boundaries of free speech and individual liberty in the wild world of genre fiction is, as I’ve said already, not a new battle. However, right here, right now, today, we’re dealing with a new twist on the old situation: the critical flash point of people spreading and believing dangerous lies for years. This started before Trump came into office. Before Obama’s first inauguration. Over the last ten years, the rise of groups like the channers, Gamergate, Reddit, Parler, Fox News, OANN, and QAnon has boosted those lies into explosive territory.
We’re no longer simply talking about malcontents complaining in a chat room. We’re now dealing with a series of connected, systemically based incidents that are driving credulous people into increasingly violent actions, in groups that are steadily expanding in size. We’re talking about bad faith actors — some in government and law enforcement — who are in it for the money and power, who have and will continue to use that misguided passion to their own benefit, and who don’t care who gets hurt along the way. To wave away the bitter speeches and threats of randos in internet forums is to entirely ignore the escalating situation that led to the Capitol insurrection in the first place….
…And here we return to two central questions that have been at the heart of genre fiction’s long-running culture war, just who is this community and what, if anything are its standards?
We have here a situation where the genre fiction “communty” consists of several disparate actual groups of people. These people have mutually exclusive definitions of the ideal present notwithstanding what they may want to see in fiction about the future, the past or other worlds. The attempts of mass conventions like DisCon III to serve these vastly disparate communities means it’s ultimately impossible to serve any.
Now I’m honestly quite shocked that there is going to be an in-person WorldCon this year. Between international travel restrictions and the clear and present danger of mass gatherings, it really feels like a live convention in 2021 is unsafe quite regardless of who the editor guest of honour is. With this said, while I do believe that Sandford turning over this particular rock exposed the peril lying under the surface of science fiction I don’t think de-platforming Weiskopf is going to make the convention any less dangerous for anyone unwilling to tow the American conservative line. Frankly, Toni Weiskopf isn’t the problem, she’s merely a symptom of it. Baen, and its stable of Trumpist malcontents is in fact only a symptom of the systemic problem that is the faulty assumption at the core of the SFF communities that there is some overarching and totalizing community for all to contribute to.
3) Lastly her statement was formulated so that it both showed a willingness to seriously engage the accusations, but without ceding ANY authority or agency over her rights and freedoms as the owner of a business. She did not stonewall the dertractors, did not counterattack, and did not cave, none of which are good strategies NO MATTER what politics are involved. That is smart business. And her tone was so measured and reasonable and *civil* that anyone who takes offense at it is essentially identifying their real motivation: to use this complaint as a weapon in the service of their deeper motive–cripple or kill Baen.
My assessment: she handled this as well as anyone could, and far, far better than most do.
…I went into Gailey’s new novel, The Echo Wife, with a big expectation for yet another immersive, wonderfully detailed, fictional setting. I was not catered to. There isn’t any real world-building in The Echo Wife because, well, there’s no world to build. It already exists. It’s our own. The book takes place, more or less, in the here and now, and even the rich concept behind its science-fictional premise — namely cloning — keeps a fuzzy distance. Once I got over my initial bout of pouting, though, I gave myself over to Gailey’s latest exercise in character-driven speculation. And I was happy I did…
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 18, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Constantine premiered. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as blonder haired John Constantine. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy four percent. Huh.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 18, 1894 – Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Ph.D. First woman to receive Yale’s Porter Prize (for her dissertation), Cross Medal (as a distinguished alumna). First woman President of Phi Beta Kappa. Crawshay Prize (for Newton Demands the Muse). Voyages to the Moon reviewed by Willy Ley. Pilgrim Award. Festschrift in her memory, Zephyr & Boreas (works of Le Guin). More here. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born February 18, 1904 – Rafael DeSoto. A score of covers, a dozen interiors for us; also Westerns, thrillers, adventure. See R. Lesser ed., Pulp Art; D. Saunders, The Art of Rafael DeSoto. Here is the Feb 39 Eerie Mysteries. Here is the Apr 43 Argosy. Here is the Nov 50 Fantastic Novels. Yes, descended from Hernando de Soto. This site says it will be available again soon. (Died 1992) [JH]
Born February 18, 1908 — Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1919 — Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and He had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1929 — Len Deighton, 92. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.(CE)
Born February 18, 1930 — Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations which are gathered in a superb two volume collection, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1931 – Toni Morrison. A score of novels – Beloved (Pulitzer Prize) and God Help the Child are ours – poetry, two plays (one about Desdemona), libretto for Margaret Garner, nonfiction. Jefferson Lecture. PEN/Bellow Award (PEN is Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists). Medal of Freedom. Nobel Prize. Oprah Winfrey: “I say with certainty there would have been no Oprah’s Book Club if this woman had not chosen to share her love of words with the world.” Today is TM’s 90th birth-anniversary; see this from the Toni Morrison Society. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born February 18, 1933 – Ray Capella. A score of short stories for us; twoscore covers, five dozen interiors. Here is Star Quest 4. Here is the Oct 75 Amra. Here is the Nov 81 Fantasy Newsletter. Here is the Apr 01 Alien Worlds. Here is an illustration for John Carter of Mars. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born February 18, 1936 – Jean Auel, age 85. The Clan of the Cave Bear, five more; 45 million copies sold. Studied how to make an ice cave, build fire, tan leather, knap stones, with Jim Riggs. “The Real Fahrenheit 451” in Omni (with Bradbury, Clarke, Ellison). Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France). [JH]
Born February 18, 1943 – Jill Bauman, age 78. One short story, a score of poems, a hundred thirty covers, ninety interiors for us; many others. An appreciation in Wrzos’ Hannes Bok. Here is Melancholy Elephants. Here is the Apr 89 F&SF. Here is the Aug 92 Amazing. Here is Thumbprints. Guest Artist at the 1994 World Fantasy Convention, Philcon 1999, Chattacon XXVI. Website. [JH]
Born February 18, 1968 — Molly Ringwald, 53. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there. (CE)
Born February 18, 1979 – Shannon Dittemore, age 42. Four novels. Blogs for Go Teen Writers. Website says “Coffee Fangirl”. Has read The Importance of Being Earnest, Great Expectations, The Screwtape Letters, Les Misèrables, two by Shakespeare, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and four by Jane Austen including Pride & Prejudice in the German translation by Karin von Schwab (1892-1940; alas, Stolz & Vorurteil doesn’t alliterate). [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Off the Markpeers over a vampire’s shoulder as he gets shocking news about his online meal order.
Randall Munroe got a hold of Perseverance’s schedule.
(8) OVERCOMING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Entrepreneur interviews physicist & author Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein about her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred and about sexism and racism in science. They also ask her about her interest in science fiction and about speaking at conventions, even if their fact checkers did allow the proofreaders to get away with calling them “Khans.” (Khen Moore would have been so proud.) “This Theoretical Physicist Boldly Goes Where Few Black Women Have Gone Before” at Entrepreneur.
… Professor Prescod-Weinstein, an important theme running through your book is the sexism and racism inherent in science. Crucially, you take time to namecheck those who — like you —did make it through, such as Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore, Dr. Edward A. Bouchet, Dr. Elmer Imes, Professor Arlie Oswald Petters, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Marcelle Soares-Santos. It is only through seeing people like oneself that one can imagine being up there too, right? Yes, that’s valuable when you have the opportunity. But I also know that sometimes we don’t get examples like us. As far as I know, none of those people are queer, for example. It’s important then to be the person who is like yourself. I know that sounds silly, but I encourage students to get people to take pictures of themselves doing physics, so that they can see that they are indeed what a physicist looks like….
Sometimes a gem can be hiding in plain sight—or within hearing distance. A few weeks ago I turned on Turner Classic Movies (my go-to channel) and watched part of Alexander Korda’s 1942 production The Jungle Book, starring Sabu. I hadn’t seen it in a while and it’s very entertaining. But when Mowgli encountered the giant snake Kaa, I listened carefully to the voice and realized it belonged to Mel Blanc. It had never occurred to me before; he’s speaking in a very low register so it isn’t immediately apparent. Then I thought of him performing his parody of a popular radio commercial in a Warner Bros. cartoon, saying, “Beee-Ohhh” and I was certain….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
(1) INVESTIGATION OF BAEN’S BAR. [Item by rcade.] Jason Sanford has published an investigative report on the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar, the private message board of the SF/F publisher Baen Books. “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon.
Some of the users advocating violence are even site moderators.
A moderator with the username Theoryman wrote, “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive…” Theoryman later in the thread suggested shooting transformers in cities with high-power rifles to make the cities “uninhabitable until restored,” adding in another post that “The point is to kill enough of them that they can not arise for another 50 years… or more.” …
[T]his user is a moderator for Baen’s Bar, meaning the publishing company selected this user to monitor and manage discussions on their forum.
While stating that he does not believe Baen Books endorses the calls for violence hosted on its forum, Sanford has questions he’d like Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf to be asked when she is the guest of honor at Worldcon this year.
During this year’s interview I’d really like Weisskopf to be asked about her company’s private forum being used to advocate for political violence. Does she find this acceptable? Does she condone these types of statements? Why did Baen Books previously ban some topics from their forum but doesn’t currently ban advocacy of political violence?
(2) RESPONSES TO SANFORD’S ARTICLE. There’s been an outpouring of response. Here is just a small sampling.
Well, I guess it’s time to burn this bridge. This is the last of a long chain of harmful behavior by Baen Books, and their Editor Toni Weisskopf. Set aside the political affiliations of the authors being mentioned. Baen’s stable is built around authors with a documented history of harassment. They are what’s known as missing stairs…
Jon Del Arroz tried to add a comment to the discussion on Sanford’s Patreon page – it’s gone now. “Helicopter rides” is a common right-wing reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s use of “death flights” to murder opponents.
Jason Sanford tweeted this update:
(3) REDISCOVERING SF BOOK CLUB ART. The second part of Doug Ellis’ series looking at the art of “Things to Come” (the newsletter of The Science Fiction Book Club) has now gone live over at Black Gate. This time he covers 1958-1960, which includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 2: 1958-1960”.
The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come, which announced the featured selections available and alternates, sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. However, in many cases the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else. Nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, and as a result hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while this installment covers 1958-1960, presented chronologically.
(4) HISTORY-MAKING ASTRONOMY. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with Katie Bouman, a professor at Caltech who was part of the Event Horizon Telescope team that took the first image of a black hole: The Imagination Desk: Katie Bouman.
Katie Bouman is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering, and astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California. In this episode, we talk about scientific collaboration, imagination, and Katie’s work on the Event Horizon Telescope, which produced the first image of a black hole by combining insights and methods from signal processing, computer vision, machine learning, and physics.
There is no shortage of silly science fiction films produced during the 1950s. With the fear and paranoia over the atomic bomb and its potentially monstrous mutations, the subgenre took the opportunity to explore some of the most outlandish stories, plots, and premises in cinematic history during this era….
It’s impressive to consider that this one is in effect last on their list. Imagine what must follow? (Plan 9 is number one.)
10. King Dinosaur
… Here’s the kicker. The giant monsters are led by King Dinosaur, which is really just an iguana forced to stand on its hind legs to appear like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The foursome uses atomic power to destroy the iguana in the end.
All landings on Mars are difficult, but NASA’s Perseverance rover is attempting to touch down in the most challenging terrain on Mars ever targeted. The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere. Engineers have referred to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” The landing sequence is complex and targeting a location like Jezero Crater on Mars is only possible because of new landing technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other Nominees fur this Award were The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin, The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also win the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, and be nominated for the HOMer, Nebula, Prometheus, Campbell Memorial and Clarke Awards.
(8) ALEXANDER OBIT. Wanda June Alexander, a freelance editor for Tor for 22 years (1984-2006), and a high school English teacher in New Mexico, died of cancer on February 14. One of the projects she worked on while with Tor was George R.R. Martin’s The Ice Dragon, a fully-illustrated children’s book.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 14, 1883 — Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu. I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery because he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. The Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” whose lead villain looked a lot like most depictions of Fu Manchu did. (Died 1959.) (CE)
Born February 15, 1915 – L. Robert Tschirky. Half a dozen covers, two interiors for us. Art director for Encyclopedia Americana; travel articles (particularly Spain) in e.g. the NY Times. Here is The Mislaid Charm. Here is Without Sorcery. Here is The Incomplete Enchanter. Here is Lest Darkness Fall.Here is a piece of bibliographic history. (Died 2003) [JH]
Born February 15, 1915 – Ian Ballantine. Pioneering publisher. First President of Bantam. Ballantine Books an early publisher of SF paperback originals; first publisher of authorized U.S. edition of Tolkien; a hundred Richard Powers covers. World Fantasy Award, SF Hall of Fame (both with wife Betty Ballantine). (Died 1995) [JH]
Born February 15, 1935 – Paul Wenzel, age 86. A score of covers. Here is the Nov 58 Galaxy. Here is the Sep 62 If. Here is the Dec 63 Fantastic. Here is the Aug 66 Worlds of Tomorrow. [JH]
Born February 14, 1945 — Jack Dann, 76. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won a Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well-stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born February 14, 1948 — Art Spiegelman, 73. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent. (CE)
Born February 15, 1951 – Lisanne Norman, age 70. Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories. Some activity with U.K. fandom. Interviewed in Interzone. “I trained as a teacher so I’m interested in everything…. used to read a minimum of 8 books a week…. it’s so easy now to be influenced while I’m writing that I don’t read nearly as much as before. [Yet] it’s mostly SF I read.” [JH]
Born February 14, 1958 — Cat Eldridge, 63. Cat Eldridge is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year. Repeatedly.” (CE)
Born February 14, 1971 — Renee O’Connor, 50. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably sure that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth. (CE)
Born February 15, 1959 – Elizabeth Knox, age 62. Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; eight other novels; essays. Co-founded the New Zealand literary journal Sport. Prime Minister’s Award. Companion of the NZ Order of Merit. Interviewed in SFRA (SF Research Ass’n) Review. Here she is on The Master and Margarita. [JH]
Born February 15, 1975 – Erick Setiawan, age 46. So far one novel, Of Bees and Mist (2009), about which there have been many yeas and nays – although I see little among us. In April 2013 he said “I am feverishly finishing another book – my plan is to get it done by end of year.” No blame, it’s hard work. [JH]
(11) I HEART PLUTO. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lowell Observatory is running the on-line I Heart Pluto this week. It started yesterday and runs through Thursday, which is the 91st anniversary of the discovery of Pluto. A full schedule can be found here including links to the talks already given.
Ron Miller will be speaking on Imagining Pluto on Wednesday and I’ll note that on his bio page, he is sitting with his Hugo Award.
… The video reveals two types of unidentified animals, shown here in a video from the British Antarctic Survey. The animals in red seem to have long stalks, whereas another type of animal, highlighted in white, looks more like a round sponge-like animal.,,,
The scientists say these animals are about 160 miles from the open sea.
“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there?” Griffith said in a press release. “What are they eating? How long have they been there?”
The scientists said their next step was to understand whether the animals were from a previously unknown species.
“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment,” Griffiths said.
(14) THE BRITCHES OF TOKO-RI. Jon Del Arroz continues to make his brand known everywhere.
(15) I’VE HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. There’s an app called PRAY where James Earl Jones reads The Bible. I’m wondering — if you don’t log in often enough, does he say “I find your lack of faith disturbing”?
… A YouTuber that goes by JKK Films put his cat, Wayne, into the trailer, and it’s incredible. There’s something so special about a giant super-imposed kitty yawning in the background while the big monster boys fight….
Have you ever wondered if the house in Up could really float away on balloons? So have I but that is not the most INTERESTING question! You see, people have tried to figure that out before. What I aim to do today, Loyal Theorists, is figure out the actual COST of making a balloon powered flying house WORK! That’s right, we are not stopping until this house would really fly!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Prometheus Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the characters in this Alien prequel are “the worst scientists you can imagine” because they take their helmets off in an alien cave because there’s breathable oxygen and try to escape a giant rolling spacecraft by trying to outrun it instead of leaping to one side.
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason Sanford, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Kit Harding, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, rcade, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
285 people have submitted The Hugo Awards nominations. Are you one of them? You do not have to submit your nominations in one go, start submitting now and come back later to add more up until the deadline of March 19, 11:59pm Pacific Time.
I hereby pledge that when I am a senior citizen, I will not be afraid of, resist, or complain about technology or cling to old-timey ways. I will learn how to use quantum conferencing suppositories and listen to electro-shamisen sea chanteys or whatever young people are doing. I will be part of Today tomorrow. Will join me in this pledge, pre-seniors?
“Percy,” the life-hunting Mars Perseverance rover, is scheduled to set down inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater. The rover launched on June 30, 2020.
What does it feel like to be a scientist embedded in the engineering team of a spacecraft? And to have Ray Bradbury speak at your commencement? Listen as NASA’s Dr.Sarah Milkovich, Ph.D. planetary geology, tells RBEM’s Dom Loise.
(4) JOURNEY PLANET. In the 57th issue of Journey Planet, James Bacon, Chris Garcia, and Chuck Serface handle the editing duties and the theme is King Arthur, a topic Chris has wanted to tackle since they started the zine back in 2008! Download here: Journey Planet 57: Arthur, King of the Britons.
Spanning multiple arenas of the Arthurian legend, there’s a massive 92 pages of material including looks at literature, theatre, comics, film, and even Vegas, baby!!! Bob Hole, Julian West, Steven H Silver, and the good Cardinal Cox handle the history, and Chris interviews Arthurian scholar and editor of Arthuriana Dorsey Armstrong. Laura Frankos gives us a marvelous view of the ‘legendary’ musical Camelot, while Neil Rest, Tony Keen, and Chris handle the world of film. There’s great comics coverage from Derek McCaw, Helena Nash, and Chuck, and a great fiction reprint from the exceptional Ken Scholes. All this wrapped in a cover by Vanessa Applegate, with art by Chris, Fionnula Murphy, Derek Carter, Bob Hole, the DeepDreamGenerator, and Matthew Appleton! We even have letters of comment!!!
This supersized beast also marks the first time Chris ever did layout on his phone!
When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, it struck the author and illustrator John Jennings as so unprecedented, such a break from American history, that it was like an event from some far-flung future.
“Before then, the only time you would see a president who was Black was in a science-fiction movie,” he said in a phone interview last month. Jennings compared it to the sorts of imaginative leaps one finds in the most forward-thinking works categorized as “Afrofuturist.”
This year, fans of Afrofuturism will see a bumper crop of comics and graphic novels, including the first offerings of a new line devoted to Black speculative fiction and reissues of Afrofuturist titles from comic-book houses like DC and Dark Horse.
“Afrofuturism isn’t new,” said Ytasha L. Womack, a cultural critic and the author of “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture,” a primer and history of the movement and aesthetic. “But the plethora of comics and graphic novels that are available is certainly a new experience.”
Graphic novels published in January included “After the Rain,” an adaptation of a short story by the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, and “Infinitum,” a tale of African kings and space battles by the New York-based artist Tim Fielder….
(6) BLACK PANTHER. While others are taking readers beyond, Ta-Nehisi Coates is still finishing his redefining work on the comic which ends with Black Panther #25 in April. The issue will bring fans the triumphant end to the “Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda” storyline.
Since taking over the title in 2016, the National Book Award winner and New York Times Best-Selling author has transformed the Black Panther mythos. Now five years later, he departs, leaving the world of Wakanda forever changed and laying the groundwork for the next bold era of this iconic Marvel hero.
“Ta-Nehisi has come up with a truly special finale here, one that not only wraps up the current story of T’Challa’s attempt to stop Emperor N’Jadaka’s conquest of Wakanda, but also deals with elements that reach all the way back to the beginning of Ta-Nehisi’s run….” said editor Wil Moss.
Throughout his run, Coates has taken the Black Panther to hell and back and expanded Wakanda into the distant stars. In his final issue, he’ll bring T’Challa full circle, back to the home he left behind…and the crown he has never fully accepted. The journey will conclude, but the legend remains.
…I really love a somewhat minor subplot in the book—Taryn’s father, the movie actor who has had roles in what are clearly the Lord of the Rings movies, going back to Wellington for what he thinks is a screen test for a new Peter Jackson project. Weta, Peter Jackson’s studio, plays a sometimes oversize role in the culture of your city. Has your writing life ever intersected with their work?
Oh, I can tell my Peter Jackson story. I saw his first movie, Bad Taste, in the film festival, and I really loved it. I mean, it’s fun, but it’s also the work of a very, very good director. And then he came into the bookshop and the museum where I was working, and my boss had been one of his helpers on the movie. He introduced me and said, “Elizabeth’s a writer.” And at that point I had just published my first novel. Peter Jackson gave me his WingNut Films card and said, “Do you want to write a screenplay for me?” And I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think I could do that.”
What a missed opportunity!
Well, it was very early on in both our careers.
(8) RAISING TWINS. “Superman & Lois” – “Their family is anything but ordinary.” Premieres Tuesday, February 23.
(9) THROWBACK. Here’s some artwork of Doctor Who’s seventh Doctor in the “rubber hose” cartoon style:
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 9, 1966 — Lost In Space’s “War Of The Robots” first aired as the twentieth episode of the first season. It is worth noting because the second robot in this episode is Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet. Robby the Robot would make a number of appearances in series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Addams Family. Robby the Robot was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2004.
An officially acknowledged day in New Mexico (Roswell), Extraterrestrial Culture Day celebrates extraterrestrial cultures, and our past, present and future relationships with extraterrestrial visitors.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 9, 1867 – Natsume Sôseki. (Personal name last, Japanese style; Sôseki is a pen name, Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese idiom meaning “stubborn”.) I Am a Cat is ours, indeed narrated by a cat. You can read a little about it here. A collection “Ten Nights’ Dreaming” and “The Cat’s Grave” is in English. He was a novelist, a poet – most of his work outside our field – and among much else a student of English literature. See this comparison with Shakespeare. (Died 1916) [JH]
Born February 9, 1928 – Frank Frazetta.A Hugo, three Chesleys (two for artistic achievement); Spectrum Grand Master, Writers & Illustrators of the Future and World Fantasy Awards for lifetime achievement; SF Hall of Fame, Eisner Hall of Fame, Kirby Hall of Fame, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. In comics, Westerns, fantasy, mystery, war, historical drama, funny animals; Buck Rogers; Flash Gordon; Li’l Abner with Al Capp. In our field perhaps most famous for Tarzan, Carson, Conan. Two hundred covers, sixteen hundred interiors; portfolios, sketchbooks, posterbooks; see e.g. Testament with Cathy & Arnie Fenner. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born February 9, 1935 — R. L. Fanthorpe, 76. I’m including him as he was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for Kindle Unlimited I’d say. (CE)
Born February 9, 1936 — Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James).Then he’s Ecto, whoever that character is, in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 9, 1942 — Marianna Hill, 79. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (The episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) She also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-Spy, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok the last one has to be least genre adjacent). (CE)
Born February 9, 1951 — Justin Gustainis, 70. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? (CE)
Born February 9, 1952 – Ben Yalow, F.N., age 69. Having attended eight hundred SF conventions, working on a third of them, his trademark Black Watch bowtie has become a symbol of SMOFfery. “SMOF” is “Secret Master Of Fandom”, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke, besides the Marty Balin comment; it’s come to mean the folks who put on SF cons, particularly those who study, argue about, and try to act on doing them better. Co-founder of SMOFcon. Edited four books for NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) Press; Fellow of NESFA (service); Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon X, OryCon ’87, ConDiego the 5th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas), Loscon 17, FenCon XIV; scheduled for Discon III the 79th Worldcon. His dry but not unsympathetic sense of humor is shown by his receiving the Rubble Award, and by remarks like “Running a Worldcon is impossible. Running a NASFiC is harder.” Big Heart (our highest service award). [JH]
Born February 9, 1954 – Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, age 67. A dozen novels, twoscore shorter stories. Her Star Wars novel (with Michael Reaves) Shadow Games was a NY Times Best-Seller. Besides prose writing, she’s a filker; she and husband Jeff Bohnhoff have won two Pegasus Awards as Best Performers, one for Best Parody; Guests of Honor at LepreCon 24, TusCon 30, Archon 30, Balticon 41, DucKon 17, 2t0nic the 20th British Filk Convention, FenCon VII, LepreCon 38, Windycon 42, Boskone 52; they are in the Filk Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born February 9, 1956 — Timothy Truman, 65. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked… (CE)
Born February 9, 1960 — Laura Frankos, 61. She’s written a bakers dozen of genre short stories. She’s more known for her Broadway history column “The Great White Wayback Machine” and has also published one mystery novel, Saint Oswald’s Niche. Wife of Harry Turtledove. Her Broadway Quiz Book is available on all digital platforms. (CE)
Born February 9, 1977 – Rhiannon Lassiter, age 44. Started writing young, sent a few chapters to her mother (Mary Hoffman)’s agent and to family friend Douglas Hill: result, two novels accepted by Macmillan when she was nineteen. A dozen novels, four shorter stories; book reviews in Armadillo and Strange Horizons. [JH]
Born February 9, 1981 – Amber Argyle, age 40. Sixteen novels, two shorter stories. She “grew up on a cattle ranch, and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court.” She and her husband are “actively trying to transform [three children] from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people”; a note elsewhere, however, says she is “fluent in all forms of sarcasm”. Has read Heart of Darkness, The Secret Garden, All Quiet on the Western Front, six Shakespeare plays. [JH]
(13) BOOKSTORE IS OVERNIGHT SUCCESS. Yesterday’s Scroll ran the Super Bowl-style commercial The Late Show with Steven Colbert did for a small business — Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina. The follow-up Colbert did last night starts at 1:32.
Foggy Pine Books owner Mary Ruthless said, “Three weeks ago, we were like… wondering how we were going to make it through winter. And now I’m having to hire, you know, a couple of extra people to help process all of the orders.”
…A Firefly Aerospace lander will launch to the moon in 2023 as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Firefly?”
…A janitor’s cart is far less interesting than the truth – that this is an artist’s rendering of the Blue Ghost, a robotic lander being built by Texas-based Firefly Aerospace to deliver 10 scientific experiments and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface in 2023. It will touch down in a lunar mare called Mare Crisium, a low-lying basin on the near side of the moon that measures more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) wide. The lander will carry instruments to study several aspects of the lunar surface in preparation for future human missions to the moon.
They came under the shadow of darkness – quite literally. Just as Dracula star Bela Lugosi was no doubt being tucked up for the night, director George Melford, cast and crew made their way on to the Universal studio lot in 1931 to shoot a Spanish-language version of the Bram Stoker 1897 horror novel, filmed using the same sets and costumes as the much more familiar Tod Browning masterwork….
Shot in half the time the Lugosi vehicle was allotted, and on a much smaller budget, Drácula contains revealing differences. It’s 29 minutes longer the Browning’s film, with more dialogue – we see more of Dracula’s castle; and the framing of shots are argubly superior – thanks to Melford’s crew having access to Dracula’s dailies when they arrived at night, thereby being able to make revisions to lighting and camera angles….
A working Apple-1, one of the tech giant’s first line of computers introduced back in 1976, is now up for auction on eBay for $1.5 million USD.
If you’re familiar with the history of Apple, then you’ll know that the Apple-1 is now rare memorabilia. Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, then sold wholesale by Steve Jobs, the two sold off some of their belongings to raise enough money to cover manufacturing costs — Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator.
… Leo has a point. All Things Considered is about to turn 50 years old. NPR’s archivists found the word “dinosaur” appearing in stories 294 times in the show’s history. By comparison, “senator” has appeared 20,447 times.
To remedy the situation, All Things Considered invited Leo to ask some questions about dinosaurs to Ashley Poust, a research associate at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Leo wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up….
Much like the coronavirus, monoliths refuse to be left behind in 2020.
The discovery of a new mysterious metal slab in Turkey on Friday was a throwback to a momentary craze from the olden days of November and December. Back then, a shiny, metal monolith appeared in the Utah desert without explanation, followed by copycats from California to Romania.
Perhaps art projects or perhaps the manifestation of pandemic-induced boredom, the monoliths captured the world’s attention for a fleeting moment. It remains unknown who created many of them, or why they were created, but they largely faded from cultural relevance as the world focused on other things, like the presidential transition, a coup in Myanmar or the Netflix show “Bridgerton.”
But the new monolith was gone after just four days. It vanished without explanation on Tuesday, according to local reports.
This despite the presence of something its predecessors didn’t have: armed guards.
The military police started an investigation to identify the people who planted the monolith in a rural area of Sanliurfa, a province in southeastern Turkey, according to DHA, a local news agency. The military police and village guards — government-paid civilians who work with the military police — stood watch as the investigation unfolded, protecting the monolith from any threats, DHA reported.
Also unlike previous monoliths, this one has an inscription. In the Gokturk alphabet, an ancient Turkic language, it reads: “Look at the sky, see the moon.”…
The United Arab Emirates’ orbiter reaches Mars on Tuesday, followed less than 24 hours later by China’s orbiter-rover combo. NASA’s rover, the cosmic caboose, will arrive on the scene a week later, on Feb. 18, to collect rocks for return to Earth — a key step in determining whether life ever existed at Mars.
Both the UAE and China are newcomers at Mars, where more than half of Earth’s emissaries have failed. China’s first Mars mission, a joint effort with Russia in 2011, never made it past Earth’s orbit. “We are quite excited as engineers and scientists, at the same time quite stressed and happy, worried, scared,” said Omran Sharaf, project manager for the UAE.
All three spacecraft rocketed away within days of one another last July, during an Earth-to-Mars launch window that occurs only every two years. That’s why their arrivals are also close together. Called Amal, or Hope in Arabic, the Gulf nation’s spacecraft is seeking an especially high orbit — 13,500 by 27,000 miles high (22,000 kilometers by 44,000 kilometers) — all the better to monitor the Martian weather.
China’s duo — called Tianwen-1, or “Quest for Heavenly Truth” — will remain paired in orbit until May, when the rover separates to descend to the dusty, ruddy surface. If all goes well, it will be only the second country to land successfully on the red planet.
The U.S. rover Perseverance, by contrast, will dive in straight away for a harrowing sky-crane touchdown similar to the Curiosity rover’s grand Martian entrance in 2012. The odds are in NASA’s favor: It’s nailed eight of its nine attempted Mars landings.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In a new “Pirates of the Caribbean Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says Pirates Of The Caribbean is “a wacky adventure where you disregard physics and probability and all that bring stuff. But it’s more fun that way!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Daniel Dern, Ben Bird Person, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) HWA YIELDS TO SAFETY CONCERNS. This year’s StokerCon will be virtual: “StokerCon™ 2021 Special Announcement”. The virtual event will keep the announced May 20 to 23 dates. Next-year’s in-person event will take place in Denver at the same hotel they intended to use in 2021.
The Horror Writers Association has made the difficult decision to shift StokerCon™ 2021 from an in-person event to a virtual platform during its originally scheduled May 20 to 23 dates. With the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of viral variants, and the broad range of travel obstacles around the world, we have deemed this to be the safest, most responsible way to hold the event.
As might be expected with an event of this size, switching to a virtual footing poses many challenges, but Con co-chairs, James Chambers and Brian Matthews; HWA President, John Palisano; Vice President, Meghan Arcuri; Administrator, Brad Hodson; and the officers and trustees of the HWA Board have made significant progress in executing this change. Our hope is to preserve the spirit of StokerCon™ and create an event that will resemble as closely as possible our usual programming—panels, presentations, interviews, author readings, ceremonies, and the Bram Stoker Awards® presentation. At this time our plans include the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, Librarians’ Day, Horror University, and the Final Frame Film Competition. And while we won’t be able to gather in the same place, all attendees of this virtual StokerCon™ will receive—or, outside the U.S., have the option to receive—a printed copy of the beautiful souvenir book created and edited by Josh Viola and HEX Publishing….
(2) BOSKONE’S INTERVIEW SERIES. Boskone 58, to be held February 12-14 has been running a series of interview posts.
…If you were planning a holiday or vacation and could visit any location, whether in the real world or fictional worlds, where would you go? Why?
I love portal fantasies. I always dreamed of the doors in other peoples’ writing and of walking through those doors into enchanted lands. Then I wrote my own. I now want to visit the house in Borderlanders and travel to strange places. I seldom want to visit anywhere I’ve written about, for I know all the downsides of all the places, but doors that lead to hidden seas or to rooms lined with liquid glass? That’s different.
…Hour of the Wolf premiered in early 1971, somewhere between January and early March. I was to engineer the majority of her programs. Adler came up with the title,taken from the 1967 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name starring Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow. Initially there was no consistent opening music theme until early 1972, when we saw the environmentally-aware science fiction movie Silent Running. The best thing in the film (IMO) was the fabulous soundtrack by Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame. There is a grand scene in the movie in which we see small robots caring for and watering the last trees in existence; the camera then pans out to an exterior perspective showing us that this is one of many ships set up as environmental domes. The name of this music is “The Space Fleet,” and once we found a copy in a bin in a 69-cent store, it became the official theme music of the show….
…In 1973, Margot and I both passed the entrance qualifications for the Clarion West Science Fiction Writers Workshop — an intense six-week seminar that featured a different teacher each week that was a veritable Who’s Who of progressive writing in the era. I could not afford to go to Seattle for that long, much less the entrance fee, plane fare, and room and board. Furthermore, Margot told me if I could not go, I would take over Hour of the Wolf in her absence. And that’s what happened. When Margot came back, she was offered a 7-9 AM slot twice a week, which fit her schedule better, and it was agreed that I would stay over after Hour of the Wolf and engineer her show as well….
… Every single time we start talking about who the next Doctor should be, people invariably start suggesting names so absurd and unlikely that you have to wonder if they’ve recently returned from a parallel universe, where appearing in a popular British sci-fi series is the pinnacle of creative and financial achievement.
Tilda Swinton? Richard Ayoade? Idris Elba? If people seriously think these sort of names are realistic, they haven’t been paying attention to the way the show is made, or its demands. It’s like watching the judges on The Masked Singer confidently predicting that Brad Pitt has decided to dress up as a talking clock and sing ballads on ITV primetime – while technically possible, not a suggestion that anyone could really take seriously….
(5) PRO TIPS. Lou J. Berger drew on his 15 years of experience for this writing advice on Facebook.
… The second bit of advice is to write for yourself, first and foremost. If you are changing your manuscript because you know exactly how each of your critique partners will judge it, see the above advice about finding a new group. The value of a strong critique group will ALWAYS be better than writing in a vacuum. Unless there’s toxicity. Then get the hell out, immediately.
Writing for yourself means that you write something you want to read. And when you read it through other people’s eyes, you are catering to another person’s will. We’ve been through enough in our lives, bending to the will of others. Don’t let your prose get sullied by that same desperate need to conform. It is in the writing of your HEART that you will find release, and the passions that stir you, in the quiet hallways of your own mind, deserve the treatment that only you, and you alone, can give them. Write your HEART and let the others be damned. If there’s one thing in this godforsaken world that you can lay claim to, it is your innermost, private thoughts, and they shall always be yours, the true essence of what makes you unique….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 7, 1992 — The Ray Bradbury Theater aired “The Utterly Perfect Murder” episode. Based on a short story by Bradbury, it concerns the long anticipated revenge of a boy tormented in his childhood who now thinks he has plotted the utterly perfect murder. It’s directed by Stuart Margolian, and stars Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and David Turri. You can watch it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 7, 1478 – Sir Thomas More. Recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Renowned among us for Utopia, which would be just fine if we read it carefully enough to realize that, as Lafferty had a fictional TM repeat in Past Master, it’s a satire. (Died 1535) [JH]
Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens. Many of us know “A Christmas Carol”, with ghosts; he wrote fourscore more fantastic stories, among much else he is still famous for; some say he believed the end of Mr. Krook in Bleak House was possible, others call it fantasy. I can’t let CD’s greatness go without saying, but it’s mostly outside our field. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born February 7, 1883 – John Taine. A dozen novels, three shorter stories. Under another name he earned a Ph.D., taught math at Cal Tech, wrote Men of Mathematics which he wanted to entitle The Lives of Mathematicians, and several others, The Queen of the Sciences, The Handmaiden of the Sciences, The Development of Mathematics, Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science, of substantial literary ability in this subject which is far easier to do than to write prose about. (Died 1960) [JH]
February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He played the lead roles in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do so although other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born February 7, 1913 – Henry Hasse. His superb “He Who Shrank” is in the superb Healy-McComas anthology Adventures in Time and Space. Since this is File 770, I’ll note HH is named co-author of Ray Bradbury’s “Pendulum”, Sep 41 Super Science Stories, which I understand is RB’s first publication in a prozine. A story “The Pendulum” appeared in the Fall 39 Futuria Fantasia, RB’s fanzine. The Kent State Univ. Collected Stories of RB vol. 1 lists both: do you know how they differ? I can’t get at these sources just now. But we digress. One novel; twoscore more shorter stories, two with RB, two with Emil Petaja, two with Albert de Pina. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born February 7, 1921 – John Baltadonis. Today is the hundredth birth-anniversary of this fannish giant (he was in fact 6’2″ [1.9 m] tall). See the note about him yesterday, No. 6 in the Pixel Scroll. Don’t neglect his fanart; we did during his life, he never had enough Best Fanartist nominations even to reach the Hugo ballot. [JH]
February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant, 72. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (CE)
February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 71. Michael Toman in a letter to our OGH asked we note her Birthday as he has a “A Good Word for one of his favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and ““The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. (CE)
February 7, 1952 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.) (CE)
February 7, 1955 — Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World. Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voice Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.) (CE)
February 7, 1960 — James Spader, 61. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No, I did not enjoy that film, nor the Ultron character. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter. (CE)
Born February 7, 1990 – Jessica Khoury, age 30. Seven novels. “Read as much as you can, in as many genres as you can. Read insatiably. Read ingredients on your food. Read warning labels on heavy machinery. Read the newspaper, read magazines, read manga”. [JH]
Last week, reported The Hollywood Reporter, a near-mint copy of the Batman No. 1 comic, published in 1940, “sold as part of Heritage Auction’s comics and comic art events. … The final price was $2,220,000, which included the buyer’s premium fee.” Just in case you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay your monthly health insurance premium or children’s college tuition, that number, to repeat, was $2,220,000—a record for “the most expensive Batman comic ever sold.”
Does that mean that other comic books have sold for more? Well, according to Helen Stoilas in The Art Newspaper, “The rare 1940 issue, which marks the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, is the second most-expensive comic book ever sold. Even before the live sale opened on Thursday [Jan. 14], the start of Heritage’s four-day Comics and Comic Art event, online pre-bidding for the comic book had shot up to $1.9 million. Its sale of $2.22 million, to a U.S. bidder on the auction house’s online HA Live platform, knocked out the previous Batman record holder, a copy of 1939’s Detective Comics #27, which introduced the character to the world and sold for $1.5 million at Heritage this past November.”
(10) THROWBACK TEAM. “Justice Society: World War II” on YouTube is a trailer for a new WB cartoon about the original matchup of DC superheroes.
It’s a world of corsets, stays and chemises. Of weskits, bum rolls, breeches and hoop panniers. For actors, wearing period costume has long meant literally stepping into the past: lacing soft modern flesh into antique shapes and learning how to use the toilet without peeling off multiple layers.
“Bridgerton,” Shonda Rhimes’s racially diverse Netflix series set in 1813 England, has suddenly ignited new interest in Regency fashions. But a global community of hobbyists has been designing, making and wearing clothing from the 19th century and earlier for many years. Long a private obsession fueled by films like “The Leopard” and “Pride and Prejudice,” social media has widened the conversation, with fans of all ages and backgrounds worldwide now trading notes on how best to trim a sleeve or adjust a straw bonnet.
Pre-pandemic, they gathered in Los Angeles at Costume College, an annual conference, at Venice’s Carnival and the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles. Some lucky Europeans, like Filippa Trozelli, find themselves invited to wear their historical clothing to private parties at ancient local estates….
A USS Enterprise and Deep Space Nine themed cat tree: it’s what every Star Trek loving feline owner’s home has been missing. And now thanks to Etsy seller CE360designs, you can finally fill that void with a custom Star Trek Enterprise 1701D and DS9 Wood Cat Tower. You know they say good things come in small packages, but I imagine this box being on the larger side.
According to the sales copy, “The bottom is a wormhole but can be a Borg ship.”
A laser-light sensor that can identify bacteria in a wound may sound far-fetched, but it’s already becoming a reality, thanks in part to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The technology is going to Mars for the first time on Perseverance, which will touch down on the Red Planet in February, but it’s already detecting trace contaminants in pharmaceutical manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and other important operations on Earth.
That’s not the only technology headed to Mars that’s already paying dividends on the ground. Here on Earth, these innovations are also improving circuit board manufacturing and even led to a special drill bit design for geologists….
Researchers at the University of Maryland have turned ordinary sheets of wood into transparent material that is nearly as clear as glass, but stronger and with better insulating properties. It could become an energy efficient building material in the future.
Wood is made of two basic ingredients: cellulose, which are tiny fibres, and lignin, which bonds those fibres together to give it strength.
Tear a paper towel in half and look closely along the edge. You will see the little cellulose fibres sticking up. Lignin is a glue-like material that bonds the fibres together, a little like the plastic resin in fibreglass or carbon fibre. The lignin also contains molecules called chromophores, which give the wood its brown colour and prevent light from passing through.
Early attempts to make transparent wood involved removing the lignin, but this involved hazardous chemicals, high temperatures and a lot of time, making the product expensive and somewhat brittle. The new technique is so cheap and easy it could literally be done in a backyard….
In each episode, we perform a reading and discussion of his works with a special guest. Avram Davidson (1923–1993) was a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and crime fiction. Davidson was born in Yonkers, NY and and served in the Navy during World War II. His life work includes 19 novels and over 200 short stories, all of which have been widely recognized for their wit and originality. Davidson’s works have won awards in three genres: an Edgar Award for mystery, a Hugo Award for science fiction, and three World Fantasy Awards.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Professor Layton” on Honest Game Trailers, Fandom Games says that while Professor Layton is “the world’s worst Sherlock Holmes cosplayer” the game’s many quizzes should appeal to fans of “anime, Agatha Christie, and people who enjoy the puzzle section in the newspaper.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, Will R., Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
…Her relationship with poetry dates at least to the third grade, when her teacher read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine”to the class. She can’t recall what metaphor caught her attention, but she remembers that it reverberated inside her….
…Gorman, all of 22, became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 in 2014 and the first national youth poet laureate three years later. On Wednesday, she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration, following in the considerably more experienced footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost…
In Bradbury’s book, Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury recommended that everyone start off their morning by reading poetry.
…Seeing the Capitol with broken windows, smashed doors, blood streaked on statues, and feces smeared on the floors and walls was something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime, even having watched Trump in action for four years, so it’s no wonder I’ve been holding my breath ever since January sixth and especially watching the inauguration, afraid something even worse would happen.
When Biden finished taking the oath of office, I took my first easy breath in four years. I thought of John Adams in 1776 murmuring, “It’s done. It’s done,” after the Declaration of Independence was passed.
(3) NEW BEGINNING. N.K. Jemisin was momentarily surprised:
…Not just bad, of course: In fact, the worst. A recitation of his moral failures and actual probable crimes would have us here all day, so let’s pick just one: 400,000 dead, so far, from COVID during his presidency. He is not responsible for the virus. He is responsible for denying its seriousness; for choosing to downplay it because he thought it would make him look bad; for making something as simple and useful as wearing a mask a political issue; for bungling a national response to it and then the distribution of medical supplies and, later, vaccines; for spreading misinformation and lies about it; for, fundamentally, not caring about his fellow Americans, and viewing the pandemic through the lens of him, not us. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now dead would be alive under a better president. Their deaths are on his hands, and he simply doesn’t care. He never will.
… While the BBC has yet to officially confirm Whittaker’s exit, the regeneration rumour mill has already begun, with all sorts of actors (Michaela Coel! Kris Marshall!) put forward by fans to succeed her ahead of any official recasting.
Assuming, of course, that the next Doctor is announced – because recently, we’ve been wondering. Could the next Doctor actually, for the first time in history, be a total surprise in Whittaker’s last episode, only revealed to viewers when he or she first appears?
… Sadly, production considerations have meant that this has never really been possible, with the new Doctor usually filming their first series publicly before the previous Doctor has moved on (and so making it nigh-impossible to keep secret). But this year, something’s a little different.
When Doctor Who kicked off series 13 filming in November 2020, many assumed that the 10-month shoot would debut in early 2022, giving the series plenty of postproduction time before it came to screens. But surprisingly, the BBC have instead confirmed that series 13 will kick off in late 2021 (presumably in October/November), giving quite a quick turnaround between the end of filming (estimated to be around August) and the airing.
With this in mind, assuming a new Doctor is revealed in Jodie Whittaker’s final episode it’s extremely unlikely that filming for the next series would have begun already. Filming on series 13 would have only wrapped a few months before and the production team would likely be on a break.
In other words, the next Doctor wouldn’t be at as much risk of discovery – and this could offer a golden opportunity.
Based in San Francisco at the height of his writing career, Milne has been hailed as the father of American science fiction and is now the subject of intensive research at Dundee University to restore his place in Scotland’s literary history and landscape – including republishing his stories.
“If he didn’t exist you would have to invent him because there is this kind of Milne-shaped gap between Scotland and the history of science fiction which he fits into absolutely perfectly,” said Dr Keith Williams, a Reader in English at Dundee University’s School of Humanities.
“Scotland appears to punch way below its weight in relation to early science fiction pioneering, yet in actual fact it has this really extraordinary and amazingly rich, lost presence who has just slipped through the cracks of the canon by a series of historical accidents.”
First and foremost was an actual accident. Milne, who had published most of his stories in San Francisco literary journal The Argonaut was on his way to a meeting to discuss bringing out his magazine works as a book.
“Then during one of his spectacular benders, because he was a heroic drunk, he was run over by one of San Francisco’s new electric street cars. He had this head-on collision with modernity himself.
“Ironically, that cut his career short and basically meant his work was never edited together into a single volume or even a selection of material in his lifetime.”
This tragedy meant Milne and his trailblazing work – he inspired not only the science fiction genre but some actual scientific advancements as well – was all but forgotten, while writers who came after him are still lauded to this day.
(7) CARBON COPIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the January 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at how game developers deal with environmental issues.
Games have flirted with environmentalism over the years. In 1990, a decade after Will Wright made the first Sims game, he incorporated global warming into Simearth, threatening players’ planets with rising temperatures that could melt ice caps and cause oceans to boil away. The next year, in the first Civilisation, rising pollution levels could turn plains into deserts, a concept revisited in 2018’s Gathering Storm expansion for Civilisation VI. A recent add-on for Minecraft introduced carbon dioxide to the game, which rises to dangerous levels if you smelt ore, but diminished when you plant trees. Several new games set for release this year also tackle environmental themes: We Are The Countdown tasks players with protecting huge animals in its Afrofuturist world, while Endling casts you as a mother fox protecting her cubs from threats such as climate change and pollution.
There are also games that prioritize environmental messaging over the fun of their gameplay. These include Plasticity, an elegant platformer where you traverse a world drowning under plastic waste, and the work of Earth Games, a studio which releases educational projects with laboured titles such as Soot Out At The O C Corral, in which you attempt to catch falling soot particles before they contaminate the snow.
(8) BEYOND STOP-MOTION AND GO-MOTION. A recent acquisition for the Academy Museum’s collection, a Jurassic Park T. rex Dinosaur Input Device will be on display inside “Invented Worlds & Characters,” a set of galleries dedicated to the history of animated films, special and visual effects: “Making Digital Dinosaurs: The Dinosaur Input Device”.
Few pieces of filmmaking technology encapsulate their particular moment as thoroughly as the Dinosaur Input Device. Developed for Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Jurassic Park (1993), the Dinosaur Input Device (or DID, pronounced dee eye dee) was an innovative answer to that film’s core creative problem: how to bring an array of prehistoric creatures to life on screen in a way that felt fresh and believable.
Jurassic Park’s DID provided a physical interface that allowed traditional stop-motion animators to produce the seeds of digital graphics. Like many innovations, the DID was born on the fly. With the film already underway, an interdisciplinary effects team created and used it to push the boundaries of then-established practice. Today, almost 30 years later, the DID continues to claim our attention, not only because of the awe-inspiring images it helped create, but also because it marked a paradigm shift in visual effects, bridging practical and digital techniques in a way few tools had before—or since….
(9) SAHLIN OBIT. Olle Sahlin (1956-2021), a Swedish translator, editor, graphic designer, and photographer died January 9. Regarded as a “nerd icon,” he was active in RPG, LARP, SCA, Forodrim (the Stockholm area Tolkien society), and fanzines. From 1986-1993 Sahlin worked at Target Games (Adventure Games) as editor. Over the years he was editor-in-chief of Sinkadus magazine, and later published the journals Centurion and Fëa Livia. His literary translations include Stephen Donaldson’s Mordant series, Philip Pullman’s The Dark Matter series, and nine of Terry Pratchett’s novels.
Hospitalized in a coma several years ago, Sahlin never fully recovered, and lost his life earlier this month. He is survived by his wife, Karolina, for whom a GoFundMe has been started:.
And for Karolina, these are difficult times. She has not only lost her lifelong partner, she is alone with all the practical things that must be taken care of, and a broken financial situation. Being freelancing translators is a challenge and income varies, and with Olle being ill for a long period, they have not been able to work as much as usual.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 20, 1884 — A. Merritt. His first fantasy story was published in 1917, “Through the Dragon Glass” in the November 14 issue of All-Story Weekly. His SFF career would eventually consist of eight novels and fifteen (I think) short stories. I’m sure that I’ve read The Moon Pool, his novel, and much of that short fiction, but can’t recall the other novels as being read by me. In the digital release, Apple Books is clearly the better place to find his work as they’ve got everything he published whereas Kindle and Kobo are spotty. (Died 1943.) (CE)
Born January 20, 1920 — DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” being his only ones as he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born January 20, 1926 — Patricia Neal. Best known to genre buffs for her film role as World War II widow Helen Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still. She also appeared in Stranger from Venus, your usual British made flying saucer film. She shows up in the Eighties in Ghost Story based off a Peter Straub novel, and she did an episode of The Ghost Story series which was later retitled Circle Of Fear in hopes of getting better ratings (it didn’t, it was cancelled). If Kung Fu counts as genre, she did an appearance there. (Died 2010) (CE)
Born January 20, 1934 — Tom Baker, 87. The Fourth Doctor and my introduction to Doctor Who. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worse of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. He did have a turn before being the Fourth Doctor as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he turns up as Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low-budget films early on such as The Vault of Horror, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The Mutations, The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
Born January 20, 1948 — Nancy Kress, 73. Best known for her Hugo and Nebula Award winning Beggars in Spain and its sequels. Her latest novel is If Tomorrow Comes: Book 2 in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy. (CE)
Born January 20, 1958 — Kij Johnson, 63. Writer and associate director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas English Department which is I must say a cool genre thing to be doing indeed. If you’ve not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She’s will stocked at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born January 20, 1964 — Francesca Buller, 57. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career. (CE)
Digital comics delivered via mobile devices are starting to take significant creative and commercial steps forward. Last year Webtoon, owned by Korean tech giant Line, posted dramatic user and revenue growth, driven by large investments in attracting new customers. That was not a fluke: Tapas, a smaller U.S.-based mobile comics startup, has also announced impressive recent growth, along with plans to partner with traditional print publishers like Scholastic.
Founded in 2012, Tapas has grown a dedicated community of readers and creators through a popular mobile app, Tapas.io, which features “snackable” vertical-scroll episodic webcomics and stories. In the last year, the privately-held company announced it had reached 100 million episode-unlocks (paid content transactions) and saw total 2020 payments to Tapas creators rise to $14 million….
The site’s founder The G started the site in 2012 with co-editor Vance K, and we’ve added co-editors Joe Sherry and Adri Joy in the last few years. In addition to the editors, who also contribute content, our current team of writers includes Aidan Moher, Andrea Johnson, Chloe N. Clark, Dean E. S. Richard, Mikey, Paul Weimer, Phoebe, Sean Dowie, Shana DuBois, and Spacefaring Kitten.
Why did you decide to start your site or zine?
At the time, I was reading a lot of SF/F and – being an opinionated person – felt the need to blast those opinions out into the ether. But I also didn’t think running a blog on my own sounded like as much fun as running one with other people. So I asked Vance if he wanted to start one with me (it didn’t take him long to say yes). After that we gradually added more people – some we knew personally, and others we met online. — The G, founder
G and I were next door neighbors in Los Angeles for about three years — both transplants from places with robust and storied BBQ traditions. There was a lot of grilling in our shared courtyard as a result, and over the course of many beers and cooked meats, we talked a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. After we’d both moved to new spots, he got the idea for a blog, and I think the night he reached out about it, I had just watched a deeply odd French psychological horror movie, and I was like, “I know just what to write about.” — Vance K
The obvious comparisons made about Netflix’s French language hit is with Sherlock: a modern day re-imagining of a turn-of-the-century character. The first episode suggests a slickness of form suggestive of Sherlock but Lupin as a show is less impressed with its own cleverness and more interested in the central character. The bold choice is that central character is not Arsène Lupin Gentleman Burglar but Assane Diop, the son of a Senegalese immigrant who has reshaped his life to emulate the famous (at least in France) character….
Mars is about to be a very busy place when three separate missions arrive at the red planet in February.
One of those missions includes NASA’s Perseverance rover. When it lands, we’ll be able to hear the sounds of Mars for the first time, thanks to microphones riding on the rover.
A new interactive experience shared by the agency will prepare our ears for a key difference in the sounds of Mars: the atmosphere. The thin Martian atmosphere has only 1% of the density that we experience of Earth’s atmosphere at the surface. It also has a different atmospheric composition. Mars is also much colder than Earth. All of these factors will affect sound on Mars, even though the differences may be subtle.
The NASA interactive compares sounds as we hear them on Earth versus how they may sound on Mars, like birds chirping or music. If you were speaking on Mars, your voice would sound more muffled and it would take longer for others to hear you.
So what will we be able to hear on Mars? The microphones are expected to pick up the sounds of the rover landing and working on Mars, as well as ambient noises like wind. One of the microphones is located on top of the rover’s mast, so it can pick up natural sounds and even activity by the rover — like when the rover’s laser zaps rock samples and turns them into plasma to learn more about their composition.
…The Perseverance rover carries two microphones, letting us directly record the sounds of Mars for the very first time. One, an experimental mic, may capture the landing itself. The other mic is for science. Both mics may even capture the sounds the rover makes.
Even though Earth and Mars are entirely different planets, it may be comforting to know that if you were on Mars, you might still sound pretty much like yourself. If you were standing on Mars, you’d hear a quieter, more muffled version of what you’d hear on Earth, and you’d wait slightly longer to hear it. On Mars, the atmosphere is entirely different. But, the biggest change to audio would be to high-pitch sounds, higher than most voices. Some sounds that we’re used to on Earth, like whistles, bells or bird songs, would almost be inaudible on Mars….
…Paleontologists discovered the fossilized remains of a 98 million-year-old titanosaur in Neuquén Province in Argentina’s northwest Patagonia, in thick, sedimentary deposits known as the Candeleros Formation.
The 24 vertebrae of the tail and elements of the pelvic and pectoral girdle discovered are thought to belong to a titanosaur, a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, characterized by their large size, a long neck and tail, and four-legged stance.
In research published in the journal Cretaceous Research, experts say they believe the creature to be “one of the largest sauropods ever found” and could exceed the size of a Patagotitan, a species which lived 100 million to 95 million years ago and measured up to a staggering 37.2 meters (122 feet) long….
For the entirety of my career as a journalist covering paleontology, I’ve been wanting to know: What does a dinosaur’s butthole look like? When I wrote My Beloved Brontosaurus, a book about dinosaur biology, the chapter on reproduction required a lot of time imagining the nature of a Jurassic behind; one had yet to be found preserved. Even dinosaur models and sculptures often demur on the point of the dino butt, leaving the terrible lizards with terrible constipation.
Now I finally have a clearer view, thanks to a fossil of a horned dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, described in a paper online earlier this month…
Stacy Milrany probably runs the only art gallery in the country where visitors are encouraged to walk away with the art.
And as far as she knows, her Little Free Art Gallery in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood is likely the only museum where all of the works will fit neatly in a pocket.Milrany’s miniature gallery, which opened for public view on Dec. 13, sits five feet off the ground inside a white wooden box in front of her house.
The head curator and painter said she based her idea on the popular Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods coast to coast.
“The idea is pretty simple — anyone is welcome to leave a piece, take a piece or just have a look around and enjoy what’s inside,” said Milrany, a painter who runs a small, appointment-only gallery featuring her works. … Nearly 100 pieces have come and gone since the gallery opened last month, she said, with most small enough to be displayed on tiny shelves or seven-inch easels.
I’ve heard the name of this neighborhood before and wouldn’t be surprised if some fans live nearby.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the pace of recovery and turning piles of debris into public safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.
…“This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process,” said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. “You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19.”
Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn’t have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.
Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday’s council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.
“We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down,” Johnson said. “We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding.”
(2) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2020 cover art is by Bob Eggleton for “The Shadows of Alexandrium” by David Gerrold.
(3) QUITE A FASCINATING ARTICLE. In “My First Thriller: David Morrell” on CrimeReads, Rick Pullen interviews Morrell, who explains that sf writer and Penn State English professor Philip Klass not only inspired Morrell to find the path he needed to complete First Blood (whose protagonist was John Rambo) but also introduced Morrell to his first agent.
…He read the show’s credits, noting that Stirling Silliphant was the creator. His local library found the address for the “Route 66” production company (the beginning of Morrell’s love affair with libraries). He mailed Silliphant a hand-written letter, saying “I want to be you.” Surprisingly, Silliphant wrote back with a single-spaced, two-page letter within the week. (The framed letter now hangs in Morrell’s office.)
“I wish I had some specific advice for you or encouragement,” wrote Silliphant, “but what I have to say is certainly not new. Keep writing…eventually if you have something of promise to say, someone will help you or hire you.”
…While at Penn State, he met science fiction writer Philip Klass, better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, who taught the basics of fiction writing.
“It was astonishing that a university would hire a real writer. He did not have a degree. He was the backbone of their creative writing department…I couldn’t get into his classes. They filled up right away. So Klass agreed to meet me during office hours.”
To test Morrell, Klass instructed him to turn in a short story every week, and every week he did.
Eventually Klass summoned Morrell to his office and begged him to stop writing fiction. “You’re terrible,” he said.
“He was right,” Morrell says. “I was writing bad Joyce and Faulkner.”
From Klass, he learned “every writer has a dominant emotion.” Morrell’s was fear. Maybe if he wrote honestly about fear, Klass told him, he would stop writing all of his horrible imitation fiction.
“I took him at his word.”…
(4) HELP NEEDED. Filer Lenora Rose hopes someone can lend a hand:
I have a writer’s issue to do with language — specifically semi-Nordic language — and I think this might be the right place to ask for help?
So I’m dealing with a fantasy setting that is used for the course of at least three books. One of the countries major characters come from speaks something I have been rendering, for the purpose of getting through the rough drafts, as quasi-Nordic — sometimes actually looking up words in Swedish or Norwegian or Icelandic and picking the one that sounds the least like English, and also going a Germanic style take two or three words and squish them together. It didn’t help that I decided they were the culture where the names of humans mostly translate to other nouns (Snow, Willow, etc) and the names of the non-human sapient race are usually those Germanic-style squished-together compounds (Bright Witty Magpie is one, as is Stream in Spring Flood). The protagonist is a multi-linguist and cares about this stuff.
Well, the story is now getting into final draft stages in every other way, and the placeholder language is still something that would almost certainly give any linguist or speaker of any of the related Scandinavian languages creeping horrors.
It certainly bothers me, because in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” way, I’m terrified I am going to end up, (as one author did when inventing names she thought sounded Welsh), naming someone a slang term for women’s hygiene products or something similarly terrible.
So basically I need a consult with someone who speaks a related language and would be willing to make non-painful translations or naming suggestions, or a linguist to do the same. *I am assuming this is something where I should pay for their time in some way*, at least if it goes past an initial consultation.
If anyone is willing to help, please relay your email through OGH – mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
….With 2020 seeing the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to many conversations about inclusivity, [George R.R.] Martin’s mispronunciations have taken on a deeper meaning.
“The backlash is absolutely justified,” said Hugo award winner and British fantasy author Jeanette Ng. “But I am sometimes frustrated that it gets reduced down to an anger about him mispronouncing names rather than this deeper tension between competing visions of the genre and the award…Whilst the mispronunciations matter, they are ultimately a symptom of that deeper disconnect of what the [awards are meant to do].”
(6) ASFA SPONSORS BIPOC MEMBERSHIPS. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists is offering “Sponsored Memberships For BIPOC”. Donations have raised the number available to 15.
In recognition of systemic biases against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & other People of Color) both within the Speculative Fiction & Fantasy communities and without, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists intends to sponsor memberships in the organization for BIPOC artists. These sponsorships will be open to up-and-coming artists as well as established artists, and each membership will convey voting rights in the annual Chesley Awards in addition to periodic opportunities to exhibit in shows with other ASFA artists. Additionally, ASFA encourages its BIPOC members to participate in our Board elections, as candidates for Board positions and as voters, to ensure that the organization’s representatives are truly representative of our membership and our aspirations for the community overall.
The site of America’s first nuclear meltdown — and subsequent cover-up — in the picturesque hills of Ventura County may soon join Hearst Castle, the cable cars of San Francisco, and the Santa Barbara Mission as an official landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing asa traditional cultural property.
…Hidden within the chaparral and rocky peaks of the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Field Lab conducted research that was critical to the nation’s Cold War ambitions, yet toxic to the Earth. The partial meltdown released radioactive gasses that the public was never warned about, and spent rocket fuel, heavy metals and other toxins contaminated the soil and groundwater.
…Now, NASA and a coalition of Native American groups have proposed the area be designated a traditional cultural district. The move has been opposed by critics, who fear that strict laws protecting Native American artifacts, combined with terms of the 2010 agreement, could make it difficult to clean up contamination.
4. Winning an award is not always as important as being a finalist. I can speak to this personally: In terms of my career, it was far more important for me to have been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo award in 2006, than it was for me to win it in 2013. Why? Because in 2006 I was new to the field, and having my first novel nominated was a thing, especially when coupled with the nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I was the first person in more than twenty years to get nominated for the Campbell and Best Novel in the same year, and it changed my status in the field from “who is John Scalzi” to “oh, that’s John Scalzi.”
I didn’t win the Hugo that year (nor should I have: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won, and deservedly so), but it didn’t matter because the boost put me in a different career orbit. When I did win the Best Novel award, several years later, it was great, and I loved it, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. But careerwise, it wasn’t a transforming event. It was a confirming event. My professional career didn’t change all that much after I won. Whereas being nominated earlier was transforming, and ultimately more important to my career.
…The novel, which follows the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan that fans originally fell for in the first Twilight book back in 2005, is currently No. 1 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List as well as on The New York Times’s Children’s Series List. While the original book series —which was adapted into a franchise of movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the leading roles — was told from the point of view of Bella, this version takes readers inside the mind of her bloodsucking boyfriend, Edward.
Something about that last line sounds a little off….
When I first envisioned Web-beings, it was a thought experiment on a biological basis for being semi-immortal. I arrived at the notion of organisms who manipulate their molecular structure using energy to repair aging and damage. It led me to aliens who’d hide themselves by cycling, as I called it, into the form of shorter-lived intelligent species. To be convincing, they’d need to know how to behave as one. Thus I had them (there were six at the start) collect and share everything they discovered about a species, from its biology (and thus how to be that form) to every aspect of society and culture.
When your memory consists of your flesh, you’re able to store vast amounts of information, which Web-beings exchange by biting off bits of one another. (I love my job.)…
(11) A CONZEALAND SOUVENIR. W.O.O.F. #45 put together by the Worldcon Order of Fan-Editors for CoNZealand is a free download from eFanzines [PDF file]. It boasts a cover by Tim Kirk, and contributions from John Purcell, Chris Garcia, Rich Lynch, Chuck Connor, Ahrvid Engholm, Evelyn & Mark Leeper, David Schlosser, Mark Blackman, Andrew Hooper, Murray Moore, Kees van Toorn, Wolf von Witting, R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Roger Hill, Alan Stewart, and Phil Wlodarczyk. Guy H. Lillian III served as the Offcial Editor.
(12) I DON’T KNOW — THIRD BLAST! On the Dragon Awards site: “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 3” with Kevin J. Anderson, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Richard Fox, Claudia Gray, Brian Niemeier, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove.
If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?
Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.
(13) BOOK ANNVERSARY.
August 2015 —[Item by Cat Eldridge.]The House of Shattered Wings, the first of her Dominion of The Fallen series by French-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard was published by Roc in the U.S. It would be the first novel in what has been a prolific and award-rich writing career. In addition to the decadent, ruined Paris set of the Dominion of The Fallen series, there’s her Xuya stellar empire where she makes rich use of her French-Vietnamese heritage. Of the new writers I’ve been reading (and most are female), I think she’s one that bears watching as it’ll be interesting to see what new universes come from her. And yes I’m waiting for the first Xuya novel somewhat impatiently.
(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 13, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Not New York City as is popularly believed.) It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success with it earning back its budget in its first run. And it would won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating. (CE)
(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 13, 1895 — Bert Lahr. Best remembered and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though In the war film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1899 — Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1909 — Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in. “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1922 — Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Empaths in “Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of Giants, Invaders, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1928 – Sir George Pollock, Bt. The 5th baronet (an oversimplification); pursued photography that had light itself as its subject; invented color photographs using controlled light, originally through glass, which he called Vitrograph; later, large-scale photographic murals. Five book and magazine covers for us; here is New Writings in SF 3. Two album covers for His Master’s Voice; here is HQM 1008 with Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (translation in part by Michael Flanders!), here is HQM 1026 with Prokofievand Shostakovich. Here is Galactic Event. Website here (under re-construction but some help). Appreciation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain here (“NGV” is Nat’l Gallery of Victoria) (PDF). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born August 13, 1932 – John Berkey. A hundred seventy covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Mixed his own colors. Here is Starman Jones. Here is Star SF 6. Here is the Nov 94 SF Age. Here is a Star Wars book. Here is One Giant Leap. Four artbooks; lastly J. Frank ed., The Art of John Berkey. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Spectrum Grand Master. Website here. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 13, 1945 – Rita Krupowicz. (She usually signed “R.J. Krupowicz”.) Ten covers, as many interiors. Here is The Dark Cry of the Moon.Here is the Nov 85 Fantasy & Science Fiction. This is from The Vortex Library on Twitter. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born August 13, 1952 – Donna Barr, 68. Enlisted in the U.S. Army, school-trained Teletype operator. Much of her work self-published, available electronically. Stinz was serialized in the Eclipse Comics series The Dreamery (hello, Lex Nakashima). GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) and Traveller role-playing books. “I usually do a rough on scrap paper (junk mail has lots of blank backs!), happily cutting and pasting, then I copy the whole thing (so the back is clear), rearrange the copy backwards on the back of the final paper, slap in some lettering guides, flip it over on a light table, and use it as a rough guide while I ink. No penciling, and no erasing.” Website here. [JH]
Born August 13, 1974 – Christina Henry, 46. A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Alice, Red Queen and Looking Glass are “a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; The Girl in Red is “a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood novel”. The Ghost Tree, expected next month, is “an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls. Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work).” [JH]
Born August 13, 1977 — Damian O’Hare, 43. Though you might know him from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter. (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 — Sara Serraiocco, 30. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I’ve got on the iPad for watching soon. Anyone watch this? (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 – Marlon Pierre-Antoine, 30. “Helena’s Empire” is an E-book novelette. Its sequel Wandering Stars explores a teenage girl’s whblooming romance with Lucifer (i.e. after his fall), whom she meets on a beach. MP ranks The Divine Comedy above Animal Farm, both below The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [JH]
Years after the completion of the second outing of his alternate history series The American Way, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley is returning to comics to reveal The Other History of the DC Universe. The long-awaited series, exploring DC’s lengthy comic book mythology from a new angle, has been newly scheduled for a November release.
The five-part series, originally announced in 2018, re-examines important and iconic moments from DC’s comic book history from the point of view of characters from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including Jefferson Pierce — better known as Black Lightning — and Renee Montoya (The Question). Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia are the artists for the series, with covers from Camuncoli and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi)….
In a rare public fallout for Netflix, the creators of the platform’s highly anticipated, live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the acclaimed Nickelodeon cartoon, have walked away from the project.
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s full run became available on Netflix this past June, attracting a huge audience and reigniting the 2000s cartoon’s popularity. But in separate posts published to their respective blogs and Instagrams, Avatar franchise creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said they were no longer involved with the previously announced Netflix remake, due to prolonged creative differences.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago,” Konietzko wrote in his Instagram post, “they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. … [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino added on his own website. “So, I chose to leave the project.”…
”People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Ray Bradbury has been acclaimed as the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream but, as the quote above shows, he regarded himself as the author of modern philosophical fables, rather than a sci-fi writer. In his dystopian works, such as Fahrenheit 451, he holds up a mirror to contemporary society and then transposes it into fantastical and futuristic scenarios. Bradbury was a prolific writer who tried his hand at everything from poems and novels to TV and radio scripts but it’s his early short stories which he produced in his twenties that are perhaps the most imaginative.
To mark the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, Rajan Datar is joined by three Bradbury experts to help him navigate through the author’s prodigious output: Professor Jonathan Eller from Indiana University who is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; Dr. Miranda Corcoran who teaches American literature at University College Cork with particular interest in science fiction, horror and the gothic; and Dr. Phil Nichols who combines research into Bradbury’s TV and other media work with the teaching of Film and Television Production at Wolverhampton University.
(21) TOONING OUT. Camestros Felapton’s attention was drawn to “The Webtoon Short Story Contest” by Vox Day’s complaints that his Arkhaven Comics entry got no love from the judges:
Where there are stories gathered together there are story competitions and Webtoon is no different. They recently held their Short Story competition with the winners announced here https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/contest/us-contest-2020. It’s a juried award with cash prizes that splits winners and runners up into two categories: “Brain” for stories that blow your mind and “Heart” for stories that warm your heart (Rules and FAQs).
“Why are you telling us all this Camestros?” I hear you say….
Camestros proceeds to make some interesting observations.
And it wasn’t just unawarded. Midnight’s War somehow didn’t even qualify as one of the 36 runners-up despite being one of the top 10 ranked in Popularity and earning a higher rating than two out of the three Silver winners.
This tells me that Arkhaven needs to seriously rethink our plan to use Webtoons as a platform….
…JAY PRICE, BYLINE: Esports has exploded in the past few years. There are pro leagues, bricks and mortar arenas, players with six-figure salaries. Millions of people log on to streaming platforms like the Amazon owned Twitch to watch games and interact with players and each other. Many are of recruiting age. The military has taken notice. Major General Frank Muth just finished a stint leading U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
FRANK MUTH: This really has brought us into the modern era of where this generation and the next generation – they’re mainly hanging out online all the time.
PRICE: The four largest military services all now have teams or official players. Sergeant Nicole Ortiz is on the Army’s team. Her role includes playing games while socializing and explaining military life to viewers, like her own as an IT specialist.
NICOLE ORTIZ: A lot of them, they look at movies and think that the Army is just about war and shooting guns. In reality, I used to work at a help desk.
PRICE: Recruiting brass say the new esports push is already helping, especially given the difficulties of face-to-face recruiting during the pandemic. Part of the allure is being able to interact directly with viewers through the chat function. And that’s where the military’s esports initiative ran into some trouble.
KATIE FALLOW: What they did here is impermissible under the First Amendment.
PRICE: Attorney Katie Fallow is with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She represents an activist named Jordan Uhl. On the Army and Navy Twitch channels, he posted messages including, what’s your favorite U.S. war crime? Uhl was banned from both, along with dozens of others who posted similar messages or other comments the military gamers deemed improper.
FALLOW: Because they basically said, we don’t like that you’re raising questions about war crimes or things that the military is sensitive about. And they blocked people based on their viewpoints.
(24) SOONER OF LATER IT ALL ADDS UP. In “The Cost of Perseverance, in Context”, the Planetary Society says the cost of the latest Mars Exploration Rover mission sounds quite modest compared to some other chosen figures.
NASA expects to spend approximately $2.7 billion on the Perseverance rover project. This number can sound large, even excessive, to some—but it’s a number that demands context. Let’s give it some….
The total cost of the Perseverance rover is equivalent to…
33 hours of running the Department of Defense
Slightly less than 1 day of Social Security spending
One year of spending on the Space Launch System rocket
…Northumberland Park garage will host vehicle-to-grid technology, which feeds energy stored in parked electric buses back into the electricity network.
If the government-funded Bus2Grid project is rolled out across London it could power an estimated 150,000 homes.
The project will begin in November and run for three years.
Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.
Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “A fleet of bus batteries harnesses large amounts of electricity and they are habitual, with regular and predictable routes, driving patterns and timings.
“That means we can easily predict and plan for how we can use any spare electrical capacity they can offer.”
(27) FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE. Forbidden Planet, the world’s largest and best-known comic book and cult entertainment retail chain, is throwing itself a 42nd birthday party — Forbidden Planet 42 – an online event featuring many genre and other celebrities.
On Saturday August 29th 2020, ForbiddenPlanet.com will play host to a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everythingwith an all-star cast of our oldest friends & customers!
This star-studded online event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of Forbidden Planet’s most celebrated customers including William Shatner, DMC, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper, Jonathan Ross, Gerard Way, Garth Ennis, Kevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark Millar, Dan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Dirk Maggs, Chris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner.
As part of the Forbidden Planet 42 celebrations, this online extravaganza will also host a tribute to Forbidden Planet’s old friend – the late, great Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas (recently discovered in the Forbidden Planet vaults) conducted by another old pal, celebrated author Neil Gaiman.
[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of the ridiculous number of stories in today’s Scroll. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]