(1) OMENANA. The new issue of Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine is available to read online. The tri-monthly magazine takes submissions from speculative fiction writers from across Africa and the African Diaspora.
Omenana is the Igbo word for divinity – it also loosely translates as “culture” – and embodies our attempt to recover our wildest stories. We are looking for well-written speculative fiction that bridges the gap between past, present and future through imagination and shakes us out of the corner we have pushed ourselves into.
(2) WINNIPEG WORLDCON BID. The Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon bid will hold a “Question Time” Zoom session on Sunday, July 25, at 1:00pm CDT. The session will also be streamed live on their YouTube channel.
We will start off with standard questions and then take submitted questions. Questions may be submitted via our social media accounts , Discord server and our “Contact Form“. During the session, questions may be submitted through Zoom and YouTube chat. As with all “Question Time”, moderation will be applied.
(3) SUMMIT MEETING. There’s a photo on the Chicago Worldcon Facebook page showing that Chicon 8 Chair, Helen Montgomery, and DisCon III Chair, Mary Robinette Kowal, “met up in DC yesterday for convention strategizing. They have Plans with a capital P for their attendees!”
Sources say that Outlier Society has hired a writer who is currently working on the script, though we were unable to ascertain their identity. Though it was initially unclear whether the Val-Zod project would be a movie or a limited series, sources have since reached out to clarify that as of right now, it is, in fact, being written as a limited series that Jordan will produce and possibly even star in, though he has yet to officially commit on the latter front.
As previously reported, J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot are set to produce a Black Superman movie for Warner Bros. that is expected to follow the Kal-El/Clark Kent version of the character. Though Clark Kent is traditionally depicted as white in the DC comics, the character will be played by a Black actor in the Bad Robot movie, which will likely be directed by a Black filmmaker, as Abrams is simply expected to produce. Author and cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates is already hard at work on the script for that project.
While Jordan did work with Warner Bros. on developing a Black Superman movie at one point, he recently shot down rumors that he would star in Abrams’ new film, saying “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation. It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”
The question is, why?
A recent editorial penned by Jamie Broadnax for Black Girl Nerds provides some context and prompted Collider to do some digging, as Broadnax’s sources told her that “Jordan has not wanted to engage in conversations about racebending Kal-El for the same reasons many of the fans are pushing back on the current Warner Bros. re-imagined version of Clark Kent, but that he would be interested in engaging on a Black Superman project centering on the Val-Zod storyline.”
(5) CANADIAN SFF HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. Stan Hyde, the late Monica Hughes, and Jean-Louis Trudel are the 2021 inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame reports Robert J. Sawyer. He and Carolyn Clink, along with fellow jurors Clint Budd, Marcie Tentchoff, and Chris Sturges, made the selections. Here are excerpts from the citations (full text at the link).
Stan Hyde is an exemplar of passionate, lifelong devotion to SF&F fandom and fan activity, specifically in the areas of club organization, writing, film media, and model kit making, painting, and collecting.
Stan is also noted for the numerous articles he has written for G-Fest, a magazine devoted to the topic of Godzilla, about whom Stan is a world-renowned expert and recognized as such by Toho Studios where he is always welcome. (He visits once every two years on average.)
Monica Hughes (1925-2003), an Officer of the Order of Canada, wrote about 40 books including more than 20 that ISFDB covers as speculative fiction novels. Although she spent a large part of her life writing, she was almost fifty when her first book was published (Gold-Fever Trail: A Klondike Adventure, a Canadian historical novel.) …Invitation to the Game (Toronto: HarperCollins, 1990) won the Hal Clement Award as the year’s best science fiction novel for young adults.
Jean-Louis Trudel holds degrees in physics, astronomy, and the history and philosophy of science. Since 1994, he has authored (alone or in collaboration with Yves Meynard as Laurent McAllister) three science fiction novels published in France, four fiction collections, and twenty-six young adult books published in Canada…. He has received several literary distinctions, including the “Grand Prix de la Science-Fiction et du Fantastique québécois” in 2001 and several Prix Aurora Awards.
Can anyone explain how there’s a hole in the Earth — the kind that supernaturally swallows up hapless Los Angeles residents and spits them out in the frightening primeval past? That’s just the first mystery launching with NBC’sLa Brea, the highly awaited sci-fi series that’s set to make its TV debut this fall….
On the other side of the time warp are Gavin’s wife and son, all while a “disparate group of strangers” work alongside the family’s stranded half to “uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home,” according to NBC’s earlier series description. Are all these stuck strangers merely the random victims of fate, or might they be connected by something deeper?
Bob Gale is asking fans not to be too hard on Netflix for a censored version of Back to the Future: Part II, which was streaming for a short while.
Fans of the series were irate when they discovered a tiny portion of the 1989 sequel was changed, poorly. It has since been replaced with the standard version. The alteration happened when Marty (Michael J. Fox) finds the Oh La La magazine within the sports almanac dustcover. The moment was cut short, with the cover of the magazine edited out.
Gale, the screenwriter of the beloved trilogy, explained what happened and why it was not Netflix’s fault.
(10) PATRICIA KENNEALY-MORRISON (1946-2021). Author Patricia Kennealy-Morrison died a few days ago reported Liz Williams on Facebook. She wrote eight books and a collection of short stories in her genre series The Keltiad. She also wrote the Rennie Stride mystery series. She was a widely-read rock journalist, and widow of the late Jim Morrison of The Doors.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2003 – Eighteen years ago at Torcon 3, Neil Gaiman wins a Hugo Novella for Coraline. (Other nominated works were “Bronte’s Egg” by Richard Chwedyk, “Breathmoss” by Ian R. MacLeod, “A Year in the Linear City” by Paul Di Filippo, “The Political Officer” by Charles Coleman Finlay and “In Spirit” by Pat Forde.) It also won a Nebula, a Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction, along with a Stoker for Superior Achievement in a Work for Young Readers. It would become an animated film written and directed by Henry Selick, and both musicals and operas were based off it.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 24, 1878 — Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the review here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I’m going to link to another review on Green Man as it’s a audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
Born July 24, 1916 — John D. MacDonald. Though better known for the Travis McGee series which I really like, he wrote three genre novels of which I think the best by far is The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. He also wrote some sixty genre short stories, many of them collected in End of The Tiger which is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1986.)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 85. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
Born July 24, 1951 — Robert Hood, 70. Australian horror writer who won a William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review for “Weight of Water: Vengeance from Beyond the Grave?” and another Atheling for “Divided Kingdom: King Kong Versus Godzilla”. The latter is included in David Brin and Leah Wilson’s King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape. He won a Ditmar for his Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales collection, and an Australian Shadows Award for his Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories.
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 70. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. She has a mid credit appearance in Wonder Woman 1984 as Asteria.
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 57. Comics artist and writer. The work she’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, the “Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly.
Born July 24, 1971 — Patty Jenkins, 50. Director of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984, she appears in Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics as herself in ‘The Truth About Wonder Woman’ episode. She’s the director and producer of the forthcoming Star Wars film, Rogue Squadron. She’ll also be directing Gal Gadot in Cleopatra.
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 40. An impressive run in genre roles as she’s was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas, and Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. Her latest role is Miss Jones (The Water Wu) on The Wu Assassins series.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump introduces a familiar character whose phone asks a well-known question.
Science Fiction was extraordinarily popular in the 1940s and 1950s — and so were books about U.F.O.s. Coverage of mysterious objects in the night sky was plentiful in The Times, too. On July 6, 1947, the front page featured an article headlined “Flying Saucers Mystify Experts; May Be Prank of Nature.” Two days later, a follow-up appeared, also on the front page, with a more provocative headline: “‘Disks’ Soar Over New York, Now Seen Aloft in All Colors.” It should perhaps come as no surprise that those years saw the Book Review filled with ads looking to sate this interest in the extraterrestrial and dystopian.
(16) LOOKS FAMILIAR. [Item by David Doering.] Surely this design is no accident! Whoever designed this high school in PA deserves a medal. (Or at least a Hugo.) I wonder if the school mascot is the Falcon??
(17) NOLAN APPRECIATION. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, in “Logan’s Run Writer Passes Away”, remembers the help William F. Nolan gave him when Zicree was researching his Twilight Zone book.
…And he was an astonishing man. He was basically — the great thing about Bill Nolan was not only was he very articulate and very enthusiastic but he had kept notes on everything and recordings on everything and so he knew an enormous amount about Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury and all of these characters who were central to what i was working on but also central to science fiction…
(18) TALK TO THE DOCTOR. Louis Moorhouse, a blind fan who’s been raising money for Living Paintings, to make a set of Touch to See books about Doctor Who, interviews Tom Baker in this YouTube video.
Blind Doctor Who super fan meets one of his heroes, Tom Baker, thanks to inspirational fundraising campaign. Louis,19, from Bradford, has been blind since he was 18 months old. A few weeks ago, Louis launched a fundraising campaign on Crowd Funder in an attempt to raise £15,000 to make it possible for a charity, Living Paintings, to make a set of Touch to See books which will bring him and other blind and partially sighted people closer to the incredible world of Doctor Who. Having blasted through his first fundraising target Louis is now looking to raise an incredible total £25,000 to support the charity that has helped him since he was two years old. Louis says of his motivation to carry on with the campaign:“Living Paintings has had such a hugely positive impact on my life, from the first time I received a book and found out what Thomas the Tank Engine looks like (until then I had no idea what a train with a face could possibly mean), to helping me learn to read and express myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today without this wonderful charity and I hope people continue to support me on this journey so I can help other children facing the struggles I overcame with their help.” Louis and Living Paintings have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the Doctor Who community and this week he met one of his favourite ever Doctors on Zoom, the wonderful Tom Baker.
(19) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. This is a NASA video that dropped on July 14 about June flybys of Jupiter and Ganymede.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jannie Shea, David K.M. Klaus, David Doering, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
(1) BEYOND “MY BAD”. In this video Cat Rambo offers pro tips about “How to Screw Up”. Which maybe you thought you already knew how to do, right? That’s probably true. Cat’s advice is really about what to do afterwards.
(3) WOMEN’S PRIZE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an important UK literary award, has been announced. Piranesi by Susannah Clarke is one of the finalists. Another finalist is at least borderline SF and yet another is a crime novel: “Women’s prize for fiction shortlist entirely first-time nominees” in the Guardian. The winner will be announced July 7, and receive £30,000.
(4) DOCTOR WHO BLOG TOUR. Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: Vol. 1: Alternating Current blog tour will be visiting File 770 on May 24 to share an art preview.
(5) NO STARTING GATE. In “The Art of Worldbuilding In Media Res” on CrimeReads, Nicole Kornher-Stace recommends novels by Lauren Beukes, Hannu Rajanemi, and Stephen Graham Jones for readers who want to start their novels with an action scene without a lot of backstory about how the world you are creating operates.
…Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians starts practically in the middle of a parking-lot bar brawl, full of asides about events and characters that will make no sense to you until you get further in, but you’re being reeled into the story one sucker-punch of a sentence at a time. You don’t care that you don’t understand yet. You don’t need to. You’re immersed, and you realize distantly that you have no idea who or what is being referenced in some of these asides, but by that point you’re in it up to the eyeballs, and the only way out is through….
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
I don’t remember my dino chronology to know off-hand whether this is era-ologically inaccurate (were they all contemporaneous and in the Jurassic), but do we care?
I have several High Seas shirts already, they’re well made and worth the price.
I’d sent this to Robert J. Sawyer, since he’s a dinophile (or at least knowledgeable about ’em), for interest, along with my comment that I didn’t know enough to be sure whether the shirt was, chronologically, inaccurate/misleading. Here’s his reply, which he OK’d to use:
Robert J. Sawyer: “Very cool! They aren’t all contemporaneous, sadly. Triceratops (lower left) is the very end of the Cretaceous, for instance. But it’s a great-looking shirt!”
(8) NEW ATTITUDE. Here’s an art piece of Guilala, the kaiju in 1967’s The X From Outer Space — as a muppet. The artist is Melanie Scott/
Whatever’s happening underground at Hawkins, it definitely looks sinister… but then again, didn’t it always? Netflix is seemingly hinting that new evils are brewing for Stranger Things 4, and they’re unfolding mostly out of sight, inside the secret government lab that formerly served as Eleven’s supernaturally cold childhood home.
From his time drawing the iconic Milestone Media hero Static Shock while a junior at New York’s School of Visual Arts to his work on the genre-defining EarthX for Marvel in the late 1990s to his recent DC work with writer Kurt Busiek on Batman: Creature of the Night and the upcoming Batman/CatwomanSpecial, Leon brought his unmistakable take to everything that he touched.
DC executives and talent alike shared their thoughts across social media at the news of his passing. DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee offered high praise for Leon, saying, “One of the greatest artists of our generation, he was also one of the nicest and most talented creators one could be lucky enough to have met.”…
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 –Fifty years ago, Mary Stewart won the first Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Crystal Cave. The other nominated works were The Marvellous Misadventures of Sebastian by Lloyd Alexander, Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz and Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. She would later win another Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Hollow Hills novel. These would be her only genre awards.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success but he also did for the Federal Theatre Project the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born May 6, 1923 – Gordon Davies. Ninety covers for us; some other work e.g. the Eagle Annual. Here is the Nov 52 Authentic. Here is Earthlight. Here is Space Cadet. Here is C. Brown ed., Alien Worlds. Here is M. Ashley ed., The History of the SF Magazine pt. 4. (Died 1994) [JH]
Born May 6, 1927 – Gerard Quinn. Fourscore covers, two hundred eighty interiors. Here is Gateway to Tomorrow. Here is Jack of Eagles. Here is a drawing that appears to have been auctioned at Loncon I the 15th Worldcon. Here is the Nov 61 New Worlds. Here is the Apr/May 82 Extro. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 75. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. She’s exceptionally well stocked at the usual suspects. (CE)
Born May 6, 1950 – Craig Strete, age 71. Six novels, threescore shorter stories for us; eight other novels. Did this cover for Red Planet Earth 2 while editor. First place in the 1984 Dramatists Guild – CBS New Plays Program. Sometimes uses the name Sovereign Falconer; he is Cherokee. [JH]
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “ Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes he’s one of many Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born May 6, 1955 – Barbara McClintock, age 66. Half a dozen covers for us. Here is The Red-Eared Ghosts. Here is a Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (who, I respectfully suggest, deserves study, even with our modern reservations, however late we have been with them, in hand). Various books and prizes; five NY Times Best Books, two Time Best Books. Sets and costumes for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Twelve Dancing Princesses. Illustrated for Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock. Website. [JH]
Born May 6, 1962 – Kamil Vojnar, age 59. Threescore covers. Here is Killing Time. Here is Flying in Place. Here is Others of My Kind. [JH]
Born May 6, 1969 — Annalee Newitz, 52. They are the winner of a Hugo Award for Best Fancast At Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. (CE)
Born May 6, 1983 – Ingrid Jonach, age 38. One novel for us; three others. “Once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.” [JH]
While Dilbert has (theoretically) found a cure to racism.
Danish cartoonist Wulffmorgenthaler’sMay 3 has Sauron visiting a construction side. Translation to English: “Hm… Well, I know art deco is beautiful, but we were thinking more like gothic and black for my tower…” Lise Andreasen says, “I love the orc driving The Eye around.)”
Channeling Loki himself, Disney+ decided to pivot without warning by moving the debut of the character’s Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show up two days to Wednesday, June 9. In fact, all episodes of Loki will now premiere on Wednesdays, instead of the usual Friday window that was reserved for WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Tom Hiddleston confirmed the news during a special video announcement that begins with an epic display of famous Marvel props: Iron Man’s helmet, Cap’s shield, and, of course, Thor’s hammer.
“Look, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Hiddleston says, abruptly cutting off the noble montage. “It’s just I’ve noticed that in these long superhero montages, Loki tends to get a bit left out, even though, arguably, he’s incredibly heroic himself [as well as] cunning and charming. I could go on, but maybe … why don’t I just prove it to you? Wednesdays are the new Fridays.”
Take a look at our ultimate trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022), the trailer features footage from ‘The Batman Official Trailer’ as well as from previous Batman films and contains scenes that resonates with the actual plot for ‘The Batman’
(16) COMICS/GAME CROSSOVER. Here’s a clip promoting Batman’s entry into Fortnite.
Featured in the new Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point comics, Grab the Batman Zero Outfit in the Fortnite Shop now!
(17) A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY. Mike Dunford, a lawyer who does law streams on Twitch called The Questionable Authority, did a lawstream about the time Star Wars tried to sue the original Battlestar Galactica series for copyright infringement. The discussion of the lawsuit itself is here if people are interested. The stfnal part starts 50 minutes in. He created a cool intro to his talk:
Inspired by the displays of science fiction like the holodeck from Star Trek and the Princess Leia projector from Star Wars, a BYU electrical and computer engineering team is working to develop screenless volumetric display technologies. Led by Dan Smalley, BYU professor of electical engineering, the team uses laser beams to trap and illuminate a particle and then to move the particle and draw an image in mid-air. “Like a 3D printer for light,” these displays appear as physical objects to the viewer and, unlike a screen-based image, can be seen from any angle. In this demonstration of the technology, the team shows how they’ve created tiny animations of battle explosions and other images created completely with laser light. Smalley also provides an update on new research that shows how to simulate virtual images in a volumetric display (research published in the April 6, 2021 issue of Scientific Reports).
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cat Rambo has lots of other good advice, in this video about “5 Tips for Story Submissions.”
I’ve talked before about sending out fantasy and science fiction story submissions. Here’s five tips (well, four and a half, really) about what to do once you’ve submitted a story.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, John Hertz, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Ben Bird Person, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) CHANGING OF THE GUARDIAN. Lisa Tuttle has taken the handoff from The Guardian’s SF/Fantasy reviewer Eric Brown who ended his fifteen-year run in January. Tuttle’s first genre round-up will appear in The Guardian’s books section on Saturday, February 13.
In the wake of Gina Carano’s controversial social media posts, Lucasfilm has released a statement Wednesday night, with a spokesperson saying “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Carano played bounty hunter Cara Dune on the first two seasons Lucasfilm and Disney+’s The Mandalorian, and it looked like we’d be seeing more of her. It appears not….
Following competitive bidding war, Apple Studios has landed Dolly, a new feature film with Academy Award-nominee Florence Pugh attached to star with Vanessa Taylor and Drew Pearce Penning the script. Insiders close to the project stress the project is not greenlit at this time as the script still needs to penned and a director still needs to be attached. Insiders go on to add that the package caught the interest of a total of four bidders that included multiple studios and another streamer with Apple TV+ emerging as the winner earlier this week.
The film is a sci-fi courtroom drama in which a robotic “companion doll” kills its owner and then shocks the world by claiming that she is not guilty and asking for a lawyer. The film, which is inspired by Elizabeth Bear’s short story of the same name, has elements of both classic courtroom drama and sci-fi….
Time travel is a genre unto itself, one that spans sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, history and more. But there are distinct categories of time travel narratives, each with its own set of rules—and each with a different baked-in outlook.
Getting to a taxonomy of time travel stories, the first question is—who or what is actually time-traveling? Because while the first stories we think of involve spaceships and Deloreans, the oldest time travel stories are stories about…
1. SEEING THE FUTURE
In these stories, it is actually INFORMATION that travels through time. And this might be the most scientifically plausible form of time travel, one that is already happening all the time on the quantum level….
(5) WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Robert J. Sawyer tells Facebook readers that 26 years ago Ace Science Fiction thought they were going to land a contract with Lucasfilm to produce a trilogy of novels outlining the origins of the alien races from the Star Wars universe:
Ace editor Ginjer Buchanan approached me to write those books, and before the license was finalized I produced an 11,000-word outline and also the first 11,000 words of the manuscript of volume one. But the deal fell apart — yes, they’d get a Lucasfilm license, but, no, I couldn’t use any of the actual STAR WARS races, and so I walked away. Since I was never paid for the work, I posted the material on my website as fan fiction.
(6) THE WORDS OF SFF. In the February 6 Financial Times, book columnist Nilanjana Roy discusses the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction website.
Skipping from ‘ecotopia’ (first used back in 1975) to ‘Frankenstein complex ‘(coined by Isaac Asimov in 1947 to describe the anxiety and distrust held by humans towards robots), a living history of science fiction began to take shape in my mind. The HDSF records language coined by eminent figures from the realms of literature and science, but also long-forgotten hacks who wrote stories for the pulps…
…The HDSF is full of surprises, even to an unabashed sf fan. Many entries are older than I imagined: ‘teleport’ might seem like a word dreamt up in the 1950s, for instance, but the first recorded instance comes from an 1878 mention in the Times Of India: ‘The teleport,.an apparatus by which men can be reduced to infinitessimal (sic) atoms, transmitted through the wire, and reproduced safe and sound on the other end!’ While “infodump” was first used in a 1978 conference on science.
(7) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. Someone who dismissed the Locus Recommended Reading List as “useless” was pointed at the “Tangent Online 2020 Recommended Reading List” which contains these introductory remarks by Dave Truesdale:
… Looking at short fiction over at least the past 10 years, a general observation can be made. It would appear that Woke Culture is as pervasive and cancerous as it has ever been for at least the past 10 years. The dearth of true originality when it comes to political or socially themed short fiction is becoming more and more apparent to those of us who have observed and studied the field for decades. Political Correctness has now infiltrated the field like a metastazing cancer, to the point where long time readers are beginning to voice complaints. The complaints arise not from what is published in the magazines or some of the original anthologies, but what is not being published. Identity Politics and the Cancel Culture have inserted themselves into the field to the extent that not only magazine fiction editors, but other areas of the SF field are bowing to intimidation and peer pressure to conform to the total obeisance the Woke doctrine demands….
When Marvel Comics first launched the character of Black Panther, it was in the July 1966 issue of “Fantastic Four.” As explained in this exclusive clip from the upcoming Disney Plus documentary “Marvel’s Behind the Mask,” premiering Feb. 12, the character of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, was presented just like any other Marvel superhero — attention wasn’t paid to the color of his skin, but rather to the supreme quality of his abilities.
“The first Black superhero, Black Panther, comes out perfect,” says writer-director Reginald Hudlin, who wrote a run of Black Panther comics in the 2000s. “He’s this cool, elegant, handsome guy who’s just got it on lock.”
But as the clip also demonstrates, there’s one essential element of Black Panther that was glaringly incorrect: His skin is grey, not brown.
…Rather than shy away from its less than admirable history, the “Behind the Mask” filmmakers say Marvel’s executives were on board with a warts-and-all look at the company’s efforts with representation. “They were complete partners,” says Gary. “They accepted the fact that we were going to make some things uncomfortable.” The company even opened up its vault so the filmmakers could access the full range of its history.
“There were certain things that we needed to scan that weren’t part of the digital history, that were important to the storytelling,” says Simon. “We needed to get that older imagery out of the vault.”…
1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon I, Fritz Leiber wins the Hugo for Best Novella with “Ill Met in Lankhmar”, one of his Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser tales. It was originally published in the April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The other nominees were “The Thing in the Stone” by Clifford D. Simak, “The Region Between” by Harlan Ellison. “The World Outside” by Robert Silverberg and “Beastchild” by Dean R. Koontz.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 11, 1898 – Leo Szilard. Vital in the Manhattan Project; first to connect thermodynamics and information theory; filed earliest known patent applications for the electron microscope, the linear accelerator, and the cyclotron (but did not build all these, nor publish in scientific journals, so credit went to others; Lawrence had the Nobel Prize for the cyclotron, Ruska for the electron microscope). Present when the first man-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was achieved in the first nuclear reactor; shook Fermi’s hand. Credited with coining the term “breeder reactor”. Half a dozen short stories for us. To him is attributed “We are among you. We call ourselves Hungarians.” (Died 1964) [JH]
Born February 11, 1910 — L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas. Sleep No More isavailable from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1915 – Mabel Allan. Four novels, one shorter story for us; a hundred seventy books all told, some under other names; some in series e.g. a dozen about Drina Adams who at age 10 wants to be a ballerina and finally is. Here is the Mabel Project for reading MA’s books in chronological order. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born February 11, 1920 – Daniel Galouye. (“Ga-lou-ey”) Navy pilot during World War II; journalist; New Orleans fan who developed a pro career. Half a dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Guest of Honor at Consolacon, DeepSouthCon 6. Interviewed in Speculation. Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born February 11, 1926 — Leslie Nielsen. I know the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1939 — Jane Yolen, 82. She loves dark chocolate so I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt which she’s signing a copy for me now, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled of Lead’s Antler Dance which her son Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on. (CE)
Born February 11, 1948 — Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are most popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1950 — Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott). (CE)
Born February 11, 1953 — Wayne Hammond, 68. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on him that’s been done including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. (CE)
Born February 11, 1965 – John Zeleznik, age 56. A dozen covers, a score of interiors. Here is Find Your Own Truth. Here is The Heart of Sparrill. Here is his Rifts Coloring Book. Here is a Magic: the Gathering card. Ten years in Spectrum anthologies. Website. [JH]
Born February 11, 1970 – Reinhard Kleist, age 51. Half a dozen covers, as many interiors. Here is Asimov’s collection Azazel. Here is Das Böse kommt auf leisen Sohlen (German, “Evil comes on quiet feet” – more literally Sohlen are soles – tr. Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes). [JH]
Born February 11, 1975 – Kathy McMillan, age 46. Two novels for us, four others (one got an Indies Award); eight resource books for educators, librarians, parents. ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreter. Website says Author & Language Geek. [JH]
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me Chinese folktales before bedtime. My mother is an immigrant. She was born in mainland China and eventually made her way to the United States for graduate school.
She told me those stories so that I wouldn’t forget the culture that she had left. Even though I hadn’t ever experienced that culture firsthand, she wanted me to remember it.
Of all her stories, my favorites by far were about Sun Wukong, the monkey king. Here was a monkey who was so good at kung fu that his fighting skills leveled up to superpowers. He could call a cloud down from the sky and ride it like a surfboard. He could change his shape into anything he wanted. He could grow and shrink with the slightest thought. And he could clone himself by plucking hairs from his head and then breathing on them. How cool was that?…
…Turns out, my mother was pretty faithful. As I read it, I realized that American superheroes hadn’t replaced Sun Wukong in my heart after all. Superman, Spider?Man, and Captain America were simply Western expressions of everything I loved about the monkey king….
(14) THE MILLENNIUM HAS ARRIVED. The thousandth book by a woman reviewed on James Nicoll Reviews: “Just Keep Listening”.
K.B. Spangler’s 2021 coming-of-age space opera The Blackwing War is the first book in her Deep Witches Trilogy. It is set in the same universe as Spangler’s 2017 Stoneskin .
Tembi Stoneskin was rescued from abject poverty when the Deep, the vast, enigmatic entity that facilitates transgalactic teleportation, took a shine to her. As long as the Deep retains its affection for Tembi, she will be an ageless Witch, stepping from world to world as it pleases her. There is little chance Tembi will alienate the Deep.
There is, however, every chance she will alienate her superiors in the Witch hierarchy. Youthful Tembi is that most dreaded of beings, an idealist….
(15) YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIAL M ANYMORE. In “The Rise of the Digital Gothic” on CrimeReads, Katie Lowe says many of today’s Gothic novelists are coming up with plots that involve apparitions or other supernatural phenomena coming out of characters’ smartphones.
…But for all that this new technology gives, there’s also the sense of our personal spaces—the physical homes we inhabit—seeming always invaded by others, both strangers and not. They wander through, startling us with questions as we brew our morning coffee; scanning our living rooms while we’re on Zoom; liking our family photos as we crawl into bed. Our daily lives are interrupted constantly by apparitions: by the voices and figures of people who simply are not there.
This is not, however, a state of being sprung entirely from the pandemic—nor is it unique to fiction. In her 2014 essay “Return of the Gothic: Digital Anxiety in the Domestic Sphere,” critic Melissa Gronlund observed similarities between recent work in the visual arts. She suggests that artists using “the Gothic tropes of the uncanny, the undead, and intrusions into the home” in their work are searching for “a way to wrestle with daunting, ongoing questions prompted by current technological shifts: How has the internet affected our sense of self? Our interaction with others? The structures of family and kinship?”
(16) MARS MERCH. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum told people on its mailing list that the limited edition Mars Perseverance merchandise collection will only be available until February 21. (Click for larger images.)
… Forbes reports that there are two methods of creating transparent aluminum in common use today. The first method involves taking a powdered aluminum-magnesium compound that is subjected to high pressure and heated, a method used by the US Military, specifically the US Naval Laboratory. This method produces a somewhat cloudy material that needs to be polished prior to use. An alternative method, which creates a slightly stronger and much clearer material, also exists. This end-product is called aluminium oxynitride, sold under the name ALON.
People accept that fantasy creatures like unicorns and dragons do not really exist, and it was that kind of categorical thinking that led many Looney Tunes fans around the world to assume that a Tasmanian devil is not a real animal.
They’d never seen one before. They’d never heard of one before. It must be a made-up animal!
When the cartoon devil called “Taz” was introduced in cartoons in the 1950s, creator Robert McKinson had no idea he would be creating so much confusion with his brand-new character, which he never foresaw becoming such an icon….
(19) THAT’S CAT. They’re everywhere – on these altered versions of book covers – like the ferocious feline on the front of Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mask Up America” on YouTube is a PSA from WarnerMedia in which Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, and Humphrey Bogart urge you to wear masks.
[Thanks to Joel Zakem, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Iphinome, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
… I have been appointed the new Division Head of the WSFS Division, which is the part of the Worldcon that admininsters the Hugo Awards, the Business Meeting which reviews the rules, and the Site Selection process for the 2023 Worldcon (currently contested between Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee) – the three obligatory things that every Worldcon must do.
I was previously the Administrator of the Hugo Awards in 2017 and 2019, and one of the deputy administrators last year; and also Division Head for Promotions at the London Worldcon in 2014. I had not anticipated having any executive role this year, but life does not always work out as we expect.
The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year’s Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).
I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it’s clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.
In the summer of 1982, Margaret Atwood walked into Bakka Books looking for a copy of “The Hobbit.” Robert J. Sawyer, the celebrated Canadian science-fiction writer who was then working behind the counter, couldn’t believe his luck.
“It was pretty amazing — she knew all about the store and how we specialized in fantasy and science fiction,” Sawyer recalls of his encounter at the bookstore when it was in its first home on Queen Street near John Street.
Atwood’s visit to pick up some Tolkien was a testament to the role the bookstore (now named Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookstore) plays in the literary community — not just in Toronto but beyond city borders too. On the cusp of celebrating its 50th anniversary, Bakka-Phoenix is the oldest sci-fi and fantasy specialty bookstore in the world. It’s long been a hub for aficionados of a genre that is rarely awarded more than a couple of shelves at most big-box bookstores. It’s the kind of bookstore that’s for fans of space operas and dystopian fiction, for readers hungry for the latest William Gibson saga and for those on the prowl for a rare Harlan Ellison story collection. “Bakka has always been a mecca to me,” says Sawyer.
Actor John Barrowman, who portrayed Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood, has set off a Twitter frenzy with a post depicting a visit to a show landmark in Cardiff, Wales.
Barrowman posted a selfie in front of a shrine to the show’s Ianto Jones, who was Capt. Jack’s lover on the show and tragically died in his arms in a mini-series episode, Children of Earth.
On Friday, Barrowman paid an incognito visit to the impromptu shrine set up to honor the Ianto character in Cardiff, a site near where the series was filmed. The shrine is still very popular with fans 11 years after the television series death….
(4) EVERMORE PARK ALSO A COVID CASUALTY. [Item by David Doering.] As of yesterday, Evermore Park has cancelled any future performances at the park and has let the creative team go. Basically, the park will only be open for event rentals and strolling through. A sad loss due to Covid. Had it opened one year before or one year later, it might well have made it. “Evermore Park cancels winter production, dozens of employees laid off” at Yahoo!
Dozens of employees at Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove were laid off this week after it was decided there would be no winter-themed production, as well as other financial issues largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(5) A REAL FANNISH TED TALK.FANAC.orgwill host a fannish TED talk on Saturday, January 23 when author, editor, and past Worldcon chair Ted White will be interviewed by John D. Berry via Zoom. Time: 4 pm EST. Participants are limited. To get the Zoom log-in, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ted White will be talking about his long history in fandom and some of the interesting people he has encountered along the way. Ted is considered by many to be the current patriarch of fannish fandom. He has been active since the very early 1950s, both publishing fanzines and in clubs from Virginia to New York. We have more different fanzine titles of Ted’s on FANAC.org than any other faned. In addition to the many titles he edited on his own, he has published many collaborative fanzines going back to the 1950s.
Ted has also chaired several conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon – the last Worldcon in New York. As a professional in the science fiction field, he has written stories, articles, and novels. He was the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic magazines, and has written extensively about the music industry.
John D. Berry has known and worked with Ted for over 50 years so he knows the questions to ask. And Ted has said that no topic is off the table.
You didn’t need to be a pubescent boy (or his father) to fully appreciate the charms of Maila Nurmi — a.k.a. Vampira — when she first appeared on late-night KABC-TV in the spring of 1954. But it didn’t hurt. She was tall, beautiful and frightening and she screamed like a banshee, climaxing each howl with a lewd lick of her full lips, which even in black-and-white glistened bloodily. Her pale body was almost a caricature of an hourglass figure, like one of those inexplicably bountiful women featured in the pinups of Joaquin Alberto Vargas, for whom Nurmi had modeled only a few years earlier. But what made Vampira most memorable was the jokes she slyly delivered at machine-gun speed: pop, pop, pop. She came heavily armed with oodles of sexy, macabre puns and she wasn’t afraid to use them.
In the early days, Vampira was asked by a Los Angeles Tribune columnist to tell a little bit about herself.
“There isn’t much to tell,” she said. “I was born in Lapland. … I have an owl for a house pet. I have a 19-inch waist, 38-inch bust and 36-inch hips. My earliest recollection as a child is that I always wanted to play with mice. I’m very anti-social. I simply detest people. I don’t like snakes; they eat spiders, and I’m very fond of spiders.” Asked how she felt about children, she didn’t miss a beat: “Oh yes … delicious.”…
Last year, Javicia Leslie was asked on a podcast what she wanted her next acting role to be.
“I said I wanted to be a superhero,” Leslie recalled recently toThe Washington Post.
In July, just two months after stating her desire, the star of “God Friended Me” and “The Family Business”answered the call to a bat-signal put up in the sky just for her — finding out she was the new star of the CW’s “Batwoman.” The announcement instantly made her the new face of the network’s successful tradition of televised superheroes….
… One norm going away is the trademark black eye makeup that every on-screen bat-hero since Keaton has worn under the mask — Rose eventually parted with itand Leslie will also decline.
“Being a woman of color, it was important that we didn’t black out my eyes,” Leslie said. “We wanted to play with light instead of playing with darkness to help accentuate me being a black woman in playing this role.”
Bob Suryan has passed away today. He was very active in the Seattle Astronomical Society, and Norwescon (including chairing a couple of the conventions). He loved history and folks enjoyed chatting with him about all sorts of things. He had his ups and downs with health over the years and about a week and half ago was admitted to the hospital due to lots of pain. Sadly this turned out to be stage four lung cancer.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 17, 1992 — Freejack premiered. It starred Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay was written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett (who was also the producer) and Dan Gilroy. We consider it to be very loosely adapted from Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc. (Great work. The serialised version as “Time Killer” in Galaxy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.) It was not at the time well-liked by either critics or reviewers, not is it currently liked among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes as it is carrying a 25% rating and there’s a lot who have expressed an opinion — over fourteen thousand so far. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
January 17, 1899 — Nevil Shute. Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.) (CE)
Born January 17, 1923 – Alva Rogers. Changing the name of the prozine Astounding to Analog has been applauded by some; AR wrote a Requiem. Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XV. Co-chaired Baycon, the combined Westercon XXI and 26th Worldcon, famous in song and story. Co-edited Rhodomagnetic Digest 62, its last issue; AR’s wife Sidonie wrote a profile of Al haLevy and AR drew one. After SR died, AR married Andi Shechter, famous in song and story. (Died 1982) [JH]
January 17, 1927 — Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-Spy, Mission: Impossible, Matrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, 90. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg. And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Flight of Dragons, Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. (CE)
January 17, 1935 — Paul O. Williams. A poet who won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born January 17, 1952 – Tom Deitz. A score of novels. Guest of Honor at Phoenixcon 8. Gainesville State College faculty member of the year, 2008. Phoenix Award. Co-founded local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) barony. (Died 2009) [JH]
January 17, 1962 — Jim Carrey, 59. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? (SHUDDER!) We settled last year that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre. And I think that I’ll stop there this time. (CE)
Born January 17, 1967 – Wendy Mass, Litt.D., age 54. Ray Bradbury volume for Authors Teens Love. Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is? A score of novels for us, half as many others; nonfiction e.g. Stonehenge, John Cabot. Schneider Award for A Mango-Shaped Space. Has read The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret Garden. [JH]
January 17, 1970 — Genndy Tartakovsky, 50. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste. He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. (CE)
Born January 17, 1971 – Nomi Burstein, age 50. Technical writer, freelance editor. Collects neologisms, e.g. jan howard finder’s “bytelock”. Fanzine, Burstzine (with husband Michael Burstein). Years of patiently fielding questions about Jewish observance. Co-founder (with MB) of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet. [JH]
Born January 17, 1981 – Rachelle Rosenberg, age 40. Color artist for Marvel, e.g. this and this and this. [JH]
What was the difference between what you did the ’50s, versus when you were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s?
The ’70s women were allowed — it was almost like there is was a relaxation of women and social behavior, and so that would affect their voices and the tone that they can take. Instead of it being kind of a higher and level [like in the ’50s]. The ’70s, even though it’s this really strange “Brady Bunch” aspirational time in sitcom land, women were able to have a bit more control, something that grounded them a bit more in their voice. Then as we got into the ’80s, there were the teachable moments, and how sincere everything was, that was really funny. And then as we move into the arts and into the ’00s and the 2010s, the sitcom becomes really cynical. The humor, like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” becomes incredibly cynical. And that’s what we found comforting for whatever reason as a society.
It was fun when we were in this boot camp to not only chart the physical changes, as tools, but to also [discover] what comedy was for that time. “Rosemary’s Baby” is a film and “Brady Bunch” is on television, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But for whatever reason, that’s what that’s what the consumer was watching at home.
When I set up Wizard’s Tower Press, one of the things I wanted to do was create a semiprozine for non-fiction. It turned out that there wasn’t a market for such a thing at the time, and it closed after 9 issues. Then last year I saw Nicholas Whyte bemoaning the lack of interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos. I’d already come to the conclusion that I needed some form of discipline to ensure I made time to read and review books, so I decided to relaunch Salon Futura as a fanzine. Thus far it has worked in that I have read a lot more books. I figure that if I ever get on the Hugo ballot again there will be a flood of new people voting in that category to stop me winning, and that will be the other objective achieved.
(15) VINTAGE OPINIONS. Gilbert Seldes lectures on science fiction in this 1953 recording of a WNYC broadcast “Science fiction writing” from The NYPR Archive Collections.
This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Seldes discusses the science fiction genre. He opens with a story about a science fiction story about the atomic bomb preceding the actual bomb, and the government’s response.
He speaks of the symbolism of the extraterrestrial as a symbol for invaders from behind the Iron Curtain.
Seldes notes that there is a lot of science fiction that he does not deem to be of good quality, but does speak very highly of Ray Bradbury and H. G. Wells
(16) CHINESE SFF MOVIE. The Shimmer Program announced “Another Chinese science fiction film, ‘The Soul’ has been released on big screen! The thriller is adapted from Jiang Bo’s story ‘The Soul Transplanting Skill’ and directed by Cheng Wei-hao.” (The Soul is not to be confused with Pixar’s Soul).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, JJ, David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Joe Siclari, Olav Rokne, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB virtual reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check back at their website or social media to get the link when it drops.
Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, ex-journalist and sometime documentary maker who has written five novels, a pop history, a short story collection and New York Times best-selling comics. Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, The Shining Girls is soon to be a tv show for Apple with Elisabeth Moss, and won the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Strands Critics Choice Award among others. Her new book Afterland, about a world (almost) without men, is currently in development. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.
Usman T. Malik
Usman T. Malik is a Pakistani-American writer and doctor. His fiction has been reprinted in several year’s best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, and has won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award. Usman’s debut collection, Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, will be out in early 2021.
(2) COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. In search of prospects to nominate for the video game Hugo, Camestros Felapton explores another game he hopes will meet his criteria of “look[ing] like they might be interesting/notable from the perspective of science fiction & fantasy as a broad genre” — “Review: Spiritfarer (Nintendo Switch)”.
…However, the game I will nominate in this category isn’t Hades but a game set in a quite different afterlife: Spiritfarer. The two games couldn’t be more different and yet both borrow Charon the Ferryman and Hades as characters from Greek mythology and both use (different) genres of game play to lead you to interact with a series of characters from whom you learn about their lives (and deaths) and your own characters back story. Spiritfarer has fewer murderous, laser firing crystal things though.
The genre of gameplay is resource management and exploration. You have a ship with a small number of passengers and you sail between islands collecting resources and improving your ship. It’s all presented as 2D animation largely moving horizontally.
…Alternately called cosmic horror or Lovecraftian horror, this brand of story is focused on unknowable and ancient terrors. While the genre’s most iconic monster, Cthulhu, slumbers in a lost underwater city, cosmic horror just as often directly lives up to its name and comes from the cold of space or is lurking in isolated areas like Antarctica. The genre has few real heroes, mostly focusing on people who are already deeply flawed or struggling before they confront these horrors. While they may be killed, the protagonists are just as likely to be rendered insane or somehow fundamentally transformed into something as equally unknowable and terrible as the unspeakable creatures they have encountered.
But how did cosmic horror seep into the mainstream of movies, TV, and games? Let’s trace that history from D&D to True Detective to Nicolas Cage and beyond…
Speaking of hell, a study in the August 3 issue of the journal CurrentBiology revealed that the vast majority of members of a species of beetle, Regimbartia attenuata, perform a literally death-defying feat after being swallowed by various species of frogs. The beetle apparently swims its little heart out till it pops out of the frog’s derriere. Because, as another axiom has it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
To find out whether the insect’s passage was active or passive, researchers immobilized some beetles by coating them with wax before going into the mouth of hell, or rather, frog. None of these beetles survived. To paraphrase science-fiction legend Harlan Ellison (who definitely would have come up with this experimental protocol if he’d lived long enough): they really don’t want to open their mouths, and they must scream.
…The Milky Way has been around for billions of years. In that time, life has not only had had plenty of time to evolve to an advanced level and achieve heights of technology even our wildest sci-fi dreams couldn’t fathom, but also to destroy itself.
“We found [self-annihilation of complex life] to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life,” the physicists said in a study recently published in Astrophysics of Galaxies.
There were three types of limitations for the existence of aliens that the team studied. They considered the possibilities of abiogenesis, how long it might have taken (or be taking) for an intelligent civilization to evolve, and chances of such a civilization crushing itself. Abiogenesis is the idea of life spawning from things that are definitely not alive.
…Loeb says there are two big details that suggest Oumuamua wasn’t just a comet, but rather a piece of alien technology. The first detail is the object’s dimensions, as it was determined to be “five to 10 times longer than it was wide.” Loeb argues the cigar-like shape isn’t typical for a natural space object.
But the theoretical physicist says the biggest detail that supports his theory is Oumuamua’s movement.
“The excess push away from the sun, that was the thing that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Loeb explains that the sun’s gravitational force would cause a natural object to move faster as it approaches, and eventually push the object back, causing it to move slower as it moves away. Loeb points out that this didn’t occur with Oumuamua, which accelerated “slightly, but to a highly statistically significant extent” as it moved further and further away.
“If we are not alone, are we the smartest kids on the block?” Loeb asked. “If there was a species that eliminated itself through war or changing the climate, we can get our act together and behave better. Instead, we are wasting a lot of resources on Earth fighting each other and other negative things that are a big waste.”
(7) HEADLONG RETREAT. R.S. Benedict has posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast.”I talk to writer/artist Sloane Leong about SFF’s retreat into childhood nostalgia, and the beauty of mature fiction.” Listen here.
As the world looks grimmer and grimmer, Millennials and Gen Xers retreat deeper and deeper into childhood nostalgia. Adults dominate fandoms meant for children, like Steven Universe, Young Adult fiction, and My Little Pony. Within SFF, many writers, readers and editors have begun to treat all media as though it were meant for children: It must be didactic and escapist and safe. But there are still some of us who want art to treat us like adults.
In this episode, writer and artist Sloane Leong joins us to talk about the power of embracing your inner grownup.
(8) ROBERTS STILL ALIVE. People sent links to articles reporting the actress death, however, actress Tanya Roberts is still alive at this writing according to TMZ.
(9) JAEL OBIT. Artist Jael died November 17 reports Locus Online — Jael (1937-2020). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says Jael did covers for Baen and DAW, as well as magazines. Jael’s work received eight Chesley Award nominations between 1995 and 2002.
She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode Planet Of Fire, starring Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor.
Her agent, Thomas Bowington, said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
…Shelley was also known for TV roles in series including The Saint, The Avengers, The Borgias, Blake’s 7 and Crown Court, and later played Hester Samuels in EastEnders.
Robert J. Sawyer praised Shelley’s performance in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) on Facebook in which she”played a completely professional scientist, paleontologist Barbara Judd, the female lead, in one of the best science-fiction films ever made.”He also posted a great quote from Shelly:
“I adored science fiction. When I was a very little girl my father used to have all these science fiction magazines and we used to go through them together. My mind had been opened up to science fiction by my father so when I got these scripts it wasn’t `What’s this rubbish?’ It was ‘that’s interesting.'”
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago, Larry Niven’s Ringworld would win the Hugo for Best Novel at Noreascon I over Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light. It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards, and Locus would later include it on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990. It would spawn three sequel novels and a prequel series as well which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 4, 1882 – P.J. Monahan. Newspaper cartoonist, illustrator in the “pulp” days (when our and other magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper). Thirty covers, twenty interiors. Here is Semi Dual, the Occult Detector. Here is Thuvia. Here is the 26 Jun 20 All-Story Weekly – weekly! How’d you like to be the editor of that? To show PJM’s range, here is the 1 Sep 12 Leslie’s, and here is a portrait of Pope Pius X. (Died 1931) [JH]
Born January 4, 1882 – Violet Van der Elst. Twoscore short stories, half a dozen collections, for us. Starting as a scullery maid, she developed cosmetics including the first brushless shaving cream – don’t say we’ve made no progress – and grew rich; fought against the death penalty, threw her money and her mind into it, lost both, barely lived to see it abolished. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born January 4, 1890 — Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born January 4, 1904 – Dale Ulrey. Four covers, a dozen interiors. Also a comic-strip artist, notably Apple Mary, famous during the Depression, still running today as Mary Worth. Here is her Wizard of Oz. Here is an interior for Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 4, 1927 — Barbara Rush, 94. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone. (CE)
Born January 4, 1930 – Ruth Kyle. Founding member of the Lunarians (New York club, famous in song and story). Hard-working Secretary of NYCon II the 14th Worldcon; married its chairman Dave Kyle; his tale of their honeymoon flight to Loncon I the 15th is here. Good cook, gracious hostess. Part of an adventure I had with Dave, see here (bottom of three). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 4, 1933 – Phyllis Naylor, age 88. A dozen novels for us; a hundred thirty all told; some 2,000 articles. Newbery Medal. Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. Mark Twain Readers Award. William Allen White Children’s Book Award. Kerlan Award. “What spare time? If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.” [JH]
Born January 4, 1946 — Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. (CE)
Born January 4, 1958 — Matt Frewer, 63. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like. (CE)
Born January 4, 1960 — Michael Stipe, 61. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could argue are genre adjacent such as “Losing My Religion”. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! (CE)
Born January 4, 1981 – Sarah Crossan, age 40. Two books for us, seven others. Has read four each by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, two by George Eliot. [JH]
Born January 4, 1985 — Lenora Crichlow, 36. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” episode of Black Mirror. (CE)
Born January 4, 1985 – Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe, age 36. A dozen covers. Here is Desert Stars. Here is The Sentinel. Here is Omni. Here is his page at ArtStation. [JH]
(13) THE SIGN OF THE Z. In the Washington Post, Michael Sragow notes the centennial of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the first Zorro movie. He notes that both Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster say that Zorro’s twin identity as the masked crimefighter and the foppish Don Diego as a precursor to Batman and Bruce Wayne and Superman and Clark Kent. In addition, Sragow sees Zorro’s secret lair as a precursor of the Batcave and Lolita Pulido’s ditching Don Diego for Zorro as Lois Lane favoring Superman over Clark Kent. “On Zorro’s 100th birthday, the father of swashbucklers and superhero movies is still relevant”
…Like Tennyson’s Sir Galahad, Zorro has the strength of 10 because his heart is pure. He’s also irreverent and mischievous. His sparkle exudes hipness: He embraces the New World’s egalitarian ethos while his enemies defend the feudal past.
Zorro lifted spirits in the 1920s. In the 2020s, his ebullience can generate ecstatic highs.
During Fairbanks’s previous run as the parody hero of contemporary action comedies like “His Picture in the Papers,” fans came to think of him as “Doug,” a tribute to his offhand elegance — like Fred Astaire’s, a triumph of talent and willpower. Doug transports this knockabout grace into “The Mark of Zorro.” With his light heart and “can-do” demeanor — qualities the world embraced as quintessentially American — Zorro soon dominated action-film iconography. Cinema would never be the same.
(14) ZOOMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. “Movin’ Right Along With Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear” on YouTube has Kermit and Fozzie welcoming the new year with dreams of a road trip and showing they know how to use Zoom.
Canada! Perhaps best known to fans of British soap operas, for whom it serves as that mysterious land to the west to which characters vanish after their purpose on the show has been served. Of course, all that is needed to learn far more about Canada than you would ever need or want to know is to get trapped in a conversation with a Canadian, uninvited exposition concerning their homeland being as natural to the average Canadian as it is any given inhabitant of a fictional utopia confronted by a woken sleeper from the pre-utopian past.
One might reasonably expect that most SF touching on Canada was written by Canadians and the Canadian-adjacent. Perhaps it is. Quite a lot of it is not. Here are five examples of Canada and Canadians in science fiction, as seen by foreign eyes.
First on the list is Bob Shaw, who’s challenging because he lived and worked in Canada for a period.
(16) HOPE HE GETS HIS MD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The first baby of 2021 in one Alabama town has a possibly-unique name, Anakyn Gene Strange. Yeah, they changed the spelling of the first name a bit, but wouldn’t it be lovely if the young lad went into medicine. Think of it — Dr. Anakyn Strange. “‘The Force is Strong’ with Florence’s first baby in 2021”
Star Wars fans immediately know the reference when hearing the name Anakyn.
While it may not be spelled the same as it was in the series, Hope and Dusty Strange used the name on Florence’s first birth of 2021. Anakyn Gene Strange was born at 1:04 a.m. on January 1 at North Alabama Medical Center.
“There actually was a feeling of relief because 2020 was a horrible and challenging year,” she said. “It was the most pure way to start out the year.”…
(17) RAVENCON ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER. Michael D. Pederson, RavenCon 2022 chair, explains:
Being an April convention, we were forced to announce this year’s  cancellation three weeks before the convention. Needless to say, after having spent 11 months buying supplies and paying fees for the con we didn’t have much (read: any) capital left after refunding the vendors. And we still needed to refund about a third of our attendees that wanted money. And now that we’ve had to cancel for 2021 as well, we’re really stuck for funds. So, we created an anthology, with story donations coming from many of our regular programming guests as well as a few of my old Nth Degree contributors. We’re using the anthology to raise funds through Kickstarter. We funded the entire project on our first day and hit our first stretch goal a week later. We’re working on a second stretch goal and expect to announce a third stretch goal later this week.
Who would have thought that “cologne” is such a complicated word to spell correctly? Or it just might be that many people really are enjoying the smell of large intestine…
(19) LONG PLAYING. And long ago. This interesting discovery is available at Archive.org – “A Child’s Introduction To Outer Space: Jim Timmens” (1959) – with songs performed by The Satellite Singers, and dramatic readings, and a credit on the album cover to Scientific Advisor Willy Ley who won one of the first Hugos in 1953.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Wonder Woman 1984 Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the reasons why Steve Trevor appears in Wonder Woman 1984 have really creepy implications and that it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman could make an escape from the Smithsonian by stealing a fully fueled airplane from the Air and Space Museum.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
The crew of the Discovery made a terrible sacrifice at the end of season two, leaving their lives as they knew them behind and flinging the ship 930 years into the future, where the Federation is in some dire straits of its own (again). Now it seems it’s up to Michael and her friends to remind them of what the Federation has fought hard to stand for.
Star Trek’s all-encompassing Star Trek Day livestream event just kicked off with the latest look at the third season of Discovery, our first since that major glimpse at New York Comic-Con last year.
(2) KLINGON GOES POSTAL. Robert J. Sawyer celebrated Star Trek Day on Facebook with this observation:
If you’d told Canadian actor John Collicos that his country would honour him with a stamp 50-odd years later for the four or five days of work he did as one of countless guest-starring roles over his career, he’d have thought you were out of your mind.
It’s part of this 2016 set:
(3) POD TREK. Tawny Newsome, of the Star Trek: Lower Decks voice cast, announced an upcoming podcast, Star Trek: The Pod Directive, which she will co-host with actor-comedian Paul F. Tompkins (BoJack Horseman).
Guests will include actor Ben Stiller, author Reza Aslan, “Star Trek: Picard” star Michelle Hurd, “Lower Decks” executive producer Mike McMahan, politician Stacey Abrams, comedian and “Discovery” costar Tig Notaro, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and “Picard” and “Short Treks” composer Jeff Russo.
Newsome also debuted a preview for the show, which runs weekly Sept. 14 through Nov. 9.
All art is political. Strangely, Disney’s live-action Mulan is more obviously so than most.
Mulan makes the current nationalist mythology of a Han-dominated China the foundation of its story. That would be bad enough. But parts of it were also filmed at the location of current and ongoing mass human rights abuses, including cultural genocide, against ethnic minorities.
The credits of Mulan specifically thank the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Committee, as well as the Public Security Bureau in the city of Turpan and other state entities there. The Public Security Bureau is one of the main forces administering the internment camps, enforcing the surveillance and interrogation of even nominally “free” Uighurs, forcing people into slave labor, demanding that Uighurs host Han guests employed by the government to spy on them, and sterilizing Uighur women. The Publicity Department—a term that used to be more honestly translated as the Propaganda Department—justifies these atrocities. Most of these policies were well in place—and some of them known in the West—by the time the film was shot, partly in Xinjiang, in 2018.
That should be the only thing that needs to be written. But there’s more.
Even before the film—which was not previously known to have been filmed in Xinjiang—arrived, it had blundered right into politics. Two of the film’s stars, Liu Yifei (Mulan) and Donnie Yen (Commander Tung), have voiced their support of the Hong Kong police against the city’s pro-democracy protests, thus sparking an online movement to boycott the film….
(5) DISNEY AMBITIONS. In a Washington Post opinion piece, “Why Disney’s new ‘Mulan’ is a scandal”, Isaac Stone Fish says that Disney credits “four Chinese Communist party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang and the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region–organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity.” He says we need to know the extent to which Disney cooperated with instruments of Chinese repression against the Uighurs and that by filming in Xinjiang the 2020 version of Mulan is “Disney’s most problematic movie” since the racist Song Of The South. Fish also adds perspectives about Disney’s historic efforts to do business in China.
…Disney executives had thought that the original “Mulan” would please both the Chinese government and Chinese filmgoers. But because Disney had distributed “Kundun” (1997), a film glorifying the Dalai Lama, Beijing restricted the studio’s ability to work in China. Disney spent the next several years trying to get back into the party’s good graces. “We made a stupid mistake in releasing ‘Kundun,’” the then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”
Since then, Disney has endeavored to please Beijing. The rewards have been immense, culminating in the successful opening of Shanghai Disneyland in June 2016. This park, Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger said, is the “greatest opportunity the company has had since Walt Disney himself bought land in Central Florida.” Partnering with Xinjiang is another step that binds Disney closer to the party.
(6) HARD SF. [Item by Eric Wong.] Rocket Stack Rank has posted their annual compilation — “Outstanding Hard Science Fiction of 2019” — with 19 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
Included are some observations obtained by changing the Highlight from Free Online to Podcasts, changing the table View by Publication and Author, and Filtering the table by awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.
Hard SF stories seem under-represented (8%) among SF/F awards with only 8 stories (and only 2 stories for major awards like Eugie and Locus) out of 99 total award-nominated stories from the 2019 Best SF/F. The only winner was “Sacrificial Iron” for the magazine-specific Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award.
As for RSR, we recommended 7 stories (3 award worthy), were neutral on 8 stories, and recommended against 4 stories (view by RSR rating).
(7) SLEEPING IN THE FACTORY. In “How Speculative Fiction Becomes Reality” on CrimeReads, Rob Hart says his 2018 novel The Warehouse has “an outside world so hostile people are forced indoors” and “an online retail merchant dominating the economy while the small business landscape is wiped out,” but that when he wrote his novel he thought the future he foresaw would happen a decade from now, not in 2020.
…Instead of the slow march of climate change and the steady drip of private interest trumping public good, it was a pandemic that ground the economy to a halt in a matter of weeks. We may not be housed in giant, city-sized live-work facilities, but most of us are now living at our jobs.
And hasn’t that been the whole point of the 21st century economy? Forcing you to come in sick, making you accept unpaid overtime and check your e-mail on the weekends—it was all about making it so you were always working. Even better if you barely left the office. Now you don’t.
Not to say there’s any fun in being right. Not with so much suffering and loss. Not with so many monumental failures in leadership. Not when facing the realization of just how fragile the system is, and how many holes there are in the safety net.
Your book came out in 2016 on the heels of a larger movement and reckoning within fandom about the role of authors of color and from marginalized communities. How does that longer history of marginalization and exclusion play into your view with the book or the world you’ve set up?
I knew that stuff was going on while I was writing, but history of dissatisfaction of fans of color goes back a lot further. In my research for the novel, I would be reading back issues of the Chicago Defender (the historic black newspaper in Chicago in the 1950s) to get a sense of what the issues of the day were in the black community at that time, and I would read the reviews section for movies and books and the things coming out then. A lot of it was very familiar in terms of the complaints that the reviewers had: we’ve got money, we want to buy movie tickets, we want to buy books, please make stuff that recognizes that we exist and that plays to us too.
The problem was that back then was that you could complain all you want it, but the only folks reading the Black press were Black folks who did not get to make decisions in Hollywood. So this dissatisfaction has always been there. It was expressed by friends of mine growing up, and there’s a woman named Pam Noles, who wrote an essay called Shame that was very influential when I was thinking about Lovecraft Country, which sort of talks about her evolution as a young Black nerd. One of the things she talks about that’s heartbreaking is experience going to see Star Wars for the first time and which for her as for me, was like a quasi-religious experience. But for her, it was also the moment where she finally understood what her parents had been trying to tell her about: this genre that you like doesn’t really appreciate you the way you seem to think it does.
September 8, 1973 — Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered on NBC. Featuring the voice work of the original cast with the exception of Walter Koenig which was apparently due to budget constraints. Most other voices were done by the cast but Sarek, Cyrano Jones and Harry Mudd were performed by the original actors. It would air for two seasons and twenty two episodes winning an Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment in a Children’s Series for its second season. David Gerrold, Chuck Menville, D.C. Fontana and Larry Niven would write scripts as would Walter Koenig. Roddenberry decided it wasn’t canon after it ended which didn’t stop scriptwriters from referring to it down the years in inventive ways, i.e. Elim Garak on DS9 mentions Edosian orchids, a reference to the character Arex here who’s an Edosian. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in another of folk tale production over various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born September 8, 1932 – John Boardman, Ph.D., 88. Physicist, fanziner, filker. Master of Diplomacy i.e. the board game. Treasurer of Nycon 3 (25th Worldcon). Life Member of the Lunarians, Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Perdita) at Lunacon 41. Officer of the Puddleby-on-the-Marsh Irregulars. Co-founder of the Beaker People’s Libation Front. “Science for Science Fiction” in Ares. Active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, served as Mural Herald of the East Kingdom. To be seen in Amra, Asimov’s, Locus, Riverside Quarterly, SF Review, Trumpet, Xero. “Because you are not John Boardman, is why.” [JH]
Born September 8, 1936 – Don Punchatz. Ninety covers, two hundred interiors for us; more outside our field. Here are Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation. Here is Nightwings.Here is Night of the Cooters. Artbook Don Punchatz, a retrospective. Spectrum Grandmaster. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 75. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, andbefore being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a still dismal 24%. (CE)
Born September 8, 1947 – Bill Burns, 73. Attended every Eastercon (Unted Kingdom nat’l con) since 1965. Doc Weir Award (U.K. service award). Best known for founding and maintaining eFanzines.com. Fan Guest of Honour (with wife Mary) at Eastercon LX; at 77th Worldcon. A dozen FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. [JH]
Born September 8, 1952 – Linda Addison, 68. For us, two dozen stories, ninety poems, in Apex, Asimov’s, Dark Matter, Tales of the Unanticipated, Tomorrow, three hundred fifty all told. Poetry editor of Space & Time, “Word Ninja” there. B.S. (mathematics) from Carnegie-Mellon. 2002 Rhysling anthology. First black Stoker winner; won four more. Horror Writers’ Lifetime Achievement award. [JH]
Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 66. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances. (CE)
Born September 8, 1958 – Danny Flynn, 62. Hundreds of covers, computer-game illustrations, in and out of our field; biology, detective fiction, golf. Here is the May 94 Interzone. Here is I Will Fear No Evil (surely one of our best book titles). Here is Wild Seed. Artbook Only Visiting This Planet. [JH]
Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 54. I think that his second book Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And, of course, there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not see as I don’t have HBO. (CE)
Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 54. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, (and later publisher, which he remains), for which he has awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 2007 and at Denvention 3. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. (CE)
Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 45. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script. (CE)
Born September 8, 1979 – Bianca Turetsky, 41. Three novels, four shorter stories with Courtney Sheinmel. In the novels, illustrated by Sandra Suy, Louise Lambert buying dresses on sale from strange folk finds they take her back in time, pleasing Kirkus, Seventeen, and the Historical Novel Society. [JH]
(12) WEARING THE HORNS. Added to the fanhistory site THEN, Ken Cheslin’s 1989 piece “SADO and the 1960s Brum Group – a memoir”. Curator Rob Hansen says, “This might interest a few people, if only for how much Ken Cheslin’s Viking character Olaf coincidentally resembles the later ‘Hagar the Horrible’.”
(13) WINNING NAME. L. Jagi Lamplighter has decided her new column at Superversive SF will be called “Slice of Light”, and follows the title announcement with a heartwarming preview of coming attractions. Even you heathens might enjoy this one.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a longtime fan of “The Princess Bride,” took aim at cast members of the cult classic over the weekend after reports emerged of their plans to reunite for a fundraiser supporting Democrats in Wisconsin.
Cast members from the film will be taking part in a virtual table read for the fundraiser — which a site for the event said will feature actors Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal.
In a tweet reacting to the news on Saturday, Cruz referred to lines from Inigo Montoya, a character portrayed by Patinkin in the 1987 film.
“Do you hear that Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father,” he wrote in the tweet.
“Every Princess Bride fan who wants to see that perfect movie preserved from Hollywood politics makes it now,” Cruz, who has been vocal in the past about his feelings for the film and acted out a scene from the flick when he was running for president in 2015, added….
…Historians and archaeologists not involved in the recent research on Hatteras were more skeptical, saying that the evidence was inconclusive and that they wanted to see peer-reviewed work. They also said the argument was not new: The idea that the Croatoans, as the Native people on Hatteras were called, adopted at least some of the settlers has long been considered plausible.
“Sure, it’s possible — why wouldn’t it be?” said Malinda Maynor Lowery,a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “People don’t get lost. They get murdered, they get stolen, they get taken in. They live and die as members of other communities.”
Dr. Maynor Lowery presented a similar possibility in her 2018 book on the history of the Lumbee people, the descendants of dozens of tribes in a wide region including eastern North Carolina. Despite violence by the English against Croatoan villagers, she wrote, the settlers probably took refuge with them.
“The Indians of Roanoke, Croatoan, Secotan and other villages had no reason to make enemies of the colonists,” she wrote. “Instead, they probably made them kin.”
The English landed into a complicated fray of conflict and shifting alliances, said Lauren McMillan, a professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
“They’re all interfighting, and these different groups are trying to use the English against one another,” she said. “The Croatoans perhaps saw the English as a powerful ally and sources of valuable new things.”
Dr. Maynor Lowery, who is Lumbee, added that the “lost colony” story is itself based on the incorrect premise “that Native people also disappeared, which we didn’t.”
The story, she said, was like “a monument that has to come down,” adding that “it’s harder to dismantle an origin story than a statue.”
Not Mute in the Winter… In the first part of the show, we’ll be discussing the potential of AI to be useful to society in general, but we’ll be taking a greater look at where there are possibilities for AI to be misused or even abused if not properly handled. Our primary questions in this part of the show will be to ask where AI can be biased, how bias is introduced into AI systems, examples of attacks on AI and how these then manifest in the world. We’ll be looking at the social implications of using AI in situations where previously only human judgement has been deployed and how this is spreading to encompass more decision-making processes.
Turing Test Failed, They Suspect Nothing… Our show corner will be looking at theoretical examples of how a number of simple and sensible decisions could give rise to AI that can go from beneficial to nefarious.
Terminating Skynet… In the second part of the show, we’ll be looking will be how to ensure an ethical approach to the development and control of Artificial Intelligence. How we should go about securing AI systems and the methods of embedding ethics throughout the lifecycle of AI and its usages. We will also delve into the social vs institutional approaches to Ethical AI.
The panelists include:
Steve Orrin – Federal CTO, Intel Corp
Dr. Jim Short – Research Director, Lead Scientist and co-founder of the Center for Large Scale Data Systems (CLDS) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
Chloe Autio – AI Policy Lead for Intel Corp
Dr. Andrew Harding – Senior Technology and Policy Adviser at Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation for the UK Government
The A.I. research team at MIT is hailing it as a breakthrough in their field that will finally allow them to kick back and relax a little bit. We have the latest on what the now-sentient robotic life forms have planned next.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” on Youtube, the Screen Junkies take on the fine film that entertained a “generation of latch-key kids” in the 1990s.
[Thanks to John King Tarpnian, N., JJ, Alan Baumler, Eric Wong, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]
Below, find the TOC you’ll want to tick… the Table of Contents of a book that might help…. but first… yes, there are countless times I’d prefer to be wrong! Especially when it comes to the predictions made in THE POSTMAN!
TIME Magazines called EARTH one of “8 best predictive novels,” and there have been many other hits. But I always figured that my portrayal of lying-betraying-prepper “Holnists” in THE POSTMANwould prove to be artistic exaggeration — not a how-to manual for evil and treason.
Just as Adolf Hitler described his approach in Mein Kampf — and no one took him at his word — Nathan Holn is recalled having laid it all in the open… but Americans didn’t believe anyone would so baldly offer such a despicable program. The warning went unheeded till it was too late.
Likewise, Donald Trump has said publicly that his attack on the U.S. Postal Service is intended directly to interfere in the election. Of course crashing USPS also undermines rural America, a major part of the GOP base. So how is this supposed to benefit Republicans? The answer is… it’s not. Chaos and dysfunction are the goal. To Trump’s puppeteers, it doesn’t matter if he loses, so long as America dissolves into bitterness and pain.
Already it’s clear we need to start a mass movement akin to BLM to support Postal Workers!
(2) NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE COMIC-CON. Robert J. Sawyer challenges some assumptions about Canadian sff award voters in a Facebook post.
Yesterday, I attended the annual general meeting of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, which was held by Zoom, due to the COVID pandemic.
The first issue the chair raised was what he considered to be a precipitous drop in the number of voters over the years. Years ago, he said, the number was in the mid-two-hundreds and he cited year-by-year figures showing a steady decline down to the current tally of 140 or so. Much discussion ensued about how to beef up the number.
My feeling is two-fold. First, it’s NOT an Aurora-specific issue, and, second, it’s NOT even a problem….
When people talk about bringing in vast new swaths of fans to beef up Aurora voting numbers, they usually mean finding a way to get young fans involved. But young fans, by and large, AREN’T SF&F readers, and have their own fandom traditions — they expect, for instance, their events to be high-cost and run to professional standards (even if mostly staffed by volunteers).
These are the fine folk who enjoy the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo; Fan Expo in Toronto; Anime North, also in Toronto; OtakuThon in Montreal; and so-called “comic-cons” across the country. They want to see actors and comic-book artists. Politely, they don’t need us — AND WE DON’T NEED THEM.
If traditional fandom is shrinking — and it IS, mostly through attrition as people get old and finally go on to that great hucksters’ room in the sky — then so be it. But is that hurting the Aurora Awards?
I say no. I had no horse in the race this year — I was not even eligible in any category except for related work (for my bimonthly columns in GALAXY’S EDGE magazine) and wasn’t nominated. But I studied the ballot and, even more important for posterity, the actual winners this year, and my verdict is this: the Auroras are doing just fine.
… In the past, we’ve also seen ballots with conspicuous omissions and even more conspicuous inclusions. When a Canadian work is nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, or the World Fantasy Award, it SHOULD raise eyebrows when it has been squeezed off the Aurora ballot by lesser creations.
This year, though, the best short-form Aurora went to the most-generally-lauded Canadian-authored (or, at least, co-authored) work on the ballot: THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, which had already won the Hugo AND the Nebula Awards.
In the past, we’ve seen huge numbers of votes of dubious pedigree: people who have no known connection to fandom but a personal connection to one of the nominees nominating and voting en masse, propelling dubious works onto the ballot and sometimes shamefully even winning the award.
Thankfully, those days of hustling seem to have fallen by the wayside….
(3) NASFIC 2020. The virtual Columbus 2020 NASFiC Opening Ceremonies start 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 21. Here’s =“How To Attend”:
Attending the North American Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention will now be easy as everything will be online!
On the day the convention begins, the page you are viewing now will provide you with a virtual “log book”. When you have signed it, this website will provide you access to several more pages, with embedded chat channels and streaming video.
It will be free, but we will still accept donations.
(4) SFF AROUND THE GLOBE. FutureCon, a new virtual international sff convention, will launch September 17-20. Cheryl Morgan gives an overview in “Introducing FutureCon”. (See the schedule here.)
While we might all be stuck at home wishing that we could sit in a bar with our friends, one of the benefits of the new virtual world in which we find ourselves is that travel is instantaneous and free. This means that we can have conventions that are genuinely global, and very cheap or free to attend.
Into this space comes FutureCon. It is being organised primarily by folks in Brazil, but with a lot of help from Francesco Verso in Italy, and also a bunch more people around the world. It will take place from September 17th-20th, and will be free to all on YouTube. All of the programming will be in English. Confirmed guests include Ann Vandermeer, Aliette de Bodard, Chen Qiufan, Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar and Nisi Shawl. But more importantly there will be speakers from over 20 different countries including Argentina, Croatia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey & Uganda.
… Francesco can read in many different langauges, and he said something today in a launch meeting for the event that really struck a chord. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but the gist was, “the quality of science fiction is evenly distributed around the world, but it is unevenly visible.” I hope that FutureCon can be an important step along the road to changing that.
… After the 1960s SF panel, I had only ten minutes to get to my next panel “Translation: The Key to Open Doors to Cultural Diversity in SFF”. I was moderating again and the panelists were Libia Benda from Mexico, Luis F. Silva from Portugal, Wataru Ishigame, speaking from the POV of a publisher publishing translated SFF in Japan, and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine as the token American. Though that would be mean, because Neil Clarke has done more than pretty much any other magazine editor to bring translated SFF to English speaking readers.
Again, we had a lively e-mail debate before the panel and just as lively a debate during the panel, complete with an audio zoombombing by a Mexican street vendor. I had also asked all panelists to recommend some SFF books or stories from their country that had been translated into English (and Neil Clarke generally recommended SFF in translation), so there were book recommendations as well.
The translation panel also overran by almost half an hour, because once the Zoom recording was stopped, the Zoom meeting just remained open. After ascertaining that the audience could still hear us, we just continued talking about SFF in translation for another twenty five minutes or so, until the Zoom host shut down the room. Now that’s something that could never have happened at a physical con, unless you were the last panel of the day and the room wasn’t needed again….
I called my post from last week “Results and Final Thoughts“… but after it went up, I had another thought. So that title was a lie! Many people out there analyze various aspects of the results, but I want to look at two things: how many people vote in each category, and how many people vote No Award.
… Voting No Award in first place usually means one of two things, I would claim. First, it could mean that you find the concept of the category invalid. Every year, I vote No Award for Best Series, Best Editor, and a couple other categories, for example, and leave the rest of my ballot blank. I have some fundamental disagreements with the premises of those categories, and do not think they should be awarded. (Very few Hugo voters agree with me, though, clearly.) It could also mean that you just found everything in that category subpar: this year I voted No Award for Best Short Story, but still ranked finalists below it.
How well does Mollman’s interpretation hold up? And what is there to learn in the voting pattern from Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech for the 2019 Campbell Award?
Here is a list of things that the HBO series Lovecraft Country, premiering Sunday, August 16th, has in common with the 2018 film Green Book:
1. Setting: Jim Crow-era America
2. Acting: Subtle, nuanced performances (Viggo Mortenen’s dese-and-dose Green Book gangster notwithstanding).
3. Subject: Story features a road trip involving a travel guidebook written to inform Black people where they can safely eat and stay. (Green Book: Entire film; Lovecraft Country: Opening episodes only.)
And here is a brief, incomplete list of the things that Lovecraft Country prominently features that Green Book emphatically does not:
1. A story centered on the lives of Black characters.
2. Black characters with agency, absent any White Savior narrative
Shoggoths, of course, are creatures imagined by writer H.P. Lovecraft — blobs covered with eyes that continuously arise and dissolve back into their putrid, pulsating flesh. (The Shoggoths of Lovecraft Country are shaped more like Pit-bulls than protoplasm, though they’ve got that whole creepy-eyes thing covered.)
Lovecraft Country is only the latest in a series of movies, television series and novels to engage with America’s greatest moral, economic, social and psychological wound — the legacy of slavery — by way of the fantastic. Creators like Jordan Peele, Damon Lindelof, Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead didn’t avail themselves of, respectively, body-swapping, superheroes, an angry ghost and an entirely literal subterranean mass-transit system as a means to distract from, or to trivialize, racial injustice. No: They knew that when grappling with a foundational truth so huge and ugly and painful, utilizing the metaphorical imagery of science-fiction and horror offered them a fresh way in — an opportunity to get their audiences to re-examine, to re-feel, the enduring impact of that evil.
…Though it’s sure to be compared to Watchmen, given both its prominent HBO Sunday night berth and its determination to view race in America through the prism of science fiction, Lovecraft Country is lighter in tone, and far pulpier in sensibility, than Lindelof’s comparatively grand, sweeping epic. It’s much more apt to go looser and loopier, sprinkling magic spells, sacred codexes, secret passages and the occasional light tomb-raiding into the mix. It’s also far more eager to serve up the satisfyingly grisly thrills of pulp horror — bad guys getting their bloody, cosmic comeuppance, for example.
But for every fun, if wildly anachronistic, element — needle-drops like Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” say, or abdominal muscles like Majors’ — Lovecraft Country is always careful to re-center itself on its characters, and their hemmed-in status as Black women and men in 1950s America. Between every narrow escape and exposition dump about “finding the missing pages from the forbidden tome” or whatever, it gives its characters and their relationships breathing room. Case in point: Letitia’s contentious bond with her sardonic, disapproving sister Ruby (the quietly astonishing Wunmi Mosaku, in a warm, deeply compelling performance) gets a chance to grow and complicate. And in a later episodes (only the first five were screened for press), Ruby happily manages to step off the sidelines and mix it up with the series’ deep, abiding weirdness.
Though M. T. Anderson couldn’t possibly have planned it, his new book The Daughters of Ys feels like it was created for just this moment. The story’s driving force and key image — a torrential flood of natural and unnatural origin that sweeps away a city — is the perfect symbol for our era. If you’ve felt your brimming anxiety about the coronavirus overflow as you’ve tried to keep up with the never-ending tide of news about it, you’ll sympathize with Anderson’s characters.
This book is an excellent read right now for other reasons, too. Trying to keep abreast of your daily news feed may have made you impatient of any pleasure reading that isn’t perfectly absorbing (OK, that’s the last flood pun, I swear). A graphic novel, The Daughters of Ys is fun and easy to read. Anderson’s story, a reinterpretation of a Breton folktale, is effortlessly page-turning and actually feels a bit like a young adult title — not surprisingly, considering YA is Anderson’s preferred genre. But like Anderson’s National Book Award-winning The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, this book is both accessible to a wide age range and rich with ideas that will intrigue adults. (Note, however, that due to dark themes, some gore and the fact that the characters have sex, it may be best kept away from immature readers.)
Best of all, Daughters of Ys is a terrific respite for eyes weary of scanning headlines. Artist Jo Rioux isn’t as well-known as her coauthor — as is often the fate of illustrators who focus on children’s books — but she should be. Her drawings here aren’t just beautiful, with their deep, layered colors and elegant compositions; they’re also smart. Nodding to the original tale’s 5th-century setting, Rioux uses the style and motifs of Anglo-Saxon art (think of the Bayeux Tapestry and the metalwork of Sutton Hoo). But she doesn’t just replicate the style, she uses it to explore the evocative possibilities of minimalist cartooning. The characters’ faces have flat-looking eyes and minimal features, but they express intense, ambiguous emotions. Rioux also borrows the glowing lights and velvety shadows of Maxfield Parrish’s work for certain scenes, including a wonderful interlude set inside a circle of standing stones. The reader is encouraged to recall Parrish’s turn-of-the-20th-century America, when astonishing and alarming technological advances triggered a yearning for the romantic past, and to compare it with our own time.
(9) CHECK OUT COUNTER. WorldCat’s Library100 – I’ve read 41 of these.
What makes a novel “great”? At OCLC, we believe literary greatness can be measured by how many libraries have a copy on their shelves.
Yes, libraries offer access to trendy and popular books. But, they don’t keep them on the shelf if they’re not repeatedly requested by their communities over the years. We’ve identified 100 timeless, top novels—those found in thousands of libraries around the world—using WorldCat, the world’s largest database of library materials.
So, check out The Library 100, head to your nearest library, and enjoy the read!
(10) GOLDENBERG OBIT. American music composer, conductor and arranger Billy Goldenberg (William Leon Goldenberg) died on August 3, aged 84 reports Stephen Jones.
His many credits include Fear No Evil, Silent Night Lonely Night, Ritual Of Evil, Steven Spielberg’s Duel, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (1973), The Legend Of Lizzie Borden, The Ufo Incident, Metamorphoses, This House Possessed, Massarati And The Brain, Prototype, Frankenstein (1986), 18 Again! and Sherlock Holmes And The Leading Lady. On TV Goldenberg composed music for the pilots of Night Gallery (again for Spielberg), Future Cop and Gemini Man, plus episodes of The Name Of The Game (Spielberg’s ‘LA 2017’), The Sixth Sense and Circle Of Fear (along with the theme music for both shows), Amazing Stories and the 1989 mini-series Around The World In 80 Days. He also composed one of the themes to the Universal logo.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 16, 1951 — Dimension X’s “The Vital Factor” was first broadcast. The story is that a ruthless millionaire is determined to be the first man to conquer space…no matter what the cost. The script was used later on X Minus One. It was written by Nelson Bond who is the holder of a Nebula Author Emeritus award for lifetime achievement. He’s also the recipient of First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. His Meg the Priestess stories gave us one of the first powerful female characters in the genre. Daniel Ocko and Guy Repp are the actors here. You can listen to it here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 16, 1884 — Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazines, Amazing Stories in 1926, and Wonder Stories in 1929. He also played a key role in creating fandom through the Science Fiction League. Writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which most critics think is utterly dreadful but Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” And of course he’s who the Hugos were named after back in 1953. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1913 – Will Sykora. Active at least as early as Jan 30 letter in Science Wonder Stories. With Sam Moskowitz, thought the true fannish spirit meant promotion of science. President of ISA (Int’l Scientific Ass’n) which sought to include amateur scientists, maybe the first fan club, unless disqualified in retrospect for insufficient frivolity – or insufficient leftism, which the Futurians were charged with excess of. Charter member of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n). (Died 1994) [JH]
Born August 16, 1930 – Paul Lehr. Three hundred covers, fifty interiors. Here is his beginning, Satellite E One. Here is his famous Nineteen Eighty-four (no mustache on Big Brother!). Here is Spectrum 4. Here is The Ringworld Engineers. Here is the Mar 81 Analog. Here is the Aug 96 Tomorrow. What a giant. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born August 16, 1930 — Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in the Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he makes one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1931 – Walt Lee. Monumental if only for his 20,000-entry Reference Guide to Fantastic Films (with Bill Warren) – which, allowing for differences in scale, is like saying Cheops (or Khnum Khufu if you prefer) is monumental if only for the Great Pyramid of Giza. OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born August 16, 1933 — Julie Newmar, 87. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face. She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eileen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad. (CE)
Born August 16, 1934 — Andrew J. Offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1934 — Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland with a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born August 16, 1952 – Edie Stern, F.N., 68. “Andre Norton’s Diamond Celebration” (with husband Joe Siclari) in Fantasy Review. “Fancy Jack” (Jack Speer; with Siclari) in Noreascon 4 Souvenir Book, hello Guy Lillian III (62nd Worldcon). Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). Introduction (with Siclari) to Virgil Finlay Centennial book for 2014 World Fantasy Convention. “LeeH” (Lee Hoffman, or for some of us, Hoffwoman), Journey Planet 27. “Wheels of IF” (Irish fandom; with Siclari) for 77th Worldcon Souvenir Book. Noted SF art collector (with Siclari), very helpful with SF con Art Shows. Fan Guest of Honor, Loscon 46. Big Heart (our highest service award; with Siclari). Since 2016, Webmaster of the FANAC Fanhistory Project (fanac = fan activity; Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions was originally formed for MagiCon the 50th Worldcon, Orlando). [JH]
Born August 16, 1958 — Rachael Talalay, 62. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales: series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”, along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent” before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls”. She capped who Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. (CE)
Born August 16, 1967 – Betsy Dornbusch, 53. Five novels, fifteen shorter stories. Co-editor Electric Spec 2006-2015. Essays & interviews there. Likes writing, reading, snowboarding, punk rock, the Denver Broncos, and how are you, Mr. Wilson? [JH]
Born August 16, 1969 – Michael Buckley, 51. A score of novels, some about the Nat’l Espionage, Rescue, & Defense Society (which spells – ), NY Times Best Sellers; some about the Sisters Grimm (yes). Robotomy for the Cartoon Network. Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox just released (April). Used to be in a punk rock band called Danger, Will Robinson. [JH]
Beck in the interview discusses many aspects of his career, including his providing the commentary for DVDs of Fritz Freleng cartoons to running a popular panel at Comic-Con called “Worst Cartoons Ever” so that fans can howl at a smorgasbord of stinkers. Beck also has written several histories of animation. But he was also one of the first Americans to understand the importance of anime. He recalled that when Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released in the mid-1980s, Roger Corman controlled the rights and released it in a heavily-cut, badly dubbed version. Beck realized Miyazaki’s importance and was the first to distribute Miyazaki’s films uncut to theaters.
As part of his anime distribution, Beck talked to the producers of Akira, who explained that they were shutting down their studio and offered Beck the contents. Eight months later, Beck got a call from the Port of Los Angeles (“and I’ve never gotten a call from a port before”) with eight giant containers of cels and other stuff, which Beck sold to the delight of serious collectors.
Also in the podcast, Maltin revealed that he learned Roman numerals from Popeye cartoons, which taught him that MCMXXXVI meant “1936”.
(14) BRING ME THE HEAD OF ADMIRAL ACKBAR. Coming right up! The Nerdist says it will be one of the lots available for bid in a Star Wars prop auction happening August 26-27.
For sci-fi movie prop collectors, items from the Star Wars saga are the Holy Grail. Now, fans who have wanted to get their hands on authentic items from a galaxy far, far away are in for a treat. Several props and costumes from the saga are going up for auction by The Prop Store of Los Angeles and London. Some very coveted pieces are among the items, including a full Darth Vader costume from 1977.
Brian Blessed has claimed that the Queen revealed to him that her favourite film is Flash Gordon, the 1980 sci-fi in which he stars as Prince Vultan.
Speaking about the film’s 40th anniversary to Edith Bowman on Yahoo Movies, the actor said that whenever he goes, people demand he recite his character’s catchphrase.
“Everywhere I go, they all want me to say ‘Gordon’s alive!’,” said Blessed. “The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, horses and queens, and prime ministers, they all want me to say ‘Gordon’s alive!’, it’s their favourite film.”
He continued: “The Queen, it’s her favourite film, she watches it with her grandchildren every Christmas.”
The actor then assumed the Queen’s accent, quoting her as saying: “You know, we watch Flash Gordon all the time, me and the grandchildren. And if you don’t mind, I’ve got the grandchildren here, would you mind saying ‘Gordon’s alive’?”
From this fourth season episode of The Next Generation comes one of Worf’s most famous quotes. Transported to Sherwood Forest by Q and adorned in the costume of Will Scarlett, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Worf exclaims, “I am not a merry man.”
“Qpid” has one of the series lightest touches, to the point it feels like an old Errol Flynn film. While Picard plays Robin Hood, the rest of his Merry Men try to get used to their temporary roles. One of the funniest parts is during the fight between Robin’s friends and Nottingham’s guards. Both Doctor Crusher and Counselor Troi knock two of the bad guys out by bashing large vases over their heads.
When screenwriter Mattson Tomlin sat down to write Project Power in 2016, he knew that he wanted to create a superhero universe that put Black heroes front and center. The film that arrives on Netflix on Aug. 14 stays true to that vision, with Jamie Foxx and Dominique Fishback portraying the dynamic duo of Art and Robin, who take on a top-secret government agency that’s dispensing ability-enhancing pills on the streets of New Orleans. But there’s also a third superhero in the mix: a white police officer named Frank (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is the kind of “plays by his own rules” cop that’s been a popular Hollywood protagonist for decades.
As the film begins, Frank’s personal rules include popping those contraband pills to get a super-powered boost for daring busts. But after Art and Robin awaken him to the sordid story behind those drugs — a story that includes the exploitation of Black research subjects — he opts to join their cause. “Ultimately, the character goes through the movie trying to do the right thing,” Tomlin says. “Sometimes he goes about it in a messy way, but that’s where his heart is.”
A UK boat has just provided an impressive demonstration of the future of robotic maritime operations.
The 12m Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) Maxlimer has completed a 22-day-long mission to map an area of seafloor in the Atlantic.
SEA-KIT International, which developed the craft, “skippered” the entire outing via satellite from its base in Tollesbury in eastern England.
The mission was part-funded by the European Space Agency.
Robot boats promise a dramatic change in the way we work at sea.
Already, many of the big survey companies that run traditional crewed vessels have started to invest heavily in the new, remotely operated technologies. Freight companies are also acknowledging the cost advantages that will come from running robot ships.
But “over-the-horizon” control has to show it’s practical and safe if it’s to gain wide acceptance. Hence, the demonstration from Maxlimer.
…One obvious culprit is lunar dust that has built up on the retroreflectors. Dust can be kicked up by meteorites striking the moon’s surface. It coated the astronauts’ moon suits during their visits, and it is expected to be a significant problem if humans ever colonize the moon.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter “provides a pristine target,” said Erwan Mazarico, a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center who, along with his colleagues, tested the hypothesis that lunar dust might be affecting the moon’s retroreflectors.
On Wednesday, senior Trump adviser Jenna Ellis compared Democratic vice presidential contender Kamala Harris to Marge Simpson, who’s voiced by actress Julie Kavner.
“Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson,” [Ellis] tweeted.
Marge responded on “The Simpsons” Twitter account with a 27-second clip in which she says the matter makes her uncomfortable.
“I usually don’t get into politics,” Marge said Friday, adding that her show-daughter Lisa informed her the comparison wasn’t meant as a compliment to either woman.
“As an ordinary suburban housewife I’m starting to feel a little disrespected,” the cartoon mom said. “I teach my children not to name-call, Jenna.”
? [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Cheryl Morgan, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Nicholas Whyte, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]
(1) RECONVENE REPORT. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] ReCONvene, the one-day virtual con of NESFA, was this afternoon, so I paid my ten dollars and attended via Zoom.
It was worth devoting much of the afternoon to it for just one conversation, the Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction panel which had Ellen Kushner as moderator with P. Djèlí Clark, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Carlos Hernandez and, to my utter delight, Aliette de Bodard. I learned much about the writers and their worlds that I didn’t know. Like all items it allowed conversations among the fans as a text feed — I didn’t listen in too very much of that but they were getting a lot of participation.
Earlier on, Modernizing Fairy Tales and Myths with Adam Stemple as moderator had Victor Lavalle, Seanan McGuire, Catherynne Valente and Rebecca Roanhorse as panelists. Like the other Zoom groups I listened to, it was flawless in its sound and video. Lots of personal ethnic background here as basis for storytelling — most excellent.
The panels were good and they used Discord for follow up chats which I’ll admit I skipped. There was a tour of the art show which is less interesting than being there, but the writers were the reason to be there and they even did Kaffeeklatsches, solo conversations with authors, so I listened to Justina Ireland who I was hearing of for the first time and turned out to be fascinating.
All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. If Boskone is virtual next February (and I wouldn’t count against it being so), I’ll certainly pay for a virtual membership based on his trial run which was organized well and easy to use.
As soon as Toronto let customers eat on restaurant patios again, I made a beeline for Orwell’s Pub — best dang chicken wings in the city. The indoor restaurant was closed, and Chris, the guy who usually tends bar, was serving. When he came by my table, he quipped, “Seems like we’re all living in a Robert J. Sawyer novel now.”
I was surprised he knew who I was. Despite Orwell’s being a cosy “Cheers”-style “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” place, as a non-drinker, I’m usually invisible to bartenders. But Chris was right: we are living in a science-fiction novel now, and a dystopian one at that.
Since my latest novel, “The Oppenheimer Alternative,” is about the Manhattan Project, I often get asked what should be the next big-science undertaking with an all-but-unlimited budget bringing together our brightest minds.
My answer: developing a general antiviral technique, rather than an endless succession of vaccines targeting one, and only one, specific virus. The old method is why our annual flu shots are sometimes ineffective; we’d guessed wrong about which strain of flu would become prevalent. It’s also why we’ve never had a vaccine against the common cold, which is caused by a vast, ever-mutating range of coronaviruses.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Here’s the thing about being a Black nerd who loves science fiction, fantasy and superhero stories. Often, you wind up admiring work created to glorify people who are the exact opposite of you. That’s something the aptly-named bookworm Atticus Freeman tries to explain while telling a female friend about the latest novel he was reading on a long bus ride, the 1912 book “A Princess Of Mars” and its star, planet-jumping hero John Carter.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “LOVECRAFT COUNTRY”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) You said the hero was a Confederate officer.
JONATHAN MAJORS: (As Atticus Freeman) Ex-Confederate.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) He fought for slavery. You don’t get to put a ex in front of that.
MAJORS: (As Atticus Freeman) Stories are like people. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You just try to cherish them and overlook their flaws.
DEGGANS: That could be something of a mission statement for the “Lovecraft Country,” a series based on the recent novel of the same name. The book and series reference the work of renowned horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft, known to have racist views about African Americans. The show compares the work of Lovecraftian (ph) supernatural beings which could have sprung from his books to the racism Black people faced in 1950s-era America.
Atticus Freeman, played by “Da 5 Bloods” costar Jonathan Majors, is a Korean War veteran who returns home to find his missing father. Before long, he’s enlisted help from his Uncle George, played by Courtney B. Vance, and his friend Letitia, played by Jurnee Smollett. They must travel across the country from Chicago to follow a clue. And along the way, they run into a not-too-helpful police officer who informs them Black people aren’t allowed in the area after dark.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “LOVECRAFT COUNTRY”)
JAMIE HARRIS: (As Sheriff Eustace Hunt) Any of y’all know what a sundown town is?
MAJORS: (As Atticus Freeman) Yes, sir. We do.
HARRIS: (As Sheriff Eustace Hunt) Well, this is a sundown county. If I’d have found you after dark, it would have been my sworn duty to hang every single one of you from them trees.
MAJORS: (As Atticus Freeman) It’s not sundown yet.
DEGGANS: But when the police officer and his buddies try to lynch the trio, everyone is attacked by huge, teethy, flesh-eating monsters who chase them into a cabin. Uncle George, who’s just as much of a bookworm as Atticus, has an idea of what they might be facing.
…At a time when the world is still reeling from seeing a Black man die with a white policeman’s knee on his neck, there is no better moment for HBO’s gripping “Lovecraft Country” to reinvent a supernatural tale.
When Cherie Dimaline was growing up near Penetanguishene, a small town on the Georgian Bay in Ontario, her grandmother and great-aunts told her stories about a werewolf-like monster called the rogarou. It wasn’t spoken of as a mythical creature but as an actual threat, the embodiment of danger in a place where Indigenous women face heightened risk of violence.
“This wasn’t like, here’s a metaphor,” she said. “They would say, ‘The rogarou’s out, and he’s really hungry.’”
Decades later, Dimaline, a member of the Métis Nation in Canada, was working on a novel about a woman whose missing husband reappears with no memory of her, seemingly under a spell. She needed a charismatic villain, and when the rogarou — a wily trickster figure in Métis oral traditions — popped into her head, she realized the creature had never been given its due in popular culture.
That flash of inspiration turned into “Empire of Wild,” a genre-bending novel whose modern Indigenous characters confront environmental degradation, discrimination and the threat of cultural erasure, all while battling a devious monster….
This episode I have breakfast while Australian writer Stephen Dedman has dinner 12 hours in my future.
Stephen has published more than 100 short stories, some of which I was privileged to publish back when I was editing Science Fiction Age magazine. You can find many of those stories in his collections The Lady of Situations (1999) and Never Seen by Waking Eyes (2005). His novels, which include The Art of Arrow Cutting (1997), Foreign Bodies (1999), Shadows Bite (2001), and others, have been Bram Stoker, Aurealis, William L. Crawford, and Ditmar Award nominees. He’s also written role-playing games, stageplays, erotica, and westerns. And he at one time worked as a “used dinosaur parts salesman,” a job which had me extremely curious — and as you listen to us chat and chew, you’ll find out all about it.
We discussed how the Apollo 11 moon landing introduced him to science fiction, what his father told him which changed his plan to become a cartoonist, the huge difference the Internet made in the lives of Australian writers, his creative trick for getting his first poem published, what acting taught him about being funny in the midst of tragedy, his former job as a used dinosaur parts salesman, the way page one tells him whether he’s got a short story or novel idea, how Harlan Ellison became the first American editor to buy one of his stories, and much more.
For centuries, human thinking—at least in the West—has been dominated by the notion, said to have originated with Aristotle, of the Scala Naturae, or the Ladder of Life. Also known as the Great Chain of Being, this concept establishes a hierarchy in which all life forms can be arranged in ascending degrees of perfection with humans, conveniently, at the topmost rung. Even after Darwin came along and replaced this model with his considerably less vertical Tree of Life, the idea of the human mind as the apex of biological consciousness has persisted.
Increasingly, in the face of climate catastrophe, more humans are beginning to question their hubris. In the introduction to their 2017 book Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, the editors note: “Some scientists argue that the rate of biological extinction is now several hundred times beyond its historical levels. We might lose a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.” This, the arguable point of no return, affords a chance to examine the received belief in human exceptionalism. Science writing in particular and nonfiction in general have much to say regarding the similarities between human and non-human minds, but fiction offers opportunities to explore this interconnectedness as well. After all, if fiction has the power to show us another individual’s private and interior uniqueness, then why not depict animals possessing such interiority?
(9) YOU KNOW IT IN YOUR BONES. Skeleton Hour is a new monthly horror literature webinar series presented as an Horror Writers Association event in collaboration with The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.
Each panel will be an hour long and bring together 3-5 authors to discuss a specific topic in horror with a moderator guiding the discussion. Panels will take place on Zoom, with the audience able to ask questions in the chat window. The series launches Friday, August 28th, with the first panel focused on 70s-90s throwback horror including authors of novellas from the Rewind or Die series published by Unnerving Press: Mackenzie Kiera, Stephen Graham Jones, Lisa Quigley, and Jessica Guess, as well as noted subject matter expert Grady Hendrix!
(10) PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. Be sure to consult NASA’s Guide to Near-light-speed Travel before blasting off.
So, you’ve just put the finishing touches on upgrades to your spaceship, and now it can fly at almost the speed of light. We’re not quite sure how you pulled it off, but congratulations! Before you fly off on your next vacation, however, watch this handy video to learn more about near-light-speed safety considerations, travel times, and distances between some popular destinations around the universe.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 15, 1984 — The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension premiered. Directed by and produced by W.D. Richter (with co-production by Neil Canton), the screenplay was by Earl Mac Rauch who did nothing else of a genre nature. Primary cast was Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd. Initial critical response was generally negative with a few claiming the script was unintelligible. More than one said it was too hip for its good. No, it didn’t do well at the box office but has since become a cult film, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give an excellent 70% rating. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 15, 1771 – Sir Walter Scott, Bt. Lawyer, reviewer, antiquarian, poet, novelist; in the last three, fantastic elements recur; in the last two, by his doing; his reputation has soared, fallen, soared again. He may yet prove timeless. He wrote “Breathes there the man with soul so dead” and “Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive!” Rossini, Donizetti, Schubert, Beethoven set his words to music. His baronetcy became extinct upon the death of his son. (Died 1832) [JH]
Born August 15, 1858 — E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than sixty books of children’s literature including the Five Children Universe series. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organization later affiliated to the Labour Party. (Died 1924.) (CE)
Born August 15, 1907 – Jack Snow. Wrote Who’s Who in Oz (1954), rightly praised by Anthony Boucher (“Recommended Reading”, Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar 55). By then JS had written two Oz novels of his own, five darker short stories for Weird Tales. When Frank Baum, the first and arguably best Oztorian, died in 1919, JS offered to succeed him – age 12; he was turned down. Matching or at least harmonizing with Baum’s style has been elusive ever since; Who’s Who which could neither treat at length nor argue is masterly, as Boucher noted. (Died 1956) [JH]
Born August 15, 1917 — John Joseph McGuire. Best remembered as a co-writer with H. Beam Piper of A Planet for Texans, Hunter Patrol, Crisis in 2140 and The Return, all of which I’ve read. His solo fiction was a bare handful and I don’t think I’ve encountered it. The works with Piper are available from the usual digital suspects as is a novella of his called The Reason Prisoner. It’s listed as being public domain, so’s free there. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born August 15, 1932 — Robert L. Forward. Physicist and SF writer whose eleven novels I find are often quite great on ideas and quite thin on character development. Dragon’s Egg is fascinating as a first contact novel, and Saturn Rukh is another first contact novel that’s just as interesting. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born August 15, 1933 – Bjo Trimble, 86. (There should be a circumflex over the j, an Esperantism indicating the pronunciation “bee-joe”, but the software won’t allow it.) Omnifan preceding Bruce Pelz. Her vitality and wit sparked LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) out of a slump, authored SF con Art Shows (for which she still refuses credit), led a letter-writing campaign that saved Star Trek from being scrapped (see On the Good Ship “Enterprise”), flourished in fanart, concocted cons and costumes. Received the Big Heart (our highest service award) in 1964, possibly the youngest ever; Inkpot, 1974 (its first year); Fan Guest of Honor at Dragon*Con 1995 the 6th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). She and husband John have the Life Achievement Award from the Int’l Costumers Guild. They were early Baroness and Baron in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she has the Order of the Laurel (arts & sciences), both the Order of the Pelican (service). Together co-chaired Westercon 23; were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJosé the 60th Worldcon. [JH]
Born August 15, 1934 – Darrell K. Sweet. Three hundred fifty covers for us, seventy-five interiors; perhaps 3,000 images all told. Here is Space Cadet. Here is Beyond the Blue Event Horizon. Here is The Dictionary of SF Places. Here is The Eye of the World. Here is “The Gap Dragon and Princess Ivy”. Artbook, Beyond Fantasy. Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at Tuckercon the 9th NASFiC; World Fantasy Con 2010; LoneStarCon 3 the 71st Worldcon which had to celebrate him posthumously. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born August 15, 1943 — Barbara Bouchet, 77. Yes, I’ve a weakness for performers who’ve shown up on the original Trek. She plays Kelinda in “By Any Other Name”. She also appeared in Casino Royale as Miss Moneypenny, a role always noting, and is Ava Vestok in Agent for H.A.R.M. which sounds like someone was rather unsuccessfully emulating The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It will be commented upon by Mystery Science Theater 3000. (CE)
Born August 15, 1945 — Nigel Terry. His first role was John in A Lion in Winter which is at least genre adjacent, with his first genre role being King Arthur in Excalibur. Now there’s a bloody telling of the Arthurian myth. He’s General Cobb in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Doctor’s Daughter”, and on the Highlander series as Gabriel Piton in the “Eye of the Beholder” episode. He even played Harold Latimer in “The Greek Interpreter” on Sherlock Holmes. (Did 2015.) (CE)
Born August 15, 1952 – Louise Marley, 68. A score of novels (some under other names) including both a Glass Harmonica and a Mozart’s Blood, as many shorter stories. Interviewed in Fantasy, Locus, Strange Horizons, Talebones. Two Endeavour Awards (note spelling; named for Captain Cook’s ship). Before authoring, sang with the Seattle Opera. See this autobiographical note. [JH]
Born August 15, 1958 — Stephen Haffner, 62. Proprietor of Haffner Press which appears to be largely a mystery and genre reprint endeavor though he’s published such original anthologies as Edmond Hamilton & Leigh Brackett Day, October 16, 2010 and the non-fiction work Thirty-Five Years of the Jack Williamson Lectureship which he did with Patric Caldwell. (CE)
Born August 15, 1964 – Carla Sinclair, 56. Editor of Net Chick. Author of Signal to Noise. Co-founder of bOING bOING. [JH]
Born August 15, 1972 — Matthew Wood, 48. He started out as, and still is, a sound engineer but he also became a voice actor with his best know role being that of General Grievous in The Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars. He often does both at the same time as on the 2013 Star Trek into Darkness where he was the surviving sound editor and provided the ever so vague additional voices. (CE)
…The resulting series, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” went on to have a successful seven-season run on ABC, which ended Wednesday with a complex two-hour series finale. That didn’t seem especially likely after its rough debut in 2013. Some critics wanted flashier connections to Marvel cinema — where was Iron Man? — and the show had to operate in the shadow of the movies: The existence of magic couldn’t be acknowledged until it was first revealed by the 2016 film “Doctor Strange” first; “life-model decoys,” a kind of android, weren’t permissible until an android character appeared in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
But about halfway through its run, the show began reinventing itself, with characters ping-ponging through space, time and alternative realities. Once the writers freed themselves of the timeline and narrative restraints established by the movies (and even ignored a few), the series started to soar.
“We could just make up our own stories,” said Jed Whedon. “It was liberating.”
In the final season, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents hopped around different decades, with a pit stop in the 1980s that provided pure pop-geek joy. (Agent Coulson as Max Headroom? Check.)
But the show never lost its emotional core: the relationship between Agents Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who crossed the galaxy more than once to be together, only to be repeatedly pulled apart. In the finale, they reunited, as Fitz helped the ragtag team save both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Earth from a takeover by an alien android race.
… A squabble in the sky over Lake Michigan left one bald eagle victorious and one government drone mangled and sunken.
Hunter King, a drone pilot at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, was surveying an area of the lake near the state’s Upper Peninsula last month when the drone started “twirling furiously” after it indicated that a propeller had been torn off.
A couple who regularly spends time watching eagles go after sea gulls in the area witnessed the battle but were surprised when they learned that it was a drone that had been downed in the fight, the department said….
The department speculated that the eagle could have attacked because of a territorial dispute, because it was hungry “or maybe it did not like its name being misspelled.”
It’s one of the cheapest ways to help kids in extremely poor countries: Twice a year, give them a 50-cent pill to kill off nasty intestinal parasites. Now, a landmark study finds the benefits carry over long into adulthood — and the impact is massive. But dig deeper and the issue quickly becomes more complicated — and controversial.
To understand why, it helps to start at the beginning, when newly minted economist — and future Nobel prize winner — Michael Kremer says he stumbled into this study by lucky happenstance.
It was the mid-1990s and Kremer was visiting Kenya. “I mean I was on vacation. I wasn’t there for a research trip or something,” he recalls.
Kremer, who had spent a year after college teaching at a school in Kenya, decided to look up a friend from that project. And at their get-together, the friend mentioned to Kremer that he was about to start a new aid program to help elementary school children — including by giving them deworming pills.
The parasites aren’t just bad for kids’ health. They can make a child too listless to pay proper attention in school or so sick she misses many school days.
Kremer, who had recently gotten his doctorate in economics, says he was struck by an idea: “I suggested that if he chose twice as many schools and then they initially started working in half of them and then later expanded [the deworming to the other half], I could measure the impact of what they were doing.”
…The experiment, which involved about 32,000 children, also turned deworming into a popular form of aid. That’s because the first set of results, released in 2004 by Kremer and a collaborator, Edward Miguel of University of California, Berkeley, showed that giving the kids the pills reduced absenteeism and dropping out of elementary school by a fourth — from 28% to 21%.
There may be no novelty sweet more polarizing than astronaut ice cream. Those who adore it praise its light, crunchy texture, and a flavor that is still unmistakably creamy and sweet. Its detractors will say biting into it is akin to chomping down on a piece of chalk: powdery and unnatural. And for those who have never tried it, the entire concept of eating ice cream stripped of all liquid may seem downright bizarre. But even though so-called astronaut (or to be more precise, freeze-dried) ice cream isn’t the most popular of novelty treats, its longevity proves that it has found a small, but fiercely loyal fan base.
Even its creator has been a little surprised at the product’s staying power….
[Thanks to amk, Andrew “Eagle Eye” Porter, Somtow Sucharitkul, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Michael Toman, Dan Bloch, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM! The 2020 Hugo voting report, which begins with a short list of works that got enough votes to be finalists but were disqualified or withdrawn by the author, showed that Ann Leckie declined her nomination for The Raven Tower. In a blog entry today she explained why: “The Hugos and The Raven Tower”.
…I’ve had a taste of that cookie quite a few times now. It is, let me tell you, one delicious cookie. And when the email came telling me that The Raven Tower was a finalist for the Hugo Award, I thought of the books in that longlist, how often I’d had a bite of this cookie, and how many of the amazing books from 2019 were debuts, and/or were books that, when I’d read them, my first thought was, Oh, this should be on the Hugo ballot. More books than there were spots, for sure. And I realized that I could do something about that, at least in a small way.
And so I withdrew The Raven Tower from consideration.
Let me be perfectly clear–I was overwhelmed at the thought that so many readers felt The Raven Tower deserved to be a Hugo finalist. I have been treasuring that for months. And as I’m sure we all know, these have been months during which such treasures have become extremely important.
I also want to be clear that this is not any sort of permanent decision on my part. I make no promises about withdrawing anything in the future. If I am ever so fortunate as to have a work reach the shortlist again, and I see what seems to me a good reason to withdraw, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. It is, after all, one of the sweetest, most delicious cookies around!
(2) A WEE JOKE. From the August issue of Ansible:
The Retro Hugo Statistics reveal that a single Fan Writer nomination for 1944 work (it took three to get on the final ballot and no one had more than six) went to some chap called David Langford. Ho ho, very satirical….
(3) WHO BENEFITS. Much truth in this.
(4) NOW PLAYING. “The Ballad of Ursula K. Le Guin.”
John Boyne, the award-winning author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, has acknowledged that a cursory Google led to him accidentally including monsters from the popular video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in his new novel.
Boyne’s A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom opens in AD1 and ends 2,000 years later, following a narrator and his family. In one section, the narrator sets out to poison Attila the Hun, using ingredients including an “Octorok eyeball” and “the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms”….
Dana Schwartz rounded up some graphics to support the story. Thread starts here.
…Personally, I am delighted that we are suffering from the challenges of success instead of the problems of failure. The level of mediocrity has risen and the level of excellence has truly surpassed the past. So the challenges in front of any author must look insurmountable, even to the long-time practitioners.
As difficult as all this may seem to anyone who writes, it’s still a good thing. Because it’s no longer about the awards — in fact, it never was about the awards. It has always been about the quality of the work.
That there is so much good work being created these days is a victory for the field, and especially for the readers.
I just wish I had enough time to keep up with it all.
…But let me elucidate one category of Martin’s microaggressions that cut across the entire spectrum of humanity by subtly excluding anyone not part of his old guard: his use of nicknames for writers and editors whose prominence was in days gone by, signaling that no matter who you might be, if you weren’t part of the inner circle back in the day, you’ll never really be a true fan (or pro) now.
In Martin’s very, very long commentaries during yesterday’s Hugo Awards ceremony, Robert Silverberg was “Silverbob,” George Alec Effinger was “Piglet,” and the editor Robert A.W. Lowndes was “Doc.” I think Martin also called Isaac Asimov “Ike” during his trips down memory lane, although I’m not going to sift through the hour and forty-five minutes of his rambling again (fully half of the total running time of the Hugo ceremony) to be sure.
You see? Even someone like me — 40 years a selling author in this field, and now 60 years of age — was never part of that ancient, early prodom. I’ve known Robert Silverberg since 1989 and knew Asimov and Effinger, too, but was never close enough to call them by cutesy nicknames.
And if someone like me feels left out after all these decades in the field, imagine how the newer writers, or the writers whose literary background wasn’t the American SF magazines, felt during the Hugo ceremony.
… Yes, it’s a small thing — that’s why it’s called a MICROaggression — and it’s usually done without consciously intending to exclude or put down someone else, but microaggressions ARE pervasive and exclusionary in effect. We’d all do well to guard against committing them.
(8) JOIN THE BOB & DOUG SHOW. Back in their home theater after taking their show on a bit of a road trip, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their flight to the International Space Station and back aboard the inaugural crewed voyage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft. This press release — “NASA Astronauts to Discuss Historic SpaceX Crew Dragon Test Flight” – tells how to access their news conference.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their recently completed SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission to the International Space Station during a news conference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.
This will be a virtual event with no media present, due to the safety restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Reporters who wish to participate by telephone must call Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 to RSVP no later than 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.
The 1960 Worldcon, known as Pittcon (Pittsburgh, PA) promoted their masquerade as a “Costume Cabaret”. Following the show, there would be a glee club performance, a “minstrel show of science fiction flavor”, and then a dance (music provided by a “hi-fi”, rather than a live band like some past years)…
(10) ROBERTA POURNELLE OBIT. Roberta Pournelle, widow of Jerry, passed away last night at the age of 85. Her son Frank Pournelle announced services are planned in the coming week. The Chaos Manor page on Facebook saluted her:
An educator for 30 years at the Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce, Mother of 4, Grandmother, a friend to many; she made order out of Chaos.
Born Roberta Jane Isdell, she married Jerry Pournelle in 1959. ISFDB shows she wrote a nonfiction piece for Analog in 1988, “High-Tech for the Little Red Schoolhouse.”
(11) SUSAN ELLISON OBIT. HarlanEllisonBooks.com announced today that Susan Ellison (1960-2020) died over the weekend at home, the “Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.” No other details were given. Susan and Harlan married in 1986 and were together 32 years until his death in 2018.
Patricia Anne Buard. Patricia was a person of several interests, including theater and theology. In addition to having created works of both original fantasy and historical recreations, her short story “Devil’s Advocate” was published in the Marion Zimmer Bradley anthology book “Red Sun of Darkover”, released in 1987.
David was a Michigan area costumer. His best known creations were Krakatoa, the Volcano God, and St. Helen. Krakatoa appeared at several venues, including Worldcon: Chicon V, in 1991 (photo below). It was quite innovative for its time, featuring several special effects.
August 3, 1951 — The Tales of Tomorrow series premiered with “Verdict From Space”. The series was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953. There were eighty-five episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length. The series came about through the efforts of Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahams, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The League who included Theodore Sturgeon, Anthony Boucher, and Isaac Asimov made their work available to the producers. The screenplay was written by Sturgeon and is based on his own story “The Sky Was Full of Ships” first published in the June 1947 issue of Thrilling Wonder. You can watch it here.
(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 3, 1841 – Juliana Ewing. Thirty short stories for us; a score of books with our and other stories, plays, book-length fiction, for children. Roger G. Lancelyn Green (1918-1987), one of the Inklings, who suggested the name Chronicles of Narnia to C.S. Lewis, called JE’s the first outstanding child-novels in English literature. Kipling said he knew her novels Jan of the Windmill and Six to Sixteen almost by heart; of Six “here was a history of real people and real things.” From her novelette “The Brownies” (1865) the Baden-Powells got the idea and name for junior Girl Guides. Here is a Caldecott cover for Jackanapes (1884). (Died 1885) [JH]
Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1922 – Ron Turner. Some sources say his birthday is the 22nd. Twelve dozen covers (I’d say “one gross”, but look what trouble that made for Bilbo Baggins), more if you count posthumous uses. Tit-Bits SF Comics, Space Ace, Rick Random, Stingray, The Daleks, Thunderbirds. Here is Operation Venus. Here is a John Russell Fearn collection. Here is Rick Random and the Terror from Space; here is its opening interior. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born August 3, 1926 — John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels that one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films. He also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 80. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie. (CE)
Born August 3, 1946 – John DeChancie, 74. Best known for nine Castle Perilous and three Skyway books, he’s published ten besides, two dozen shorter stories; if you know he has written as Raul Cabeza de Vaca, and entitled a poem “The Refusal to Mourn the Rejection, by Printed Form, of a Hopeful Writer in Pittsburgh, February, 1992”, you’ll know he can read, and smile, and has been with SF a while. Some fans become pros; some pros become fans, as he did; some are both, as he has been. Plays piano, likes the American Songbook and Rachmaninoff; paints, including a portrait of Rachmaninoff. See this, which includes portraits of Marty Cantor and Chip Hitchcock. [JH]
Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 70. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which was the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. (CE)
Born August 3, 1953 – Margaret Bechard, 67. Reed College woman (as an Antioch boy, I think of these things). Children’s fiction, translated into French, Korean, Swedish. Two novels, one shorter story for us; Star Hatchling about first contact won a Golden Duck. Six other novels. [JH]
Born August 3, 1971 – Yoshitoshi ABe, 49. Graphic artist. Usually writes his name in Roman letters, with B capitalized for the sake of early works he signed “AB”. Known to sketch with just his finger and an iPad. Thirty self-published books; artbooks; covers; half a dozen each of animé and manga. Here is his cover for Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill (A. Smith tr. 2009; hello, Pete Young). Here is Walking the Dragon from YA’s artbook Gaisokyu (“Palace”; 2007). [JH]
Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 48. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish redheaded colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American Gothic, Sliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), Roar, Touched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), Grimm, Supernatural and currently on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. (CE)
Born August 3, 1979 – Evangeline Lilly, 41. Actress, author. She was in Lost, Real Steel, two Peter Jackson hobbit films, three Marvel superhero films – to misquote Winston Churchill, who said a Wasp couldn’t sting thrice? So far two Squickerwonker short stories for children have appeared, one translated into Portuguese. [JH]
(17) A TOTAL SURPRISE. After Hastings author Steven H Silver tells Lawrence Shoen about eating reindeer steak in Stockholm as part of “Eating Authors: Steven H Silver”. However, the cuisine is overshadowed in this great anecdote about something that happened at dinner —
SHS: Honestly, there are a lot of things I don’t remember about my most memorable meal because it sticks out not because of the food or the company or even the location, but rather because of an incident that occurred during the meal….
He’s starred in over 30 movies but how many of those has Godzilla actually died in? The first movie is a somber monster movie with the title creature is intended to be a walking metaphor for nuclear weapons. The movie’s huge success led to a franchise that is still running nearly 70 years later, with the monster appearing in sequels, reboots and remakes, in addition to comics, novels and video games where he’s battled against all sorts of creative monsters.
(19) MAD, I SAY. Could it be that Dave Freer’s message in “F-IW” at Mad Genius Club is “When you’re in your time machine on the way back to kill baby Hitler, don’t forget to stop off in the Sixties and take over traditional publishing”?
…Both of these [old] books had a huge effect on my young mind. Yes, I can see the Woke and modern left rubbing their hands (and other parts, never mentioned) in glee, saying ‘Yes! We were RIGHT that we had to capture publishing and exclude any badthink. Just think if we’d had the dominance we have now over traditional publishing, back in 1960, even evil people like Freer would have been won (Hi: I’m Dave the Divider. If it wasn’t for me, so we are told by the self-elected authorities, sf/fantasy would be united and singing Kumbaya. See what a fate I saved you from!).
(20) CANON FIRED. Meg Elison says you’re excused from reading the SFF “canon.”
The radio show “Washington Goes to the Moon” two decades ago shed new light on the political battles around the Apollo program, and provided a wealth of material for later historians. Dwayne Day interviews the man who wrote and produced the show.
(22) FANTASY NETWORK FREEBIES. Some of us encountered The Fantasy Network for the first time watching CoNZealand events. They also have lots of free content. For example, the 2017 movie Magellan:
When NASA picks up three signals of extraterrestrial origin coming from within our own solar system, the space agency expedites a mission to investigate the sources. As Earth’s lone emissary, they send Commander Roger Nelson, the test pilot for an experimental spacecraft call the Magellan, assisted by an onboard A.I. named Ferdinand.
Many books function perfectly as standalones; many series end well. Plots are resolved, characters are given their reward or punishment. But there are also books that seem to cry out for a sequel and series that are never finished, leaving readers frustrated. We want more!
Alexis Gilliland’s Rosinante series is on this list —
… I discovered the series is funnier than one would expect from plotlines that feature banking crises, union negotiations, and the sudden collapse of the dominant government in North America. There were just three books in the series—Revolution from Rosinante (1981), Long Shot for Rosinante (1981), The Pirates of Rosinante (1982)—but the setting was expansive and interesting enough that more stories were possible, perhaps elsewhere in Gilliland’s Solar System. Thus far, none have materialized.
It’s no exaggeration to say this year feels like a horror movie. And now, a few filmmakers are making it official.
All over YouTube, you can find inventive homemade horror shorts taking the pandemic as inspiration. (They come from Brazil, from Canada and from, well, Funny or Die.) And a new movie Host, filmed over twelve weeks in quarantine and entirely on Zoom, debuted on the horror channel Shudder last week.
Call it “quar-horror.”
Among the most chilling of the YouTube offerings is Stay At Home, part horror movie and part PSA from a filmmaker in New Orleans.
“I literally just grabbed a box, and I set up the camera on a tripod and gave myself a scenario,” says Kenneth Brown, a former Uber driver turned horror auteur. “And the story started to build and build and build.”
Brown went to film school, and you can tell. Based on the myth of Pandora’s Box and the evening news, Stay At Home is elegantly lit and crafted. As of this writing, it’s racked up nearly 200,000 views on YouTube.
Part of what makes Stay At Home so effective — and heartfelt — is the insistent drone of news anchors discussing the mounting carnage. “That’s everything I need to say as far as reaching African Americans, which is the population most vulnerable to this virus,” says Brown, who is Black himself.
But escapism is also the point, say Nathan Crooker and James Gannon. Their upcoming quar-horror, called Isolation, just wrapped principal photography. The two produced the film; Crooker is also its director. Isolation is an anthology; nine interconnected shorts by different directors who filmed their movies using only resources immediately available to them.
Saving the giant panda is one of the big success stories of conservation.
Decades of efforts to create protected habitat for the iconic mammal has pulled it back from the brink of extinction.
But, according to a new study, while many other animals in the same landscape have benefited from this conservation work, some have lost out.
Leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs have almost disappeared from the majority of protected areas.
Driven to near extinction by logging, poaching and disease, their loss could lead to “major shifts, even collapse, in ecosystems”, said researchers in China.
Without the likes of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock can roam unchecked, causing damage to natural habitats, with knock-on effects for other wildlife, including pandas themselves.
By protecting the panda’s forests, conservationists believed they would be protecting not only the charismatic black-and-white animal, but the many other species roaming the same habitat.
But while that has worked for some other wildlife, the efforts do not appear to have worked for large carnivores, such as the leopard and wolf.
A team of researchers now says a broader – holistic – approach is needed to manage the ecosystem in which the panda lives – one that ensures key species don’t lose out.
(26) SHORT LEAPS FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler interviews Catherine Hardwicke, whose new Quibi series “Don’t Look Deeper” is set “15 minutes into the future” and has a teenage girl as a protagonist who may or may not be an android. Hardwicke discusses what it was like to direct a story delivered in 10-minute chunks and why star Helena Howard is a “strong and vulnerable” actor Hardwicke enjoyed working with. “Can Catherine Hardwicke get you to watch Quibi?”
Why Quibi? Were the shorter episodes appealing?
Actually, the script was written for short episodes. It was written in chapters. I thought that was quite interesting when I first read the script. I was like, “Wow, that’s fascinating,” because the short format does tie in — it weaves in directly with what’s going on with [Aisha’s] memory. We tell the story in a non-linear way as her memories are being erased and restored. The technology that we’re exploring, showing it on a new technological platform with the vertical and horizontal, it all seemed to kind of work together in an interesting way. So this leap of faith — that [Quibi founder Jeffrey] Katzenberg said let’s try this format — I thought that was an interesting challenge to dive into it and see what happens.
(27) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dragonball Evolution Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that when the hero of the film has to collect seven dragonballs to make a wish that dragonballs are as powerful as “blowing out candles on a birthday cake.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cliff, Madame Hardy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Seanan McGuire, an author who’s also been a Worldcon runner, has added her insights on Twitter, Thread starts here.
Cat Valente’s thread starts here, and the comments are along these lines —
(2) EVANIER ON MALTIN PODCAST. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard and Jessie Maltin’s latest podcast is with their long-time friend, Mark Evanier. (Click here.) Evanier talks about how he began his career as Jack Kirby’s assistant and then goes on to discuss his years at Hanna-Barbera, including what it was like to work with Tex Avery and Mel Blanc and how Jonathan Winters once used some downtime to do some improv in his office. Also discussed was his six-year run as the writer of Garfield and Friends, and how he gave work to such comedy legends as George O’Hanlon (the original voice of George Jetson) and Rose Marie. He also discusses his role at Comic-Con, where he is one of six people who has attended every Comic-Con. As part of his Comic-Con segment, he gives some valuable advice about running panels. He is also an author, with his edition of the seventh volume of The Complete Pogo about to be sent to the printer. Evanier’s long-time partner was Carolyn Kelly, daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly, and Evanier vows to finish the definitive Pogo collection Carolyn Kelly began.
Ray Bradbury is discussed beginning at minute 56, and Evanier discusses what it was like to interview Bradbury in front of several thousand Comic-Con attendees. (He routinely asked Harlan Ellison fr advice about what questions to ask Bradbury). He notes that Bradbury always liked to go to the hucksters room to see what was new in comics and how he would always happily sign his works. Leonard Maltin noted that Bradbury had a youthful spirit throughout his life and “never lost his sense of wonder.”
(3) FUTURE TENSE. The July 2020 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Legal Salvage,” by Holli Mintzer, a story about artificial intelligence, thrifting, and taste.
Twenty, 25 years ago, someone lost a building.
It started as a U-Haul self-storage franchise, and switched allegiance between a few other companies as it changed owners. The last owner had been running it as an independent when he died. His heirs were halfway across the country, and before they could do anything about it, one of them died and the other two spent down the rest of the estate fighting over how to split it….
…As humans, our possessions mean many different things to us. Their value may be practical. We need a blender to make smoothies and a bike to get to work on time. But many objects also have sentimental value and hook into the complex web of human emotions and relationships. We may have aspirational objects that tell us who we want to be (someone who goes camping more, exercises more, would wear those impractical shoes). We also keep nostalgic objects that remind us, through memory or our senses, of people or values that we want to remember. Sometimes our collections simply “spark joy” (in Marie Kondo’s words) in some unknowable way.
In “Legal Salvage,” we meet three collectors: Mika, Ash, and Roz. We also learn about people who abandoned power tools or neon signs or commemorative saltshakers in their storage lockers. We don’t know what these objects meant to the vanished collectors….
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: The new movie “Shirley” starts after the author Shirley Jackson has published her most famous short story. It’s called “The Lottery.” You might have read it in high school.
JOSEPHINE DECKER: The town annually stones to death one of its members because that’s just what’s done. You know, I think there’s a reason that that has stayed in our canon. It’s incredibly intense to talk about institutionalized oppression.
SHAPIRO: That’s the movie’s director Josephine Decker. Her film “Shirley” is a fictional story about a real person. And so I asked Decker how she compares the author, who died in 1965, to the character Shirley Jackson that Elisabeth Moss plays in the movie.
DECKER: It was a tricky challenge I guess you could say. But our MO was really just to prioritize making the audience feel like they were inside of a Shirley Jackson story. We put that above all else. So we were always adventuring into her fiction as the primary source for our inspiration of how to approach the film. We were very clear that we wanted to make a film that wouldn’t be mistaken for a biopic, even though I think it totally (laughter) has. It’s hard – when you call a film “Shirley,” I guess people get confused.
A behind-the-scenes video of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange delightfully stopping by a comic bookstore is making the rounds, and it’s exactly a bright spot the internet needed these days.
Scott Derrickson, the director and co-writer of “Doctor Strange,” on Monday night shared a “never before shown moment” of Cumberbatch, in full character regalia, casually walking into. a comic book store in New York City during the filming of the 2016 superhero flick.
July 28, 1955 — X Minus One’s “The Embassy” first aired. The story is that a man walks into a detective agency wanting to hire them to find the Martians that he says are here on Earth. It’s based on a story by Donald Wollheim published in Astounding Science Fiction in the March 1942 issue. The script is by George Lefferts. The cast includes Joseph Julian and Barry Kroger. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 28, 1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins. Including this original extraordinary poet will startle any Christian. “What? That’s not fantasy!” Be kind, brothers and sisters. Discovering him was worth all the quarreling with my teacher after high test scores put me in English IV my freshman year in college. Read this; and yes, it’s a sonnet. If you didn’t look up “Heraclitean” and you should have, shame on you. (Died 1889) [JH]
Born July 28, 1866 – Beatrix Potter. Famous for The Tale of Peter Rabbit; two dozen of these. Prizewinning breeder of Herdwick sheep. Conservationist. Careful mycological paintings finally published in W.P.K. Findlay’s Wayside & Woodland Fungi (1967); Linnean Society finally apologized for sexist disregard of her research (1997). (Died 1943) [JH]
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 Lifehere (Died 1943.) (CE)
Born July 28, 1928 — Angélica Gorodischer, 92. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies.has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. (CE)
Born July 28, 1931 – Jay Kay Klein. For decades he was fandom’s photographer. He wrote Analog’s Biologfor thirty years. Fan Guest of Honor at Discon II the 32nd Worldcon. Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame. At the end he donated some 70,000 photos to the Eaton Collection at U. Cal. Riverside; so far 6,000 digitized and available electronically. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2012) [JH]
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 the Charlaine Harris Meta-verse. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born July 28, 1947 – Colin Hay, 73. Six dozen covers, a few interiors. Here is The Left Hand of Darkness. Here is Orbitsville. Here is Rendezvous with Rama. Here is Before the Golden Age vol. 2. [JH]
Born July 28, 1955 – Ed Green, 65. Hard worker at cons within reach, local, regional, world. Chaired Loscon 24 and 31, co-chaired La-la’s Eleven (9th in a series of relaxacons, named with variations of “La-la Con” i.e. for Los Angeles and La-la Land). Served as LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) President. Evans-Freehafer Award for service to LASFS. [JH]
Born July 28, 1966 — Larry Dixon, 54. Husband of Mercedes Lackey, both GoHs of CoNZealand, 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. (CE)
Born July 28, 1968 — Rachel Blakely, 52. 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. (CE)
Born July 2, 1980 – Kelly van der Laan, 40. Four novels, three shorter stories in her Spring (in Dutch, Lentagon) series – first novel came from Nanowrimo; a dozen more short stories. “Pink Water” won first prize in the Fantastic Story contest. Collection Lost Souls just released in February. Likes Corey, King, Lynch, Martin, Sanderson, Rothfuss. [JH]
(10) FROSTY IN SPACE. Official ice cream of the Space Force TV show, “Ben and Jerry’s Boots on The Mooooo’N.” Here are four minutes of laughs about the ice cream in “Boots on the Moooon: Space Force R & D Diaries.”
Memo to all aspiring filmmakers: When Steven Spielberg tells you not to do something, you’d be wise to listen. Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds learned that lesson the hard way during the production of their 1995 action epic, Waterworld. Set in a dystopian tomorrow where the polar ice caps have melted, erasing “dryland” and bathing the world in water, the movie was conceived as an ambitious aquatic Western with a science-fiction twist. But when Waterworld washed ashore in theaters 25 years ago this summer, all anyone could talk about was the out-of-control budget and behind-the-scenes creative battles that culminated with Costner replacing Reynolds in the editing room. According to Waterworld screenwriter, Peter Rader, the source of the movie’s many troubles stemmed from one fateful decision: the choice to shoot the entire film on the open water rather than in a controlled environment like a studio water tank….
Virgin Galactic is about to start a key series of powered test flights of its passenger rocket plane.
The company’s Unity vehicle has so far conducted only glide flights after moving into its operational base in New Mexico earlier this year.
The powered ascents will see Unity ignite its hybrid rocket motor to climb to the edge of space.
These tests will set the stage for Virgin Galactic to introduce its commercial service.
Six hundred individuals have so far paid deposits to take a ride on Unity, with many of these individuals having put down their money a good number of years ago.
But George Whitesides, the company’s chief space officer, said their wait would soon be over.
“Our next flight will be just purely two pilots in the front to do a systems check,” he told BBC News.
“And then, once we’ve done that – well, we’re in pretty exciting territory because the plan is to start putting [four of our] people in the back. We haven’t shared exactly how many flights that will be because we’ve got to see how it goes. But it could be a fairly small number.”
The planetary science community will cheer these missions. But many researchers have started asking, more loudly than usual, why we’re going back to Mars yet again. So we invited Rebecca Boyle and David W. Brown, two journalists who have devoted a fair share of their careers to interviewing space researchers at NASA and in academia, to discuss why Mars, a planet that lost its atmosphere long ago, seems to absorb so much of the oxygen — and budgetary resources — in the rooms where explorations of our solar system are decided.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Screen Junkies take on a classic in Honest Trailers: E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial on YouTube. The junkies spend most of their time bashing the ’80s cheesefest Mac And Me, which they show is almost like E.T. “except for one major difference: E.T. is good!” (DId you know Jennifer Aniston made her debut in Mac And Me?)
[Thanks to Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]