Sir Peter Cushing Remembered

Steve Vertlieb, left, Peter Cushing, right, in 1975.

By Steven J. Vertlieb: We lovingly remember and celebrate the 104th Birthday (born May 26, 1913) of the magnificent Peter Cushing, the cultured gentleman of horror who, along with partner and friend Christopher Lee, led Hammer Film Productions in England to near mythical success and legend during the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies.

Peter became a friend through correspondence during the Sixties and Seventies. His letters were often searingly open, and heartbreakingly honest. We met finally at New York ‘s “Famous Monsters of Filmland” film convention during the torrid Summer of 1975.

Here I am with Peter upon our meeting at this memorable gathering. When I reminded him of our long correspondence, he said “Ah, Yes…You used to write me with your brother…just like Laurel and Hardy.” Just adorable.

With our beloved Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing was, perhaps, England’s most cherished export during his shared tenure as Hammer Films’ most prominent actor and star. Wishing Abraham Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein a joyous, Gothic, Happy Birthday in horror Heaven.

Pixel Scroll 1/5/17 But You Scroll One Lousy Pixel….

what-would-carrie-do

(1) WWCD? Cody Christensen of Cedar City, Utah has a petition on Change.org  called “Make Leia an Official Disney Princess” which requests that Disney induct Princess Leia into the pantheon of princesses and that some sort of ceremony for Carrie Fisher be held at a Disney theme park.  He has over 40,000 signatures.

After the tragic lose of Carrie Fisher, we feel that it is only fitting for Disney to do away with the rule that an official Disney princess must be animated and make Leia a full-fledged princess. This would be a wonderful way to remember Carrie and a welcoming to one of Disney’s new properties that is beloved by millions.

What we are asking is that the Walt Disney Corporation hold a full ceremony inducting Leia as the newest Disney princess as well as a special service in memory of Carrie Fisher.

Christensen told Geek how he got the idea for the petition.

“I started the petition because it was something that bugged me since Disney bought the property. Disney had princesses and Leia was a Princess. Then I found out that Disney had set rules for who could and couldn’t be a princess. (Supercarlin brothers video) With Carrie’s death, I think that it’s time to change the rules.”…

“I actually have 5 daughters and there are constantly princess movies playing in the background.” he said “We are big fans of the current Princess line-up, but I think that Leia is a really strong, positive, awesome role model for my girls, and she would make a great addition.”

(2) SPEAKING OF DISNEY PRINCESSES. Abigail Nussbaum reviews Moana, The Lobster, Star Trek Beyond and Lalaland at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Moana – Disney’s latest attempt to reinvent the princess movie takes two novel approaches: drawing on Polynesian folklore and mythology for its story, and recruiting Hamilton wunderkind Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the film’s songs.  Heroine Moana (Auli’l Cravalho) is torn between her duties as the daughter of the village chief and her desire to roam the seas, but finds herself able to gratify both desires when she’s tasked with restoring the heart of creation goddess Te Fiti, aided by Maui (Dwayne Johnson), the demigod who originally stole it.  The plot is thus a picaresque, in which Moana and Maui encounter various dangers and challenges on their journey to Te Fiti, during which they also bond and help each other overcome their hang-ups.  It’s a similar structure to Tangled–still, to my mind, the best of the modern princess movies–but Moana lacks that film’s multiple intersecting plot strands and broad cast of characters, and ends up feeling simpler and more straightforward.  What it does have is genuinely stunning animation, especially where it draws on the scenery of the Pacific islands and the iconography of Polynesian cultures, and some excellent songs by Miranda, which pay homage to both the Disney and musical theater traditions while still retaining entirely their own flavor–I’m particularly fond of a scene in which Moana and Maui encounter a giant, jewel-encrusted lobster (Jemaine Clement), who sings a David Bowie-inspired glam-rock ballad, and then complains that no one likes him as much as The Little Mermaid‘s Sebastian.  But pretty much every song here is excellent and memorable in its own right.

(3) TAIL-GUNNER LOU. “Is there a blacklist?” asks Lou Antonelli, because the rejection slips he gets now are not quite as warm as they once were.

A colleague asked me the other day if I felt there is a blacklist in literary s-f against non-PC writers.

I replied I don’t know, there’s no way to tell for sure; that’s the nature of a blacklist – it’s a conspiracy.

I will say that before 2015, when I was a double Sad Puppy Hugo nominee, my rejections almost always included invitations to submit to that market again.

Now, that is very uncommon, and in fact almost all my rejections now end with “best of luck” or “good luck with your writing” – and no encouragement to submit again.

Someone wrote anonymously to encourage Lou’s suspicions, inspiring a follow-up post decorated with a photo of Senator Joe McCarthy:

I don’t often approve anonymous comments, but I did in this one case, since it sounded true, and given the subject matter, it’s completely understandable why someone would prefer to remain anonymous:

“Day after the election, when I posted a picture of myself with a Trump hat, a famous editor of whom almost anyone would know her name, had her assistant message me to tell me how awful I am, that I’m not going to be invited to write in anthologies again, coupled with the threat that the publishing industry is small and word travels fast.

“Blackballing is real. But you are not alone.”

(4) BUMPER CROP. Mark-kitteh noticed that after SFCrowsnest’s brutal review of Uncanny Magazine #14 yesterday, Uncanny’s editors made some lemonade:

(5) UTES READ GEEZERS. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has set the table with Miriam Allen DeFord’s “The Smiling Future”.

Miriam Allen de Ford was a prolific author of both mysteries and Fortean-flavoured science fiction stories. She was also an active feminist, disseminating information about family planning in a time when that was illegal in many regions. Although widely anthologized while alive , since her death she seems to have lapsed into obscurity, at least on the SF side of thing. A pity.

“The Smiling Future” is perhaps not de Ford’s best known science fiction work but it does have the advantage of being on the internet archive, not true of much of her work (because her work was mainly for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, none of which is on the archive). Also, it has dolphins and who doesn’t like dolphins? Selecting it out of all the de Fords I could have selected is therefore something of a calculated risk. Will the risk pay off?

There was enough of a positive reaction to get a good discussion going.

(5) WARNING. It takes a long time to stop laughing at Camestros Felapton’s “A Poster for Timothy”.

(6) SECOND WARNING. Not that Camestros Felapton won’t be a nominee for his work published in 2016, but the first thing he should put in his Hugo eligibility post from 2017 is “A Cat Reviews LaLaLand. Quite funny, though beware, spoilers abound! …I read it anyway.

(7) PUPPY THOUGHTS. Brian Niemeier  L.Jagi Lamplighter is delighted to be part of SuperversiveSF’s new collection Forbidden Thoughts, which boasts a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos.

But what can you do with a super controversial story in this age of safe spaces and trigger warnings?

Then, in the midst of the Sad Puppy fervor, I caught a glimmer of an answer. Jason Rennie, editor of Sci Phi Journal and the brilliant mind behind SuperverisveSF, suggested in the midst of a flurry of Sad Puppy emails, that the authors involved get together and do an anthology of anti-PC stories, kind of a modern Dangerous Visions–putting into story form all those thoughts that the SJWs don’t want people to think. Basically, doing what SF is supposed to do, posing difficult questions.

Those of us on the email chain decided on the title: Forbidden Thoughts.

I LOVED this idea. Here was my answer to what to do with my controversial story.

So, I kept on Jason about this, and I kept on the other authors. When a few were too busy to be able to fit writing a new short story into their schedule, I convinced them to submit incendiary blog posts.

So we now had a volume with stories by, among others, John, Nick Cole, Brian Niemeier, Josh Young, Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, and, a particularly delightful surprise for me, our young Marine fan friend, Pierce Oka. Plus, non fiction by Tom Kratman and Larry Correia submitted some of his original Sad Puppy posts–the thing that started it all!

(8) THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. There probably are a few things The Book Smuggler would like to forbid: “The Airing of Grievances – Smugglivus 2016”

In publishing and on Twitter, advocates for equality, feminists, poc readers and authors were attacked left and right every time they called out racism and sexism in publishing. And folks, there was a lot of that this year. Like that one time when a publisher had a book of “parody” covers that was so racist it almost made our eyes bleed. White authors continued to be awful and show their asses, like that one who said that those who call out cultural appropriation are getting “too precious.” And just a few days ago, we all found out that racist nazi piece of shit Milo Yiannopoulos got a huge book deal with a major publishing house…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves, TV’s first Superman.

(10) SOMETHING TERPSICHOREAN. Sparknotes explains Bradbury’s dedication of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

In “A Brief Afterword,” Bradbury explains why Something Wicked This Way Comes is dedicated to Gene Kelly and describes how the book was written. Bradbury met Gene Kelly in 1950 and they became friends shortly thereafter. In 1955 Kelly invited Bradbury and his wife, Maggie, to a private screening of his “collection of musical dance numbers with no connecting plotline,” Invitation to the Dance, at MGM studios. Bradbury and his wife walked home and along the way he told his wife that he desperately wanted to work with Kelly. She suggested that he go through his stories until he found something that would work, turn it into a screenplay, and send it to Gene Kelly. So Bradbury looked through many of his short stories and found The Black Ferris, a ten page story about two young boys and a carnival. For a little over a month he worked on the story and then gave Gene Kelly the eighty page outline of a script that he had created. Mr. Kelly called Bradbury the next day to tell him that he wanted to direct the movie and asked for permission to find financing in Paris and London. Although Bradbury gave his assent, Gene Kelly returned without a financer because no one wanted to make the movie. Bradbury took the partial screenplay, at the time titled Dark Carnival, and over the next five years turned it into the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes that was published in 1962. As Bradbury writes at the end of his afterword, the book is dedicated to Gene Kelly because if he had not invited Bradbury to that screening of his movie, then Something Wicked This May Comes may never have been written. When the book was published, Bradbury gave the first copy to Gene Kelly.

(11) CALLING ALL CARLS. An emergency session of internet scholars has convened at Camestros Felapton’s blog to help him identify “That difficult first novel”.

I was stumped by a trivia question which asked: “What was the first novel in English?”

The problem with the question is one of setting boundaries, specifically:

  • What counts as a novel? Do legends count? What about Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur? Is it a novel, a retelling or a purported (if fanciful) attempt at history?
  • What counts as ‘in English’? Does Chaucer’s middle English count? What about Malory’s middle English (which is more like modern English than Chaucer?)
  • Do translations count? Don Quixote is very like a novel, so might the first translation of that into English count?

(12) LOUDSPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. ScienceFiction.com has the story behind this particular effect — “Raising Cushing: New Video Shows Off CGI Work Done To Create ‘Rogue One’ Grand Moff Tarkin”.

Now, for those interested in how exactly they managed to bring Tarkin to life in the film, ABC News has released a new video on Twitter courtesy of ILM (check it out below) showcasing some of the work that went into building Tarkin, that shows in a handful of seconds what clearly took MONTHS of effects work to accomplish, giving us in brief all of the steps necessary to get the character right. They cast a man that already bore a striking resemblance to Peter Cushing, then digitally enhanced his features until he was Peter Cushing, animating all of his moments from that point onward to carry on the illusion.

 

(13) WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAIN? A reboot of Charmed is in the works.

The story hails from Jessica O’Toole, Amy Rardin and Snyder Urman with O’Toole and Rardin penning the script.

The original Charmed starred Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan. Combs has already tweeted her reaction, saying “We wish them well.” Milano also took to Twitter. “#Charmed fans! There are no fans like you. You’re the best of the best,” she said.

(14) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. Here’s another job that pays more than yours — “These guys hunt for space rocks, and sell them for enormous profit to collectors”.

These ancient meteorites can be older than the Earth itself. The price tag is high: Just 100 grams of Mars rock, enough to fit in the palm of a hand, can demand $100,000.

For help tracking down such rare rocks, private collectors turn to professional meteorite hunters. These adventurers earn their living by crisscrossing the globe, searching for astronomic treasures. The risks are real, including prison and death, but so are the potential rewards — rocks that can be flipped quickly for fortunes.

The man who sold Jurvetson his Mars rock is 44-year-old Michael Farmer. Since the late 1990s, Farmer has traveled to some 80 countries looking for these precious rocks. Perhaps his best-known find is a nearly 120-pound meteorite discovered in Canada, which he and his partners sold to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for $600,000.

“Any time you dig up a treasure worth more than half a million bucks, it’s a good day,” said Farmer, who works closely colleagues around the world tracking meteorite showers.

This work is not for the faint of heart. In 2011, Farmer was kidnapped, beaten and nearly killed by Kenyan thieves. That same year, he was charged with illegal mining in Oman and imprisoned for two months. Farmer says his motivation is not purely monetary, but rather the thrill of the chase.

(15) GETTING THE POINT ACROSS. After seeing this cover some of you will find it hard to believe I am not the Washington Post’s copyeditor:

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Rose Embolism, JJ, Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 5/26/16 You Got Your Scroll In My Pixel Butter

(1) CAPTAIN SPOILED. At The Mary Sue “Comics Fans Respond to Captain America’s ‘Big Secret’”.

Um … whut? **SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1**

If you read the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 that came out today, you already know: Steve Rogers and his mother had been recruited by HYDRA when he was a boy, and he’s apparently been a secret operative for HYDRA this whole time. Again, I say: Uh … whut?

Apparently, issue #2 will give us a better idea of what actually happened with Cap, and how he’s managed to be a HYDRA operative for this long. Naturally, fans were unnerved, and Breevoort’s already started getting emails:

“The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that,” Brevoort explains. “You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”

Sure, you want them to feel and react to your story … but what exactly do you want them to feel? A good writer knows exactly what they want to say and evoke, and it isn’t just strong feels for the sake of strong feels.

Whatever writer Nick Spencer and the folks over at Marvel are trying to evoke, Captain America fans are not having it….

Actor Chris Evans doesn’t like it either.

(2) I SCREAM YOU SCREAM. Scott Edelman enjoys a serendipitous dinner with Maria Alexander in Episode 9 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic.

During the recent StokerCon in Las Vegas, I did what I always do during conventions—slip away as often as possible to chow down and catch up with friends. One of those meals took place in old-timey ice cream parlor Serendipity 3, and was recorded (as so many convention meals will be from now on) as an episode of Eating the Fantastic.

My dinner companion this time around was Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. But in addition to being a novelist, Maria’s also a poet, screenwriter, games writer, swordswoman, and so much more—and I attempted to explore all those facets in this episode.

 

Maria Alexander

Maria Alexander

(3) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. According to The Verge, “Samsung made a Batman-inspired Galaxy S7 Edge”, though it’s only for sale in a limited number of countries.

Samsung has made a Batman-inspired smartphone … really. In true ludicrous Samsung fashion, it’s called the Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition, and it features the superhero’s logo in gold on the back. The device is commemorating the third anniversary of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it’s being produced in partnership with Warner Bros. The package appears to include a Samsung Gear VR headset, as well as a real gold-plated Batarang and a rubber phone case modeled after Batman’s armor.

 

(4) UNDERSTANDING THE TINGLE. “Satirical erotica author Chuck Tingle’s massive troll of conservative sci-fi fans, explained” at Vox (the megasite, no relation to VD.)

Tingle announced that if he won his category, Quinn would accept the award on his author persona’s behalf. This was undoubtedly anathema to many members of the SFF community who overlap with Gamergate; Quinn is essentially Gamergate enemy number one, and one of the women who has experienced the most harassment at the hands of angry men on the internet.

And now TheRabidPuppies.com is the latest volley in Tingle’s game. Realizing the domain was up for grabs, Tingle snapped it right up.

Tingle didn’t just seize the opportunity and the sudden spike in attention to taunt the Puppies, though; he’s using the new website to drive traffic to three of the Puppies’ most reviled enemies and their projects:

  1. Quinn’s support network for online harassment victims, Crash Override
  2. Jemisin’s acclaimed novel The Fifth Season, which is currently nominated for the Hugo for Best Novel
  3. Fantasy writer Rachel Swirsky’s crowdfunding campaign to raise money for LGBTQ health resourcesTingle’s inclusion of Swirsky is significant. Her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” is a surreal, jarring allegory for dealing with identity-motivated hate crime and violence. Its inclusion as a 2014 Hugo nominee was widely touted by the Sad/Rabid Puppies as being the ultimate example of how “SJWs” — the shorthand for “social justice warriors,” a derogatory term many in the “alt-right” use to refer to progressives and intersectional feminists — had invaded SFF culture.

(5) GRANDFEMMES FATALE. “Five Fantasy Grannies You Don’t Want To Fool With” at Suvudu.

Augusta Longbottom, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

You’ve got to be a bad-ass to stand up to the Death Eaters, and Augusta Longbottom isn’t anyone’s chump. She is stern and demanding, but she isn’t heartless, as her grandson Neville eventually learns.

(6) SHORT ORDERS. At the upcoming Bonhams/Turner Classic Movies Drawn to Film auction, says a Hollywood Reporter story, “’Snow White’: Rare Concept Art of Rejected Dwarfs to Be Auctioned”.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was Disney’s first feature-length animated film and the animators worked to give each of the seven dwarfs a distinct personality. The concept sketches (see above) include such familiar ones as Doc, Grumpy, and Dopey, and the not so surprisingly dropped dwarfs, Deafy and Baldy. Other unused dwarf names included Jumpy, Wheezy, Tubby, and Sniffy. The estimate for the sketches is $3,500-$4,500.

(7) REAL ESTATE CLICKBAIT. Every so often there’s a speculative article like this – “Macmillan Publishers weighs leaving Flatiron Building for a new HQ”. (In 2009 there was a story that an Italian investor was going to turn the building into a hotel….) By implication, if Macmillan ever gives up the space, Tor Books will be moving to a new home —

Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant in the Flatiron Building, is considering relocating its headquarters when its lease expires in a few years.

Should that happen, it would give the property’s owners a blank slate to work with for the first time since the building was completed more than 100 years ago.

Macmillan, parent company to publishers like St. Martin’s Press and Henry Holt & Co., has been in the iconic tower in some shape or form for about half a century. Now, it occupies all of the office space — nearly 176,000 square feet — in the roughly 180,000-square-foot building at 175 Fifth Avenue.

The publisher’s longtime broker, Leon Manoff of Colliers International, said the company is considering all options for when its lease expires in a few years, including staying put or relocating elsewhere in Manhattan to a new, 150,000-square-foot headquarters.

Andrew Porter adds, “Admittedly the office space is constrained by the unique shape of the building. Doherty’s office is in the ‘prow’ of the building, with windows on the east, west, and north. Here’s my admittedly not well-lit photo of Doherty in his office:”

Tom Doherty in Flatiron office. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Tom Doherty in Flatiron office. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(8) RAMBO INTERVIEWED. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with Cat Rambo Who Plays in the MUD”.

  1. Although you write stories in other venues, you have at least two persistent worlds. One is Tabat where your novel takes place. Can you talk about the world and how it came to be?

Tabat started with a game concept. A friend was working on a MUD (a text-based multi-player game) where each administrator would create their own city, and I decided to do a seaport. One of the cool things about the game engine was that you could add tags onto room, so there were bits of description that only appeared under certain conditions, including things like time of day, season, moon phase, tide, and so forth, including things like if the player was carrying a specific object or had particular spells on them.

I went nuts with it. I built a city where you smelled fish when the tide was high and the wind was coming from the south, and where the tiles of the great Moonway shifted in color depending on whether the moon was full or lean….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 26, 1913 – Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 26 is World Dracula Day in honor of the publication date of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897.

(11) STAR TREK TOURIST TRAP. Dave’s Geeky Ideas recommends that the vacant Houston Astrodome be repurposed as a life-sized Deep Space Nine.

Right now the folks in Houston are trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome, which has been sitting vacant for several years. Many plans for the dome have fallen by the wayside, including this multi-use approach which I really like. I’m going to throw my esteemed hat into the ring and declare that the Astrodome be converted into Deep Space Nine.

That’s right: a mega Star Trek tourist destination in the very city where the Space Program resides. This resort would look and feel like the space station seen in the show.

This is made possible by building the central hub and encircling promenade in the middle of the field, with three bridges that connect to the existing concourse in the Astrodome. The dome’s circular shape is quite handy here!

(12) MIXED MOTIVES. Andrew Liptak recalls the nomination of Hubbard’s Black Genesis in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews.

Following the publication of Battlefield Earth, Bridge Publications had begun to heavily promote its author. Hubbard and his publisher were pointed in the direction of a flaw in the Hugo Award voting system, particularly by Charles Platt, a science fiction author and editor. In a 1983 issue of his publication, The Patchin Review, he plastered a banner on the front page: “Vote for L. Ron Hubbard!” In his introductory editorial, he lamented that the Best Novel Hugo was “merely a measure of how personally popular a writer is among a small clique of science-fiction fans.”

He also noted that there were things that fans could do to change this: “Hubbard is no hero to the people who usually vote for Hugos. If he won, would it bring about a reformation of the Hugo system, or even its abolition? There’s only one way to find out.”

He wrote to Hubbard and the Bridge, noting that “anyone may nominate and vote. All you have to do is become a supporting member of this year’s world Science Fiction Convention. You do not have to attend the convention itself.”

Hubbard and the Bridge seem to have followed this advice, either coming to this conclusion on their own, or through Platt’s suggestion. Hubbard had established a major story contest, Writers of the Future, and had begun heavily sponsoring science fiction conventions in the mid-1980s. Writing in a fanzine, David Langford authored an essay that described the efforts of the publisher, noting that “it seemed that a large number of fans had become similarly, cumulatively bothered by the grotesque scale of the L. RON HUBBARD promotions,” during the 1987 Conspiracy Convention. The organization had begun promoting the books and sponsoring covers to get Hubbard’s name out before readers.

(13) A HAPPILY DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. Dr. Mauser claims credit for the Three-Stage Voting (3SV) idea but feels others who have embraced it lack his human touch.

The problem, and it’s a problem common to most folks of a particular political vein, is that they’re trying to counter human behavior with Mathematics. This never works. But the other problem is that they’re ignoring the SOURCE of the data they’re feeding into their formulae — the Fans. The Fans are an incredible resource, and a solution to their problem that they are afraid to make use of, because fans are a Wild Magic, and unpredictable, and hard to control. Math is Safe, math is predictable, but math can’t tell you what is good SF (The Cold Equations notwithstanding).

Even with the Three Stage Voting idea, they’re coming at it all wrong. Some proposals involve “Negative Voting” which they want as a way of getting a gang together to knock out entries they don’t like (They do love them some of that No Award veto power!). They propose empowering the administrators to add or remove entries, or even remove individual voters they don’t like. It’s like they still don’t trust the fans to vote the “right” way. And let’s not even think about the canned Medusa’s head of their mathematical Slate Detection dream, which they swear would NEVER generate a false positive….

(14) INFLATION STOPPED. The ISS expansion isn’t going smoothly. The BBC reports, “Flexi-space room expansion suspended”.

The deployment of a new, expandable “room” on the International Space Station was suspended on Thursday when it failed to open up as expected.

Astronaut Jeff Williams began inflating the module, but controllers eventually told him to stand down after 3.5 hours of extremely slow progress.

Installed in a compact form, the vessel is supposed to stretch to 4m in length with a volume of 16 cu m.

But as Williams squirted air into the module, it stretched only a few cm.

Engineers on the ground will now review the data with a view to resuming the expansion on Friday.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is a demonstrator for the type of habitats that may be used to build future orbiting labs.

(15) ABIGAIL ON APOCALYPSE. If you’re looking for a nuanced review of X-Men: Apocalypse, Abigail Nussbaum delivers.

I promise, at some point I’ll go back to writing about things that aren’t superheroes.  Though that would require Hollywood to stop blasting superhero stories at us in such close succession (I haven’t even written anything about the second season of Daredevil, though you can get a sense of the existential despair it plunged me into from the thread starting at this tweet).  Coming at the end of that barrage, it’s perhaps understandable that the third (or sixth, or eighth) X-Men movie should be met with a muted, not to say exhausted, response.  And some of the reviews have gone further and been downright brutal.  I’m here to say that both of these reactions are unearned.  X-Men: Apocalypse is by no means a great movie, and it has some serious problems.  But I still found myself enjoying it a great deal more than any other work in this genre since Deadpool.  Perhaps this is simply the relief of a superhero story that is not about grim-faced men taking themselves very seriously, and which instead tells an unabashedly silly story in a totally committed way.  Or it might be because alongside the flaws, there are also things to praise in X-Men: Apocalypse, things that hardly any other superhero works are doing right now.

(16) 1975 HUGOS. Fanac.org has posted video of the AussieCon (1975) Hugo Awards Banquet on its new YouTube channel.

AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. This video includes the Hugos Awards (presented by John Bangsund), the First Fandom Award, The Gandalf Award and the Big Heart Award. Bob Silverberg, Ben Bova, Fan Guests of Honor Susan Wood and Mike Glicksohn, Rusty Hevelin and others appear. Thanks to Kathi Overton for 2016 video editing.

 

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Will R., Andrew Porter, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]