(1) STAR POWER. Over the weekend Scott Edelman recorded a reading by Charlie Jane Anders and Sandra Newman at a Washington D.C. bookstore —
On the afternoon of Saturday, February 16, 2019, Charlie Jane Anders (The City in the Middle of the Night) and Sandra Newman (The Heavens) read at the Union Market branch of the Politics & Prose Bookstore, and then took part in a follow-up Q&A session. Unfortunately, due to the configuration of the seating, I was only able to include Michelle, the ALS interpreter (who consented to being recorded), when attached to the individual readings, and not for the follow-up Q&A. I also did not turn the camera on anyone asking a question, as I did not have their consent.
(2) KNIGHT OF THE RPG. Eurogamer has “The story behind the Oblivion mod Terry Pratchett worked on”, and it’s quite touching.
…Most people know Pratchett as the author of Discworld, the famous fantasy series about a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants. However, what many people don’t know is that the knighted author was also a massive fan of video games – so much so that he actually worked on mods for Oblivion, most of which were spearheaded by a Morrowind modder named Emma….
“Honestly, although I knew about Terry’s illness I never thought of him as someone who was ill,” Emma told us. “The things I added to Vilja that were originally for him, I did because I enjoyed and because it felt so natural. It would be totally unfair to say that I was helping him – he was helping and inspiring me all the time, and I think we both had a lot of fun with figuring out new things for Vilja to say and do.”
(3) ARE THESE ON YOUR SHELVES? How many of these have you read?Pulp Archivist Nathan Housley discovered a list of what was required in “A Basic Science-Fiction Library” in 1949. You’d think there being only 17 items, selected by old-time fans and pros, I’d score pretty well. No so — I’ve only read six. And I feel no temptation to remedy the shortfall! Housley begins by telling who contributed to the list —
The editors included Sam Merwin, Jr. of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Startling Stories, Paul L. Payne of Planet Stories, and Everett Bleiler of The Checklist of Fantastic Literature and The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1949. John Campbell of Astounding and Raymond Palmer of Amazing were invited but chose not to participate.
The writers included Dr. David H. Keller, P. Schuyler Miller, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. Van Vogt, Donald Wandrei, and Lewis Padgett–better known as the husband and wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore.
Rounding out the list were the fans. A. Langley Searles is “best known for the scholarly science fiction fanzine Fantasy Commentator.” Forest Ackerman was the literary agent for many of the authors listed above as well as the father of convention cosplay. And Sam Moskowitz was a noted historian of science fiction fandom and a fervent opponent of the Futurians.
(4) CAPTAIN MARVEL DENIERS BEWARE. At The Mary Sue, Rachel Leishman diagnoses the symptoms: “Men Clearly Fear Women Leading Nerd Films, and … Good”.
And now, we have Captain Marvel. For the first time in ten years, we’re getting a superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe led by a woman, and that means that Twitter is a minefield of men calling Brie Larson “Loudmouth Larson” and claiming that her devotion to equality in the press for the film and the future of her character is what is going to tank the movie (even though it is currently on track to be a box office success).
(5) FROM OUR SPY BEHIND THE PAYWALL. In the February 12 Financial Times, Leo Lewis says that Japanese public broadcaster NHK is broadcasting Tokyo Reborn, a series about the rebuilding of Tokyo that in many ways continues Katushiro Otomo’s great 1988 noir anime Akira, which is set in 2019, NHK is using Akira as a touchstone (and has hired Otomo as a consultant on the series), because the “Neo Tokyo” Otomo portrays in his film is preparing for the Tokyo Olympics of 2020, an accurate prediction on Otomo’s part.
Akira’s many fans adore the idea that its creator correctly predicted” that Tokyo would host the Olympics in 2020. And the film was central in creating the ‘cool Japan’ brand that continues to promote Japanese pop culture and put its animation on a global stage. It has even been a catalyst for foreigners (including me) to develop long relationships with Japan.
It is a delicious vindication of Mr Otomo’s work that the film’s influence remains so powerful in a year that once represented the distant future.
(6) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. “‘Every Day Is A Good Day When You’re Floating’: Anne McClain Talks Life In Space” – NPR has the story.
What do you eat in space? How do you sleep in space?
And just what does one do all day long in space?
Children from the Georgetown Day School in Washington D.C., recently had a chance to ask their most burning questions to NASA astronaut Anne McClain.
They are roughly the same age that McClain was when on her first day of preschool she announced that she wanted to become an astronaut.
By the time McClain was about 5 years old, she said she wrote a book about flying to space on the Soyuz vehicle. Now she’s floating around on the International Space Station, showing that sometimes childhood dreams do come true.
“When you are finally in space and you’re finally looking back at Earth and you realize for the first time in your life there’s nothing standing between you and your dream, it’s just so hard to describe the profound impact of that,” McClain, now 39, told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- February 18, 1930 — Planet Pluto discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
- February 18, 1977 — First unmanned test flight of space shuttle Enterprise mounted on another aircraft.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 18, 1825 – Francis James Child. American scholar, educator, and folklorist, best known today for his collection of English and Scottish ballads now known as the Child Ballads. His collection has been used often in our genre, be Ellen Kushner’s Thomas The Rhymer, taken from Child #37, or Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin off Child #39A, our writers have used his ballads as source material a lot. (Died 1896.)
- Born February 18, 1929 – Len Deighton, 90. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series was broadcast several years back.
- Born February 18, 1930 – Gahan Wilson, 89. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. Note that ISFDB doesn’t list this work which I find odd.
- Born February 18, 1954 – John Travolta, 65. Ahhhh, Battlefield Earth. Travolta, a Scientologist, had sought for years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. I do wonder what he thinks of it now.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- This FoxTrot Classics dates back to the Good Old Days when modems made noise while they synchronized. But the last panel asks if it was worth the wait?
- The Argyle Sweater tunes in an Ewok protest march.
- The Flying McCoys makes a super discovery…
(10) KEEP ON TREKKIN’. There’s always room for, um, another Star Trek series? (Deadline: “‘Star Trek’: Nickelodeon Near Deal For Kids Animated Series From Alex Kurtzman, Hageman Brothers & CBS TV Studios”).
Alex Kurtzman and CBS TV Studios have set the latest extension of the Star Trek TV franchise. Nickelodeon is in negotiations for a Star Trek animated series from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters, Ninjago), CBS TV Studios and Kurtzman’s studio-based Secret Hideout banner.
Penned by the Hageman brothers, the animated series is targeted at younger audiences. Because of that, it would be the first new Star Trek project outside of CBS All Access, which has an adult focus.
(11) THE NIGHT STUFF. How did I live without this?Archie McPhee offers a Glow-in-the-Dark Rubber Chicken.
Svengoolie can use it inside his coffin
We all agree that Rubber Chickens are hilarious. If you looked at a normal Rubber Chicken, you’d assume that funny things only happen when a source of light is available. What about hilarious night shenanigans or power outage tomfoolery? This 20” soft vinyl Glow-in-the-Dark Rubber Chicken will make you giggle no matter how little light there is. Whether you’re sitting in the dark in your living room pretending to not be home while someone knocks on the door, building a blanket fort or UPSing yourself cross-country in a crate, you’ll be laughing the entire time.
(12) NEXT: WHO WAS THE CHEKHOV OF SCIENCE FICTION? Andrew Porter says everybody missed this one on Jeopardy:
Final Jeopardy: British Authors.
- Answer: Born in 1866, he has been called “the Shakespeare of Science Fiction.”
All three contestants guessed wrong:
- Who is Asimov?
- Who is Verne?
- Who is Clarke?
Correct question: Who is H.G. Wells?
(13) A CAT EXPLAINS A CLASSIC. At Camestros Felapton, “Timothy the Talking Cat reads ‘Ender’s Game’”. Timothy really gets it, you know?
…So once upon a time there were three human children who lived in a cruel and cynical world. Everybody was fighting each other or fighting the space alien bugs from Starship Troopers. The bugs were really scary and are all like “we were in a really famous science-fiction story”….
(14) 3-DELIGHTFUL. NASA is trying out a 3D printer on the International Space Station as a prelude to using them for long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. Perhaps it makes sense, then, that moviemakers are using them to make movies about space travel (Variety: “BigRep’s 3D Printer Takes ‘First Man’ to the Moon”).
Production designer Nathan Crowley was strolling through the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the shoot for “The Greatest Showman” in fall 2016 when he passed a building with a 3D printer printing a chair.
“The lady inside told me it was a machine from BigRep,” recalls Crowley. “I said, ‘When’s the last time you had a filament jam?’ She said, ‘About a month ago.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I need that machine.’”
Crowley didn’t get to use it for “The Greatest Showman,” but he rented two BigRep One models for his next film, director Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” rounding out an arsenal of 18 3D printers used make everything from knobs and joysticks for the lunar module that puts Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) on the moon to a 14-foot-tall scale model of a Saturn V rocket.
[…] Crowley has been using 3D printers since 2014’s “Interstellar,” directed by frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan. But back then he used them strictly for concept models.
On Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “we did models by hand for the Batmobile, and it would take weeks,” says Crowley. With 3D printers, “it was a game-changer to be able design and output something, have a look at it, change something and do it again and again without having to handmake each design.”
(15) CAT AND MOUSE CLASSIC. “Tom and Jerry at MGM–Music Performed By The John Wilson Orchestra” on YouTube is a suite, arranged by Scott Bradley, of selections from Tom and Jerry cartoons performed by the John Wilson Orchestra at the BBC Proms in 2013.
(16) SMURFS, MR. RICO?!? They even have a few blue laws — “German Town Sees A Smurf Invasion, As Thousands Gather To Break World Record”.
They came covered in blue paint, donning red and white hats, nearly 3,000 in all. Their goal was simple: To break the world record for the largest group of people dressed as Smurfs.
The group Dä Traditionsverein organized the event in Lauchringen, Germany on Saturday near the border with Switzerland. They had strict rules: in order to be counted, participants couldn’t show any non-blue skin. They could dress as Papa Smurf — with his trademark red cap and a white beard — or Smurfette, with blonde hair and a white skirt or dress. Normal smurfs were OK, too — but some characters, like the evil wizard Gargamel, were strictly off limits.
The group posted on Facebook that 2,762 Smurfs showed up.
(17) HOW LOFTY ARE THOSE AMBITIONS? Christian Davenport in the Washington Post has a long piece on efforts to take control of the Moon’s resources. “The moon, often referred to as the eighth continent, is again the center of a reinvigorated space race that, like any good Hollywood reboot, features a new cast of characters and new story lines.” The goal this time is to make mining on the moon commercially viable, with emphasis on controlling the moon’s poles, because that’s where the water is and water can be used for fuel. “NASA wants to get to the moon ‘as fast as possible.’ But countries like China and India are racing there, too.”
Yet, unlike the Apollo era, this Space Age is being driven by a third factor: greed. A growing number of corporations are benefiting from new technologies and wealthy backers chasing an unproven dream that a lucrative business can be built on the moon and deep space by extracting the metals and resources on the surface on the moon.
Though the prospect of a self-sustaining lunar-mining economy may be little more than a chimera, the moon is drawing investors and explorers the way the promise of the American West once did. As a result, several lunar-prospecting companies have emerged with plans to fly spacecraft to the moon in the coming years.
(18) SOMETHING’S MISSING. WhatCuture would like to remind you about “10 MCU Plot Points Marvel Has Completely Abandoned.”
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, john King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]