Stuart told File 770, “The letter was workshopped by the entire group, and wasn’t published before they gave express approval so it very much is a group of co-signees.”
The group includes: Charles Payseur, Benjamin C. Kinney, Jennifer Mace, SL Huang, Shiv Ramdas, SB Divya, Jenn Lyons, Sarah Gailey, Paul Weimer, Sarah Pinsker, Claire Rousseau, Maria Haskins, Tasha Suri, Marguerite Kenner, Alasdair Stuart, Jonathan Strahan, Pablo Defendini, Elsa Sjunneson, Brent Lambert, Freya Marske, Julia Rios, Alix Harrow, Gideon Marcus, Janice Marcus, Lorelei Marcus, James Davis Nicoll, Neil Clarke, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Brandon O’Brien, Erica Frank, Jen Zink, Adri Joy, Fran Wilde, Suzanne Walker, Chimedum Ohaegbu, Navah Wolfe, John Picacio, and Max Gladstone.
The letter says:
We applaud the courage and conviction of the CoNZealand organisers in pivoting to a virtual Worldcon during an unprecedented global event. Their work has been admirable and — in many aspects — both innovative and successful.
We are a group of Hugo Award finalists who identified concerns with our programming when we received our “final schedules” this week, and came together to help CoNZealand recognize and address these issues.
In brief, our key concerns are:
Many Hugo finalists have not been offered programming and panels relevant to their nomination.
We believe that many of our panels cannot be adequately performed without more diverse participants and/or a reframing of the topic.
Communication with Hugo finalists about the financial requirements for participation has been inconsistent or absent, with contradictory information on whether or not we were able to participate in programming without a full attending membership. This issue particularly impacted Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), leaving them more likely than other finalists to receive no programming.
We present our concerns in the hope that these issues represent not intentional choices on the convention’s part but the unavoidable consequences of Worldcon’s discontinuous structure, and the necessary prioritization CoNZealand has had to undertake in order to pivot successfully to a virtual event.
We have tried to be brief and targeted in our recommendations so as to remain sensitive to the time pressure CoNZealand is under. Accompanying this letter is a spreadsheet containing specific examples of the issues above. We have listed (1) which panel topics we are missing; (2) which panels have problematic design or membership; (3) which panels we finalists want off or are willing to leave to create space; and (4) finalists that were deterred from participation due to lack of membership.
Our data are incomplete because we could only recruit a limited number of Hugo finalists to provide input without further delaying the process. Among our group of finalists, about 25% entirely lack relevant panels, and about 45% are dissatisfied with the fit of the programming they have.
We recognize there is a difficult balance to strike when raising concerns to an overtaxed team less than two weeks before an event, however many of us have repeatedly raised these issues or volunteered only to receive no response. We have intentionally not sought to assume ownership of programming items, but we are committed to assisting where possible and desired by CoNZealand. However, we emphasize that our bringing awareness to these issues does not obligate us to single-handedly resolve them.
As part of our offer to assist, we have begun identifying additional and replacement panelists who could add necessary diversity. If CoNZealand lacks sufficient BIPOC attendees, we hope you will provide free attendance to needed panelists who aren’t members. Moreover, there remain issues we cannot address on our own, especially (1) communicating with all finalists whether paid membership is required for programming; and (2) making sure all finalists with memberships are on relevant programming.
We are not united in what actions we intend to take if our concerns are not addressed. Many have already begun the process of asking to be removed from programming in its entirety, while others are actively working to locate replacements for the programming items they feel need improvement. Our focus at this stage remains taking action to make our concerns known, and to support CoNZealand addressing them in the combined spirit of fostering an environment for all to share in the celebration of our genre.
We appreciate your volunteerism in contacting all those people for us. As you know, due to privacy regulations, we cannot contact people more than once without a response from them. We hope they will get in touch with us directly and soon, to see if we can fit them in.
All the best, Jannie
Shea points to CoNZealand’s inclusion initiative in answer to the letter’s question “whether paid membership is required for programming.” Typically, only people who have bought attending memberships become Worldcon program participants. The introduction to the inclusion initiative explains what help is available:
Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities.
We want the convention to be a global one, where all communities and viewpoints are represented, and this fund is intended to help those who would otherwise not be able to participate fully in the activities of the Worldcon.
The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. …There are a small number of attending passes available.
CoNZealand is especially challenged in its efforts to answer these needs because, as a virtual convention, it isn’t limited to programming people who can afford to come to Wellington, as would have been the case before the pandemic — it could draw people from everywhere. But like most non-U.S. Worldcons it has a smaller membership base from which to draw the financial support needed to make its budget.
Following the jump is a roundup of Twitter comments from participants.
(1) COMIC-CON ONLINE. More information has been released about the replacement for the annual San Diego event: “Comic-Con@Home Sets July Dates”. As Greg Weir joked on Facebook, “The virtual lines will be enormous.”
Comic-Con@Home was first teased in early May with a short video announcement and a promise of details to come. Pop culture enthusiasts will note that this initiative joins the Comic-Con Museum’s virtual endeavor, Comic-Con Museum@Home, already ongoing.
Although conditions prevent celebrating in person, the show, as they say, must go on. With Comic-Con@Home, SDCC hopes to deliver the best of the Comic-Con experience and a sense of its community to anyone with an internet connection and an interest in all aspects of pop culture. Plans for Comic-Con@Home include an online Exhibit Hall complete with everyone’s favorite exhibitors offering promotions, specials, and limited-edition products unique to the celebration. As well, Comic-Con@Home promises exclusive panels and presentations about comics, gaming, television, film, and a wide variety of topics from publishers, studios, and more. As if that weren’t enough, Comic-Con@Home will also have a Masquerade, gaming, and many other activities in which fans can participate from their own homes.
Although Comic-Con@Home will provide badges for fans to print and wear proudly, all aspects of the initiative are free and there are no limits to how many can attend…. Comic-Con@Home will be held on the same dates as the previously canceled Comic-Con, July 22-26, 2020, and online attendees are encouraged to use the official #ComicConAtHome hashtag to be included in the virtual activities. …Interested fans are encouraged to check Toucan, the official Comic-Con and WonderCon blog, SDCC’s website and social channels, and the official channels of their favorite pop culture creators in the weeks to come.
An increasing number of prominent board game industry and community members have pulled out of an upcoming show over The Game Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) inability (or refusal) to make a statement about Black Lives Matter.
GAMA owns and operates Origins Online, a big virtual show running later this month that was intended to replace the usual Origins Games Fair (a physical event that has been postponed to October). It was supposed to feature panels, video and support appearances by notable board games people like Wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave, Blood Rage creator Eric Lang, Geek & Sundry’s Ruel Gaviola, Boardgamegeek and Man vs Meeple.
The Game Manufacturers Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We unequivocally condemn racism and violence against people of color. We have been too late in making that statement with force, and we apologize. The injustices of today demand that every person of good conscience make clear where they stand and we wish we had been more proactive, more strident, and more effective with our voices. Innocent people of color are being killed in the streets of the communities where we live, and it is not acceptable.
We cannot responsibly hold our virtual convention, Origins Online, in this setting. Even if it were possible to hold it, it would not be appropriate to do so. So, we are announcing here that Origins Online is cancelled.
Late last night, GAMA made an official statement to cancel Origins Online. Though this statement answered some concerns, it too contains several notable omissions that highlight some of the challenges facing any effort to make the hobby more inclusive. Specifically:
Their apology has no mention of the BIPOC members of the industry who stood up to them. It also fails to note that those voices were the catalyst for their decision to cancel Origins Online.
Their plan to make amends by asking attendees and publishers to forfeit their Origins Online payments shows a lack of initiative and imagination. As our industry’s governing body, we expect GAMA to take the lead without waiting for the initiation of others.
There is no actionable statement on how they can work on uplifting the BIPOC community or an attempt to broaden their board or staff, nor does it recognize the board’s failures in this regard.
(3) ROLLING OVER. Loscon 47, which the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society planned to hold this Thanksgiving Weekend, has been postponed to 2021. Chair Scott Beckstead wrote:
With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic being felt in many sectors, we are not immune I’m sorry to say. The fallout of these effects sadly means that we will be postponing Loscon 47 until next year. We are rescheduling Loscon 47 for Thanksgiving weekend (November 26th through November 28th 2021). We will be rolling Guests, members, and dealer room participants over to next yea
Writer Guest Dr. Gregory Benford, our Artist Guest Jeff Sturgeon and Fan Guests of Honor Dennis and Kristine Cherry have all agreed to be there and are looking forward to being there next year. There will be more info as we re-assemble our teams to bring this to fruition in November of 2021. As always you may ask questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to seeing you all Thanksgiving weekend 2021
(4) RED SOFA LITIGATION. Publishers Lunch reports in “Briefs” that lawyers are getting involved in the Red Sofa Literary meltdown.
Agents Beth Phelan and Kelly Van Sant and author Isabel Sterling received cease & desist letters from an attorney representing agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary after speaking out about Frederick’s response to protestors in St. Paul.
On June 8, 2020, we received cease and desist letters from a lawyer on behalf of Dawn Frederick, literary agent and founder of Red Sofa Literary. The letters demanded that we delete our respective posts regarding Dawn’s actions and further, publish retractions stating that “she did not make any racist or other improper statements,” validating the behaviors that we had previously condemned. Failing this, we were told Dawn will pursue legal action against us for defamation. We interpret these demands as an attempt to not only silence us, but to compel us to lie for her. We refuse.
After we and others spoke out against her tweets, Dawn posted a public apology on her website owning up to her wrongdoing, but then turned around to privately send threatening letters to people who spoke up. In that apology, Dawn admitted that her actions were “careless,” that “[t]he authors and agents who may now question whether or not we share the same ideals have every right to feel this way,” and that her “actions were tone-deaf and the product of [her] own privilege.” That she is now threatening to sue people for agreeing with her apology makes it impossible to interpret the apology as anything but insincere. So, which is it, Dawn? You said in your apology that you would “work to be better.” Is this what “better” looks like?…
They are asking for donations to their legal defense fund, which has raised $12,177 as of today.
In 1985, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, director Robert Zemeckis, and writer/producer Bob Gale gave the world an all-time classic motion picture, Back to the Future. Four years later, they tried to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Back to the Future Part II had a little secret, one the participants tried to keep from being discovered. It was slightly easier in that pre-internet time. As it turned out, a key actor from the original, Crispin Glover, decided not to return for the sequel. Since the character of George McFly was fairly prominent in the follow-up, that presented a rather large problem.
Their solution was unique, but it also got them entangled in some unpleasant legal action. Essentially, the filmmakers recreated Glover’s face with prosthetics, then put it on another actor. They wanted to make it seem as though Glover was in the sequel when, in fact, he was not. Glover was none too happy about this, so he sued everyone involved.
That’s the short version. The more detailed version is a fascinating tale of an actor desperate to protect his image, filmmakers desperate to protect their franchise, and the clash these dueling desires created. It’s also an account of a watershed moment in cinema history, when it became clear that modern technology was making it easier to “steal” someone’s likeness. The impact of Crispin Glover’s Back to the Future Part II case continues to reverberate today….
(6) PINSKER STORY POSTED. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Notice,” a story about unexpected mail and the limits of self-reliance by Sarah Pinsker.
Malachi happened to be mowing down by the gates when the mail carrier arrived in her ancient truck. He wasn’t supposed to talk to Outsiders until he turned twenty-five, another six years, but he couldn’t help trying on the rare occasions an opportunity presented itself….
On Monday, 6/15 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Sarah in conversation with Punya Mishra, an expert in integrating arts, creativity, design, and technology into learning. Registration required.
A group of creative horror fans just put together a 5-minute, zero-budget remake of Ridley Scott’s Alien while stuck at home!
Described as a “low-budget, high-cardboard remake of Alien,” the video comes courtesy of YouTube channel Cardboard Movie Co, which specializes in this sort of thing.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 11, 1982 — E.T. – The Extraterrestrial premiered. It was directed by Steven Spielberg. Production credit was shared by Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. It was written by Melissa Mathison and starred Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, and Henry Thomas. Special effects were by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren. Critics universally loved it, the box office was phenomenal and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 99% rating.
June 11, 1993 — Eleven years after E.T. came out, Jurassic Park premiered. Directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It starred Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough. Like E.T., It was an overwhelming hit with the critics and the box office was quite stellar. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a 91% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 11, 1572 – Ben Jonson. Among much else he and Inigo Jones (1573-1672) composed masques, a theatrical artform now long asleep through abandonment of its circumstances. At the court of a monarch, or some lesser court, elaborate scenery was built, in and around which elaborately costumed actors played, sometimes in mime, with music and dance, sometimes including courtiers. Jonson wrote and acted, Jones designed and built. We can claim at least Oberon, the Faery Prince, The Lady of the Lake with Merlin and Arthur, The Devil Is an Ass. We can and should read and imagine them (you can look at this Website to see text); if they were filmed and you saw them it would not be the same as if twenty or thirty people performed for you and your friends at one of your palaces. (Died 1637) [JH]
Born June 11, 1815 – Julia Cameron. Pioneer photographer, started at age 48, made portraits and allegories. She said “My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.” Do find her portraits; but this is an SF Weblog, so here are The South-West Wind, Prospero (from Shakespeare’s Tempest), and The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere which Bloomsbury used for its 1999 printing of The Princess Bride. (Died 1879) [JH]
Born June 11, 1927 — Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creation was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts — “The Tenth Planet” (co-writtenwith Gerry Davis), “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“. Pedler and Davis went in to create and co-write the Doomwatch Series. He wrote a number of genre novels including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born June 11, 1929 — Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”, “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films among them 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available…. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several ones by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born June 11, 1933 — Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course, he has more genre roles than that, starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern! I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born June 11, 1934 – Jerry Uelsmann. Used photomontage long before Adobe Photoshop. Guggenheim and Nat’l Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Lucie Award. Here is a Boat and Moon. Here is a Tree Goddess. Here is his Website. [JH]
Born June 11, 1945 — Adrienne Barbeau, 75. She’s memorably in Swamp Thing. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh, and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. (CE)
Born June 11, 1946 – Barry Levin. For thirty-five years his antiquarian bookshop in Santa Monica was a pearl beyond price. Here is an interview with Scott Laming of AbeBooks. Here is an appreciation by Scott Haffner of Haffner Press – scroll down; BL is third from top. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born June 11, 1959 – Galen Tripp. Active fan in Los Angeles, organizing the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) 50th Anniversary banquet, 1984; given the Evans-Freehafer, our service award, 1986; moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is BASFS (Bay Area SF Soc.) sergeant-at-arms, a position they take about as seriously as we take ours. [JH]
Born June 11, 1968 — Justina Robson, 52. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. (CE)
Born June 11, 1971 — P. Djèlí Clark, 49. Ok, I want a novel from this brilliant author whose The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is in the running for a Best Novella Hugo this year. (A Dead Djinn in Cairo is set in the same alternate universe.) The Black God’s Drums was a finalist for the same award last year. And yes, he has a novel coming out — Ring Shout, a take on the KKK with a supernatural twist. (CE)
Born June 11, 1993 – Anna Dittmann. Digital illustrator, once of San Francisco, now of Scotland. Here is her cover for Patricia Ward’s Skinner Luce. Here is her May 2018 cover for Apex magazine. This March 2020 interview with Affinity Spotlight has images and comment. [JH]
Tony Round says he was “stunned into silence” the first time he watched his family’s elaborate Rube Goldberg machine wind its way through their house and successfully drop a bar of soap into his daughter’s hands.That’s because it took the Toronto family more than 50 failed attempts and three weeks to make the machine work.
Amazon announced on Wednesday a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial-recognition technology, yielding to pressure from police-reform advocates and civil rights groups.
It is unclear how many law enforcement agencies in the U.S. deploy Amazon’s artificial intelligence tool, but an official with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon confirmed that it will be suspending its use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology.
Researchers have long criticized the technology for producing inaccurate results for people with darker skin. Studies have also shown that the technology can be biased against women and younger people.
IBM said earlier this week that it would quit the facial-recognition business altogether. In a letter to Congress, chief executive Arvind Krishna condemned software that is used “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.”
And Microsoft President Brad Smith told The Washington Post during a livestream Thursday morning that his company has not been selling its technology to law enforcement. Smith said he has no plans to until there is a national law.
Scientists have been stunned to find that some ancient crocodiles might have moved around on two feet.
The evidence comes from beautifully preserved fossil tracks in South Korea.
Nearly a hundred of these 18-24cm-long indentations were left in what were likely the muddy sediments that surrounded a lake in the Early Cretaceous, 110-120 million years ago.
The international team behind the discovery says it will probably challenge our perception of crocodiles.
“People tend to think of crocodiles as animals that don’t do very much; that they just laze around all day on the banks of the Nile or next to rivers in Costa Rica. Nobody automatically thinks I wonder what this [creature] would be like if it was bipedal and could run like an ostrich or a T. rex,” Martin Lockley, an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, US, told BBC News.
The study is sure to provoke a lively debate. Not all researchers will necessarily accept the team’s interpretation.
(15) JOHN ON THE DOTTED LINE. It’s never too late to study a historic document: Phyllis Irene Radford is in the middle of “Blogging the Magna Carta #12” at Book View Café. Today’s section is about administering the estates of the deceased.
…Those catalogs of chattels tell historians a lot about how people lived during the period and what they considered valuable, due to purchase price or import costs, or how labor intense to make. Historians love these.
I was fortunate enough to see one of the original copies when it was displayed in LA in the Seventies.
…There’s a lot going on in The Relentless Moon and Kowal keeps everything moving and flowing together with remarkable deftness and an underlying compassion that smooths the edges off even the harshest aspects of the novel – including Nicole’s eating disorder, racial issues, domestic terrorism, and a desperate fight for survival on the Moon. Everything is handled with sensitivity, though Kowal does not shy away from the emotion of the worst moments – it’s more that Kowal is such a smooth writer that the reader is in safe hands. The novel leans into the pain, but with a light touch.
… Have the anti-racism protests come for Paw Patrol? According to Amanda Hess of the New York TimesPaw Patrol fans have (albeit jokingly) called for the popular Nickelodeon show to be canceled as protests against police brutality continue to sweep the globe and shows like Cops and Live PD are cancelled by networks. While the Paw Patrol protests may not be totally real, Eric Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz seem to think fans are serious: both tweeted that the protests for Paw Patrol are “truly insane,” and they blasted the left for “targeting” cartoons.
…This is a long story with a short answer: as of now, Paw Patrol is not being cancelled despite the fake “protests” against it. In fact, Nickelodeon just renewed the series for an eighth season in February, and a theatrical film Paw Patrol: The Movie is currently scheduled for an August 2021 release.
(20) STAYING IN PRACTICE. The Screen Junkies, having no new summer blockbusters, decided to take on The Fifth Element in a trailer that’s two days old.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rose Embolism, with an assist by Anna Nimmhaus.]
There’s also a post devoted to ”the Villain”, whatever writers worry about when starting a new story, or even when they’re in the middle and things aren’t coming together – the Villain gets a caricature, too.
These are the topics Gelick’s panelists have addressed so far:
In order to answer the question ‘Do you need to write every day?’ and the perhaps even more poignant: ‘If you don’t write every day can you call yourself a writer at all?’ we’ll take a close look at each of the twelve writing superheroes’ writing process below.
YOON: Honestly, the planning is the most fun. Actually writing is kind of a chore because it goes on foreeeeeeever, and then revisions become fun again. Kind of like a sandwich? I like twisty chess plots, which are hard to pull off, so that aspect of Raven Stratagem was particularly satisfying.
(3) CATCHING UP TO SCIENCE FICTION. In the Washington Post, Gene Park looks at efforts by Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) and other video game developers to create the Metaverse, predicted by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash. Park thinks Roblox and Minecraft are on course “to create a shared, virtual space that’s persistently online and active, even without people logging in” and notes that it’s significant that Reporters Without Borders asked Minecraft to host a database of 12 million publicly censored documents. “Silicon Valley is racing to build the next version of the Internet. Fortnite might get there first.”
Conversation around a more tangible, actualized Internet seems only more pointed in light of our current shelter-in-place reality in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the past month, office culture has coalesced around video chat platforms like Zoom, while personal cultural milestones like weddings and graduations are being conducted in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Metaverse not only seems realistic — it would probably be pretty useful right about now.
Grady Hendrix’s new novel stars a group of determined women who confront a supernatural threat in their community — and while vampires aren’t real (as far as we know), Hendrix says The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires has its roots in his own real life.
“Getting some blood on the page is the only way I know how to write, so all my books are really personal,” he tells me in an email interview. “This one’s set in the neighborhood where I grew up, around the time I graduated from high school, and it’s the first time I’ve had to run a book past my family before publication because so many of our stories wound up in it. Fortunately I’ve fictionalized everything pretty heavily so no one had too many problems.”
…The way you depict the women at the center of the book is clearly affectionate, but in places I felt like it was edging a little into mockery … was that your intent? Tell me how you approached building these characters and their world.
I feel bad it seemed to edge into mockery — I take these ladies very seriously. They’re the women I grew up around, and I wanted to write about how I went from knowing them as a kid, when they seemed like a bunch of lightweight nobodies, to how I got to know them as adults, when I learned that they had dealt with all the ugly, difficult stuff so the rest of us wouldn’t have to. The choices these women had to make were hard, and they were never offered the easy option. Southern ladies are not cute and cuddly. They are tough, strong women who will mess you up. On the other hand, I grew up in Charleston and that world can sometimes seem over-the-top, where the condition of your yard or whether you served your guests on paper or china plates were referendums on the state of your soul. It seems silly in retrospect, but at the time it felt deadly serious. But, you know, in 30 years a lot of the things that feel like life or death to me now are going to feel like punchlines. Time tends to turn almost everything into comedy.
…King has previously used the novella — that stepchild of literary forms, somehow at once both too much and not enough — for stories that skirt the edge of horror without sinking into it, such as “The Body,” the inspiration for the classic 1980s film “Stand by Me,” in which a group of boys on a camping trip are transformed less by their discovery of a corpse in the woods than by their first taste of autonomy. “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” the first story in the new collection, is a prime specimen in this category. It’s 2007, and Craig, on the cusp of adolescence, has a part-time job helping out wealthy, elderly Mr. Harrigan, a formal but kindly man who introduces him to “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and treats him to a scratch-off lottery ticket for his birthday and holidays. When one of those tickets wins a $3,000 jackpot, Craig shows his appreciation by buying Mr. Harrigan a first-model iPhone, the same one he just got for Christmas.
Initially skeptical, Mr. Harrigan is speedily seduced, just like the rest of us. “Are these numbers in real time?” he asks in wonder as Craig demonstrates the Stocks app. (In a line that perfectly characterizes the attachment, King writes that he caresses the phone “the way you might pat a small sleeping animal.”) But even as he grows dependent on the device, he recognizes its dangers: “It’s like a broken water main, one spewing information instead of water.” At Mr. Harrigan’s funeral, only a few months later, Craig tucks the man’s phone into the pocket of his suit jacket, a totem to accompany him into the afterlife. The uncanny events that ensue could be explained — possibly — by a technological glitch. But they are triggered by a human longing that anyone who has lost a loved one can understand: the desire to hear the departed person’s voice again, one of the many dubious consolations that technology now offers.
(6) THE DOMINOS ARE FALLING. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a lot to say about how bad the immediate future looks for the traditional publishing industry in “Business Musings: The Trainwreck”.
I’m sure you’ve all gotten the question lately: How are you going to survive as a writer with the crisis in the publishing industry? Every news outlet —well, at least every news outlet that reports news other than the latest virus statistics—has done at least one story on the decimation of the publishing industry.
And let me be honest here: The traditional publishing industry is in grave danger. Not of the kind of disruption it saw in 2009 with the Kindle and ebook reading, but of actual mergers, closures, consolidations, and complete lack of payment to all of its suppliers.
Brick-and-mortar bookstores are shut down, deemed non-essential. Just like libraries, also non-essential. Unlike libraries, which have pivoted to ebooks in a startling and amazing way, many bookstores have no online capability at all.
Not that it matters, since most bookstores are closed, and not shipping books to their customers. To make matters worse, the books that are being delivered will remain in their boxes, only to be returned for full price credit when this crisis is over. That was a policy established to help bookstores in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the policy never got changed afterwards.
When bookstores do reopen, they’ll need to send the books back, because they will have the same gap in their cash flow that the rest of us will have—or maybe worse. Many independent bookstores will not survive this crisis, because bookselling has always been a marginal business.
The excerpt stops here, however, Rusch is only just getting started on her list of all the industry’s troubles!
(7) DYNARSKI OBIT. Actor Gene Dynarski has died at the age of 86. The Hollywood Reporter’s review of his career mentions many genre roles.
Gene Dynarski, a character actor who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Duel and Close Encounters of the Third Kind … has died. He was 86.
Dynarski died Feb. 27 in a rehabilitation center in Studio City, playwright Ernest Kearney announced.
The Brooklyn native also worked twice on the original Star Trek, as the miner Ben Childress on the 1966 episode “Mudd’s Women” and as Krodak, who represents a city up for Federation membership, on the 1969 installment “The Mark of Gideon.”
Dynarski was seen as Benedict, one of Egghead’s (Vincent Price) henchmen, on Batman in 1966, and on a 2000 episode of The X-Files, his character fell victim to a monstrous bat creature.
His résumé also included Earthquake (1974)…, among other TV series.
In the 1971 telefilm Duel, Dynarski was a trucker confronted in a roadside café by Dennis Weaver, who thinks he’s the murderous big-rig driver on his tail, and in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), he played the supervisor who sends out Richard Dreyfuss to investigate those mysterious blackouts.
Dynarski also portrayed Josef Stalin in the 1996 videogame Command & Conquer: Red Alert...
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Baptized April 26, 1564 — William Shakespeare.World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers was baptized today. (Died 1616.)
Born April 26, 1914 — H. L. Gold. Best known for launching Galaxy Science Fiction in 1950, soon followed by its companion fantasy magazine, Beyond Fantasy Fiction which lasted but a few years. He was not a prolific writer having but two novels, None but Lucifer with L. Sprague de Camp and A Matter of Form, plus a generous number of short stories. None but Lucifer didn’t see printing in novel form until 2002. H. L. Gold Resurrected: Selected Science Fiction Stories of H. L. Gold appears to be his only collection avail from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1996.)
Born April 26, 1916 — Vic Perrin. Best remembered for being the Control Voice in the original version of The Outer Limits. He also, genre wise, was the Adventures of Superman, Mission: Impossible, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Twilight Zone, Buck Rogers in Twenty-Fifth Century and in three episodes of Star Trek including being the voice of Nomad. (Died 1989.)
Born April 26, 1922 — A. E. van Vogt. Ok, I admit it’s been so long since I read him that I don’t clearly remember what I liked by him though I know I read Slan and The Weapon Makers. I am fascinated by the wiki page that noted Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? (Died 2000.)
Born April 26, 1943 — Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. He co-wrote the murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at 42nd World Science Fiction Convention which was hosted by many members of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and which he and his wife were very much involved in. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies, he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. His film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties would be revised and expanded several times. (Died 2016.)
Born April 26, 1955 — Brad W. Foster, 65. A prolific cartoonist and fanzine cover artist, he won an amazing eight Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist! From 1987 to 1991. He was a regular contributing illustrator to the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. In 2008 he began producing illustrations for the newsletter Ansible, creating a full color version for the on-line edition, and a different black-and-white version for the print edition.
Born April 26, 1961 — Joan Chen, 59. You’ll remember her from Twin Peaks universeas Jocelyn ‘Josie’ Packard, and probably less so as Ilsa Hayden in the first Judge Dredd film. I certainly don’t and I’ve watched that film multiple times She was Madame Ong in Avatar. No, not that film, this is a Singaporean sf film from twenty years back. And she was the very first customer on the quite short-lived Nightmare Cafe series.
(10) RADICAL READING ORDER. In the midst of her series of reviews about Kage Baker’s Company series, “Start with the Empress of Mars!” advises the Little Red Reviewer’s Andrea Johnson.
If you’ve been seeing my posts and thinking to yourself “jeez, when is she gonna shut up about this Company series, I don’t even know where to freakin’ start with these damn books”, you can start with The Empress of Mars!
ok, so I KNOW all the suggested reading orders put Empress of Mars near the end of the series, but you should read it near the beginning!!!
– It functions perfectly as a stand alone. Never read a Kage Baker before? start with Empress of Mars!
– omg it is HILARIOUS, like Anvil of the World hilarious. the bad translator scene? I was laughing so hard I drooled on myself.
– If you recognize some characters from elsewhere in the series, that’s ok, and if you don’t, that’s ok too. the book isn’t about those people anyway.
(11) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker appertained their own chow when they met virtually to record the Eating the Fantastic podcast’s one hundred twentieth episode.
Since restaurants began closing down and social distancing became the sensible thing to do for my health, the health of potential podcast guests, and the health of the herd, listeners have been suggesting I consider recording episodes of Eating the Fantastic remotely … and I’ve resisted. Because my purpose here is to share the magical, intimate, relaxed conversations which occur best when people are chatting face-to-face over a table filled with food. That’s why last episode, I ended up letting you ask me the questions.
But then it occurred to me — there’s one person on the planet — and only one — with whom I was willing to record remotely. And that person is Sarah Pinsker, my guest on Episode 1 of this podcast four years and two months ago. I intended to catch up with her in meatspace anyway all these years later, but suddenly it felt right for us to chat in cyberspace.
The reason I felt that way is due to her wonderful debut novel, A Song for A New Day, which was published in September 2019. It’s set in a near future where due to a terrorist attack and an accompanying pandemic, all mass gatherings are banned — no concerts, no sporting events, no ways for people to come together the way people have done since the beginning of time — and we’re instead only allowed to meet in VR. So meeting up with Sarah remotely made artistic and poetic sense — because it would almost be as if we were living in the world of her novel.
Since that first episode, Sarah’s short story collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea was published in March of last year by Small Beer Press. It includes many award-nominated and award-winning stories, including her Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” and her Nebula Award winner “Our Lady of the Open Road.” The collection as a whole was recently awarded the Philip K. Dick Award.
Her novel A Song for a New Day is currently a finalist for this year’s Nebula Award. She’s also a Hugo Award finalist for Best Novelette for “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye,” published last year in Uncanny Magazine.
We discussed how relieved she was her pandemic novel A Song for a New Day was published in 2019 rather than 2020, why she originally wrote that book in a song format (and why that had to change), how she loves being surprised by her own characters, why neither of us can bear listening to music while we write, the extremely scientific, color-coded process she came up with for organizing her first short story collection, how one of her favorite fictional tropes led to the creation of the original story she wrote specifically for that collection, why the thing that most interests her is the way people cope with what’s put in front of them rather than why those things happen, the reason she prefers leaving interpretations to readers rather than providing answers, her terrible habit when reading collections and anthologies, how she’s coping with the surreal feeling of living in the world of her novel, and much more.
(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. [Item by David Doering.] Do cosplays and comic cons violate the law in New York State? I was reading a piece on protests, which led me to see this obscure New York State law forbidding wearing masks:
4.?Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place; ?except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities;
I wonder how may concoms read up on whether their city has has “promulgated regulations” regarding “a masquerade party”? Or think to ask permission of the police? And what does this law mean if there are no “promulgated regulations”? Does that make it illegal to “congregate in a public place” at all?
BTW: The history of this provision extends all the way back to 1845 (!!) when it was enacted to prevent protesters from using masks to hide their identities.
(13) BRAND O’LANDO. [Item by rcade.] Twitter is aflutter over Land O Lakes removing the Indian maiden from the packaging. The chatter wouldn’t be skiffy fodder but for a rebranding suggestion that keeps churning up:
…It’s an outgrowth of the desire to make a space epic with sci-fi elements based in scientific truth. “Mass Effect has always been grounded by a basis in reality,” says the Mass Effect: Andromeda Creative Director Mac Walters, and nothing in Andromeda exemplifies this more than its spaceship design.
Take the Nexus, for example, a kilometers-long space station engineered to serve as civilization’s base of operation among the unexplored planets. In the game’s lore, the monstrous ship’s kilometers-long design is inspired by “the Citadel,” and ancient alien relic of mysterious origin around which the series’ initial trilogy pivots. But despite its extraordinary inspiration, the ship itself has some surprisingly practical details. Designed to travel half-built, the Nexus is constructed over the course of the game, during which its carefully designed and realistic framework is exposed.
… Allen Park, which was facing the possibility of being purchased and turned into new development, will soon be a public park.
…Dr. George Allen and Ruth Larsen Allen purchased the property in 1931 and used a good chunk of the space for their exotic bird collection. Allen Park received the nickname “Hobbitville” because the small houses and log cabins found on the land looked like homes for hobbits.
In addition, it’s filled with signs featuring strange sayings painted on them. It’s considered one of the more unique places in the city. It had come under threat in recent years, though. At least one developer was seeking to purchase the land for future development….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, David Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The 2020 Philip K. Dick Award winner was announced April 10 in a livestreamed ceremony hosted on YouTube by Norwescon.
Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press)
The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press)
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.
The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust. The award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.
The restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Norwescon this year, and the virtual ceremony replaced the in-person Philip K. Dick Award presentation.
The award judges were Thomas A. Easton, Karen Heuler, Mur Lafferty, Patricia MacEwen, and James Sallis.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) released the names of the five finalists for its 2019 Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The finalists are:
Mike Chen – Here and Now and Then
Alix Harrow – The Ten Thousand Doors of
Ada Hoffman – The Outside
Arkady Martine – A Memory Called Empire
Sarah Pinsker – A Song for a New Day
The award includes a
framed award document and, for the novel’s author, a check for $1,000 and an
invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest at Balticon, the BSFS annual
convention, for this year and the following year.
The 2020 Balticon will
be held May 22-25, 2020 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel.
Baltimore, Maryland. For more information visit www.balticon.org.
Members of BSFS selected the finalists by reading and rating debut novels
published between Nov 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019. The Compton Crook Committee
examined nearly 80 debut novels and BSFS members read and rated over 40 books.
The finalist round of reading and rating will close April 10th and
the winner will be notified on Sunday, April 12th and announced to
the public on Monday, April 13th.
The Baltimore Science
Fiction Society (BSFS) has been giving out the Compton Crook Award for best
first novel since 1983. Past winners have included Donald Kingsbury, Elizabeth
Moon, Michael Flynn, Wen Spencer, Maria Snyder, Naomi Novik, Paolo Bacigalupi,
Myke Cole, Charles Gannon, Ada Palmer, and Nicky Drayden. Last year’s winner
was R.F. Kuang for The Poppy War.
BSFS named the award
in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook,
who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook
was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a
staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award.
judges of the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia Science Fiction
Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust, have announced the six nominated
works on the final ballot for the award:
The Outside by Ada Hoffmann (Angry Robot)
Velocity Weapon Megan E. O’Keefe (Orbit)
All Worlds Are Real: Short Fictions by Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press)
Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press)
The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press)
The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 10, 2020 at
Norwescon 43 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.
Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K.
Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original
form in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award is
sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick
Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction
year’s winner was Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman (Europa
Editions) with a special citation to 84K by Claire North (Orbit).
judges are Thomas A. Easton, Karen Heuler, Mur Lafferty, Patricia MacEwen
(chair), and James Sallis.
(2) SPFBO SAMPLER AVAILABLE. Fantasy Book Critic announces
SPFBO Sampler Available Now!” (SPFBO
is the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, an annual competition hosted by Mark
Today we’re thrilled to announce the official launch of The SPFBO Sampler! Looking to dive into the world of indie fantasy novels, but don’t know where to start? Here’s the perfect place to get a taste of the works of over 70 self-published authors from all around the world. Go get your copy today, and let all these incredible authors transport you into their worlds and beyond.
This huge undertaking has been organized by indie author Jon Auerbach, its gorgeous cover created by indie author and cover artist and designer Luke Tarzian, and includes a foreword by the accomplished and best-selling SFF author Mark Lawrence. This is one you surely cannot miss.
(3) TONOPAH GOING UP. Membership rates for the 2021
Westercon in Tonopah, NV will rise
on March 1.
The cost of an attending membership in Westercon 74 will increase to $50 effective March 1, 2020. In addition, the $10 conversion-to-attending rate for those people who voted in the 2021 Westercon Site Selection in Utah expires at the end of February 2020. Membership rates for Young Adult and Child members remain unchanged.
(4) EREWHON LIT SALON. Louis
Evans and Sarah Pinsker will be the readers at the Erewhon Literary Salon on January
9. The event takes place in the office of Erewhon Books in the Flatiron/NoMad
district of Manhattan. For full information and policies, and to RSVP, click here. Event address and information will be emailed to those who
have RSVPed a few days before the event.
LOUIS EVANS is a writer recently returned to his native NYC from a half-decade spent in the SF Bay. His work has been published in Analog SF&F, Escape Pod, The Toast, Third Flatiron Anthologies, and Write Ahead/The Future Looms. He’s a two-time winner of Zach Weinersmith’s Bad Ad-hoc Hypothesis Festival and the Shipwreck SF bad erotic fanfiction competition. He is a founding co-producer of Cliterary Salon, a feminist and queer literary show in the SF Bay.
SARAH PINSKER is the author of over fifty works of short fiction, including the novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road,” winner of the Nebula Award in 2016. Her novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” was the Sturgeon Award winner in 2014. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Uncanny and in numerous anthologies and year’s bests. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, and Italian, among other languages, and have been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, Eugie, and World Fantasy Awards.Sarah’s first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories was published by Small Beer Press in March 2019, and her first novel, A Song For A New Day, was published by Penguin/Random House/Berkley in September 2019.
…The mainstream media has historically painted furries as sex-crazed, socially maladjusted freaks who enjoy rubbing up against each other in giant bunny costumes. This is essentially false. Like most subcultures, the furry fandom is a largely internet-driven phenomenon, providing a label for a preexisting feeling that has always lived, dormant and unnamed, inside a select number of people. While there is a contingent of furries who do derive sexual pleasure from the subculture, the fanbase is much more broad than that.
Maybe you really liked drawing wolves during eighth-grade homeroom. Maybe you’ve always felt an inexplicable affinity with Tony the Tiger. Maybe you’ve long thought it would be rad to buy a $10,000 curvy hippo costume and enter a breakdancing competition. If you fall into any of these categories, then furries are your kind of people, and FurFest the place to unleash the human-sized sergal (a fictional rabbit/shark/wolf amalgam) within. As the voiceover to an intro presentation for FurFest sonorously boomed over a dubstep beat, “You know you are more than a human…now you are the beast that slept inside your mind.”
MFF is widely touted as the biggest furry con in the world, and its attendance has increased exponentially in recent years: While the con only saw about 1,000 attendees in 2005, it reported more than 10,900 guests in 2018, and Matt Berger, media relations lead for MFF, estimates that 12,000 were in attendance this year. That’s in part due to the increasing number of younger children and their families who are gravitating to furry culture — during my time at Midwest FurFest, I saw children as young as seven attending dance competitions and meet-and-greets accompanied by their parents, having stumbled on the fandom via YouTube or TikTok.
In so keeping with its increasingly family-friendly image, the fandom has become intent on promoting itself as a beacon of acceptance and inclusivity, and MFF is no exception….
…In the end, however, another number might turn out to be equally meaningful. Over the course of many decades, Asimov groped or engaged in other forms of unwanted touching with countless women, often at conventions, but also privately and in the workplace. Within the science fiction community, this is common knowledge, and whenever I bring it up in a room of older fans, the response is usually a series of nods. The number of such incidents is unknown, but it can be plausibly estimated in the hundreds, and thus may match or exceed the long list of books that Asimov wrote.
“An unpreserved Vesuvius, an overnight ruin” — that’s how Sean Adams describes Los Verticalés, the fictional setting of his engrossing debut novel The Heap. Adams is not speaking figuratively. Los Verticalés, nicknamed The Vert, was once a leviathan 500-story building, erected in the American desert, that housed an entire metropolis’ worth of apartments, residents, and businesses. But years ago it suddenly collapsed, leaving a gargantuan pile of rubble and bodies called The Heap. That “overnight ruin” is now surrounded by a loose community of mobile homes called CamperTown, and the denizens of CamperTown dig through the debris, searching for the dead and whatever modest treasure might be salvaged.
One of these Dig Hands, as they’re known, has a higher motivation: Orville Anders is the brother of Bernard Anders, a radio personality who is the last known survivor of The Vert’s collapse. Bernard, however, is still trapped beneath the rubble, miraculously alive and broadcasting his daily radio talk show from somewhere in the bowels of The Vert’s vast corpse. Bernard, living in darkness, subsists on rats and a trickle of water coming down a wall; Orville digs desperately every day in search of his buried-alive, increasingly unstable brother, keeping in touch by calling in to his radio show every day, hoping not only to find Bernard but to strengthen a fraternal bond that’s grown frayed and distant over the years. It’s a numbing, heartbreaking task, and it’s made all the more difficult when Sundial Media — the owner of WVRT, the radio station that Bernard is still technically employed by — saddles Bernard with a moral dilemma: Would he be willing to brand and commercialize his exchanges with his brother as a kind of podcast-meets-reality-show?
Adams’ imaginative scope is staggering. The intricately wrought details of The Vert serve as the substructure of The Heap, contained in interstitial chapters that sketch a blueprint of the fallen building as a monument to modern technology as well as a chilling social experiment. The Vert’s inner core of apartments comprised the lower classes, since they were isolated from the outside of the building and therefore didn’t have windows; in their place, UV screens broadcast moving images of the real world as a kind of analogy of Plato’s cave wall. Reality began to warp inside The Vert as friction grew between The Windowed and The Windowless, to the point where the building’s physical collapse is symbolic of its civic collapse.
I’ve come to an agreement with Jack Vance’s son, John, that I will be writing a sequel to Jack Vance’s iconic Demon Princes series. A contract is being drawn up.
I’m not an outliner, but I’ve sketched out an idea for the story: a young person, not sure yet if it’s male or female, returns to the world called Providence and the community of Mount Pleasant. This was the site of a slave-taking raid by the five megacriminals known collectively as the Demon Princes, whom Kirth Gersen devoted his life to tracking down and killing.
The returnee has escaped from slavery and come to reclaim the family property – as well as something precious buried there.
But the ghost town has been repopulated by sinister people – I’m thinking maybe a cult or some kind of radical political organization. So my underdog has to undergo trials and tribulations.
I’m very much looking forward to this.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 7, 1961 — ITV premiered The Avengers. Original cast was Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee. Hendry left after the first series; Steed with becoming the primary male character, partnered with a succession of female partners. The series would last for six seasons and one hundred and one episodes. We of course have our favorite female partner but that’s not for us to say here. After it ended in 1969, John Steed would be paired with two new partners on The New Avengers, a series that ran for two seasons in the mid-Seventies.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 7, 1912 — Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there has been a number of films using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. (Died 1988.)
Born January 7, 1924 — Eugene Lee Coon. Showrunner on Trek for much of the first and second seasons. Responsible in some part for thirteen scripts for the show. Outside of this show, he had little in the genre save writing one episode each of The Wild Wild West and The Immortal, and later scripting The Questor Tapes. (Died 1973.)
Born January 7, 1926 — Graham Stone. Australian fan, bibliographer, collector, and small press publisher. Founder of the Australian Science Fiction Society and member, as well, of the Futurian Society of Sydney. He wrote with his co-author Royce Williams, Zero Equals Nothing. Winner of an A. Bertram Chandler Award. (Died 2013.)
Born January 7, 1928 — William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
Born January 7, 1950 — Erin Gray, 70. She’s best known as Colonel Wilma Deering Buck Rogers in the 25th Century series. Would it surprise you that she shows up in as Commander Grey in Star Trek Continues, one of those video Trek fanfics
Born January 7, 1955 — Karen Haber, 65. Wife of Robert Silverberg. I fondly remember reading her Meditations on Middle Earth anthology. And the three Universe anthologies she did with her husband are most excellent. I don’t remember reading any of her novels but that’s hardly a certainty that I didn’t as even when my memory was a lot better than it is now I hardly remembered all the genre fiction I read.
Born January 7, 1957 — Nicholson Baker, 63. Ok ISFDB lists him as having two SFF novels, The Fermata and House of Holes. The Wiki page him lists those as being two out of the three erotic novels that he’s written. Not having read them, are they indeed erotic SFF? I see that ESF say they’re indeed SFF and yes are erotic. H’h.
Born January 7, 1961 — Mark Allen Shepherd, 59. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets.
Born January 7, 1966 — Heidi Elizabeth Yolen Stemple, 54. Daughter of Jane Yolen, sibling of Adam Stemple. She and Yolen co-wrote the Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folktales for Mothers and Daughters to Share anthology. ISFDBsays they did two chapbooks as well, A Kite for Moon and Monster Academy.
Born January 7, 1971 — Jeremy Renner, 49. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.
Born January 7, 1980 — Tom Harper, 40. Director of such British series as Demons, Misfits and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. He’s also done some SFF film work such as The Woman in Black: Angel of Death and The Borrowers.
Born January 7, 1983 — Ruth Negga, 37. She was Raina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but she left that show as she got a leading role being Tulip O’Hare in the Preacher series. She was also Nikki in Misfits, Queen Taria In Warcraft and a WHO Doctor In World War Z.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro suggests one of Stan Lee’s mottos was a bit naïve.
Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics is about Beginning,
Who is the most popular Star Trek captain of all time? This age-old — and extremely fraught — Trekkie debate has arguably been settled. The impending release of Star Trek: Picard seems to prove that, overwhelmingly, fans love Captain Jean-Luc Picard more than any other Trek captain ever. Yes, hardcore Trekkies will tell you they celebrate all captains equally (even Scott Bakula), but the zeitgeist seems to tell a different story.
We love Picard a lot, and surely, we love him more than Captain James T. Kirk. This wasn’t always the case, but we’ve been living in a Picard-first world for a long time now. Here’s when it happened….
WOMAN. The Warner Bros. UK Twitter account has dropped four
pics from the upcoming June 5 release Wonder Woman 1984:
“Travel back to 1984 with these new stills from #WW84.” They include
scenes set both on The Mall and in a mall.
Who? – You! We need outgoing, creative, friendly, enthusiastic, graduating college seniors who have an appetite for adventure and are willing to see the country through the windshield of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Applicants should have a BA or BS, preferably in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing, though applicants are not limited to these degrees.
Anneliese Nielsen, who owns a cannabis brand in Los Angeles, used a strain of weed calibrated for relaxation, but found herself unable to relax in a dark theatre illuminated by the ghastly cat face of Corden. ‘I’m 35 and announced, ‘I’m scared!’ to my fellow moviegoers at least seven times,’ says Nielsen, who called the film ‘a special kind of evil.’
The Alamo Drafthouse chain has special ‘rowdy’ showings of CATS where patrons are encouraged to consume adult beverages and loudly comment on the film.
Facebook has announced it will remove videos modified by artificial intelligence, known as deepfakes, from its platform.
Deepfakes are computer-generated clips that are designed to look real.
The social media company said in a blog that these videos distort reality and present a “significant challenge” for the technology industry.
While deepfakes are still relatively uncommon on the internet, they are becoming more prevalent.
AI software creates deepfakes of people – often politicians or celebrities – by merging, replacing, or superimposing content on to a video in a way that makes it look real.
Facebook said it would remove videos if it realised they had been edited in ways that weren’t obvious to an average person, or if they misled a viewer into thinking that a person in a video said words they did not actually say.
“There are people who engage in media manipulation in order to mislead,” wrote Monika Bickert, vice president of global policy management at Facebook in the blog.
Facebook staff and independent fact-checkers will be used to judge a video’s authenticity.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Looney Tunes–Behind The Lines: A Conversation With Tex
Avery” on YouTube is an interview with the great animator Tex Avery that
is undated, but probably from the late 1970s.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, N.,
Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, and Chip Hitchcock for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Writers applying for SFWA membership qualify on the basis of the per-word rate on the date of contract. For example, short fiction sold before September 1, 2019 at six cents per word continue to qualify a writer for SFWA membership, etc.
This change to the SFWA pro rate is the result of market analyses conducted by SFWA Board members, along with a review of the effects of inflation on author compensation. The SFWA pro rate was last changed in 2014, rising from five to six cents per word, and from three to five cents per word in 2004.
(2) AURORA VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have
until September 14 to vote in the Aurora
You must be logged in to the website with an active CSFFA membership in order to download the voter’s packages or to vote.
Vote results will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/) and will be available on the website soon after.
More than 10,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners, selected from among 91 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming, and tabletop gaming.
Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie are among the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.
Atwood is in contention again with The Testaments, her eagerly awaited follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, while Sir Salman makes the cut with Quichotte.
Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, Elif Shafak and US author Lucy Ellmann are also up for the prize.
Both Atwood and Rushdie have won the coveted prize before, in 2000 and 1981 respectively.
Atwood also made the shortlist with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986….
The winner, whittled down from 151 submissions and a longlist of 13, will be announced on 14 October.
(5) KGB. The Fantastic
Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present
Sarah Beth Durst & Sarah Pinsker on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.
Sarah Beth Durst
Sarah Beth Durst is the author of nineteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Girl Who Could Not Dream. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She hopes to one day have her own telepathic dragon.
Sarah Pinsker is the author of over fifty stories as well as the collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea and the novel A Song For A New Day, both out in 2019. Her fiction has won the Nebula and Sturgeon awards, and been a finalist for the Hugo, Eugie Foster, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards.
The address of the KGB Bar is 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New
(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. Kenneth R. Johnson says he has “posted a mildly updated version of one of
my on-line indexes” — “FANTASY
GOTHICS”, subtitled, “A comprehensive bibliography of modern Gothics
with genuine fantasy elements.”
About forty years ago I visited a fellow Science Fiction collector who introduced me to the concept of collecting “on the fringes.” I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the Science Fiction and Fantasy books that had been in published in paperback, but when I examined his collection I saw a large number of books that I had not known about because they had not been marketed as Fantasy. I was especially drawn to the books that had been issued in other genres, such as Mysteries and Romances.
I was particularly struck by the large number of Gothics that were spread throughout his collection. I began looking for these particular crossovers in my visits to second-hand bookstores. Within a few years I had amassed a couple hundred books, but by the early 1980s the Gothic craze had waned and most publishers had dropped the category. The existing books gradually disappeared from the second-hand market. …
Scope of Index
This bibliography is restricted to mass-market paperback books published in the U.S. between the 1960’s and the 1980’s. The deciding factor in whether a book appears here, besides a genuine fantasy element, is how the book was labeled when published. If a particular book had several editions from a given publisher and at least one of them was marketed as a Gothic, then all of that publisher’s editions are listed. Any editions from a publisher who never labeled it as a Gothic are omitted.
(7) BOK WAS ALSO A VERBAL ARTIST. Robert T. Garcia has launched
a Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of “The
Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok: Three Fantasies by Bok” with Hannes
Bok’s three published solo novels:
Starstone World, The Sorcerer’s Ship, and Beyond
The Golden Stair (the
unedited version of the novel Blue
Includes an all-new introduction for this collection by Charles de Lint.
For two years I’ve been working on a project that got more interesting the further I got into it. Hannes Bok was one of the 20th Century’s best sf-fantasy-weird fiction artists. He was a painter with an eye for beautiful colors and flowing compositions in a time when sf art was very literal and staid. His paintings featured stylized figures, colors by Parrish, and a creative imagination that could only be Bok’s. And he could not be confined to one discipline in his creativity, there were paintings and line work, poetry and sculpture, intricate wood carvings and—of special interest here—fantasy novels: The Sorcerer’s Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World.
These aren’t your conventional fantasies, although all the trappings are there. They have a sly humor with plots full of twists and turns, stories which take the reader on strange metaphysical paths, and glorious descriptions that could only come from someone with a painter’s eye. Certainly not the most smoothly told tales, but as Lester Del Rey wrote about Beyond the Golden Stair: “in spite of its faults, it has the sense of enchantment so rarely found in most market fantasy. And since our world needs the glamor at least as much as it ever did, let us lose no chance.”
Here’s your chance to experience that glamor. All three of these books have been out-of-print for at least 48 years. That’s too long. They have been left behind, and should be part of the legacy of Hannes Bok, and part of the discussion of early 20th Century fantastic fiction.
At this writing, Garcia has raised $6,623 of the $11,999 goal.
The reason Romana’s regeneration was so unique is that the new actress, Lalla Ward, had already played a different role on the series. In the Season 16 serial “The Armageddon Factor,” the first Romana (Mary Tamm) and the Doctor encountered a character named Princess Astra, who also happened to have been played by Ward. So, when Ward was later cast as the new version of Romana in Season 17, it required an onscreen explanation.
In the scene, the Doctor is freaked out that Romana suddenly looks like someone they both had recently met. “But you can’t wear that body!” he protests. “You can’t go around wearing copies of bodies!” The newly regenerated Romana insists it didn’t matter. She likes the way Princess Astra looks and says they probably aren’t going back to the princess’s home planet of Atrios anyway.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 3, 1953 — The 3-D movie Cat-Women of the Moonpremiered. It starred Marie Windsor and Victor Jory who on a scientific expedition to the Moon encounters a race of cat-women.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 3, 1810 — Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations. (Died 1844.)
Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants who wrote also lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. (Died 2013.)
Born September 3, 1943 — Valerie Perrine, 76. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II.
Born September 3, 1954 — Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, Andrew J Offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
Born September 3, 1959 — Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Did 1989.)
Born September 3, 1969 — John Picacio, 50. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He won the Hugo for Best Artist in 2012.
Born September 3, 1971 — D. Harlan Wilson, 48. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. Ballard, Cultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
Born September 3, 1974 — Clare Kramer, 45. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The Gravedancers, The Thirst, Road to Hell, Road to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.
Plus this “Happy Book Birthday” – Congratulations to Ellen
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Brewster Rockit treats us to more “famous parting words from defeated aliens.” Ook ook!
Half Full delivers sff’s answer to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
(12) MOONWALKING. It isn’t easy anywhere to get local
government to fix the streets,
Indian actor Poornachandra Mysore joined artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy to document the conditions of the roads in Bengaluru, India. In a creative way and wearing a spacesuit, the man decided to walk on these crater-like potholes as if he was walking on the moon.
Black Mountain is a crime-horror hybrid that takes the most entertaining elements of both genres and mixes them into something new that pushes the boundaries of contemporary crime fiction. From horror Barron grabs the fear of death, the tensions of knowing there is a killer out there and on the hunt, the gore of mutilated bodies and serrated knives digging into soft flesh. From crime he pulls mobsters, the existence of secrets that, if revealed, would lead to many murders. He also works with a level of violence that is rarely found in crime novels from big publishers.
With those elements on the table, Barron uses his elegant prose as glue. There is brutish behavior, but the words describing it are beautiful, mercilessly obliterating the imagined line between genre and literary fiction on almost every page…
In news to file under “What could possibly go wrong,” two U.S. deterrence experts have penned an article suggesting that it might be time to hand control of the launch button for America’s nuclear weapons over to artificial intelligence. You know, that thing which can mistake a 3D-printed turtle for a rifle!
In an article titled “America Needs a ‘Dead Hand,’” Dr. Adam Lowther and Curtis McGiffin suggest that “an automated strategic response system based on artificial intelligence” may be called for due to the speed with which a nuclear attack could be leveled against the United States. Specifically, they are worried about two weapons — hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles — which reduce response times to mere minutes from when an attack is launched until it strikes.
They acknowledge that such a suggestion is likely to “generate comparisons to Dr. Strangelove’s doomsday machine, War Games’ War Operation Plan Response, and The Terminator’s Skynet. But they also argue that “the prophetic imagery of these science fiction films is quickly becoming reality.” As a result of the compressed response time frame from modern weapons of war, the two experts think that an A.I. system “with predetermined response decisions, that detects, decides, and directs strategic forces” could be the way to go.
Wallops Island—a remote, marshy spit of land along the eastern shore of Virginia, near a famed national refuge for horses—is mostly known as a launch site for government and private rockets. But it also makes for a perfect, quiet spot to test a revolutionary weapons technology.
If a fishing vessel had steamed past the area last October, the crew might have glimpsed half a dozen or so 35-foot-long inflatable boats darting through the shallows, and thought little of it. But if crew members had looked closer, they would have seen that no one was aboard: The engine throttle levers were shifting up and down as if controlled by ghosts. The boats were using high-tech gear to sense their surroundings, communicate with one another, and automatically position themselves so, in theory, .50-caliber machine guns that can be strapped to their bows could fire a steady stream of bullets to protect troops landing on a beach.
Something odd was bubbling beneath the surface of northwest Montana’s Flathead Lake this summer. It wasn’t lake monsters, but submarines. The subs’ pilots were there to help cash-strapped researchers explore the depths of Flathead Lake for free.
It can be hard for research divers to see what’s at the bottom of deep bodies of water like Flathead Lake without special equipment and experience. So, having a couple of submarines around this summer was helpful to the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Research Station.
…Riders met British Columbia resident Hank Pronk, who was standing on his two-man submarine bobbing on the lake’s crystal-clear surface.
A useful hobby
Pronk and his fellow enthusiasts build their subs mostly by hand. Pronk’s sub, named the Nekton Gamma, is smaller than a compact car; climbing in is a squeeze.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been turning to a new app to communicate – one that does not use the internet and is therefore harder for the Chinese authorities to trace.
Bridgefy is based on Bluetooth and allows protesters to communicate with each other without internet connection.
Downloads are up almost 4,000% in the past two months, according to measurement firm Apptopia.
Texts, email and messaging app WeChat are all monitored by the Chinese state.
Bridgefy uses a mesh network, which links together users’ devices allowing people to chat with others even if they are in a different part of the city, by hopping on other users’ phones until the message reaches the intended person.
The range from phone to phone is within 100m (330ft).
The app was designed by a start-up based in San Francisco and has previously been used in places where wi-fi or traditional networks struggle to work, such as large music or sporting events.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, Martin
Morse Wooster, Robert T. Garcia, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
The SFWA Board and staff also thanked the volunteers who make up
the Elections Committee: Fran Wilde (Chair), Matthew Johnson (Member),
Laura Anne Gilman (Member), Maurice Broaddus (Member), and Kate Baker
(Executive Director & Adviser).
… We compiled the six art book finalists below to give you an idea of what’s competing for the venerable award in August, along with some information about them from Amazon….
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, $36 on Amazon: Illustrated by Charles Vess, Written by Ursula K. Le Guin. “Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea, this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.”
“Bringing a unicorn here is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor. You have to be the right sort of girl.”
The right sort of girl.
The backbone of Brie Larson’s offbeat directorial debut, the comedy Unicorn Store, is the idea of what it means to be the right sort of girl. Larson plays Kit, a woman pushing 30 who lives with her parents and favors an aesthetic heavy on rainbows, glitter and — yes — unicorns. And after she receives a couple of mysterious magical letters, she finds herself in the company of a man who calls himself The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s the one who says these words, who tells her that she’s in line for a unicorn of her own. But she has to earn it. She has to be stable. She has to make a home for it. She has to be an adult, ironically, to be the right companion for a unicorn.
An independent group set up to oversee Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, has been shut down less than a fortnight after it was launched.
The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition.
One member resigned and there were calls for another to be removed.
The debacle raises questions about whether firms should set up such bodies.
Google told the BBC: “It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted.
“So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”
There had been an outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles James, who is president of conservative thinktank The Heritage Foundation. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, over what they described as “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant” comments.
(4) HEY RUBE. Steve
Davidson complains that he can’t evaluate what technical changes make Archive
of Our Own eligible in the 2019 Hugo category for which it was nominated, then,
disregarding the argument he just made, asks why AO3 wasn’t nominated in
another category that isn’t designed to recognize technical changes: “The
Hugo Awards Best Related Work Category and the AO3 Nomination” at Amazing Stories.
In terms of AO3, since I can’t see the “change”, how am I to judge the substantiability? Maybe, in my mind, it isn’t transformative enough to warrant a vote. But I can’t make that judgement because I have no reference. I do not have the opportunity to weigh in on the Hugo Administrator’s choices.
Third: we’ve already determined that websites can qualify under the Best Fanzine category and we can read right in the definition of Best Related Work that works qualify for that category “provided that they do not qualify for another category”.
Why doesn’t a website featuring fanfic qualify for the Best Fanzine category? Call me a rube, but I can hardly think of a better category for a collection of fanfic than Best Fanzine. In fact, I seem to recall that a bunch of highly regarded professional authors published their fanfic in…fanzines. (The printed kind that some of you may not be familiar with.)
Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It’s a wordless depiction of an immigration experience. The protagonist doesn’t share a language with anyone in his new country; their language is gibberish to him and gibberish to the reader. Any item we might recognize is rendered in such a way as to make it foreign to the reader as well, so we experience the confusion that the man feels: strange fruit, strange animals, strange monuments. Tan’s illustrations tell the immigrant’s story a thousand times better than words could have.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Saga Press is reissuing three Molly Gloss novels over the next few months (Outside the Gates,Dazzle of DayandWild Life) followed by her first collection, Unforeseen. I already had two of the books, but I’ve preordered all four of these both for her prose and the gorgeously stark matching covers by Jeffrey Alan Love.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 6, 1967 — Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”, written by Harlan Ellison, first aired.
April 6, 1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey was released.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 6, 1905 — Thomas P. Kelley. Writer of Thirties pulp novels that were serialised first in Weird Tales (The Last Pharaoh, A Million Years in the Future and I Found Cleopatra), Uncanny Tales (The Talking Heads) and Eerie Tales (The Weird Queen). (Died 1982.)
Born April 6, 1918 — Kaaren Verne. She appeared in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon as Charlotte Eberli. The film btw was very much fanfic bearing little resemblance to the original premise of Holmes. She also appeared in The Twilight Zone, Kraft Suspense Theatre and Fireside Theatre (freelance writers such as Rod Serling were a script source for the latter). (Died 1967.)
Born April 6, 1935 — Douglas Hill. Prolific writer of short novels for both adults and younger of a sword and sorcery bent even when within an SF setting. Best known series include The Last Legionary, Demon Stalker and Huntsman. He served for a short period as assistant editor of the New Worlds magazine under Michael Moorcock. (Died 2007.)
Born April 6, 1937 — Billy Dee Williams, 82. He is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in The Empire Strikes Back. Other genre appearances include being Harvey Dent in Batman and voicing Two Face In The Lego Batman Movie.
Born April 6, 1947 — John Ratzenberger, 72. In-house voice actor for Pixar whose roles have included Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He made minor live appearances in Superman and Superman II.
Born April 6, 1948 — Larry Todd, 71. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction and Imagination magazines being three of his venues. He also did some writing for If magazine. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet.
Born April 6, 1981 — Eliza Coupe, 38. Tiger, one three main roles in Future Man, a web series where a video game apparently is actually real and deadly. She also had a recurring role on Quantico as Hannah Wyland, a series I swear is edging into genre. She was also in Monster Mash (also known as Monster Mash: The Movie and Frankenstein Sings), based on the Bobby “Boris” Pickett song “Monster Mash” and other sources.
(8) SPOTTED OWL. Mike
Lawson has won
the Spotted Owl Award for his mystery House
Witness. The Spotted Owl Award is handed out by a group called Friends
of Mystery, based in Portland, Oregon. Eligible are mysteries written by
authors from the Pacific Northwest. The finalists were —
I got to meet and hang out with author Fonda Lee at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop a few years back. Recently, Lee was at Barnes and Noble and observed:
“This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it’s face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here’s who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys.” (Source)
Her Tweets got a lot of attention, leading to an article by John Trent at Bounding Into Comics that derides Lee and accuses her, among other things, of criticizing Tolkien. Not that Lee ever did this. Her second Tweet in that thread said, “Before you @ me about the importance of classics, I love LOTR too, okay?” One might almost suspect Trent’s comment, “Lee isn’t the first person to criticize Tolkien,” of being an attempt to stir up shit.
An effective attempt, it seems. Lee has been barraged by Tolkien Defenders over on Twitter….
There are many ways artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make our world more productive and effective. There are even breweries that are using AI to enhance beer production. Is this brilliant or unbelievable? While it’s admittedly too soon to tell, using data to inform brewmasters’ decisions and the possibility of personalized brews makes AI-brewed beer definitely intriguing.
The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.
Dog or cat?
In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population – nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one -they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.
For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).
But when you break the data down by pet type – cats, dogs or both – a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.
A World War Two codebreaking machine has been reconstructed after a seven-year project so it can run in public for the first time.
The Heath Robinson has been restored at The National Museum of Computing in Milton Keynes by a team of six.
The machine was an early attempt to automate code-cracking and, due to its complexity, was named after the illustrator W Heath Robinson.
Phil Hayes, of the museum, said the work was “quite an achievement”.
He said it completed using a hand-drawn circuit diagram along with replica circuits based on 1940s technology.
(16) OLD HABITS
DIE HARD. CNN wondered why “Why
2.7 million Americans still get Netflix DVDs in the mail”. They came
up with six reasons. In the process, they made Cat Eldridge’s day: “Years ago I had an argument with a
techie who insisted that new technologies always drive out old technologies. I
said that’s simply not true. And here’s proof of that.” Cat and Bruce Sterling
Early Friday morning, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated an explosive device over a small asteroid. The goal was to create a fresh crater that will later be studied by the spacecraft.
Researchers watched from mission control in Sagamihara, Japan, and clapped politely as Hayabusa2 released an experiment known as the Small Carry-on Impactor. The device consisted of a copper disk packed with HMX high-explosive. Once the mothership had safely moved out of the line of fire, the impactor apparently detonated, firing the disk into the side of the asteroid. A camera released by Hayabusa2 appeared to catch the moment of impact, which sent a stream of ejecta into space.
…”These particular asteroids are the precursors to what Earth was made from,” Connolly says. Ryugu is rich in carbon, and minerals on its surface contain water and so-called prebiotic compounds that could have started life on this planet.
“Ryugu is a time capsule,” says Connolly.
This is not Hayabusa2’s first attack. In February, the spacecraft physically touched down on Ryugu and fired a small pellet into its surface. The dust kicked up by that opening shot was collected and eventually will provide researchers with detailed information about the asteroid’s makeup.
But to really understand Ryugu, researchers also want to know what’s down there, and that’s why they created Friday’s crater. In a few weeks, after the dust has settled, the little spacecraft will survey the blast site to see what lies beneath. It may even land a second time to collect subsurface samples.
Press kits prepared by the public relations staff at the major contractors for the Apollo 11 mission provided valuable additional information not found in NASA issued news releases. Reporters and editors from media outlets including television and newspapers had access to such documents from dozens of manufacturers while working on stories about the first lunar landing.
First conceived and pitched to Kickstarter backers in
2013, Temporal Anomaly is an ambitious fan project set in the Star
Trek universe, a nearly hour-long fan film created by Power543 Fan Films.
(20) DISCOVERY. The Popcast analyzes The Borg Paradox.
If you thought the last Paradox was good, you’re going to love this one. The Borg are here and Resistance is Futile!
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Cunnane, in “Gary the
Gargoyle: Short and Breakdown” on Vimeo,
offers a short fiilm about a gargoyle and an analysis of how the creatures in
the film were designed.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Conrarius, John King Tarpinian,
Bill, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip