The Science Fiction Research Association, unable to meet in person this year, has posted the names of the award winners they would have acknowledged at the annual banquet.
SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship
(Originally the Pilgrim Award.) The SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship was created in 1970 by the SFRA to honor lifetime contributions to SF and fantasy scholarship.
Sherryl Vint of the University of California, Riverside.
SFRA Innovative Research Award
The SFRA Innovative Research Award (formerly the Pioneer Award) is given to the writer or writers of the best critical essay-length work of the year.
Susan Ang for her essay “Triangulating the Dyad: Seen (Orciny) Unseen,” from Foundation 48.132.
Raino Isto received an honorable mention for his essay “‘I Will Speak in Their Own Language’: Yugoslav Socialist Monuments and Science Fiction,” from Extrapolation 60.3.
Thomas D. Clareson Award
The Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service is presented for outstanding service activities-promotion of SF teaching and study, editing, reviewing, editorial writing, publishing, organizing meetings, mentoring, and leadership in SF/fantasy organizations.
Wu Yan of Beijing Normal University.
Mary Kay Bray Award
The Mary Kay Bray Award is given for the best essay, interview, or extended review to appear in the SFRA Review in a given year.
The Student Paper Award is presented to the outstanding scholarly essay read at the annual conference of the SFRA by a student.
Conrad Scott for his paper “‘Changing Landscapes’: Ecocritical Dystopianism in Contemporary Indigenous SF Literature.”
Erin Cheslow received an honorable mention for her paper “The Chow that Can Be Spoken Is Not the True Chow: Relationality and Estrangement in the Animal Gaze.”
SFRA Book Award
The SFRA Book Award is given to the author of the best first scholarly monograph in SF, in each calendar year. This year’s winner is the inaugural winner of the award
Xiao Liu of McGill University for her Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).
Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize
Awarded by the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program at the University of California, Riverside, The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize honors an outstanding scholarly monograph that explores the intersections between popular culture, particularly science fiction, and the discourses and cultures of technoscience. The award is designed to recognize groundbreaking and exceptional contributions to the field.
Natania Meeker, Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, and Antónia Szabari, also Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, for their Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction (Fordham UP, 2019).
The judges also decided to recognize, as particularly strong runners-up, Kara Keeling’s Queer Times, Black Futures (New York University Press, 2019) and Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).
The first thing I thought of when I saw the horrific police murder of George Floyd was the Salem witch trials. Most people think the innocent victims of those monstrous trials were burned at the stake, but they weren’t–they were hanged. Mostly. Fourteen women, five men, and two dogs were executed by hanging. And one, an eighty-one-year-old farmer named Giles Corey, was pressed to death by putting a large flat stone on his chest and then piling more stones on top of it till they crushed the life out of him.
Basically the same thing happened to George Floyd. The policeman kneeling on his neck cut off his airway, and the other two holding him down pressed him flat against the ground so that his rib cage couldn’t inflate, and he suffocated to death.
The atrocities in Salem were precipitated by a belief that Evil was loose in their community.
It was, but it didn’t reside in the helpless slaves and old women and religious dissenters (and people who dared to speak out against what was happening) who were “tried” for witchcraft and executed.
The terrible irony of Salem is that the evil they were trying so hard to stamp out resided in the pious Christian town folk who accused them and the self-righteous judges who presided over their mock trials– “spectral evidence” was allowed, and they were pronounced guilty of crimes they had supposedly committed in the town even though they were locked up in jail at the time–and sentenced them to death.
The crimes brought to light by the death of George Floyd haven’t just been the murders of other African-Americans killed by the police, but other crimes the police have committed and are committing: the brutalizing of people exercising their First Amendment rights, the calling out of troops against the citizens they’re supposed to protect, and administration officials directing them to do so, calling for violence against their own people. Crimes by so-called law-abiding citizens and the officials they’ve put in office to “serve and protect” the public….
In what just might be your next obsession from HBO, the weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft finally does what the famed author never dared to do: Tell stories about Black people.
In August, HBO will premiere the television series Lovecraft Country, a road trip horror fantasy set in Jim Crow era America. It tells the story of an Army veteran and science fiction geek embarking on a cross-country trip to find his missing father, only to encounter otherworldly — and some very familiar — horrors along the way….
On Wednesday, the Associated Press released the 55th edition of its official Stylebook, complete with a new chapter on digital security practices for journalists. It also comes with a slew of new entries on technology that reinforce the importance of online advertising and cybersecurity in everyday life—and journalism.
For most journalists, the advice in the AP guide on how to secure their communications—through strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and the use of virtual private networks and encrypted messaging apps—will probably not come as a surprise. Still, for those tools to have made their way into the Associated Press Stylebook seems like a landmark of some kind for measuring how mainstream digital security concerns have become for journalists.
The new and revised technology-related entries in the Stylebook also reflect some interesting shifts in what the Associated Press believes journalists can expect general audiences to know. In general, many of the recommendations tend to urge journalists in the direction of greater specificity about the technologies they are describing and away from more generic, dated terms. For instance, the Stylebookendorses the terms digital wallets and mobilewallets, but it recommends avoiding e-wallet. In a similar vein, journalists are advised to use the prefix cyber– and the terms cyberspace and cyber sparingly, and instead substitute words like internet or digital….
Lockdown got you climbing the walls? Are you over feeling bored? While it’s certainly an unpleasant feeling, experts say boredom isn’t always a bad thing. Some say that ‘blah’ feeling can even spur you on to greatness.
“There’s a real misconception that boredom is a sign of laziness and associated with apathy — actually, it’s the opposite,” says Professor James Danckert, who studies boredom. “It’s motivating — and, if we listen to it, we can learn a lot.”
Other experts agree that being bored can be a good thing. “Most of the time our minds are constantly occupied by external stimuli like smartphones,” says psychologist Dr Joann Lukins. “But boredom gives us a space to pause, reflect and then, often out of necessity, sees us create our next opportunity. I find it interesting that we use negative phrases like ‘bored to tears’ to discuss boredom when we can be ‘bored to brilliance’.’’
In fact, when researchers at the UK’s University of Central Lancashire asked people to do a boring task for 15 minutes and then asked them to come up with a list of things they could do with a plastic cup, they came up with more creative ideas than those in the control group who weren’t bored….
(5) WRITING FOR TEENS. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is promoting the SDFutures online writing courses, along with UCSD and other supporters.
Imagining fantastic worlds and the future has never been more important.
It’s how we expand our sense of what is possible. It’s how we change our culture, save our planet, and make stories that create better futures for our loved ones and ourselves. This summer, we’re inviting San Diego–area teens to join us in exploring the power and potential of one of our most powerful human capacities: imagination.
SDFutures is series of online courses to help young people write science fiction and fantasy stories by developing their skills, meeting other young writers, and stretching their imagination with incredible professional writers of speculative fiction as guides.
Our instructors include: Rebecca Roanhorse, Minh Lê, Kali Wallace, Lilliam Rivera, Patrick Coleman, Leah Thomas, Jeanelle Horcasitas, and Olivia Quintanilla.
If you know a community group, teacher, or young person who would benefit from this opportunity, please feel free to share.
(6) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Rich Horton put together a list of recommended books on his TBR pile. Many well-known titles here, but being TBR, he said his own score is zero. I’ve read 7. You have probably read multiples of my score.
Recently I posted a list of 100 books that was full of crap … it claimed to be a BBC list (it wasn’t) and it claimed that the average person had read only 6 (who knows?) and it was shoddily curated (multiple weird duplicates, etc.)
Here is what I believe to be a far better list. There are no duplicates (not even duplicate authors.) It is very English-language-centric — I can’t help that, English is all I can read…
(7) WITCHER WATCHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the May 30 Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy says she misses browsing bookstores in Delhi but has found some consolation watching TV shows adapted from novels, including The Witcher.
The hugely popular Netflix series, The Witcher, is a dark fantasy based on five novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski in the 1990s, following Geralt of Rivia, a lone monster killer who plies his trade across time jumps in the Continent, a place where monsters, humans, and creatures from Slavic fantasy battle it out with one another. Sapkowski, now 71, lives in Lodz and is as big a star in Polang as Terry Pratchett was in the UK. In one of his interviews, he dismissed critics of the fantasy genre: ‘All literature is fantastic in its own way because it tells what wasn’t on paper before and it doesn’t matter whether you write about hobbits or love.’ Over the years, the community of Witcher fans has grown larger, drawn in by three wildly successful video games based on Geralt’s adventures, but it’s only now that the books have become a hit, propelled by the Netflix show.
What drew me in was not just the lure of a fantasy world peopled by vedmaks (sorcerers) or strigas (a flying witch who sucks the blood of infants at night); it’s that many of the characters are depicted as outsiders and outcasts. It’s refreshing to watch fantasy that has a subtle echo of this last century’s swirl of xenophobia and politics about who belongs and who lives in the periphery, and that seeps into Geralt’s bloody exploits.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 6, 1980 — The decidedly low-budget Galaxina premiered. Starring the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten as the android Galaxina and a cast too large to detail here, it was written and directed by William Sachs. Marilyn Jacobs Tenser was the producer. She did work for Crown International which did low-budget genre films such as horror cinema, biker films, exploitation films, and B-movie drive-in fare. Critics thought it was a failure at spoofing it’s intended victims of Star Trek, Stars Wars and Aliens. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a not so generous 24% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 6, 1799 – Alexander Pushkin. Sometimes after a surprise you re-examine and think “Oh. Of course.” When Ravi Shankar first visited Russia, people cried “Pushkin! Pushkin!” They loved Pushkin and there is a resemblance. I’d like to call Mozart and Salieri a fantasy but, as my father used to say, not within the normal meaning of that term. Anyway, we get Ruslan and Lyudmila and “The Queen of Spades” and The Bronze Horseman and “The Golden Cockerel” and The Stone Guest and “The Shot”. Speaking of which – (Died 1837) [JH]
Born June 6, 1918 — Richard Crane. In the Fifties, he would be cast in two of the series that largely defined the look and feel of televised SF for a decade. First, he was the dashing lead in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which lasted for thirty-nine thrilling episodes; second, he’s Dick Preston in nine of the twelve episodes of the wonderfully titled Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. He was also the lead in the fifteen-chapter serial Mysterious Island which was a very loose adaption of the Jules Verne novel. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born June 6, 1921 – Milton Charles. Artist and art director in and out of our field; Art Director for Jaguar (New York), later for Pocket Books; five hundred awards from Amer. Inst. Graphic Arts (AIGA), Society of Illustrators, Amer. Book Publishers, and like that. Here is his cover for Tucker’s Wild Talent; here is Vonnegut’s Mother Night; here is a study of his V.C. Andrews covers. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 6, 1924 — Robert Abernathy. Writer during the 1940s and 1950s. He’s remembered mostly for his short stories which were published in many of the pulp magazines that existed during the Golden Age of Science Fiction such as Planet Stories, Galaxy, F&SF, Astounding and Fantastic Universe. He did around forty stories in total, and apparently wrote no novels that I can locate. There’s no collection of his works currently available in digital form but some of his stories are up at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born June 6, 1942 — Dorothy Heydt, 78. She was the creator and first editor of the Star Trek Concordance, first published in March of 1969. (Yes, I owned a copy.) A linguist, she credited with creating one of the first widely used Vulcan languages in 1967 for a Trek fan fiction series. Though most of her short fiction is set in her own Cynthia, Daughter of Euelpides series, some was set in Bradley’s Darkover series. (CE)
Born June 6, 1945 – Vivian French. Libraries in the United Kingdom say she is borrowed – that’s a metaphor, folks – shall we call it a Thing Contained for the Container? – half a million times a year; the Tiara Club books have sold three million copies. Three dozen novels for us, some shorter stories, not least “I Wish I Were an Alien” in which the extraterrestrial boy, for his part, wishes – [JH]
Born June 6, 1947 – Robert Englund, 73. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Short-lived as in six episodes. Of course most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert. (CE)
Born June 6, 1948 – Ron Salomon. Hey Ron, I saw you had a Supporting Membership in last year’s Worldcon; thanks! If CoNZealand has published a list I haven’t got one yet. [JH]
Born June 6, 1959 – Amanda Pays, 61. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think should be considered one of the best SF series ever made. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and was cast as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash of the 1990 series, and she has a recurring role on the present Flash series as the same character.(CE)
Born June 6, 1964 – Jay Lake. Born on Taiwan, lived in Nigeria, Dahomey (as it then was), Canada, and the U.S. Won the Campbell Best New Writer award (as it then was); anyway, he was astounding. Endeavour Award, also appropriate. A dozen novels, two hundred seventy shorter stories, some co-authored. Here is a cover he did for Polyphony – also appropriate. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born June 6, 1973 – Anne Ursu. Teaches at Hamline, first university in Minnesota. She’s given us eight novels, for children, adults, both. The Lost Girl is told from the viewpoint of a crow. In The Cronus Chronicles – three so far – two cousins find they’re in Greek myths; the first cousin we meet is Charlotte Mielswetzki, and if I say so myself it’s about time we did. Breadcrumbs retells The Snow Queen; creatures from Hans Andersen’s tales keep showing up; and Jack, Hazel’s only friend in 5th Grade, may not want to be saved. [JH]
Born June 6, 1973 — Guy Haley, 57. British author of the Richards & Klein Investigations series, a cyberpunk noir series where the partners are an android and an AI. His regular paycheck comes from his Warhammer 40,000 work where he’s written a baker’s dozen novels so far. Not surprisingly, he’s got a novel coming out in the their just announced Warhammer Crime imprint which, though I’ve read no other Warhammer 40.000 fiction, I’m interested in seeing how they do it. (CE)
So to mark his farewell, Mad’s “Usual Gang of Idiots” will salute Jaffee with a tribute issue next week. It will be the magazine’s final regular issue to offer new material, including Jaffee’s final Fold-In, 65 years after he made his Mad debut.“He deserves some spotlight outside our industry,” Mad caricature artist Tom Richmond said of the magazine’s beloved elder statesman, who broke into the business during World War II.
One of the most heartfelt features in the send-off issue will be by Sergio Aragones, a fellow Mad legend who befriended Jaffee in 1962 upon joining the staff. They formed a mutual admiration society — both deeply steeped in the craft of the pantomime cartoon — and were occasional roommates on the Mad staff’s storied annual trips to far-flung vacation spots….
There is so much that this movie does right. Superman’s strength, powers, and heroic optimism are fully realized, while Christopher Reeve gives a performance as strong as his character’s steely muscles. In his civilian life as Clark Kent, he is bumbling and shy, but sweet and a skilled reporter.
The biggest problem working against this movie is the famous scene in which Superman turns back time by flying around the Earth and reversing its rotation. This is not how time works, and it is certainly not how Superman’s powers work. If not for this scene, Christopher Reeve would top this list (at least in his first two films).
…Part of me wants to tell you to read this collection in the order the stories are presented, so that you can move from least dark and scary to most dark and scary: Start with Cooney’s beautifully rendered fantasy “The Twice Drowned Saint”; then go to Jessia P. Wick’s “An Unkindness”, a dark fantasy of a sister trying to save her brother from the fae; from there go to Amanda J. McGee’s “Viridian”, a contemporary gothic horror of isolation and obsession; and from there go to Mike Allen’s absolutely horrifying and terrifying “The Comforter”. If you go that path, you’ll slowly ramp up from “fun, sorta creepy” to “not sure I should be reading this before bed”.
…one day, when the family is on an outing, having left Caseopea at home, as a punishment, she takes special notice of an old trunk in her grandfather’s bedroom. And she opens the trunk.
What’s in the trunk? oh, only the bones and soul of Hun-Kame, Lord of Xibalba, and one of his bone shards gets lodged in Casiopea’s hand. no biggie, right? He can just, remove the shard, and then he can go back to Xibalba to dethrone his brother, and then Casiopea can pretend none of this ever happened, right?
Facebook has begun labeling content produced by media outlets it says are under state control, enacting a policy the social network first announced in October.
Pages and posts from at least 18 outlets including Russia Today, China’s People’s Daily and Iran’s Press TV now carry notices to users that they are “state-controlled media.” Ads from state-controlled publishers will also be labeled starting later this year. The labels will initially be shown to U.S. Facebook users and roll out to other countries over time.
“We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, wrote in a blog post.
Facebook will also begin barring state-controlled outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. later this summer. Gleicher said that decision was “out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate” ahead of the 2020 presidential election. He noted that these outlets “rarely” advertise in the U.S.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook employees on Friday that the social network will review how it handles some of the most incendiary posts on its platform, including those by President Trump. His announcement follows a revolt by employees over his decision to do nothing about messages the president posted about violence toward protesters and mail-in voting.
In a memo to staff, Zuckerberg said he wanted “to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt.”
Zuckerberg said Facebook will consider labeling posts that violate its rules, a more nuanced approach than the company’s current policy, which states that posts should either be removed or left alone. It will also review its policies allowing “discussion and threats of state use of force” and its policies on voter suppression.
A light-up face mask that responds to the sound of the wearer’s voice has been developed by a games developer in California.
The BBC’s Chris Fox spoke to designer Tyler Glaiel and had a go at making the mask himself – although he keeping his purely as a novelty.
(18) CONZEALAND CHAIRS Q&A. Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler held a video Q&A session this afternoon. Bottom line: Hugo voting is only being done with paper ballots right now. Site selection voting won’t start until the online advanced memberships fee token payment system is available — perhaps next week.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Soon Lee, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]
(1) READ THESE. BBC’s Culture assembled a list of “The
most overlooked recent novels” – “Eight acclaimed authors reveal their favourite hidden
gems outside the literary canon.” There are several sff writers among the
respondents, and sff books among their recommendations.
Helen DeWitt writes: “In the summer of 1994 I was in despair. It seemed to me that books were predictable and unexciting compared with the astonishing variety and inventiveness of art – why bother with a novel? Mooching glumly around a museum bookshop, I came across a book plastered with raves by the likes of Anthony Burgess. I opened to the first page and read: ‘On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs…’ It was like nothing I’d ever seen. Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is set on a post-apocalyptic post-British landmass thousands of years after a nuclear holocaust. All scientific knowledge has been lost, but its traces linger on in a loss-marked language which repurposes the mangled terms to mythology. The book had come out in 1980 to acclaim; I’d never heard of it. And yet this extraordinary book seemed to me to be the equal of The Waste Land; it was embarrassing to have to recommend it to people, as if one were to go about saying ‘I’ve just discovered this amazing poem by someone called TS Eliot.’”
Hoban was an American who lived in Britain. He wrote across genres: fiction, the fantastic, poetry, children’s literature. Anthony Burgess said of Riddley Walker: “This is what literature was meant to be.” Max Porter (see below) has called it a “stone-cold classic”.
(2) MAGIC INSIDE. Below, Paste
TV Editor Allison Keene and Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson offer “An
Appreciation of The Magicians”. (A show in its last season, it was
announced very recently.)
Naturally, there are friends and enemies and Big Bads along the way, and plenty of fast-moving plot points, but one of the things that has made the show so unique and worthy is that it addresses mental health issues in thoughtful, compelling ways, and how that colors the experiences of the cast (which includes Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, and Summer Bishil). And that—even in a world with magic—magic doesn’t necessarily solve everything.
If you have tens of millions of dollars to spare, you could as soon as next year be one of three passengers setting off aboard a spaceship to the International Space Station for a 10-day stay.
On Thursday, Axiom Space, a company run by a former manager of NASA’s part of the space station, announced that it had signed a contract with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, for what might be the first fully private human spaceflight to orbit.
“I think you’ll see a lot more energy in the market as people come to realize it’s real, and it’s happening,” said Michael T. Suffredini, the president and chief executive of Axiom.
The spaceflight, Axiom officials said, could take off as soon as the second half of 2021.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon capsule for taking NASA astronauts to and from the space station. But just as the company’s development of its Falcon 9 rocket for taking cargo to the space station led to a vibrant business of launching commercial satellites, SpaceX is also looking to expand Crew Dragon passengers beyond just NASA astronauts.
According to an online conspiracy theory, the American author Dean Koontz predicted the coronavirus outbreak in 1981. His novel The Eyes of Darkness made reference to a killer virus called “Wuhan-400” – eerily predicting the Chinese city where Covid-19 would emerge. But the similarities end there: Wuhan-400 is described as having a “kill?rate” of 100%, developed in labs outside the city as the “perfect” biological weapon. An account with more similarities, also credited by some as predicting coronavirus, is found in the 2011 film Contagion, about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans and spreads arbitrarily around the globe.
But when it comes to our suffering, we want something more than arbitrariness. We want it to mean something. This is evident in our stories about illness and disease, from contemporary science fiction all the way back to Homer’s Iliad. Even malign actors are more reassuring than blind happenstance. Angry gods are better than no gods at all….
To the surprise of no one paying attention to her for the past few years, Janelle Monáe is the future — but the question at the heart of the first trailer for upcoming horror movie Antebellum is, what if she was also the past, as well …?
Monáe plays author Veronica Henley, a figure who finds herself seemingly trapped in the past, or a terrifying recreation of it, and forced to discover the truth behind her experience before it’s too late.
(6) SCOOB TRAILER. The final trailer dropped – movie arrives
in theaters May 14.
The first full-length animated Scooby-Doo adventure for the big screen is the never-before told stories of Scooby-Doo’s origins and the greatest mystery in the career of Mystery Inc. “SCOOB!” reveals how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this global “dogpocalypse,” the gang discovers that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
(7) HATCHER OBIT. Kate Hatcher, Chair of SpikeCon (2019 NASFiC/Westercon 72) died March 5,
reportedly of complications of pneumonia. Her conrunning experience also
included Westercon 67, LTUE, Westercon 70, 71 (tech), and as staff on
Worldcon 76 and LTUE 2018. David Doering, who worked with her on several of
these conventions, says: “She
always gave 110% to Fandom and will be sorely missed.”
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 7, 1980 — The Brave New World film premiered on NBC. (It would show on BBC as well.) It was adapted from the novel by Aldous Huxley by Robert E. Thompson and Doran William Cannon, and was directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. It starred Kristoffer Tabori, Julie Cobb and Budd Cort. You can see it here. Strangely it has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes, not very much of a web presence. You can watch it here.
March 7, 1988 — The Probe series premiered. It was created by Michael I. Wagner and Isaac Asimov as a sort of live action version of Jonny Quest. Wagner wrote the two-hour pilot, and became Executive Producer for the series. Parker Stevenson had the lead in the series and Ashley Crow was his secretary. It was a mid-season replacement that wasn’t renewed and thus lasted but six episodes. You can see the first half of the pilot here. There’s a link to the second half on that YouTube page.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 7, 1873 — J. D. Beresford. Now remembered for his early horrors and SF stories including The Riddle of The Tower which was co-written with Esme Wynne-Tyson. He was a keen admirer of Wells, and wrote the first critical study of him in 1915, coincidentally called H. G. Wells: A Critical Study. The latter is free at the usual digital suspects and his fiction ranges from free to reasonably priced there. (Died 1947.)
Born March 7, 1905 — Beatrice Roberts. Her most notable role was that of Queen Azura in Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, a 1938 serial which you can see the beginning of here. She also shows up in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man as Varja the Barmaid, and she’s a Nurse in The Invisible Man’s Revenge. (Died 1970.)
Born March 7, 1944 — Stanley Schmidt, 76. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013. He’s also an accomplished author with more than a dozen to his name. I know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now.
Born March 7, 1945 — Elizabeth Moon, 75. Since I’m not deeply read in her, I’ll let JJ have her say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them. But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly,’ but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.”
Born March 7, 1949 — Pat Mills, 71. He is best remembered for creating the 2000 AD zine and playing a major role in the development of Judge Dredd. He has also written two Eighth Doctor audio plays, “Dead London” and “The Scapegoat” for Big Finish Productions.
Born March 7, 1954 — Elayne Pelz, 66. She is a member of LASFS (and officer) and SCIFI who worked on myriad cons, mainly in art show and treasury. She was married to famous SF fan Bruce Pelz and assumed leadership of Conagerie, the 2002 Westercon, upon Bruce’s death and the con was held successfully. She was the Chair of Loscon 20.
Born March 7, 1965 — E. E. Knight, 55. I’d swear I should know this author but he’s not ringing even a faint bell. He’s written two series, Vampire Earth and Age of Fire. What do y’all know about him?
Born March 7, 1970 — Rachel Weisz, 50. Though better known for The Mummy films which I really, really love, and her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster.
When a sff movie literally delivers what its title promises, you get something like this installment of Lio.
As for their shared property, William will keep their Studio City home and Three Rivers ranch in California. However, they’ve agreed to let Elizabeth visit the ranch to “occasionally harvest fruit” and visit the graves of her first husband and several horses.
Elizabeth also gets their homes in Malibu Cove and Versailles, Kentucky.
(12) EFFECTIVE FX. The Maltin on Movies podcast interviews
Three-time Oscar winner John Dykstra may go down in history as the man who devised the Light Saber for Star Wars, but that’s just one achievement in a lengthy career in visual effects. In fact, he helped usher in the modern era of fx and has adapted to digital sleight-of-hand…but he misses the scrappy days when he built actual models and then blew them up! His credits range from Spider-man and Stuart Little to Quentin Tarantino’s last four films. Best of all, from Leonard and Jessie’s point of view, he has retained his youthful enthusiasm and is exceptionally articulate about his work.
For some reason, cats are major staples of the anime world. It is “neko” this and “neko” that. The answer may be the same reason that the internet itself is obsessed with cats. They are cute, have strong personalities, and can go from mysterious to totally goofy in an instant….
8 Artemis And Luna From Sailor Moon
Technically Luna and Artemis are not cats. They are aliens from a planet called Mau. Luna even has a human form in the anime. However, they will always be truly remembered as cats. They are pretty cute cats too and really played a part in the trope that magical girls have animal companions/mentors.
Luna and Artemis eventually get romantically involved, which is proved by having a kitten together. However, there is one part of the anime where Luna fell in love with a human man.
I’ll reiterate my admiration for John Boston and John O’Neill. John Boston’s most publicly available recent stuff is at Galactic Journey, where he reviews issues of Amazing from 55 years ago, month by month. (It will be noted, perhaps, that I also review issues of Amazing from the same period, at Black Gate.) John’s work there is linked by this tag: http://galacticjourney.org/tag/john-boston/.
As for John O’Neill, of course his central contribution is as editor of Black Gate, for which he writes a great deal of the content, often about, “vintage” books he’s found on Ebay or at conventions, and also about upcoming fantasy books.
Another Black Gate writer, and fan writer in general, who did great work last year was Steven Silver, particularly his “Golden Age Reviews”.
Rich adds some kind words for File 770, much
appreciated, but remember I have withdrawn myself and the zine from further
(15) AROUND THE BLOCH.
Cora Buhlert calls our attention to another Retro-Hugo eligible story in
Review: ‘Iron Mask’ by Robert Bloch”. BEWARE SPOILERS. It was the
cover story in an issue of Weird Tales, for which Margaret Brundage did
“Iron Mask” is a novelette by Robert Bloch, which was first published in the May 1944 issue of Weird Tales and is therefore eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The story may be found online here.
Robin, a.k.a. the Boy Wonder, celebrates his birthday this week: He made his debut in Detective Comics No. 38 on March 6, 1940, and he and Batman became nearly inseparable in the war on crime. But while Bruce Wayne has nearly always worn Batman’s cowl, there have been many different characters behind Robin’s mask. Here is a look at some of the men and women who have called themselves Robin.
First and foremost is Dick Grayson. Like Batman, Dick lost his family to crime. His parents, circus acrobats, were casualties in a mob-protection racket. Batman (Bruce Wayne) trained Dick to help bring the culprit to justice. The two orphans were a positive influence on each other.
Doctor Who’s 12th modern series brought a darker, more personal storyline for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, more characterisation for her companions (even if the show still wasn’t entirely successful on this front), interesting new takes on old-school series elements and delved more deeply into Doctor Who lore than would have been thought possible in 2018.
Really, looking at the bare facts of the latest series, Chris Chibnall almost couldn’t have done more to address fans’ basic wishes after series 11.
When we consulted Whovians in 2019 about what changes they’d like to see in series 12, they asked for “more two-parters, long episodes and cliffhangers,” a proper series arc, the return of old monsters, more cold opens, a comeback for John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness, a darker side to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and more background for her companions Graham, Ryan and Yaz (played by Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill).
Amid the chaos of partisan
battles, epistemic crises, and state-sponsored propaganda, it’s nice to think
that good-hearted people who care about a shared reality could defeat all the
b.s. out there. And there’s so much of it. If 2016 was the debut of a new kind
of information war, this year is promising to be something like the darker,
more expensive sequel. Yet while places like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter
struggle to fend off a barrage of false content, with their scattershot mix of policies, fact-checkers, and
algorithms, one of the web’s most robust weapons against misinformation
is an archaic-looking website written by anyone with an internet connection,
and moderated by a largely anonymous crew of volunteers.
…The red giant star is on its way to recovery, regaining its brightness and crushing the hopes of astronomers everywhere who wanted to witness a supernova unfold in our skies.
But while astronomers are no longer wishing upon the star to explode, Betelgeuse’s dimming has left them wondering what may have caused this odd behavior in the first place.
The findings suggest Betelgeuse’s signature bright light was temporarily blocked from our view by material shed by the star, in the form of a cloud of dust.
The study is based on observations of Betelgeuse taken on February 14, 2020, at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. There, astronomer Philip Massey, an astronomer with Lowell Observatory, and co-author of the new study, and his colleagues had their instruments trained on Betelgeuse to get a reading on the star’s average surface temperature. The reason? If Betelgeuse was truly dimming, its surface would be cooler than usual.
(20) CAT WIDE AWAKE ON SFF.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mlex, Hampus Eckerman, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) NYRSF READINGS. The New York Review of Science Fiction
Readings presents “An Evening of ‘Reckoning’” — creative writing on
environmental justice – on October 14 with guest curator Michael J. DeLuca, featuring
Emily Houk, Yukyan Lam, Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Marissa Lingen, Emery Robin, and
Brian Francis Slattery. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. at The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388
Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.). Full info on Facebook.
Michael J. DeLuca‘s roots are mycorrhizal with sugar maple and Eastern white pine. He’s the publisher of Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. His fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Strangelet and Middle Planet.
Emily Houk’s short fiction has appeared previously in Conjunctions, and she has just finished her first novel. She is coeditor of Ninepin Press, and she thrives in the shade of the library stacks of Western Massachusetts.
Yukyan Lam is based in New York, NY, and works for a non-profit on environmental health and social justice. Her scientific writing has appeared in various academic journals. She loves reading and writing creative non-fiction and short stories, and currently serves as a prose editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine. Follow her @yukyan_etc
Krista Hoeppner Leahy is a poet, writer, and actor. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Farrago’s Wainscot, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Raritan, Shimmer, Tin House, Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy and elsewhere. Born in Colorado, Krista currently resides in Brooklyn with her family.
Marissa Lingen is a freelance writer living in the suburbs of Minneapolis with two large men and one small dog. Mostly she writes speculative fiction. She has a large collection of foliage-themed jewelry.
Emery Robin is an Oakland-born and New York-based writer, previously published on Tor.com and in Spark: A Creative Anthology. When not busy reading, Emery is interested in propaganda, marginalia, and rock ‘n’ roll, and can be found on Twitter @ emwrobin .
Brian Francis Slattery is the arts editor and a reporter for the New Haven Independent. He has written four novels and is currently on the writing team of Bookburners, a serial fiction project. He’s also a musician and for a week out of every year, lives without electricity.
(2) JUNGLE CRUISE. Andrew Petersen, a student I met at Azusa Pacific University’s Yosemite
Semester in 2001, achieved his goal of becoming a driver on the Jungle
Cruise Ride. If only he hadn’t died
last year – he would have gotten a kick out of this movie.
Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE is an adventure-filled, Amazon-jungle expedition starring Dwayne Johnson as the charismatic riverboat captain and Emily Blunt as a determined explorer on a research mission. Also starring in the film are Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, with Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Jaume Collet-Serra is the director and John Davis, John Fox, Dwayne Johnson, Hiram Garcia, Dany Garcia and Beau Flynn are the producers, with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer. Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE opens in U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020.
Captain Roger’s performance at the Battle of Wakanda has been widely and rightly panned. But nothing has been said about the profound failures of his enemy, the Thanosians. Despite every possible advantage in manpower, materiel, and circumstance, they still failed. All students of the military art should examine how they so masterfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Thanosians had complete freedom in the approach to battle. Nevertheless, they committed two grievous and unforced errors. First, they failed to identify the large energy shield protecting Benin Zana and its immediate environs. This information would have been known with even the most cursory reconnaissance. The mistake cost them at least a battalion worth of troops, when their dropship smashed into it. It is generally agreed that losing a sixth of your force before battle commences is a bad thing. ..
Each of the defendants — including sitting Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader and DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer — were present for a brief arraignment hearing, scattered across the courtroom gallery as attorneys spoke on their behalf. Their not guilty pleas mean the case against them will move forward. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 7….
Billions of people around the globe are well-acquainted with SpongeBob Squarepants and the antics of the title character and his friends on Bikini Bottom. By the same token, there is an absence of public discourse about the whitewashing of violent American military activities through SpongeBob’s occupation and reclaiming of the bottom of Bikini Atoll’s lagoon. SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of Indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland. This article exposes the complicity of popular culture in maintaining American military hegemonies in Oceania while amplifying the enduring indigeneity (Kauanui 2016) of the Marshallese people, who maintain deeply spiritual and historical connections to land—even land they cannot occupy due to residual radiation contamination from US nuclear weapons testing—through a range of cultural practices, including language, song, and weaving. This article also considers the gendered violence of nuclear colonialism and the resilience of Marshallese women.
… While Barker admits that the show’s creators likely did not have “U.S. colonialism” in mind while developing the cartoon, she calls it “disturbing” that they did not realize that “Bikini Bottom and Bikini Atoll were not theirs for the taking.” Consequently, Barker suggests that “millions of children” have “become acculturated to an ideology that includes the US character SpongeBob residing on another people’s homeland.”
In this way, colonialism is supposedly “produced, reproduced, and normalized” through the cartoon
As if fictionally “occupying” nonfictional land was not enough, Barker also accuses the cartoon of being biased against women.
The professor complains that “all of the main characters on the show are male,” except for Sandy Cheeks the squirrel, whom she suggests was only created in order to boost the gender diversity of the show.
“The name ‘Bob’ represents the everyday man, a common American male, much like a ‘Joe,'” Barker observes, concluding that “our gaze into the world of Bikini Bottom, as well as the surface of Bikini, is thus filtered through the activities of men.”
Barker concludes her article by insisting that even though SpongeBob’s writers likely did not mean “to infuse a children’s show with racist, violent colonial practices,” the show is part of a larger issue, an “insidious practice of disappearing Indigenous communities.”
(6) DANIUS OBIT. Sara Danius has
died due to breast cancer. She was the permanent secretary for the Swedish
Academy during the MeToo era and who was forced out from it due to her
determination to get rid of its toxic patriarchal working culture. She was 57
years old. (Swedish language news article here.)
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 12, 1987 — Ultraman: The Adventure Begins. This Japanese animated film stars the English voice lead talents of Adrienne Barbeau and Stacy Keach. Jr.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was published in 1926. (Died 1947.)
Born October 12, 1903 — Josephine Hutchinson. She was Elsa von Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein. She was in “I Sing the Body Electric”, The Twilight Zone episode written by Bradbury that he turned into a short story. (Died 1998.)
Born October 12, 1904 — Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1916 — Lock Martin. His claim to fame was that he was one of the tallest humans that ever lived. At seven feet and seven inches (though this was dispute by some), he was also quite stocky. He had the distinction of playing Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. And he shows up in Invaders from Mars as the Mutant carrying David to the Intelligence though he goes uncredited in the film. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1924 — Randy Stuart. She’s best remembered as Louise Carey, the wife of Scott Carey, in The Incredible Shrinking Man. She was also Frances Hiller in “Anniversary of a Murder“ on One Step Beyond which conceived as a companion series to the Twilight Zone. (Died 1996.)
Born October 12, 1942 — Daliah Lavi. She’s in Casino Royale as The Detainer, a secret agent. In the same year, she was in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon as Madelaine. She was Purificata in The Demon, an Italian horror film. If you’re into German popular music, you might recognize her as she was successful there in Seventies and Eighties. (Died 2017.)
Born October 12, 1943 — Linda Shaye, 76. She’s been an actress for over forty years and has appeared in over ninety films, mostly horror. Among them is A Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters, Insidious, Dead End, 2001 Maniacs and its sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, Amityville: A New Generation, Ouija, and its prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. She even appeared in The Running Man as a Propaganda Officer
Born October 12, 1965 — Dan Abnett, 54. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer.
Born October 12, 1968 — Hugh Jackman, 51. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians. And he played Robert Angier in The Prestige based off the novel written by the real Christopher Priest.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Rich Horton says about today’s Dilbert: “I don’t know if Scott Adams nicked this idea from Fred Pohl or Greg Egan or someone else, but I think of Daniel Galouye’s Simulacron-3 (filmed as The Thirteenth Floor).”
…The exterior of Booking.com‘s Addams Family mansion doesn’t look spooky, but the inside makes up for it.
The [3700 square foot] mansion rents for just $101.10 per night, but not everyone interested will get in. [It will be available for only four one-night bookings starting the 29th of this month.] Mark your calendars now if you want to try to be one of the lucky ones. Bookings open on Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. PT, and they’ll probably disappear as fast as you can snap your fingers.
I had this book I loved, Bring on the Bad Guys. It was a big, chunky paperback collection of comic-book stories, and as you might guess from the title, it wasn’t much concerned with heroes. It was instead an anthology of tales about the worst of the worst, vile psychopaths with names like The Abomination and faces to match.
My dad had to read that book to me every night. He didn’t have a choice. It was one of these Scheherazade-type deals. If he didn’t read to me, I wouldn’t stay in bed. I’d slip out from under my Empire Strikes Back quilt and roam the house in my Spider-Man Underoos, soggy thumb in my mouth and my filthy comfort blanket tossed over one shoulder. I could roam all night if the mood took me. My father had to keep reading until my eyes were barely open, and even then, he could only escape by saying he was going to step out for a smoke and he’d be right back.
(14) FUTURIUM. Aa “house of futures” museum
opened in Berlin last month called the Futurium, and their website is futurium.de. The home site is in German, however, they
also offer an English language version.
Futurium celebrated its opening on 05 September 2019. Since then, the interest in the house of futures has exceeded all expectations. In the first month, 100,000 visitors already came to Futurium and devoted themselves to the question: How do we want to live?
(15) NOSFERATU. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Every
generation has its incarnation of the vampire mythos – Dark Shadows,
Twilight, True Blood, and more. But it all cinematically began with F.W.
Murnau’s 1922 silent movie masterpiece Nosferatu. Ninety-four years
after its inception, North Hollywood’s Crown City Theater Company unleashed an
astonishing live stage presentation entitled Nosferatu: A Symphony in Terror.
In “Nosferatu”, film historian Steve Vertlieb takes us aboard a dark yet
wonderful cinematic time machine, delving into the creation of Murnau’s seminal
horror film, examining it’s influence on generations (from Lugosi and Lee, to Salem’s
Lot, Harry Potter and more), then reviews the startling stage presentation
from a few years ago.
…Gather the LEGO bricks, sets or elements that you want to part with; put them in a cardboard box; and print out a free shipping label from the LEGO Replay website. At the Give Back Box facility, they’ll be sorted, inspected and cleaned.
“We know people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks,” Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at the LEGO Group, said in a Tuesday news release. “The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren. But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”
What do you do with an old car park that no-one wants to park in? Why not use them to grow mushrooms – or even salad?
Paris built too many underground car parks in the 1960s and 70s. Falling car ownership means many are standing empty, or finding new and surprising uses.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Lauren Gunderson Is Taking On J.M. Barrie” on YouTube,
Lauren Gunderson discusses her adaptation of Peter Pan, which will be
produced by the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington in December.
[Thanks to Nancy Collins, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, Steve
Vertlieb, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Anne Sheller.]
The announcement was made during the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday. Season 4 of the series is set to debut on Dec. 13.
“The Expanse” aired its first three seasons on Syfy, with the cable networking having cancelled the series back in 2019. Shortly after it was cancelled, it was reported that Amazon was in talks to continue the series, which is produced and fully financed by Alcon Television Group.
(2) SF AUTHOR’S PREDICTION FULFILLED. A writer for Britain’s Private Eye rediscovered Norman Spinrad’s Agent of Chaos (1967) with its prescient comments about another political leader named Boris Johnson.
(3) SIX WILL GET YOU ONE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At The Atlantic, contributing writer Dr. Yascha Mounk (Johns
Hopkins University associate professor and German Marshall Fund
senior fellow) has his own ideas on “How Not to Run a Panel” (tagline: “Panel discussions can
be very boring, but they don’t have to be if you follow these six rules.”).
I could write a whole book about the panels that have gone wrong in particularly strange or hilarious fashion: the one where the moderator fell asleep. The one where the opening statements lasted longer than the time allotted for the whole event. The one, high up on the 10th floor, when the acrobatic window washer stole the show.
These exotic horrors notwithstanding, I disagree with Leo Tolstoy: Every unhappy panel is unhappy in some of the same ways.
Mind you, he’s talking about academic panels (his
field is political science), but one wonders how much his advice crosses over
to convention panels. He elaborates on each of his six points:
1. Don’t have more than four people onstage. 2. Keep introductions to a minimum. 3. Ax the opening statements. 4. Guide the conversation. 5. Cut off the cranks.* 6. Pick panelists who have something to say to one another.
* NB: He’s talking about cranks in the audience. He
doesn’t seem to consider cranks on the panel.
The outcome of the deletion discussion was ‘no consensus’ i.e. notability wasn’t decided one way or another. This was mainly because of the brigade of trolls who descended on the discussion at Williamson’s request.
While the Wikipedia is keeping the article, the record of the
debate preserves these additional facts:
I note that the subject of this article, Michael Z. Williamson, has edited Wikipedia as Mzmadmike. He has been banned from Wikipedia as a result of a community discussion that concluded that Williamson has disrupted Wikipedia through his edits as a Wikipedia user and through comments on social media, which (according to the community discussion) have included canvassing, legal threats (admin-only diff) and harassment of Wikipedians. This has no bearing on the outcome of this deletion discussion, because having an article is not an indication of merit (as a person, author or otherwise), but only of what Wikipedia calls “notability“, i.e., being covered in some detail by reliable sources. But it bears mentioning here as a context of what may be necessary future administrative actions to protect the article and Wikipedia from further disruption.
Some relatives, friends and archivists find the sales unseemly, citing the astronaut’s aversion to cashing in on his celebrity and flying career and the loss of historical objects to the public.
“I seriously doubt Neil would approve of selling off his artifacts and memorabilia,” said James R. Hansen, his biographer. “He never did any of that in his lifetime.”
(6) ERB-DOM ANNUAL GATHERING. Burroughs fans will hold DUM-DUM 2019 in Willcox, AZ from
(7) IN THE LID. Alasdair Stuart’s
latest, newly BFS Award-nominated “The Full Lid for 26th July 2019″ includes
a look at the first three episodes of The Space Race. An epic dramatized
account of the birth and evolution of crewed spaceflight it starts in the
future, takes in Gagarin, Armstrong and the rest of the past and throws light
on some surprising elements of the story.
As does the deeply eccentric Apollo 11 anniversary
coverage. Says Stuart, “I was especially impressed with the choices made by a
BBC movie about the flight and the little moments of humanity we glimpse
outside the history books in Channel 4’s programming.”
He also salutes “the monarch of the kitchen warriors,
the king of the B movie and the crown prince of charming villainy, the one, the
only Rutger Hauer. Rest well, sir.”
“Paul writes: My wife, Samantha, and her grandmother Gigi have a disagreement about whether a creature’s tail is part of his butt. Gigi says that because poop can get stuck in a butt, it is part of the butt. Sam argues that a tail only starts at the butt. Are tails butts? (Specifically a dragon’s tail, which is what sparked this argument.)
JOHN HODGMAN SAYS: “What a surprise twist at the end! Before we walked through this wardrobe into fantasy land, I was confident in my ruling: tails are NOT butts, as they have specific balance and display functions. And also let’s face it: Poop can get on anything. But as I am no expert on dragon anatomy, I turned to the actual George R.R. Martin, whose number I actually have, who reports: ‘Poop can also get stuck to a dragon’s leg, but that does not make it part of the butt. Dragon poop is hot, by the way. Fire hazard.'”
Morse Wooster sent the link with a postscript: “How many points do I get for
finding George R.R. Martin’s opinions on ‘dragon poop?’”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. (Died 1943.)
Born July 28, 1926 — T. G. L. Cockcroft. Mike has his obituary here. Not surprisingly none of his works are currently in-print.
Born July 28, 1928 — Angélica Gorodischer, 91. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got by translated by Ursula Le Guin into English.
Born July 28, 1931 — Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here. I will note that he was a published author having “On Conquered Earth” in If, December 1967 as edited by Frederik Pohl. I don’t think it’s been republished since. (Died 2012.)
Born July 28, 1941 — Bill Crider. Though primarily a writer of horror fiction, he did write three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard, The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in theCharlaine Harris Meta-verse. (Died 2018.)
Born July 28, 1966 — Larry Dixon, 53. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental Adventures, Epic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. Dixon and Lackey are the 2020 Worldcon’s Author Guests of Honour.
Born July 28, 1968 — Rachel Blakely, 51. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.
Born July 28, 1969 — Tim Lebbon, 50. For my money his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably.
…Survey a theater of moviegoers and they all might tell you a different interpretation of what “Southland Tales” is actually about. The short versionis that a nuclear explosion has gone off in Texas, thrusting the United States into World War III. Taking place in 2008 Los Angeles at the end of the world, the film consequently delves into the post-Iraq War militarization of the country, the rise of the surveillance state and, naturally, rifts on the space-time continuum.
The movie, which would go on to become a critical and commercial failure,contains a who’s who of character actors, as well as once- and soon-to-be notable stars. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a porn star who simultaneously has a hit single (“Teen Horniness is Not a Crime”) and accurately foretells the imminent apocalypse in a screenplay she’s written. Amy Poehler delivers a slam poetry performance in her last seconds on Earth before she is gunned down by a racist cop played by Jon Lovitz. Justin Timberlake, in a confounding, drugged-out dream sequence, lip-syncs the Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.”
To steer his often messy but engaging opus — and eventual cult classic — director Richard Kelly needed a truly magnetic force. Enter Johnson.
(13) BRYAN FULLER. [Item by Carl Slaughter.]According to Midnight’s Edge and Nerdrotic,
Bryan Fuller pitched the Picard series concept to CBS as one of 5
possible series. Fuller also approached Jeri Ryan and Brent Spiner about
starring in it. Fuller has yet to get any credit it for the Picard
(14) ONE VOTER’S DECISION. Rich Horton rolls out his “Hugo
Ballot Thoughts, Short Fiction, 2019” on Strange at Ecbatan. Which
actually begins with his argument against having AO3 up in the Best
Related Works category. But he soon veers back to the topic, such as these
comments about Best Novella:
Of these only Artificial Condition was on my nomination ballot, but I didn’t get to The Black God’s Drums until later, and it would have been on my ballot. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach struck me as impressively ambitious – probably the most ambitious of the nominees – but I think the ending is a mess. Still a story worth reading. The Tea Master and the Detective is nice work, not quite brilliant. And, I say with guilt, I haven’t read Beneath the Sugar Sky, which I suspect will be very fine work.
CHANCE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Author, crafter, and
freelance journalist Bonnie Burton has a knack for spotting odd news—her CNET article “NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts honored
in… a butter sculpture” in this case. (Tagline: “Astronauts Neil
Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins look just as legendary carved
in butter at the Ohio State Fair.”)
You can see the entire butter sculpture unveiling
ceremony posted by The Columbus Dispatch on YouTube.
(16) EN FUEGO. Space is getting
hotter…but not that much (AP: “New Mexico chile plant selected to be
grown in space”). The first fruiting plant to be grown on the
International Space Station will be the Española Improved hot pepper.
However, it’s said to max out at a relatively modest 2,000 Scoville units, well
less than the typical Jalapeño much less really hot hot peppers.
A hybrid version of a New Mexico chile plant has been selected to be grown in space as part of a NASA experiment.
The chile, from Española, New Mexico, is tentatively scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station for testing in March 2020, the Albuquerque Journalreports .
A NASA group testing how to produce food beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and the chile plant was created with input from Jacob Torres — an Española native and NASA researcher.
Torres said the point of sending the chiles into space is to demonstrate how NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat – which recreates environmental needs for plant growth like CO2, humidity and lighting – works not only for leafy greens, but for fruiting crops, as well.
(17) TRAILER BREAKDOWN. New Rockstars answers questions
you didn’t even know you had about the newest Star Trek: Picard trailer.
Star Trek Picard Trailer from Comic Con teases the return of Data, Seven of Nine, the Borgs, and more nods to The Next Generation and Voyager! Where will this new Picard series on CBS All Access take Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) after the events of Star Trek Nemesis and First Contact? Erik Voss gets an assist from friend and Trekkie Marina Mastros, who breaks down this Star Trek trailer shot by shot for all the Easter Eggs you may have overlooked! What is the secret identity of the new mystery woman, Dahj? Why are the Romulans experimenting with Borg technology? Has Data really returned, or is it his alternate version, B-4?
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Xtifr.]
Taylor Swift, whose cat Bombalurina is shown reclining and enjoying Catnip in the footage, announced the trailer had dropped Thursday — a day before it was scheduled to be released.
“I’m a cat now and somehow that was everything #Catsmovie” Swift tweeted.
Directed by Tom Hooper, the first trailer introduces a major cast which includes Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Idris Elba as Macavity and James Corden as Bustopher Jones.
The ceremony inducting Batman into the Comic-Con Museum Hall of Fame — the first fictional character to be awarded the honor — was the crowning moment of “The Gathering,” a special celebration that doubled as a preview of The Batman Experience, a pop-up exhibit in the Balboa Park location that will eventually become the physical home of the Comic-Con Museum running during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and a fundraiser for the Museum.
Both “The Gathering” and The Batman Experience are part of DC and Warner Bros.’ wider celebration of the 80th anniversary of the release of Detective Comics No. 27, which introduced Batman to the world, a yearlong event that has already included events at South by Southwest and a USO tour featuring DC’s Lee and Batman comic book writer Tom King.
(6) PITTING HIMSELF AGAINST THE CHALLENGE. The second Ad
Astra trailer has dropped. Comes to theaters September 20.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
What other authors wrote books with thematic similarities to the books of Andre Norton? Too bad that no one has ever asked me that question. Let’s pretend that someone has asked. Here are five suggestions.
“One of the main things that stands out about Kyoto Animation is the quality of the animation itself,” said Ian Wolf, an anime critic for Anime UK News. “It’s very viewer-friendly.”
The distinctive visual style and level of polish leads to a look that is instantly recognisable, Wolf said.
“The studio makes very little in the way that is controversial… little that is violent or sexual. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to attack it.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 18, 1911 — Hume Cronyn. Way back in the Forties, his first genre role was as Gerard in The Phantom of The Opera. Since then he’s appeared in such well-known films as Cocoon, Cocoon Returns and BatteriesNot Included along with the more obscure outing of Richard Burton’s Hamlet. (Died 2003.)
Born July 18, 1933 — Sydney Jay Mead. Industrial designer and concept artist, best known for his designs for Aliens, Blade Runner and Tron. Mead once said in Borrowing an idea from Los Angeles (NYT 20 July 2011) that “I’ve called science fiction ‘reality ahead of schedule.’” An eight-minute film on him, “2019: A Future Imagined” can be seen here.
Born July 18, 1938 — Paul Verhoeven, 81. Direction, screenwriter and producer. Responsible for RoboCop , Total Recall, Starship Troopers and the creepy Hollow Man. Mind this is the man who also did Basic Instinct and Showgirls.
Born July 18, 1943 — Charles Waugh,76. Anthologist and author, whose anthology work up to 2013 numbered over two hundred titles (!), mostly done with Martin H. Greenberg but a handful done with other co-editors as Greenberg died in 2011. Name a subject and there’s likely an anthology on that subject that he had a hand in. I have not read, nor do I have the very least desire, to read his two novels with Deepak Chopra.
Born July 18, 1952 — Deborah Teramis Christian, 67. She’s an author and game designer. has designed and edited role-playing game materials for Dungeons & Dragons such as Tales of the Outer Planes, Bestiary of Dragons and Giants, Dragon Dawn, and Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms. She also writes fiction under the name Deborah Teramis Christian with genre novel such as The Truthsayer’s Apprentice and her latest, Splintegrate.
Born July 18, 1967 — Paul Cornell, 52. Author of the Shadow Police series which is quite excellent as well as writing a lot of television scripts for Doctor Who, Primieval and Robin Hood. He was part of the regular panel of the SF Squeecast podcast which won two Hugo Awards for best fancast.
Born July 18, 1967 — Vin Diesel, 52. His first genre role was as the delightful voice of The Iron Giant. He next shows playing Riddick in Pitch Black, the first in The Chronicles of Riddick franchise. He’s Hugo Cornelius Toorop in Babylon A.D. and he’s the fascinating if enigmatic voice of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy and other MCU films. He’s apparently in the next two Avatar films but I don’t see his role determined.
Born July 18, 1980 — Kristen Bell, 39. Veronica Mars. Genre, well not really, but a lot of y’all watch it. She also voiced Jade Wilson in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies which I highly recommend as it’s highly meta.
Born July 18, 1982 — Priyanka Chopra, 37. As Alex Parrish in Quantico, becoming the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series. Is it genre? Maybe, maybe not, though it could fit into a Strossian Dark State. Some of her work in her native India such as The Legend of Drona and Love Story 2050 is genre.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur gets a good laugh by combining a UFO and a cave painter.
The audience got an early look at the new trailer, which debuted online Thursday morning. The presentation, taking place on Comic-Con’s preview night, is dubbed ScareDiego and is held off the San Diego Convention Center grounds, and unofficially kicks off the Con in terms of movie panels. The event, now in its third year, is growing and this year was held at the Spreckels Theatre with comedian and late night show host Conan O’Brien serving as moderator.
…Collins was the Command Module Pilot. While the Lunar Lander descended to the Moon’s surface, it was Collins’ task to remain with the Command Module in Lunar orbit….
Rather than making any attempt at a dispassionate, neutral history of the Apollo Program, Collins provides a very personal account, a Collins-eye view of the American path to the moon. It’s not a short process, which is why it takes 360 pages before Collins and his more well-known companions find themselves strapped into the largest, most powerful man-rated rocket to have been launched as of that date. Before that…
Starting on July 24, Oscar Mayer’s iconic 27-foot-long Wienermobile is available to book overnight on Airbnb. Seriously. This is not a drill.
True hot dog fans know that the Wienermobile has pretty much travelled all across the country, spreading positive vibes and love for, well, wieners. And until now, no one has been able to spend more than a few hours in the famous Oscar Mayer vehicle, which makes this overnight camp-out option kind of a big deal.
Per their press release, the hot dog distributer has confirmed that its Wienermobile will be available to those staying in the Chicago area between August 1-4. Just in time for Lollapalooza!
As if drones weren’t frightening enough, now they can be equipped with fire-spitting flamethrowers? Oh gawd.
Throwflame’s TF-19 WASP drone attachment is capable of shooting targets with flames from 25 feet away. Every gallon of fuel capacity will get you 100 seconds of firing time.
According to Throwflame, the TF-19 WASP is made from carbon fiber and designed for drones with a five-pound payload capacity or more. In the video above, the flamethrower is shown mounted to a DJI S1000 drone.
[Thanks to James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Lis Riba, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) SECOND CARR COLLECTION IS A FREE READ. David Langford has released the Terry Carr
collection Fandom Harvest II at the TAFF
website. Download it free – and please consider making a donation to the
Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund as thanks.
Complementing the 1986 Fandom Harvest and even longer, this further selection of Terry Carr’s fine fanwriting was assembled by David Langford with much help from others and released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 June 2019. Cover art by Steve Stiles from The Incompleat Terry Carr (1988 edition). Over 118,000 words.
With thanks to Carol Carr for her permission and encouragement to produce this new ebook. (For the many further credits, see within.)
Langford spotlights his selections in the Introduction:
Of the above, Fandom Harvest was the first choice for a TAFF ebook since it’s not only the largest by far of these collections but was published as a printed hardback that was relatively easy to convert to digital text. The next logical step seemed initially to be an ebook of The Incompleat Terry Carr, but unfortunately there’s considerable overlap between this collection and Fandom Harvest. After removing duplications (“Trufan’s Blood”, the “Fandom Harvest” column selections, “The Fastest Ham in the West” and “Confessions of a Literary Midwife”), what remained of The Incompleat Terry Carr was an unsatisfactorily slim volume. This has been augmented with the fannish items reprinted in Between Two Worlds, the four best pieces from The Portable Carl Brandon, and many more notable articles, columns, editorials and stories not previously included in any Terry Carr collection. Ranging from 1955 to 1987, it’s a great read throughout.
And I appreciate Dave sending me the scoop in advance of the
Monday edition of Ansible!
(2) UK GAMES EXPO ENFORCES CODE
OF CONDUCT. Sexual violence in an RPG scenario hosted by a volunteer
violated UK Games Expo’s code of conduct. The committee took action, explained
It was brought to our attention that in an RPG game on Friday afternoon a GM volunteer included content that was completely unacceptable and breached both the letter and spirit of the UK Games Expo. The scenario included descriptions of sexual violence involving the players. The players were understandably distressed and shocked by this content.
This content was not set out in the game description. If it had been included in the submission it would have been rejected as unacceptable even for a game with an 18 rating. All games must still comply with the policies and the spirit of UKGE.
We have spoken personally to the player who first raised the issue and have unreservedly apologized for the distress caused. We are currently contacting the other players so we can offer them our apologies and any assistance they might need. We have made it clear that this kind of behavior and content has no place at UKGE and will not be accepted.
We immediately halted the game the GM was currently running and cancelled all of the games he was due to run.
The GM has been ejected from the show and will not be allowed access to any of the NEC halls or Hilton function rooms that are under the control of UK Games Expo.
He has also been banned from submitting any games for the foreseeable future…
Science fiction purports to be based on science. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of SF is as close to science and math as Taco Bell is to authentic Mexican cuisine.
I revelled and still revel in mass ratios and scale heights, albedos and exhaust velocities, evolutionary biology and world history. (I’m not the only one. Big wave to my homies out there.) So…as much as I love SF, I’m constantly running head-on into settings that could just not work the way the author imagines. My SOD (suspension of disbelief) is motoring along merrily and suddenly, bang! Dead in its tracks. Perhaps you can understand now why so many of my reviews grumble about worldbuilding….
Nothing pairs better with a cold rainy Sunday and a warm baby Loxodonta quite like a Rockaway Nitro Black Gold Stout. About one-third of the way through Tim Burton’s Dumbo, I ordered a second, and as it was delivered to me in the dark, I was struck by the scene where V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton)–evil, conniving moneybags and Dreamland amusement park owner–explains to the scrappy, DIY road circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) that of course he should bring his entire operation, airborne pachyderm included, into his opulent fold. Why? Because the future of entertainment is bringing the people to you, not the other way around.
Sipping Dumbo suds at Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, I couldn’t have agreed more, and as attested by the typical full house, I was not alone….
…After Disney, Southerland moved on to Mattel to help develop shows for two of their toy lines: Enchantimals and Monster High. As a showrunner, Southerland was able to expand on those worlds while placing female characters—and their close friendships—at the center. She particularly enjoyed working on Monster High because of the opportunity to create more complex teenage characters, and she eventually developed the idea for Adventures of the Ghoul Squad, a miniseries in which the main friends—all children of famous monsters—travel the world to help others and solve mysteries….
(7) CASTING COWL. Rachel
Bloom, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and
“F*ck Me Ray Bradbury” fame, voices Batgirl in the recently released animated video
Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles’ sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has teamed up with Ra’s Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins.
…I attended my first World Fantasy Con in 1993, in Minneapolis. Dennis met me almost as soon as I arrived, and started introducing me to everyone. One of the editors I met there – Stephen Jones – would buy my first short story a year later, and go on to become the editor I’ve worked with the most.
That convention was an amazing experience. I rented a car and became Dennis’s driver for a few days. At the time Dennis was embroiled in a feud with Harlan Ellison, and I still laugh when I think of him telling me that he’d put any five of his stories up against any five of Harlan’s stories (Dennis was also a wrestling fanatic, which made this even more amusing). I drove Dennis to a signing at the massive Mall of America; no one came to the signing, so Dennis, Poppy Z. Brite, and Melanie Tem read their stories to each other while I listened in….
…After serving at Fort Dix in New Jersey from 1944 to 1946, he returned to the comic-book business. He did a lot of work for Avon Comics, he said, because unlike some other imprints it allowed artists to sign their work. (Early in his career he used the name “Everett Raymond” for brevity’s sake, though he eventually switched to his full name.)…
As part of its Distinguished Illustrators Series,
Norman Rockwell Museum exhibited “Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to
Portraits,” in 2012.
Highly-regarded as a prominent American portraitist, Everett Raymond Kinstler began his career as a comic book artist and illustrator working for the popular publications of his day. The artist’s original illustrations and portraits of noted celebrities—from Katharine Hepburn, Tony Bennett, and Tom Wolfe to artists James Montgomery Flagg, Alexander Calder, and Will Barnet [was] on view in a lively installation that explores the process of capturing likenesses of his subjects for posterity.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 1, 1955 — This Island Earth premiered.
June 1, 1984 — Star Trek III: The Search for Spock could be found in theaters.
June 1, 1990 — Total Recall made its memorable debut.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 1, 1874 — Pierre Souvestre. He was a journalist, writer and avid promoter of motor races. He’s remembered today for his co-creation with Marcel Allain of the master criminal Fantômas. The character was also the basis of various film, television, and comic book adaptations. Some of these could be considered genre. (Died 1914.)
Born June 1, 1937 — Morgan Freeman, 82. Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy and less notably Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (and yes I saw it). He’s God in Bruce Almighty as he is in the sequel, Evan Almighty. And he played the President in Deep Impact.
Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois, 79. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series.
Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 72. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote.
Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
Born June 1, 1966 — David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an an appreciation of him here. The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
Born June 1, 1973 — C. E. Murphy, 46. Her Urban Shaman series was one of the best such series I’ve read in recent years. She had The Walker Papers – Alternative Views which used other characters as viewpoint narrators but none appealed to me alas as much as Joanne Walker, her primary character.
Born June 1, 1996 — Tom Holland, 23. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War,Avengers: Endgame, and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home.
(12) PUNCHLINE CREATOR.
At Kalimac’s Corner, DB digs up more
info about award-winning comics writer E. Nelson Bridwell, ending with perhaps
his most widely-known contribution to pop culture: “this is the joke”.
…Evanier’s announcement credits Bridwell with co-creating a comic called The Inferior Five, which I’d never heard of either. A quick visit to its Wikipedia page proves that it’s exactly what it sounds like, a sort of precursor to Mystery Men, a rare case of a superhero movie I rather liked. So I might enjoy The Inferior Five as well, especially as Evanier says that Bridwell’s “writing was marked by a wicked sense of humor.”…
In 1951, astronomer Kenneth Heuer, author in 1953 of The End of the World, wrote Men of Other Planets(Pellegrini & Cudahy, NYC) where he speculates on the kinds of humanoid life that was possible on the other planets, moons and asteroids of outer space. In those days thousands of people were actually trying to book passage on space ships. With jet propulsion and atomic fuel bringing space travel into realms of possibility, the mysteries of flying saucers, possible invasions of the earth from another worlds were closer to reality and yesterday’s science fiction was moving into tomorrow’s news.
The full-page scratch board illustration by R.T. Crane adds both a science fact and fictional aura to the quirky propositions in this book…
(Spoiler alert: even though it’s called Dungeons & Dragons, beginning level characters should not try to slay a dragon. They will fail. However, I have a policy with brand new players: I promise that their characters won’t die in the first three sessions. If they really do try to slay a dragon, the dragon may just beat them up, take all their stuff, and leave them naked outside the nearest town. Or more likely, the dragon will singe them a bit, then say, “Okay, if you don’t want to die, you have to agree to run an errand for me…”)
It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland.
(16) WALK THIS WAY. The New York Post’s 2013 profile of the band contains a previously unsuspected (by me) bit of sff trivia: “First KISS”.
…Simmons then modeled his demon walk after a serpentine, loping-gaited martian named Ymir that stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen designed for the 1957 science fiction film “20 Million Miles to Earth.”
“I realized I couldn’t copy the movements of Mick Jagger or the Beatles because I didn’t have a little boy’s body,” Simmons says. “But I could be a monster.”
Look up into the sky and it’s hard to imagine where the Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins.
Commonly referred to as the Karman line, that imaginary border is 62 miles (100km) away and on Friday a group of students from across the US and Canada are hoping to send an unmanned rocket through it.
It’s the brainchild of 19-year-old rocket-obsessed North Carolina University student Joshua Farahzad, who said he came up with the idea during his “boring” summer vacation last year.
“I was always fascinated with space, I built a small rocket in high school after watching a movie called October Sky, and thought to myself how one day I’d like to build a bigger one,” he said.
…Without the help of a large financial backer, engineering professionals, or teachers, Operation Space began collaborating on the project remotely from their various locations across the US and Canada, using a Slack message channel, video chats and phone calls.
Operation Space is not the only group of students to build and launch spacecraft. Last month, students from the University of Southern California (USC) successfully sent their Traveler IV rocket across the Karman line.
While he’s full of praise for them, Joshua said his team is unique. “USC is cool but we are different because we are doing this all remotely with no university help,” he explained.
A Lego-themed pop-up is coming to six U.S. cities this summer. The Brick Bar, which is not technically affiliated with the brand btw, is built with over 1 million blocks and will debut in NYC June 19.
The bar opened its first temporary location in London back in January 2018, and the “nostalgia trip” was an instant hit. Now the concept is expanding to a number of North American cities including New York, L.A., Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, and Denver. It will also hit Toronto and Vancouver in July.
“The bar will feature sculptures made completely from building blocks as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. There will also be local DJ’s spinning tunes all day,” the website says. “We will have an Instagram worthy menu as well including a Brick Burger and Cocktails!
(20) A FORK IN THE ROAD. Compelling Science Fiction Issue #13 is available for purchase. Beginning with this issue, says publisher Joe STech, the magazine no longer posts its contents free online.
We start with LA Staley’s “Steps in the Other Room”. An elderly woman reports that her husband has been kidnapped. This seems difficult, since he has been dead for many years (2040 words). Our second story is “Sasha Red” by Tyler A. Young. In it, a woman fights to rescue refugees from Mars (6100 words). The third story this issue, Mark Parlette-Cariño’s “Bodybit,” is a story about the social effects of a fitness device that tracks sexual performance (4630 words). Next we have “What We Remember” by Mark Salzwedel. This one is first-contact story about a telepathic fungus (2800 words). Our fifth story is “Love and Brooding” by M. J. Pettit. Inspired by mouth-brooding tilapia, this story explores a very alien life cycle (5000 words). Our final story is “Steadies” by returning author Robert Dawson. A doctor is conflicted when she decides to prescribe her husband an anti-cholesterol drug that has also recently been found to strengthen relationships (3400 words).
…This novel is an exercise in trusting an author. When it starts like another novel I didn’t like, it proved me wrong to misjudge it. When it doesn’t explain its setting or history from the start, it respected my patience by giving me enough to keep going and eventually answering my questions…
…The novel is a rather slippery fantasy to try and get a hold of. Is it a Portal fantasy, as the back matter and the title suggests? Yes, and no, the Portal aspects of the fantasy are not the central theme. Is it a coming of age story, of a young woman coming into herself? Yes, but there is much more going on with theme, history, theory and thought on it. The book is, however, a fantasy about the power of stories, and where stories come from, and how stories, for good, and bad, accurately and inaccurately, shape us and mold us, and make us what we are–and sometimes, if we find the right story, what we want and need to be…
(23) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro-Hugo novella finalist reviews:
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Albatross Soup on Vimeo, Winnie Cheung solves the riddle of why a guy killed himself after having a bowl of albatross soup in a restaurant.
Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John
Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mister
NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA “hidden figure.”
“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor.”
… Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.
At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — who was later promoted to engineer — broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency’s workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film “Hidden Figures,” based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
(2) THE ART OF SIGNING. CoNZealand (2020 Worldcon) GoH Larry Dixon shares some wisdom in a Twitter thread that begins here.
…I’m acquainted with Cristiane Serruya. She was part of the Kindle Scout program, having won an advance, 50% royalties, and publication for at least one of her works from Amazon’s imprint Kindle Press. Two of my books are also in the program. We chatted numerous times on the Kindle Scout Winners Facebook group and we even traded critiques. She read the first two books in my Masked Man of Cairo mystery series and I read Damaged Love, which turns out to contain plagiarized passages too. At the time I was surprised she would want me to be a beta reader on a romance novel, a genre she knew I didn’t read and knew nothing about. Now I know why.
…It’s true that some unscrupulous people are hiring teams of underpaid ghostwriters to churn out dreck in order to game Amazon’s algorithms, which tilt in favor of newly publishing titles and prolific authors.
Unfortunately, professional ghostwriters like me are being lumped in with the hacks. There is a place for a professional ghostwriter in indie publishing, and it is a valid one.
Ghostwriting has been around since the days of the dime novel. It was strong throughout the pulp era and the post-war paperback boom. In the modern world, house names such as Don Pendleton (The Executioner) and Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew) have been used by pools of ghostwriters to make some of the most popular series around.
Ghostwriting is my day job. To date, I have ghostwritten 18 novels, 7 novellas, and one short story for various clients, and am currently contracted for another series of novels. The clients are generally independent publishers who put out work under a variety of pen names. I get one or two pen names, and other ghostwriters get other ones. Thus each pen name keeps the specific tone of a particular writer. I have worked for one guy who used several ghostwriters writing for the same house name, but we all were given strict instructions as to tone, style, etc. None of my clients put their real name on their books, and all of them were looking for quality work….
(4) UP THE AMAZON. Nora
Roberts expands on what she’s been learning about the environment for indie
authors at Amazon: “Let Me Address This”.
A Broken System.Then came the scammers, and with the methods discussed in previous blogs, who flooded the market with 99 cent books. What a bargain! Readers couldn’t know these books were stolen or copied or written by ghostfarms. Couldn’t know about the clickfarms, the scam reviews.
At this price, the author receives only 30% (there’s a price point cut off on royalty rate). So all those out of pocket expenses may or may not be covered.
The legit indie saw her sales suffer, her numbers tank, her placement on lists vanish. To try to compete, many had to struggle to write faster, to heavily discount their work. Some had to give up writing altogether.
One other scamming method is to list a book–forever–as free. Not as a promotion, or incentive, but to toss up hordes or free books, so the reader wants–and often demands–free. They make their money off the scores of cheap and stolen books, and destroy the legit writer. Why pay when there are scores of free books at your fingertips?
(6) FANHISTORY. Here’s a link to Archive.org footage from the 1975 Star Trek convention in New York. William Shatner’s appearance takes up the first few minutes – you can see Ben Yalow among his escorts at the 30-second mark. The latter half of the film shows a woman in front of art show panels – I think I should recognize her, but I can’t come up with a name. Maybe you can. [Update: Adrienne Martine-Barnes, maybe?] [Now identified as Jacqueline Lichtenberg.]
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
On November 1, 1884 Bat Masterson published his first newspaper article in Dodge City. The newspaper was called Vox Populi.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Grimm. Here for two reasons, the first being the he and his brother were the first to systematically collect folktales from the peasantry of any European culture and write them down. Second is that the number of genre novels and short stories that used the Grimms’ Fairy Tales as their source for source material is, well, if not infinite certainly a really high number. I’d wager that even taking just those stories in Snow White, Blood Red series that Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow co-edited would get quite a number based the tales collected by these bothers. (Died 1859.)
Born February 24, 1909 — August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like), not to overlook being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
Born February 24, 1933 — Verlyn Flieger, 86. Well known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World, A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a VA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
Born February 24, 1942 — Sam J. Lundwall, 77. Swedish writer, translator and publisher. He first started writing for Häpna!, an SF Zine in the 50s. In the late 60s, he was a producer for Sveriges Radio and made a SF series. He published his book, Science Fiction: Från begynnelsen till våra dagar (Science Fiction: What It’s All About) which landed his first job as an SF Editor. After leaving that publisher in the 80s, he would start his own company, Sam J. Lundwall Fakta & Fantasi. Lundwall was also the editor of the science fiction magazine Jules Verne-Magasinet between 1972 and 2009. He has been active in fandom as he organised conventions in Stockholm six times in the 60s and 70s. And I see he’s written a number of novels, some released here, though not recently.
Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos, 72. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt In Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realise it as I skipped watching the entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. (I did try watching it, I gave up after maybe fifteen minutes. Shudder.) he has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the new Battlestar Galactica. He was made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka.
Born February 24, 1966 — Ben Miller, 53. He first shows up in our corner of things on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in the “Daredevils of the Desert” episode as an unnamed French Officer. His main genre role was on Primeval, a series I highly recommend as a lot of fun, as James Lester. He later shows up as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a Twelfth Doctor episode entitled “Robot of Sherwood”.
Born February 24, 1968 — Martin Day, 51. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers.
…Then “Big Bang” executive producer and co-creator Bill Prady offered him the ideal role. Would he be interested in playing, well, Wil Wheaton . . . an evil Wil Wheaton?
“If they had actually wanted me to play myself, I don’t think I would have been interested,” he said. “First, it would have felt like a cheat. So what? Show up and be yourself? There’s no challenge in that. But when Bill said, ‘We want you to play an evil version of yourself,’ I immediately got and loved that idea.”
Westercon 72, NAFIC 2019, 1632 Minicon, and Manticon 2019 are together inviting submissions of academic papers for presentation at Spikecon to be held on July 4th-7th, 2019 in Layton, Utah. We are seeking 30 minute papers which raise the level of dialogue and discussion in the Science Fiction/Fantasy community and seek to empower fans as well as creators.
Topics of Interest Include:
Literary analysis/criticism of science fiction or fantasy works
including those of our Spikecon Guests of Honor
Historical events impacting science fiction and/or fantasy works
Let’s hear it for cleverness! Sometimes a few modest, well-thought-out ideas can add up to an artistic creation as impactful as — and even more appealing than — the weightiest projects. That’s the case with Chronin, Alison Wilgus’ new graphic novel. Like a miniaturist or scrimshaw engraver, Wilgus has a keen appreciation for the power of constraints. By setting careful limits on what her book will look like and what kind of story it will tell, she’s achieved an aesthetic balance that’s a thing of beauty in itself.
Chronin is lighthearted but not frivolous, simple but not simplistic. Since it’s set in 19th-century Japan, you could compare it to a netsuke: A tiny sculpture whose beauty lies in what it does with so little. Chronin’s narrative and visual themes are rather basic, but it explores them in a way that’s precise, insightful — and supremely clever.
Wilgus has experimented with artistic constraints before. A Stray in the Woods, published in 2013, originated as a Tumblr webcomic driven by suggestions from readers. And, of course, much of her work has been shaped by the will of her employers, including DC and the Cartoon Network. Plenty of creators try to blow the doors off with their first solo graphic novels, but Wilgus takes the opportunity to go small. Chronin’s story of a time-travel screw-up is familiar, even a bit of a chestnut. Protagonist Mirai Yoshida, a New York City college student in 2042, travels with some classmates back to 1864 Japan to conduct research. An accident leaves her trapped there, so she masquerades as a male — and as a member of the warrior class — for safety while she tries to figure out a way back.
I was skeptical about this award from the start, and I don’t think its history helps it. I’m really bothered by the way adding one short story to a very old series, for example, makes it again eligible (as with Earthsea, objectively by far the most worthy and influential eligible series, but does “Firelight”, beautiful as it absolutely is, really mean we should give it an award now?) Also, the endless parsing of “series” vs. “sub-series”. The way an award can be for, really, semi-random assemblages of related works. I could go on and on.
(15) TWEETING HISTORY. Myke Cole is running a giveaway, and has been retweeting some of the choicer quotes people are submitting. For example:
“The idea is to place enough backups in enough places around the solar system, on an ongoing basis, that our precious knowledge and biological heritage can never be lost,” the nonprofit’s co-founder Nova Spivack told [CNET] via email.
It should have been physically impossible. Millions of years ago, a white dwarf—the fading cinder of a sunlike star—was locked in a dizzying dance with a bright companion star. The two had circled each other for eons, connected by a bridge of gas that flowed from the companion onto the white dwarf allowing it to grow heavier and heavier until it could no longer support the extra weight. At this point, the white dwarf should have exploded—blowing itself to smithereens and producing a supernova that briefly shone brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way combined. Then once the supernova faded and the white dwarf’s innards were dispersed across the galaxy, there would quite literally be nothing left save for its companion star. But against all odds, the explosion did not fully rupture the white dwarf. Instead, it survived.
…Raddi’s team made these discoveries after combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which is particularly well suited for finding high-speed stars—an important characteristic of ones like LP 40-365 (because a supernova explosion has the power to slingshot stars across the galaxy). Two are destined to escape the Milky Way entirely, and one is orbiting “backward” against the usual rotation of stars in our galaxy. Additionally they all boast large radii, presumably because they were puffed up by the extra energy they received from the failed explosion. And yet they possess relatively small masses, likely due to the loss of much of their material during the explosion. But perhaps the most compelling evidence these stars are supernova survivors is that they brim with heavier elements. Whereas typical white dwarfs comprise carbon and oxygen, these stars are mostly composed of neon. “That’s absurd,” Hermes says. “That’s like some barroom beer sign just flying through the galaxy.” The stars’ second-most common element is oxygen, followed by a sprinkling of even heavier elements such as magnesium, sodium and aluminum. “This is about as weird as it gets,” Hermes says…
(18) IT’S A THEORY. Orville’s season 1 Rotten Tomatoes critics score was
23%. Season 2 is holding at 100%. Nerdrotic theorizes that the explanation is Disney’s purchase of
(19) BLADE RUNNER COMICS. Launching this summer, Titan Comics’ new Blade Runner 2019 series will be set
during the exact timeframe of the original Blade Runner film, and feature a (mostly) new set of
characters and situations.
Titan also confirmed that noted artist Andres
League Dark, Captain America)
will be joining acclaimed Blade
Runner 2049 screenwriter
Michael Green (Logan) and veteran collaborator Mike Johnson (Star Trek,
to breathe life into their all-new Blade Runner comic books.
In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose.
Today, we look at the less legendary LLs in Superman’s life.
Unless you hate me and all that I stand for, you know that Superman has an inordinate amount of notable people in his life whose names are double Ls.
Names (etc.) mentioned in the 2-page article include:
Just like it did during the Golden Globes, HBO has released another mega-trailer featuring new footage from all of its new and returning shows airing this year. Of course, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones was among the shows included in the tantalizing teaser.
[…] Game of Thrones Season 8 debuts on HBO Sunday, April 14. There’s no set premiere date for Watchmen just yet, but it will arrive sometime this year.
(22) FROM THE BEEB TO THE
BO. BBC released a trailer of His
Dark Materials, which will air on HBO in the U.S.
We’re keeping our daemons close. Here’s an early sneak peek of His Dark Materials. Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Clarke Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda star in this thrilling new series. Adaptation of Sir Philip Pullman’s acclaimed series of novels.
Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Your
Supreme Awesome Royal Majesty Highnessness JJ, John King
Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MCINTYRE HEALTH UPDATE.
Vonda McIntyre, one of sff’s most loved figures, is seriously ill. A Caringbridge page has been started: “Vonda N.’s
Vonda spent much of Seattle’s snow week at Swedish Hospital with jaundice and some vertigo, having many tests. The test results are in now, and the news is not good. The diagnosis is inoperable metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her doctor said it isn’t stupid to hope for a year, but it could be less. She’ll probably be getting treatment that may or may not slow things down, no way to know for sure.
(2) #COPYPASTECRIS. Nora
Roberts tells some things she’s learned about plagiarists and people scamming
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited author revenue system in “Not a Rant,
but a promise”.
The count of my books lifted from is now five. And the count of writers victimized has gone up.
I’m getting one hell of an education on the sick, greedy, opportunistic culture that games Amazon’s absurdly weak system. And everything I learn enrages me.
There are black hat teams, working together, who routinely hire ghosts on the cheap, have them throw books together, push them out–many and fast–to make money, to smother out competition from those self-pubbed writers who do their own work. Those who do their own work can’t possibly keep up with the volume these teams produce by these fraudulent tactics.
They tutor others how to scam the system….
(3) A WHIRLWIND OF FANAC. Joe Siclari of Fanac.org reports “We’ve been getting a lot done, and last weekend we had a
particularly productive Boskone.”
At Boskone, the FANAC scanning station scanned almost 2000 pages of material. Scanning by Mark Olson, Edie Stern and Joe Siclari. History-minded fans stopped by and provided material (thanks Geri Sullivan!), and promised more. We have promises of photos and fanzines, and have already received a historical recording from Fred Lerner, and new scanning hardware too.
The zines scanned at Boskone will be so marked in the index pages of the title, so you can see what we did. So far, we have put online about 850 pages of it. So far from the Boston scanning we’ve put up issues of George Locke’s Smoke, Richard Bergeron’s Warhoon, Charles Lee Riddle’s Peon, Don Miller’s WSFA Journal, the Coulsons’ Yandro and brown and Katz’s Focal Point.
Last fall, as Hurricane Michael was swirling toward the Florida panhandle, NOAA officials say it was carrying something in addition to rain and wind — the ashes of long-time hurricane researcher, Michael Black. Black was a research meteorologist who worked at the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory on Virginia Key, just across the bridge from downtown Miami.
He was a pioneer in the use of dropwindsondes — small measuring devices dropped from airplanes that record wind speed, air pressure, temperature and humidity.
In 1997, on a mission flying through Hurricane Guillermo in the Pacific, he had an audacious idea. Why not drop some dropwindsondes — sometimes called dropsondes — directly into the eyewall of a hurricane?
NOAA research meteorologist Stan Goldenberg, who worked with Michael Black for more than two decades, recalls that flight with Black 21 years ago: “I remember the excitement we felt at seeing these winds and knowing these ‘sondes’ could handle it.” Black’s idea suddenly provided hurricane researchers with an important new data tool.
(5) PARSEC AWARDS. Bruce Press will step down as chair of the Parsec Awards Committee if he can find somebody to take his place. The sff podcast awards organizers have been reeling since December, when four 2018 Parsec Awards winners declined because the committee sustained the decision to give an award an alleged harasser. Today Press sent this statement to his distribution list:
After a pretty grueling 2018 for the committee, we were taking a bit of a breather to get our collective heads together.
We very much want to get trophies out to winners who want them, but we are without funds having done absolutely no fundraising in 2018. Our lack of resources is due to lack of resources. So, that’s item 1.
Item 2 is our perennial problem of manpower and leadership. The committee is severely short-staffed. We hoped to grow by creating sub-committee’s like ceremony and fundraising. However, it turns out that takes leadership and we only had me.
Item 3 is me. While item 2 might have been enough reason alone, I have some really good personal reasons to step down as committee chair. The timing of this is not ideal, but life rarely operates on a convenient schedule. Like previous chairs, I am not immediately leaving the committee.
So, here’s what I’m asking. If you think you have what it takes to lead. If you have a plan and can execute it. Whether overall, ceremony or fundraising. Send us an email email@example.com.
TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 23, 1896 –Tootsie Roll introduced
February 23, 1935 — The Phantom Empire starred Gene Autry, it was an SF musical western.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 23, 1564 — Christopher Marlowe. Author of Doctor Faustus (or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Look, ISFDB lists him, so he must be genre. More to the point Elizabeth Bear made him a character in her Stratford Man series which is Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth novels which is highly recommended. If you’ve not read them, the Green Man review is here. (Died 1593.)
Born February 23, 1930 — Gerry Davis. Mid-Sixties Story Editor on Doctor Who where he created companion Jamie McCrimmon and co-created the Cybermen along with unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pedler. They would create the Doomwatch series in the Sixties on BBC. Davis briefly returned to writing for Doctor Who, penning the first script for Revenge of the Cybermen though his script was largely abandoned by editor Robert Holmes. In 1989 he and Terry Nation who created the Daleks made a failed bid to take over production of the series and reformat it for the American market. (Died 1991.)
Born February 23, 1932 — Majel Barrett. No doubt best remembered for being Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi as well as for being the voice of most ship computer interfaces throughout the Star Trek series. I’ll note that she was originally cast as Number One in the unused (TOS) Pilot but the male studio heads hated the idea of a female in that role. Early Puppies obviously. (Died 2008.)
Born February 23, 1965 — Jacob Weisman, 54. Founder, Tachyon Publications which you really should go look at as they’ve published every great author I’d care to read. Seriously Tidhar, Beagle and Yolen are among their newest releases! He also edited (with Beagle) The New Voices of Fantasy which I highly recommend as most excellent reading.
Born February 23, 1970 — Marie-Josée Croze, 49. Bibiane Champagne In Maelström which is genre if only because it’s narrated by a talking fish. In Canada movie theatres, she was in Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 as Mara. Yeah, that film with a long title. Doubt it improved it. It looks like her first genre acting was on The Hunger in two episodes, in “A Matter of Style” as Dominique and in “I’m Dangerous Tonight” as Mimi. Oh, and she had the lead as Pregnant Woman in Ascension which just looks weird.
Born February 23, 1994 — Dakota Fanning, 25. Genre roles include Sally Walden in The Cat in the Hat which is on my worst films of all time list, Katie In Hansel and Gretel, Rachel Ferrier In War of the Worlds which, errr, is on the same list, and as the voice of Fern Arable In Charlotte’s Web which is brilliant.
Born February 23, 2002 — Emilia Jones, 17. I’m reasonably sure this is the youngest Birthday I’ve done. At nine years of age, she’s made her acting debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as English Girl. She’s Young Beth in the horror film Ghostland. She shows up on Doctor Who as Merry Gejelh in the “The Rings of Akhaten”, an Eleventh Doctor story. She’s currently in Residue, an SF horror series you can find on Netflix.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range shows the monstrous side of photography.
(10) CRITICAL FAVORITES. On
the Strange at Ecbatan blog Rich
Horton is working through his Hugo recommendations.
Of these stories – none of which would disappoint me if they won the Hugo – my four favorites, in no particular order, are…
2. David Gerrold and Ctein, “Bubble and Squeak” – About a gay couple, hoping to get married, who have their plans interrupted by a tsunami heading to Los Angeles, and who have to find a way to get to higher ground – and, as it turns out, help a bunch of others as well. It’s simply terrifically exciting, involving a plausible mix of heroism, foolishness, brutality, luck, and intelligence, on their part and others, as they struggle to find a way to a safe place, and as various options are closed off over time.
4. Kelly Robson, “Intervention” (Infinity’s End) — A very intelligent story about child rearing in a heavily inhabited future Solar System. The narrator is from Luna, where creche work is socially frowned upon, so she leaves to work on an asteroid-based creche – and then later gets a chance to work on a bid to reform Luna’s failing creche system. This is just really interesting social speculation; and the characters are also very solidly portrayed, very honest.
5. Karen Russell, “Orange World” (The New Yorker, 6/4/18) – An older first time mother is driven to make a deal with a literal devil to save the life of her child, and only the intervention of her support group allows her to cope … Really well written, really convincing.
(12) DOLLARS AND SENSE. Alasdair
Full Lid for February 22 includes a wryly-named commentary on cancelled
cable sff shows – “Boulevard of Broken Streams.”
Netflix have done what Thanos couldn’t; wiped out an entire section of the Marvel universe. It was announced this week that The Punisher is done with season 2 and Jessica Jones with season 3. That will air later this year and be the swan song for a five (and a half) show mini-universe.
My feelings about this are, to mis-quote the best line in the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, complicated.
For a start there’s the Rat King of fan speculation and business practice to try and untie. We can all clap as loud as we want, the shows were never going to the Disney streaming platform because that platform has to aim for the widest possible audience. It’s also almost certainly what raised the renewal costs for the shows beyond practical. So, rationally, this all makes sense. It’s annoying, but it does make sense….
What if we told you that you could learn a lot about handling adversity from the life of a bug? In their explorations of humans and how we interact with the world around us, the team that makes NPR’s Invisibilia stumbled on a surprising fact about the insect world — one that could inspire a new way of looking at ourselves.
The epic destruction wrought by swarms of locusts is downright biblical. Exodus tells of a plague that left nothing green in all of Egypt, and we’ve seen these harbingers of destruction at work in modern day Australia, Argentina and Israel, just to name a few. But for centuries, one essential piece of information about these strange insects eluded scientists: Where do they come from?
These massive swarms just seemed to pop up out of nowhere, decimate everything and then vanish.
Microsoft workers are calling on the giant tech company to cancel its nearly $480 million U.S. Army contract, saying the deal has “crossed the line” into weapons development by Microsoft for the first time. They say the use of the company’s HoloLens augmented reality technology under the contract “is designed to help people kill.”
In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, the workers also say the company is failing to inform its engineers “on the intent of the software they are building.”
The November contract is for what’s called an Integrated Visual Augmentation System.
“The contract’s stated objective is to ‘rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries,’ ” the letter said.
• Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, gave a talk to a members-only event at the Yale Club in New York on Tuesday.
• During the 30-minute lecture, Bezos said his private aerospace company, Blue Origin, would launch its first people into space aboard a New Shepard rocket in 2019.
• Bezos also questioned the capabilities of a space tourism competitor, Virgin Galactic, and criticized the goal of Elon Musk and SpaceX to settle Mars with humans.
• Ultimately, Bezos said he wants Blue Origin to enable a space-faring civilization where “a Mark Zuckerberg of space” and “1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins” can flourish.
• Bezos advised the crowd to hold a powerful, personal long-term vision, but to devote “the vast majority of your energy and attention” on shorter-term activities and those ranging up to 2- or 3-year timeframes.
(16) THE WEST END ZONE. In the February 16 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Matt Trueman profiles Anne
Washburn, whose play based on The
Twilight Zone is opening March 4 at The Ambassador
Theatre in London.
“Her stage version of The Twilight Zone transfers into town next month. On the surface, it’s a straightforward celebration of Rod Serling’s cult TV series. Having watched all 156 episodes,she selected those stories that stuck in America’s psyche. ‘I was polling anyone I ran into: What Twilight Zone episode traumatized you as a small child? People would answer immediately. That’s where it lives in our culture.”
“In April, The Twilight Zone‘s getting a high profile reboot by Get Out director Jordan Peele, but Washburn’s incarnation celebrates its loveable, low-fi 1950s charm. Its schlockiness, essentially.’It’s morality,comedy, and horror at the same time,’ beams Washburn. ‘That’s very appealing.’ The show sends up its arched-eyebrowed asides and cheap cardboard cut-outs. ‘Where things are less adept, you can see right to its heart. That’s always moving.’
“Insightful, too, as Washburn unpeels The Twilight Zone‘s skin to show us a glimpse of America’s soul in its recurring images: alien invasions and nuclear oblivion. ‘The Twilight Zone is about America dreaming–or America’s nightmare.'”
Sony Pictures has released a new poster promoting the Japanese release of the upcoming Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it’s really awesome.
This exceptionally creative poster features a typographic image of Spider-Man’s mask composed almost entirely of bold, red Japanese text. The words and phrases used to create Spidey’s face mostly reference different aspects of the film, with the text repeating “summer vacation.” There are also numerous references to Nick Fury. Moreover, where Spider-Man’s mouth ought to be, there is a QR code that links to Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s Japanese trailer, which is the same as the international trailer.
(18) PUMP, BROTHERS. Food Network advises, “Throw Away Your Peanut Butter Knife!” This clearly
isn’t genre, but it is a “great” “scientific” advance. Or it is you can’t
resist both peanut butter and silly gadgets.
Who knew the world was clamoring for a better – or at least different – way to prepare a peanut butter sandwich?
One week after a Burbank, California, inventor/entrepreneur named Andrew Scherer launched an Indiegogo page to raise funds for his new Peanut Butter Pump, promising a way to eat “Peanut Butter Without the Knife,” the project has raised $46,955 (from more than 1,220 backers) and counting – more than twice its $20,000 goal.
[…] It’s basically a jar top – made to fit onto your standard 40-ounce grocery-store or name-brand peanut butter jar – with a pump top and a plunger inside that presses down the peanut butter, leaving the sides of the jar clean as it goes, and dispensing the peanut butter out the top and directly onto your bread or celery stick or wherever you’re aiming it.
Earlier this month, Colorado-based startup Valyant AI announced the launch of a voice-based AI customer service platform, which is now taking customer orders at the drive-thru at Denver’s Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard.
“We’re excited to deliver a customer service experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” Valyant AI CEO Rob Carpenter said in a press release.
Chip Hitchcock, Emperox JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, James
Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Tom Becker.]