(1) ABOUT TIME. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has one he’s sure the panel will like. Can that actually happen?
This month, the Old Hugo Finalist the Young People read was Samuel R. Delany’s “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, which was first published in New Worlds, #185 December 1968. Despite my track record of guessing wrong about what older SFF will appeal to younger people, I am pretty confident about this one. Not only did “Time” win both the Nebula and the Hugo in its category, but Delany’s fiction is objectively popular. The Bantam edition of Delany’s crowd-pleasing Dhalgren, for example, went through 19 editions and sold over a million copies. Success in this matter is therefore utterly assured….
Type “Edgar Allan Poe” into your preferred image search engine, brace for impact, and press Enter. Instantly you hit a wall of chalk-white faces, each conveying a mixture of despair, dyspepsia, grief, wonderment, and wounded pride. Some are actual daguerreotypes, while the rest are fan art or movie stills inspired by those antique likenesses. In every case, one has the distinct feeling that misery could not ask for better company. This is Poe.
Now try searching “Poe Osgood portrait” instead. What comes up this time is a face totally different from those in the previous set. It can’t be the same person. There is color in his cheeks and light in his eyes, and his brow looks quite unburdened. The expression registers as neither menacing nor miserable, but magnanimous. This too is Poe.
It is Samuel Stillman Osgood’s more human version of the poet, novelist, and critic that interests us here. That the portrait has become emblematic of a close friendship between Poe and Frances Osgood, the artist’s wife, makes it still more surprising, because Poe is not supposed to have had friends….
… In an apparent bid to make the historiography of the Debarkle easier, multiple members of 2014’s Evil League of Evil banded together to publish an anthology entitled “Forbidden Thoughts”. The title, evocative of Harlan Ellison’s never fully completed Dangerous Visions anthologies, was predicated on the idea that the last bastion of transgressive ideas in speculative fiction is reactionary conservatism….
City planners in this civilization rely on fungus to help them do their jobs.
(5) THE END IS NEAR. Leonardo DiCaprio is part of a celebrity ensemble cast in Don’t Look Up, which tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. On Netflix on December 24.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1966 – Fifty-five years ago on NBC, Star Trek premiered. Roddenberry had pitched a brief treatment to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, producers of Mission: Impossible, three years previously, calling it “a Wagon Train to the stars”. I won’t go into details here as y’all know them all too well but will note that it would spawn eleven television series to date, thirteen films, and numerous books, games, and more toys than you can possibly keep count. The series won two Hugos, one at NyCon 3 for “The Menagerie”, and another at Baycon for “The City on the Edge of Forever”.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in a number of folk tale productions in various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
Born September 8, 1937 — Archie Goodwin. Comics writer and editor with a very long career. He was the writer and editor of the horror Creepy and Eerie anthologies, the first writer on the Iron Man series, wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels and edited the Star Wars line for them. For DC, he edited Starman which Robinson said he was inspiration for. (Died 1998.)
Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 76. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas, first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatos Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm.
Born September 8, 1952 — Linda D. Addison, 69. First Black winner of the Stoker Award which she has won five times. Amazingly, The first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial. All five of her Awards were for poetry collections. She does write more than poetry as her story, “Shadow Dreams”, was published in the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda anthology.
Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 67. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 56. I think that his Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And of course there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not seen as I don’t have HBO. He won an Otherwise Award for Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, and an Endeavour Award for The Lovecraft Country.
Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 55. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, with the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 3 and at Devention 3. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times.
Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 46. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script.
(8) TRAILER PARK. A new DCEU animated film trailer: “Injustice”.
Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this steampunk series “has almost nothing to do with what actually goes on in a courtroom” and featrues Sherlock Holmes as “an arrogant moron.” “So strap on that katana and get ready to make objections!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.
I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.
…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.
Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…
(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.
Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.
[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]
(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —
…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie.
The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”…
(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”
…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…
… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….
A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.
On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.
The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1. Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 5, 1906 — John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
Born August 5, 1929 — Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
Born August 5, 1935 — Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast Terror, Project U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger Man, The Saint, The Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
Born August 5, 1940 — Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa. As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films.
Born August 5, 1947 — Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant!
Born August 5, 1961 — Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
Born August 5, 1980 — JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.
Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…
…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.
Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….
(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”
…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.
By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….
…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988)winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.
Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….
Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.
There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.
There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….
(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.
We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.
Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.
Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.
LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”, Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) VISUAL EFFECTS HISTORY. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie recommends BBC Radio 4’s progam Unreal: “The VFX Revolution, A Long, Long Time Ago…” – the first of a three-episode series about SF cinematic special effects from 2001 to Star Wars and Close Encounters.
The story of how visual effects changed and changed cinema told from the inside by the Oscar winning Paul Franklin. In 1975, in a nondescript warehouse in Van Nuys, George Lucas and John Dykstra created a visual effects startup that would make history. Industrial Light & Magic. A group of many talents spent well over a year in R&D to perfect the dream of motion control before X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon could soar. Meanwhile the magic eye of Douglas Trumbull and his team was creating the light show for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters. It was the beginning of a revolution.
With the voices of Robert Blalack, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren & Doug Trumbull.
(2) SPLISH SPLASH. In the latest “Building Beyond” – “Liquid Assets” Sarah Gailey is joined by Wen Wen Yang and Meg Elison to play with this writing prompt:
The Cosmic Orb has issued a new Natural Law: at random intervals for the rest of time, the wealthiest 10% of humans in the universe will spontaneously dissolve into potable water.
(3) HUGO REFORM OF THE DAY. John Scalzi has good reasons to be confident about the second category. Would I be mistaken to underrate his chances of winning the first one?
… I recently went hunting for my copy of Lydia Davis’s “Essays One,” a collection of nonfiction that revealed itself stuffed sideways on a shelf where the works of Philip Roth and Marilynne Robinson first took up residence. That would’ve been an unthinkable genre incursion when I’d first moved in, and the search itself revealed more shelving indignities. Locating Davis meant scanning through books that are no longer so much shelved as much as piled in a sedimentary manner throughout the office….
…Amazon has shat out science-fiction programming for years, and it ranges, on the smell-o-meter, from the merely obnoxious to the just plain noxious—a flatulence that fluctuates. Early on, the company mostly Philip K. Dick’d around, first with an adaptation of Man in the High Castle and then with Electric Dreams, an anthology series based on that author’s short stories. The former collapsed in due course, and the latter was never more than off-brand, harder-trying Black Mirror, but at least neither tried to speak to our bowels.
With Solos, Amazon stoops to a condescending science fiction that’s just like us, farts and all….
(6) SPACE JAM 2 PROMO. Bugs Bunny and LeBron James pay a visit to the Metropolis of Superman: The Animated Series in a new clip from Space Jam: A New Legacy. [Via Gizmodo.]
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1990 — Thirty-one years ago, Another Way to Travel, the second album by Minneapolis based Cats Laughing comes out. Genre wise, it’s notable as it has Emma Bull, John Ford and Stephen Brust as lyric writers. The cover illustration was done by Terri Windling (the original artwork was given to Cat Eldridge some years back by Pamela Dean’s husband) The vehicle was known as the Catmobile and was used to transport the band. It owned by Brust, and it was a Cadillac ambulance that had been painted yellow, light blue, and dark blue, with murals. You can listen to “For it All” here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 7, 1907 — Robert Heinlein. Let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think. It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. After a four-year run there, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
Born July 7, 1936 — Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berle played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. (Died 2019.)
Born July 7, 1948 — Kathy Reichs, 73. Author of the Temperance Brennan series, the basis of the Bones series, which is genre adjacent given it’s connected to the Sleepy Hollow series, and she’s also the author of Virals, a YA series about a group of young adults with minor super powers.
Born July 7, 1959 — Billy Campbell, 62. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. And IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! The ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety-nine cents.
Born July 7, 1968 — Jeff VanderMeer, 53. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though I’ll say it is quite disturbing. I also will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.
Born July 7, 1980 — Martin Lewis, 41. He’s been the reviews editor for the British Science Fiction Association’s Vector critical journal for twenty years now. He’s written one book, SF Writers on SF Films from Akira to Zardoz.
Born July 7, 1987 — V. E. Schwab, 34. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan as she makes a lot of references to that series.
… The new clock—also known as the Sapphire Clock—isn’t better than an atomic clock; it’s different. That’s because accuracy and precision are different things: Accuracy is how well a clock can measure a true second, now defined as the time it takes cesium atoms under controlled conditions to oscillate between two energy states exactly 9,192,631,770 times. Since 2013, even more accurate types of atomic clocks have been built, but over 400 atomic clocks based on cesium-133 atoms are still used to create civil time across the globe. If you’re reading this article on a smartphone or a laptop, the time displayed on the edge of your screen is derived from one of those atomic clocks.
For many applications, such as satellite-based global positioning systems, accuracy is paramount. And make no mistake, even cesium atomic clocks are stunningly accurate. The NIST-F2 cesium clock operated by the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., is so accurate that it would have to run for 300 million years to gain or lose a second.
But for some applications, accuracy is less important than precision. Precision has to do not with delineating the perfect second but rather with creating extremely regular ticks, or oscillations. Imagine a game of darts. Atomic clocks are able to land all their darts, or oscillations, broadly around the bull’s-eye so that the average position is right on target, even though any given dart might be a centimeter or two away from dead center. Luiten’s device doesn’t aim for the bull’s-eye: instead, it is able to land all its darts at exactly the same point on the dartboard. In other words, each tick is really, really, really just like another….
(14) WHY, ‘TIS CLEAR AS IS THE SUMMER SUN. Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy – Kingdom is coming July 29 to Netflix. Here’s the story line —
Now the Autobots must team up with the Maximals to confront the Decepticons, who have joined forces with the Predacons, in the race to find the missing AllSpark. However, the Predacons are in control of the Golden Disk, a mysterious artifact which has a personal connection to Megatron and gives him an untold advantage over his enemy, Optimus Prime. Which faction will triumph in the final battle that will decide the fate of Cybertron’s future?
…The enduring puzzle has always been where the asteroid or comet that set off the destruction originated, and how it came to strike the Earth. And now a pair of Harvard researchers believe they have the answer.
In a study published in Scientific Reports, Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard, and Amir Siraj ’21, an astrophysics concentrator, put forth a new theory that could explain the origin and journey of this catastrophic object and others like it.
Using statistical analysis and gravitational simulations, Loeb and Siraj show that a significant fraction of a type of comet originating from the Oort cloud, a sphere of debris at the edge of the solar system, was bumped off-course by Jupiter’s gravitational field during its orbit and sent close to the sun, whose tidal force broke apart pieces of the rock. That increases the rate of comets like Chicxulub (pronounced Chicks-uh-lub) because these fragments cross the Earth’s orbit and hit the planet once every 250 to 730 million years or so.
“Basically, Jupiter acts as a kind of pinball machine,” said Siraj, who is also co-president of Harvard Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and is pursuing a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. “Jupiter kicks these incoming long-period comets into orbits that bring them very close to the sun.”
It’s because of this that long-period comets, which take more than 200 years to orbit the sun, are called sun grazers, he said.
“When you have these sun grazers, it’s not so much the melting that goes on, which is a pretty small fraction relative to the total mass, but the comet is so close to the sun that the part that’s closer to the sun feels a stronger gravitational pull than the part that is farther from the sun, causing a tidal force” he said. “You get what’s called a tidal disruption event and so these large comets that come really close to the sun break up into smaller comets. And basically, on their way out, there’s a statistical chance that these smaller comets hit the Earth.”
When barrages of charged protons and electrons erupted from the sun head our way, Earth’s magnetic field deftly deflects them around the planet. This buffeting generates shimmering, glowing curtains of color known as the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere’s polar regions, and aurora australis in the south.
That same phenomenon happens on Mars, too. But there it is not just the northern lights and southern lights, but also the equatorial lights, mid-latitude lights, eastern lights, western lights — all around the planet.
Mission officials released the pictures on Wednesday.
“It will allow new doors of study to be opened when it comes to the Martian atmosphere,” said Hessa al-Matroushi, the science lead for the first interplanetary mission by the U.A.E., “and how it interacts with the solar activity.”
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Dark Alliance,” Fandom Games says this D&D line extension is “a story that had zero effort put into it” and is so boring “It’s less like watching a car crash and more like going to the DMV.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Mister Dalliard (a 2018 suggestion).]
(2) BARBARIC YAWP. Cora Buhlert’s provocatively-titled “Conan the Socialist” lives up to its billing. (You never suspected that about Conan, did you?) BEWARE SPOILERS about the Thirties Robert E. Howard tale under discussion.
… My teenaged self certainly enjoyed the Conan stories as great and glorious adventures. Plus, there was the thrill of reading “violent American trash” that sensible educated people weren’t supposed to read or enjoy. However, upon rereading these stories as an adult, I find that there is a lot of depth and subtext in the Conan series that my teenaged self missed.
T2 is a departure from the far bleaker original, 1984’s TheTerminator, which its creator calls a “science-fiction slasher film.” Linda Hamilton’s franchise protagonist, Sarah Connor, has transformed from a put-upon heroine to a self-trained commando whose attempts to thwart the coming apocalypse land her in a psychiatric hospital. Her son, John, the future leader of the resistance in the war against the genocidally self-aware defense system Skynet, is in foster care. And the T-800, once a remorseless killer with a curious but hypnotic Austrian accent, somehow helps bring them together as a family—then helps them save the world.
… Cameron: I talked to Dennis Muren at ILM. I said, “I’ve got an idea. If we took the water character from The Abyss, but it was metallic so you didn’t have the translucency issues, but you had all the surface reflectivity issues and you made it a complete human figure that could run and do stuff, and it could morph back into a human, and then turn into the liquid metal version of itself, and we sprinkled it through the movie, can we do it?” He said, “I’ll call you back tomorrow.”
… Cameron: Linda, I called her up and I said, “Look, they want to pay us a lot of money to make a sequel. Are you in or are you out? But just between you and me, I don’t really want to do it if Sarah doesn’t come back and I don’t want to recast Sarah, so you got to say you’re in.” And she and I weren’t involved. [Editor’s note: Cameron and Hamilton were married from 1997 to 1999.] We hadn’t even really hung out at all much since the first film. She was making a movie somewhere down South.
And so she said, “Yeah, in principle, I’m in, but I want to be crazy.” I said, “Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?” She said, “Crazy, like I’ve been driven crazy.” I said, “Like you’re in an insane asylum, like you’re institutionalized?” She said, “Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.” I said, “All right. Well, you’re going to get my version of nuts,” and she said, “All right. I’m down.”
…The book is set some time after this Transition, and follows a tea monk, Sibling Dex, who goes from settlement to settlement as a travelling salesperson-slash-roaming therapist. Despite bringing joy and comfort to those visited, Dex is unsatisfied and heads out into the wilds, looking for a new purpose – eventually making contact with a robot, Mosscap, the first time humans and robots had met in centuries.
… There were less than 200 attendees. Nolacon Bulletin #2 (July 1951) lists 196 members; Harry Warner, Jr. in in his memoir of fandom in the 50s A Wealth of Fable says 183 were officially registered “and 300 or more persons were believed to be on hand at one time or another” (352).
…One highlight was a midnight showing of The Day the Earth Stood Still at the local Saenger Theater. Seating was segregated. Black attendees would have had to enter through a side door, to sit up on the balcony. Had any black science fiction fans done so, the film they watched could have stood as a metaphor for the mythic white space they found themselves in: a film of the possibilities of the future starring white people, for white people; the few non-white actors such as Rama Bai and Spencer Chan went uncredited….
… “Sectional discrimination” in 1952 was the “reverse racism” of the 2020s—a fallacy used by those who claim that efforts to combat or reverse racial discrimination are themselves a form of discrimination. Boggs’ claims break down what might be the typical white fan’s mindset of the era: philosophically displeased with Jim Crow, but unwilling to actually do anything about it….
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 3, 1985 – Thirty-six years ago, Back to the Future premiered. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Bob Gale and Neil Canton were the producers. It of course starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at ConFederation besting Ladyhawke, Cocoon, Brazil and Enemy Mine. Critics loved it with Ebert comparing it to Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life. It was a box office success being the top grossing film of the year. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an absolutely superb ninety-four percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well that is his bio. Rotsler was a many time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist of 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He is responsible for giving Uhura her first name, and he wrote “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming.” (Died 1997.)
Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Film director whose Altered States based off of Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay is certainly his best-remembered film. Though let’s not overlook The Lair of the White Worm he did off Bram Stoker’s novel, or The Devils, based at least in part off The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. (Died 2011.)
Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 84. Playwright of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil (with Terry Gilliam) and Shakespeare in Love (with Marc Norman). He’s uncredited but openly acknowledged by Spielberg for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 78. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in the most excellent Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue Thunder, The Terrible Thunderlizards (no, I’ve no idea what it is), The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Men in Black: The Series, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Justice League, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern, Beware the Batman, Agent Carter and Star Trek: Lower Decks. His latest genre role was Old Man Miller on the Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy.
Born July 3, 1946 — Michael Shea. Shea’s first novel, A Quest for Simbilis was an authorized sequel to the first two Jack Vance’s Dying Earth novels. Vance was offered a share of the advance but declined it. (It was declared non-canon when the next novels in the series were written by Vance.) A decade, he’d win a World Fantasy Award for his Nifftthe Lean novel, and a second twenty years later for a novella, “The Growlimb.” (Died 2014.)
Born July 3, 1948 — Marc Okrand, 73. A linguist in Native American languages who’s the creator of the Klingon language. He first applied it by dubbing in Vulcan language dialogue for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and then was involved in the Search for Spock, The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, and the both rebooted Trek films. Later he developed the language for the Kelpien race in the second season of Discovery.
Born July 3, 1962 — Tom Cruise, 59. His first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many excellent Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in War of The Worlds. I’ve not see him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas he was Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy.
Born July 3, 1964 — Payton Reed, 57. Did you know there was A Back to the Future TV series? Well there was and he directed it back in 1991. It was animated and only Christopher Lloyd was involved as a voice actor. He went on to much later direct Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp and the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He directed two episodes of The Mandalorian.
(9) STAND UP GUY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] From 2017, a full cast audio adaptation of the short story “Waterfront Fists” by Robert E. Howard, performed by a group called the Violet Crown Radio Players. This is not an SFF story, but one of the Sailor Steve Costigan stories about the adventures of a not very smart boxing sailor and his faithful bulldog (Howard wrote more Costigan stories than he ever wrote Conan stories), but very nicely done. Hosted by The Cromcast, a Weird Fiction Podcast: “The VCRP Present Waterfront Fists!”
(10) STONE SOUP. Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond” writing prompt “Optimus Prime Time” brings her together with Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers and Julian Stuart to play with this idea —
The AI uprising has come and gone and after a brief period of discomfort, we’re all mostly pretty cool with each other at this point. There’s a television network that is strictly dedicated to entertainment by robots, for robots.
More from Harryhausen’s conversation with David Kyle:
“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Members included Russ Hodgkins, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual. There was a fellow named Walt Daugherty, who was an anthropologist by trade, and a photographer. He would make presentations about Egyptology. Another young fellow named Ray Bradbury would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts. Ray was writing for Forry’s magazine called Imagination. I did one of the covers for an issue, which was mimeographed.”…
(12) VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES. Anna J Walner has two books in The Uluru Legacy Series, the first out in June, the second coming in November.
A girl in search of her family finds more than she ever dreamed possible. Blending myth with reality, this award-winning debut provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.
Enter a world hidden to human eyes for over three centuries. A safe haven for both Vampire and Werewolf. She’ll become something she never thought existed, agree to things she never thought she would, and find a life worth dying for.
Amelia’s journey to find the truth behind her adoption twenty-five years ago, might end up being just a quick tour around the sights and a visit with her biological family.
Or it could reveal a more mysterious and shocking history to her lineage than she thought possible. The realization that vampires and werewolves have existed all along in secret. A place called The Colony.
Amelia realizes she must make a choice. Join The Colony and her family, or literally be made to forget they ever existed in the first place.
The thrilling debut of The Uluru Legacy Series will change the vampire and werewolf rulebook. Blending myth with reality, it provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.
In Larougo —
While some questions will be answered, more will be raised. As new truths come to light, and new evils make themselves known, not everyone will survive.
The vision for a new Colony is at stake as Amelia and Roan discover they’re part of something even larger than they thought.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matterssays about Sarah Gross’ short film Boléro:
The theme is very topical indeed: Ending crime on the part of private citizens via total surveillance (in this case via a sort of enhanced telepathy) results in unlimited crime on the part of the government.
The synopsis continues:
In a future where telepaths are used by the government to monitor the public and root out insurgents, Maya, a non-speaking teen, witnesses her father’s brutal and unjust execution. Set on a path of revenge and destruction, Maya joins the Resistance, hellbent on tracking down Reader 8, the telepath responsible for her father’s death. However, when Maya finally locates her target after years of searching, she is confronted with a choice: either capture Reader 8 and deliver essential intelligence to the Resistance or take him out and fulfill her vengeful quest.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
Would you say that your writing style continues to evolve?
When I was young, I thought that after a few years, I would learn all the tricks of the trade, after which writing novels would be easy. Instead, it gets harder—and more exciting—because there are infinite approaches and techniques to explore. In the past, I’ve had some publishers express bafflement as to why I had to change direction. However, repetition of past work is not art; it’s imitation and not in the least satisfying. You have to do new things and risk failure. My experience is that readers expect that and will reward it.
There’s a certain comfort for readers in returning to a world they already know. Is it ever a struggle to maintain your own investment in a particular story or with particular characters?
I don’t think I could ever write as many words about any other character as I wrote about Odd Thomas. I loved him. I knew he was on a journey to absolute humility—which would really test my powers of imagination—and he won my heart with every page. Five novels was right for Jane Hawk, and two seasons for Nameless. Readers who want more of any one thing need to be won over by a new world and new characters that they like as well or better. Otherwise, both they and the author are standing still emotionally and intellectually.
(2) CALL FOR FANWRITING. For the next issue of The Drink Tank, Christopher J. Garcia, Alissa McKersie, and Chuck Serface want articles, artwork, and anything printable dedicated to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Chuck Serface says: “The novels, the PBS shows, the recent Netflix series — it’s all good. Our due date is July 10, 2021, and we’ll have the issue out shortly thereafter.” Send your offerings to Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Christopher at email@example.com.
There never was a Hobbit Hole quite like Bag End in all of Hobbiton a place that oftsaw the comings and goings of many of the Little Folk and Big Folk the bastards they are as time has onwardflown and kings and queens of the other lands of Middle Earth have died and been barrowburied since the dawn of Man upon these soils but even so there have been no bigger bastards to tromp up to Bilbo’s door (for I am the current resident of Bag End) than the Sackville Bagginses…
Premee Mohamed didn’t intend to publish multiple books about the end of the world during a global pandemic — it just worked out that way.
Her debut novel, Beneath the Rising, has garnered major attention since its release in March of 2020. The book’s popularity led to a sequel, A Broken Darkness, released in March of this year, and The Void Ascendant, the trilogy’s final installment, was just announced for March 2022.
…Many have learned a hard lesson about what it means to be an Amazon customer. Even when you’re paying lots of money, you are a guinea pig at the whims of a company endlessly striving to innovate. At any moment, the company could surprise you with an unwelcome change to an Amazon product you own or decide to kill it altogether.
Last week, many people who own Amazon devices were automatically enrolled in Sidewalk, a new internet-sharing program that drew intense scrutiny. Basically, the program lets owners of newer Amazon products share their internet connections with others nearby. If a neighbor’s Ring camera has a spotty internet connection and yours has a strong one, you can share your bandwidth with your neighbor.
That all sounds nice if everything works as expected, but security experts have raised concerns that device makers could have inappropriate access to people’s data. They advised that people opt out of the program to avoid becoming part of Amazon’s experiment because there are still many unknowns….
Lorelei Marcus is graduating today. As school Valedictorian. And with department math honors.
I know, I know. “Of course she is.” But actually, we couldn’t be prouder of her super hard work that has made her accomplishment a seeming inevitability. Her perseverance, her willingness to help others, her dealing with disabilities that make computer-use difficult to impossible, have all just been stellar.
The other piece of news regards Journey Press, the publishing house the Marcus Family and Co. run. Yes, we managed to make it through 2020. In fact, we kind of flourished. In March 2020, we were in about 200 stores. Now we’re in 600 — in five countries and every state of the Union.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a tourist hotspot in Los Angeles — a stretch of sidewalk that passes other iconic L.A. locations like the Chinese Theater, the El Capitan, Pantages, and a Toyota dealership.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides who among the many applicants receive a star each year, and for 2022, there’s an impressive roster of genre actors who made the cut. The most notable star, however, goes to Carrie Fisher….
Fisher won’t be the only Star Wars actor getting a spot on the sidewalk next year. The Mandalorian’s Ming-Na Wen will also get a star, along with young Obi-wan himself, Ewan McGregor.
Continuing on the comic book front, two other notables receiving stars are The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Greg Berlanti, creator of The CW’s Arrowverse.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 18, 1983 — Thirty-eight years ago today, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, paving the way for sixty-four other female astronauts to do the same. While in orbit, Dr. Ride launched two commercial satellites, directed the use of robotic technology, and served as her ship’s mission specialist; as of 2022, she will be one of the few women featured on US coinage.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. Of course, his major non-genre role was Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel.
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.)
Born June 18, 1943 — Paul McCartney, 78. I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album.
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 74. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode.
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 72. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it.
Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 63. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moonfor DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology, that came last year on DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.
Born June 18, 1960 — Barbara Broccoli, 61. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago.
Luca doesn’t look or sound like any film Pixar has made before. It has a charm all its own and captures our imagination from the moment it begins. It’s the living definition of an immersive experience (pun intended). Who else would dare ask us to care about strange-looking sea monsters, and then repeatedly surprise us while spinning its coming-of-age tale?
The story begins underwater, where we meet an adolescent boy named Luca and his family. These fish have no idea that people regard them as sea monsters. Curiosity impels Luca to disobey his protective parents and see what life is like above the surface of the ocean. Director Enrico Casarosa and his team draw us into their lively story as Luca ventures onto dry land, where he is magically transformed into a human being…
While the Snyder Cut had to wait four years to finally be realized, it took 25 years for Superman II: The Donner Cut to get the same treatment. In doing so, the Donner Cut was arguably the “OG” Snyder Cut; a trial run that — for better or worse — set a precedent for fan-led campaigns that set the stage of an (at best) aggressive breed of fandom to help Snyder’s take on Superman and the rest of the Justice League defy the Anti-Life equation that is Development Hell. In honor of Superman II’s 40th anniversary this week, here’s a look at how that film’s troubled production and pop-culture legacy paved the way for another Man of Steel to find a second chance.
In the second episode of Sciencing Out, host Reyhaneh Maktoufi introduces us to 18th century Englishwoman Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and modern-day wildlife conservationist Paula Kahumbu. By dedicating time to build public trust, both Montagu and Kahumbu made major positive changes in their communities.
In 1716, when smallpox was still ravaging the world, Montagu moved to Constantinople, where she noticed that smallpox was less widespread than in England. She discovered that Constantinoplans held “smallpox parties” where, in a process called “inoculation,” a person would place a dried smallpox scab from a patient with a mild case into the open wound of a healthy person. Montagu grew to trust the process enough that she had her own child inoculated.
Montagu returned to England and tried to advocate for inoculation, but struggled to gain trust. So she went to her friend Caroline, the Princess of Wales, and implored her to inoculate her own child against smallpox and inform the public of the result. Caroline agreed. Seeing royalty successfully inoculate their children against smallpox helped build the public’s trust in the practice, ultimately resulting in significantly fewer disease-related mortalities and setting the stage for modern-day vaccination….
…Snore introduces us to a businesswoman named Karen who’s fallen on hard times—currently, she’s got nothing left except a stack of schemes for her comeback, and her personal assistant/sorta-boyfriend Callum. Together, they check into a fleabag motel for the night while she plots her next move, but there’s something already in their room that causes quite a ruckus….
The YouTube blurb says it all comes down to this question:
Who will survive and, most importantly, what will be left of Callum’s designer manbag?
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from AT&T Corporate Television from 1979 shows the exciting future where everyone can have an electronic Yellow Pages in their home that gives access to business listings AND Dr. Joyce Brothers!
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chuck Serface, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Pasadena’s Lineage Performing Arts Center shares its take on Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day” in a free online presentation Friday, May 28, starting at 7 p.m.
This community-created dance and theatre piece reimagines Bradbury’s sci-fi short story through the lens of Pasadena’s experience through the pandemic. “All Summer in a Day” director, Lineage’s founder Hilary Thomas, conducted virtual workshops and classes over the last year, where she collected writings from PUSD students, Pasadena community members, and contributors from across the country, on their experience during the pandemic.
The show weaves together live actors performing the community’s text, accompanied by dancers from the Lineage Dance Company.
In a parallel to the trying times of the past year, “All Summer in a Day” tells the story of Margot, a young girl living on Venus, where it’s been raining for seven years straight. Margot alone holds out hope for a break in the clouds. Lineage’s community members have reimagined the story’s ending, drawing on the hope they feel as Pasadena slowly begins to heal from the pandemic.
(2) BUILDING BEYOND. K. O’Keefe Thomas and Rem Wigmore join Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond: Invasive Economics” to play with the writing prompt: “The ecosystem that is the global economy has fallen victim to an incredibly invasive species.” Gailey sums up their three attempts —
All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Rem’s weasels are the start of an incredibly creative and fun linguistic romp. K’s lichenous growth is the entry point for a story about how people might be compelled to build a utopia. My parasitoid wasps are the beginning of a tale of forgetting; if the wasps begin to mutate, what else might they devour?
In the 1940s, the British Interplanetary Society—a fantastic club of space geeks that included Arthur C. Clarke—drafted up detailed plans for space missions of all kinds, including a trip to the moon. After World War II ended, BIS member Harry Ross pushed ahead on a lunar spacesuit design and drafted artist Ralph Smith to create fantastic illustrations of concept. Sixty years later, the UK’s National Space Centre museum commissioned historical costume and model maker Stephen Wisdom to bring the spacesuit into the real world… using only materials that were available in the 1940s….
…Every writer should have at hand a bio, short for biography. This biography can take many forms depending on where you are in your journey. Most often requested in the third person, it includes your name, perhaps where you’re from or where you currently live, perhaps your degrees, your awards, and your publications. I strongly suggest that you write a long one, maybe two pages, and then a one-page one, and then 100 word and a 50-word one. The publication will specify the kind they want and the length of bio they want. More and more request them upon submitting. I’ve been asked for 50-word bios, 100-word bios, and, more rarely, 150-word bios. You must think of this well before the time of request or submittal, and have it at the ready because the moment that it is required is rarely a moment that you want to think of the cleverest and most authentic way to present yourself. I recommend that you review this annually and that you update it. Read it aloud, get a friend to vet it….
(5) TRUE WRIT. [Item by Lise Andreasen.] Hejsa! Podcast time! Episode 88 of the Literature and History podcast is about “Ancient Greek Sci-fi”. In roughly the 160s CE, the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote A True History, one of history’s earliest surviving novels, with strong tinges of what we’d call science fiction.
…The novel that we’re about to read in this episode is a wild and entertaining chunk of prose, and an exuberant mockery of what Lucian holds to be poor history writing. And so before we open Lucian’s novel, we should get a couple of things related to works of ancient history fresh in our minds. Because while the novel we’re about to read together is a zany and fun adventure story, it also has a serious agenda. At the heart of this agenda is criticizing history as it existed in the second century. History, in the mid-100s CE, when Lucian was hunched over his desk, writing his works, was not like modern, academically peer-reviewed history. The historians who come up in Lucian’s works – ancient Greek figures like Thucydides and Xenophon and especially Herodotus – these writers, to varying extents, took artistic license when they wrote their books, leavening the facts available to them with fiction to alternately fill in gaps and to make things more engrossing and exciting for their readers. To put it simply, Lucian’s problem with history as a discipline was that it erred too far on the side of exaggerations and outright fabrications….
The direct link to the audio is here. I am a faithful subscriber to the podcast, and I highly recommend it.
…It has thus been only for two or three decades that South Korea has had a thriving science fiction and fantasy cultural scene, which first began to develop on the internet. Without a full appreciation of this history, critics inside and outside South Korea often wonder at the little exposure that the country has had to Western science fiction culture.
All this meant that, during my formative years, the inspiration for my writing came from mainstream literature on the one hand and from the fantastic and speculative world of manhwa on the other. I like to think that I learned from Herman Hesse how to express a literary vision and from manhwa artist Kim Jin how to appropriate Korean history and myths for my own storytelling. Plus, I have always been a big fan of Agatha Christie’s detective fiction.
With the exception of Hesse, the below list includes my favorite works of science fiction…
(7) TRAILING LIVES. Infinite with Mark Wahlberg will be streaming June 10 on Paramount+.
For Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited haunt his daily life. Self-medicated and on the brink of a mental breakdown, Evan is sought by a secret group that call themselves “Infinites,” revealing to him that his memories may be real—but they are from multiple past lives.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2001 — Twenty years ago at the Millennium Philcon, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other nominated works were A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod and Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 28, 1847 – Bithia Croker. Irish horsewoman who hunted with the Kildare; married, moved to British India, wrote for a distraction during the hot season. Forty-two novels (17 set in India, 1 Burma, 7 Ireland); we can claim Beyond the Pale and her seven collections of shorter stories. (Died 1920) [JH]
Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming. Author of the James Bond series which is at least genre adjacent if not actually genre in some cases such as Moonraker. The film series was much more genre than the source material. Then there’s the delightful Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. The film version was produced by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, who had already made five James Bond films. (Died 1964.) (CE)
Born May 28, 1919 – Don Day. Editor of The Fanscient (and of its parody, Fan-Scent; you can see both here). Perhaps the greatest early bibliographer of SF, in The Fanscient and also his Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950 (hardbound, sold thousands of copies). Chaired NorWesCon the 8th Worldcon. (Died 1979) [JH]
Born May 28, 1930 – Frank Drake, age 91. Astronomer and astrophysicist. Nat’l Academy of Sciences, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences. Co-designed the Pioneer Plaques; supervised the Voyager Golden Records; thus our neighbor. Lapidarist. Raises orchids. [JH]
Born May 28, 1951 — Sherwood Smith, 70. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She’s also co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown. She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade. (CE)
Born May 28, 1954 – Kees van Toorn, age 67. Chaired ConFiction the 48th Worldcon, at the Hague. Served on con committees in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S. Perry Rhodan translator. Semiprozine Orbit for a dozen years. Contributed to APA-L from overseas. Two European SF Awards. Guest of Honor at Beneluxcon 7 & 17. Here is a Website about his Worldcon and now-canceled reunion plans. [JH]
Born May 28, 1954 – Betsy Mitchell, age 67. Long fruitful career at Baen, Bantam, Warner, Del Rey, editing 150 titles, several becoming NY Times Best Sellers; now, Betsy Mitchell Editorial Services. Guest of Honor at Archon 14, 4th Street Fantasy Con (1992), Armadillocon 22, Boskone 41, Ad Astra 25, Loscon 40. [JH]
Born May 28, 1977 — Ursula Vernon, 44. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning graphic novel Digger which was a webcomic from 2003 to 2011. Vernon is also the creator of The Biting Pear of Salamanca, a digital work of art which became an internet meme in the form of the LOL WUT pear.
Born May 28, 1984 — Max Gladstone, 37. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) won a Hugo Award for Best Novella at CoNZealand. (CE)
Born May 28, 1985 — Carey Mulligan, 36. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”.) (CE)
Born May 28, 1986 – Laura Dockrill, age 35. Author, illustrator, poet (performance name “Dockers MC”). Two novels, a short story, a collection of retold fairy (I confess mistyping it “fiery”) tales for us; a dozen other books. When The Guardian asked her about the dress she was photographed in, she said “I call it Fantastic Disgusting Amazing Dress because it is fantastic, disgusting and amazing.” [JH]
Now, thanks to SMUJones Video Collection (via Boing Boing), one of the earliest Stan Lee on-camera appearances has resurfaced. And it’s amazing how different 1966 Stan Lee looked from how we all think of him today. Also amazing is how prescient he was about Marvel’s potential in other media. You can watch the two-part video in full right here…
From 1984 to roughly 1987, the Super Powers Collection was a DC Comics line of action figures from Kenner Toys, home of Star Wars. It featured the DC heroes in their most iconic incarnations, with classic villains getting cool new modern upgrades. Aside from the figures, there was also a metric ton of merchandise. And the long-running Super Friends cartoon also got a Super Powers makeover. While the stories for Super Powers were simplistic by modern standards, their colorful aesthetic and emphasis on fun adventure and pure heroism feel exactly like what the DCEU needs today. But before we get into how Super Powers can inspire the future, let’s take a deep dive into its history….
…While I have never been to an underwater base, what little I do know about oceans and pressure suggests that several things in the movie don’t add up scientifically. Deep sea diving with minimal gear and body protection seems needlessly dangerous. Similarly, open holes to the water that serve as entrances into both the lab and the unidentified object don’t make sense. There’s an open water propelled human exploration ship that at one point is slower than a diver just swimming alongside it, which led me to question: why have the ship in the first place? And there are moments of beautiful cinematography in the water with the fish and the ocean floor, which made me wish that they had been featured more prominently….
Cosmic dreams (and provocative nightmares) of tantalizing journeys through time and space … infinite, conceptual exploration of the stars … alien creatures … Hammer Films … Universal Pictures … “King Kong” … Ray Harryhausen … Ray Bradbury … George Pal … Robert Bloch … Peter Cushing … Veronica Carlson … Buster Crabbe … John Agar … Frank Capra … John Williams … Miklos Rozsa … Forrest J Ackerman … and Famous “Monsters” of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, both conceived and lovingly chronicled in books, magazines, journals, tabloids, and on line for over half a century, inspired this affectionate, deeply personal, if slightly Monstrous, remembrance of a life in “horror” by a gray haired, unabashedly child like, Monster “Kid.”
Though cryptocurrency mining is becoming less profitable by the day, those who still have the hardware may as well use it. However, it sucks up a lot of energy and dumps a lot of heat, which suspiciously looks like a marijuana grow house, as it turns out.
Earlier this month, police in London were tipped off to a building within the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell. Using drone surveillance, police saw a characteristic heat signature and people regularly going in and out. Therefore, when the police raided the location on May 18th, they were expecting a cannabis farm, but that is not what they found.
Upon entry, they saw shelves full of up to 100 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) cryptocurrency miners rigged with exhaust pipes and a daisy-chained power system. As it turns out, the only illegal part about this is that the computers were spliced into the power network, which had “effectively stolen thousands of pounds of electricity,” as the BBC reports….
…Only the fully vaccinated should be witnessing this. That’s certainly not the case. After waiting the suggested two weeks from my second Moderna shot in late March (a sluggish day that felt like a system reboot), I rejoined the company of filmgoers. It felt vaguely like getting away with something you knew you shouldn’t be doing.
No apologies. The excitement of being back, however tinged by free-floating nervousness, can’t be downplayed. I drank in Andrei Tarkovsky’s elliptical 1975 art film “Mirror” like so many vodka flights, every mysterious windswept field and liquid interlude frizzing my synapses. Amazingly, my tiny Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center audience greeted the end credits with a robust chorus of woos (possibly a first for Tarkovsky). Maybe we were cheering the mere idea of surviving a film together. A theater worker dismissed us row by row; we obeyed like good little schoolchildren.
There’s something performative about returning to the movies right now. The laughing is louder. Perhaps it’s compensation for all the taped-off rows, all the dead space. We’ve become the film ourselves, telegraphing our emotions in ways that only 14 months of mouth-obscured masking can spur. Case in point: Orson Welles’s chatty 1973 documentary “F for Fake” is amusing in a purring, intellectual way, but it’s not the riot that a few superfans at the Paris Theater in Midtown were clearly having.
It helps to bring your own enthusiasm. Otherwise, a mind can wander to the whooshing air-conditioning units, freshly refitted with the required MERV 13 filters and somehow louder than memory serves. Is the ceiling too low? Was that a cough or a chuckle? Don’t let yourself get too distracted, or you’ll be demoted from paying customer to cop.
Remember in Season 2 of The Boys, when Homelander (Antony Starr) took his son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), to the supe-themed restaurant Planet Vought? The pair were still getting adjusted to their father-son dynamic, so at Stormfront’s (Aya Cash) prompting, Homelander takes his son out to the restaurant for some bonding. Of course, Homelander fans ended up making it more traumatic than intended for the poor kid, but weirdly enough, if you are in the Los Angeles area June 4 – 6, you could be one of those fans.
Amazon Studios announced today that they’re unveiling a huge, free The Boys-themed three-day pop-up at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. It’s being billed as a “one-of-a-kind, immersive drive-thru restaurant” celebrating Planet Vought’s (think of it as a super knock-off of Planet Hollywood restaurants) “grand opening” event. Each car-load will get an exclusive 40-minute experience with themed food and a drive-thru environment filled with characters, visuals, and elements from The Boys universe.
“We here at The Boys are thrilled to launch our latest cash-grab, I mean, brand extension: Planet Vought Hollywood,” showrunner Eric Kripke says in a tonally spot-on press release statement. “Guests will experience the thrills of being a real superhero, all while consuming 2000 calories or more. Okay not really, but still, this experience is SO COOL, and will immerse viewers (and frankly, Emmy voters) into the humor and intrigue of the show’s world. And keep an eye out — Butcher and the Boys might swing by.”
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cath, Will R., Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) PROVING LOVE. [Item by Soon Lee.] How did a New Zealand journalist end up on the cover of a Chuck Tingle “Tingler”? Chuck was inspired to write Almost Pounded By The Physical Manifestation Of Simulation Theory After Realizing We’re Erotica Characters Then Deciding To Just Be Friends after listening to a conspiracy theory podcast by New Zealand journalist/documentary maker David Farrier. Tingle then approached Farrier (who has been compared to Louis Theroux) to be on the cover of the story and the rest as they say, is a Tingler cover.
Farrier’s account of the events is here. It includes the full text of the Tingler, available free online, from which this is an except:
…Some people believe these events are proof the natural world isn’t so natural; that everything we’re experiencing might be nothing more than mindbogglingly intricate computer code,” my companion explains.
“Like in Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck?” I retort, recalling one of my favorite science fiction films.
“Sure,” David replies encouragingly. “The idea is that our whole existence could be a creation within another reality external to this one. That reality could be nearly identical to ours, or vastly different in ways we can’t even comprehend. Maybe on the higher plane of existence all these bigfeet, dinosaurs and unicorns are human beings with vaguely similar names. I could be a journalist there, instead of the world renown foot model who sits before you. Maybe on that reality the hit film Handsome Keanu And The Computers Of Heck is called something weird and vague like The Matrix.”…
(2) HOW NOT TO HIRE AN EDITOR. A pro tip from Sarah Chorn.
When one thinks of science fiction and fantasy protagonists, one thinks of figures like Morgaine (Gate of Ivrel), Essun (The Fifth Season), Cordelia Naismith (Shards of Honor), Beatrice Clayborn (The Midnight Bargain) and Anna Tromedlov (Hench). A casual glance suggests these are generally women, which only makes sense. The majority of fiction readers are women and of course they want relatable characters.
However, it’s entirely possible to write a book with a strong male protagonist at its centre (“strong” as in striking, resolute, and/or determined, not as being able to dead-lift surprising amounts of weight, of course—assessing male characters purely in physical terms would be offensively reductive)…
I think I’m arriving good and early for my interview with William Shatner when I click on our video chat link 10 minutes ahead of time. But Shatner has arrived even earlier: there he is, as soon as my Zoom screen opens, poking away at his computer. “I like to get in early to ease my mind. But it’s OK, I can meditate afterwards,” he says. His tone is often heavily ironical, as if he is daring you to accuse him of playing a joke on you. This has led to much discussion from fans about “the Shatner persona”, although Shatner scoffs at the phrase. “I don’t know what that even is,” he says.
I think they think you play up to their expectations, I say.
“What are their expectations? That I’m Captain Kirk? Well, I am Captain Kirk! I don’t know what people mean when they talk about my persona. I’m just myself. If you’re not yourself, who are you?”
…I t feels rude to ask a 90-year-old if he worries about death, so I ask instead what he wishes he had known at 20 that he knows at 90.
“Here’s an interesting answer!” he says perkily. “I’m glad I didn’t know because what you know at 90 is: take it easy, nothing matters in the end, what goes up must come down. If I’d known that at 20, I wouldn’t have done anything!”
Our time is up now, and so Shatner and I bid our farewells. “This is always the awkward bit, before you turn off [the camera],” he says, and then in his ironical voice he says: “Pleasure seeing you! Bye! Bye!” And then, just like a 3D hologram when the electronics stop working, he vanishes.
(6) DECONSTRUCTION DERBY. From Kalimac’s series of reports on Tokien-related items held adjacent to the virtual International Congress on Medieval Studies: “Saturday at Kalamazoo”.
…. Most provocatively, Luke Shelton took issue with, or at least queried, Tolkien’s statement in the Lord of the Rings foreword that the work is not an allegory. That depends on what you think an allegory is, Luke said, and he cited readers who have ignored Tolkien on that point. Then he went on to say that, since Tolkien accepted “the freedom of the reader” to interpret but that what he objected to in allegory was “the purposed domination of the author,” isn’t an author who objects to his work being considered allegory indulging in purposed domination? And he said it as if he’d caught Tolkien in a giant “gotcha.” In reality it’s a Gödelian category error, like saying the barber can’t shave himself if he shaves just the men in the village who don’t shave themselves. The only domination Tolkien is showing here is expecting readers not to make declarations as to what they think his allegorical purposed domination is…
(7) ON THE ERR. Rob Hansen’s THEN fanhistory site has added a recording of “The March of Slime”, a parody radio show performed by British fans and debuted at the 1955 Eastercon. There is also the text of the introduction and a link to a complete transcript.
COMMENTATOR: Well, here we are in the historic and time-hallowed saloon bar of the famous Globe Tavern, that erstwhile haunt of Dr. ..Johnson, Crippen and Christie. Gathered here this evening are the honourable representatives of the London Circle – The only circle in the world composed entirely of squares….
The ads for BLOG are wonderful, too….
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Folks. Have you heard that BLOG gives you that deep sleep that psychologists say is so necessary – cleans gramophone records – is so kind to your silks and woolens – weans babies safely – kills rats, mice and badgers – is the swift antidote for leprousy, croup, and beri-beri – and on top of all this is guaranteed to contain no pterodactyls, diplodoci or other noxious ingredients…
You are a freelance image consultant. You have been hired by orcas to help them repair their image among the seal and penguin communities.
After all three have played with the idea, Gailey sums up:
All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Jo’s strategy is the start of a story about direct, honest admiration of predators by their prey. Ryan’s approach is the opening of an examination of substance abuse in cetacean communities. My scheme is guaranteed to be successful, resulting in a long-running stream of daytime procedurals about tough-but-fair orcas with complicated backgrounds, who just want to do right by their families by targeting and decimating seal and penguin communities.
…“Question Hound will be there, but only in the part that feels like it’s a writer’s room for the strip,” says Green, who is based in western Massachusetts. “He’s the money behind ‘Funny Online Animals’ because I make a living doing what I do thanks to” the meme.
“I recognize that,” he notes by email, “and sometimes resent that.”
He also knows that it’s exhausting to try to keep your creation on any sort of leash — particularly after the Internet has adopted your character as its own.
(10) BOOL HUNT. Lisey’s Story, based on a novel by Stephen King, premieres June 4 on Apple TV+.
Kentaro Miura, creator of the long-running dark fantasy manga Berserk – one of the bestselling manga series ever written – has died at the age of 54.
His US publisher Dark Horse Comics, describing Miura as a “master artist and storyteller”, said he had suffered acute aortic dissection and died on 6 May. “He will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”
The Japanese artist was best known for Berserk, which he wrote and drew. It first launched in 1989 and has been running ever since. Set in a world inspired by medieval Europe, it follows the story of the mercenary Guts, a warrior with a huge sword and an iron hand, and Griffith, leader of the mercenary Band of the Hawk. Dark, violent and humorous, Berserk ran to 40 volumes with more than 35m copies sold worldwide, according to its Japanese publisher Hakusensha. It was also adapted into anime TV series, films and video games….
(12) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 20, 1950 — On this evening in 1950, Dimension X’s “The Lost Race” was playing on NBC stations nationwide. Ernest Kinoy adapted the story from Murray Leinster’s “The Lost” first published in the April 1949 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. A space crew find themselves shipwrecked on a world where the ruins of a long dead spacefaring civilization hide a deadly secret that has the power to destroy the present as it did the past. Matt Crowley, Kermit Murdock and Joseph Julian were the cast. You can listen to it here.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 20, 1799 – Honoré de Balzac. His complete works total 20,000 pages. We can claim six novels, three dozen shorter stories; what of The Quest for the Absolute, whose alchemist hero at the end cries Eureka! [Greek, “I have found it”] and dies: is it fantasy? (Died 1850) [JH]
Born May 20, 1911 – Annie Schmidt. Mother of the Dutch theatrical song, queen of Dutch children’s literature. Hans Christian Andersen Medal. Poetry, songs, plays, musicals, radio and television for adults. Two fantasies for us, Minoes (tr. as The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof), Pluk van de Petteflet (tr. as Tow-Truck Pluck). One of fifty in the Dutch Canon with Erasmus, Rembrandt, Spinoza, Van Gogh, Anne Frank; see here. (Died 1995) [JH]
Born May 20, 1911 — Gardner Francis Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including 1,500 for just DC Comics. For DC, He created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born May 20, 1928 — Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 92. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries. Surely that’s genre. Excellent series which gets much, much better in characterization and writing as it goes along. She also did some more traditional genre fare, none of which I’ve encountered, the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. (CE)
Born May 20, 1946 — Cher, 75. She was Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick which is her main genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she voiced herself in the “The Secret of Shark Island” of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. (CE)
Born May 20, 1946 – Mike Glicksohn. Three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards. With Susan Wood published the superb fanzine Energumen, Hugo winner 1973; with her, Fan Guests of Honour at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon; his trip report, The Hat Goes Home (he famously wore an Australian bush hat). Co-founded the fanziners’ con Ditto (named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine). One of our best auctioneers at Art Shows, at fund-raisers for cons, and for traveling-fan funds. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born May 20, 1954 – Luis Royo, age 67. Covers in and out of our field, comics, a Tarot deck, CDs, video games; a domed-ceiling fresco in Moscow (with his son Romulo Royo). Spectrum silver award, Inkpot award. See here, here, here. [JH]
Born May 20, 1960 — John Billingsley, 61. Phlox on Enterprise, a series I really liked despite the fact it seems to have many detractors. His first genre role was in A Man from Earth as Mr. Rothman, a film in which the scriptwriter riffed off the immortality themes from the “Requiem for Methuselah” episode he did for Trek. He’d later reprised that role in The Man from Earth: Holocene. He’s had one-off appearances on The X-Files, Stargate SG-1, Duck Dodgers, Twin Peaks, Lucifer and The Orville. He had a recurring role on Stitchers as Mitchell Blair. (CE)
Born May 20, 1961 — Owen Teale, 60. Best known role is Alliser Thorne on the just concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy.(CE)
Born May 20, 1988 – Amberle Husbands, age 33. Writer, graphic artist, sheetmetal mechanic. Four short stories. Has read The Master and Margarita, Starman Jones, The Tale of Genji (Seidensticker tr.), The Sot-Weed Factor, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us, Black Elk Speaks. [JH]
Born May 20, 1997 – Sean Fay Wolfe, age 24. First novel published at age 16; two more. Eagle Scout. Black Belt in Shidôkan karate. Five-time All-State musician. Creator of online games. Three cats and a little white dog named Lucky. [JH]
(14) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bumpmakes a UFO joke from a standard pizza service question.
(15) ART THEFT IN CALIFORNIA. San Diego Police are asking for help in recoveringart stolen from San Diego in April 2021 – Heritage Auctions has the complete list at the link. It includes several pieces of fantasy and comics art.
In April, my house was ransacked and a valuable art collection was stolen. Unfortunately, some of the stolen pieces do not have an image available. Below is a list of the art taken:
Lil Abner Pen and Ink advertising drawing, commissioned for King Features Syndicate, circa 1950s. Description: Lil Abner, drawn from behind, clicking his heels in the air. Price paid: $2,500
Monte Moore – Gandalf, consulting a book in a library. Published in “Frazetta: Icon.” Price Paid: $1,500
Ernest Chiraicka – two page interior splash page in a pulp magazine. Description: Blond woman in a blue dress stands on one side of an apartment door, holding a gun up alongside her ear, in the hall, a man stands against the wall near the door, also holding a gun. Price Paid: $5,000
Marie Severin – Late 60s early 70s “Mad Magazine” Cover Painting. Description: Funny looking guy stooping and smelling the flowers. Price Paid: $6,500…
(16) BATMAN. DC’s animation division dropped this trailer for a new Batman animated film.
As I often do when terrible things are happening in the world and I’ve made all the phone calls I can and I still feel helpless, I turn to SFF as one way we can all at least connect together. So let’s talk about SFF by Palestinian authors. There isn’t a lot in (or translated to) English, but it’s still very worth reading.
(19) CREDENTIAL NOIR. Does this sound up your alley?Painted Catsby Neal F. Litherland from Ring of Fire Press.
Leo is the toughest alley cat around, but he’s got some soft spots. One is for an ex-flame looking for help and the other is for abandoned kittens, which lead him into trouble a lot bigger than he expected. But putting trouble in front of Leo is not what the furry denizens of the streets who know him would call a good career move….
It was a lazy summer in the park when an old flame walked back into Leo’s life. It had been a while since he’d seen Delilah, and it looked like she was doing all right for herself. She had a problem, though, and it wasn’t one her new squeeze could fix… a friend of hers had gone missing. Worse, she’d left her kitten behind.
Mischief was a devoted mama, and she never would have abandoned Trouble to fend for himself. Especially not in a place like Scratch Alley. But for old times’ sake, Leo agreed to stick his nose into things and see what he could turn up.
What he found was a lot more than he bargained for. While Mischief appeared to have vanished into thin air, Leo finds low-rent muscle dogging his steps. While he’s looking for Delilah’s missing friend, though, they’re trying to get their claws on Trouble. What’s so special about the kitten that petty packs of alley enforcers are out for blood? That might just be the answer to where Mischief went, however, if Leo knows anything about… Painted Cats.
(20) GETTING PAID. Can we possibly reread Raymond Chandler’s bad opinion of science fiction often enough? I never grow tired of it, myself, and Letters of Note has decided it’s a good day to revive his 1953 quote along with parts of three other Chandler missives in “She was the music heard faintly at the edge of sound”.
Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Brylls ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was icecold against the rust-colored mountains. The Brylls shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google5 had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”
They pay brisk money for this crap?
[Thanks to JJ, Danny Sichel, Soon Lee, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
“I really thought there was going to be a backlash from me replacing Chris. I didn’t think I was going to be trending for being a badass,” comedian says
After comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexual misconduct, Zack Snyder made the decision to digitally replace his role in “Army of the Dead” with an unusual choice: Tig Notaro.
Notaro had never done major stunt work before (she’s done some light action scenes on “Star Trek: Discovery”). But she found herself pretending she was piloting a helicopter while evading a zombie as well as learning how to handle a prop machine gun in Snyder’s film. And because she was digitally replacing another actor who shot his footage months earlier, she had to act largely on her own in front of green screens and without any other actors.
Both Notaro and Snyder in an interview with Vulture detailed the elaborate work it took to sub Notaro into “Army of the Dead.” And it was a choice that paid off, because Tig found herself trending on Twitter after images of her chomping on a cigarillo and decked out in military garb went viral.
(4) KONG IN THE BEGINNING. Here’s the first trailer for a brand new, feature length documentary film concerning the life, death, and Legend of King Kong. Premieres in November. Our own Steve Vertlieb is one of the interviewees!
(5) OMEGA SCI-FI AWARDS. The Roswell Award & Women Hold Up Half the Sky Virtual Celebrity Readings & Awards on May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific will feature sci-fi and fantasy actors David Blue, Ruth Connell, LaMonica Garrett, Phil Lamarr, Tiffany Lonsdale-Hands, Nana Visitor, and Kari Wahlgren.
Pre-registration is required! Event registration and replay access is FREE. Register for the Zoom webinar here.
At 12:00pm Central European Time on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, the Global Raptor Alliance (formerly the Hawk And Falcon Cooperative) will announce the opening of the Avian Museum of Human History. This museum will feature a bird’s-eye view (literally) of human civilization.
Mar Stratford is a writer from the Mid-Atlantic and friend to all animals. Find zir online at mar-stratford.com or on Twitter.
Gailey: What are a couple of highlights of the avian narrative of human civilization? What kind of artifacts will be featured in the museum?…
(7) MAKE A WISH. Netflix dropped a trailer for Wish Dragon, an animated comedy coming on June 11.
Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon that leads him on an adventure a thousand years in the making.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 12, 1989 — On this day in 1989, The Return Of Swamp Thing premiered. The follow-up to Swamp Thing, it was directed by Jim Wynorski, with production by Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan. The story was written by Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris. It starred Dick Durock and Heather Locklear who replaced Adrienne Barbeau as the female lead who was in Swamp Thing. Louis Jourdan also returns as a spot-on Anton Arcane. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a middling fifty five percent rating thought the original Swamp Thing series which also stars Durock in contrast has an eighty three percent rating among audience reviewers there!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 12, 1812 – Edward Lear. Famous in his day as a painter and illustrator. First major bird artist to draw from live birds; look at this parrot. Here are some Albanians. Here’s Masada. His musical settings for Tennyson’s poems were the only ones Tennyson approved of. Known today as a writer of nonsense. We may never see an owl dancing with a pussycat, but they do in his creation – in a hundred languages. (Died 1888) [JH]
Born May 12, 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He was Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, but put his third name first in honor of The Divine Comedy. Founded the Pre-Raphaelite school of art because he thought Raphael (1483-1520) had ruined things; see how this led DGR to imagine Proserpine. His poetry too was fantastic. He is credited with the wordyesteryear. He loved wombats. (Died 1882) [JH]
Born May 12, 1902 – Philip Wylie. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories for us; hundreds of works all told. Gladiator was an inspiration for Superman. When Worlds Collide (with Edwin Balmer) inspired Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. Columnist, editor, screenwriter, adviser to the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Atomic Energy, vice-president of the Int’l Game Fish Ass’n. Wrote “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” for The Saturday Evening Post. In The Disappearance a cosmic blink forces all men to get along without women, all women without men. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born May 12, 1907 — Leslie Charteris. I really hadn’t thought of the Simon Templar aka The Saint series as being genre but both ISFDB and ESF list the series with the latter noting that “Several short stories featuring Templar are sf or fantasy, typically dealing with odd Inventions or Monsters (including the Loch Ness Monster and Caribbean Zombies.” (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born May 12, 1928 — Robert “Buck” Coulson. Writer, well-known fan, filk songwriter and fanzine editor. He and his wife, writer and fellow filker Juanita Coulson, edited the fanzine Yandro which they produced on a mimeograph machine, and which was nominated for the Hugo Award ten years running right through 1968, and won in 1965. Yandro was particularly strong on reviewing other fanzines. Characters modeled on and named after him appear in two novels by Wilson Tucker, Resurrection Days and To the Tombaugh Station. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born May 12, 1937 – Betsy Lewin, age 84. Illustrated twoscore books, some ours. Here is Click, Clack, Moo (Caldecott Honor). Here is Penny. Here is No Such Thing. Here is a note on BL and her husband Ted. [JH]
Born May 12, 1938 — David Pelham, 83. Artist and Art Director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979 who was responsible for some of the most recognizable cover art in genre books to date. He did the cog-eyed droog for Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1972. There’s a great interview with him here. (CE)
Born May 12, 1942 — Barry Longyear, 79. Best known for the Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well. Gerrold would later novelize it. An expanded version of the original novella as well as two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series. (CE)
Born May 12, 1950 — Bruce Boxleitner, 71. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron, Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker. (CE)
Born May 12, 1958 – Patricia Finney, age 63. Five novels for us, of which three are told by a dog in Doglish; her first was published before she was 18. A dozen others (some under different names); a radio play. Higham Award. “When I was seven I had to write a story about anything for school. Naturally I wrote about spacemen exploring other galaxies and outwitting jelly aliens…. I got A minus for it (untidy writing, I’m afraid).” Avocations karate, embroidery, folk music. Website. [JH]
Born May 12, 1966 – Gilles Francescano, age 55. A hundred twenty covers, some for work available in English. Here is L’ère du spathiopithèque. Here is Roll Over, Amundsen!Here is Galaxies 3. Here is The Night Orchid. Here is The Master of Light. [JH]
Born May 12, 1968 — Catherine Tate, 53. Donna Noble, Companion to the Eleventh Doctor. She has extended the role by doing the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures on Big Finish. She also played Inquisitor Greyfax in Our Martyred Lady, a Warhammer 40,000 audio drama, something I did not know existed until now. (CE)
Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.
The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.
(11) IN JOY STILL FELT.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses the 1971 Hugo Awards at Noreascon I.
The Hugo awards banquet on September 5 (my mother’s seventy-sixth birthday) was the high point of the convention. I sat on the dais, for I was going to hand out the Hugos, and Bob Silverberg was the toastmaster (and an excellent one–no one is better than he at sardonic humor).
Robyn (Asimov’s daughter), radiantly beautiful, was at my side, knitting calmly. Good old Cliff Simak, now sixty-seven, was guest of honor and, in the course of his talk, he introduced his children, who were in the audience, Robyn whispered to me, ‘You’re not going to introduce me, are you, Dad?’
I whispered back, ‘Not if you don’t want me to, Robyn.’
‘I don’t.’ She knitted a while, then said, ‘Of course, if you want to refer casually to your beautiful, blue-eyed, blond-haired daughter, you may do that.‘ So I did.
Bob Silverberg made frequent reference to the argument that had been made at St. Louis in 1968 [sic; actually 1969], when Harlan Ellison had taken up a collection to pay for some damage inadvertently done to hotel property, and, on collecting more than the required sum, had calmly assigned the excess to his own pet project, a science-fiction class at Clarion College.
Bob therefore made frequent mock announcements of various objects that would be ‘donated to Clarion’ and got a laugh each time.
When it came time to stand up and give out the awards, I couldn’t resist invading Bob’s turf by singing a limerick I had hastily constructed while listening to the toastmastering. It read:
There was a young woman named Marion Who did hump and did grind and carry on The result of her joy Was a fine bastard boy Which she promptly donated to Clarion.
The audience saw where it was going halfway through the last line and the roar of laughter drowned out the final three words.
In the course of the banquet Lester (del Rey) presented a moving encomium on John Campbell. He is excellent at that sort of thing and constantly threatens to deliver one on me if it becomes necessary; and that does give me a marvelous incentive to outlive him if I can.”
…”It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell University doctoral student in astronomy, said in a statement. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979, and by Saturn in 1980, before crossing the heliopause in August 2012.
When Virgin Galactic first announced its suborbital spaceflight plans in 2004, working in cooperation with Scaled Composites just as that company’s SpaceShipOne was on the cusp of winning the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, it said it would begin commercial service as soon as late 2007. It’s 2021, and the company has yet to take a paying customer to the edge of space. SpaceShipTwo hasn’t made a trip to suborbital space since February 2019, and a flight in December 2020 was aborted just as its hybrid engine ignited because of a computer malfunction that’s taken months to correct.
Virgin Galactic’s delays and setbacks have been well-chronicled here and elsewhere, but not to the same level of detail as in Nicholas Schmidle’s new book, Test Gods. Schmidle was embedded for several years in Virgin Galactic, starting not long after the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed its co-pilot, Mike Alsbury. He was such a frequent visitor to the company’s Mojave facilities, sitting in on meetings and interviewing people, that one new hire thought he was a fellow employee.
Schmidle tells the story of Virgin Galactic largely through one of its pilots, Mark Stucky, with whom he spent much of his time while at the company….
(14) VERSUS LONELINESS. SOLOS premieres May 21 in the US and select territories and June 25 worldwide on Amazon Prime Video. Io9 warms up the audience in “Amazon Sci-Fi Anthology Solos”
“We all feel alone in different ways,” says Morgan Freeman in this new trailer for Solos. “In feeling alone, we are somehow all together.” That seems as perfect a thesis statement for Amazon Prime’s upcoming TV series as possible.
The show, from Hunters creator David Well, is not the stealth sequel to Solo, but it does give us two Anthony Mackies having a heart to heart, as well as Dame Helen Mirren on a lonely space voyage, Legion’s Dan Stevens hugging Freeman, and a lot more. See for yourself:
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Nier Replicant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this Americanized version is :a master class in feeling sadness and is a game for people who “love to cry about robots” and give up fighting for long sessions of video garning and “searching for household fruits.”
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Reynolds with an assist from Anna Nimmahus.]
(1) SPEAK FRIEND. Guy Gavriel Kay will deliver the 2021 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, an annual lecture on fantasy literature held at Pembroke College, Oxford. The digital lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 11th, 6 PM BST (1 PM ET).
Kay has published fourteen novels which have been translated into 30 languages and have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. He is also the author of the poetry collection, Beyond This Dark House. His most recent work is A Brightness Long Ago.
Before beginning his career as a novelist, Kay was retained by the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien to assist in the editorial construction of The Silmarillion, the first and best-known of the posthumously published Tolkien works. Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1980, he has also been principal writer and associate producer for the CBC’s award-winning crime-drama series, The Scales of Justice.
The pair, who played hobbits Merry and Pippin inThe Lord of the Rings, are launching a podcast about the hit film franchise.
The duo are launching The Friendship Onion with podcast producer Kast Media and the series will premiere on May 18. They will bring banter, stories and comedy to the podcasting space, each week digging into the latest in pop culture, put fans’ Lord of the Rings knowledge to the test, reveal exclusive stories from filming and maybe even welcome surprise drop-ins from famous faces.
Monaghan, who is also known for his role on Lost, played Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck in the films, close friend to Frodo Baggins, and along with Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took, played by Boyd members of the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Friendship Onion will be available weekly on Spotify and across all podcast platforms, including video simulcast episodes on YouTube….
Following is a quiz I wrote for an online trivia league I am in. The subject matter is aliens in SF books, movies, TV, or comic books. Each question is accompanied by an image of the alien. The quiz ran over the weekend. Some of you may know the winner, David Goldfarb, who was prominent on the great Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written back in its glory days. Tom Galloway, another prominent fan known for his trivia knowledge, also did very well.
I need to thank Steven Silver and John O’Neill (as well as several members of the trivia league) for helping me improve the question set, including some excellent proposed questions.
I will post the answers in a day or two. If you want, you can post your guesses in the comments.
1. There are many aliens depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This alien race may be hard to depict definitively, as they are shapeshifters, but they do have a typical form. They appeared in Captain Marvel in the MCU, and in the comics as early as an issue of Fantastic Four in 1962. What is the name of this alien race? Click here
2. What’s the common name for this cowardly species featured in many of Larry Niven’s Known Space stories? The name is perhaps ironic as this species doesn’t seem to have the appendages normally used by the human performers known by that name. Click here …
(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Rebecca Roanhorse and Angela Slatter in a YouTube livestream on May 19 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Link to come – check back at the KGB site.
Rebecca Roanhorse is NYTimes bestseller and an award-winning speculative fiction writer. Her latest novel, Black Sun, was recently nominated for the Nebula award for Best Novel of 2020. She has short fiction published in Apex Magazine, Uncanny, and multiple anthologies. She has also written for Star Wars, Marvel , and for TV. She lives in Northern New Mexico.
Angela Slatter in a multi-award-winning Australian writer of dark fantasy and horror. Her latest publications are the gothic fairytale novel All the Murmuring Bones from Titan, and the mosaic collection The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales from Tartarus Press. She has a PhD, teaches for the Australian Writers’ Centre, and is trying to finish a new gothic novel, Morwood.
if you haven’t watched Solo in a while, away from all the drama and (maybe for you) bad lighting, give it another shot. It might just be the most pure fun Star Wars movie we’ve gotten from this era so far.
NOAF: Secret sisters, a geneticist studying illegal technology, and a deadly virus. What inspired this story, and how did all those elements get into the story?
SB: The initial central question of the story is identity. What makes us the same and different? Some of it is genetics, and some of it is life experiences. What makes those differences stand out? People show their true nature in a disaster. Because the story is about genetics, I brought more genetics and more disaster into it. The elements posed a lot of questions, and the story resulted from one set of answers.
Award-winning editor Sheila Williams was a guest lecturer at the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, she answers questions about her editorial process, story endings, and what differentiates a good story from a story that she buys.
Sheila is the multiple Hugo Award-winning editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. She is also the winner of the 2017 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community.
(8) COSINE COMING BACK.COSine, the Colorado Springs, CO convention, will be held in person once more next January 14-16.
Last June we had to make the difficult decision to postpone COSine 2021. After that we put ourselves into suspended animation until such time as a vaccine for COVID was available and an appropriate supply of lemon-soaked paper doilies could be acquired.
Well, the doilies arrived, and most of us have aching arms, so it looks like we are on track for COSine 2022:
Guest of Honor: C.J. Cherryh Artist Guest of Honor: Jane Fancher Special Guests: Connie Willis & Courtney Willis
Our lowest rates for registration are available through the end of October, but if you want to sign up now, you can beat the Halloween rush! At the very least, please make sure that we are on your calendar.
(9) HORROR UNIVERSITY. It’s time to enroll for the virtual Horror University, part of the Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon coming May 20-23. See the session schedule at the link. One session, $55/members, $65/nonmembers; multiple-session discounts available.
Horror University is one of the most successful and popular aspects of StokerCon™. We are proud to present another great series of workshops for StokerCon™ 2021. Horror University furthers the Horror Writers Association’s focus on education with a curriculum run by some of the best and brightest in the horror field.
HORROR UNIVERSITY offers a series of 90 minute to two-hour workshops. They are not your typical workshop experiences—they are hands-on, intensive classes that include interactive activities and exercises. Workshop registration will open April 12. Workshops for this year’s Horror University will be virtual, part of Horror University Online. All HU courses will be run through the Horror University School on Teachable.com and require separate registration and additional payment as has been the practice at all past StokerCons.
All workshops are in Eastern Standard Time. Click the workshop titles in the table below for more detailed information about each workshop and instructor. Pricing is provided below.
(10) THEY DIDN’T ABANDON HOPE. Sarah Gailey’s new “Building Beyond” writing prompt is “See You In Hell”. Amanda Hamilton and Brendan Williams-Childs play along.
Hell is an urban metropolis in the middle of a sprawling agrarian underworld. You’ve just moved to a farm about six hours upstate from Hell.
Amanda Hamilton (she/her) is a chaos scheduler for her spouse, daughter and myriad pets. She’s also a fundraising professional, primarily focused on corporations and foundations these days. When not managing various and sundry to-do lists, she likes to read and nap and read some more.
Gailey: What is it about Hell that made you decide to move?
They always said that if you could make it in Hell, you could make it anywhere. Well, after a decade of (barely) making it, I was done….
…At its core, science fiction as a genre reflects the fears, anxieties, politics, events, and mood of the present. Thus, the immediate question: What type of science fiction (and speculative fiction more broadly) will the Age of Trump and its aftermath produce?
In an effort to answer that question I recently spoke with author Andy Weir whose first best-sellling novel “The Martian” was adapted by Ridley Scott into a 2015 blockbuster feature film of the same title starring Matt Damon. Weir’s other work includes the novel “Artemis” and the beloved short story “The Egg.”…
What type of science fiction writing and other works – and creative arts more generally – do you think are going to come out of this moment?
My book “Project Hail Mary” was finished before the pandemic. The story involves an alien microbe. It may seem that “Project Hail Mary” is somehow-pandemic related, but that is just pure coincidence. Moreover, this microbe does not infect humans; it infects stars in outer space.
I honestly do not know what is going to come out of this.
I do not think that there is going to be quite as much disease-related science fiction, as one might suspect. We are all going through this pandemic, and when it’s over, it will be a common experience. It is not really something we are going to enjoy reminiscing about. We will never forget the experience with the pandemic, but it is not something we are going to want to mentally relive.
My instinct is that the pandemic experience is not going to impact science fiction very much because science fiction and fantasy are on a basic level about escapism. Spend some time in the world of this book so that you can enjoy yourself away from the world that you live in. The last thing anybody wants is for a book to drag them back to the world that they live in.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 5, 1856 – W.W. Denslow. First illustrator of Baum’s Wizard of Oz; also illustrated Baum’s Father Goose and Dot and Tot of Merryland. Designed the sets and costumes for the 1902 stage version of Wizard. Illustrated Denslow’s Mother Goose, Denslow’s “Night Before Christmas”, 18-vol. Denslow’s Picture Books. Comic strip Denslow’s Scarecrow and Tin Man. Newspaper reporter, editorial cartoonist, poster artist. Designed books and bookplates. (Died 1915) [JH]
Born May 5, 1907 – Pat Frank. Wrote what I’ve long thought the best-made atomic-bomb-and-after novel Alas, Babylon; two more novels, one shorter story for us; two other novels; memoir; journalism. Office of War Information overseas correspondent during World War II. American Heritage Foundation Award. (Died 1964) [JH]
Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 79. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? (CE)
Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 78. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. (CE)
Born May 5, 1944 – Dave Locke. Active fanziner, e.g. Awry; electronic zine Time and Again. Loved by some, annoyed others (can this surprise you?), or both. Among his best, What do birds of a feather do? Dave Locke. More here. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 77. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too.(CE)
Born May 5, 1957 — Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, before going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (CE)
Born May 5, 1958 – Ingrid Nielson, age 63. Drawings pp. 15, 21, Program Book for ConFederation the 44th Worldcon; see here (PDF). Photo of her & Andre Norton here. Moderated panel “ASFA [Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America] and the Chesleys” at Chicon VI the 58th Worldcon. 2010 Chesley “for work on the Chesley Awards for 20+ years”. [JH]
Born May 5, 1961 — Janet Brennan Croft, 60. She’s published any number of works on library science, but she is concentrated her research on Tolkien, winning the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies for War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language, and Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien. I’d also like to single her work, Baptism of Fire: The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War I. (CE)
Born May 5, 1963 – Michelle West, age 58. Twoscore novels, fifty shorter stories (some as M. Sagara); book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; interviewed in Challenging Destiny, Lightspeed, Northern Dreamers. Within a 4-page single-space rejection letter from Lester Del Rey was a curmudgeonly line of encouragement, and off she went. [JH]
Born May 5, 1975 – Tanya Tagaq, age 46. Canadian Inuk throat singer. Six albums; also collaborator with Kronos Quartet, Buffy Sainte-Marie (here is TT’s cover). Polaris Prize, Canadian Folk Music Award, two Junos, Western Canadian Music Award. Novel for us Split Tooth won Indigenous Voices Award. [JH]
Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne M. Valente, 42. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequiturlives up to its name while depicting the first land-walking creatures.
(14) GETTING THE WORD OUT WITH PICTURES. [Item by Rose Embolism.] Jem Yoshioka, creator of the science fiction romance webcomic Circuits and Veins was tapped for the New Zealand Covid information campaign! The poster is seriously lovely!
(15) IF IT DIDN’T HAPPEN, IT’S NOT A SPOILER, RIGHT? In Brian Hiatt’s article for Rolling Stone,“Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange Almost Appeared in ‘WandaVision’”, Kevin Feige explains that Dr. Strange was going to appear in the last episode of WandaVision but he thought having Dr. Strange show up “would take it away from Wanda” so Benedict Cumberbatch was written out of the script. This is a preview of a big oral history of WandaVision in Rolling Stone that has yet to appear.
The story of WandaVision‘s main character, Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen), is set to continue in 2022’s Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but the two projects were almost linked much more directly. As Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reveals in Rolling Stone‘s upcoming, extensive oral history of WandaVision, Marvel struck a deal with Benedict Cumberbatch to appear in the final episode of the show as Dr. Strange. But late in the process, they wrote him out.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, it would’ve been so cool to see Dr. Strange,’” says Feige. “But it would have taken away from Wanda, which is what we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie — here’s the white guy, ‘Let me show you how power works.’” That meant the Dr. Strange movie, too, had to be rewritten. In the end, Feige says, Marvel’s process is “a wonderful combination of very dedicated coordination, and chaos. Chaos magic.”…
After his mother’s untimely death, Rhett inherits a cookie jar which proves to have some very unusual properties…
‘I had sort of a peculiar childhood, because my mother was peculiar. Not outright crazy, but very, very peculiar. Stories were her way of staying sane… A way to cover that hole in reality the way you might cover a well with boards so no one would fall in. But her stories stopped working for her. Because the thing she was afraid of was in the house with her all along.’
From ‘The Bazaar of Bad Dreams’, Stephen King’s story adapted in three parts. Read by Colin Stinton.
On Tuesday, May 4 at 3:01 p.m. EDT, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the ninth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and six Starlink missions.
The British military been exploring the possibility of boarding ships at sea with futuristic jet packs that let wearers fly over the water like Iron Man.
The “Jet Suit” was made by Gravity Industries. The company released a video Sunday that showed its operators wearing jet packs and working with the Royal Marines to launch from rigid inflatable boats and land aboard the Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol ship HMS Tamar.
…But one former top Pentagon intelligence official who has lobbied Congress to take more action on such sightings said on Tuesday that the IG’s involvement is a positive step to compel the military to take the issue more seriously.
“You are looking at how is it possible that restricted military airspace is being routinely violated for months and years and nobody is informed in the Defense Department or the Congress and there is a complete system breakdown,” said Christopher Mellon, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. “That’s a valid thing for them to investigate.”
Our bodies can often seem possessed. To most people, that possession occurs in a metaphorical sense. Dogma possesses us, as it’s hammered down from society until it sticks, nailed down to our core whether we like it or not. And that dogma can deviate from what we want deep down, like how family values dictate who we can and can’t love. Black Water Sister explores that possession, and with clever skill, it combines it with literal possession. A family spirit inhabits the protagonist, while they’re dealing with family interference from all sides. It’s a compelling story that’s quality is heightened by witty dialogue, a pacey second half, and vibrant characters….
As Canada’s statistical portrait, the census is a reflection of who we are and what makes us Canadian. Listen to our Spotify and YouTube playlists while you complete your 2021 Census questionnaire to experience the different facets of Canadian culture through the sounds of our celebrated musical talent. If these songs aren’t already among your favourite tracks, we hope that you have the opportunity to discover something new as you fill out your questionnaire online in May.
Get comfortable, press play, and let’s experience Canada’s musical talent together.
R2-D2 and C-3PO from “Star Wars” in a 1980 anti-smoking public service announcement. Aired in 1984 on Milwaukee’s WVTV.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Davis Nicoll, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Rose Embolism for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Narrator Sura Siu will be a fresh voice for many listeners, and her wonderfully subdued narration proves perfect for portraying Klara, the all-too-observant “AF” (artificial friend) purchased by a mother for her ailing child. Assigned to look after Josie, Klara slowly discovers she is being groomed to be the failing child’s replacement. Siu conveys a range of contrasting voices, and in this challenging assignment, she proves herself a performer of rare grace, subtlety, and virtuosity whose haunting portrayal of Ishiguro’s more than human main character will linger in listeners’ minds for days.
Hear from Sura Siu herself on the making of Klara And The Sun:
Xe Sands narrates with a quiet tension that suits the slow creep of this sci-fi domestic thriller. Evelyn is an accomplished scientist in the field of cloning human adults, although her victories feel bittersweet. Her husband, Nathan, is having an affair, but not with just anyone—Nathan has used Evelyn’s own research techniques to create a domestic and illegal clone of Evelyn herself. Sands delivers all the slowly building suspense with her smooth first-person narration as the author executes plot twists that make for a satisfying, if disturbing, story.
by Michael Mammay | Read by R.C. Bray
[Harper Audio | 10 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
Narrator R.C. Bray’s commanding voice perfectly suits this story of a disgraced colonel and a CEO’s missing daughter. Carl Butler hoped to live out his days on an ignored planet but agrees to take on what should be a simple case: finding a missing daughter. The story’s twists and turns build intrigue as Bray keeps the plot thundering forward. Both fans of the series and newcomers will fall under Bray’s spell as he delivers this relatively self-contained, well-plotted sci-fi adventure.
D (A TALE OF TWO WORLDS)
by Michel Faber | Read by Isabel Adomakah Young
[Harper Audio | 6.75 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
Isabel Adomakah Young shines as narrator in D, in which she portrays an orphan who journeys into a pocket universe (with a magical sphinx) to hunt down the fiend who’s absconded with the letter “d.” Young’s narration strikes a remarkable balance between a soothing lyricism and a playfulness that piques interest. She brings an earnestness that will have listeners rooting for the main character and a whimsy that brings to life a range of magical creatures. Listeners will appreciate the voice-acting chops it takes to effectively rea’ a manuscript that ‘osen’t inclu’e the letter __.
by Tananarive Due | Read by Tananarive Due, Robin Miles, Janina Edwards
This collection of 15 short stories by award-winning author Tananarive Due, first published in 2015 and given a fresh recording, spans several genres, including the supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and futurism. The author herself narrates several and is joined for the rest by practiced narrators Robin Miles and Janina Edwards, reading alternating stories. Three of the stories are set in the haunted fictional town of Gracetown, Florida, while three others are part of an apocalyptic trilogy featuring a raging virus.
A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS
by H.G. Parry | Read by Andrew Kingston
[Hachette Audio | 21 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
An alternate history of the eighteenth century weaves together the story of the slave rebellion in Haiti, the French Revolution, and the abolitionist movement in England—all wrapped in an undercurrent of magic. Andrew Kingston assumes subtle accents for each setting, and shows the rapport and friendships among many of the characters, enhancing the ways that events are intertwined. Parry makes the magic seem natural and an integral part of each political climate as he sets the stage for a sequel.
“Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks Spring 2021” was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience.