Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
Let’s begin with Peter S. Beagle here and post the rest of Daniel Dern’s gallery after the jump —
Peter S. BeagleContinue reading
A California court has ruled in favor of Peter S. Beagle about most of his claims in a suit against former manager Connor Cochran, and awarded him $332,500 in damages.
In a decision handed down June 21, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Michael M. Markman found that Beagle proved his claims against Cochran for financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and defamation. But the judge disallowed claims for elder abuse based on acts resulting in mental suffering, and conversion (of assets). He awarded Beagle $7,500 for defamation, and $325,000 on the remaining claims. The judge awarded no punitive damages. He did grant Beagle reasonable attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined.
Peter S. Beagle sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. The claims against the corporate entities were not part of this trial, being subject to the automatic stay of litigation that went into effect when Cochran and his companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, 2018 (the day before the state trial was originally scheduled to begin.) The U.S. Bankruptcy Court later granted Beagle’s motion to partially lift the automatic stay and allow his suit against Cochran as an individual to proceed in state court.
While permitting the state trial to proceed, the Bankruptcy Court withheld permission to execute on any judgment pending its own order. Therefore, action cannot be immediately taken to collect the latest award of damages.
Judge Markman’s 17-page decision is informative about the court’s evaluation of the parties and issues.
While explaining his finding that there was elder abuse in financial terms, Judge Markman characterized defendant Cochran in these terms:
B. Elder Abuse Based on “Constructive Fraud”
“…The Court finds that Cochran assisting in taking Beagle’s intellectual property was for a wrongful use and with the intent to defraud Beagle. To better understand why, a few comments concerning Cochran’s demeanor at trial are in order Cochran presents as an extremely intelligent, articular, overly-aggressive hustler and pitch-man. Cochran’s written work product attempting to promote Beagle’s work is written as Cochran speaks – with a flair for the dramatic that is at best loosely based in truth. As byt one example, Cochran prepared pitch materials for Beagle purporting to estimate the value of Beagle’s intellectual property exceeding $15 billion. While Beagle’s work is certainly valuable, and Beagle likely found the idea in Cochran’s pitch that it was worth that much money to be pretty flattering, there is nothing that might suggest his intellectual property is worth that figure. Cochran also began holding himself out as a specialist in handling business affairs for older authors.
“Cochran’s work with Beagle unquestionably made Cochran Beagle’s fiduciary. Cochran served as Beagle’s business manager for many years. The testimony made clear that the two men shared an important friendship. The Court was convinced that Cochran really did believe he had Beagle’s best interests in mind when working for Beagle. Cochran was convinced that he needed to take care of Beagle’s finances, rationing cash and paying bills, and to otherwise help Beagle with day-to-day tasks (most of which involved money.)
“At a certain point, however, the evidence reflects that Cochran allowed his role as the trusted advisor to get the better of him. He crossed the line from business manager to over-paternalistic friend, exercising a surprising degree of control over Beagle’s finances and, in effect, Beagle’s life. His own testimony reveals that he had convinced himself that controlling Beagle was in Beagle’s best interests because he viewed Beagle as a spendthrift (and Beagle viewed himself that way). He also convinced himself that only he could rescue Beagle and transform Beagle’s works into an intellectual property mega-estate. And, Cochran convinced himself, he should benefit accordingly.”
This was one of the claims for which damages have been awarded.
However, Judge Markman said a second claim of elder abuse on other grounds of intentionally inflicting emotional distress was unproven.
B. Elder Abuse By Acts Resulting in Mental Suffering
“…Plaintiff has not proven a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, Plaintiff did not show that Cochran’s outrageous conduct – directed at Plaintiff himself – was taken with “the intention of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress.”…In order to be “outrageous,” the conduct ‘must be so extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.’ …Cochran’s financial mismanagement, and his expressions of concern to Beagle’s friends and relatives for Beagle’s mental health and use of alcohol, do not rise to the level required by California law for an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.”
“Cochran appears to have taken on a central role in managing Beagle’s funds, initially at Beagle’s request. But the evidence does not indicate that Cochran’s behavior relating to administering those funds triggered mental suffering for Beagle. Additionally, Beagle was apparently transferring funds at an alarming rate to his then-girlfriend, which Beagle would alternatively say she was using to visit a clinic or to gamble, or else would deny that he had made entirely. These transactions make it difficult to lay the cause of Beagle’s mental anxiety at Cochran’s feet.”
The court also explained why damages were awarded for the claims of fraud, defamation, and breach of fiduciary duty.
“…Specifically, Beagle testified that Cochran affirmatively misled him concerning their respective ownership interests in Avicenna. He also testified that Cochran failed to disclose the Bylaws to Beagle, which would have established that Cochran controlled the company rather than the two parties sharing an ownership interest in its assets (Cochran contests this, and testified he did provide a copy of the Bylaws to Beagle).,,,
“…Even if Cochran had disclosed the Bylaws to Beagle, and Beagle lost them or does not recall, Cochran’s affirmative statements to Beagle concerning their equal relationship in Avicenna until he filed suit was highly credible….”
“…Beagle has established by at least a preponderance of evidence that Cochran’s statements that Beagle had dementia were false, and Cochran knew they were false when made….
“….Cochran’s statements regarding Beagle’s memory in general, rather than his statements concerning dementia, appear to have been based on fact; they are not actionable….
“…Additionally, Beagle has an observable tendency to state things as fact even when he cannot recall the event(s) on which they are based…. The Court observed Beagle mixing up events in his testimony on more than one occasion during the course of the trial.”
E. Breach of Fiduciary Duty
“…Cochran obtained an unfair advantage as a result of his work as Beagle’s fiduciary. Among other things, Cochran transferred a substantial amount of money to himself to pay personal expenses….”
However, when it came to the claim of conversion, the court said part of that issue involved actions by Avicenna Corporation over which it did not currently have jurisdiction, while the plaintiff’s charge of conversion of the corpus of a trust created by Beagle’s mother was not proven.
“…Beagle himself assisted in making Cochran the trustee of The Rebecca S. Beagle Trust. There is no indication that Cochran gained that role as a result of fraud or elder abuse….”
Further developments in the case await action by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
[Thanks to Nick Mamatas for the story.]
(1) PETER BEAGLE’S UNICORN. The Atlantic celebrates 50 years in print for The Last Unicorn, “One of the Best Fantasy Novels Ever Is Nothing Like The Lord of the Rings“.
Beagle frequently subverts fantasy tropes. Prince Lir tries to win the unicorn’s heart by deeds of derring-do, but she is unimpressed. In fact, Lir does not end up with the unicorn. And in the novel, mortality is preferable to immortality; Haggard, who quests after immortality, is defeated. Schmendrick’s greatest wish is to end the curse of immortality placed on him by his mentor. The unicorn, in a brief brush with mortality, gains the ability to regret, and she is better off for it. In The Last Unicorn, it’s the earthly things, the things that make one human, that are the things worth having.
(2) KOBE’S HOLLYWOOD. In “The Revisionist”, the Washington Post’s Kent Babb reports that Kobe Bryant is hiring a staff to develop his fantasy world, known as “Granity.” A podcast about the fantasy world, “The Punies,” currently exists and YA novels and an animated series are in development.
In Bryant’s office, “affixed to panels are renderings of maps and terms from ‘Granity,’ Bryant’s imaginary world that’s not unlike the Marvel Universe or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. There are sketches and meticulously designed artifacts that seem to make sense only in Bryant’s mind:gods of emotions, stories that blend fantasy and sports, that eternal battle not between good and evil but between love and fear.”
Also, “inside the safe in the closet (in his house) are his three most prized possessions: a first-edition Harry Potter signed by J.K. Rowling, a series of autographed books by George R.R. Martin, the ‘Dear Basketball’ score signed by John Williams.”
“If you look at all the potential stories — how the home is constructed, the family that lives there — there are infinite possibilities,” he says, and the notion struck him so profoundly, so personally, that in that moment he began imagining a fictional world in which his ideas could take shape. He would call that world “Granity,” and existing there would be characters who — like some of Bryant’s favorites: Darth Vader, Severus Snape, Jaime Lannister — are horrifying at times, charming at others.
As this flight begins its descent, he suggests no compelling character is entirely good or bad; that a storyteller’s duty is to draw out the full story and take every belief, emotion and motivation into account.
“You have things within you that are festering,” he says. “We all do.”
(3) MORE OLD PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll turns the geezer panel loose on “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente”. Can they dig it?
And so we reach the end of the first half of this project with The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente. First published in issue #200 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Master Peek was a finalist for the 2017 Eugie Foster Memorial Award. This, in fact, is why I selected it. But will my readers agree with the taste of the Foster jury?
(4) THE FUTURE KING IN YELLOW. In “Some Achieve Greatness” at Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett revisits the youth of a well-known sff author. Can you guess who it is before he tells you?
Let me quote from a speech made at the 1983 Disclave by one of the authors attending that con (for the record the text of this speech was reprinted in Bill Bower’s fanzine, Outworlds #34). Our mystery author begins thus:
I have been to Disclave before. Once. That was why I was so pleased when Alan Huff asked me to come east. Because it so happens that I attended the 1971 Disclave, and it so happens that it was my very first SF convention.
Interesting… Go on mystery author:
Maybe a few of you were here in ’71 too. If so, maybe you remember me. I looked a little different back then. My hair was shoulder length, just like everyone else’s, but I was still clean-shaven, I didn’t stop shaving until 1974. Even then, I was a snappy dresser. In fact, I was a hell of a lot snappier. As I recall, I wore my Psychedelic Hippie Pimp outfit to the con: ankle boots with zippers, burgundy bell-bottoms, a bright solid green tapered body shirt, a black satin scarf, and — the piece de resistance — my famous double-breasted pin-striped mustard-yellow sports jacket. Perhaps now you veterans recall me. I was the one wandering around the con suite doing permanent retinal damage
(5) EXOPLANET HUNTER. Engadget keeps watch as “NASA bids Kepler ‘goodnight’ with last set of commands”:
Farewell, planet hunter. Last night, the @NASAKepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands were sent on the anniversary of the death of the mission’s namesake, Johannes Kepler: https://t.co/dhUCmKmvqW pic.twitter.com/TKkSk0EQ7C
— NASA Kepler and K2 (@NASAKepler) November 16, 2018
(6) FLOGGING IT TO THE FINISH LINE. There’s a theory that “George R.R. Martin Is Now ‘In Hiding’ To Finish ‘Winds Of Winter’”.
The Winds of Winter has turned into a real pickle — an ambitious monster that he says is “not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players, antagonists, allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together against the march of time in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging.”
But he’s really hunkering down now, and that fact should chill his legions of impatient fans. After all, he’s said that he finished A Dance with Dragons by disappearing “in a bunker,” so this may simply be business as usual.
(7) JUST LIKE THE HUGOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In something of a first, ranked choice voting (which should be familiar to Hugo voters) has made a difference in a US House election. (CNN: “Democrats flip another House seat after ranked-choice runoff in Maine”). Current Representative Bruce Poliquin received a small plurality over challenger Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd District—46.2% to 45.6%, with the remaining 8.2% split between two other candidates.
However, since no candidate had achieved a majority, Maine’s new ranked choice voting system kicked in. After progressively eliminating the fourth and third place candidates and redistributing their votes to each voter’s second choices, Golden pulled ahead and ended up winning by about one percentage point (50.5% to 49.5%).
Poliquin had sought a temporary restraining order to prevent counting the ranked-choice votes, calling into question the constitutionality of this sort of voting system. The process was put in place in Maine when voters approved a referendum in 2016, and this appears to be its first big test. Poliquin has pledged to continue his legal challenge of the constitutionality of ranked choice voting.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(9) WORDS MATTER. Never thought of it that way.
I mean, credit to Doctor Doom, FOOLS is a gender neutral way to address an entire room.
— Max the comics guy who does comics about comics (@amadcartoonist) November 17, 2018
(10) UNDERSTANDING CAMPBELL. It’s the LA Times’ turn to review Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee. Scott Bradfield does the honors in “John W. Campbell, a chief architect of science fiction’s Golden Age, was as brilliant as he was problematic”.
These stories were written, or published and conceived into existence, by the undoubtedly great and incomprehensibly peculiar John W. Campbell Jr., who single-handedly designed many of the ways we saw the future then and continue to see it now. Born in Newark, N.J., in 1910, he was raised by combative parents who embodied the extremes of their son’s divided personality: his father, an engineer with Bell Telephone, stressed rationality, planning and control over emotions, while his mother was a wild, tantrum-prone woman who couldn’t be controlled so much as fought “to a draw.” After their divorce, Campbell grew up, like many writers, unhappy, lonely and distressed; he often felt like a disappointment to his father, and his mother’s unpredictable cruelties instilled in him a deep sense of panic about a world that couldn’t be adequately rationalized or controlled.
…Despite an aimless early life, Campbell eventually stumbled onto the job he was born to do — long before anybody realized it was a job worth doing. Until Campbell came along, the pulps were edited by company men who felt little if any personal affection for the stories they published. But in 1937, when Campbell accepted the editor’s chair at Astounding Stories (which he quickly renamed Astounding Science Fiction), he became the first SF fan to shape the genre he loved; and almost immediately he discovered that exploring futuristic ideas for his stories was not nearly so pleasurable as passing those ideas onto others. “When I was a writer,” he told his youthful discovery, Isaac Asimov, “I could only write one story at a time. Now I can write fifty stories at a time.”
(11) ORIGIN EPISODES AVAILABLE. YouTube’s Origin follows a group of passengers lost in space— each of them desperate to escape their past. In the first episode —
The passengers wake up on board the Origin, abandoned in space. They search for other survivors, but find something else entirely.
In the second episode —
A tense showdown prompts a difficult decision. Shun and Lana realise that the threat could be nearer than any of them thought.
(12) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. Some sff goodies available now on eBay –
(13) BIG-TICKET ITEM. Or you may need to save your spare change for this iconic outfit: “Skimpy Star Trek costume worn by Captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV is set to sell for £46k”.
A Star Trek costume worn by captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV goes under the hammer with an estimate of £46,000 in California next month.
The Grecian robe, right, was worn when actor William Shatner embraced Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, in the 1968 episode Plato’s Stepchildren.
(14) FROZEN GAME ON THE HORIZON. “Disney deepens its footprint in mobile gaming, teams up with game publisher Jam City” – CNBC has the story.
Walt Disney entered a multi-year games development partnership with leading mobile gaming company Jam City, continuing the Mouse House’s foray into gaming and heightening expectations over the booming sector.
Under the terms of a deal announced last week, Jam City will be taking over the Glendale, California-based mobile game studio in charge of Disney’s “Emoji Blitz” – a hugely popular mobile game Disney released in July 2016.
The deal also means that Jam City now holds the rights to develop new games based on elements from Disney’s Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studio brands. The first planned collaboration between the two companies is expected to be a game based on Disney’s “Frozen” sequel.
(15) BORN UNDER LEO. Low Earth Orbit could be about to get a lot more crowded. SpaceX has an ambitious plan to put a very large constellation of LEO satellites to handle internet traffic. They’d already gotten approval to emplace thousands of them, and have recently gotten FCC approval for the remainder (The Verge: “FCC approves SpaceX’s plan to launch more than 7,000 internet-beaming satellites”). Several hurdles remain, of course.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s request to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites into orbit, a major regulatory hurdle the company needed to clear in its plans to provide internet coverage from space. The approval is in addition to one that SpaceX received from the FCC in March for a constellation of 4,425 satellites. That means the company now has permission to launch its full satellite internet constellation called Starlink, which adds up to nearly 12,000 spacecraft.
[…] SpaceX’s approvals are conditional, though. In order to bring each mega-constellation into full use, the company needs to launch half of the satellites within the next six years. That means the clock is ticking to get nearly 6,000 satellites into orbit by 2024. SpaceX says it will launch its first batch of Starlink satellites in 2019.
So far, SpaceX has only launched two test satellites for the constellation — TinTin A and B. […]
Above all, it’s clear that the satellites in these large constellations will need to be taken out of orbit — reliably and on time — in order to keep the space environment a safe place for spacecraft to operate. In a recent study, NASA estimated that 99 percent of these satellites will need to be taken out of orbit within five years of launch. Otherwise the risk of in-space collisions will increase dramatically.
(16) THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Saturday Night Live proves you can hear laughter in space.
An unexpected chain of events occurs while Captain Ed McGovern (Steve Carell) live streams from the International Space Station to children’s classrooms across America.
[Thanks to JJ, Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) ARISIA AGAIN. A second account where someone tells how Arisia unsatisfactorily handled her reported rape — Maura Taylor in “Arisia and #MeToo (TW: Rape)”.
I believe Crystal Huff, in part because a very similar thing happened to me.
Arisia ’15, I was raped. And Arisia did nothing in response…
(2) NOVEL VERDICT. SF Bluestocking weighs in on an anticipated sequel: “Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames”.
Nicholas Eames’ freshman novel, Kings of the Wyld, was one of my favorite reads of 2017, a well-written, cleverly observed and often hilariously funny adventure fantasy pastiche that adhered to genre forms while gently poking fun at well-worn tropes and presenting a refreshingly positive and downright heartwarming portrait of non-toxic masculinity in action. So I was pretty hyped to see what Eames would make of this sequel, which showcases a mixed-gender cast from the point of view of a queer teenage girl. Unfortunately, Bloody Rose doesn’t quite rise to the level of excellence of its predecessor, although it’s also by no means a complete failure at the perhaps-too-many things it sets out to accomplish…
(3) HERE’S LOOKING AT WHO, KID. ScienceFiction.com calls it “sour grapes”: “Steven Moffat Is Afraid Of ‘Doctor Who’ Looking ‘Cheap’”.
While on an episode of the podcast Sitcom Geeks, Moffat revealed that he thinks more money should be spent on ‘Doctor Who’ in order to keep the show competitive. The interviewer made a comment about the ‘Who’ of his childhood, saying:
“My memory of ‘Doctor Who’ is very much a piece of cardboard that he is standing behind.”
To which Moffat replied:
“That’s the big challenge of ‘Doctor Who’ now… running the risk of looking as cheap now as it did then, compared to what the rest of TV is doing, unless they put a whole lot more money into it. And it’s still an inexpensive show. A show that generates as much money as ‘Doctor Who’ should be getting more of it back.”
(4) A THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY. Popsugar throws down: “Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween Movie or a Christmas Movie? Let’s Settle This”.
Yes, a lot of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and main character Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, but there are also plenty of Christmas elements once Jack travels to Christmas Town. Is it a Christmas movie that happens to take place around Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie with strong Christmas themes? The debate between which is which has raged on among fans ever since the film’s release in 1993 (in late October, it should be noted), so much so that director Henry Selick finally had to step into the fray.
Click to find out how the director answered the question.
(5) FAST FOOD CONFRONTATION. N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.
I walked into the taco place and "the Final Countdown" started playing. Now I really want to fight a climactic battle with someone for these tacos.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) October 26, 2018
Shit, this margarita is too strong. I am defeated, Twitter. But we'll finish this… IN FANFIC.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) October 26, 2018
“Badassfully” — that cracks me up.
(6) FOR THE RECORD. Video researcher Echo Ishii’s latest two finds include one of the recent past and another from 20 years ago.
HUMANS is a UK science fiction television series that began in 2015. There are three series broadcast thus far. The theme revolves around a modern world in which anthropomorphic androids called ‘synths’ are part of daily life. Synths can be purchased for family/personal use but there are also synths contracted by companies and synths contracted by government health services. HUMANS is an SF drama show-the focus being on how the exists of synths explores human relationships to technology and each other….
…Thomas Veil’s life has been erased. His friends don’t know him and his identity seems to be erased from all record. He figures out that the people responsible for his erasure negatives of a photograph he took of rebels being hanged by US soldiers in South America. Someone wants the negatives to erase all the evidence. Veil believes it’s part of a coverup of government activities. He tries to identify the military unit involved using evidence from the photos, yet, each step takes him deeper into a an ever, menacing conspiracy. He follows a trail of clues with lead him to several other anomalies: one town controlled by subliminal programming; another town in which people are being abducted by UFO’s; yet another town comprised entirely of people who’ve been erased like Tom. Veil himself is often captured, tracked, and subject to further experiments.
(7) THE PLOT THICKENS. WIRED’s coverage of Kim Stanley’s Robinson’s new book, Red Moon, begins in his community garden plot — “The Climate-Obsessed Sci-Fi Genius of Kim Stanley Robinson”.
Robinson’s little town, crisscrossed by bike paths, is full of artists and scientists. (The guy who works the next garden plot over is a researcher at Monsanto; Robinson says everyone can tell that neighbor secretly threw down some RoundUp to clear a pathway.) Robinson tried to build a perfect ecosystem within the constraints of scientific and political realities. It went wrong. Now, only a polymerization of advanced superscience and hardcore diplomacy will fix it—and ignoring those realities will make things worse.
In other words, Kim Stanley Robinson is living inside a Kim Stanley Robinson novel….
(8) LE GUIN THE POET. David Naimon, who interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin for Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, discusses in “Always Beginning”, a post at the Poetry Foundation website, how Le Guin’s she continued to work on poems throughout her career.
…Despite her formal playfulness, Le Guin’s poems aren’t considered experimental or avant-garde. She wasn’t interested in what was or was not en vogue—formally, stylistically, or otherwise—in contemporary poetry. She found more freedom in the constraints of metrically rhyming verse than in free verse. And there is a way in which Le Guin’s poetry feels, if not out of time, then as if it arises from a longer span of time. I first noticed this elongated perspective, this drawing from a longer timeline of influence, when discussing the craft of writing fiction with her. She cautioned against getting swept up in whatever was in fashion given how many fashions she had seen come and go in publishing, as well as how the commodification of books shapes many of these fashions….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) INPUT REQUESTED. Do you have an opinion about what magazines Featured Futures should cover? Jason wants to know: “Poll: What Magazines Should Featured Futures Cover?”
(12) BACK IN THE ZONE. Whew! Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt says in the new fall (1963) season The Twilight Zone has redeemed itself: “[October 26, 1963] [Return to Form] (Twilight Zone, Season 5, Episodes 1-4)”.
In case you have been living under a rock or moved on to newer programs, like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone returned to television for a fifth season. The series has also returned to a half-hour format and is once again airing on Friday nights. Back in May, I wrote that I hoped the program would be renewed for at least another season, because I just could not bear the thought of a once great series ending its run with an episode like The Bard. Well, it seems as if the television gods must have been listening because my wish has come true. If you have not been tuning in consistently for the past month, here is what you may have missed:
(13) PANNED. NPR’s Chris Klimek reviews “‘Suspiria’: A Cult-Horror Remake Dances To A Confusing Beat”.
Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Dario Argento’s gnarly Italian cult film about a haunted dance academy in Germany, is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But enough about its virtues.
Set in 1977, the year Argento unleashed Suspiria Prime upon the world, this “cover version” (in the words of Guadagnino’s longtime collaborator Tilda Swinton, who plays three of the new film’s major roles, under varying tonnages of prosthetic makeup) is, tonally and visually, muted and somber where its inspiration was vibrant and operatic. A title card at the opening warns us that it comprises “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin,” and sure enough, this Suspiria, at 152 minutes, runs just shy of an hour longer than Argento’s. Even without those title cards at the top of each act, you would. Notice. The. Time.
(14) PECUNIAM PRO ARTIS. Monetizing: at London’s “Comic Con, Cosplayers explain how they support their art”.
She has found her niche within the community, but only through trial and error.
“It’s still brand new to all of us,” she says.
“I have a line of cosplay accessories that I designed back in the early 2000s. I have been selling online as well as at conventions as a vendor or exhibitor.
“People saw me at conventions for years, and this was how I built my name and brand recognition.
“I did all of this without knowing what I was doing. I just wanted to live at cons [conventions].
(15) OLD FILM SERVICE TO BE SHUTTERED. FilmStruck, a subsection/streaming service for old movies, will be closed before the end of November says Gizmodo: “Warner Bros. and Turner Are Killing One of the Internet’s Last Good Things”.
… Variety reports that AT&T subsidiaries Warner Bros. Digital Network and Turner are shuttering FilmStruck, the Netflix-like streaming service for older films. If you’ll remember AT&T acquired Turner, Warner Bros., and HBO in a major deal in June.
FilmStruck, for the sadly uninitiated, is a service that allowed you to stream thousands of old movies and documentaries for less than the price of Netflix. For old movie lovers, this was an absolute boon; between the catalogs of Warner Bros., Turner, and Criterion, FilmStruck had the largest library of early films available to a mass audience. There are movies on the service that are virtually impossible for the public to view any other way—no VHS release, no readily available spools of film, and only the slightest chance of a screening on TCM.
(16) CEASELESS SURVEILLANCE. Camestros Felapton discusses the trilogy — “Review: The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older”.
Comprising three books (Infomocracy, Null States and State Tectonics), the Centenal Cycle examines a near future world with a radical form of global democracy. With most of the globe carved up into roughly equal population sized mini-states, Older’s thought-experiment novels takes the ‘marketplace of ideas’ seriously with a world where people might move a few blocks in a big city to change their government. The grout in the tiles of worldwide micro-democracy is information and Information. The latter is an organisation that is a cross between a nationalised Google, a surveillance state, a non-partisan civil service, the ‘deep state’ and a benevolent version of a Wikipedia of everything….
(17) FRANK AT 200. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri analyzes a thematic collection — “Microreview [Book]: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein”.
I’m looking today at a timely volume from Abaddon books, which explores the mythology two centuries on through a new set of stories edited by David Thomas Moore. Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein is a collection of five long novelettes and/or short novellas exploring the legacy of Victor Frankenstein and his creation through a series of shared universe stories, dealing with other creators in other situations, all of which circle the same themes of life, death, autonomy and monstrosity that the original text evokes so effectively.
…Put together, this is a very strong collection: what the stories as a whole lack in inter-relatedness and consistency, they make up for in terms of the sheer breadth of the Frankenstein experience that they cover between them.
(18) STYLE SAVINGS. Silly, but they are authorized. “A Sweet Offer: The Last Unicorn Nail Wraps” at Support Peter S. Beagle.
Interested in some neat The Last Unicorn themed product that’s been personally endorsed by Peter and benefits him as well? Well do I have a very sweet deal for you!
Peter says to tell mr to share code UNICORN10 with you which will grant you 10% off of all The Last Unicorn nail wraps and you can go here to view all neat designs you can purchase.
(19) DEATH ON A HOLIDAY. The “15th Annual Halloween Mourning Tours” educate people about death in Los Angeles a century ago.
It’s 1918, there’s been a death in the family and you are invited to the funeral. Will you cry? What will you wear? Will you attempt to contact the dearly departed?
Get the answers as you join the funeral party and see how Edwardians grieved their dead at Heritage Square Museum’s popular Mourning Tours from noon – 4pm on October 27 and 28, 2018. Throughout the weekend, funeral-goers will be immersed in mourning etiquette, participate in a reenactment ceremony inside a historic home and other activities including:
- The year is 1918 and that means the Spanish Flu is wreaking havoc! Will you defy the gathering bans to attend the funeral? Or, if you are deemed “sick,” what will you discover as you are escorted into a flu-ridden home?
- Learn about the turn-of-the-century movement of Spiritualism and the lure of séances complete with a reenactment and a discussion on the “tricks of the trade.”
- Experience a re-creation of Phantasmagoria, a phenomenon that shocked and exhilarated its Victorian audiences.
(20) MOONBASE. An open access article at Nature — “How to build a Moonbase” [PDF file].
Researchers are ramping up plans for living on the Moon.
Next year, astronaut Matthias Maurer expects to walk on the surface of the Moon — but without the hassles of a rocket flight, zero-gravity nausea and a risky landing. Instead he’ll stroll close to home in a leafy meadow near Cologne, Germany, which is set to host the largest Moon mock-up ever made. On a pit of artificial lunar dust covering more than 1,000 square metres, Maurer and other scientists will be attached to crane-and-pulley systems that allow them to leap as if experiencing the Moon’s weaker gravity, and work under adjustable lamps that simulate lighting at different lunar sites. Sometimes, they will retreat to lunar-style living quarters: an airlock-connected module the size of a shipping container.
(21) BYE BYE BOBA. There won’t be a Boba Fett movie and this writer for The Verge seems to think it is a Good Thing™: “Lucasfilm canceling its Boba Fett film could be good news for Star Wars’ future”.
…We also know what happens with the other characters in the other rumored projects: Boba Fett gets eaten by a Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi bites it after helping a terrorism suspect escape from a secure facility in A New Hope. These backstory movies flesh out the larger world of Star Wars, but they’re not advancing the larger story or advancing toward the kind of ending that builds anticipation and story loyalty.
This isn’t to say that prequel stories can’t be useful or interesting. Lucasfilm’s animated TV shows have done solid work in looking at older time periods in the franchise and telling intriguing, engaging, successful stories…
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) #NEBULAS2018. Cat Rambo is ready for the banquet:
— ??????? ???? ????? ??? (@Catrambo) May 19, 2018
(2) #NEBULAS2018. Tell me this doesn’t send a shiver down a writer’s spine:
— Sarah Guan (@ #Nebulas2018) (@Sarah_Guan) May 19, 2018
That comes from a thread with livetweeted highlights of a Nebula Conference panel.
(3) #NEBULAS2018. Pin at the Nebula banquet.
— Tor.com (@tordotcom) May 19, 2018
(4) UNWASHED MASSES. Don’t tell this to writers, but Jimmy Kimmel has been prowling the streets asking strangers, “Can You Name a Book? ANY Book???”
According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, almost one in four Americans has not read a book in the past year. So to find out if that is true, we sent a team to the street to ask pedestrians to name a book, and here are the very sad results.
(5) STARSHIP TROOPERS AS SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Fabrice Mathieu has done an incredible job with his new mashup called Far Alamo (Vimeo Staff Pick) in which John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and other Sixties western stars meet the world of Paul Verhoeven when the Alamo is attacked by BUGS!
(6) LATE ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison wants to convince you “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”.
The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society. Stories enabled by the new, that help readers grasp what is to come and where they might place themselves to affect the outcome of their own stories. These can be more or less inherently entertaining, but the fascination of young people (especially young men) for them is in dreaming of mastery: to understand and control Nature, to vanquish enemies and nurture their families through something other than brute force and violence (though a blend of both is often very popular!)
“Junk science” is those beliefs promoted to persuade or entertain that have either been shown to be false or are simply unsupported by empirical tests. The media world is flooded with it, with sober studies making one small data point on some topic oversimplified and promoted as a breakthrough, to get clicks or publicity for research funding. “Junk science fiction” is therefore a story that borrows the authority of science to make unsupported or frankly false claims as part of a narrative, which nonscientists will accept as plausible or possible. And Arrival is junk science fiction.
(7) NOT EASY BEING GREEN. Tor.com’s Brandon O’Brien says “It’s Time to Talk About Marvel’s Gamora Problem”. Were you running out of things to criticize about Avengers: Infinity War? This will restock your cupboard.
To be clear, this is not me saying that that the movie is bad, or unenjoyable in a general sense. The action was engaging for the most part, and there are some character progressions that I think elicited real dramatic effort from the film. I like how it sets up Tony Stark’s pained, traumatic franchise-long journey from selfish, egotistical brat to responsible, self-sacrificing, if conflicted leader, which I hope they go all in on in upcoming installments. Thor, being my absolute favourite character from the franchise in general, has one really committed throughline, from losing everything that ever mattered to him in two back-to-back genocides to literally taking a beam of white-hot suffering through his body just to regain trust in his own heroic potential. Individual moments, like when Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon have their first fight with Thanos’ Black Order goons in Scotland, are delightful to look at, visually. And some of the more unlikely on-screen team-ups, like Tony with Doctor Strange, or Thor with Rocket, actually make room for really interesting dialogue.
But ultimately, there’s one aspect of the film that I simply can’t get past. We need to talk about what happens to Gamora….
(8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. The promise of Carol Danvers – What Culture makes a case for “Why Thanos Should Fear Captain Marvel.”
She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years. Since then, she’s had a new look, gone in various new directions, and has been at the absolute forefront of everything the company has tried to do. A transition into the MCU was inevitable.
…Even Kevin Feige has said Danvers is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we have ever had.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) DON’T STEAL THAT SMELL! Apparently they just got around to this, 62 years after the product went on the market: “Hasbro officially trademarks Play-Doh smell”.
Toy maker Hasbro announced it has trademarked one of the most recognizable aspects of one of its most iconic products: the smell of Play-Doh.
The Pawtucket, R.I., company announced Friday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially recognized the distinctive Play-Doh smell as a registered trademark of the brand, which first hit stores in 1956.
(12) CURIOSITY. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents “Why: What Makes Us Curious, with Mario Livio” on June 11.
June 11, 2018
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
UC San Diego
The ability to ask “why?” makes us uniquely human. Curiosity drives basic scientific research, is the engine behind creativity in all disciplines from technology to the arts, is a necessary ingredient in education, and a facilitating tool in every form of storytelling (literature, film, TV, or even a simple conversation) that delights rather than bores.
In a fascinating and entertaining lecture, astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio surveys and interprets cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience that aims at exploring and understanding the origin and mechanisms of human curiosity. As part of his research into the subject, Livio examined in detail the personalities of two individuals who arguably represent the most curious minds to have ever existed: Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also interviewed 9 exceptionally curious people living today, among them Fabiola Gianotti, the Director General of CERN (who is also an accomplished pianist), paleontologist Jack Horner, and the virtuoso lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May (who also holds a PhD in astrophysics), and Livio presents fascinating conclusions from these conversations.
(13) GRANDMASTER’S TRADING CARD. Walter Day presented SFWA Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle with his souvenir trading card during tonight’s Nebula ceremony.
(14) A CHARMING CONVENTION.
— Gili Bar-Hillel (@gilibugg) August 3, 2017
(15) GAIMAN ADAPTATION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says it’s OK: “London Calling (Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft): ‘How To Talk To Girls At Parties'”. Last year at Cannes this was being called a disaster; no word on whether it’s been reworked.
Men Are From From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a best-selling early-’90s relationships guidebook argued. How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sweet, slight comic fantasy expanded from an early-aughts Neil Gaiman short story, knows the truth is far more complex: Men and Women Are from Earth, Members of an Advanced Extraterrestrial Species on a Reconnaissance Mission Here While Temporarily Wearing the Bodies of Men and Women are from…. well, we never find out where they’re from, exactly. But every planet has its misfits.
(16) STILL READY PLAYER ONE. Did I already link to Glen Weldon’s review of this movie? Just in case: “Arcade Firewall: ‘Ready Player One’ REALLY Loves The ’80s”.
There will be grunts.
Grunts of recognition, that is. If you watch Steven Spielberg’s solidly built sci-fi phantasmagoria Ready Player One in a crowded theater, there will be grunts aplenty, so prepare yourself for them.
You can’t, you won’t — but try.
Every time any beloved or at least recognizable nugget of 1980s popular culture turns up onscreen, one or (likely) more of your fellow audience members will let out a low, pre-verbal phoneme, a glottal unh, to signify that they do, in fact, recognize said nugget and wish to inform those around them of this key development. This grunt, by the way, is a subspecies of the one heard at live theater, whenever a given patron wishes to express their comprehension of, and/or amusement at, some passage of dialogue they find particularly trenchant (that one’s more an amused hm!).
(17) VEGGIES IN ORBIT. GeekWire headline: “Small seeds could lead to a giant leap in space farming”.
The next Orbital ATK delivery to the space station will carry several strains of seeds for Arabidopsis, a flowering plant that’s closely related to cabbage and mustard. These will be grown in the Final Frontier Plant Habitat which was delivered on an earlier mission. The same genetic variants will be grown on Earth and used as baselines to compare harvested specimens sent back from the space station. You may recall that an earlier experiment in the overall mission to test growing of plants (including crops) in space involved lettuce, which was actually consumed by astronauts onboard the station.
When Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launches a robotic Cygnus cargo spaceship toward the International Space Station, as early as Monday, it’ll be sending seeds that could show the way for future space farmers.
The Antares liftoff is currently set for 4:39 a.m. ET (1:39 a.m. PT) on Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, with an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather. NASA’s live-streaming coverage of the countdown begins at 1 a.m. PT Monday.
More than 7,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments will be packed aboard the Cygnus. One of the smallest payloads consists of seeds for the Final Frontier Plant Habitat — part of a $2.3 million, NASA-funded initiative that involves researchers from Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The automated habitat was delivered during previous cargo resupply missions and set up for planting. Once the Cygnus’ cargo arrives, astronauts can proceed with the habitat’s first official science experiment, which is aimed at determining which genetic variants of plants grow best under weightless conditions.
(18) STAND BY TO SCORCH YOUR CREDIT CARD. Ars Technica delivers a “Peek at LEGO’s upcoming sets: Star Wars crafts, Hogwarts, Ninjago city, and more”, sharing pics of LEGO’s upcoming summer and holiday 2018 sets, including:
- Jedi Starfighter ($19)
- Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter ($199)
- Snoke’s Throne Room ($69)
- Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter ($79)
- Sandcrawler ($139)
- Kessel Run version of the Millenium Falcon ($169)
- Hogwarts Express ($79)
- Hogwarts Great Hall ($99)
- Quidditch Match ($39)
- Ninjago City Docks ($229)
- Ninjago Destiny’s Wing ($19)
Non-genre sets pictured include:
- Arctic Supply Plane ($79)
- Cargo Train ($229)
- LEGO City Passenger Train ($159)
- Creator Expert: Roller Coaster set ($379)
- Mobile Stunt Show ($49)
(19) CATS SITTING WITHIN SF. Cory Doctorow discovered “Bandai is manufacturing armored cats”. Here’s an example. More photos at the link.
(20) DEADPOOL’S HISTORY. ScienceFiction.com explains how “‘Deadpool 2’ Mocks Marvel’s 10-Year Anniversary Video” in “Deadpool 2 – The First 10 Years.”
The clip chronicles the history of the ‘Deadpool’ franchise from 2008 to 2018, also giving it a 10-year history like Marvel Studios’ MCU – it even has the same format, aesthetic, as well as the use of dramatic background music. Clocking in at just over a minute, the clip features only Deadpool, unlike the MCU’s version which had commentaries from several key players in the film series, as he narrates what happened in the last decade that led to the creation of the upcoming sequel. The clip is filled with the character’s signature brand of humor as he honestly speaks about Reynolds’ starring in ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ which certainly didn’t help their cause, as well as Fox’s multiple rejections of the project
(21) DEADPOOL IS HISTORY. Mark Kermode’s review of Deadpool 2, “…not as bad as Kick Ass 2” ouch.
Main problem in his view is it has tried to be more than the first and lost what he liked about the first one.
[Thanks to IanP, Jayn, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Iphinome, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock.]
(1) #2018NEBULAS. More from Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle’s reception.
— Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford) May 18, 2018
— Sarah Guan (@ #Nebulas2018) (@Sarah_Guan) May 18, 2018
(2) #2018NEBULAS PANEL LIVETWEET. All summed up here: “Thread by @sfwa: ‘Hello ! Panel live tweet starts NOW, with “How to fail gracefully,” with Michael Underwood, Carrie DiRisio, Vanessa Rose Phin, […]’”
(3) #2018NEBULAS LIVESTREAM. Really?
Thanks for watching @sfwa's #Nebulas2018 livestream! Programming resumes tomorrow EDT:
1pm How to Teach Classes in Storytelling
2:30pm Social Media Theory and Practice
4pm What Science Fiction Can Learn from Archaeology
7:15pm Market Presentation by Data Guy
8:30pm Nebula Awards! pic.twitter.com/VCbz8D7wPQ
— Diane Morrison (Sable Aradia) #author #SFF #Pagan (@SableAradia) May 18, 2018
(4) SF EXHIBIT. Six Pasadena museums will open their doors on May 20, including the Pasadena Museum of History — “Free Day: 2018 Museums of the Arroyo Day at PMH”. Guess what you can see for free…
At PMH, delve into the worlds of science fiction in the multifaceted exhibition, Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California. The exhibit explores how the literary genre interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society during five pivotal decades, the 1930s to the 1980s. Visitors will enjoy a fantastic array of vintage costumes and movie props, fantasy art and illustrations, original manuscripts, robotic toys, and fan gear.
(5) F&SF. Galactic Journey’s time traveler Gideon Marcus experienced an especially good day in 1963 — “[May 18, 1963] (June 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”’
Every so often, you get a perfect confluence of events that makes life absolutely rosy. In Birmingham, Alabama, the segregationist forces have caved in to the boycott and marching efforts of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Two days ago, astronaut Gordo Cooper completed a day-and-a-half in orbit, putting America within spitting distance of the Russians in the Space Race. And this month, Avram Davidson has turned out their first superlative issue of F&SF since he took the editorial helm last year….
(6) ETERNAL FLAME. Michael Moorcock tells why Fahrenheit 451 endures: “The Truth of Ray Bradbury’s Prophetic Vision” at LitHub.
In the late 1960s my friend J. G. Ballard phoned me full of outrage. Feeling weighed down by the bad prose cluttering his study, he had dug a pit in his back garden and thrown his review copies in, splashing them with a little petrol. But they proved harder to burn than he thought, so he put one in the kitchen oven, which had a suitable thermometer, to test the igniting heat of book paper. “Bradbury was wrong!” he complained. “Fahrenheit 451 isn’t the temperature at which book paper burns!” But, I asked, hadn’t Bradbury phoned the Los Angeles Fire Department to get the temperature right?
“Well, they’re wrong, too!” announced Ballard, who admired Bradbury and whose own early Vermilion Sands stories echo Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. Ray Bradbury, he said, had shown him that science ?ction was worth writing.
…Although Bradbury obviously held up a mirror to the world so that it might see itself the better, I believe him when he claims that he was not setting out to do what Orwell did in 1984, nor even what Pohl and Kornbluth did in a later Galaxy serial “The Space Merchants.” Rather, like Philip K. Dick, he let his excellent instincts have their way. They told him what to put in while his taste told him what to leave out. He was doing what he had always done by letting the resonances in his own imagination determine the kind of story he told: Fahrenheit 451 remains as readable as when it was written, some sixty-odd years ago, thanks to Bradbury’s almost psychic sense of how the world works.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
(8) HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Steven H Silver celebrates Jonathan Maberry’s natal day in his Black Gate column: “Birthday Reviews: Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Red Dreams’”.
Maberry won the 2007 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for Ghost Road Blues, which was also nominated for Best Novel. The next year he won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction with David F. Kramer for their book The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre. In 2012, he won the Bram Stoker for Best Young Adult Novel for Dust & Decay, and again the following year for Flesh & Bone. In 2015, he shared a Bram Stoker Award for Best Graphic Novel with Tyler Crook for Bad Blood.
(9) SEND FOR MORE CANDLES. And Tor.com coincidentally (not) reposted Elizabeth Bear’s tribute “The Perfect Chaotic Worlds of Diane Duane on Duane’s birthday.
In all her genres, Diane Duane is one of my favorite writers.
She spreads her talents around, too. She writes in multiple genres and forms—scripts to novels, tie-ins to original fiction, young adult urban fantasy to historical fantasy to science fiction to second-world fantasy. And whether she’s writing Y.A., as with her Young Wizards series, or Star Trek media tie-ins, she always brings an inimitable playful voice and a startling sense of “Yes; that’s right; that’s just like people.” to her work.
(10) TESS SEES ITS FIRST LIGHT. Mashable headline: “First photo from NASA’s planet-hunting TESS satellite is full of stars”. The latest exoplanet-hunting satellite has begun opening it’s “eyes” and taken its first photos. Though still undergoing shakeout tests, these first photos from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite are nonetheless spectacular.
A new NASA telescope, sailing toward its assigned orbit, took a moment to look around before it starts its ultimate mission: searching the galaxy for alien planets.
NASA’s TESS spacecraft — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — beamed home one of its first photos taken from space, and it’s a doozy.
The photo, which effectively amounts to a test of one of the satellite’s four cameras, contains more than 200,000 stars, NASA said.
But that’s only a fraction of the number of stars it will eventually study in order to find alien worlds out there circling them.
(11) NOT DEAD YET? ThinkProgress says a climate science NASA mission may not be completely dead. Time to visit Miracle Max: “Critical NASA program cut by Trump re-introduced in latest budget”.
The House Committee on Appropriations, which is responsible for overseeing NASA, voted on Thursday to approve $10 million in funding for a “climate monitoring system” intended to help the agency better “understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change.” In a unanimous vote, lawmakers gave the green light to an amendment in a 2019 spending bill mandating that NASA fund such a system, Science first reported Thursday.
…That system’s description sounds nearly identical to the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10 million-per-year program established to measure carbon dioxide and methane using satellite technology and similar mechanisms. The CMS has played a crucial role in the study of greenhouse gases, but last week the Trump administration confirmed that the program had ended after its funding was cut from the 2018 budget passed in March.
Now, it appears the CMS might be back from the dead — in everything but name. The $62 billion 2019 CJS Appropriations bill approved on Thursday extends to a number of departments, including the Justice Department and numerous science-linked agencies, NASA among them.
“This bill invests our hard-earned tax dollars into the safety and security of our nation,” said Culberson [(R-TX), chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee.], who went on to detail various elements within the legislation.
(12) WINNING WWII AGAIN. Cnet reports “Steven Spielberg making a DC movie, punching Nazis again”.
Fresh from squeezing Batman and other DC comics cameos into Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg is now taking on the real thing. The legendary director is set to make a movie based on DC’s fighter ace Blackhawk.
Like DC’s smash hit Wonder Woman, and Spielberg’s Indiana Jones movies, Blackhawk is a retro wartime story, this time about a squadron of aerial adventurers battling Nazis and supervillains in World War II. Blackhawk was created in 1941 by Bob Powell, Chuck Cuidera and comic book legend Will Eisner.
(13) VULCAN DINOS ON EARTH. Popular Science realizes these creatures can only come from one place – and it’s not Earth — “Green bones, green hearts, can’t lose: these lizards survive with toxic green blood”.
Several species of New Guinea lizards seem to be from Vulcan, what with having green blood and all. But unlike Mr. Spock, their blood isn’t based on copper… they’ve evolved to tolerate a blood breakdown produce called biliverdin (which marks both jaundice and the sometimes spectacular green color of a bruise) at levels that would be fatal to a human.
In the forests of New Guinea, lizards scurry around with green bones, green hearts, green tongues, and green blood. At least six species share this enigmatic trait, which didn’t originate from one bizarre mutation but evolved four different times, according to new research in Science Advances.
These lizards have green insides because their bile carries super high levels of a deadly compound called biliverdin, the product of old red blood cells. People make the same pigment—you can see it when you get a gnarly, green-tinged bruise—but our livers filter it from our blood. Trace amounts of biliverdin cause jaundice, a disease common in infants and adults with liver failure. The levels found in these lizards would kill us. But for these lizards, well, it sure is easy being green.
(14) MAKE EVERY MOVIE A DEADPOOL SEQUEL. Adweek found out how to do it: “Here’s the Story Behind Deadpool’s Incredible Blu-ray Takeover at Walmart”.
When a display of Blu-rays, with each covered photobombed by Deadpool, popped up this week at Walmarts across the country, we had more questions that we had answers.
Who had created this amazing in-store activation, and how did such a sweeping takeover—entailing new, customized cover sleeves for The Terminator, Predator, Office Space, Fight Club and many more—come about?
Well, now we know. The short answer is that it was a collaboration between the in-house teams at Fox Home Entertainment and Los Angeles creative agency Neuron Syndicate, which designed the covers….
(15) CYBORGASM. Stephen Colbert reviews the latest news about robots in a Late Show comedy segment.
Google demonstrated its new Google Duplex, an A.I. assistant that can have realistic conversations with humans. But what happens when they talk to each other?
(16) REAL STINKERS. The finalists in the 2018 Lyttle Lytton Contest, which seeks the worst first sentence ever, have been posted. This year’s winner of the “found division” is:
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Bill, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]
(1) #NEBULAS2018. Tonight SFWA held a reception for its latest Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle.
Peter Beagle tells us a story. ? pic.twitter.com/kOsMO9r89D
— SFWA, Inc. (@sfwa) May 18, 2018
(2) THE SWAG IS OUT THERE. Cat Rambo reveals cool SFWA stuff.
— ??????? ???? ????? ??? (@Catrambo) May 16, 2018
(3) GENRE TV UPDATES. Deadline reports “‘Siren’ Renewed For Season 2 By Freeform”.
Ahead of the May 24 season 1 finale, Freeform has picked up a second season of its hit mermaid thriller Siren. The network ordered a 16-episode Season 2, up from 10 episodes this season. The renewal was announced just ahead of the network’s upfront presentation today in New York City.
Siren has been a ratings success for Freeform, debuting as the No. 1 new cable drama with young women 18-34 and 12-34.
Rev. Bob provides background:
If you’re not familiar with Siren, it’s an hour-long drama in which (a) mermaids and sirens are the same thing, (b) a fishing boat catches one in a net, and (c) the military swoops in and takes her before even the crew can get a good look, so (d) her sister comes ashore to find her and get her back. Naturally, this being a prime-time cable show, hot twenty-somethings, brooding guys, and romantic entanglements ensue. It’s actually rather well done, forgoing the usual “sanitized, waist-down” transformation for a more visceral full-body transformation more reminiscent of werewolf effects.
A commercial during tonight’s episode advertised SIREN Season 2 as “Coming 2019,” with next week’s episode as the Season 1 finale. This clears the decks for the June 7 two-hour premiere of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger. Both shows air on Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family).
Cloak & Dagger are well-established Marvel characters. For some reason, the TV show moves them from their usual NYC to New Orleans.
“Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” is the story of Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) – two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another. Tandy can emit light daggers and Tyrone has the ability to engulf others in darkness. They quickly learn they are better together than apart, but their feelings for each other make their already complicated world even more challenging.
(4) WORLDCON 76 PROGRESS REPORT. The San Jose Worldcon has issued Progress Report #3 [PDF file].
Hugo voting has begun, and much more stuff is on the way. Check out our latest Progress Report for stories on past Worldcon, local places to visit when you’re here, and an interview with Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio about his #Mexicanx Initiative.
(5) WORLD FANTASTY CON PR. And the 2018 World Fantasy Convention has posted its own Progress Report Three [PDF file].
(6) VORKOSIFLORIST. Lois McMaster Bujold’s novella “The Flowers of Vashnoi” is now available for purchase. There are links to various sellers in her Goodreads Post.
Still new to her duties as Lady Vorkosigan, Ekaterin is working together with expatriate scientist Enrique Borgos on a radical scheme to recover the lands of the Vashnoi exclusion zone, lingering radioactive legacy of the Cetagandan invasion of the planet Barrayar. When Enrique’s experimental bioengineered creatures go missing, the pair discover that the zone still conceals deadly old secrets.
This novella falls after Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance in the Vorkosigan series timeline, but may be read entirely independently. The Vorkosigan saga was the recipient of the first Hugo Award for best science fiction series in 2017.”
(7) KGB PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow posted photos from their latest reading — “Fantastic Fiction at KGB May 16”.
Tina Connolly and Caroline Yoachim read stories — Caroline’s was nominated for the Nebula Award. Tina’s is forthcoming in a couple of months. They were both excellent readers and left us all wanting desperately to know the ends of their stories.
(8) STAN’S FAVORITE AUTHOR IS SHAKESPEARE. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett proves some ephemera is valuable: “So here’s an article about the surprising things one can find in a collection and the day I encountered the unexpected Stan Lee. If you thought Marvel films were the only place that Mr Lee made cameos well have I news for you” — “The Unexpected Stan Lee”.
One tip towards owning a collection.
Despite the title above this story doesn’t start with Stan Lee. Well get get to him in due course don’t worry, Stan Lee is inevitable after all, but first there needs to be some scene setting.
Like any profession the folk who deal in the buying and selling of second-hand books can recite a litany of peeves and dislikes in regards to their work. Not surprisingly most of these complaints revolve around the behaviour of the general public. Not you, I hasten to add, I’ve no doubt that if you’re reading this then you are the thoughtful and discerning type who wouldn’t dream of adding to a book dealer’s woes. Even so it’s possible for the average collector to miss a few tricks, some of which may surprise you. Consider for example the following complaint lifted from a private mailing list:
You need to add to that list the frustration of being offered a recently inherited collection only to discover that before calling the seller has thrown away everything they assumed was irrelevant rubbish. Why somebody not familiar with a collection and who usually has little or no interest in the subject the collection is built around assumes they are the best qualified person to decided what is valuable and what is not is beyond me. People don’t understand about ephemera!
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMPOSER
(11) END OF AN ERA. Romantic Times and the related convention are going away. “’This is the last RT’ – Kathryn Falk Announces End of Romantic Times” — Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has the story.
At a breakfast this morning at the 2018 RomanticTimes BookLovers Convention, Kathryn Falk and her husband Ken Rubin announced that they are retiring, and that this year is the last year for the RT Convention. While there had been rumors before the announcement, her words, delivered at the end of a farewell speech that focused on what she would be doing next, were met with gasps and audible shock.
Shortly afterward, the following email went out to RT Subscribers and newsletter members announcing that the convention as well as the RT Magazine online and the RT VIP Lounge would all be closing effective immediately…
… No mention was made regarding the new 2019 BookLovers Convention, which will be run by current RT Convention coordinator Jo Carol Jones. BookLovers Con will be held in New Orleans, May 15-19 2019.
JJ adds, “There are lots of fond comments, but take particular note of comments # 8, 11 and 20.”
(12) MARVELOUS SURPRISE, MAYBE. CNN declares “‘Captain Marvel’ won’t be what you might expect”. (Did any of you tell CNN what you expect?)
“That’s a lot of times what a typical origin movie is structured like, but as we introduce new characters moving forward, we want to find ways to subvert that structure, so at least the experience of the film feels new to audiences,” [Marvel producer Nate] Moore added. “We’re very conscious of making sure that audiences don’t get things that feel like they’ve seen them before.”
(13) KOMINSKY-CRUMB. The New York Times profiles “The Yoko Ono of Comics, on Her Own Terms”:
Among the few women making underground comics in 1970s San Francisco, the feminist infighting was fierce. Aline Kominsky (who would soon take the name of her famous and infamous boyfriend, Robert Crumb) was berated for drawing strips that female cartoonists in her collective thought were too crude and confessional, not uplifting enough, wallowing in the depths of self-loathing — about being too fat, too sexually voracious, too loud, too neurotic. This was not the work of an “evolved feminist consciousness,” she was told.
When she broke off and started her own comic book, Twisted Sisters, the first issue’s cover made it clear just how little she cared about anyone’s judgment: It was a drawing of her sitting on the toilet, underwear around her ankles, wondering, “How many calories in a cheese enchilada?”
“She specialized in outgrossing anyone who was going to call her gross,” said Diane Noomin, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb’s co-conspirator in Twisted Sister.
She didn’t care — and hasn’t for a long time now. For over four decades, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb has been shining an unabashedly unflattering light on her own life. It’s the theme that runs through “Love That Bunch,” a new book gathering her solo comics from her mid-20s until these past few years, as she turns 70 this summer.
(14) SEVENTIES SFF. James Davis Nicoll’s series continues with the letter L: “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part VI”.
J.A. Lawrence may be best known as an illustrator, but she is also an author. She is perhaps best known for “Getting Along” (featured in 1972’s Again, Dangerous Visions) as well as for the collection Star Trek 12, which was part of a long-running series adapted from scripts of the original Star Trek. While many of her works were co-authored with her then-husband, the late James Blish, 1978’s Mudd’s Angels is a solo work by Lawrence.
(15) YOUR 451 SCORE. B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog writer Jeff Somers thinks he found “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451”. Eh. I scored 8 out of 10, and one of them I “missed” is dubious (about a “prequel”). Good post all the same. Here is the one that was news to me:
There’s a video game adaptation, and it was written by Bradbury
If you’re jonesing for a sequel, you can find the nearest approximation if you can track down a copy of the 1984 video game Bradbury developed—and an old computer to play it on. It’s a direct continuation in which you play as Guy Montag, former Fireman, now seeking to make contact with the underground resistance working to save books. An interactive text adventure with some graphics, the game relies on quotes from famous written works that Montag must collect and pass on to resistance members to memorize them for posterity.
(16) SF WHERE IT’S LEAST EXPECTED. Narrative online magazine has a reputation for being very, very literary. Bruce D. Arthurs says, “So I was quite croggled to see that their latest ‘Poem of the Week’ was titled ’Alderaan’ by Maria Hummel.”
You can only read the first half of the poem at the link. To read the last half, you have to sign up and login.
Bruce read the whole thing and his verdict is, “Not particularly impressed by the poem, myself. But seeing it appear in a high-falutin’ literary mag like Narrative was quite the surprise. Maybe science fiction really is taking over the world.”
(17) GAS HISTORY. The earliest O2: “Scientists detect oxygen legacy of first stars”.
Astronomers have made the most distant ever detection of oxygen.
They observed it in a galaxy of stars that existed just 500 million years after the Big Bang.
But what is really fascinating is that this oxygen can only have been produced in an even older group of stars that would have dispersed it when they died and blew themselves apart.
That means we could be witnessing the traces of events that occurred a mere 250 million years after the Big Bang.
(18) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Southwestern solar calendar: “Arizona’s mysertious clock of ancient times” is traceable to past tribes, not space aliens.
In 2005, Zoll, then 57 and a volunteer at the forest’s V Bar V historical ranch site, detected a pattern to the shadows cast on the park’s huge rock art panels, which are covered with more than 1,000 petroglyphs.
Could this, he wondered, be an ancient calendar?
He shared his observation with a forest service archaeologist, who wasn’t particularly impressed. Archaeo- or cultural astronomy, the study of how ancient peoples tracked the seasons and studied the cosmos, has fought for respectability. It’s hard to prove that alignment with the sun, moon or stars isn’t mere coincidence. And in the past, some advocates haven’t helped their case, suggesting that prehistoric sites could have been fashioned by space aliens.
(19) WOULDA COULDA WAKANDA. HISHE gives us “How Black Panther Should Have Ended.”
(20) COLBERT. Live For Live Music explicates a Late Show comedy bit: “Kids Pitch A New TV Show: ‘Strangest Things: The Golden Mysteries'”.
On last night’s edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the late-night host recruited a slew of prominent actors and entertainers to help bring the ideas of a panel of “the most influential minds in the prized 6-8-year-old demographic” to life in a hilarious sketch dubbed “Kids Pitch.”
After an exhaustive session with the kids, Colbert’s focus group came to the conclusion that the new TV show they wanted to pitch would need to feature “very famous group band,” The Beatles (one kid, a young Beatles superfan, stuck to his Revolver when challenged on what their best album was). The focus group also came up with various thematic criteria including fighting and music (which, of course, means “rap battle”) as well as creepiness, aliens, Nick Cannon and Brooke Shields, among other things.
Playing three of The Beatles are John Oliver (Paul McCartney), David Tennant (George Harrison), and Michael Shannon (Ringo Starr).
[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, JJ, Bruce D. Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Kim Huett, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
U.S. Bankruptcy Court has granted the trustee’s motion to convert the Avicenna and Conlan Press bankruptcies from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, a liquidating bankruptcy. The orders were entered April 30.
Peter S. Beagle sued his former manager Connor Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. Cochran and his companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Beagle’s lawsuit against them.
Whether liquidating the corporations’ assets will financially benefit anyone is a question. Several of Cochran’s creditors allege he has converted their assets to his personal use.
However, as reported here in March, the court lifted the automatic stay that took effect when Cochran filed bankruptcy, and allowing Beagle to proceed in California state court against Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. and obtain a final judgment.
Then, in April, the court also lifted the stay for Sandbox LLC and Justin Bunnell, investors in The Last Unicorn Tour, allowing them to proceed with state litigation against Avicenna Corporation.
And last month Patrick Lake filed with U.S. Bankruptcy court a “Complaint To Determine Dischargeability of Debt and Related Declaratory Relief” which allowed him to publicly rehearse the grounds for his defamation suit against Cochran. Over the course of several years, Cochran issued updates about his efforts to identify the anonymous source of some allegedly libelous blog posts and tweets, a person he ultimately claimed was Bay Area resident Patrick Lake.
Lake’s statement to the court (see the link below) argues:
…The true facts were that Plaintiff had not forged a contract with Plaintiff; that he does not engage in an “ongoing pattern of deception” in his attorney-client relationships or in his other business relationships; he is not a “stalker” nor “crazed” i.e., mentally unstable, mentally incompetent, or insane; and he was not fired from his employment as an art instructor when he left that employment over five years ago.
…As a proximate result of the defamatory statements of Defendant, Plaintiff has been harmed in that he has suffered past and future loss of income, as well as shame, mortification, emotional distress, public opprobrium, and humiliation, as well as attorneys’ fees incurred to attempt to correct the misleading and false statements of Defendant that have been repeated by others relying on Defendant’s widely published false and defamatory statements. Said damages are in an amount subject to proof at trial.
Lake’s attorney seeks a court ruling that Cochran’s debts to his client are nondischargeable in Cochran’s Chapter 11 proceeding.
Peter Beagle can resume litigation against former manager Connor Cochran and related corporations under a motion granted by U.S. Bankruptcy Court on March 23. The federal court order has lifted the automatic stay that took effect when Connor Cochran and his companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Peter S. Beagle’s lawsuit against them.
The order allows Beagle to proceed in California state court against Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. and obtain a final judgment.
Beagle sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc.
The Bankruptcy court order says any judgments obtained in state court may only be executed with its permission. The order also frees Justin Bunnell and Sandbox LLC, a California partnership, to intervene in the Beagle/Cochran state action and pursue its claims for $300,000 invested in The Last Unicorn screening tour launched in 2013.
[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA for the story.]