(1) FOR ALL MANKIND. There’s a lot of information available about Season 2 of Apple TV+’s alternate history of the space race For All Mankind – only I didn’t locate a release date.
Take a guided tour of For All Mankind’s first lunar base. Former Astronaut and technical advisor Garrett Reisman helps show us around Jamestown.
Collider interviewed series creator Ronald D. Moore.
One of my favorite shows on any streaming service is the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind. Created by Ronald D. Moore (who previously developed the Battlestar Galactica reboot), the series takes place in an alternate history where the global space race of the 1960’s never ended. In this alt timeline, the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first and we follow NASA as they try and catch up while also dealing with the changing times. Loaded with fantastic performances, incredible production design, and an honest depiction of the space race, I strongly recommend watching the first season when you get the chance.
(2) BETTING ON RESNICK. Alex Shvartsman did a cover reveal for Mike Resnick’s The Hex Is In: The Fast Life and Fantastic Times of Harry the Book. Cover art by Túlio Brito. See it at the link.
From boxing matches to dragon races to elections, there’s no wager Harry won’t cover—so long as the odds are right.
Harry the Book operates out of a Manhattan bar booth, with his personal wizard and his zombie bodyguard close at hand. He’ll dope out the odds on any sort of contest, even if that gets him into a heap of trouble.
The book will be out in August, but you can order eARCs immediately at the link.
(3) ROTHFUSS TEAMS WITH ONE SHOT PODCAST. Patrick Rothfuss will partner with One Shot Podcast, releasing new episodes every Monday through July 27, for an actual play miniseries set in The Kingkiller Chronicles’ world of Temerant.
One Shot is a weekly actual play podcast that explores different role playing systems with self contained One Shot stories. A rotating cast of improvisers, game designers, and other notable nerds show off the variety and diversity in RPGs run a new game every month.
The multi-performer audio production will feature original music by Arne Parrott and sound design by Casey Toney (NeoScum, Campaign Skyjacks, Hey Riddle Riddle.) Performers include Patrick Rothfuss himself alongside Satine Phoenix (Gilding Light, GMTips) Liz Anderson (Campaign: Skyjacks, Jackbox Games, Contributor at The Onion), Bee Zelda (The Broadswords), and Gamemaster James D’Amato (One Shot, Campaign: Skyjacks).
While new to his readers, this is not the first time Rothfuss has roleplayed Temerant. In the years before the publication of The Name of the Wind, he fleshed out the world and tested ideas in private games he would run for friends and family.
“Long before I ever tried to write a novel, I made characters and built worlds for roleplaying games,” says Rothfuss. “Telling stories like this will give me a chance to show off corners of my world that don’t appear in my novels, and it’s playful and collaborative in a way that I really miss. Most importantly, these are stories that will let people spend time in my world sooner rather than later, while they’re waiting for the next book to come out.”
Rothfuss and D’Amato set their first Temerant story at The University, following students who find themselves at loose ends at the end of the term: juggling financial responsibilities, personal relationships, and their hopes for the future.
“It’s a college road trip movie,” said D’Amato. “For our first adventure, I wanted to look to the left of Kvothe’s rougeish heroics to see what else we can learn about Temerant.”
“I had such fun,” said Rothfuss. “It’s the first time I’ve ever PLAYED a game in my world instead of running it. I got to share details about the culture and magic I’ve never talked about before. I loved making characters and seeing where our shared story took us. I’ll admit, it wasn’t at all what I anticipated….”
… Camestros Felapton blog, as part of a more general examination about who wins and/or is a finalist for Hugo Awards, and when they win them (and when they stop winning them, if they do indeed ever start winning them). The proprietor of the blog essentially argues that for every writer there is a Hugo window, during which they and their work are both popular enough and new enough to draw attention. But sooner or later that window closes.
I come up because I’m used as an example:
“I am not saying John Scalzi will never win another Hugo Award but I don’t expect him to even though I think he’ll be writing good, entertaining sci-fi for many years. This is not because he’s not sufficiently left-wing for current Hugo voters but because we’ve read lots of John Scalzi now and sort of know what to expect.”
It’s not about me, it’s about my Hugo window.
And do I think this is correct? Sort of, yes! And also sort of not….
And Scalzi goes on to develop the thinking behind his answer.
(5) DO YOU KNOW THE WAY. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five SFF Stories That Prove You Can Never Go Home Again” at Tor.com.
To quote Princess Leia, sometimes you cannot go home again. Why this might be varies from story to story… Perhaps home is unrecognizable, or has vanished entirely. Perhaps you yourself have been changed and can no longer fit in as you did in the past. Whatever the reason behind this particular experience of alienation, it is fodder for engaging stories. You might enjoy these five examples.
(6) DEATHSTAR WARMED OVER. You have until June 25 to bid on “”Star Wars” 20” x 16” Photo Signed by 23 of the Cast — Many With Personal Notes Such as Carrie Fisher Writing ”I know…Did you?” — With Becket COA for All Signatures” at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Visually powerful 20” x 16” photo of the second Death Star from ”Star Wars”, signed by 23 of the cast, many of whom write their character name or a playful note such as Carrie Fisher’s, ”I know…Did you?” All autographs are penned in silver felt-tip, showing excellent contrast against the black and silver photo. With Beckett COA for all signatures, including: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch, Dave Prowse, Gary Kurtz, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Paul Blake and Billy Dee Williams. Photo is framed with a ”Star Wars” plaque to a size of 27.625” x 26.75”. Near fine condition.
(7) SCHUMACHER OBIT. Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher died June 22.Variety paid tribute: “Joel Schumacher, Director of Batman Films and ‘Lost Boys,’ Dies at 80”.
Joel Schumacher, costume designer-turned-director of films including “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Lost Boys” and “Falling Down,” as well as two “Batman” films, died in New York City on Monday morning after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80.
… Schumacher’s second and last film in the franchise was 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” with George Clooney as Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as villain Mr. Freeze. For “Batman Forever,” the openly gay Schumacher introduced nipples to the costumes worn by Batman and Robin, leaning into the longstanding latent homoeroticism between the two characters. (In 2006, Clooney told Barbara Walters that he had played Batman as gay.)
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- June 22, 1979 — Alien premiered. It would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon Two (which had Robert Silverberg as Toast Master). Released by 20th Century Fox, it was directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay was by Dan O’Bannon based on the story by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. It starred Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The Alien and its accompanying objects were designed by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the more mundane settings. Jerry Goldsmith was the composer. Critics loved the film, it did a great box office and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a stellar 94% rating. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 22, 1856 – Sir Henry Rider Haggard. Most famous for King Solomon’s Mines introducing Allan Quatermain, and She introducing Ayesha (yes, that’s She Who Must Be Obeyed); fifty more novels, some about him, her, or both; twenty shorter stories; translated into Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish. Had 100 letters in The Times. (Died 1925) [JH]
- Born June 22, 1900 – Leo Margulies. Sometimes called the Giant of the Pulps, partly because he was physically short, partly because (it is said) he at one time edited 46 of them, including Captain Future, Startling, Strange, Thrilling Wonder; later Fantastic Universe and Satellite. With Oscar Friend, co-edited My Best SF Story, From Off This World, The Giant Anthology of SF. First reviver of Weird Tales, 1973. By his nephew, Leo Margulies (P. Sherman, 2017). (Died 1975) [JH]
- Born June 22, 1927 – Lima de Freitas. Ceramicist, illustrator, painter, writer. Officer of the Order of Merit (France); Order of St. James of the Sword (Portugal). A hundred eighty covers for us; here is Fahrenheit 451; here is The War Against the Rull; here is Foundation and Empire. (Died 1998) [JH]
- Born June 22, 1936 — Kris Kristofferson, 84. He first shows up in a genre film, The Last Horror Film, as himself. As an actor, his first role is as Bill Smith in Millennium, which is followed by Gabriel in Knights, a sequel to Cyborg. (A lack of name creativity there.) Now comes his role as Abraham Whistler in Blade and Blade II, a meaty undertaking indeed! Lastly, he voiced Karubi in Planet of the Apes. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1947 – Octavia Butler. Fourteen novels, nine shorter stories, two Hugos. Translated into Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish. Guest of Honor at WisCon 4, OryCon V, LTUE 7 (Life, the Universe, and Everything), Eastercon 48, Lunacon 41, Balticon 34, Rustycon 21; Parable of the Sower was Book of Honor at Potlatch 17. U.S. Air Force Academy Special Achievement Award. MacArthur Fellowship (first SF author to receive this). Solstice Award. (Died 2006) [JH]
- Born June 22, 1949 – John-Henri Holmberg. Critic, editor, fan, translator. Co-edited Science Fiction Forum. Started first SF bookstore in Sweden. Co-chaired Stockon 5 & 6. Reporter for Science Fiction Chronicle. Published Fandom Harvest. European SF Award for Nova magazine. Fan Activity Achievement (FAAn) Award for “Worldcon Kaleidoscope” (Trap Door 34). Big Heart Award. Guest of Honor at Swecon 14 (33rd Eurocon), at 75th Worldcon (Helsinki, 2017). [JH]
- Born June 22, 1949 — Meryl Streep, 71. She’d make the Birthday list just for being Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her and her epic battle there with Goldie Hawn. She’s the voice of Blue Ameche in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and a very real Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. She’s the voice of Felicity Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox, based off the on Dahl’s 1970 children’s novel. She voices Jennie in a short that bring Maurice Sendak’s dog to life, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. She’s The Witch in Into The Woods. I think that’s it. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1953 — Cyndi Lauper, 67. Ok, I’m officially old as I’m thinking of her as always young. Genre wise, she played a psychic, Avalon Harmonia, on the Bones series. She also has one-offs in series as diverse as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Shelley Duvall’s Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. Oddly enough she has one serious acting credit, Jenny (Ginny Jenny/Low-Dive Jenny) in Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1958 — Bruce Campbell, 62. Where to start? Well, let’s note that Kage loved the old rascal as she described him, so I’ve linked to her review of Jack of All Trades. I personally liked just as much The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and think it’s well worth checking out. I think his work as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead franchise can be both brilliant and godawful, often in the same film. Or the same scene. The series spawned off of it is rather good. Oh, and for popcorn reading, check out If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, his autobiography. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1971 — Laila Rouass, 49. She was Sarah Page, an Egyptologist on Primeval, a series I highly recommend if you’ve not seen it. She played Colonel Tia Karim, a traitorous UNIT officer in the two part “Death of The Doctor” on The Sarah Jane Adventures. This story was the last to feature Sarah Jane Smith and the Doctor, The Eleventh here, together onscreen. Jo Grant would also show up. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1973 — Ian Tregillis, 47. He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych trilogy which is frelling brilliant. He’s contributed three stories to Max Gladstone’s The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a rather good serial fiction anthology (if that’s the proper term) and he’s got another series, The Alchemy Wars, I need to check out. (CE)
- Born June 22, 1958 – Johanna Sinisalo. Eight novels; forty shorter stories, two dozen for us; three anthologies, notably The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (i.e. in English); also comics, television; translated into English, French, German. Tiptree Award (as it then was). Seven Atorox Awards. Finlandia Prize. Guest of Honor at Worldcon 75. [JH]
- Born June 22, 1984 – Robert Bennett. Nine novels, four shorter stories; translated into Bulgarian, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Turkish. Interview in Clarkesworld 64. Two Shirley Jackson awards. His Website is here. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) DIFFICULT QUIZ OF THE DAY. A Buzzfeed contributor throws down a challenge: “I Will Be Seriously Impressed If You Can Figure Out Whether These Are “Star Trek” Compounds Or Skincare Ingredients”. I scored 9 out of 20. Which earned me the Picard facepalm. Do better.
(12) MODDING UP. “My Kid Could Do That” by Elvia Wilk on the N Plus One magazine blog is a sf short story about augmented reality.
Today 60 percent of the American population, according to recent reports, possesses a database implant that allows a range of augments to be downloaded directly into the brain. The artificial intelligence can allow a person, for example, with no chiseling experience the ability to create a lifelike wooden sculpture. While there are no reliable statistics within the art world, a recent anonymous survey of working artists in New York City under 40 reported an above-average augmentation rate compared with the general population.
(13) JEMISIN ONLINE. N. K. Jemisin discussed her latest novel, The City We Became, with sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell during a live virtual event held by the New York Public Library earlier this month. The video is now available.
(14) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. “Review: The City We Became by N K Jemisin” at Camestros Felapton.
…If you are immediately thinking of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, then that’s not unreasonable but whereas Gaiman’s London is narrow, weird, convoluted and Victorian, Jemisin’s New York is loud, colourful and in your face. Whereas Neverwhere is a rabbit warren of a mystery, The City We Became owes more to superheroes, a genre that is as New York as they come. I can’t claim Jemisin has grasped that same sense of place as Gaiman did with London because I don’t know New York except through it’s own fictional depictions but it feels like it does.
The superhero comparison is not a shallow one. This is very much a story about a group of New Yorkers who each gain unique powers and who must find a way to fight a supernatural evil…
(15) FOR THE RECORD. [Item by Rob Thornton.] As the wheel turns and progressive rock begins to make a comeback once more, evidently the extravagant extra-long science fiction concept album must also return, as seen in this Bandcamp Daily review: “Neptunian Maximalism, ‘Éons’”
At 123 minutes and—in its physical form—three CDs long, Éons, the new album from Belgium’s Neptunian Maximalism, is unquestionably a massive work. Even so, the size and scale of the project—formed in 2018 by multi-instrumentalist Guillaume Cazalet and saxophonist Jean-Jacques Duerinckx—never feels unnecessary or extravagant as this aptly named collective uses the healthy runtime to explore heavy psych, tribal rhythms, free-jazz freakouts, meditative drone and the vast, shadowy spaces in between. Arriving in the wake of a four-song EP and a largely improvised live album that hinted at Neptunian Maximalism’s ambition, Éons fully delivers on those early promises. The sonic epic not only gives the band plenty of room to roam, but also follows a conceptual framework that imagines the end of Earth’s human-dominated anthropocene era and the onset of a ‘probocene’ era, in which the planet is ruled by superior, intelligent elephants.
(16) THE MIDDLE. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Well it’s not The Monolith from that film… Atlas Obscura visits “The Center of Santa Clara Valley”.
ALONG COYOTE CREEK ON A far-flung San Jose, California trail, a mysterious plaque sits next to a bike path. At first glance, it appears to be entirely covered in ones and zeroes. But from a different angle, the words “Santa Clara Valley” are faintly visible, etched beneath the numbers.
The reason for the plaque’s strange location is that it marks the geographical center of the Santa Clara Valley, which may be more familiar by its other moniker: Silicon Valley. The numbers, as it happens, spell out three words in binary.
(17) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. “Stonehenge: Neolithic monument found near sacred site” reports BBC.
A ring of large shafts discovered near Stonehenge form the largest prehistoric monument ever discovered in Britain, archaeologists believe.
Tests carried out on the pits suggest they were excavated by Neolithic people more than 4,500 years ago.
Experts believe the 20 or more shafts may have served as a boundary to a sacred area connected to the henge.
“The size of the shafts and circuit is without precedent in the UK,” said Prof Vince Gaffney, a lead researcher.
The 1.2 mile-wide (2km) circle of large shafts measuring more than 10m (30ft) in diameter and 5m (15ft) in depth are significantly larger than any comparable prehistoric monument in Britain.
(18) INCLUSIVE. “Is this the most accessible game ever?”
The first time Steve Saylor fired up the hotly-anticipated new game The Last of Us Part II, he burst into tears.
“Y’all don’t even know how much…” he says between sobs in his video of the moment, which has now had nearly half a million views.
“I’m sorry. I don’t even know what to say.”
Steve is legally blind, and was looking at the overwhelming accessibility options menu.
Courtney Craven, editor of accessibility-focused gaming site Can I Play That, is hard of hearing and has some motor-control issues, and had a similar reaction.
“The first thing I did upon launching [the game] for the first time was FaceTime a friend and cry,” she says.
The game has already been dubbed “the most accessible game ever”.
It has more than 60 different accessibility settings, allowing an unprecedented level of customisation and fine-tuning.
Every button can be changed, and one-handed control schemes are available by default.
Players like Courtney can turn on direction arrows on subtitles to indicate where the sound is coming from; players like Steve can outline characters and enemies in vivid colours.
(19) ROLL ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. NPR declares “The Latest Pandemic Shortage: Coins Are The New Toilet Paper”.
Just as supplies of toilet paper are finally getting back to normal, the coronavirus has triggered another shortage of something we typically take for granted: pocket change.
Banks around the U.S. are running low on nickels, dimes, quarters and even pennies. And the Federal Reserve, which supplies banks, has been forced to ration scarce supplies.
“It was just a surprise,” said Gay Dempsey, who runs the Bank of Lincoln County in Tennessee, when she learned of the rationing order. “Nobody was expecting it.”
Dempsey’s bank typically dispenses 400 to 500 rolls of pennies each week. Under the rationing order, her allotment was cut down to just 100 rolls, with similar cutbacks in nickels, dimes and quarters.
That spells trouble for Dempsey’s business customers, who need the coins to stock cash registers all around Lincoln County, Tenn.
“You think about all your grocery stores and convenience stores and a lot of people that still operate with cash,” Dempsey said. “They have to have that just to make change.”
…The U.S. Mint produced fewer coins than usual this spring in an effort to protect employees from infection. But the larger problem — as with many other pandemic shortages — is distribution.
During the lockdown, many automatic coin-sorting machines that people typically use to cash in loose change were off-limits. And with many businesses closed, unused coins piled up in darkened cash drawers, in pants pockets and on nightstands, even as banks went begging.
“The flow of coins through the economy … kind of stopped,” Powell said.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Neil Gaiman on ‘Game of Thrones,’ Favorite Words, and Tattoos” on YouTube is a 2015 interview with WNYC where Gaiman explains that, given a choice between living in Game of Thrones or Lord of The RIngs, he’d choose a world with better plumbing.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]