(1) IN VINO VERITAS. How’s your Finnish? Tähtivaeltajablogi has put up a post about the translation of Bradbury’s Dandleion Wine, “Kirjat – Ray Bradbury: Voikukkaviiniä”. The beautiful cover speaks for itself!
…In Surround Yourself With Your Loves and Live Forever, edited by John L. Coker III, Bradbury’s friend Ray Harryhausen later recalled:
“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria, where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Ray Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual.
“Ray would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to the meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts.”
(3) RAY & RAY. Eyes on Cinema presents an undated video of these two friends and creators in dialog: “The importance of curiosity with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.”
(4) CALLING. This is from an interview with Tobias S. Buckell in the June Locus. Buckell grew up biracial in the Caribbean Islands.
“Ray Bradbury has a story in The Martian Chronicles about a couple with a kid that dies. The Martians can adopt whatever form people around them want, so one of them goes to their parents and looks just like the kid. Their son is back from the dead, and they don’t care why–they fold him into their routine. He starts disappearing a lot, so they follow him, and realize he’s also being a lot kid for another family along the way. The two families call him back and forth like a dog until he just rips apart and dies. I read that in high school in the US Virgin Islands and broke into tears. That story literalizes a metaphor about the question you asked earlier, about being pulled to one side or the other. That story is not about being biracial–but for me it was.”
(5) DESPARACION DE LOS LIBROS. Ray Bradbury was interviewed by Cristina Mucci on the Argentine TV show Los siete locos in 1997. The program is “dedicated to the dissemination of books and culture.” Bradbury’s answers were broadcast with Spanish subtitles. Early on, he was asked about Fahrenheit 451.
(6) A VISIT ON CABLE TV. The Planetary Society has posted this 1982 interview with Bradbury on their YouTube channel.
Mat Kaplan crossed paths with author, poet, and visionary Ray Bradbury many times across three decades. UK Planetary Radio fan and Bradbury expert Dr. Philip Nichols recently revealed that he had a VHS copy of Mat’s first interview with Ray, conducted in 1982. The author of The Martian Chronicles was a frequent visitor to Long Beach, California where Mat managed a cable television channel. Here’s that interview.
…In the world of pandemia in 2020, Bradbury’s stories resonate with a different irony. For those who can afford the technology, screen life has become more critical than ever, critical to education, business, government, and ministry. It has become a way of connecting, a method of community. It keeps us close, yet as Bradbury thought, isolated from our neighbors and family. But that’s the nature of the current virus, a destroyer of community. Bradbury did not predict a plague-inspired isolation, at least not this type of plague.
Instead I think he saw technology as the plague that isolates, a relentless social force. He would ask us, “What are we dependent on? What can we not live without?” As if Bradbury was thinking aloud, he offers several “solutions.” We could destroy technology, especially if we realize it controls us too much. In “The Murderer” (1953) Albert Brock is arrested for shooting a television set, murdering a telephone, a wall radio, a wrist radio, intercom system, and other things. Brock is happily committed to an institution for six months in a quiet cell. This is the stance of a rebel, not a conformist….
Experience the transformative power of creative writing through the life and works of famed fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury. As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury remains one of the 20th century’s most visionary and celebrated writers. This course explores practical creative writing strategies through a deep dive into the “dark fantasy” of Ray Bradbury.
(9) APOLLO 11 NIGHT. Ray Bradbury is interviewed on the night of the first moon landing by Mike Wallace. From Comic-con 2009, Ray’s own DVD. Part 1 of 2
Ray Bradbury Moon Landing Interview part 2
Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) tells where he was when the Moon landing happened. And he also relates Ray Bradbury’s anecdote about why he skipped out on David Frost’s show that night to find someone who would interview him about this great event.
The “Boba Fett J-slot rocket-firing prototype” was never produced because of safety concerns from the shooting mechanism, SWNS reports. However, between 80 and 100 of them were made for testing, but only 24 of them are believed to have survived, adding to the collectible’s scarcity value.
(3) WHEEL OF TIME JEWELRY
DEADLINE. Badali Jewelry makes officially licensed jewelry for fantasy authors — Jim Butcher,
Pierce Brown, Naomi Novik among others — however this is the last weekend they
can sell their Wheel of Time
jewelry before the license ends because of
the new TV show. October 28 is the last day. Badali’s designs were approved
personally by Robert Jordan. They are a family-owned business and everything is
Before Bezos settled on Amazon.com, he toyed with naming his unlaunched store MakeItSo.com. He entertained using the phrase because he couldn’t contain a long-standing enthusiasm. The rejected moniker was a favored utterance of a man Bezos idolizes: the captain of the starship USS Enterprise-D, Jean-Luc Picard.
Bezos is unabashed in his fanaticism for -Star Trek- and its many spin-offs. He has a holding company called Zefram, which honors the character who invented warp drive. He persuaded the makers of the film Star Trek Beyond to give him a cameo as a Starfleet official. He named his dog Kamala, after a woman who appears in an episode as Picard’s ‘perfect’ but unattainable mate. As time has passes, Bezos and Picard have physically converged. Like the interstellar explorer, played by Patrick Stewart, Bezos shaved he remnant strands on his high-gloss pate and acquired a cast-iron physique. A friend once said that Bezos adopted his strenuous fitness regime in anticipation of the day that he, too, would journey to the heavens.
“It still is,” Reese, who with his writing partner has another new sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, currently in theaters. “We sat with [Marvel Chief Creative Officer] Kevin Feige before the merger and we’re not allowed to talk to him about it. I think Ryan sat down with him more recently. But it’s still in the works. … They’re trying to work something out and then hopefully we can come through with something cool.”
“I think the promise is that Deadpool will live in his R-rated universe that he was living in at Fox,” Wernick added. “And then over time hopefully we can play with some of those MCU toys in the sandbox, and bring that into his world and have him brought into their world. So we’ll see, it’s a fun, exciting time.”
(6) ATTENTION FUTURE ASTRONOMERS. The Planetary Society is
encouraging people to support the Kickstarter for The
Search for Planet X game. The makers have reached their funding goal
but there are fun stretch goals and rewards in store (especially for Society
members). The campaign ends on 30 October.
Inspired by Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin’s “Planet Nine” hypothesis, Foxtrot Games has created a game capturing the thrill of discovery and the puzzling process of astronomical investigation.
You’ll play the role of an astronomer making observations and using deduction to determine the location of a hypothetical planet. The board game uses a companion app to randomly determine the location of the objects each game, and players interact with the app during the game to conduct their research.
Our partners at Foxtrot Games are committed to providing engaging, interpersonal experiences through beautiful and approachable tabletop games that celebrate what’s good in the world(s).
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 24, 1997 — Gattaca premiered. Starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, it was written, directed and co-produced by Andrew Niccol who did the same for The Truman Show save directing it. It did exceptionally well with audiences and reviewers rating 82% at Rotten Tomatoes. It lost to Contact in the Best Dramatic Presentation Award at the 1998 Hugo Awards given out at BucConeer.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane. Writer and artist co-creator with Bill Finger of Batman. Member of both the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1998.)
Born October 24, 1939 — F. Murray Abraham, 80. Setting aside Star Trek: Insurrection which you know he’s been in, he’s had a fair amount of other work as well appearing in Slipstream, Beyond the Stars, Last Action Hero, Mimic, Muppets from Space, The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in For Love or Mummy, Thirteen Ghosts and Robin Hood.
Born October 24, 1952 — ?David Weber, 67. Without doubt, best known for the Honor Harrington series which is most excellent. I really can’t say I’m familiar with his other work, so do chime in and tell what I’ve been missing.
Born October 24, 1955 — ?Jack Skillingstead, 64. Husband of Nancy Kress, he’s had three excellent novels (Harbinger, Life on the Preservation and The Chaos Function) in just a decade. I’ve not read the new one yet but I’ve no reason not to assume that it’s not as good as his first two works. He’s due for another story collections as his only one, Are You There and Other Stories, is a decade old.
Born October 24, 1958 — Liz Mortensen, 61. An LA con-runner fan. Chair of Loscon XXV. She’s been involved in many LA area conventions. She’s a member of LASFS and SCIFI. She was one of the organizers of the Roswell in 2002 hoax Worldcon bid. LASFS awarded her the Evans-Freehafer Trophy in 1998 and she was the Artist Guest of Honor at, and I kid you not, Fa-La-La-La-La-La-La-La Con, #7, a relaxacon.
Born October 24, 1971 — ?Dervla Kirwan, 48. Miss Hartigan in “The Next Doctor”, a Tenth Doctor story. She’s Maeve Sullivan in the Shades series, and she played Petra Williams in the “Painkillers” episode of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).
Born October 24, 1971 — Sofia Samatar, 48. She’s the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria, winner of William L. Crawford Award, British Fantasy Award and the World Fantasy Award, and The Winged Histories, Tender (short stories)and Monster Portraits, a collaboration with her brother, the artist Del Samatar.
Born October 24, 1972 — Raelee Hill, 47. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (called Sikozu) on Farscape. Genre wise, she’s also been on The Lost World series, Superman Returns, BeastMaster and Event Zero.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto have an unexpected conversation in Bizarro.
Should October 24 be a day of celebration in the comics world?
That happens to be the birthday of Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman. Kane, who died in 1998, helped bring to life one of the most popular characters in popular culture. That type of achievement should merit an annual parade being thrown in one’s honor.
Except that according to nearly all accounts, the man who reaped the greatest rewards for the creation of the Dark Knight did so at the expense of others. To say Kane’s legacy is complicated is to massively understate things.
…Kane’s early vision of the character included red tights and a winged costume. It was Bill Finger, who worked at Kane’s studio as a ghostwriter, who would help create the visual aesthetic that would define Batman for all time. The cowl, the cape, and the darker color scheme for the costume all came from Finger. He came up with Gotham City, the Batcave, and the Batmobile, as well as Robin, Catwoman, and Commissioner Gordon. Finger even came up with the origin story of Bruce Wayne.
You tell me: Remove all those elements, and is the Bat-Man still Batman? …
DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Connor Hoffman, in “Porsche
ad Star Wars Teaming To Build Taycan-Inspired Starship” in Car and Driver says that Porsche engineers
are teaming with Star Wars to come up with a Porsche-inspired starship
that will both be in The Rise of Skywalker and a subtle product
placement for the Porsche Taycan, an electric sedan.
Lucasfilm creative director Doug Chiang says that the design will be a recipe featuring ingredients from the X-wing, Y-wing, and U-wing starships from the Star Wars movies, combined with pieces of Taycan design. The designers were given specific instructions: there must be two front entries, a large rear cargo door, and room for two pilots and a maximum of five crew members. It also needs to have a minimum of two and a maximum of four engines, the company said.
The spaceship will be shown off at the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker premiere in December alongside Porsche’s very own spaceship: the 2020 Taycan.
(12) READ IT BEFORE IT FADES AWAY. Fanac.org has
started uploading issues of my ancient genzine Prehensile.
Say, Issue 9 has some awfully funny bits! And plenty
of other bits! Read at your own peril, especially “Dark Alleys of
Fanhistory” by Dan Goodman.
(13) LAST NIGHT ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into Jeopardy!
yesterday in time to watch the contestants bomb again.
Final Jeopardy: 1930s Novel Characters.
Answer: Prior to a murder in a 1934 book, he says he hasn’t been a detective since 1927 & that his wife inherited a lumber mill.
Wrong questions: “Who is Sam Spade?” and “Who is Dick Tracy?”
The BBC has made its international news website available via the Tor network, in a bid to thwart censorship attempts.
The Tor browser is privacy-focused software used to access the dark web.
The browser can obscure who is using it and what data is being accessed, which can help people avoid government surveillance and censorship.
Countries including China, Iran and Vietnam are among those who have tried to block access to the BBC News website or programmes.
(16) 007 LICENSE TO DRIVE. The
annual Nieman Marcus fantasy catalog offers seven Aston
Martin DBS Superleggeras each
personally designed by Daniel Craig, each for $700,007. But with the car
you get an edition of an Omega Seamaster limited to seven copies with 007 stuff
on the watch case, two tickets to the premiere of No Time To Die in
London along with airfare and hotel, and airfare (and nothing else).
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat
Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
…When asked her inspiration for the handmaids’ outfits, Atwood replied, “The concealment of the body, number one, and the limitation of the body, number 2, so other people can’t see you, but you also can’t see other people.
“So, that, and the Old Dutch Cleanser package from the 1940s,” she added. “A vision from my childhood.”
Outside the church, Atwood is recognized by teenagers attending day camp. At 79, she is Canada’s most famous living writer. She’s published 60 books, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” has overshadowed the others. In English, it’s sold more than eight million copies.
She began the book in West Berlin in 1984: “A symbolic year because of Orwell, and how could I be so corny as to have begun ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in that year? I couldn’t help it!”
(2) NO AWARD. David Pomerico was incensed that Anne Groell finished behind No Award in the Best Professional Editor, Long Form Hugo category. While some of these tweets are a bit overwrought (“Of course, maybe Anne wronged 97 of you somehow, but knowing her like do, I find that hard to believe”), it’s very fair to say most voters have only a very general idea what an editor does, and to wonder how they decided to fill out their ballots. Thread starts here.
I have observed in the fan categories that No Award votes can function as a protest against the existence of a category. If something similar is at work here, it would only be unfortunate collateral damage that a person received fewer votes than No Award on the first ballot. Note that although she wasn’t the first choice of very many voters, the sixth place runoff shows 446 people ranked Groell ahead of No Award.
…PKD died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982, at the age of 53. After his death, Hollywood would make some of his work popular with films such as “Blade Runner” (based on his short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”); “Total Recall” (based on “We can Remember it Wholesale”); “Minority Report” and “The Adjustment Bureau.”
Dick is buried at the Fort Morgan cemetery next to his twin sister, Jane, who died at 6 weeks old. That grave is a popular draw for fans of the prolific science fiction author from all over the world, with cemetery workers often seeing little trinkets related to his tales left on the stone.
Another connection to Fort Morgan with the late author is that his father’s family was from Fort Morgan.
Two years ago, an expert on author Philip K. Dick who goes by Lord Running Clam (aka David Hyde) saw his dream of having a PKD Festival held in Fort Morgan come true.
And this year, the second version of that every-two-years festival was held.
… One of the big events at this year’s PKD Festival was a panel discussion about “The Man In The High Castle.”
“The Man in the High Castle” is what many consider to be Dick’s first masterpiece, but not everyone feels that way. The panel consisted of Ted Hand, Dr. Andrew Butler, Tessa Dick and Frank Hollander.
During the last couple of decades the name Mildred Clingerman has popped up in prominent spots around the science fiction universe. Her works have been included in several significant anthologies and even in textbooks; indeed, her story “Wild Wood” is one of the more memorable entries in the late David G. Hartwell’s landmark collection of Christmas fantasy tales. In 2014 she received a posthumous Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, joining such previous honorees as R. A. Lafferty, Leigh Brackett, and the collaborative team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. And two years ago her family assembled The Clingerman Files, a book collecting most of the science fiction stories that appeared during her lifetime, along with two dozen unpublished tales found in her papers.
(5) TRUE CONFESSION. Cat Rambo is taking inventory:
Your story “Thanks for the Memories,” an interactive story about a woman piecing her life together one memory at a time, came out in Sub-Q in December 2018. What were some of the challenges in writing a story structured that way?
I had so much fun writing “Thanks for the Memories,” and it’s based on a story I wrote for my last week of Odyssey. I could never make it quite work in prose, but making it interactive and letting the player/reader experience the feeling of trying to work out the main character’s past from within her shoes, using her memories, was the perfect fit of story and format. The hardest part of doing it, other than learning a new coding language to write the piece, was figuring out how to make the piece non-linear (so you could experience the memories in any order), but also structured (so there was a set beginning, middle, and end to drive the story). My solution was to create a frame narrative with a ticking clock and key moments that always happened when the player got through a certain number of memories. That way their experience of the memories could always be different, but the story would still have a shape and forward plot momentum. I like to think it worked out in the end.
Whether you want to write about peace-loving aliens or a heartbreaking dystopian future, there are a number of practical strategies for starting your novel, building your world, and landing a satisfying finish. In this post, learn how to write a science fiction novel using some of the best advice on WritersDigest.com.
(8) A HISTORIC CONNECTION. Actor Robert Picardo celebrates Star Trek’s premiere 53 years ago today by sharing Trek-related things found in storage boxes at The Planetary Society’s headquarters. One is a signed letter from Gene Roddenberry encouraging the Star Trek community to join the Society.
Star Trek: Voyager’s holographic doctor, Robert Picardo, also serves on The Planetary Society Board of Directors. However, he is not the first connection between Star Trek and The Planetary Society. In 1980, the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, wrote a letter and sent it out to a Star Trek fans mailing list. In the letter, Gene invited his fans to join us on our mission to explore the cosmos. Hear the letter as read by Robert Picardo, listen to his Jean-Luc Picard impression, and see inside Bill Nye’s office for more Star Trek artifacts on hand at The Planetary Society.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 8, 1966 – Star Trek’s first aired episode, “The Man Trap,” was written by George Clayton Johnson.
September 8, 1973 — Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered on this day.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 8, 1911 — William Morrow. He’s the first original Trek Admiral appearing as an Admiral in two episodes, Admiral Komack, in “Amok Time” and as Admiral Westervliet “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”. Other genre appearances include Cyborg 2087, Mission Impossible, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Panic in Year Zero!, The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, Rollerball and Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He also took multiple roles (even the Queen) in The Mouse That Roared. Amusingly he was involved in another of folk tale production over various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 74. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And he was the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a not quite so dismal 24%.
Born September 8, 1948 — Michael Hague, 71. I’m very fond of East of the Sun and West of the Moon retold by he and his wife Kathleen. Not to be missed are his Wind in The Willows and The Hobbit which are both lovely takes on those tales.
Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 65. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 54. I think that his second book Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading?
Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 54. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times.
Born September 8, 1971 — Martin Freeman, 48. I’m not a fan of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films but I really do think he made a very fine Bilbo Baggins. Now I will say that I never warmed to Sherlock with him and Benedict Cumberbatch. Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu works better for me.
Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 44. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script.
What inspired you to pick up a pen and write a book for children?
The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond – which was released this May – is my third children’s book. Although I don’t see it as just a children’s book. Nearly all of us have a child like wonder about space, and I want to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters and how it is shaping our lives. What inspired me to write this book is that I wanted to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters. I even launched the book to the edge of space (using a balloon) to help showcase just how close space really is.
Wait, hang on – you actually launched your book into space?
I launched my book to space using a special type of balloon filled with hydrogen gas. The science behind it is relatively simple, the gas in the balloon weighs less than the air around it, so that causes it to rise. The balloon continues to rise and expand until the air that surrounds is equal in pressure – at the edge of space at an altitude which in this case was 33.1km. It then pops and falls to the Earth by parachute.
However it’s also complicated in the sense, you have to notify the CAA and also track the balloon and predict rough landing sight using weather patterns. But it shows that space is truly not far away.
The Joker, that caliph of clowns, that prince of pranksters, that malevolent mischief-maker whose cunning capers continually confound the courageous crimefighters of Gotham City, has struck again! This time, the caped crusaders’ archest arch-nemesis has left Gotham for bella Italia—ancestral home of local heiress J. Pauline Spaghetti—to pull off his most daring, dastardly deed to date: Stealing the Golden Lion, the top prize at this year’s Venice Film festival, and awarding it to Joker, screenwriter and director Todd Phillips’ critically-acclaimed meditation on poverty, grief, and the myriad ways the social and economic forces of the Reagan era turned decent people into Clown Princes of Crime.
The Joker’s fiendish feat of film flimflammery is a festival first: According to the Cinematic Milestone Bat-Disclosure Unit, Joker is the first superhero movie to win the Golden Lion. The festival jury, headed by Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, has not commented on its role in the Joker’s scheme, but Commissioner Gordon believes that an empty box of “Joker Brand Film Festival Jury Hypnotic Gas Pellets (Italian Formulation)” found in the gondola where deliberations were held may hold a clue to the mystery. Authorities acknowledge, however, that their theory that the festival jury was biased in favor of supervillains is not entirely consistent with the fact that they awarded the festival’s next highest award, the Grand Jury Prize, to a small-time sex offender named Roman Polanski for An Officer and a Spy, a movie about the Dreyfus affair. Holy Ham-Handed Historical Analogy, Batman!
…As one of the cultural touchstones of the 20th century, almost any look into the history or production of The Wizard of Oz will spin the reader down endless rabbit holes of film criticism and intellectual wandering. From Judy Garland’s ruby slippers, silver shoes in Baum’s original book, illustrated by W.W. Denslow, to E. “Yip” Harburg and Harold Arlen’s iconic songs, and with heirs from The Wizto the films of David Lynch, it stands at the crux of Hollywood history.
We tend to think of the books as being written in one place, and the movies based on them being made in another—yet strangely enough L. Frank Baum and his wife Maud Gage actually lived in the town of Hollywood from 1910 to 1919, at the end of his life, just as it was being transformed from a little-known agricultural paradise to a world-famous moviemaking one.
Are you a Star Wars fan with $250,000 to spend? If so, iCollector has an item for you! The online collectibles auction is boasting a Darth Vader helmet worn onscreen by David Prowse in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
(16) HISTORY OF SF FILMS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, has
been doing a History of Science Fiction, and in the third installment covers 1955
to 1959. He hopes viewers will support his efforts at
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mike
Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
(1) AVOIDING THE HIT PARADE. The Planetary Society welcomes
you to enroll in “Asteroid
Defense 101” “A short course introduction to asteroid impact and what
we can do to prevent it.” It’s free.
In this course, you’ll learn about the threat of asteroid impact, the history of asteroid impacts on Earth, asteroids and comets in general, and The Planetary Society’s 5 step plan to prevent asteroid impact. At the end of the course you’ll be presented with resources to learn more, and encouraged to share what you’ve learned with others. The entire course can be completed in about an hour or a little bit more. See below to learn about the instructor and see the curriculum. Let’s save the world!
Lien is originally from Taiwan and lives in Hollywood, California. He has been an attorney, a teacher at UCLC Extension, and an art dealer in Los Angeles, representing artists from the Americas and Eurasia. He has also served as president of the West Hollywood Fine Art Dealers’ Association and on the board of the West Hollywood Avenues of Art and Design.
…My first serious fannish activity was writing Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic, largely focusing on my two favorite/self-insert characters: Data and Wesley Crusher.
My first social fanac was half-assedly joining a play-by-mail Starfleet simulation RPG.
My first “no shit there I was” fan story was giving a homemade snickerdoodle cookie to Brent Spiner.
You don’t get my fandom experience without Tolkien, for sure; but you damn sure don’t get it without Star Trek, either. Star Trek is where I start doing fandom, as a social thing broader than the scope of my family, rather than merely reading my father’s shelves ravenously. (Though of course my immediate social circle of fic writers included at least one person who sneered at anything involving Wesley Crusher positively, and I came away with the impression that she did it to fit in and I would be expected to do the same. So I stopped sharing my fic.)
I used to comment about the watershed of the post-Star Wars fandom experience; I am pretty sure that the post-Harry Potter fandom experience has only increased this phenomenon. Older fen I saw talk about being teased or bullied for liking science fiction and fantasy; I got a bit of that for reading, generally, but it was a given that I would read genre. Everyone did genre, at least people who actually read.
I was… sometime in my teens before I learned that there was stuff out there that wasn’t genre. It was the Doonesbury sequence on The Bridges of Madison County that did it. This wasn’t something that was explained to me – or remotely apparent to me – before then. Everything I read, I read as Strange People In Unfamiliar Situations, and the same principles applied that to Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson and whatever nonsense was assigned in English class, where it worked just as well as it did on Niven and my beloved Cherryh.
One of my first encounters with old-school convention/zine fandom was being indirectly mocked for saying “sci-fi”, the way my father did, the way everyone I knew did. It was made clear to me that this was the mark of an Outsider, possibly an Interloper, certainly not someone who was qualified to be welcomed into the inner circles….
…On Friday, Mr. Kranz and Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, cut a ribbon marking the official reopening of the restored Apollo Mission Control Center. It was a three-year, $5 million project, and every inch of the famed heart of America’s lunar aspirations was repaired and refurbished. Its reopening comes three weeks before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, and helps to kick off Apollo festivities across the country.
Apollo mission control had been abandoned in 1992, with all operations moved to a modernized mission control center elsewhere in the building. Center employees, friends, family — and anyone, really, who had access to Building 30 — could walk in, take a seat, take a lunch break and take pictures.
While they were there, they might take a button from one of the computer consoles. Or a switch or dial, anything small — a personal memento from an ancient American achievement. The furniture fabric and carpet underfoot grew threadbare. The room was dark; none of the equipment had power. Wires hung where rotary phones had once sat. The giant overhead screens in front of the room were damaged, and the room smelled of mildew. Yellow duct tape held carpet together in places….
“One basic rule of dystopian fiction is that the future should be worse than the present,” said the German novelist [Tom Hillenbrand]. “But in this case it turns out I was a bit too optimistic.
“In my book Britain has actually worked out how it wants to leave and the EU is preparing a new constitution as a result. The real Brexit is actually much more dystopian.”
Since Drone State was published in Germany to critical acclaim in 2014, two years before the EU referendum on EU membership, a new micro-genre has flourished in the country’s publishing industry: dystopian fiction about Brexit Britain.
(6) KGB.Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow
and Matthew Kressel present Theodora Goss and Cadwell Turnbull on Wednesday,
July 17, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.
Theodora Goss is the World Fantasy and Locus Award-winning author of novels, short stories, essays, and poetry, including debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and her work has been translated into twelve languages. She teaches literature and writing at Boston University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program.
Cadwell Turnbull is the author of the The Lesson. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 (forthcoming). He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts.
KGB Bar: 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 30, 1971 — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was released on this day
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 30, 1902 — Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote the biography H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con because they threatened to disrupt it in which was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, He edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 60. Not Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, but rather in the Daredevil series, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 58. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History.
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 53. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series.
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 46. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn.
(10) WILL YOU SEE IT AGAIN? Emergency Awesome gives a rundown of the extras tacked onto the end of the Avengers: Endgame re-release, done in hopes of topping Avatar’s box office record.
Covering new Avengers Endgame Post Credit Scene with Hulk from Endgame Re Release. Special Stan Lee Cameo Scene and Avengers Endgame Spider-Man Far From Home Post Credit Scene. New Footage, Deleted Scenes and Bonus Features. Most of which will be on the Avengers Endgame Blu Ray later this year.
(11) COURT IS IN SESSION. At Legal Eagle, “Real Lawyer Reacts to Daredevil (The
Trial of Frank Castle).”
Is Frank Castle a hero or a villain? Is Matt Murdock a good lawyer or a bad one?
A legal analysis of Frank Castle’s trial from season 2 episode 7 and 8 of Marvel’s Daredevil. As Vulture eloquently put it: “In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the “trial of the century” does not concern O.J. Simpson, but Frank Castle. It’s finally time for the Punisher to stand trial, and thanks to just about every imaginable thing going wrong, Nelson and Murdock must defend him against District Attorney Reyes, who has a stacked deck and enough clout to steamroll our favorite tiny firm with ease.”
(12) HUGO’S GREATEST MOMENTS. This is probably well-intended, but my goodness!
Translation: HUGO AWARD 2018: SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY AWARD – SUMMARY WITH THE BEST MOMENTS http://www.
(13) SHOOTING SPARKS. The Monica Bellucci sf movie Nekrotronic
has dropped its official trailer.
To my surprise, the number quoted was not remotely as high as that. Just HOW high, I asked? He did a few calculations about his costs, and compared examples on line, and gave me a number that led me to swallow and say, “I can do that!” Mind you, I will be scraping together everything I can spare for the next three months, along with everything else I had already spend at the show, but I CAN do it. It will be the most expensive coin I have ever bought in the past, or am ever likely to buy in the future, and it was more expensive than anything else of any kind that I have ever bought, but IT IS MINE! I now own a gold aureus by the emperor Nero, roughly 54 to 68 AD. I think I have experienced an epiphany of sorts.
3) S.A. Chakraborty (my review of her novel here).
This is an Arabic-inspired fantasy, set in the secret magical land of the daeva, or djinn. This world is well built, with a great weight of history and backstory conveyed without infodumping. There’s also some meaty themes of discrimination and oppression.
(16) RETRO HUGO NOMINEE DECODED.
[Item by Cora Buhlert.] For all of us Retro Hugo
voters who are confused by the rather incoherent horror film The Seventh
Victim, here is an older article from Vice which explains why the
movie is so strange: “The 1940s Horror Movie That
Embraced Lesbianism and Satanism” (2017).
The signs are plentiful. Jacqueline has recently married a lawyer Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont), yet shows no signs of wanting to take his name or be with him romantically. Ward reveals to Mary, “There’s something about your sister a man can never quite get hold of.” Jacqueline is also “miserable” with her life, necessitating regular visits to psychiatrist Dr Louis Judd. (The doctor is played sarcastically by Tom Conway, who reprises the same character from Lewton’s similarly odd 1942 masterpiece Cat People—a film that also tackles repressed sexuality.) It turns out that Jacqueline has fallen in with the secretive cult and is now wanted dead by its members, who fear that she has told her psychiatrist about them.
In short, the missing women everybody is looking for
is a lesbian and because society doesn’t accept her, she becomes depressed and
commits suicide. But Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton weren’t allowed to do more
than vaguely hint at the character’s sexual orientation, so they shoehorned in
a plot about Satanists, since Satanists are apparently less scary than
lesbians.The article certainly caused me to reevaluate the movie, since a) it’s
now even less SFF than before, and b) equating lesbians with Satanists is
(17) ALTERNATE MUSICAL HISTORY. Whether it’s sff or not isn’t
something Leonard Maltin is concerned about – it’s the disappointing execution:
A good idea is a rare and precious gift. Screenwriter Richard Curtis has had many of them, leading to such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill. He and Jack Barth had another good one: What if a time warp erased the whole world’s memory of The Beatles, and a struggling singer presented their songs as his own? They brought this concept to director Danny Boyle, whose enthusiasm led to Yesterday.
An idea, however, is not the same thing as a story. This film is an unfortunate example of a premise that doesn’t blossom into a full-fledged screenplay. The cast is engaging enough, with Himesh Patel as a hard-luck guy who has greatness thrust upon him and Lily James as his platonic pal. They’ve been like brother and sister since childhood, always there for each other, but neither one can admit that they are truly in love. This relationship, fraught with hesitations and crises, becomes repetitious and tiresome.
Sena Runa (previously) twists, folds, and stacks layers of thick paper to create dynamic paper sculptures. The Turkish artist uses a wide range of hues to create chromatic elephants with a rainbow of shades, or work all of the brilliant blues of the ocean into a single sea turtle.
(19) KURTZMAN DEFROCKED. Midnight’s Edge explains
why Alex Kurtzman can’t be fired but has been sidelined as the maven of all
things Star Trek at CBS.
On June 27, CBS officially confirmed what Midnight’s Edge revealed almost two weeks earlier: that Michael Chabon is the new showrunner of Star Trek Picard. In this video, we will begin by going through what this implies about Alex Kurtzman and his current role, before moving on to what Chabon might bring to Picard.
(20) RE-VERSE. A visit to Bonnie McDaniel’s blog led me to rediscover
this wonderful verse Stoic Cynic posted
in comments in 2016 (it was a very good year!)
A fragmented excerpt from The Filer and the Astronaut by Louise Carol:
‘The time has come,’ the Filer said, ‘To talk of many things: Of pups — and picks — and palimpsests — Of Cadigan — and King — And why this movie, cult is not — And whether trolls believe.’
‘But scroll a bit,’ the Pixels cried, ‘Before you have your chat; For some of us are full of links, Oh do not rush so fast!’ ‘No hurry!’ said the Astronaut. They thanked him much for that.
‘A post of fifth,’ the Filer said ‘Is what we chiefly need: Filking and Punnery besides Are very good indeed — Now, if you’re ready, Pixels dear, We can begin to read.’
‘O Pixels,’ said the Astronaut, ‘You’ve had a pleasant run! Shall we be posting here again?’ But answer came there none — And this was scarcely odd, because They’d scrolled up every one.
[Thanks to mlex, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse
Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Bruce D. Arthurs, P J Evans, Cat Eldridge, Andrew
Porter, Alan Baumler, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories, Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]
(1) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.
A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.
A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.
The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.
The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….
He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.
On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.
Cosplay: A History is a deluxe upcoming release from Saga Press celebrating the colorful kingdom of cosplay being compiled by writer/historian Andrew Liptak…
Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.
Liptak’s own press release says –
Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write.
The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more.
The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology.
SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of
the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and
non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.
And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia
for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring
scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next
seasonal edition will appear in September.
The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.
(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate
Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.
Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.
Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.
After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.
Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at firstname.lastname@example.org before May 11.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 25, 1897 — Fletcher Pratt. Pratt is best known for his collaborations with de Camp, the most well-known of which is the Harold Shea series which is collected as The Complete Enchanter. His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also superb. Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The club would later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Asimov. Pratt would be fictionalized in one story, “To the Barest”, as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur. (Died 1956.)
Born April 25, 1925 — Richard Deming. Ok, I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, or in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, in the digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were the writers who penned novellas in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series. (Died 1983.)
Born April 25, 1929 — Robert A. Collins. Scholar of science fiction who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Editor of the Fantasy Newsletter & Fantasy Review from 1978 to 1987, and editor of the IAFA Newsletter from 1988 to 1993. Editor, The Scope of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the First International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film and Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth Annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2009.)
Born April 25, 1939 — Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic Horror, Frankenstein: The Monster Wakes, Dick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.)
Born April 25, 1950 — Peter Jurasik, 69. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5 — Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film.
Born April 25, 1952 — Peter Lauritson, 67. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Star Trek films.
Born April 25, 1969 — Gina Torres, 50. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And, of course, Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?
(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games
publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride,
Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent
hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the
co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.
Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be
publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are
also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first
of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication
schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK
and export trade.
To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately
publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired
assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick
Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.
…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….
(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack
— “Harry Potter & The Plague of
Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”
JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.
I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…
I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.
Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.
It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.
…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?
(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s
the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th
New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:
(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS.
Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks
of a slate – because he put them there.
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.
Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.
Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!
Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago.
The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…
Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.
Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….
SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…
How “I of Newton” went from the page to The Twilight Zone
The unusual origins of Hugo Award–winning short story “Tricentennial”
Getting The Forever War published (and bootlegging the stage production)
Details about Joe’s new novel in the works (!!!)
(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A
TED-Ed presentation written and
narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan
of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”
Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror
Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.
Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA,
Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A
Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
The most remarkable thing about the 1944 Retro Hugos is that there is no Heinlein. Not a single Heinlein story was nominated for the Retro Hugos this year, not because fandom has suddenly lost its taste for Heinlein, but because Heinlein was too busy in 1943 testing military equipment at the Navy Yard* to write science fiction. Also notable by his absence (except for one fairly obscure story) is Isaac Asimov, who was also too busy testing military equipment at the Navy Yard to write, though unlike Heinlein, Asimov didn’t have a choice, because he was at danger of being drafted and expected (not without justification) that he’d be killed if he were ever taken prisoner, as Alex Nevala-Lee describes in his (excellent) chronicle of the Golden Age and what followed Astounding.
World War II also took other Golden Age stalwarts such as Lester Del Rey (also busily doing something at the Navy Yard) and L. Ron Hubbard (busily shooting at phantom subs off the Mexican coast) out of the game, leaving the field open for other voices and the 1944 Retro Hugo finalists certainly reflect that. This is a good thing, because it means that writers who are not normally recognised by the Retro Hugo Awards (though some of them have been recognised by the regular Hugos) finally get their dues.
This is the third year of the Best Series category and personally, I’m getting really frustrated with it, even though I initially supported the idea. But the way I viewed the Best Series Hugo (and the way it was originally sold) was as a way to award the sort of extremely popular SFF series that are beloved by fans and regularly hit bestseller lists, but whose individual volumes are almost never recognised by the Hugos, because the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts (see Wheel of Time, which was obviously misclassified in Best Novel, but would have been a natural for this category). When the category was announced, I assumed we’d see finalists like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (which might have been nominated, except that the series hasn’t had a new book in years, because Jim Butcher is apparently ill), the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (which actually ended in 2018 and really would have deserved a nod), the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Honor Harrington series by David Weber (not to my taste, but obviously beloved by many), etc… But that’s not what we’re seeing in this category. Instead, we’re getting the same finalists we’re seeing elsewhere on the ballot. Perhaps the Hugo electorate aren’t really series readers to the degree initially assumed. Or maybe they just have a really weird taste in series.
(3) CLARIFYING TWEET. Archive of Our Own is up for the Best Related Work Hugo. The facility
of the site, not the individual works of fanfic. Did someone need that
explained, or were they only amusing themselves? Just in case, someone
(4) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. The
dates for the next two LA Vintage Paperback Shows have been set — March 8, 2020 and
March 28, 2021.
(5) STRONG WILL. Red
Wombat needs to get something done before heading to China:
Work on the new Heinlein work continues, but we are experiencing some production delays and so may have to postpone the release from November, to Spring of 2020….
Some questions on the new Heinlein answered:
1. Is Spider Robinson completing an unfinished work by Heinlein? NO. Neither Spider Robinson, nor anyone else has been tasked with completing the book. The book is complete. It did survive in fragments, but the fragments contain the complete book. It is being edited (as is every published book) to eliminate errors, inconsistencies, etc. But the work is 100% Heinlein.
2. Is this the rumored alternate text to The Number of the Beast? Yes. This is the alternate text that Heinlein wrote. There are many reasons that have been suggested as to why this was never published, including certain copyright issues that may have existed at that time (the book uses the characters created by other authors, and the book acts as a homage to a couple of authors Heinlein admired).
3. Is the unpublished version similar to the published version? No, though it largely shares the first one-third of the book, it then becomes a completely different book in every way. In the published version the villains are largely forgotten as the novel evolves into something else completely. The unpublished version is much more of a traditional Heinlein book, with a much more traditional storyline and ending.
4. What is the release date? We are trying to publish it by November, but it appears we may have to delay it till Spring 2020 due to a number of reasons
SFWA President Cat Rambo noted, “Vonda was one of our best and brightest, and she had three times the heart of most of the people I know. I’m so glad she managed to finish the book she was working on, but her loss hits so many of us who loved her and her words with a hardness that is tough to bear. Be kind to each other today in her honor; I can’t think of any way that would be better to celebrate the goodness and grandeur that she was.”
The best part of In the Vanisher’s Palace is de Bodard’s fascinating world. I want to know more about the Vanishers and how they destroyed Yên’s society. I’d gladly read other stories set in this world. I also loved the “non Euclidean” and “escherscape” palace which at first makes Yên nauseated.
If you read KILL THE FARM BOY, then NO COUNTRY FOR OLD GNOMES is the same in tone, silliness, puns, wordplay, and corny jokes. Except this time we don’t see much of Gustave, Grinda the Sand Witch, Fia, and the others; no, this is about the gnomes Offi and Kirsi and their new friends whose quest to stop the halflings turns into a journey fraught with danger.
Theory of Bastards is set in the near future, and Schulman does an impressive job (especially for a newcomer to the genre) of constructing a plausible and thought-out portrait of life in the coming decades. She casually drops into the narrative such ideas as a future type of internet in which computer-generated avatars present the news, or a combination implant and gene therapy that turns the deaf bonobo keeper’s mouth into another ear, able to perceive vibrations and translate them into sound. But for the most part, the picture she paints is not encouraging.
In December of 1847, John D. Fox moved his family to a house in Hydesville, New York. Although the house had an odd reputation (the previous tenant had vacated because of mysterious sounds), it wasn’t until March of the following year that the family’s troubles began. Before long, daughters Kate and Margaret claimed to be communicating with the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in the house. The communications took the form of rapping noises in answer to questions asked aloud.
The Fox sisters (along with a third sister, Leah, who acted as their manager) soon parlayed their rapping skills into celebrity. The young ladies held public séances, underwent “tests,” and inspired copycat mediums around the world. By the time the Foxes were debunked, they’d helped to inspire a new religion, Spiritualism, which was popular in both America and Great Britain, that held as its central tenet that the spirits of the dead continued to exist on another plane and could be contacted by human mediums. The Spiritualist movement had no less a figure as its international spokesperson than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose wife Jean was also a medium.
It’s no coincidence that the ghost story experienced a rebirth of popularity at about the same time….
Janice Frank’s body was often a burden to her, and she likely would be unfazed by the fact that her cremated remains have been lying, unclaimed, in a funeral parlor since her untimely death in 2014 at 59.
But the news that she was there stunned her daughter, Sovay Fox, and her daughter’s partner, Hallie Hauer, who both thought she’d been given a pauper’s burial and had given up on ever having possession of her ashes.
Ms. Frank, born in 1954, contracted polio from the vaccine that was designed to prevent it. She was 8 years old, and the disease left her with a deformed leg. She walked her whole life with a cane.
A journalist and author, she told other writers that the best of their craft would come from tapping into their own pain, and it seemed she had a bottomless well of suffering from which she often wrote.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 2, 1914 — Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!) That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth of course at Sheffield. (Died 2000.)
Born April 2, 1933 — Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator of genre covers during the Seventies. Glyer has a most excellent look at him here in his obituary posting. I’m very fond of his cool, diffuse style of illustration that made it seem as if the subject of the cover was just coming into focus as you looked at them. (Died 2016.)
Born April 2, 1939 — Elliot K. Shorter. Fan, bookseller, and Locus co-editor once upon a time. He was attending conventions by the early Sixties and was a major figure in Sixties and Seventies fandom, and involved in a number of APAs. And as Glyer notes, he spread his larger than life enthusiasm wide as he ‘belonged to the Tolkien Society of America, Hyborean Legion, the City College of New York SF Club, ESFA, Lunarians, Fanoclasts and NESFA.’ He was involved in the Worldcon bid and helped run Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon which came out of the bid. All of this is particularly remarkable as he was one of the very few African-Americans in Sixties fandom. (Died 2013.)
Born April 2, 1975 — Adam Rodriguez, 44. His first genre role is on All Souls, the haunted hospital drama, as Patrick Fortado. He’s also in season three of Roswell as Jesse Esteban Ramirez.
Born April 2, 1978 — Scott Lynch, 41. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is to my utter surprise now at seven with the forthcoming one. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora but who here has read the entire series to date? And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors?
Are you devoted enough to watching “Avengers: Endgame” that you’re willing to sacrifice two-and-a-half days of your life hyping up for it?
AMC is hosting yet another Marvel movie marathon leading up to “Endgame,” a 22-film marathon saga that covers every MCU dating back to 2008’s “Iron Man” and concludes with “Endgame.” And just … why? Does anyone honestly need this?
Those who do brave the experience will get special marathon collectibles, content, concession offers and will get to see “Avengers: Endgame” at 5 p.m. local time on April 26, one hour earlier than regular public show times.
(16) CLASSIC ILLUSTRATIONS. The
Society of Illustrators in New York hosts its “Masters
of the Fantastic” exhibit through June 8. Includes work by many artists
including Winsor McCay, Kinuko Y. Craft, Leo and Diane Dillon, Vincent Di Fate, Ed Emshwiller, Hannes Bok, Virgil
Finlay, and Frank Frazetta.
The art of the fantastic gives vision to our dreaded nightmares and our most fervent hopes. Stories of fantasy and science fiction have risen from the quaint traditions of the tribal storyteller through children’s fables and pulp magazines to dominate today’s cultural mainstream. Through their use on the covers of bestselling books, to their appearance in blockbuster movies, TV shows and videogames, illustrative images play a central role in the appeal and popular acceptance of the fantastic narrative and the Society of Illustrators is pleased to celebrate this rite of passage with an exhibition of more than 100 examples of the genre’s finest artistic works. MASTERS OF THE FANTASIC encompasses a full range of otherworldly images—from dragons, specters and demons, to the far reaches of deep space—in the form of paintings, drawings and sculpture, highlighting the works of the artistic innovators who have given shape and substance to the world’s most imaginative kinds of storytelling.
(17) TO THE MOON. In the March 29 Financial Times, Jan Dalley reviews a
virtual reality voyage to the moon by performance artist Laurie Anderson
collaborating with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang, in an installation
currently at Art Basel Hong Kong.
The hateful headset is instantly forgotten as, with gut-lurching suddenness, the ‘floor’ shatters beneath you and you are cast off, a weightless space traveller in the wonder of the galaxy. And quickly dumped on the surface of the moon, quaking (in my case), to face and explore a series of visions and adventures: ghost dinosaurs composed of mathematical symbols splinter into nothing as you navigate yourself toward them (one is replaced by a phantom Cadillac); a glittering diamond-shaped mountain sucks you on high among its giant peaks, perilously close; a plethora of swirling, hideous space junk crashes into your visor before you realise you have grown an immensely long pair of arms with which, presumably, to fend off the aggressions of this man-made trash, while behind looms the immense, terrifyingly beautiful sight of Earthrise. A fathomlessly deep stone rose (remember Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince?), still and lovely, is vast enough to be slowly circled by its own eerie moons. Later you lose your body completely; suddenly you’re on a donkey ride; an entire galaxy explodes into a vast cosmic firework display.
HEADS ARE BETTER. Bill Nye and Bob Picardo talk all about how advocating
for space really works in the February edition of The Planetary Post.
An hour south of Charlotte, N.C., two forks in the road beyond suburbia, a freshly constructed house sits in a wind tunnel waiting to be set on fire.
To the left of the house is a brick wall with a hole in the middle, made by a 2-by-4 propelled at 70 miles per hour.
In front of the house is a metal staircase five stories tall. At the top are the hail guns.
More than 100 fans begin to turn, slowly at first and then faster. The ember generators flicker on. The fire is about to begin.
The past two years have been particularly costly for insurance companies that are on the hook for billions of dollars in damage done by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters. As these disasters become more frequent and expensive, in part because of climate change, insurers are investing more in this research facility that studies how to protect homes and businesses from destructive wind, water and embers.
The facility in rural South Carolina is run by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit research organization funded by U.S. insurance companies….
(20) HOW TO
FAIL PHYSICS. “NASA: India’s satellite destruction could endanger
ISS”. Chip Hitchcock’s summary: “The perfectly safe test wasn’t.
Follow-on to links you didn’t use last week; now there’s hard evidence — but
somebody should have figured that a blowup in LEO would send debris up, not
just down and sideways.”
Nasa has called India’s destruction of a satellite a “terrible thing” that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS).
The space agency’s chief, Jim Bridenstine, said that the risk of debris colliding with the ISS had risen by 44% over 10 days due to the test.
However he said: “The international space station is still safe. If we need to manoeuvre it we will.”
India is the fourth country to have carried out such a test.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the test – Mission Shakti – with great fanfare on 27 March, saying it had established India as a “space power”.
In an address to employees, Mr Bridenstine sharply criticised the testing of such anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.
He said that Nasa had identified 400 pieces of orbital debris and was tracking 60 pieces larger than 10cm in diameter. Twenty-four of those pieces pose a potential risk to the ISS, he said.
…Delhi has insisted it carried out the test in low-earth orbit, at an altitude of 300km (186 miles), to not leave space debris that could collide with the ISS or satellites.
Sarcos Robotics is responsible for some incredible technology. Last July, we introduced you to the company’s Guardian S, the 4-foot-long inspection robot that uses magnetic tracks to inch along everything from metal walls to oil pipelines.
The Salt Lake City-based company is also responsible for the Guardian GT robot, which allows an operator to remotely control two massive robotic arms on a tracked (or wheeled) robot to perform dangerous inspection and maintenance tasks in the nuclear, oil and gas, and construction industries.
The company also designed a powerful robotic exoskeleton, the Guardian XO, a smooth, battery-powered exoskeleton initially designed to give industrial workers the ability to repeatedly lift 200 pounds without any physical exertion.
In early March, Sarcos partnered with the U.S. Navy to evaluate how workers at naval shipyards could benefit from exoskeletons. Through the deal, shipyard workers could one day use the XO to work with heavy payloads and use power tools. The deal also calls for the Guardian S to potentially inspect confined spaces — for example, in submarines as they are modernized or retired.
Figuring out how to repurpose food packaging, plastic, paper, fabric and other types of waste without gravity to work with is difficult. That’s why NASA, in partnership with NineSigma, created the Recycling in Space Challenge.
The purpose of the challenge is to engage the public to develop methods of processing and feeding trash into a high-temperature reactor. This will help NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems and space technology programs develop trash-to-gas technology that can recycle waste into useful gases.
The NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) crowdsourcing challenge received submissions from participants around the world. A panel of judges evaluated the solutions and selected one first place and two second place winners.
The award recipients are:
· Aurelian Zapciu, Romania – $10,000 for first place, Waste Pre-Processing Unit
· Derek McFall, United States – $2,500 for second place, Microgravity Waste Management System
· Ayman Ragab Ahmed Hamdallah, Egypt – $2,500 for second place, Trash-Gun (T-Gun)
The three winners brought a variety of approaches to the table for the challenge. Zapciu’s submission proposed incorporating space savings features and cam actuated ejectors to move trash through the system, before bringing it to another mechanism to complete the feed into the reactor. McFall’s submission indicated it would use a hopper for solid waste and managed air streams for liquids and gaseous waste. Hamdallah proposed using air jets to compress the trash and cycle it through the system instead of gravity.
ALL-STARS. The Dead Don’t Die promises
— the greatest zombie cast ever disassembled starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat and Tom Waits. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. In Theaters June 14th.
Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew
Porter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Carl Slaughter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Matthew Johnson.]
Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency.
…Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.
The segment on Brianna Wu begins:
An accurate floor plan of her house was assembled and published online, along with her address and pictures of her car and license plate. And then there were the death threats – up to 300 by her estimate. One message on Twitter threatened to cut off her husband’s “tiny Asian penis”. The couple evacuated their house and took refuge with friends and in hotels.
Wu now devotes her time to running for Congress from her home in Dedham, Massachusetts. She sees her candidacy as a way of pressing federal authorities to take the problem of online conspiracy theories and harassment seriously. “The FBI employs about 30,000 agents in the US. As best as I can tell there’s no division that is specifically tasked with prosecuting extreme threats online – it’s simply not a priority for them,” she says.
Yesterday, 100 passionate Planetary Society members joined us on Capitol Hill for our Day of Action. They discussed the importance of space science and exploration with their congressional representatives and advocated for NASA’s continued growth. It was a huge success!
Through their efforts, we reached more than 127 congressional offices in 25 different states. We are grateful for the passion and dedication of these members.
…After all of that, Captain Marvel is in the unenviable position of having to introduce a new character to the MCU, lay out her origin story, tie her in with the current MCU timeline, create backstories for several previously established characters, and set up even more significant elements for Avengers: Endgame. But Captain Marvel mostly bears the weight of those expectations. It rises to the occasion with strong performances and with its directors’ willingness to slow down and take their story seriously, balancing humor, action, and exposition in a carefully calibrated package.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is initially introduced as Vers, a Starforce Agent for the alien Kree race. Vers isn’t a character from the original Captain Marvel comics, but Marvel readers may recognize her fellow Starforce members: Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou, Guardians of the Galaxy), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan, Crazy Rich Asians), Bron-Char (Rune Temte, The Last Kingdom), Att-Lass (Algenis Pérez Soto, Sugar), and their leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers has powerful Kree abilities: super strength, physical endurance, and the ability to shoot blasts of energy from her fingertips. But she can’t remember how she got those powers, or what her life was like before the Kree found her and brought her to their homeworld of Hala.
DOZEN. Sarah Mangiola posted this last year at The Portalist — “13
Must-Read Hugo Award-Winning Books”. Some of these are short
story collections where the title story was the Hugo winner.
Ill Met in Lankhmar and Ship of Shadows
By Fritz Leiber
The 1971 Hugo Award winner for Best Novella, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” recounts the meeting and teaming up of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser—serving as a prequel of sorts to Leiber’s The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book series. Featured alongside four other stories in Swords and Deviltry, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” starts when Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously ambush the Thieves’ Guild and steal valuable jewels that they themselves had just stolen. Realizing they make a good team, Gray Mouser and Fafhrd join forces and attempt to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild.
…This book started out simply as a biography of Milicent Patrick, an influential artist whose legacy has been purposely obfuscated for decades. She was an illustrator, a concept artist, one of the first female animators at Disney and the designer of the iconic monster from the 1954 science fiction film CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
The press and attention that Milicent got as the designer of the Creature was the pinnacle of her career. It also caused her downfall. Her boss at the time was so jealous of her being in the limelight with the Creature that he fired her. Milicent never worked behind the scenes in Hollywood again and no one knew what became of her.
While I was researching and investigating her life, it became clear to me that I couldn’t write about what happened to Milicent Patrick without writing about why it happened to her. It’s easy to hear a sad story about a woman dealing with sexism in the 1950s and think, “Man, what a bummer. That’s just how things were back then!”
But it wasn’t just how things were back then. What happened to Milicent Patrick is still happening. It’s happening right now….
It all started when a circle of Tintin fans in the Netherlands, de Herge Genooschap, ran a few strips in their internal newsletter. They were dragged to court, facing a penalty of up to €100,000 ($154,000).
They are only the latest party to have fallen foul of Nick Rodwell, self-proclaimed “the least popular man in Belgium”.
Mr Rodwell is the British-born manager of Moulinsart, the company that holds the rights to the Herge estate. Students, scholars, admirers and collectors alike have been harshly prosecuted at the faintest sign of a Tintin drawing, with Moulinsart demanding arrests, confiscations and colossal sums out of all proportion with the alleged offences.
My friend, longtime fan, author, fanzine publisher and comics researcher Steven Ogden died on March 1st, 2019 after a lengthy battle with leukemia and everything that goes along with its treatment.
Steve – along with his wife, Vicki – published fanzines and mini-comics through Spotted Zebra Press/New Spotted Zebra Press since the ’80s (or perhaps slightly earlier). Publications included Ouroborus, the mammoth Brad W. Foster Checklist of Published Works from the 20th Century (1972-2000), Edgar’s Journal, Metaphysical Pornographic Funnies and many others. He was also a longtime member of FAPA (The Fantasy Amateur Press Association).
His wife Vicki asks that instead of flowers donations
be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:
(8) TODAY IN
5, 1944 — Captain America premiered theatrically in theaters as a serial.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 5, 1874 — Henry Travers. Only two genre roles to my knowledge, he appeared in The Invisible Man as Dr. Cranley and he was in Death Takes a Holiday as Baron Cesarea. (Died 1965.)
Born March 5, 1894 — Henry Daniell. His most famous role is SF film was as a Morgana in From the Earth to the Moon. He has more obscure roles over the decades in films such as playing William Easter in Sherlock Holmes in Washington or Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane in The Body Snatcher where he’d have been upstaged by it being the last film of both Karloff and Lugosi. (Died 1963.)
Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell, 83. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: Enterprise, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1.
Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick, 77. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the Unicorn, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof.
Born March 5, 1952 — Robin Hobb, 67. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack.
Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 64. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000, Toy Story, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, VR.5, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror.
Born March 5, 1975 — Jolene Blalock, 44. Best known for playing T’Pol on Enterprise. Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts as Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
It’s not only authors who want to GET PAID, so do devices — Bizarro.
Garfield is about a fellow who will never have a Mount TBR.
… How would Simmons’ Jameson react to the dusty ending of Avengers: Infinity War? How would he potentially act, if he was to survive, during Avengers: Endgame? Would he finally cut Spider-Man some slack? Would the web-slinger finally earn his respect?
Thanks to a new spoof made by Lights, Camera, Pod, we don’t have to just sit and wonder. J.K. Simmons himself returned to voice Jameson for this animated video, and, well, see for yourself:
…The way they managed to get us was that we had promised that RSR would be politics-free: focused on the stories alone. But I had been using my reviews to express my annoyance with the use of “non-binary ‘they’” in stories and making it fairly clear I didn’t take the whole non-binary thing seriously. As a long-standing member of the LGBT community, I certainly have the right to voice my opinion of the non-binary movement (although it quickly became clear that I was very out-of-date and should have at least talked to a few non-binary people), but RSR was not the place to have that discussion. Worse, the first my husband (and co-editor) learned of this was when our enemies produced a horrendous “open letter” that was a mix of half-truths and outrageous lies but supported with links to my own reviews. He was, understandably, rather upset with me.
Most embarrassing was that Locus asked me to withdraw from the panel that selects their annual recommended reading list, and issued a press release about it.
We recognized that our enemies wouldn’t be satisfied by anything we did. “If we committed suicide, they’d just say we did it wrong.” So we apologized to our readers for what we genuinely believed I had done wrong, and I went through the old reviews and comments and carefully removed everything that we agreed shouldn’t be there, based on our own principles. They made fun of our apology, of course, but we didn’t care; we didn’t do it for them.
Then we waited to see what happened. We agreed that if volume to the site fell in half, we’d shut it down and find something else to do. It had been a miserable, humiliating experience, and it’s not like we make any money from Rocket Stack Rank. (We brag that we change no fees, run no ads, use no affiliate codes, and never beg for donations.) We think of it as our gift to fandom, and if fans didn’t want it, we wouldn’t keep doing it.
But, volume increased.
During the hullabaloo, volume more than doubled (by all measures) for about a month, based on year-on-year comparisons. But the next few months showed that we kept 20% of that. If we lost any readers, they were more than made up for by the ones who learned about us through this thing. (Maybe it really is true that all publicity is good publicity.) Year-on-year growth has continued, and we’re now actually bigger than some of the semiprozines that Locus reports on (although nowhere near the size of the ones we actually review).
(12) HAGER WINS AGAIN. Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for 2019
goes to Mandy Hager for
life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature
for young people. Her Singing Home
the Whale, about a teenaged boy who
befriends a baby orca, won the 2015 New Zealand Book
Awards’ Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (see a review here.)
Her near-future dystopia The Nature of Ash won the 2013 LIANZA
YA Fiction Award (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa).
Valve did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on the game’s website, the developer seems aware that its creation is controversial.
“You can’t reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture,” the developer says.
“Most people can separate fiction from reality pretty well, and those that can’t shouldn’t be playing video games,” the developer continues.
Technically, Rape Day does not appear to violate Steam’s current content rules, but the developer appears unsure if the game will make it to the final release without getting banned off the platform. Already, the game has been modified to avoid potential content issues — in one news update, the creator says they got rid of a “baby killing scene” in case it gets marked as child exploitation. Rape Day’s website also lists out a couple of plans of action for what may happen to the game, and the developer, should anything get taken down.
“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer wrote. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.”
In K. Chess’ debut novel, Famous Men Who Never Lived, at some point in the past, reality diverged, and an alternate timeline played out alongside our own. Then, that world was devastated by a nuclear attack, and extradimensional refugees started showing up in our own reality. As Chess follows the lives of refugees from that alternate world, she delivers a story about immigration and how those who lose everything they’ve ever known are able to cope with their new reality.
Serial Box’s new space opera is an action-packed, politically-driven adventure written by an impressive author lineup.
…Together, they take on a space opera that touches on the strengths of all four of these works, while being something very different. Welcome to the system home to Khayyam, Gan-de and Hypatia, where the careless extraction of hydrogen by wealthy inner planets is causing the slow collapse of the sun and the death, over centuries, of all inhabitable worlds – beginning, of course, with the blameless, impoverished outer worlds. Mix in a hardened soldier-for-hire who is herself an escapee from the dying worlds, and her naive non-binary sidekick, and you’ve got an indisputable recipe for success, right?
How does the world get from the police we know today to Judge Dredd? JUDGES Volume 1 brings us closer to the answer with a trio of short stories set in the Judge Dredd universe. It doesn’t quite reach the bombast of that source material though.
…But if you’re not familiar with the Judges program or the Judge Dredd world, these stories aren’t going to do you a lot of favors in the way of building this world.
To say that the saga of Binti is a modern masterwork is obvious. Despite the tragedy throughout the series, the physical tragedies, the emotional baggage Binti brought with her when we first met her to the profound affect those physical tragedies had on Binti, one thing was even more clear. Hope. This is very much a forward-thinking series with a charmingly brilliant and empathetic protagonist. Okorafor impressively packs these short novels/novellas with an incredible amount of emotion, fantastical ideas, and philosophical ideals in and of themselves. That the trilogy (plus short story) is under 400 pages and is so powerful is a marvel of storytelling.
(18) THE VERDICT. Camestros Felapton wrote individual reviews of the six
2018 Nebula Awards short story nominees, and now deals with how they work
collectively on the literary award’s ballot: “Nebula
Shorts: Summing Up”.
I’d contend that there are three clearly exceptional short stories in the Nebula short story finalists. There is a fourth I can see an argument for, there is another that I don’t get but others clearly did and there’s a sixth which, while having many positive qualities, probably shouldn’t be a finalist.
(19) MANY MONSTERS. Ultraman is coming to Netflix (like everything
Years ago, the famous giant of light Ultraman worked to protect peace on Earth. Now, a new champion arises: Shinjiro Hayata, a high-school student who must don the Ultra Suit and the worries that come with it. The son of the former Ultraman, he will become this generation’s new hero! Netflix Original Anime Ultraman starts streaming worldwide April 1st, only on Netflix.
(20) GENRE PLAT. Matthew
Johnson left another masterwork in
All books can be SFnal books, though recent books are bolder You never know when Dick and Jane might meet with a Beholder The correct double entrendre Can make anything genre You can give a ray gun to Atticus Finch Let Lennie and George cast a spell in a pinch.
JJ, rcade, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Matthew Johnson.]
JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing, which so far includes The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Descent of Monsters, with a fourth still to come. Their short fiction has been published in more than a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. And not only had The Black Tides of Heaven been on the Nebula Awards ballot that weekend, but it’s also on this year’s Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards ballots as well.
In previous incarnations, they’ve been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers, and a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
We met for Sunday brunch that weekend at Casbah, which offered a Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with comfort food. I’d heard good things about those Sunday brunches, and what I’d heard turned out to be true, because that morning’s braised lamb and eggs was the most umami-filled meal I had all weekend, and probably my favorite dish while in Pittsburgh.
We discussed why they consider themselves “a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie The Great Wall gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing Star Trek and Star Wars fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.
The AP: This was a pretty massive project, what was the scope and parameters of what you were going to look at?
CN: Oh my yes it was. It took nights and weekends for several months after Juvet. (And it’s still going!)
The scope was big by design. I wanted it to be pretty comprehensive. My authority and expertise in this domain is built on screen sci-fi, since you need to see a thing in use before you can evaluate it. That means movies and TV shows. There’s a lot of sci-fi literature that investigates AI (for instance, I’m reading the Culture series right now by Ian Banks, and it’s got AI baked deep into its worldbuilding), but I just don’t have authority in that domain. But still, screen sci-fi is massive, and I like to be as comprehensive as possible. So I looked back through all the movies and TV shows I could find that had an AI component: A robot, a spaceship AI, a disembodied one. I looked at lists people had collected online. I looked for keywords on IMDb. I don’t think I got them all, but I think I got most.
I’d have liked to include more narrow AI, but that would have expanded the survey of shows by an order of magnitude, and ultimately, the purpose of the project is to help guide sci-fi to be in-line with the science so we hedge our bets in the right way. Narrow AI is already here in the world around us (and less of an existential threat) so there’s not as much need to address it at scope.
(3) CREWED TALK. On Twitter, Karen James, a biologist, points out that instead of saying space missions are manned, one should say “crewed”, as outlined in NASA’s actual style guide: “All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic).”
Unsurprisingly, she gets a lot of pushback in the comments. She does have Phil Plait and Elizabeth Moon weighing in on her side. The thread starts here.
To everyone in my mentions pushing back on “crewed” vs. “manned”:
Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words “manned” and “unmanned,” but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:
All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included “manned” (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).
For only the second time this year, a Disney movie has been denied release in China. Christopher Robin, a live-action/CGI family film that stars Ewan McGregor, received a no-go from the country’s film authorities.
No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.
But an insider counters that the decision likely has to do with the size and scope of the film given the foreign film quota and the fact that there are several new Hollywood tentpoles in the Chinese market right now.
…But the move to abolish term limits, announced on Sunday, has resurrected deeper fears in Chinese society, where memories remain of the personality cult of China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and the fevered emotions and chaos that it conjured.
Anxious to suppress criticism, and maintain an appearance of mass support, the Communist Party’s censors have scoured the internet and social media for content deemed subversive. The sanitizing has included many images of Winnie the Pooh — Mr. Xi is sometimes likened to the cartoon bear — and search terms like “my emperor,” “lifelong” and “shameless.”
For a short time, even the English letter “N” was censored, according to Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor, apparently to pre-empt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with “N” being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.
Okay. I am going to give away some advice that I usually charge HARD CASH for, as part of my consulting services, as I need to stop seeing such mediocrity glut my feed….
Branding – This is key. There are certain universal standards, of clean design. Your branding should reflect your event, your values, and your overall identity. It’s so much more than ‘just grab a font you like’. And yes, all of us have had a learning curve with this. Hell, I keep copies of my older foibles in my wallet, to remind me of where I’ve been, and the constant quest for improvement. The Key here is, you have to LOVE it. You and your team. Not ‘like’ it, LOVE it. To pine and suffer and STRIVE to bear that standard through thick and thin, and hold it above the dirt-and-water line, brandishing it. Without that, you WILL be surpassed by some upstart that simply CARES more about these things, and is willing to learn faster. Clean design be damned, speaking as that upstart that has repeatedly surpassed my contemporaries. Hell, we’ve seen “Fuzzy McDumpTruck” and his five-ring-Latrine fire parade march some EGREGIOUS HORSE SHIT, that disrespected his endeavors, his performers, and his vendors. To the point of getting names and web URLs wrong (having skipped and skimped on hiring the usual professionals who prevented him from looking *quite* like a bag of ass). And yet, the band played on, and he continued to fail upwards, due to some reject OSHO grade Cult-Leadership skills, and being zealously in love with every derpy idea his pop-rocks-and-soda brain excreted. Because yes, you can actually polish a turd with Heat and Pressure. It won’t be a diamond. But it will not longer be a turd.
I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it’s very lively writing….
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born August 3, 1904 – Clifford D. Simak
Born August 3 — Martin Sheen, 78. Uncle Ben in both the of The Amazing Spider-Man films. Roles also in Total Recall 2070, Babylon 5: The River of Souls, The Outer Limits, The Dead Zone, Beyond the Stars (another riff on the Apollo mission), Spawn and voice work in the animated Captain Planet and the Planeteers series.
Born August 3 — John Landis, 68. Extensive genre work as producer or executive producer including the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video, Twilight Zone: The Movie, some episodes of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Weird Science and Sliders series, a one-off Munsters Christmas special, The Lost Worldgilm and series which are not related to each other and the forthcoming An American Werewolf in London. Oh and Clue which I adore even if it’s not genre.
Born August 3 — John C. McGinley, 59. Extensive voice work in such animated productions as Spider-Man, Justice League Unlimited, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League; live work in Highlander II: The Quickening, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the current demon hunting entered Stan Against Evil.
Born August 3 — Michael Ealy, 45. Dorian, an android police officer, in the short-lived Almost Human series, Leo the equally short-lived FlashForward series and the Underworld Awakening film in which vampires and werewolves team up to destroy humanity.
Born August 3 — Evangeline Lilly, 39. MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp as The Wasp, two of the Hobbit films as Tauriel, and in the Lost series as Katherine ‘Kate’ Austen. Also in Freddy vs. Jason and in multiple nameless roles in the Smallville series.
Born August 3 — Hannah Simone, 38. A role in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero, The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.
Born August 3 — Max Landis, 33. Son of Joe Landis. Wrote a run of Superman comics called ‘Superman: American Alien’, writer of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series.
If the adventure doll isn’t quite for you, then how about a cutesy, kawaii version of our first female Doctor? The Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor Titan figure is ADORABLE and brightens any shelf. With her huge painted eyes and exaggerated features, we couldn’t help but pop her straight into our basket. The 6” figure launched at SDCC a few weeks ago but is available to order from Forbidden Planet now.
Order Titan’s Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor figure here
…But before he could tackle that dark comedy, Russell says, he “really wanted to start with the characters and make them relatable and sympathetic, because they’re basically just living their lives.” He credits artist Steve Pugh with bringing humanity to his characters: “You can see the personalities, really, in their design. Fred’s a big beefy guy, looks like he played football in high school and has kind of let himself go since then, but he’s got a lot of love and sadness in his face.”
Fred’s an Everyman in Russell’s Bedrock, a veteran who’s haunted by his actions during the “Paleolithic Wars.” And remember his famous “Yabbadabbadoo?” Russell “sort of turned it into a nonsense mantra to help them deal with PTSD and stress of everyday life.”
Russell says he was able to bend and twist the Flintstones’ world because he didn’t have a lot of childhood nostalgia for the cartoons. “Nothing was sacred, in fact, that was kind of my mission. This was not going to be some reverential homage to The Flintstones.” So Fred works for a terrible boss at a terrible job, trying to make just enough money to afford the latest household appliance. Or, as Russell calls it, “the exploitation of animals as free labor, which to me it’s like they’re the interns of the prehistoric world.”
…The constitution also contains some other red flags for utopians:
“To ensure information security, the Government regulates the circulation of certain types of information”.
Asgardia’s “legal instruments” include not only “referendum decisions” and “Acts of Parliament”, but also “decrees of the head of nation”.
Also, Asgardia’s head of nation has the constitutional power to nominate his successor “on the basis of genealogy or on any other basis”. Candidates may also be nominated by the parliament and the Supreme Space Council”, but it’s the Head of Nation who appoints the Chairman of the Space Council, which “is a special governance body” that reports to, guess who, the Head of Nation.
The head of nation also “appoints and removes” the supreme justice of the court and the prosecutor general. Additionally, he or she “has the right to veto candidates” for other top positions, including the National Bank of Asgardia and justices of the court. And to “dissolve Parliament”.
This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.
Large reptile had bigger clodhoppers than any other dinosaur of its kind.
Enormous toe bones excavated in Wyoming belonged to a dinosaur whose feet were more than 1 metre wide — probably a record for dinosaur foot size.
The owner of the gargantuan feet was a sauropod, a group that includes the biggest known dinosaurs. No other known sauropod foot is bigger than the Wyoming animal’s, say Anthony Maltese at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, Emanuel Tschopp at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their colleagues. The fossils bear similarities to those of sauropods called brachiosaurs, which could measure 25 metres long.
The dinosaur, which lived roughly 150 million to 160 million years ago, walked on four legs, but the authors whimsically nicknamed it “the real Bigfoot”.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) KICK ASTEROID! Bill Nye and the Planetary Society want funds to educate people about the threat of asteroid impacts. Their Kickstarter, “Kick Asteroid!”, has raised $27,884 of its $50,000 target, with 25 days left to go.
The Planetary Society is excited to partner with space artist and designer, Thomas Romer, and backers around the world to create Kick Asteroid—a colorful graphic poster that will illustrate the effect of past catastrophic impacts, and methods to deflect future asteroid threats. Compelling and scientifically accurate art will be created for posters and other “merch” that backers can use in their everyday lives to spread the word about planetary defense.
… Thomas is collaborating directly with the Society’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Bruce Betts, to depict the asteroid threat in a compelling and scientifically accurate way. Bruce has briefed Thomas on the current state of the science related to Near Earth Objects (NEOs), as well as on the most promising asteroid deflection techniques.
…I think one of the best solutions is to be gentle with yourself about it. Hammering yourself and making yourself feel guilty because of your health is in the way is only likely to make you miserable and increase your stress–which can make the health problem worse. It can be hard to be generous with yourself, especially when the illness is lasting a long time and you have deadlines. …
Like so many other scribes, I have been inspired by psychologist Jordan Peterson’s fascinating book to sketch my 12 rules of life. But mine are different, because each is drawn from canonical science fiction. Why? Maybe because this is the literature on which I grew up, or maybe because I have never lost the taste for it. Or maybe because the sci-fi canon really does have a lot to teach about the well-lived life. Here, then, are my 12 rules. I cannot pretend that I always follow them, but I certainly always try.
“An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.” — Isaac Asimov, “Foundation.”
This is one of the clearest expressions of the basis of the liberalism of process. It matters not only whether one accomplishes an end but also how. Any tool available to the “good guys” today might be wielded by the “bad guys” tomorrow. One should always take this proposition into account when choosing a toolkit.
“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.” — Robert Heinlein, “Starship Troopers.”
OK, happiness does consist of more than this — but getting enough sleep is indeed one of its key components. The larger point is that taking physical, emotional and spiritual care of the self is crucial to being truly happy….
(4) LANDING IN THE LAP OF LUXURY. Sarah Gailey ended up cruising through the skies with the 1%. See all the details in a Twitter thread that starts here.
In first class, if I sit back in my seat (which is the size of my entire apartment) and stretch my arms out all the way, I can't reach the seat in front of me. Is this how wealthy people fly ALL THE TIME
This was a delight. It was fun to be treated special and given an award and just the belle of the ball for a day! Of course, it was apparently pretty quickly that this award ceremony wasn’t really for us. It was for the Scientologists. This was their party, for them to say to each other “Look at us! We’re helping these people at the start of their career, and supporting the arts! We are doing good in the world.” And good on them for it! They are helping new artists, and contributing to the SFF world in a meaningful way. They can have as big a party they want to celebrate that, it’s their money. I didn’t mind at all being the excuse for that. It kinda felt what I imagine being a unicorn for a couple would feel like? The experience is primarily about them, but they couldn’t have it without me facilitating, and I’m happy to serve that role to bring them that. Of course that’s probably my super-idealized fantasy of unicorning. But /shrug. I got the literary-award equivalent of that fantasy, so I’m happy. 🙂
(6) I HAVE NO CATEGORY AND I MUST SCREAM. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett would like to tell you a Harlan Ellison story about the 1964 Hugos and the plan to omit the Dramatic Presentation category: “London Calling”. It includes this passage by Ron Ellik from the fanzine Vair-Iner.
…When I had lost perhaps half a dollar, Harlan phoned again. He read me a letter. He had talked to two dozen people since his trans-Atlantic call – other Study Committeemen, convention committeemen from past years, etc – and this letter, signed by Harlan, cited these several people as being, each, in at least passive agreement that London should not do this thing. In conclusion, Mr. Ben Jason and the group producing the physical Hugo trophies had agreed with him to withhold the trophies from the London convention.
We eagerly await news of London’s answer.
And there you have it folks, if you want to be a successful squeaky wheel then you need to really apply some of that old-fashioned elbow grease. Ah, I hear you ask, and was Harlan, that tiger of the telephone, a truly successful squeaky wheel? Well, yes….
(7) A PRIVATE MOMENT. And Bill provided a clipping from Ellison’s army days.
Halfway through a year filled with new work from some of the most popular artists alive, the best-selling album is the soundtrack to a movie musical with Hugh Jackman that never led the box office.
“The Greatest Showman’’ has sold almost 4 million copies for Atlantic Records, outpacing works from Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. Music from the film based on the life of circus promoter P.T. Barnum has outsold the next most popular album of the year, Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,’’ by about 2-to-1.
(9) HUMP MONTH: At Featured Futures, the middle of the year doesn’t mean middling stories, as Jason has compiled another list of standout fiction gleaned from the SF magazines, plus links to reviews and other postings in Summation: June 2018.
This month produced nine noted stories (four recommended) from a total of forty-five (215 Kwds). Compelling made a strong and welcome return on its new semi-annual schedule. “Nightspeed” also contributed a couple of powerful tales.
…As anyone who has bothered to read this blog for any length of time knows, my husband and I are owned by a black cat named Inkwell. These are some of his recent adventures, mostly from Facebook and a few of his “Inkwell Sings the Blues” from his Twitter Feed.
This morning I woke up late, and my husband was already off running errands. I looked around the house for Inkwell, fearing he might have somehow gotten outside (he’s very much an indoor cat). I went from room to room looking for him, and when I opened the door to the garage, a fly (aka Sky Raisin) flew into the house. Eventually I found Inkwell by shaking his treats. He casually wandered out from wherever he was hiding to get his reward for being a cat from his mommy.
Writers Juno Dawson and Pandora Sykes discuss favourite books Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, with Harriett Gilbert. How will Juno and Pandora enjoy Harriett’s foray into science fiction? And how did Sagan’s novel, written at the tender age of 17, influence Juno’s writing for young adults?
(12) COLLINS OBIT. Four-time F&SF contributor Reid Collins died on April 19. See his Washington Post death notice at Legacy.com.
…In 1982 he succeeded Dallas Townsend to become anchor of “The CBS World News Roundup”- the longest running news broadcast in history. His passion, however, was space. He anchored live coverage of all the nation’s manned space flights for CBS News from Gemini up to the Space Shuttle, including all the Apollo flights to the moon. In 1985, Mr. Collins took “one giant leap” from radio to television and became an anchor for CNN, where he remained until his retirement in 1996. During retirement, he enjoyed golf, cigars on his front porch in Kensington, his 1977 Saab convertible and spending time fishing and relaxing on the East Rosebud River at his vacation home outside Roscoe MT. Arrangements will be private. If so moved, donations in his name may be made to the Montana Historical Society, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201.
Collins had four short stories in F&SF between 1978 and 1984.
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY
June 30, 1971 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory opened.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born June 30 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 59. Men in Black and the animated Men in Black series as well, genre series work including Emerald City, Daredevil and Ghost Wars.
Born June 30 – Molly Parker, 46. Currently on The Lost in Space series as Maureen, but genre roles on The Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, Highlander, The Sentinel, and Deadwood. Cat Eldridge says, “Ok the last may not be genre but it is a great love of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Emma’s novel Territory reflects her passion for the Old West.”
(15) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian relays a warning from a well-known comic book hero delivered in Bliss.
Mike Kennedy shares how in Monty, robot sidekick EB3’s left arm had achieved a sentience of its own, was rebelling, and had to be replaced. Doc and Monty found a use for the old arm…
(16) A FLUCTUATION IN THE FORCE. JDA’s Twitter followers had a market crash:
Oh JDA! i got curious, logged out and checked up on Jon del arroz. 2000 followers gone in two days! so what does that mean? can you unhire paid followers? did the bots get withdrawn? did Twitter nuke them? No idea. all I'm saying is, up 5K down 2K same week. Suspicious. Sad! pic.twitter.com/5e3QieMS3F
(17) HERETICAL PRONOUNCEMENT. Camestros Felapton dares to ask, “Is HAL 9000 a robot?”. Worse than that, he dares to answer!
So what about HAL? HAL presents as an AI. He’s talked about as a brain. He is shown as a computer. But what is he the brain of? Simple, HAL is the brain of the Discovery One and has control over the ship. Discovery One is HAL’s body. HAL is a robot.
Your Good Host has a meltdown in his comments section.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Synthetic Biology on Vimeo, Vasil Hnatiuk posits a future where giant bees race and living organisms became starships.
(19) RETRO FANDOM. Simpler times! A clipping courtesy of David Doering:
ACKERMAN BEATS BRADBURY TO A PULP!
April 1, 1941 — Eyewitness account:
A low-flying, longstanding feud between the two would-be fun-rulers of Shangri-LA, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman, broke into the open here late on the night of March 27 with serious injuries sustained by Bradbury — tangle occurred after a Club meeting — when Bradbury and FJA were leaving Cliftons and walked around the corner toward the newsstand. Each was playing the perennial game of trying to out-pun the other, when the now Stirring Science Stories was simultaneously spotted, Both fans leaped forward to secure the issue, Ackerman getting there first. So it was that Ackerman beat Bradbury to a pulp.
In 1976, I suggested to my friend Ed Naha, A&R person for Columbia Records, that he should sign Gene to do a “spoken word” record. Gene loved the idea and wrote some great copy, inviting many science fiction luminaries to join him. “Inside Star Trek” was recorded at United Western Studios in LA, with Gene, Bill Shatner, and Ray Bradbury all present at this first session. (Isaac Asimov recorded his contribution in New York; DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard’s sessions came later.) I was there too, of course, snapping pictures for posterity. As you can see from this shot, Gene, Bill and Ray were discussing something important. I call this Gene’s “shaggy dog” period.
(21) HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS. The 20th issue of Rich Lynch’s personal fanthology My Back Pages is now online at the eFanzines website. [PDF file]
Issue #20 is a “getting closer to retirement” issue and has essays involving close-up magic and far-off business destinations, oppressive desert heat and refreshing evaporative cooling, fast cars and slow bicycles, large buildings and small details, Madisonian libertarianism and Rooseveltian progressivism, 1950s space ships and current-day space stations, famous cowboys and famous Missourians, posh hotels and run-down motels, first fans and First Fans, State Capitols and County Courthouses, steamy blues and cool jazz, hot barbecue and the Cold War, bronze statues and scrap metal constructs, large conventions and larger conventions, fan libraries and fanfiction, no reservations and “No Award”. And colophons… Why did it have to be colophons?
When it comes to this year’s summer films in China, although Chinese audiences have been abuzz with Jiang Wen’s Hidden Man, Guo Jingming’s L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties, and Xu Ke’s action movie Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, the most expensive summer film is another one: Yang Zhenjian’s Asura. This film reportedly costs 750 million yuan ($115.5 million). Based on the current revenue-sharing model in China, it has to make at least 2.3 billion yuan ($350 million) in order to breakeven. In a recent interview with WeChat media outlet D-entertainment, the film’s director Yang Zhenjian explained that a big portion of the budget was allocated to hiring international technicians and visual effect teams. In addition, the film was made by a huge crew within a long period of time.
(24) DOCTOR WHO COMIC. Titan Comics and BBC Studios have announced Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Vol. 0 – The Many Lives Of Doctor Who – a special primer edition, which celebrates the Doctor’s many lives, and leads directly into Titan’s brand-new Thirteenth Doctor comic series – launching this fall in the U.S. and UK.
It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die, and the Doctor’s had many of them! As the Doctor regenerates from his twelfth incarnation to her thirteenth (as played by Jodie Whittaker), she relives unseen adventures from all her past selves from Classic through to New Who.
…newly developed exoskeletons is starting to meet […] slimmed-down, stealth requirements […] Among the most promising, and weird-looking, is the “third arm” that the U.S. Army Research Laboratory developed to help soldiers carry and support their weapons on the battlefield. The lightweight device, which weighs less than four pounds and hangs at a soldier’s side, stabilizes rifles and machine guns, which can weigh up to 27 pounds. This improves shooting accuracy and also minimizes fatigue. It can even be used while scrambling into position on the ground.
…In May, Lockheed Martin unveiled its lightest weight powered exo for lower body support. Dubbed ONYX, the form-fitting suit, which resembles an unobtrusive web of athletic braces, reduce the effort soldier’s need for walking, running, and climbing over varied terrain while carrying a heavy loads of up to 100 pounds.
The suit uses tracking sensors, mechanical knee actuators, and artificial intelligence-based software that predicts joint movement, all of which reduce stress on the lower back and the legs.…
Harry Potter fans threaten to Avada Kedavra drama accused of plot-copying.
After “Legend of Fu Yao” premiered in China on Monday, some viewers pointed out that the television series appeared to have plagiarized “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire,” the fourth installment in British novelist J.K. Rowling’s seven-part series. Twelve episodes have aired so far — and online clips from or related to the show had gained over 350 million views within a day of the season premier.
In the series, the heroine Fu Yao is a disciple at Xuanyuan, a Taoist school that teaches swordsmanship and sorcery. The story focuses on the Tiandou Competition, an event held every eight years. To join in the contest, hopefuls must throw a piece of paper dipped in their own blood into a bronze cauldron. Once they’re signed up, there’s no getting out of the three-round competition, which sees challengers fight against a buffalo-shaped mythical creature, among other tasks.
Loyal Potterheads were quick to notice the similarities with the fourth installment’s Triwizard Tournament, a competition held every five years between three wizarding schools….
(27) HUMANITY NEEDS SAVING AGAIN. The Predator opens in theaters September 14:
From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Jason, Bill, Rich Lynch, David Doering, Jonathan Cowie, Todd Mason, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) AIRTIME TRAVEL. Got to love this. Galactic Journey, the blog that walks day-by-day through sff history from 55 years ago, has founded its own online radio station — KGJ, Radio Galactic Journey, “playing all the current hits: pop, rock, soul, folk, jazz, country — it’s the tops, pops…” Dave Brubeck was performing a hot jazz number when I checked in.
Producers had been working with the late author on the project before she passed away in January.
The Telling, the acclaimed sci-fi novel from influential American author Ursula K. Le Guin — who died in January — is being adapted for the big screen.
Bayview Films, a division of Bayview Labs, announced the project Wednesday, with Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Discovery) set to star. The film will be written and directed by Leena Pendharkar (20 Weeks, Raspberry Magic).
The Telling follows Sutty Dass (Sharma), who travels from war-torn earth to the planet Aka, which has suppressed its rich culture in the march to technological advancement….
(3) YOU’RE THE TOP. The Guardian’s Gareth L. Powell has fun justifying his picks for the “Top 10 spaceships in fiction”. Aldiss, Leckie, and Banks are on the list.
From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne In the aftermath of the US civil war, members of the Baltimore Gun Club construct a cannon capable of launching three men to the moon. Published in 1865, this novel was one of the first to take a serious stab at describing a space vessel and its means of propulsion (earlier attempts involving balloons and geese notwithstanding). Although Verne got a few of his calculations wrong (the length of the cannon’s barrel would have to have been much longer), most of what he describes seems remarkably prescient when you consider it was written a century before the first real moon landings.
(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Kelly Robson and Chandler Klang Smith on Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.
Kelly Robson is the author of Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. Last year, she was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novella Waters of Versailles won the 2016 Aurora Award and was a finalist for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She has also been a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award and the Sunburst Award. Her fiction appears at Tor.com, Uncanny, Asimov’s, and Clarkesworld, and she is is a regular contributor to Clarkesworld’s Another Word column. Kelly lives in Toronto with her wife, SF writer A.M. Dellamonica.
Chandler Klang Smith
Chandler Klang Smith is the author, most recently, of The Sky Is Yours, which was published by Hogarth/Crown in January 2018. A graduate of the creative writing MFA program at Columbia University, she is currently serving as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards for the second year in a row. She teaches and tutors in New York City.
(5) CASE STUDY. The Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Kickstarter-funded game and miniatures expected out in 2013 won’t be coming late or at all. Kevin Siembieda, President of Palladium Books® wrote a long explanation and apology. Some of the rewards will still be made available to backers willing to pay the cost of shipping.
When the Robotech® RPG Tactics (RRT) Kickstarter funded in May 2013, we cheered, hugged and actually danced down the halls at the Palladium office. Not just because of the amount of money raised thanks to your pledges, but because it meant the realization of our dreams for Robotech®. For Palladium Books, it signified bringing Robotech fans – ourselves among them – something new and exciting to the beloved Robotech® universe.
So it is with sadness and tremendous heartbreak that I announce that, despite our best efforts, we are unable to produce the Robotech® RPG Tactics Wave Two rewards. Moreover, after proudly carrying the legacy of Robotech® in the role-playing games medium for 30 years, our license has expired and is not being renewed.
….The Kickstarter money was gone with Wave One, but Palladium never gave up on Robotech® RPG Tactics. We explored every available option in order to secure more funding or bring in business partners and investors. We solicited multiple quotes and explored different manufacturing options and new production technologies for these potential partners. As you know, there was a period when we felt very confident Wave Two would see production and release. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we came up short. But we were so committed, even that did not stop us. We reached out to others. Even Harmony Gold and Palladium’s licensing agent tried to help us put deals together with third parties. We made a Herculean effort and did everything we could, right through this past Christmas and into the New Year, but without success.
The cost to produce Wave Two, estimated at $300,000-$400,000 for tooling and manufacturing, plus $65,000 to import to the USA, plus $120,000-$160,000 to ship rewards to the backers, was more than any potential investor was willing to risk.
Whenever anyone pledges support to a Kickstarter project, you never know if it will be successful or not. It is a gamble. This is true of any business venture. We are sincerely sorry this one fell short. We gave it our all, but that’s the rub about life and business, sometimes your all is not good enough. Sometimes you miss the mark despite your best efforts, good intentions, and the money you pour into it. I’m sorry that was the case with RRT.
Anyway, here are the results, ranked (as is my usual habit) by the geometrical average of the number of owners of the top book by that author on both systems. In most cases the same book was top on both systems for each author. In a few cases lower down the table, different books topped the author’s list on Goodreads and LibraryThing, so I took the one with the highest geometrical average of the number of owners.
In one case, an author’s top book on Goodreads scores decently enough in the bottom quarter of the Goodreads table; but not a single LibraryThing user appears to have acquired any of his books. So he is listed at the very end….
Recently I responded to an article about pseudonyms written many years ago by Anthony Boucher. In it I mentioned that A.E. Van Vogt as an example of an author didn’t care to be associated with a certain genre. I made this claim because I had a memory of reading a piece by him in which he admitted to writing for true adventure style pulps but giving no details.
Since then an old friend of mine, Denny Lien, who knows more about such matters than I ever will, pointed me to a page on the van Vogt website that actually reprints one of these stories and gives some background on how it was rediscovered. So it turns out I was wrong about him writing for the true adventure pulps. What he actually wrote apparently were true confession type stories which is about as far from his later science fiction in theme and style as you could get….
Demonstrating my usual quick wit, some time after posting the last “Summation of Online Fiction” which happily proclaimed my new coverage of print zines, I realized the title no longer applied. I could change it to “Summation of Short Fiction” but shorter’s better and I hopefully won’t ever have to change the one-word title again.
With that fixed, it’s the “February” subtitle that’s the problem this time. I’ve ironically read more March stories than February in February (47 vs. 38/171Kwds, not to mention the four late-January stories that were covered in the first “Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up” of
February). I’ll hang on to the March stories until that “Summation,” so this post covers everything from January 27-February 25. This was a below-average month in the quantity of noted stories but they’re of especially high quality.
(9) FABRAY OBIT. Nanette Fabray (1920-2018): US actress, died February 22, aged 97. Genre appearances included Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966), The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (one episode, 1967), The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979), The Munsters Today (one episode, 1989).
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY
Born February 28, 1948 – Bernadette Peters. She’s had other genre roles, but John King Tarpinian sent the item because of her appearance in the 1980’s TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Saved, or merely fate delayed? John King Tarpinian says that’s the question in Close to Home.
(12) ORANGE MIKE. Wisconsin fan “Orange Mike” Lowrey has started a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of his attending a march in Memphis in tribute to the late Martin Luther King: “Union Marcher to Honor Dr. ML King”.
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968, he was there in support of my Union, AFSCME, supporting the workers of AFSCME Local 1733 in their famous “I AM A MAN” demonstrations. This year, AFSCME members from all over the nation will gather in Memphis to honor his sacrifice and his example. I’m a native West Tennessean. , now president of a mostly-black AFSCME local union (Wisconsin State Employees Local 91); I am particularly eager to pay this tribute. The problem is that lost days’ wages, travel to and from Memphis (I live in Milwaukee), and housing, will cost me a lot of money I can ill afford. Make no mistake: I WILL GO anyway; but if folks can ease the fiscal pain, I would appreciate it.
The march is in April; I’ve got to make arrangements much sooner than that. And if you see coverage of the march, and the proud banner of Wisconsin State Employees Local 91, AFSCME, shows on the screen, you can have the warm feeling of knowing you helped.
Remember the end of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives where Megan and Tommy manage to trap Jason in the bottom of Crystal Lake? Well, it seems that some random person has recreated this scene by planting a Jason statue, complete with mask and machete, 120 feet deep in a Minnesotan lake that is supposedly very popular with divers! Having been down in the water, the statue has developed a worn, algae-covered appearance that almost makes it seem all the more lifelike. My only complaint is that it looks very rigid, like it’s clearly a mannequin or some sort of statue. But that’s such a small gripe when you stop and realize that someone put a freakin’ Jason Voorhees statue in the bottom of a lake!
Adam Nevill’s novel The Ritual is one of the few recent horror books to genuinely scare me as I read it, so when I saw that Netflix had done a film of it I was both excited and nervous. By nervous, I mean incredibly cowardly and watching the trailer through my fingers. However, I summoned up the courage (and by courage, I mean making someone watch it with me) to see it once it premiered on Netflix. Did it live up to my expectations (and by expectations, I mean did it leave me sleeping with the light on)? Both yes and no.
The plot of The Ritual sees four friends on a hiking trip in northern Sweden (it’s the King’s Trail in Sarek National Park—FYI, it looks gorgeous and even the movie’s creepy happenings couldn’t keep me from thinking about how much I’d like to hike there). The hike was supposed to be a bit of a friend’s trip, but is now a memorial trip for the fifth friend—who died in a liquor store robbery. Once on the hike, things begin to go awry, starting with one of the four twisting his knee. They decide to take a shortcut (Or the World’s Biggest No-No if you are in a horror movie) through the forest and soon strange and creepy things begin to happen. These includes symbols carved into trees, an elk gutted and hung up, and the world’s most DON’T STAY IN THERE cabin since the one in The Evil Dead. Of course, things only go downhill from there.
In what frankly struck me as a rather gimmicky move by Roger Zelazny, the chapters of Roadmarks are all titled either One or Two; the first chapter is called “Two” and they alternate from there. The One chapters are linear and relate Red’s ongoing adventures. The Twos, about his would-be assassins and other characters that Red meets up with on the Road, are nonlinear and almost completely random. Zelazny told the story that he put all of the Two chapters on pieces of paper, shuffled them up and simply inserted them into his draft of the book in that order, although he admitted that his publisher eventually convinced him to put at least a few of these chapters in an order that made a little more sense.
Like the other two experimental novels I’ve read by Zelazny in recent months, A Night in the Lonesome October and Doorways in the Sand, Roadmarks is essentially one big mental puzzle, where Zelazny is hiding the ball from the reader on exactly what’s going on until you get quite deep into the novel. To get any real enjoyment out of these quirky and rather humorous novels, you just have to be on board with that approach and roll with it. For Roadmarks I had an entire page of notes that I took on each chapter of the book, just to try to keep all of the players and moving parts straight in my mind. It was definitely a challenging mental exercise!
(16) PLANETARY SOCIETY. Robert Picardo is on set with Bill Nye recording a video series about A.I., but he still has time for The Planetary Post —
Astronomers have picked up a radio signal from the moment the lights went on in the universe billions of years ago, and they’ve discovered some surprises embedded in it. No, not aliens, but potential evidence of something just as mysterious and elusive.
Using a sensitive antenna only about the size of a table in the Australian desert, scientists managed to isolate the very faint signal of primordial hydrogen, part of the cosmic afterglow from the Big Bang. But the ancient signal from this basic building block of the universe also carries the imprint of some of the first light from the very first stars ever.
Even in the driest places on Earth there is life eking out an existence, it seems.
Scientists have examined the soils in those parts of the Atacama desert that may not see any rains for decades.
Still, the team led from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, found evidence of microbes that have adapted to the extreme conditions.
These hardy organisms are of interest because they may serve as a template for how life could survive on Mars.
[Thanks to Steve Green, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, jayn, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Matthew Kressel, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]