The “Comic-Con Museum Long-Range Comprehensive Plan Reveal” shows what visitors can expect when the San Diego facility opens in 2021. The museum is located in the area of Balboa Park known as the South Palisades, where Comic-Con took over the Hall of Champions in the Federal Building in 2017.
Features outlined in the Plan include:
25,000 square feet of space for rotating exhibits
A year-round schedule of programs such as panels, meet-and-greets, experiential cinema, watch parties,
eSports, cosplay shows, and more that will also involve integrating the ideas and creative energy of Comic-Con fans through fan sourcing
A café with a changing menu of dishes and beverages that are creatively inspired by the themes of the rotating exhibit and program offerings
A gift shop with comics and graphic novels, branded souvenirs, art, apparel, and other collectibles
A 4K video theater and presentation space
Although set to open in summer of 2021, the full renovations shown in the video below may not be completed until 2024.
(1) CAN VIRTUAL CONS BE MADE BETTER? In “What Lessons Can Future Conventions Learn From Virtual San Diego Comic-Con?”, Io9 staffers Beth Elderkin, Jill Pantozzi, Cheryl Eddy, James Whitbrook, Charles Pulliam-Moore, and Germain Lussier assess what didn’t work about SDCC 2020, “from a lack of support for the artists and vendors who would usually be on the show floor, to the lack of fan involvement, to how to create a sense of energy that the convention’s swath of ‘family Zoom call’ style pre-recorded panels were lacking.”
(2) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. HBO showed its Lovecraft Country trailer to San Diego Comic-Con’s @Home audience.
People might not be able to flock to San Diego Comic Con this year in person, but the virtual convention, Comic-Con@Home, has been running all weekend, with countless panels, sneak peeks, and teasers and trailers for upcoming TV shows—but not many films, because let’s be honest: it’s not looking so good for major theatrical film releases in the fall. On Thursday alone, we got the full trailer for Bill and Ted Face the Music, a teaser for the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost horror comedy Truth Seekers, and the first trailer for S2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials. Rather than continue to cover each individually, we decided to compile the remaining trailers of interest into a single roundup post.
(4) A CAUTIONARY TALE. Linda D. Addison offers her experience with Covid-19 as a warning in this public Facebook post.
I’m sharing what my life has been like since June 8 because I’ve seen too many people not taking Covid-19 serious. This virus is real. If sharing this wakes even one person up, it’s worth it.
I’ve been as safe as possible, going to the supermarket every two weeks for supplies, wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, however, 7 weeks ago I got very sick for 9 days with symptoms of mild coronavirus, talked to my doctor and stayed in self isolation for more than 2 weeks. I was fortunate that my temp never went high enough or my breathing bad enough that I had to go to the hospital. Since then, I’ve lived with continued cough, fatigue, shortness of breath (using inhaler from doctor helps).
This is happening to many people in recovery (look up Covid Long Haulers). So I’m sleeping a lot, healing will come, but this is so new there’s not much the medical field can do at this point. I’m ok. My friend, Jill, lives around the corner and has been helping by dropping off stuff.
PLEASE, wear a mask (if not for yourself, for anyone who crosses your path)!
…The wait for more Avatar has become something of a running joke, so much so that a Twitter thread I started when it was already a running jokeis now well into its sixth year. The first sequel was originally announced almost a decade ago, in October 2010, with a projected release date of December 2014. Since then, its opening date has, at regular intervals, been moved back one year at a time — except once, in 2017, when it moved back two years. But the film has also morphed from a two-sequel series into a four-sequel series, with a lingering sense that the mountain was being made bigger as a way of justifying the length of the climb.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 27, 1997 — Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it would run for its first five seasons. The show which was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. It’s based rather loosely off the Stargate film. The initial core cast was Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge. It would run for a decade with the last five years being on Sci Fi. Two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis which would run five seasons, and Stargate Universe which would last two seasons. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a stellar 91% rating. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc. Orator, poet,correspondent,sailor, satirist, soldier, activist. Cautionary Tales for Children includes “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably”; 1907 readers would quickly recognize the parody. A hundred fifty books; we can claim half a dozen novels (illustrated by G.K.Chesterton!), as many shorter stories. (Died 1953) [JH]
Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.) (CE)
Born July 27, 1891 – Ruth Plumly Thompson. Following Frank Baum’s death, she wrote two dozen Oz books. Three other novels, six dozen shorter stories, ten dozen poems. Also wrote for The Smart Set, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Jack and Jill. Many regard her as a worthy successor. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born July 27, 1908 – W.I. Van der Poel, Jr. Art director for Galaxy 1950-1960. A score of covers – but not, it seems, appearing there. He is however on this famous 1952 Emshwiller cover – see the key here. Look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. (Died 1987) [JH]
Born July 27, 1927 – Mel Hunter. A hundred book and magazine covers, eight dozen interiors. Here is the May 53 Galaxy. Here is The End of Eternity. Here is Double Star – the Great Lorenzo at right. Here is the Jun 58 If. Here is the Mar 61 F & SF. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best-known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost-beyond-counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 81. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format. (CE)
Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 72. She’s a New Zealand born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
Born July 27, 1949 – Cora Lee Healy, 71. Fanartist, has done some pro work. Here is a cover for Algol. Here is “Starward”. Here is another astronomical. She has been in Energumen and Granfalloon; she did the Ace of Cups in the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see this review by a Tarot collector; although the reviewer says the Deck is out of print; copies can still be obtained; if all else fails, ask me, John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057). [JH]
Born July 27, 1950 — Simon Jones, 70. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil and 12 Monkeys as well. (CE)
Born July 27, 1952 – Bud Webster. Our Gracious Host has done better than I could. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born July 27, 1958 – Kate Elliott, 62. Two dozen novels (some under another name), a dozen shorter stories; interviewed in Apex, Lightspeed, Locus, Mindsparks. “The Sword of Heaven [in two parts, An Earthly Crown and His Conquering Sword] I call my Mozart novel because of the speed it flowed out of me…. my Beethoven novel The Law of Becoming was like hacking through the jungle into unknown country…. Being a parent has made me a better writer.” Unconquerable Sun just released this month. Mills College woman. [JH]
Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 52. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which is up for a Hugo next week. Her work Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. (CE)
Born July 27, 1979 – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, 41. Three dozen short stories; poems; essays, reviews, interviews, in Analog, Clarkesworld, Foundation, NY Review of SF, Strange Horizons. Anthology (with Robert Silverberg), When the Blue Shift Comes. Traveler of Worlds, conversations with Silverberg. Good moderator of the Asimov centenary panel at Loscon 46.
Born July 27, 1984 – Hao Jingfang, Ph.D., 36. Vagabonds just appeared in English and Spanish this year. A score of shorter stories; Best-Novelette Hugo for “Folding Beijing”, first won by a Chinese woman. Translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish. Interviewed in Lightspeed, Monde chinois (in French). [JH]
“We wanted to tap into the zany energy of the 1940s stuff,” added supervising producer Alex Kirwan. “That was our favorite era of the shorts and we just wanted more of that. We didn’t want to set out to reinvent it and we didn’t want to set out to put new sensibilities on it … What we love about the shorts is that they’re wonderful slapstick humor and we just wanted to get back to [that] and be really true to the way they paired the characters and the way they built comedy dynamics.”
(10) WATCH ALEX ROSS AT WORK. Over the last two months, Marvel has revealed 28 “Timeless” variant covers created by Alex Ross, which will begin to hit local comic shops in September. See Ross craft his iconic painted covers, and see how his timeless imagery was made into a magnificent mural in Marvel’s NYC offices in this video.
Daredevil actor Peter Shinkoda says his storyline was cut after a Marvel executive said “nobody cares about” Asian characters.
Shinkoda played Nobu in the Marvel Netflix series, which was cancelled at the end of 2018.
But he says his character’s “back story was dropped” on orders from former Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb.
“I’m kind of reluctant to say this, but… I’m going to take this moment,” Shinkoda said during a virtual talk.
“Jeph Loeb told the writers’ room not to write for Nobu and Gao – and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and show runners – that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people,” he alleged.
The Canadian actor, who was taking part in a #SaveDaredevil roundtable discussion with actors from the show, said a storyline about Nobu’s journey to America ended up being dropped.
A small chunk of Mars will be heading home when the US space agency launches its latest rover mission on Thursday.
Nasa’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and which, until now, has been lodged in the collection of London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).
The rock’s known properties will act as a calibration target to benchmark the workings of a rover instrument.
It will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot might make.
This will be particularly important if Perseverance stumbles across something that hints at the presence of past life on the planet – one of the mission’s great quests.
“This little rock’s got quite a life story,” explained Prof Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team.
“It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don’t know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it’s going back to Mars,” she told BBC News.
It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to want to avoid the spotlight, right? But showing up dressed as Darth Vader to collect your check is a new one. It happened in a galaxy not so far away, in May Pen, Jamaica, when a man claimed his $95 million prize in a dark lord of the Sith costume.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Saruman is spinning Gandalf around, he “forces Gandalf to learn breakdancing against his will.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) BRADBURY CENTENARY PODCAST. Phil Nichols’ BRADBURY 100 podcast starts today! His guest on episode 1 is author Steven Paul Leiva.
I first met Steve at Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday party in 2010, which was held in Glendale’s Mystery & Imagination Bookshop. For many years Ray would gather friends and fans here for book signings and talks. Up the stairs of the bookshop was a wall signed by various authors and celebrities who had visited. Steve and I searched for his previous signing, and we also found the spot where Ray Bradbury had signed several years earlier.
… The board room doors opened. Mike Willmoth, our board mentor, walked into the hallway, stuck out his hand to me and said, “Congratulations.” Tears sprang to my eyes. And they were not tears of joy! We’d done it. And now, we had to do it!…
(3) ZOMBIE SOCIAL DISTANCING. “Zombies and Coronavirus: Planning For The Next Big Outbreak” on YouTube is a panel from Comic-Con featuring Max Brooks, who says Americans born after World War II “don’t have the muscle memory and gut fear of germs” which left them ill-prepared for the pandemic.
(4) PURITY OF ESSENCE. Charles Stross is not prepared to trust Worldcon site selection voters, you see. They might do anything. Like vote for another Worldcon in the U.S.
… From TOS onward, Barrett became a vital part of Star Trek, lending her voice to Star Trek: The Animated Series, appearing in the original Star Trek movies, and guest-starring in Star Trek: The Next GenerationandStar Trek: Deep Space Nine. Majel Barrett is a true example of Star Trek royalty, and the following is every live-action role she played in the franchise, as well as how ubiquitous her voice has been to nearly every incarnation of Star Trek.
(6) NIPPON INTO SPACE. The Diamond Bay Radio podcast has a new interview on the history of Japanese Rocketry and space programs with Subo Wijeyeratne (PhD in History of Science, Harvard): “Japanese Rocketry”.
They also discuss Subo’s science fiction anthology, Tales from the the Stone Lotus, and his unpublished novel, Triangulum.
Clein … consulted for Pixar and Steve Jobs on Toy Story (1995); for Tim Burton on Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992) and Ed Wood (1994); and for other filmmakers including … Wes Craven. He also… wrote the press notes for Star Wars (1977)….
Ronald L. Graham, who gained renown with wide-ranging theorems in a field known as discrete mathematics that have found uses in diverse areas, ranging from making telephone and computer networks more efficient to explaining the dynamics of juggling, died on July 6 at his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 84.
The cause was bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition, according to a statement from the University of California, San Diego, where Dr. Graham was an emeritus professor.
“He created a lot of mathematics and some really pretty cool stuff,” said Peter Winkler, a mathematician at Dartmouth College. “This occurred over many years, and so it’s only now that we get to sort of look back and see all the stuff that he did.”
One thing he did was develop methods for worst-case analysis in scheduling theory — that is, whether the order in which actions are scheduled wastes time. On another front, with his wife and frequent collaborator, Fan Chung, an emeritus mathematician at the University of California, San Diego, he developed the idea of quasi-random graphs, which applied numerical preciseness in describing the random-like structure of networks.
Dr. Graham’s research was detailed in about 400 papers, but he never fit the stereotype of a nerdy mathematician. Soft-spoken but garrulous, he leavened his talks on high-level equations with silly jokes and sight gags. He was also an expert trampoline gymnast and juggler, a side pursuit — he was elected president of the International Jugglers’ Association in 1972 — that in his hands also lent itself to mathematical analysis. At one point Dr. Graham and three other juggling mathematicians proved an equation for the number of possible ball-juggling patterns before a pattern repeats.
(9) ROËVES OBIT. Actor Maurice Roëves, who appeared in two iconic genre TV series (details below) has died aged 83 reports The Guardian.
…Handsome, with piercing eyes and a granite jawline, he played tough guys, steely villains or stalwart military figures with directness, authenticity and spiky energy.
He also had the rare distinction of appearing in both Doctor Who and the Star Trek franchise: in the former he brought genuine grit to his turn as a murderous gun runner in The Caves of Androzani (1984), frequently voted the best story in the show’s long history. His alien Romulan in Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of his many forays into American television, which also included a stint on the soap Days of Our Lives (1985-86) and parts in Baywatch (1992), Cheers (1993) and Murder, She Wrote (1994).
(10) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.
July 25, 2009 — Robert Holdstock’s Avilion would be published. Set in his Ryhope Wood series, it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It would be the final work from this author as he died in-hospital at the age of sixty-one from an E. coli infection on November 29, 2009. He would be honored with The Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society the following year. And they would rename their British Fantasy Award for best novel in his honor the next year.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 25, 1870 – Maxfield Parrish. Two dozen covers for us, as many interiors if you count uses after he died; far more beyond, maybe higher numbers if we reach: I’m willing to leave out Ecstasy (see here); the medium matters for The Lantern Bearers (see here) – you don’t get the fantastic effect without glazing, on canvas it’s just globes – yes, I know it was done for Collier’s; but what about The Pied Piper (see here)? or Humpty Dumpty (see here)? and he illustrated The Arabian Nights (see here). He was a master of make-believe. He weighed whimsy; he was not ridden by, but rode, reality. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born July 25, 1907 — Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian first in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Ribos Opperation”, part one and then twice more in the two-part Fifth Doctor story, “Enlightment”. He was also Dr. Moe in the Fifties pulp film Stranger from Venus, and also showed up in The Omega Factor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1989.) (CE)
Born July 25, 1910 — Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories about a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. Kindle has a really deep catalog of his genre work. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born July 25, 1922 — Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science Fiction, Fantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at iBooks and Kindle shows a twelve story Wildside Press collection but none of her novels. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born July 25, 1932 – Paul Weitz. Naval aviator, 7,700 hrs flying time, five Air Medals. Piloted the first crewed Skylab. Commanded the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Challenger; its primary payload was the first Tracking & Data Relay Satellite, revolutionizing low-Earth-orbit communications. NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Fellow, Amer. Astronautical Society. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born July 25, 1948 — Brian Stableford, 72. I am reasonably sure that I read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. (CE)
Born July 25, 1971 — Chloë Annett, 49. She played Holly Turner in the Crime Traveller series and Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf series. She was in the “Klingons vs. Vulcans” episode of the Space Cadets sort of game show. (CE)
Born July 25, 1973 — Mur Lafferty, 47. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Divya Breed, her second time around. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won a Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, It won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast in 2018, having been a finalist the year before. Fiction wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. (CE)
Born July 25, 1950 – Cortney Skinner, 70. A score of covers (some with Tom Kidd) for us, seven dozen interiors; more for others. Here is the Jul 79 Galileo. Here is the Mar-Apr 91 Aboriginal. Here is The Hogben Chronicles. Here is a bookworm (sculpture, from his Website). Here, a cover for a Sherlock Holmes book. [JH]
Born July 25 – Dick Smith. DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with wife Leah Zeldes Smith). Active in various apas (amateur press associations) including our first and greatest, FAPA (Fantasy Am. Pr. Ass’n); earned the Vorzimer Award in The Cult. Fanzine, STET. Collects copying devices, e.g. letterpresses, hectographs. To balance this he is a computer consultant; Fred Pohl dedicated All the Lives He Led to him. [JH]
Born July 25, 1967 – Ann Totusek, 53. Chaired Minicon 51-52, Duckon, DemiCon. Served on the Super-Con-Duck-Tivity Board, i.e. giving the Golden Duck awards. Chief of Hospitality and of Volunteers at Demicons. Chief of Hospitality at Minicon’s Golden Anniversary; at Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon), and thus of the after-Hugos reception at Renovation (71st). Worked in Operations, one of our most thankless and demanding tasks, at Interaction (63rd Worldcon), Anticipation (67th), Loncon 3 (72nd), some Eastercons (U.K. nat’l convention). Has been Minn-Stf (from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) president. Taught making sugar-cube castles at Minicon 55. When I asked her “What else should I tell them?” she said “Tell them Ann says Wear a mask.” She should; she’s an R.N. Stood for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) this year, platform “Vote for Mike [“Orange Mike” Lowrey, the other candidate],” which we did. [JH]
Born July 25, 1977 – Shana Muldoon Zappa, 43. Actress, designer; married Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet; they in the family tradition named their daughter Halo Violetta Zappa, their son Arrow d’Oro Leon Zappa. SMZ and AZ invented Star Darlings (Disney); 14 novels about them so far, four on the Scholastic 100. [JH]
(13) SDCC AT HOME. Comic-Con@Home 2020’s item with the cast of The New Mutants can be viewed on YouTube and comes recommended by John King Tarpinian.
Writer/Director Josh Boone and the cast of Twentieth Century Studios and Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants, including Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga discuss the upcoming original horror-thriller moderated by Ira Madison III.
Like the elements that she discovered — polonium and radium — Marie Curie was “unruly,” says actor Rosamund Pike. Pike plays the famous scientist in the new biopic Radioactive.
The film, streaming on Amazon Prime, is about the power of science and how it can be harnessed in both positive and destructive ways. Curie’s discoveries led to medical breakthroughs, but they were also weaponized — into bombs and poison.
“[Director] Marjane Satrapi and I both had a vision of her as quite an ‘unruly element’ that does not behave as it should …” Pike explains. She and her fellow filmmakers were “interested in really pushing how challenging we could make her, how much we could make her not conform to traditional standards of femininity.” Interview Highlights On starring in a movie about science in the midst of a global pandemic
I’m very excited because I think there’s been a huge rise in people’s interest in science. And I think people are suddenly very, very curious as to who scientists really are. Who are these people who suddenly hold life in their hands? On what she learned about Marie Curie preparing for the film
She was really little more than a name that I recognized, if I’m perfectly honest. … I started having chemistry lessons … which was exciting as a female in film. Historically, a lot of my preparation has been involved, getting myself physically fit. And it was a really refreshing change to be having to get myself mentally fit.
Universal Orlando announced on Friday that it’s canceling its annual Halloween Horror Nights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horror Nights 30 was supposed to take place from September 10 through November 1. Large gatherings aren’t a good idea at this time, and Halloween enthusiasts are bummed. There was a time—back in the spring—when people imagined that we could be emerging from this nightmare by now. Many people had hope, back then, that popular Halloween gatherings were going to unfold this year as they have in the past, but with people wearing masks for the most ironic but necessary reason ever.
However, it’s time to give in to the notion that Halloween (along with probably all large gatherings for the rest of the year) is canceled….
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for these my joints. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Alas, no one was paying attention to Youtube’s ContentID copyright bot yesterday until after it shut down a couple officially sponsored livestreams from San Diego Comic-con. The first to get the boot was a Star Trek panel, and then a couple hours later Cartoon Network’s panel was also cut off.
Here’s why this is newsworthy: Both of these panels were blocked by Youtube the networks were streaming content that belonged to the networks.
The panel included the cast and producers of Discovery doing a read-through of the first act of the season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” The “enhanced” read-through included sound effects, effects shots, and storyboard images meant to bolster the actors as they delivered lines from their living rooms and home offices.
Even if the presentation didn’t look like a real episode of Discovery to the home viewer, it apparently sounded close enough: after the Star Trek Universe virtual panel began viewers began to lose access to the stream. In place of the video, YouTube displayed a content ID warning reading: “Video unavailable: This video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”
After being blacked out for about 20 minutes, the panel was restored, and the recording of the virtual panel has no gaps in playback.
The Digital Reader reminded everyone:
This is not the first time that livestreams have been blocked when they were legally using content; I am reminded of the Worldcon awards dinner livestream that was shut down because someone played a Doctor Who clip. The video had been provided by the BBC (the show had won an award that year) but apparently no one told Ustream’s bot.
…Now in its sixth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.
We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share….
… This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.
…Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.
(3) FAN RESOURCES. Congratulations to Fanac.org for reaching new milestones in preserving fanhistory.
FANAC by the Numbers. Numbers can be misleading, but they do give us some idea of the progress we are making in documenting our fan history. As of today, we have 11,526 fanzine issues consisting of more than 179,423 pages. This is up from the 10,000 fanzine issues and 150,000 pages reported in our April update. Our YouTube channel is now at 621 subscribers, and 90,356 views, up from last time’s 500 and 75,000. Fancyclopedia 3 has exceeded 32,000 items.
(4) TIED UP AT THE DOCK. Next year’s JoCo Cruise, technically a Jonathan Coulton fan cruise but really a week-long ocean cruise of all sorts of nerdery, science fiction fandom, and boardgaming, has been postponed a year to March 5-12, 2022. John Scalzi, a regular participant, also wrote a post about the announcement.
“Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents, and especially students,” Kahle implored. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.”
Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books….
(6) GEEK PARTNERSHIP SOCIETY FUNDRAISER. At least four Minneapolis-St. Paul conventions call the Geek Partnership Society’s office space home, and a host of other groups use it, too (listed below). The facility may not be able to afford to stay open, and after three weeks the GPS GoFundMe has raised only $13,010 of its $40,000 goal.
Geek Partnership Society may not be able to honor the terms of its lease and could face permanent closure if funds cannot be raised by end of July, 2020.
Please act now to support our facility, our community programs, and the resources we strive to provide to all geeks in the Twin Cities.
So, what happened?
-Clubs and individuals canceled their rentals of GPS’s venue spaces as people complied with sheltering orders and tried to maintain social distance.
-GPS Charity Auction events that we rely on for income were canceled as local conventions were canceled or postponed.
-Some of our large annual contributors are also having financial difficulties. because their conventions were postponed/cancelled for 2020.
What needs to happen now?
We need your help to keep GPS running through the end of the year. This will provide the time needed to plan a more flexible revenue model going into 2021. Our goal is to raise $40,000.
The history of the horror genre is routinely told via the careers of male directors such as James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas‘ just-published book 1000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018, takes a very different approach, showcasing the contributions of women directors and actors as well as those who have toiled, often unsung, in other capacities. “When we think of women in horror, we default to Janet Leigh or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, those really iconic images from horror films,” says Heller-Nicholas, who has previously written books on Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45. “We think of terror as being embodied through women’s bodies — screaming and running. I really wanted to explode that a little bit and say the person at the editing deck might be a woman, the person in the director’s chair might be a woman, the cinematographer might be a woman. If we move outside of the ‘single male genius’ who else is working on this stuff? And it turns out there’s actually some pretty amazing people, and some of them are women. There’s a lot more going on that women embody in horror than screaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. It’s hard work!”
Heller-Nicholas was inspired to have 1895 be the chronological starting point for her collection of mini-biographies after seeing a film from that year titled The Execution of Mary Stuart. “It’s a very very early example of special effects,” says the writer. “It’s Mary going up to the guillotine and having her head chopped off and her head being picked up, that’s the end of the film. I was first drawn to this because Mary is played by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ I was fascinated by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ Seemingly it’s a woman, but she’s defined through her relationship to a man. But I did some digging around and apparently it was actually played by a man. There was something about it, a little it of playfulness and the idea that gender and identity is slippery even in 1895.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 24, 1952 — Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial premiered. This was a fifteen-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the Blackhawk comic book, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by DC Comics. The latter company would re-use the name in several versions of the group. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet (as Spencer Bennet) Fred F. Sears and produced by Sam Katzman. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. It starred Kirk Alyn, Carol Forman and John Crawford. Despite being very well received, the Blackhawk serial was the last film serial shown on air flights.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas. Published work amounts to over 100,000 pages, translated into a hundred languages, inspiring two hundred motion pictures. Born on Haiti (as it now is); father, a general and the son of a marquis; grandmother, a black slave; Dumas, the name he used, was hers. His Nutcracker, a version of Hoffmann’s, is the basis of Tchaikovsky’s. The Wolf-Leader, an early werewolf novel; The Marriages of Father Olifus, just (2017) re-translated as The Man Who Married a Mermaid; The Count of Monte Cristo, a root of The Stars My Destination. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born July 24, 1878 – Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany. Chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland. Fifty Tales of Pegana with its own history, geography, gods. Ten dozen unlikely tales told by Joseph Jorkins to anyone buying him a whiskey at their club. Clute and Langford say D’s prose has muscular delicacy. In Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise Blaine and D’Invilliers recite D’s poetry. Translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish. (Died 1957) [JH]
Born July 24, 1895 — Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called TheGreek Myths, Seven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction than really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born July 24, 1916 – John D. MacDonald. While the score of books (I warned you about these puns) featuring salvage consultant Travis McGee and his friend Meyer are favorites of many, JDM is here for three SF novels, five dozen shorter stories, he wrote until the end. Wine of the Dreamers has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish; its title if not already meaning something else might name fan activity or SF – or if not unfair to nondrinkers. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born July 24, 1936 — Phyllis Douglas. She also appeared in two episodes of the Trek series in “The Galileo Seven” and “The Way to Eden” and in a two-parter of Batman (“The Joker’s Last Laugh“ and “The Joker’s Epitaph”) where she was Josie. She was in an uncredited role in Atlantis: The Lost Continent, and her very first role was at age two in Gone with The Wind. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 84. 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. (CE)
Born July 24, 1945 – Gordon Eklund, 75. Some are fans, some are pros, some are both; GE won a Nebula co-authoring with Greg Benford, another: they have written two novels (including If the Stars Are Gods, expanded from the novelette), half a dozen shorter stories, together. Three decades after Stars GE won a FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Award as Best Fanwriter. Twenty novels, six dozen shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, including two early Star Trek novels, of which one has a Dyson sphere. Recent collection, Stalking the Sun. [JH]
Born July 24, 1946 – Tom Barber, 74. Three dozen covers for books and magazines, a dozen interiors. Here is the May 79 Galileo. Here is The Men in the Jungle (in German as The Brotherhood of Pain). Here is the Mar 76 Amazing; here is the Mar 19; the magazine itself is well-named. [JH]
Born July 24, 1950 – Bob Fowke, 70. Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors. Here is The Golden Apples of the Sun. Here is Connoisseur’s SF. Here is King Creature, Come. Here is La flamme des cités perdues; not all who wander are lost, but here is The Lost Star. [JH]
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 69. 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. (CE)
Born July 24, 1959 – Zdrvaka Evtimova, 61. Author and translator. Nine short stories for us in or translated into English, much more outside our field. Besides Bulgaria and Anglophonia, published in France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam – two dozen countries. Six Bulgarian awards. Member of the Bulgarian Writers’ Union and the UK Writers’ League. See her here (Contemporary Bulgarian Writers; in English, with a photo, book covers and excerpts, links to online stories in English). [JH]
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 56. Comics artist and writer. She’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. (CE)
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 39. An impressive run in genre roles as she 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 lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. (CE)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side shows that somebody needs a manual for first contact. (Fist contact?)
And ever is heard a discouraging word — Dilbert shows it’s tough to be a beginning writer.
Are we having fun with the lockdown yet? Some of you may live, like me, in a region where our pal COVID-19 seems to be under control—or you may be trapped in some dire realm where it is not. Yet, for even those of us who are momentarily spared, respite may prove temporary—it’s always best to stay safe and plan for the possibility of continued isolation. That suggests that it would be prudent to add to your personal Mount Tsundoku, preferably with tomes weighty enough to keep one occupied through weeks of isolation and tedium. Omnibuses could be the very thing! Below are five examples…
Watching the numbers tick up on Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter is a remarkable way to pass the time. The fantasy author initially set out to raise $250,000 (£198,500) to release a 10th anniversary, leather-bound edition of his doorstopper novel, The Way of Kings. In less than 10 minutes, it became the most-funded publishing project of all time when it topped $1m. With 15 days still to go, he’s raised more than $5.6m. All this for a book that was just one of 13 Sanderson wrote before he’d even landed a publishing deal.
Most writers have novels that never see the light of day. But 13? That’s serious dedication. The books were written over a decade while Sanderson was working as a night clerk at a hotel – a job chosen specifically because as long as he stayed awake, his bosses didn’t mind if he wrote between midnight and 5am. But publishers kept telling him that his epic fantasies were too long, that he should try being darker or “more like George RR Martin” (it was the late 90s, and A Song of Ice and Fire was topping bestseller charts). His attempts to write grittier books were terrible, he says, so he became “kind of depressed”….
(14) PRESSED OWN AND OVERFLOWING. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid 24th July 2020opens with a tour of duty with Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion. TheSin Du Jour author has turned in his first epic fantasy novel and it’s fiercely intelligent, uniquely perceptive and exactly what the genre needs.
After that, I take a look at the Marchtrilogy of graphic novels. Covering the life of Rep. John Lewis, they’re engrossing, pragmatic, inspiring and horrific. They’re also by some distance some of the best graphic storytelling I’ve ever read.
Our interstitials this week feature the men of The Witcher doing things. Well, attempting things. Well, in the case of baking, being present while it notionally occurs…
This week’s playout is a unique and wonderful version of The Cure’s The Lovecats by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Enjoy! I did.
The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. It’s free, and you can find both sign up links and an archive of the last six months at the link above.
(15) KING REVIEWS BEUKES. [Item by Rob Thornton] In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King has great things to say about Lauren Beukes’ post-apocalyptic novel “Afterland,” which is described by King as “science fiction” at one point and a “neo-noir” at another. Everybody gets into the naming game: “Stephen King on Lauren Beukes’s ‘Splendid’ New Thriller”.
…The flap copy on my advance edition declares that “Afterland” is a “high-concept feminist thriller that Lauren Beukes fans have been waiting for.” It is a thriller, I grant you that, and feminist in the sense that most of the men have been erased by a flu virus that develops into prostate cancer, but Beukes is too wise and story-oriented to wham away at ideas that have been thoroughly explored, sometimes at tedious length, on cable news and social media. She lets her tale do the talking, and the results are quite splendid.
This is your basic neo-noir, coast-to-coast chase novel, and Beukes, who is from South Africa, sees America with the fresh eyes of an outsider. …
When Warner Brothers pulled Christopher Nolan’s $200-million thriller, Tenet, from its release schedule earlier this week, industry analysts expected a domino effect, and Disney announced this afternoon that the first 17 dominos have fallen.
The Mouse House’s live-action remake of Mulan, the last big-budget Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for August, is now “unset,” on the company’s release schedule.
And the studio has pushed back or cancelled the release of another 16 Disney and Fox films, in a ripple-effect that will affect movie releases for years.
One Searchlight film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, is still scheduled for summer, though pushed back two weeks to August 28. But such other Fox films as Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie remake Death on the Nile, and the supernatural thriller film The Empty Man have been delayed to later in the fall, while Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which was to have opened in October, has been postponed indefinitely.
Other films, including Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, and the supernatural horror film Antlers have been moved to 2021.
And in perhaps the most telling shift, three Star Wars pictures and four Avatar sequels, originally scheduled to alternate as Christmas releases starting next year, have all been moved back a full year, meaning the pandemic will affect film releases through Christmas of 2028.
Harvard scientists find that the same cell types that cause goosebumps are responsible for controlling hair growth
If you’ve ever wondered why we get goosebumps, you’re in good company — so did Charles Darwin, who mused about them in his writings on evolution. Goosebumps might protect animals with thick fur from the cold, but we humans don’t seem to benefit from the reaction much — so why has it been preserved during evolution all this time?
In a new study, Harvard University scientists have discovered the reason: the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair. Underneath the skin, the muscle that contracts to create goosebumps is necessary to bridge the sympathetic nerve’s connection to hair follicle stem cells. The sympathetic nerve reacts to cold by contracting the muscle and causing goosebumps in the short term, and by driving hair follicle stem cell activation and new hair growth over the long term.
Published in the journal Cell, these findings in mice give researchers a better understanding of how different cell types interact to link stem cell activity with changes in the outside environment.
A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.
“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.
“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.
[Thanks to Nina Shepardson, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Josh Hesse, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Cally Soukup, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
HBO is celebrating Comic-Con@Home with a first look at Season 2 of His Dark Materials. During today’s virtual panel for the show, HBO unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the drama, which introduces some fresh faces.
The YouTube description adds –
His Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living?—?and the dead?—?in their hands.
(3) COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE? A second trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music. Available On Demand and in theaters September 1.
(4) SCARES THAT CARE. Brian Keene and friends have done a few 24-hour telethons to raise funds for Scares That Care. The most recent event was canceled due to Covid.
They are opting to do a virtual fundraiser on August 1st. It’s only 13 hours, but it looks like it will be packed with lots of interesting panels. See the FAQ and schedule at the Scares That Care Virtual Charity Event link. Say, they get the same kind of questions as the Worldcon!
Q: I’m a celebrity who works in the horror genre. Why wasn’t I included in programming? A: We tried to accommodate as many horror professionals as we could, but unlike our physical Scares That Care Weekend charity events, we are limited by the technological restrictions and time constraints of this virtual event. However, you can still help the cause by sharing the event with your fans and encouraging them to donate.
If you want to sell books during a pandemic, it turns out that one of the best places to do it is within easy reach of eggs, milk and diapers.
When the coronavirus forced the United States into lockdown this spring, stores like Walmart and Target, which were labeled essential, remained open. So when anxious consumers were stocking up on beans and pasta, they were also grabbing workbooks, paperbacks and novels — and the book sales at those stores shot up.
“They sell groceries, they sell toilet paper, they sell everything people need during this time, and they’re open,” said Suzanne Herz, the publisher of Vintage/Anchor. “If you’re in there and you’re doing your big shop and you walk down the aisle and go, ‘Oh, we’re bored, and we need a book or a puzzle,’ there it is.”
Big-box stores do not generally break out how much they sell of particular products, but people across the publishing industry say that sales increased at these stores significantly, with perhaps the greatest bump at Target. In some cases there, according to publishing executives, book sales tripled or quadrupled.
Dennis Abboud is the chief executive of ReaderLink, a book distributor that serves more than 80,000 retail stores, including big-box and pharmacy chains. He said that in the first week of April, his company’s sales were 34 percent higher than the same period the year before.
“With the shelter in place, people were looking for things to do,” he said. “Workbooks, activity books and just general reading material saw a big increase.”
…And then the other reason we’re never sure how much we should talk about it is because rolling this information out in numbers can sort of feel like it’s…IDK. Attempting to lay on a guilt trip, or something, which is honestly not the goal! Because, like…there are always reasons people aren’t gonna buy a book! It’s not their genre! They don’t have any spare money right now! They already have a copy! There’s a million reasons! So talking about this is never meant to make people feel badly for not buying a book right now! Okay? Okay! 🙂
So let’s talk about numbers. Newsletter numbers, specifically, because the people who have chosen to be on my newsletter are my captive audience, and presumably are the most likely to buy any given book. (Join my newsletter! :))
Right now I have about 1630 newsletter subscribers, and in any given month, about 100 people—7% of the subscribers—buy the book I’m promoting that month. That’s pretty reliable.
(7) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Even God Has a Place Called Home” by Ray Mwihaki, a story about environmental health, witchcraft, technophilia, and transcendence.
On Monday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, they wll host another virtual event on Zoom, with Ray and science fiction author Christopher Rowe.
(8) CLARKE AWARD LOWDOWN. On Five Books, Cal Flyn interviews Arthur C. Clarke Award director Tom Hunter about this year’s nominees for the prize: “The Best Science Fiction of 2020”.
…In terms of who the audiences are for these books, on the one hand, if you like science fiction, you’ll find much to enjoy here but if you haven’t really tried the genre before, or if you might have been put off, I’d stress that these are all books published in 2019, for a 2020 prize, so they’re very contemporary-feeling in terms of their characterisation, quality of prose, plotting and so forth. You can definitely trace their lineage through the different eras of science fiction as it has evolved as a genre, and all of these books interrogate and tease and play with that tradition in different ways, but are also respectful of it. That’s the difference between, say—insert name of mainstream author—who has discovered a science fiction concept and written a book about it, then does a press tour where they try and convince you they’ve somehow invented robots, or space travel or parallel universes, or whatever. You know: ‘Before me science fiction was just cowboys in space, but my book is about real futures…’
… In his rendering of the 2001 story, Clarke may be marginally more emollient than Kubrick when it comes to assessing humanity’s chances of genuine uplift at the hands of a transcendent superbeing, but compared with contemporary in-house American SF visions of the future, both novel and film are baths of cold water.
Both were tortuously understood by many genre viewers as optimistic paeans to technological progress, with a bit of hoo-ha at the end; and Clarke himself never directly contradicted Kubrick’s dramatic rendering of his own exceedingly measured presentation of his clear message—also articulated in Childhood’s End, and hinted at strongly in Rendezvous with Rama—that as a species we may simply not quite measure up.
But this calm magisterial verdict, couched smilingly, mattered little to his own career, even when understood correctly. The huge success of 2001 had both made him rich and transformed him into a world gure; an addressable, venerated guru whose declarations on the shape-of-things-to-come were now given to the world at large. The best of this nonfiction work was collected years later as Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999), a huge volume whose title perfectly sums up the coign of vantage from which he wrote: which is to say, as though from the future itself, from somewhere on the far side of the slingshot ending….
(10) MORE UK FANHISTORY ONLINE. Rob Hansen has expanded THEN’s 1961 coverage of the SF Club of London. And “I’ve also added a link to a report by George Locke on the 1960 Minicon in Kettering. I didn’t think any report beyond a couple of sentences in Skyrack existed for that con so I was quite surprised to stumble across it.” Scroll down to 1960s section for links on the THEN index.
At the dawn of “The Muppet Show” in the late 1970s, a visit to the Muppet Labs consisted of watching its nebbishy proprietor, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, demonstrate misbegotten inventions like an exploding hat or a self-destructing necktie with a brief burst of pyrotechnics, a canned explosion sound and a puff of smoke.
Today, a return visit to those labs on the Disney+ series “Muppets Now” features Honeydew and his agitated assistant, Beaker, using a homemade device called the Infern-O-Matic to reduce everyday items — a carton of eggs, a wall clock, a guitar — to smoldering piles of ashes.
If this scene from “Muppets Now” feels manic and combustible — and even a bit familiar — that is by design: as Leigh Slaughter, vice president of the Muppets Studio, explained recently, she and her colleagues are hopeful that this series will conjure up “that true Muppet anarchy — that complete chaos.”
She added: “If they’re going to take on real-world science, we thought, we have to burn things. We have to drop things. We have to blow things up.”
“Muppets Now,” a six-episode series that debuts on July 31, is both Disney’s attempt to bring those familiar, fuzzy faces to its streaming service and a parody of internet content. Its segments feature characters like Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef in rapid-fire comedy sketches that lampoon popular online formats.
The new series also strives to reconnect the Muppets with the disorderly sensibility they embodied in the era of “The Muppet Show” and get back to basics after other recent efforts to reboot the characters fizzled out.
“The thinking is to stop trying so hard to be like everybody else and just be the Muppets,” said Bill Barretta, a veteran Muppet performer and an executive producer of “Muppets Now.” “Let’s celebrate the fact that they all have to deal with each other and just be silly and play and entertain again.”
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 23, 1995 — The Outer Limits aired “I, Robot”. This is a remake of the November 14th, 1964 episode that aired during the second season of the original Twilight Zone. This is not based on Asimov’s “ I, Robot” but rather on a short story by Eando Binder that ran in the January 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. The script was by Alison Lea Bingeman who also wrote episodes of Robocop, Flash Gordon, Forever Knight, Beyond Reality and The Lost World at that time. Adam Nimoy was the director and Leonard Nimoy, his father, was in it as he been the earlier production playing a different character. (CE)
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 23, 1889 – Yuri Annenkov. Illustrator, portraitist, theater and cinema designer. Zamyatin said he “has a keen awareness of the extraordinary rush and dynamism of our epoch.” Here is a Synthetic landscape. Here is the photographer M.A. Sherling. Here is Zamyatin. Here is a frog costume. Here is Miydodir, an animated washstand that eventually makes the boy at left wash. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born July 23, 1910 — Ruthie Tompson, 110. An animator and artist. Her first job was the ink and paints, uncredited, on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was involved in every animated from film Disney for three decades, stating with Pinocchio (Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form). Some she was an animator on, some she was admin on. She worked on Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, too. (CE)
Born July 23, 1914 – Virgil Finlay. Pioneering illustrator. Hugo for that in the first year we gave them; five Retrospective Hugos. First sale, the Dec 1935 Weird Tales; probably 2,600 works of graphic art; fifty poems, mostly published after his death. Here is a cover for The Stars Are Ours. Here is the Dec 56 Galaxy. Some of his marvelous monochrome: The Crystal Man; “Flight to Forever”; I haven’t identified this, can you? SF Hall of Fame. First Fandom Hall of Fame. See the Donald Grant and the Gerry de la Ree collections. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born July 23, 1926 — Eunice Sudak, 94. Novelizer of three early Sixties Roger Corman films: Tales of Terror, The Raven and X, the latter based of The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. She wrote a lot of other novelizations but they weren’t even genre adjacent.(CE)
Found Fandom July 23, 1937 – Cyril M. Kornbluth. Wikipedia says July 2 is his birthday — 1940 Who’s Who in Fandomsays July 23 is the date he discovered fandom. I certainly read and liked The Space Merchants and The Syndic which are the two I remember reading these years on. Given his very early death, he wrote an impressive amount of fiction, particularly short fiction which Wildside Press has all of n a single publication, available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1958.) (CE)
Born July 23, 1947 – Gardner Dozois. Three novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian. Two Nebulas. Editor of Asimov’s 1984-2004; two dozen Asimov’s anthologies, many with Sheila Williams. Four years editing Best SF Stories of the Year, thirty-five of The Year’s Best SF (no, I shan’t explain, and I shan’t tell the jelly-bean story, either). Four dozen more anthologies; one Nebula Showcase. Fifteen Hugos as Best Pro Editor; one as Best Pro Editor, Short Form. Skylark Award. SF Hall of Fame. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born July 23, 1948 – Lew Wolkoff, 72. Long-time laborer in fanhistory and the workings of our conventions. Some highlights: co-chaired ArtKane IV, an art-focussed con in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1979; assembled Phoxphyre, a fanzine anthology of the 1936 Philadelphia convention, with reminiscences by Baltadonis, Goudket, Kyle, Madle, Newton, Pohl, Train, 1983; Program Book appreciation of Barbi Johnson, a Guest of Honor at Lunacon 26, 1983; helped design the base for the 1951 Retro-Hugo trophy, 2001; chaired PSFS (Philadelphia SF Soc.) Young Writers’ Contest, 2018; got 120 audiotapes of Philcon proceedings to the SF Oral History Ass’n; founded, or purported to found, the SF Union of Unpublished Authors (“ess-eff-double-U-ay”, i.e. taking off SFWA the SF Writers of America). [JH]
Born July 23, 1949 – Eric Ladd, 71. Twenty covers for us. Here is The Falling Torch. Here is Convergent Series. First suggested to Bob Eggleton that BE should exhibit in our Art Shows. [JH]
Born July 23, 1954 – Astrid Bear, 66. One of the great entries in our Masquerade costume competitions was The Bat and the Bitten, Karen Anderson and her daughter Astrid at the 27th Worldcon. In 1983 Astrid married Greg Bear; they have two children. Here is AB at the 76th Worldcon on a panel discussing the 26th (L to R, Astrid, Tom Whitmore, Mary Morman, Ginjer Buchanan, Suzanne Tompkins, Gay Haldeman). For the 71st, since Jay Lake whom she and all of us loved had contrived to obtain whole-genome sequencing, and AB had become a fiber artist, she made Jay Lake Genome Scarves in time to give him one, as you can see here. Fanzine, Gallimaufry. It’s not true that this book is about her. [JH]
Born July 23, 1970 — Charisma Carpenter, 50. She’s best remembered as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. She was also Kyra on Charmed and Kendall Casablancason Veronica Mars. She was Sydney Hart in Mail Order Monster and Beth Sullivan in the direct to video Josh Kirby… Time Warrior! Franchise. (CE)
Born July 23, 1982 — Tom Mison, 38. He is best-known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. Currently he’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to that he Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. (CE)
(14) COMICS SECTION.
Fresh from his Hugo voter reading, Dann writes, “In light of Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night, I thought this xkcd might be useful. Check out the mouse-over/alt text.”
(15) WORLDCON TIME OUT OF JOINT. Bill Higgins started out teasing David Levine about CoNZealand’s July 16 “Wild Cards” panel, then his imagination ran away with him:
For years, Luigi’s kindhearted nature and well-meaning oafishness have endeared him to millions of fans who were willing to look past his lengthy history of incompetence. But it seems like the iconic Nintendo character might have just passed the point of no return: The big guy in green apparently left his space heater plugged in for three days straight, and now the entire Paper Mario kingdom has burned to the ground….
(17) STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. CBS All-Access dropped a clip today.
Get an exclusive look at a hilarious scene from the upcoming series premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, an all-new animated comedy featuring the voices of stars Jack Quaid (Ensign Brad Boimler) and Tawny Newsome (Ensign Beckett Mariner).
A heavy-lift Long March-5 roared off a launch pad on Hainan Island Thursday, carrying China’s hopes for its first successful Mars mission – an ambitious project to send an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet in one shot.
If everything goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 will be China’s first successful mission to Mars, after a previous attempt failed in 2011 — gaining it membership in an elite club including only the U.S. and Russia, of nations who have successfully landed on the planet. (Even so, the Soviet Union’s Mars 3 lander, which touched down in 1971, transmitted for mere seconds before contact was lost.)
…The goals of the mission are to map surface geology, examine soil characteristics and water distribution, measure the Martian ionosphere and climate and study the planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields.
China has launched its first rover mission to Mars.
The six-wheeled robot, encapsulated in a protective probe, was lifted off Earth by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12:40 local time (04:40 GMT).
It should arrive in orbit around the Red Planet in February.
Called Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, the rover won’t actually try to land on the surface for a further two to three months.
This wait-and-see strategy was used successfully by the American Viking landers in the 1970s. It will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent.
…The targeted touchdown location for the Chinese mission will be a flat plain within the Utopia impact basin just north of Mars’ equator. The rover will study the region’s geology – at, and just below, the surface.
Tianwen-1 looks a lot like Nasa’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers from the 2000s. It weighs some 240kg and is powered by fold-out solar panels.
A tall mast carries cameras to take pictures and aid navigation; five additional instruments will help assess the mineralogy of local rocks and look for any water-ice.
This surface investigation is really only half the mission, however, because the cruise ship that is shepherding the rover to Mars will also study the planet from orbit, using a suite of seven remote-sensing instruments.
The UK and US have accused Russia of launching a weapon-like projectile from a satellite in space.
In a statement, the head of the UK’s space directorate said: “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.”
The statement said actions like this “threaten the peaceful use of space”.
The US has previously raised concerns about this Russian satellite.
In his statement, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK’s space directorate, said: “Actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends.
“We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing. We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space.”
A popular mobile game has been taken offline in mainland China for “rectification work”, after netizens discovered its musical director had written a song containing Morse code with a hidden Hong Kong pro-democracy message.
According to China’s Global Times newspaper, the Cytus II musical rhythm game, produced by Taiwan’s Rayark Games, has been removed from China’s mainland app stores.
This was done after netizens discovered a controversial song by Hong Kong musical director ICE, real name Wilson Lam, on his Soundcloud account.
The piece, Telegraph 1344 7609 2575, was actually posted on his page in March, but after netizens discovered it contained in Morse code the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”, many in the mainland called for him to be sacked.
(22) RIGHT OUT FROM UNDER YOU. Floors that can scare you – a gallery of wild images at Imgur.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games’ Honest Game Trailers: SpongeBob Square Pants–Rehydrated on YouTube says that “children and extremely inebriated adults” will enjoy this new version of a classic SpongeBob SquarePants game featuring “Rube Goldberg machines that require a Ph.D. in SpongeBob to complete.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Dann, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
(1) HUGO VOTING LYRICS. The midnight (Pacific) deadline is imminent, inspiring 770’s reference to “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” in a post today — which Goobergunch celebrated by creating new words for the song.
There’s books and ‘zines all over town And I’ve got to track ’em down In just a few more hours….
I’m Hugo voting in the morning That silver rocket’s gonna shine Put up a racket Download the packet But make sure I go vote online
At the urgings of some of my Patreon supporters, I’ve decided to break bread anyway with some of the creators I’d intended to record with had I made there, only with 16 hours and thousands of miles separating us. So last night, I had dinner with writer Lee Murray, while she had lunch the following day.
Lee is a three-time Bram Stoker Awards finalist, and is also New Zealand’s most awarded writer and editor of fantastic fiction, having won two Australian Shadows and a dozen Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Her novels include The Battle of the Birds (2011), Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse (2019), as well as Into the Mist (2016), Into the Sounds (2018), Into the Ashes (2019), and others. She’s edited fourteen anthologies, including Baby Teeth: Bite-Sized Tales of Terror (2013), Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (2018), and others. Her first collection, Grotesque: Monster Stories, will be published July 24.
We discussed how she crafted her first short story collection, the importance of mentoring our next generation of genre writers, why we’re unlikely to ever go spelunking together, whether she prefers her zombies fast or slow, the unique awards club of which we’re both members, the way her use of New Zealand culture might be perceived differently by readers in and out of her country, the difficulties some seem to have with stories written in the present tense, the thrill of being the first New Zealander to appear in Weird Tales magazine, how the experiences of reading aloud The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings differ, and much more.
I recently had to exorcise, er, fire a client. One I’d been working with for years. I have written three complete novels for this fellow, rewritten a fourth and outlined a fifth. The novel we were working on when we parted company was one we had been at for roughly six years from the time when he turned over a research binder, a long, detailed, Harvard-style outline, and a number of drafted chapters and scenes.
I freely admit that I allowed the situation to go on too long, but I really dislike quitting, and I have first hand evidence of the efficacy of the Golden Rule. I know that if you treat even contrarians with kindness and friendliness, you will end up with a good friend….
(4) BRONY DOCUMENTARY. Jenny Nicholson narrates The Last Bronycon: a fandom autopsy
With this week’s Comic-Con International moving online because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a whole world of cosplayers with a lot of creativity to show off. Since they can’t strut their stuff in the Gaslamp District, photographer K.C. Alfred asked them to suit up and show us their powers at various spots around San Diego County….
(6) COMIC CON ALTERNATIVE. John King Tarpinian tells me “We don’t need no stinkin’ San Diego” because this weekend they’re still going to hold the Casper Comic Con. No, it’s not for ghosts – yet, anyway. It’s happening in Casper, Wyoming.
The 2020 Casper Comic Con will be held INSIDE of the Casper Events Center. Mask are highly recommended. Guest appearance by FLASH GORDON Sam J. Jones
(7) SIZEMORE OBIT. Paranormal romance author Susan Sizemore died July 20 at the age of 69. She wrote fan fiction set in the Star Trek universe. She later began writing original romance novels and when she was about 40, she won the 1991 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, presented to a previously unpublished author. And soon after she sold her debut novel, a time-travel romance called Wings of the Storm. Later in her career, she was asked to write a media tie-in novel Forever Knight: A Stirring of Dust based on the television series. She created two original series about a vampire world, Laws of the Blood, and Primes. According to her friend Jody Lynn Nye, Sizemore was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she was known as Sibeol the Sinister (she was left-handed).
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 22, 1959 — Hercules Unchained premiered nation-wide. An Italian-French production, it was directed by Pietro Francisci, and produced by Bruno Vailati. Screenplay was by Ennio De Concini and Pietro Francisci with the latter also writing the story. It is claimed that the story is based off of Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles and Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus. Primary cast was Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Primo Carnera and Sylvia Lopez. Critics in general though it was better than the predecessor film Hercules and it was the third most popular movie at the British box office in 1960. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it and give it a 20% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 22, 1881 – Margery Williams. Wrote The Velveteen Rabbit. Lovecraft’s “On The Thing in the Woods by Harper Williams” is about one of her books: HW a pseudonym. Another novel, twenty shorter stories, for us, often with James Bowman; many others. Forward, Commandos! (1944) has a black soldier, rare in literature then. Translations from French and from Norwegian (with Dagny Mortensen). Newbery Honor. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born July 22, 1889 — James Whale. He is best remembered for these Thirties horror films: Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein which are all considered classics. He also made during this period, The Man in the Iron Mask, which surely is genre adjacent. (Died 1957.) (CE)
Born July 22, 1898 – Stephen Vincent Benet. “The Devil and Daniel Webster” leaps to mind. Three dozen short stories, seven dozen poems, touching SF. Guggenheim Fellowship. Judged Yale’s Young Poets Competition ten years. Three O. Henry awards (don’t minimize him either). Member, Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters. Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences. Pulitzer Prize. Look for him. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born July 22, 1898 – Alexander Calder.This edition of two Calvino stories has a Calder cover. But AC’s relation to us is higher, or deeper, or something. His mobiles (he invented them) and stabiles show an extraordinary joining of reality and fantasy — and science. Here is Two Moons. Here is Homage to Jerusalem. He worked flat, too; here is a lithograph Black Sun. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born July 22, 1932 — Tom Robbins, 88. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them? Now Jitterbug Perfume, that’s genre! (CE)
Born July 22, 1936 — Angus Allan. British comic strip writer responsible for such strips asThe Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and DangerMouse. As the in-house writer for the Anderson’s TV Century 21, he provided the newspaper “news story” scripts for Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He also wrote the novelization of Thunderbirds Are Go. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born July 22, 1939 — Dean McLaughlin, 81. His best-known work is “Hawk Among the Sparrows” which was short-listed for both a Hugo and Nebula Award for Best Novella. He’s also written Dawn, a novel based off of Asimov’s “Nightfall” novelette. He was won for Analog Awards for Best Novella or Novelette. (CE)
Born July 22, 1941 – Vaughn Bodé. The equipment won’t show his name as he wrote it; over the “e” shouldn’t be an accent acute (which is what you see), but a macron (horizontal line), i.e. indicating a long vowel, not emphasis: it doesn’t rhyme with “okay”. I never heard him say it; I spent years thinking it was like body, but maybe it’s like Commando Cody. Anyhow, he gave us Cheech Wizard – and lizards – and much else. Here is a cover for Galaxy. Here is one for Amazing (with Larry Todd). (Died 1975) [JH]
Born July 22, 1944 — Nick Brimble, 76. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster. He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really like be it genre adjacent or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series. (CE)
Born July 22, 1959 – Greg Costikyan, 61. Among us he published the New York Conspiracy’s Hymnal. Later, while staying with SF, he grew famous as a game designer and critic. Many SF reviews in Ares. Four novels (First Contract translated into French), sixteen shorter stories. Five Origins awards. Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame. Much about his gaming in his Wikipedia entry. [JH]
Born July 22, 1965 – Lee Ann Setzer, 55. Editor (or if you prefer, editrix) for a while of The Leading Edge. Short stories as Lee Ann Layton. Children’s books; Biblical-fiction novels Gathered about Ruth, Hidden about Esther. Her husband said “I had to marry you. You’re the only one who truly understands about the US space program.” While in Japan ate nattô (fermented soybeans), hurrah! [JH]
Born July 22, 1972 — Colin Ferguson, 48. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the Dark, The Hunger, The X-Files, The Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries. (CE)
(10) TWO PLEASE. In Episode 32 of Two Chairs Talking former Aussie Worldcon chairs Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg talk about movies and TV. Which one is the tougher audience?
After discussing the current state of COVID-19 restrictions, Perry pans the movie Ad Astra, but cheers The Mandalorian series on Disney+, and the Netflix movie The Old Guard. David waxes enthusiastic about the Amazon series Tales from the Loop, and the movie Yesterday.
For the academic, scientist, collector, or hobbyist with an interest in the building blocks of the natural world, obtaining pure, representative samples of elements can be a challenge. Since our inception, we started off as an oddball but fun sideline as the Lucite furniture company which then became, Luciteria Science. Today, we serve the discerning collector with Lucite acrylic displays of the elements in their raw forms, functional calibration reference cubes, hand- and machine-polished mirror cubes, and much more!
…Yezin Al-Qaysi says haute hazmats are just the thing to make flying feel safe again. In mid-April the co-founder of VYZR Technologies, a Toronto-based company specializing in personal protective gear, launched a new product called the BioVYZR via crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The $250, futuristic-looking outer layer resembles the top half of an astronaut’s uniform, with anti-fogging “windows” and a built-in hospital-grade air-purifying device. Paranoid flyers were quick to scoop it up, pre-ordering about 50,000 suits and raising $400,000 for the nascent company. The first batch is set to be delivered by the end of July.
Andrew Porter points out that sff got there first! Photo from 1936 film Things to Come:
If playing Disney Villainousis like being in the fifth grade,Marvel Villainous is the first day of middle school. It feels the same, but it’s totally not. There are rules and norms you had no idea existed but are now the most important things in the world—and there’s a chance the classmates you came along with may not be your friends by the end of it. But that kinda makes Ravensburger’s board game a blast.
The latest board and card game release from Ravensburger (in a partnership with Prospero Hall) is a departure from the Disney Villainous series, which pitted different Disney villains against each other in a race to complete goals from their movies. This version ventures into the Marvel Universe to focus on the exploits of classic comic book baddies (they’re technically not the MCU versions but they have very similar designs and goals, so they’re pretty much the same thing).
The starting edition of this game, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, features five villains: Hela, Killmonger, Ultron, Thanos, and Taskmaster.
(14) THIS IS THE CITY. Andrew Porter passed along links to two overviews of Los Angeles right after City Hall was built – terrain that will look familiar to those of you who have seen the Fifties monster movie THEM! (Or the original Dragnet series.)
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Sharknado Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that all the “science” in Sharknado was “pier-reviewed” because “some drunk guy on the pier reviewed it.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
The 2020 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award recipients were named on July 21 by Comic-Con International: Hero Initiative, creators4comics, and Comicbook United Fund. The official presentation will be part of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Ceremony on July 24. Bob Clampett’s daughter, Ruth Clampett, will being doing the presentation.
The 2020 recipient for its ongoing charity efforts is the Hero Initiative, which has been helping comics creators in financial need for over 20 years. Two organizations were chosen for their recent fundraising activities to help out comic book stores. Both are under the auspices of Binc (Book Industry Charitable Foundation): Creators4Comics, helping comics shops affected by the COVID shutdown by raising money through auctions of original art; and Comicbook United Fund, providing economic relief for comicbook retailers.
Comic-Con International’s Humanitarian Award is presented in the name of famed animator Bob Clampett, who created the TV series Beany and Cecil, designed such popular characters as Porky Pig and Tweety Bird, and directed 84 classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Clampett was a regular guest a Comic-Con in the 1970s and early 1980s. After his death in 1984, the humanitarian award was created to honor those people in comics and the popular arts who have worked to help others. The recipient is chosen by the Comic-Con committee.
In a special issue produced with the full cooperation and permission of the Fan Writer finalists, I spotlight all of them and give details of the remarkable body of work these six people produce. Special thanks in particular to Sarah Gailey for writing the piece on me.
(2) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Hugo voting closes on Wednesday, July 22 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7). In New Zealand that’s Thursday, July 23 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12).
(3) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. “Where am I goin’? / I don’t know / Where am I headin’? / I ain’t certain…” Camestros Felapton says it’s “Still not my job to fix the Dragon Awards” but he can’t help himself — the post makes several suggestions for improvement. Even more fascinating is this observation.
… Impact: Goodreads Awards get far more votes, Hugos and Nebulas have more impact, even the Locus awards generate more buzz and media coverage, the Clark’s have more critical clout and so on. Four sets of awards in and even Baen Books don’t play up their Dragon Award wins much on books covers or general marketing. For example, here is Brad flippin’ Torgersen’s bio on Amazon…
… Note: Analog AnLab Reader’s Choice, Writers of the Future, Nebula, Campbell and Hugo Awards are all listed but not the Dragons. Brad’s Dragon Award win simply isn’t used to promote Brad either in general or on his books, aside from his personal blogs and Facebook.
What’s in this year’s Souvenir Book? Artist William Stout—famed for his illustrations and murals depicting dinosaurs, and his comics and movie poster work—once again graces the Souvenir Book with one of his incredible covers, this one saluting the centennial of famed author Ray Bradbury, one of Comic-Con’s most beloved guests over the years. Stout is also one of the very few people to have attended every Comic-Con, as a special “Cover Story” feature reveals in this year’s book. Learn the “Easter Eggs” Bill worked into this cover, plus his process of creating this amazing illustration, along with his past association with Bradbury.
In addition, the Souvenir Book also celebrates the following anniversaries:
• Ray Harryhausen Centennial—The 100th birthday of the stop-motion animation legend • 75th Anniversary of EC Comics—They brought us Tales from the Crypt and MAD magazine • 75th Anniversary of Moomin—The world-wide comics sensation for all ages • 50th Anniversary of Conan in Comics—Robert E. Howard’s barbarian conquered comics starting in 1970 • 50th Anniversary of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World—The King of Comics moved to DC in 1970 and created a whole new world of characters • 50th Anniversary of Last Gasp—The pioneer underground comix publisher and distributor • Plus the Proverbial “Much More”—Comic-Con Museum, 2019 Award Winners, and the “In Memoriam” section
(5) ANALOGY. At Tablet, Andrew Fox remembers “How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit” in “My Science Fiction Rabbi”.
Science fiction is just Judaism in a spacesuit.
If the statement strikes you as ridiculous, consider the evidence. Both cultures began life on the margins, the domain of small and mocked minorities who looked at the world from the outside and who survived by adhering to their own intricate traditions. Both cultures are, first and foremost, an exercise in “what if,” Judaism forever looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and having its adherents pray daily for the rebuilding of the Temple, and science fiction imagining the life that lies just at the cusp of the possible. And both cultures stand at risk of being loved out of existence, embraced mightily by the mainstream, sailing precariously between the Scylla of assimilation and the Charybdis of dilution….
…‘Unbelievable!!!!!’ is “a Sci-Fi Parody Adventure which follows the crazy exploits of four off-beat astronauts (one is a marionette) who travel to the Moon on a rescue mission to determine the fate of two Space Agency comrades who have not been heard from in several days. The individuals they find at the Lunar Base are not whom they appear to be and nearly succeed in killing our heroes. Soon the astronauts find themselves trying to save the Earth from an invasion of Killer Plant Aliens!!”
Indie Rights CEO Linda Nelson announced via a statement:
“Indie Rights is so excited to be featuring UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! at Virtual Cannes. We’ll be screening the film for international buyers on June 24th. Snoop Dogg and Star Trek fans will love this plant-based, inter-galactic parody.”
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 20, 1952 — The Shadow’s “The Curse of the Emerald Scarab” first was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System with the sponsor being Wildroot Company Inc. It was written by J.G. Leighton, and starred Bret Morrison as The Shadow / Lamont Cranston, and Gertrude Warner as Margo Lane. The Announcer was Sandy Becker. We would love to tell all about it including where to hear it, but like nearly sixty percent of The Shadow radio broadcasts, they were lost as Mutual thought of these was broadcast once and done. There were 677 episodes aired over 18 seasons, so a lot did survive.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 20, 1906 – Bill Danner. Arrived in the mid-1940s. From the mid-1950s his hand-set letterpress fanzine Stefantasy (Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction, often shortened to stef, + fantasy) ran 44 years. Other fanzines A Dangerous Thing, Lark, Pull No Punches. Active in FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n) and VAPA (Vanguard Am. Pr. Ass’n). (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 20, 1924 — Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1930 — Sally Ann Howes, 90. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in Brigadoon. Though more genre adjacent than genre, I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role. (CE)
Born July 20, 1931 — Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Did 2014.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1938 — Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, 82. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Now she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up recently in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (CE)
Born July 20, 1942 — Richard Delap. Canadian fanzine writer who wrote for Granfalloon and Yandro. He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice but lost to Harry Warner, Jr. at St.Louiscon, and Wilson Tucker at Heicon ‘70. Edited Delap’s F&SF Review (1975-1978), published by Fred Patten – both had been prolific reviewers for Geis’ Science Fiction Review, who tried to make a go of their own semiprozine.Delap was a co-editor of The Essential Harlan Ellison. He died of AIDS complications just after it was published. (Died 1987.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1943 – Bill Bowers. Best known for his fanzine Outworlds (three FAAn – Fan Activity Achievement – Awards); also Xenolith; Double:Bill with Bill Mallardi. Won TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) in a tie with Roy Tackett; withdrew. Chaired Corflu 4 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fan Guest of Honor at IguanaCon II the 36th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). Early adopter of offset printing. Fond of lists. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born July 20, 1947 – Mike Gilbert. Two dozen covers, eighty interiors, for books, fanzines, prozines. Here is Victory on Janus. Here is the Feb 70 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Here is the Noreascon Program Book (29th Worldcon). Here is the Mar 71 Worlds of If. Here is the Dec 74 Analog. Here is Breaking Point. Here is an interior for Granfalloon 7 – part of a Mike Gilbert portfolio. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 20, 1949 – Guy Lillian, 71. Publications for Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 21, Archon 36, Con*Stellation XXII. Rebel Award and Rubble Award. Won DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) with wife Rose Marie, trip report The Antipodal Route; thereafter The Panoramic Route (to Anticipation the 67th Worldcon), The Aboriginal Route (to Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon). Current fanzines Challenger, Spartacus (politics), The Zine Dump (reviews). [JH]
Born July 20, 1955 – Susan Dexter, 65. Ten novels, six shorter stories; a dozen maps and interiors. Chalk paintings, see here (at her Website). Covers for some of her own books, like this (SD did a pastel, Teddy Black finished). Weaver and hand-spinner, as shown in this photo. [JH]
Born July 20, 1959 – Martha Soukup, 61. Thirty short stories, translated into Croatian, French, German; Nebula for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”; collection, The Arbitrary Placement of Walls. Poetry in Asimov’s, Star*Line. Essays, reviews, in Aboriginal, Fantasy Review, NY Review of SF, SF Age. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Where Tinkerbell ended up, clapping will not do her any good. The Far Side.
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, a theory widely shared on social media suggested that a science fiction text, Dean Koontz’s 1981 science fiction novel, The Eyes of Darkness, had predicted the coronavirus pandemic with uncanny precision. COVID-19 has held the entire world hostage, producing a resemblance to the post-apocalyptic world depicted in many science fiction texts. Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s classic 2003 novel Oryx and Crake refers to a time when “there was a lot of dismay out there, and not enough ambulances” — a prediction of our current predicament.
However, the connection between science fiction and pandemics runs deeper. They are linked by a perception of globality, what sociologist Roland Robertson defines as “the consciousness of the world as a whole.”
Globality in science fiction
In his 1992 survey of the history of telecommunications, How the World Was One, Arthur C. Clarke alludes to the famed historian Alfred Toynbee’s lecture entitled “The Unification of the World.” Delivered at the University of London in 1947, Toynbee envisions a “single planetary society” and notes how “despite all the linguistic, religious and cultural barriers that still sunder nations and divide them into yet smaller tribes, the unification of the world has passed the point of no return.”
Science fiction writers have, indeed, always embraced globality. In interplanetary texts, humans of all nations, races and genders have to come together as one people in the face of alien invasions. Facing an interplanetary encounter, bellicose nations have to reluctantly eschew political rivalries and collaborate on a global scale, as in Denis Villeneuve’s 2018 film, Arrival.
It seems everyone is interested in Mars these days.
For decades, sending probes to the red planet was the exclusive purview of the United States and the Soviet Union, and later Russia. But in 1998, Japan made an attempt, which ended in failure, followed by the European Space Agency, then China (also unsuccessful) in 2011, and two years later, India.
Now, the United Arab Emirates has sent one, too: an orbiter named Hope. It’s the country’s first interplanetary space shot.
“The UAE is now a member of the club and we will learn more and we will engage more and we’ll continue developing our space exploration program,” UAE Space Agency chief Mohammed Al Ahbabi told a joint online news conference at Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, where the $200 million mission lifted off at 5:58 p.m. ET Sunday, riding a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket after nearly a week of weather delays.
Approximately an hour after launch, Hope, or “Amal” in Arabic, separated from its housing and deployed its solar panels. It will spend the next seven months on its journey to Mars.
…The orbital probe is designed to gather comprehensive data about the thin atmosphere of Mars.
“The purpose was not only to get to Mars by 2021 and have valid scientific data coming out of the mission that is unique in nature and no other mission has captured before,” Sarah Al Amiri, deputy project manager and science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, said earlier. “But more importantly, it was about developing the capabilities and capacity of engineers in the country.”
Mardi Gras gets The Twilight Zone treatment, with a dash of Knives Out, as very wealthy, very terminally-ill man invites his greedy family over to settle his affairs. He insists that they all don grotesque masks that match their uniquely terrible personality traits — if they don’t, they won’t see a dime of their inheritance.
You can probably guess where this is going, when the family members take off their masks… One of the most disturbing endings in the history of the show.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to Fil 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]
The Award is given out yearly to retailers who have done an outstanding job of supporting the comic art medium both in the industry at large and in their local community. Comics fans around the world have the opportunity to nominate their favorite stores here on the Comic-Con website. The 2020 Award will be given out as part of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
Spain’s Ainara Pintor snagged the top honor from over 400 submissions with her gorgeous image of an immunostained mouse-brain slice, titled Neurogarden. The image focuses on the hippocampus area of a single slice, but there are more than 70 million neurons in the mouse brain as a whole, according to Pintor.
Is [it] a big thing? Where on earth have you been for the past two months? Bardcore is booming online, swarming all over YouTube and Reddit, and appealing to what i-D Magazine calls Generation Z’s ‘existential humour’.
Here is a bardcore version of Radiohead’s “Creep” as done by the musician Hildegard von Blingin’.
…Here’s a quandary: How do you make a compelling movie — one with a good measure of fairly graphic violence, by the way — about a group of heroes who can’t be killed? Don’t they always have the upper hand? Won’t they always win? There are clever ways that the story itself gets around this problem, but it’s also absolutely critical that it’s in the hands of a director who understands, and can convey on film, that link between physical vulnerability and humanity. Because one of the things this story is about is that even if you do not die, the pain of cycling through injury after injury, recovery after recovery, reconstitution after reconstitution of your being, is a hard way to exist.
It’s a story that’s partly about the attrition of your spirit that can come from being, very literally, a “survivor.” And particularly because new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne, whom you know from If Beale Street Could Talk) is a black woman and two of her teammates are men who fell in love after being on opposite sides of The Crusades (which is a witty idea, let’s be honest), there is additional subtext here about the churn of violence and the costs of enduring it. Moreover, in a world seized with emergencies that activists are scrambling to address, it is frustrating enough when you feel like years have passed and all the attempts you have made to improve the world have come to nothing. What would it be like to feel that for centuries? For longer? Would you really want the long view? How much perspective could you stand to have about humanity?
More immediately, the plot is this: Andy (Theron) has been doing this the longest. She wants out of the hero business, really, but she can’t escape. She’s pulled into a job with teammates Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). The job, conveyed to them by a man named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is to rescue a group of kidnapped girls in South Sudan. How can they say no? When it turns out there’s more to the job than meets the eye, she’s confronted by the fact that there are people out there who know about her and her team and wish them no good.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Nile is a young soldier consumed with the wars of the present, and shortly after she discovers that something is very unusual about her response to injury, she winds up in the company of the Old Guard. (They don’t go around calling themselves that, by the way; it would be very corny. And they don’t do it.)
This is the first film I’ve seen in quarantine that felt to me like a proper big summer movie — and yet it transcends so much of what’s sometimes been disappointing about that category. Yes, it’s a comic book movie. Yes, it’s an action movie. Yes, it’s about a team of good-doers. And it’s exciting and satisfying and tense and all those things. But everything from its queer couple to its leading women to its director to its thoughtfulness to its point of view about violence makes it such a welcome addition….
(5) A SHORTER REVIEW OF SOMETHING EVEN OLDER. Brooke Bolander has a concise take. Thread starts here.
Indeed, almost no feature films announced panels for Comic-Con@Home. Paramount, Sony, and Universal are sitting out the convention entirely, while WarnerMedia’s DC Entertainment elected to launch their own virtual fan convention — DC FanDome on Aug. 22 — to promote its suite of film, TV and comic book properties.
The biggest blow for Comic-Con@Home, however, is arguably the lack of participation from marquee Comic-Con participants Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, which aren’t bringing any of their features or live-action scripted TV series to Comic-Con@Home. Fans had been especially anticipating first looks at Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate, including theatrical releases “Eternals” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and Disney Plus series “Falcon and the Winter Solider” and “WandaVision.”
(7) SFWA DEI. The members of SFWA’s newly-formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee are:
Alaya Dawn Johnson – traditional novelist
Alex Acks – traditional novelist
Crystal Watanabe – freelance editor
James Beamon – SFWA director-at-large, short fiction writer
Jane Pinckard – writer, game designer, researcher, teacher
Kyle Aisteach – short fiction writer
Michi Trota – SFWA Editor-in-Chief, critical and creative nonfiction writer
Tao Roung Wong – indie novelist
Whitney “Strix” Beltrán – game writer
The committee is developing procedures, and setting its action and scope, and will update the membership soon.
(8) IMAHARA OBIT. Grant Imahara, host of MythBusters’ and White Rabbit Project, has died at the age of 49. The Hollywood Reporter story is here.
…While as part of the MythBusters team he sky-dived and drove stunt cars, on film sets he came into contact with some of the most iconic characters in screen history, installing lights onto Star Wars‘ R2-D2, creating the robot Geoff Peterson for The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and working on the Energizer Bunny.
…In his nine years at Lucasfilm, he worked for the company’s THX and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) divisions. In his years at ILM, he became chief model maker specializing in animatronics and worked on George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, as well as The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Galaxy Quest, XXX: State of the Union, Van Helsing, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
In 2000, Imahara also competed in Comedy Central’s BattleBots with a robot he built himself called “Deadblow” that won two Middleweight Rumbles, was the first season’s Middleweight runner-up and became the third season’s first-ranked robot.
He was also an actor on The Guild and Star Trek Continues (as Sulu in the latter.)
July 14, 1989 — Muppets From Space premiered. It is the first film since the death of Jim Henson to have an original Muppet-focused plot, and is a breakaway from other Muppet films as it is the only non-musical Muppets film to date. Directed by Tim Hill, it was produced by Brian Henson and Martin G. Baker off a script written by Jerry Juhl, Joey Mazzarino and Ken Kaufman. It starred Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Frank Oz (in his last Muppet role), Jeffrey Tambor, F. Murray Abraham, David Arquette, Josh Charles, Hollywood Hogan, Ray Liotta and Andie MacDowell. Some critics really loved it, some really despised it and mourned the passing of Henson. It bombed at the box office. At Rotten Tomatoes, audience reviewers give it a not bad 58% rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 14, 1918 – Ingmar Bergman. Director, writer, producer of film, television, theater, radio; questioning, perhaps re-creating, the human condition. Five dozen films, fifteen dozen plays, half a dozen ours; one is Mozart’s Magic Flute; perhaps not The Magician, whose characters prove to be engaged in theatrical, not supernatural, magic. Three Academy Awards, Golden Bear at Berlin, Palme des Palmes at Cannes, many more. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born July 14, 1926 – Jef De Wulf. For us two dozen covers for works in French, like this and this; also this; five hundred all told. Had his own photography studio, in the end worked with the photo department of a regional newspaper. (Died 1994) [JH]
Born July 14, 1926 — Harry Dean Stanton. My favorite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding. He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born July 14, 1939 – George Slusser, Ph.D. Eight books of SF criticism; anthologies of papers at U. Cal. Riverside’s Eaton Conference; Professor of Comparative Literature, first Curator of the Eaton Collection, Director of the Eaton Program for SF Studies. “Clarke, along with Asimov and Heinlein … human dramas determined by advances in science and technology… to blend two otherwise opposite activities.” Pilgrim Award. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born July 14, 1943 — Christopher Priest, 77. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound? (CE)
Born July 14, 1949 — Nick Bantock, 71. This is a bit of a puzzler for me. He’s the creator of The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and The Morning Star Trilogy, a series of faux letters and postcards telling a story between two individuals. ISFDB lists it as genre but I’ve never heard it described as such before, and it certainly isn’t shelved as such in bookstores that I’ve frequented. Who’s read it here? (CE)
Born July 14, 1960 – Michèle de Laframboise, 60. A dozen novels for us, as many shorter stories in Abyss & Apex, Galaxies, Tesseract (“Women Are From Mars, Men Are From Venus”); others too. For one of her books she did this cover with Jean-Pierre Normand. Translated into German, Italian, Russian. Three Auroras, Prix Cécile-Gagnon, Prix Solaris. Website (in English and French, of course) here. [JH]
Born July 14, 1960 – Larry Segriff, 60. Two novels of Tom Jenkins, a young adult who finds adventure in the stars. Ten shorter stories. Three Tom Clancy Net Force tie-ins. Ten anthologies with Martin H. Greenberg. Productive and competent. [JH]
Born July 14, 1964 — Jane Espenson, 56. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode, and she shared another Hugo at Chicon 7 for Games of Thrones, season one. She was on the the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes, she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. (CE)
Born July 14, 1966 — Brian Selznick, 54. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre. (CE)
Born July 14, 1979 – Yukiko Montoya, 41. Novelist, playwright and theatrical director, radio and television host. Akutagawa, Noma, Mishima, Ôe Prizes; Nanboku and Kishida Drama Awards. Recent collection in English, The Lonesome Bodybuilder. The New York Times says she wins over her audience by pushing the absurd to extremes. For example, in “The Straw Husband” the narrator’s husband is – [JH]
Born July 14, 1989 — Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, she also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
TwistedDoodles translates parenting into genre:
(12) MR. RICO GOES TO WASHINGTON. David Gerrold told Facebook readers “Starship Troopers is the single most misunderstood book in the entire SF genre.” An excerpt:
….Now, to be fair — Heinlein stacked the deck. Not the first time, not the last time. In this book, the enemy exist as a relentless, unending horde of mindless giant insects. Bugs. There is nothing there to empathize with. They are killing machines — chitinous terminators. The only response is kill or be killed. And in that context, Heinlein’s assertin is justifiable.
Now, consider if the enemy was not some kind of alien bug — but instead, another branch of humanity. Or even just another nation with a shared border. And consider that the battle is not so much a fight to the death, but an argument over whether eggs should be broken at the big end or the little end. At that point, the whole discussion of military service breaks down with one simple question, “Are you fucking kidding me? You want me to die on that fucking hill?”
Second question? How well did Heinlein do it? Well, we’re still talking about the book 60 years later, so I would say that he did a damn good job. Except that we’re not just talking about the book, we’re arguing ferociously about it. So maybe his point wasn’t as clear as he intended it to be. The accusations of fascism have pretty much obscured the more interesting point, which is worth discussion even if we’re not at war:
What is the obligation of a citizen toward the nation in which he lives? If the citizen benefits from their participation, what is their obligation — but also if the citizen does not benefit, what are their options?…
(13) STAR WARS IN THE NEWS. From the New York Times article, “Headed to the Convention? No I, More Republicans are Saying”:
…Everyone in the media wants to act like it’s some big deal that Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander aren’t going to the convention,” said Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida. “The reality is the number of delegates craving the octogenarians and septuagenarians of the Senate are surely lower than the number who have purchased their third Star Wars costume….
…They can respond to questions, swim happily in shopping mall display tanks, and withstand close contact that would usually be harmful to real animals – without any ethical problems. And they could soon be coming to aquariums in China.
Entrepreneurs in New Zealand are working with American creators of some of Hollywood’s most famous creatures to develop animatronic dolphins that look almost identical to their living counterparts.
A robotic dolphin that can nod an answer to a child – thanks to the human controlling it by remote – might sound unappealing or disconcerting. But as marine parks around the world face increasing pressure to abandon exhibitions featuring real whales and dolphins, the creatures provide an appealing alternative, their creators say.
… Since its invention, pencils — made of lead including various levels of graphite, clay and wax — have often been used for writing and drawing. In the study, the researchers discovered that pencils containing more than 90% graphite are able to conduct a high amount of energy created from the friction between paper and pencil caused by drawing or writing. Specifically, the researchers found pencils with 93% graphite were the best for creating a variety of on-skin bioelectronic devices drawn on commercial office copy paper. Yan said a biocompatible spray-on adhesive could also be applied to the paper to help it stick better to a person’s skin.
(16) THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the animated series Close Enough, which premiered on the channel last week.
…I first came across this legend when I was researching a book, which was subsequently called The Lantern Men. I soon found out that there are many myths and legends about mysterious lights appearing on marshland at night. One version links them to a wicked blacksmith called Jack who tricks the devil and so escapes hell but can never be allowed into heaven. Jack is condemned to walk the earth forever, carrying a single coal from hell inside a pumpkin. The tradition of putting lighted candles into pumpkins at Halloween, also known as jack o’ lanterns, probably comes from this fable.
Jack is not the only creature abroad at night. Sometimes the blacksmith is called Will and, in English folklore, marsh lights are often called will o’ the wisps, wisp meaning a bundle of twigs tied together to make a torch. There are some regional variations, hobby lanterns in the north and pixie lights in Devon and Cornwall, where hapless travelers are said to be ‘pixie led’.
The United Arab Emirates will despatch a satellite to Mars to study its weather and climate this week.
Hope, as the 1.3-tonne probe is called, is launching on an H-2A rocket from Japan’s remote Tanegashima spaceport.
The 500-million-km journey should see the robotic craft arrive in February 2021 – in time for the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation.
Lift-off is scheduled for 05:43 local time on Friday (20:43 GMT; 21:43 BST on Thursday).
An earlier attempt on Wednesday was called off ahead of time because of expected poor weather conditions over Tanegashima.
…Why is the UAE going to Mars?
The UAE has limited experience of designing and manufacturing spacecraft – and yet here it is attempting something only the US, Russia, Europe and India have succeeded in doing. But it speaks to the Emiratis’ ambition that they should dare to take on this challenge.
Their engineers, mentored by American experts, have produced a sophisticated probe in just six years – and when this satellite gets to Mars, it’s expected to deliver novel science, revealing fresh insights on the workings of the planet’s atmosphere.
In particular, scientists think it can add to our understanding of how Mars lost much of its air and with it a great deal of its water.
The Hope probe is regarded very much as a vehicle for inspiration – something that will attract more young people in the Emirates and across the Arab region to take up the sciences in school and in higher education.
A rare version of the classic 1985 Super Mario Bros has sold at auction for $114,000 (£90,000), the most ever paid for a video game.
The cartridge, still in its original packaging, sold to an anonymous bidder.
And the US auctioneer said demand “was extremely high”, partly because this particular packaging had been used for a short while only.
The previous record for an auctioned game was $100,000 – for a different copy of Super Mario.
(20) NOT ZERO YET. In Godzilla: King of the Monsters Pitch Meeting on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the film has lots of characters who utter “science words” and Snarky Countdown Guy, who is snarky when he isn’t counting things down.
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]