Voting continues as Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) members decide who will be honored as Grand Master this year. Four candidates are under consideration: Linda Addison, F.J. Bergmann, Geoffrey A. Landis, and John Grey. SFPA members have until December 1 to cast their ballots.
Linda D. Addison is the award-winning author of five collections, including The Place of Broken Things, written with Alessandro Manzetti, & How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, and a recipient of the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®, co-editor of Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of horror fiction & poetry by African- American women, poetry editor of Space & Time Magazine since 2000, and editor of the 2018 Rhysling Anthology and the HWA StokerCon Anthology 2019. Her work has made frequent appearances over the years on the honorable mention list for Year’s Best anthology. She has a B.S. in Mathematics from Carnegie-Mellon University and currently lives in Arizona. Addison is a founding member of the writer’s group Circles in the Hair (CITH), and a member of HWA, SFWA and SFPA. For further information please see Linda’s website.
F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann has a distinguished body of speculative poetry from the last 20 years, winning the Rhysling (Short and Long), the Elgin Chapbook (twice), the SFPA Poetry Contest (several), and other contests. Her service to SFPA includes editing Star*Line, designing publications, and serving as webmaster and VP. Nor is her service to poetry limited to the SFPA.
Geoffrey A. Landis
Geoffrey A. Landis has had a strong body of work published over the last thirty-plus years, noted by his winning the Rhysling Long twice, the Asimov’s Reader’s Award for best poem four times, and the Dwarf Stars Award. In addition to his excellence in writing poetry, he has contributed to the SFPA by editing Eye to the Telescope and co-editing the 2012 Dwarf Stars anthology. He is active in the Cleveland poetry community, and for many years has run the Clevelandpoetics blog, which distributes news and information about poetry in the Cleveland area; he has also been active in the Ohio Poetry Day celebrations. He has published two collections of poetry, Iron Angels (Van Zeno, 2009) and The Book of Whimsy (Night Ballet, 2015). For more for more about Geoffrey visit his website.
John Grey is Australian-born, U.S. resident, poet, short story writer, musician and playwright. He has had over 16,000 poems published throughout the world in magazines as diverse as Christian Science Monitor, Relix, Poetry East, Agni, Rhino, Rattle, Poet Lore and JAMA as well as numerous anthologies and books, including his latest, Leaves On Pages. A good percentage of those poems have been in genre magazines, (both sci-fi and horror, with the occasional fantasy) having grown up devouring the classic horror writers such as Blackwood, James, Bierce, Poe, etc. Publications in this field include work in Weird Tales, Space & Time, Dreams and Nightmares, The Pedestal, The Magazine Of Speculative Poetry, The Fifth Di, Leading Edge, Andromeda Spaceways, Not One Of Us, Strange Horizons, Chrome Baby and many many many more. Winner of the Rhysling Award (Short) in 1998. Was theater critic and poetry columnist for a local Providence, RI, weekly arts magazine and has had plays produced off-off Broadway and in Los Angeles.
By John Hertz: Results of the 2020 SF Poetry Ass’n Contest were posted here on September 25th.
I won 3rd Place in the Dwarf category (1-10 lines).
Two Filers’ comments congratulated me by name. Thanks.
Perhaps you’d like to see my entry. It’s an unrhymed stanza in 5-7-5-word lines.
That hill – a giant Green elephant asleep, lost On his way to Mars.
File 770 reported the Contest’s biographical notes about the winners. Mine was simply “John Hertz is”. This was due to no request, coyness, or like that, from me. No one asked. If the Contest called for any biography from entrants, I missed it. However, I’m content.
Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was the first full-length cel-animated feature film. In Disney’s telling, Snow White meets dwarfs called Doc, Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey.
Contest chair John Reinhart received 391 entries (133 dwarf-length, 197 short, and 61 long poems) from around the world.
The winners, selected by judge Neil Aitken, will receive a $150 First Prize, $75 Second Prize, and $25 Third Prize in each category, as well as publication on sfpoetry.com.
DWARF FORM WINNING POEM:
“Where Do We Go From Here?” by Ojo Taiye
Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian poet who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with the society. He also makes uses of collage & sampling techniques.
DWARF FORM SECOND PLACE:
“the last whisper” by Deborah P Kolodji
Deborah P Kolodji is a former president of the SFPA and the California Regional Coordinator for the Haiku Society of America. She has published over 1000 haiku and her first book of haiku and senryu won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award from the Haiku Foundation.
DWARF FORM THIRD PLACE:
“That hill – a giant” by John Hertz
John Hertz is.
DWARF FORM HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“artificial singularity” by Meg Freer
“The Hypothesis” by Sheryl Hamilton
SHORT FORM WINNER:
“Skylarking” by F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change and (temporarily [again]) Star*Line, and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her mostly speculative work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A dystopian collection of first-contact expedition reports, A Catalogue of the Further Suns, won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.
SHORT FORM SECOND PLACE:
“The Indestructible Observer Admits” by Amie Whittemore
Amie Whittemore is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press), the 2020 Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Her poems have won multiple awards, including a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and her poems and prose have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Nashville Review, Smartish Pace, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She is the Reviews Editor for Southern Indiana Review and teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.
SHORT FORM THIRD PLACE:
“The Archaeoastronomer Questions the Purposes of the Destroyed Neolithic Menhir” by T. D. Walker
T. D. Walker is the author of the poetry collections Small Waiting Objects (CW Books 2019) and Maps of a Hollowed World (Another New Calligraphy 2020). Her science fiction poems and stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apricity, The Future Fire, Web Conjunctions,The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and elsewhere. She curates and hosts Short Waves / Short Poems. After completing graduate work in English Literature, Walker began her career as a software developer. She draws on both her grounding in literary studies and her experience as a computer programmer in writing poetry and fiction. Find out more at tdwalker.net.
SHORT FORM HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Collection of Mouths by Ann DeVilbiss
My Life in the Bomb by Phil Tabakow
Aswang Mango: Santiago’s Fantasia by Vince Gotera
LONG FORM WINNER:
“Which is Which” by F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann lives in Wisconsin and likes to ride horses. She is pretty sure she’d like to ride unicorns, if only they’d cooperate.
LONG FORM SECOND PLACE:
“After the Decipherment” by FJ Doucet
Fatimah Jessica (FJ) Doucet’s poetry most recently appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, Beliveau Review, Yolk, Martin Lake Journal, and Literary Mama, while her work in Prometheus Dreaming magazine was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her speculative prose appears in the Retellings of the Inland Seas anthology from Candlemark and Gleam press, with more fiction forthcoming through Endless Ink Publishing House. She is a member of the SFPA, and is the newest president of the Brooklin Poetry Society, just outside of Toronto, Canada.
LONG FORM THIRD PLACE:
“Cityscape” by F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann is presently holed up in a 700-square-foot apartment with a husband and 7,000 books, most of which are science fiction.
LONG FORM HONORABLE MENTIONS:
“Stellar Scrap Sweep” by Richaundra Thursday
“The Archaeoastronomer Explains to the American’s Daughter Why a Compass Will Not Work on the Moon” by T. D. Walker
Contest judge Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, Babbage’s Dream (Sundress 2017) and The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which won the Philip Levine Prize. His poetry chapbook Leviathan (Hyacinth Girl Press 2016) won the Elgin Award. Individual poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Radar Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, and many other literary journals. He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, curator of Have Book Will Travel, podcast host of The Lit Fantastic, and co-director of De-Canon: A Visibility Project.
[This story will be scraped by Locus Online in 5…4…3…]
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) has announced the winners of the 2020 Elgin Awards for best collections of speculative poetry published in the previous two years. Named after SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, awards are given in two categories: best chapbook and best full-length book.
FULL-LENGTH BOOK AWARD WINNERS
Winner: Soft Science • Franny Choi (Alice James Books, 2019)
Second Place: Elemental Haiku • Mary Soon Lee (Ten Speed Press, 2019)
The Comfort of Screams • G. O. Clark (Alban Lake Publishing, 2018)
The Demeter Diaries • Marge Simon & Bryan D. Dietrich (Independent Legions, 2019)
Winner:The Book of Fly • John Philip Johnson (Graphic Poetry Press, 2019)
Second Place:The Last Mastodon • Christina Olson (Rattle, 2019)
Third Place:Fragments from the Book of the After-Dead • Herb Kauderer (The Poet’s Haven, 2019)
This year’s Elgin Awards had 13 nominees in the chapbook category and 42 nominees in the full-length category.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association was established in 1978 and has an international membership. The 2020 Elgin Chair is Colleen Anderson, a Canadian author who has had over 170 poems published. She is a member of HWA and SFPA and a Canada Council grant recipient for writing. Her solo anthology Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland was published by Exile Books. She has served on both Stoker Award and British Fantasy Award juries. Her short-story collection, A Body of Work was published by Black Shuck Books, UK.
“Standing Up,” by John C. Mannone, Nadwah: Poetry in Translation, December 2019.
[There are fossils] by Mark A. Fisher, Silver Blade 44.
2015 Zinfandella by Denise Dumars, Dismal Oaks Winery Broadside, Spring 2019.
The award recognizes the best speculative poem of no longer than 10 lines (or no more than 100 words for prose poems) published in the previous year, and is designed to honor excellent scifaiku, tanka, cinquains, and other types of short poems that tend to be overshadowed in SFPA’s Rhysling Award competition.
Also in contrast to the annual Rhysling Anthology, Dwarf Stars is an edited anthology. SFPA encourages poets, poetry readers, and editors to submit or suggest eligible poems to the Dwarf Stars editor. This year’s anthology was edited by Robin Mayall. The winner was determined by a vote, with 96 members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association participating.
John C. Mannone is a Horror Writers Association Scholarship winner (2017) and has work appearing in North Dakota Quarterly, Foreign Literary Review, Pedestal, and many speculative journals like Space & Time, Eye to the Telescope, and Altered Reality Magazine. He won the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (2020) and was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature. He served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, Liquid Imagination, and American Diversity Report. A retired university physics professor, John lives between Knoxville and and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Mark A. Fisher is a writer, poet, and playwright living in Tehachapi, CA. His poetry has appeared in: Angel City Review, Mojave River Review, Altadena Poetry Review, Penumbra, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and many other places. His first chapbook, drifter, is available from Amazon. His second, hour of lead, won the 2017 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Chapbook Contest. His plays have appeared on California stages in Pine Mountain Club, Tehachapi, Bakersfield, and Hayward. He has also won cooking ribbons at the Kern County Fair.
Denise Dumars says that this poem and the Dismal Oaks Winery broadside it was published in would not have existed without s. c. virtes and the crazy wine country poems Denise and Scott decided to write after touring Temecula wine country with the best wine-tasting buddies ever: Deborah Kolodji, Naia, and Richard Potthoff. Anyone who would like a copy of the broadside please send SASE to Denise Dumars, PO Box 83, Manhattan Beach, CA 90267.
Those interested in blasting off to a distant world filled with strife and android parents are in luck: HBO Max has put the entire first episode of its new sci-fi show, Raised By Wolves, on YouTube for free.
It may have taken more than 44 years since the publication of her first-ever novel, but one of Octavia E. Butler‘s books has finally made it into the New York Times Best Seller List — something the widely-acclaimed science fiction author had envisioned for herself several years ago.
The novel to reach the list is 1993’s The Parable of the Sower, which offers an uncanny, but no less prescient glimpse at California in the early 2020s, a dystopian future where people are dealing with global climate change, as well as an economic crisis.
(3) ANTHOLOGY ROUNDUP. Mark R. Kelly, whose Science Fiction Awards Database is an incredible resource, told Facebook readers today he has expanded its usefulness in another direction: Anthologies.
Over at my science fiction awards website, sfadb.com, I have — after a year of work — greatly expanded the section about anthologies. There are now 118 pages compiling over 1400 anthologies, grouped by editor or theme and arranged chronologically, with descriptions, photos, tallies of authors and sources, and composite tables of contents. Total descriptive text on the 118 pages: about 30,000 words. There will always be more books to compile, of course, but for now I’m considering this done. Comments, corrections, and suggestions welcome.
The Constitution Illustrated(Drawn & Quarterly) is so easy to read (and inexpensive to buy) that even a man-child U.S. President might learn something about the laws, precepts and rights bequeathed to the nation he leads. R. Sikoryak, comics artist, cartoon historian and now Constitutional scholar, has drafted the styles of many of America’s great past and present comic strip artists (of all religions, creeds, genders and social backgrounds) —from Alex Raymond’s “Flash Gordon” to Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” to Alice Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” to Nicole Hollander’s “Sylvia” to Frederick Burr Opper’s “Happy Hooligan” to, whew, Art Spiegelman’s “Maus,” and many, many others.
(5) GREEN ASTRONAUT TO RED PLANET. The New York Times says now is the time to watch Away, Hilary Swank’s Martian Odyssey.
Where has Hilary Swank been the past few years? En route to Mars. This 10-episode drama stars Swank as Emma Green, the mission commander on the first manned (womanned?) mission to Mars.
In space, disaster lurks around every asteroid. Back on earth, Emma’s husband (Josh Charles) and their daughter (Talitha Bateman) face their own crises. Should Emma complete her mission or return home to care for her family? Working moms have it rough! Swank, backed by a nifty international cast, commits with her usual live-wire intensity. But the vibe remains gloomy and the heart-wringing, like the vast expanse outside the shuttle, goes on and on and on. Guess you can cry in space.
…By contrast, Frodo’s obstacles are primarily internal. He endured a lot of those same exterior challenges as Sam, but Sam did much to absorb their impact (see the Cirith Ungol rescue). Frodo’s challenges are the slow, steady erosion of a soul being asked to carry a tremendous internal darkness without being consumed by it. Everything he was became laser-focused on that monolithic spiritual and emotional task.
This is why, at the end, Frodo had to sacrifice far more than Sam. Because Sam’s primary struggle was against external forces, once those external forces were alleviated, he could go home, marry, have children, live as a functional member of his community. For Frodo, the cessation of exterior pressure could do nothing to mend the way his soul had been burning from the inside out….
…For decades, despite a booming cottage industry of Lewis biographies and endless academic theorizing about the last years of Lewis’s life, Douglas kept to himself the fact that Lewis struggled mightily to help his mentally ill stepson [David]. “We didn’t tell anybody,” he told me. “The only reason I’m releasing it now is because people should know what Jack put up with and what Warnie put up with and how heroic they were to do it at all.” It is time, he added, “that people understand what Jack and Warnie went through. Jack and Warnie didn’t know what the heck to do.”
Here’s a few ways that critique groups help you grow.
1.) Increase your output by reducing revision time.
Revision means re-vision. It’s common knowledge that all writers need distance from their work in order to see it in new ways. We all use tricks to help force along the re-vision process. We change fonts, change reading locations, read it out loud, and these will do in a pinch but there is no replacement for time.
Oh, wait. Except a literal new set of writerly eyes on your poem. This is where critique groups can help in areas that beta readers cannot: we’re all writers. When a writer sets their eyes on your draft, they are giving you a fresh look without you having to bury your poem in peat for seven months.
(9) DEFINING SPECULATIVE. Also at SPECPO, Melanie Stormm posted a three-panel infographic designed to answer the question “What Counts As Speculative?” Here is the first section –
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 4, 1966 — At Tricon in Cleveland, Ohio, Gene Roddenberry debuted Star Trek‘s “Where No Man Has Gone Before” episode. It was so well received that fans there demanded that he show them the black-and-white print he had with him of “The Cage”, the original Star Trek pilot. (Neither would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at NyCon 3 the next year as that would instead go to Trek’s “Menagerie“ episode, a reworking of “The Cage”.) Thus was born the popular legend that credits September 4th, 1966 as the true birth date of the Star Trek franchise.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 4, 1905 — Mary Renault. ISFDB only counts her Theseus series work as genre novels (The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea) by her. Is that right? I’m not familiar with her full body of work to say if that is or is not correct. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1916 – Robert A.W. “Doc” Lowndes. (Surname is one syllable, rhymes with astounds.) Founded the Stamford, Connecticut, chapter of the SF League, 1935. Edited Dynamic, Famous, Future, SF Quarterly, SF Stories; various other prozines outside our field. Founded Vanguard Records with James Blish. Four novels, fifty shorter stories, poems, under many different names. Nonfiction Three Faces of SF, The Gernsback Days (with M. Ashley), Bok (with C. Beck, H. Bok, J. Cordes, G. de la Ree, B. Indick). Guest of Honor at Lunacon 12, Boskone 10. Best-known fanzine Le Vombiteur; several more. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1998).
Born September 4, 1919 – Evelyn Copelman. After the Denslow-illustrated 1900 Wizard of Oz fell out of print, EC illustrated a 1944 ed’n showing the influence of the 1939 motion picture; then a 1947 Magical Monarch of Mo, and a further 1956 Wizard. Outside our field, many illustrations, another career in graphic design. (Died 2003)
Born September 4, 1924 — Joan Aiken. I’d unreservedly say her Wolves Chronicles were her best works. Of the many, many in that series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase featuring the characters of Bonnie Green, Sylvia Green and Simon is I think the essential work to read even though The Whispering Mountain is supposed to a prequel to the series I don’t think it’s essential reading. (Or very interesting.) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is certainly the one in the series I see stocked regularly in my local bookstores. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1928 — Dick York. He is best remembered as the first Darrin Stephens on Bewitched. He was a teen in the police station in Them!, an early SF film which is considered the very first giant bug film. He’d showed up in myriad Alfred Hitchcock Presents, several episodes of Twilight Zone and has a one-off on Fantasy Island. He voiced his character Darrin Stephens in the “Samantha” episode of The Flintstones. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born September 4, 1957 — Patricia Tallman, 63. Best known as telepath Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, a series I hold that was magnificent but ended somewhat annoyingly. She was in two episodes of Next Generation, three of Deep Space Nine and two of Voyager. She did uncredited stunt work on further episodes of the latter as she did on Voyager. H’h to the latter. Oh, and she shows up in Army of Darkness as a possessed witch. (CE)
Born September 4, 1962 – Karl Schroeder, 58. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories. With Cory Doctorow, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing SF. Essays, reviews in Analog, Bifrost (French), Locus, NY Review of SF, On Spec. Interviewed in Challenging Destiny, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed. Two Prix Aurora awards. Ventus a NY Times Notable Book. Past President of SF Canada (nat’l ass’n of SF pros). [JH]
Born September 4, 1963 – Linda Davies, 57. Six novels for us; Longbow Girl was the Mal Peet Children’s Book of the Year. Several others. Escaped, as she put it, from investment banking to write fiction, naturally including financial thrillers. [JH]
Born September 4, 1963 – Mike Scott, 57. His adventures with the much-loved fanzine PLOKTA, the Journal of Superfluous Technology (= Press Lots Of Keys To Abort), involved him with the PLOKTA Cabal, two Hugos, and notoriety as Dr. Plokta. Chaired CUSFS (Cambridge Univ. SF Soc.) and led the successful bid to hold Loncon 3 (72nd Worldcon). Married the horsewoman and fan Flick, another cabalist. [JH]
Born September 4, 1972 — Françoise Yip, 48. She was a remarkably extensive career in genre productions including Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda, Caprica, Fringe, Robocop: Prime Directives, Seven Days, Flash Gordon, Smallville, Millennium, Arrow and Sanctuary. Genre casting directors obviously like her. (CE)
Born September 4, 1973 – Jennifer Povey, 47. Seven novels, forty shorter stories; role-playing games. Horsewoman. Ranks The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress above Level 7, with which I agree. Collection, The Silent Years. [JH]
Born September 4, 1975 — Kai Owen, 45. Best known for portrayal of Rhys Williams in Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off I stopped watching after the first two series. He reprised his character in the Big Audio and BBC audio dramas. (CE)
(12) BOSEMAN TRIBUTE. Following the passing of Chadwick Boseman last week, the late actor has now been honored with a new piece designed by Ryan Meinerding, Head of Visual Development for Marvel Studios.
… Having affirmed its place in the firmament of animated classics, Mulan could have enjoyed a nice retirement. But Disney as it exists now is not content to let things rest, and so—after tackling live-action remakes of Cinderella,Beauty and the Beast,Aladdin, and Alice in Wonderland—they turned their necromancy to Mulan. Only, certain mores and cultural interests have changed in the last 22 years, meaning Disney didn’t feel quite comfortable simply literalizing the 1998 film, talking dragon and musical numbers and all. Instead, they wanted a big action epic in the style of many huge movies that have come out of the Chinese film industry, only directed by a New Zealander, Niki Caro.
Caro directed the lovely New Zealand coming-of-age tale Whale Rider, which earned its young star, Keisha Castle-Hughes, an Oscar nomination for best actress. In that way, she was a fine pick for Mulan, another coming-of-age story about a headstrong young woman bucking the rigid gender norms of her place and time. In other ways—being that Caro is not from China or of Chinese descent—her hiring rang alarm bells. Disney had to proceed carefully, not wanting to tarnish valuable I.P. or create a cultural blowback that would put its corporate progressiveness under the microscope.
What has resulted from all that needle threading is a movie, out on Disney+ on September 4, that’s been managed to death. The new Mulan is a sweeping action movie with lots of cool fight choreography, and yet it never musters up a sense of awe. Even the loathsome Beauty and the Beast remake was not this bland and perfunctory; that film at least had the darkly electrifying jolt of its awfulness. Mulan is not awful. It’s just inert, a lifeless bit of product that will probably neither satisfy die-hards nor enrapture an entire new generation of fans.
Although I first encountered Jeff VanderMeer through the excellent anthologies he co-edits with his wife Ann, he’s better known for his fiction. His Southern Reach Trilogy and Ambergris novels are both beloved by fans of weird fiction. Borne is the first in a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic city where people scavenge for biotechnological creations that have escaped into the wild while trying to evade a giant flying bear. No, that was not a typo, there really is a giant flying bear. His name is Mord….
You’ll need a D20 dice and the table below. Take the sentence “I believe that the science in science fiction should be X and Y” and replace X and Y with entries from the table, rolling the dice twice to get your exciting new take on the discussion….
(16) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Brad Bird (Maltin on Movies — Brad Bird). Bird explained that he first visited Disney in 1968, when he was 11. Three years later, he sent them a 15-minute animated film. This was a time when character animation was at its low point, where the only studio producing character animation was Disney, who produced one film every three years. Most of the animators who started working with Disney in the 1930s were still active 30 years later, but they realized they had no successors, so Bird was recruited. He discusses his apprenticeship with the great animator Milt Kahl and then went on to study at Cal Arts, where the one class for character animators met in the basement in room A113. Bird has remained friends with many of the students in that class, including Henry Selick, Tim Burton, and John Musker, and sticks “A113” as an Easter egg in all of his films. Also discussed: what Bird did for “The Simpsons,” and his surprise at being drawn as the villain Syndrome in The Incredibles.
(17) ASK NASA. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will hold a community town hall meeting with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and his leadership team at 12 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 10, to discuss updates to NASA’s science program and the current status of NASA activities.
Members of the science community, academia, the media, and the public are invited to participate by joining at the link here. (If prompted, please use event number 199 074 4251, followed by event password Zk4n3G48gbd.)
Users must provide their first and last name and organization and can submit their own questions or vote up questions submitted by others. The meeting leaders will try to answer as many of the submitted questions as possible.
Presentation materials will be available for download and a recording will be available later that day here.
(18) L. RON HUBBARD, COMMANDING. [Item by Dann.] I came across something interesting via one of my regular YouTube channels; The History Guy. THG is prepared by an actual history professor.
In this case, he was offering a window into the history of WWII vintage anti-submarine ships of the US Navy.
One of those ships, PC-815, reportedly engaged with a pair of Japanese submarines just off the northwestern coast of the United States. The sub-chasers expended all of their depth charges and had called in two blimps in pursuit of the two submarines.
In his lengthy and quite descriptive after-action report, the captain of the PC-815 claimed to have positively sunk one of the submarines and damaged the other. The after-action reports of the other US Navy air and sea vessel commanders involved in the chase did not support that claim.
Shortly thereafter, the PC-815 was diverted from coastal defense duty and was assigned to escort a ship down to San Diego for final outfitting. Upon arrival, the captain of the PC-815 had the ship moored off of some area islands and decided to conduct some nighttime gunnery exercises using those islands as targets. The islands belonged to Mexico and were defended by an installation of Mexican army soldiers.
Shortly thereafter, the captain of the ship, one L. Ron Hubbard, was removed from command and reassigned to other…non-command….duties.
If you want to skip to the part about Hubbard, it’s at the 12:33 mark of the video.
Other links are to the ever-questionable Wikipedia. Those pages seem to match up well with other sites that aren’t affiliated with the Scientology folks.
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —
When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”
At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.
(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.
… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.
(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.
…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.
And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.
What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:
If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.
R.F. KUANG, ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW SF WRITER
This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:
Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.
JEANNETTE NG, BEST RELATED WORK
That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins
Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.
CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.
There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….
(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.
…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.
Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.
Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….
I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.
[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….
Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:
… It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.
August 1, 1986 — Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers. George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten. John Clute would includeThe Confidence-Man. (Died 1891) [JH]
Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff. I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too. The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema. I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that? (Died 1953) [JH]
Born August 1, 1910 — Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier. Oh, how great he was. Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots. We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire. Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds. World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 1, 1923 — Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1930 — Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75. Author, editor, critic, long-time fan. Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb. Three short stories and a novelette. Contributor to Banana Wings, Chunga, Flag, Foundation, Journey Planet, The Metaphysical Review, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, SF Eye. Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire. [JH]
Born August 1, 1954 — James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”. (CE)
Born August 1, 1955 — Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51. Five dozen covers, a score of interiors. Here is Sucker Punch. Here is Empire Dreams. Here is Nova 23. Here is his Website. [JH]
Born August 1, 1979 — Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27. Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers. Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award. Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil. Website here. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.
(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.
(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.
A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.
(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.
My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.
A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.
Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.
“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”
Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Nasa‘s Marsspacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.
The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.
But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.
The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.
The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.
Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.
Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring
(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.
…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.
The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…
The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.
…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.
The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.
This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.
“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”
The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.
The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.
The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing: Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix. (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
There are the really obvious ways to torch your career — rudeness to editors, for instance. And then there are the hidden trap doors. The one I am going to reveal today is truly obscure. It could be broadly described as meddling with the publication process. More specifically, you can enrage the publisher’s sales reps. Kill your book dead in one easy step! …
(2) AND DON’T BE THAT POET. F.J. Bergmann wrote and Melanie Stormm designed “How To Piss Off A Poetry Editor” for readers of SPECPO, the blog of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Here’s the header —
(3) KGB READINGS ONLINE. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Benjamin Rosenbaum and Mike Allen Wednesday, July 15 in a YouTube livestream event. Starts at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Benjamin Rosenbaum’s short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, BSFA, Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards, and collected in The Ant King and Other Stories. His first novel, The Unraveling, a far-future comedy of manners and social unrest, comes out this October from Erewhon Books. His tabletop roleplaying game of Jewish historical fantasy in the shtetl, Dream Apart, was nominated for an Ennie Award. He lives near Basel, Switzerland with his family.
Mike Allen has twice been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His horror tales are gathered in the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated collection Unseaming, and in his newest book, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident. His novella The Comforter, sequel to his Nebula Award-nominated story “The Button Bin,” just appeared in the anthology A Sinister Quartet. By day, he writes the arts column for The Roanoke (Va.) Times.
Transmitted herewith are excerpts from statements provided by members of the Barsky family regarding the incident with Hayden Barsky, age 11.
The true origins of KHAOS remain unknown….
It was published along with a response essay, “How Not to Optimize Parenthood” by Brigid Schulte, director of the Better Life Lab and author of the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, & Play When No One Has the Time.
Most parents are well-intentioned. We try to do the right thing, hoping to spare our children at least a measure of the pain or heartache we muddled through, to smooth the rough edges of life and give them every advantage to make it in an uncertain and often cruel world.
That’s at least the hope. In practice, no one really knows how to do that. So, particularly in America, where “winning” and the self-improvement dictate to “beat yesterday” are akin to sacred commandments, we have always turned to the experts for help. What does the science say? What are the neighbors doing? What book or podcast or shiny gadget will instantly make my child’s life easier? More joyful? Miraculous? And, perhaps most importantly, better than your kid’s?…
(5) LOCKDOWN MOVIE. “Quarantine Without Ever Meeting” – Vanity Fair profiles the filmmakers. Tagline: “The actors set up lights, did their own makeup, and ran the cameras. The filmmakers advised on Zoom. Somehow…it worked.”
…While Hollywood is struggling to figure out if it’s possible to make a feature-length movie in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, this group of independent filmmakers and actors have already done it. “The whole movie has been written, produced, packaged, shot within quarantine. Now we’re in postproduction, and I had a first cut of the whole film done on Friday,” said director and cowriter Simon. As The Untitled Horror Movie nears completion, its producers are finally announcing the secret project and seeking a distributor. It appears to be the first movie created entirely within the parameters of the lockdown.
The horror comedy is about a group of needy and desperate young stars from a once-popular TV series who learn, via video conference, that their show has just been canceled. Fearing obscurity, they decide to stay in the spotlight by making a quickie horror film—but while shooting it, they perform a ritual that accidentally invokes an actual demonic spirit. Mayhem follows. “We kind of described it going into it as Scream meets For Your Consideration,” Simon said.
The card had been around since 1994, tagged “Invoke Prejudice” by the world’s most popular trading card game. It showed figures in white robes and pointed hoods — an image that evoked the Ku Klux Klan for many people.This month, the company behind “Magic: The Gathering” permanently banned that card and six others carrying labels like “Jihad” and “Pradesh Gypsies.” Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of toy giant Hasbro, acknowledged the images were “racist or culturally offensive.”
“There’s no place for racism in our game, nor anywhere else,” the company said in a statement announcing its action.
With the country roiled by tensions and protests over African Americans’ deaths at the hands of police, the issues entangling Magic and its creators are unlikely to subside soon. The fantasy game of goblins, elves, spells and more boasts some 20 million players, and in pre-pandemic times, thousands flocked to elite international tournaments with hefty prizes. Players of color say they have long felt excluded in the white- and male-dominated community from the game’s top echelons, as well as employment at the company….
(7) WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. “A Better World ?” seems to be a kind of text-based game letting players choose among “Uchronies,” a French term that partakes of alternate history but is more fantastic in nature. I racked up a lot of karma in a hurry, sad to say.
I am monolingual, which limits me to reading works in English. One of the joys of this modern, interconnected world in which we’re living is that any speculative fiction work written in another language could (in theory) be translated into English. One of my frustrations is that, generally speaking, they haven’t been. Here are five works about which I know enough to know that I’d read them if only they were translated….
(9) I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. Olav Rokne says, “Sometimes, you just want to ask the question nobody wants.” He passed along some of the hilarious responses.
(10) CARL REINER OBIT. The creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” died June 29 at the age of 98. The duo won a Grammy in 1998 for their The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. (The New York Times eulogy is here.)
He shared the lead in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and appeared in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He directed numerous movies, including several starring Steve Martin. In recent years he voiced characters in several genre animated TV shows — and Carl Reineroceros in Toy Story 4.
John King Tarpinian remembers:
He is not genre but his passing reminds me of the good old days. Back in the 80s, I was president of the largest Atari club consortium in the US. One of the members owned the Vine Street Bar & Grill. It was between Hollywood & Sunset. The first Wednesday of the month the guest jazz singer was Estelle Reiner. Ron Berinstein, club member and club owner invited me to come on Estelle’s nights to make sure the club was always full. The first time I went her husband, Carl, was also there. I learned that he always came…and that he’d have friends join them. Over the years everybody from Sid Caesar, Buck Henry, Neil Simon, Dick Van Dyke, Mel Brooks & more.
During Estelle’s break between sets Carl & whomever was also there would get up and entertain. Carl & Mel would do their 2000 Year Old Man routine but not the Ed Sullivan version but the version they’d do a parties. My ribs would be sore the next morning from laughing so hard.
Sid Caesar would come to Ray Bradbury’s plays. Imagine somebody being able to upstage Ray…who also would be laughing so hard.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 30, 1971 — Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. Based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel, it was directed by Mel Stuart, and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. The screenplay was by Roald Dahl and David Seltzer. It featured Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka with a supporting cast of Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone and Denise Nickerson. Some critics truly loved it while others loathed it. It currently holds an 87% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adamms Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1929 – Anie Linard, 91. Active from France, herself and with Jean Linard, in the 1950s and 1960s; fanzines Innavigable Mouth, Meuh, Vintkat, X-trap. Voted in the 1958 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) campaign. She was, like many of us, a correspondent of Ned Brooks. I have not traced her more recently than June 1962. Anie, if you see this, salut! [JH]
Born June 30, 1935 – Jon Stopa, 85. Active with Advent publishing house, half a dozen covers including In Search of Wonder, The Eighth Stage of Fandom, and The Issue at Hand. Three stories in Astounding. Program Book for Chicon III the 20th Worldcon, and cover for its Proceedings; with wife Joni, Fan Guests of Honor at Chicon V the 49th, where I think they were in some of the Madeira tastings I assembled when I found four or five D’Oliveiras in the hotel bar. The Stopas were (Joni has left the stage) also great costumers, both as entrants and judges; there’s a YouTube of their work here. [JH]
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 61. Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 59. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 – Nigel Rowe, 59. Published Timeless Sands history of New Zealand fandom, then moved to Chicago. Here is a 1994 photo of him with Russell Chauvenet (who coined the word fanzine) at Corflu 11 in Virginia. A 2019 photo of him is on p. 47 of Random Jottings 20 (PDF), the Proceedings of Corflu 36 in Maryland; he’s also on the cover (back right; you may be able to make out his badge “Nigel”). Very helpful relaying paper fanzines across the seas. [JH]
Born June 30, 1961 – carl juarez, 59. No capital letters in his name. Co-edited the fanzine Apparatchik with Andy Hooper (from Apak 62), later Chunga with Hooper and Randy Byers. Here is his cover for Chunga 8. He’s on the right of the cover for Chunga 17 (PDF). Chunga credited cj as designer, the results being indeed fine. He, Byers, and Hooper were such a tripod that with Byers’ death, Chunga tottered; should it fall, may cj find his feet. [JH]
Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 57. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The Moth, Twelve Monkeys, Krypton and Return of the Saint. (CE)
Born June 30, 1966 – Penny Watson, 54. Degrees in plant taxonomy, horticultural science, biology, and floral design; “there is nothing better than getting up in the morning, heading out to your garden and picking fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, cukes, and arugula greens for breakfast.” Obsessed with dachshunds. Has trained dolphins, coached field hockey and lacrosse. Nat’l Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. Eight novels, five of them and a novella for us. [JH]
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 54. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. (CE)
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 48. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn. (CE)
Born June 30, 1974 – Juli Zeh, 46. A dozen novels so far, three for us. Deutscher Bücherpreis, Solothurner Literaturpreis; doctorate in international law, honorary judge at the Brandenburg constitutional court. About Schilf (“reed”, name of a character – likewise an English surname), translated into English as Dark Matter (London) and In Free Fall (New York), when a Boston Globe interviewer asked “Are you asking the reader to reconsider the nature of reality?” JZ answered “Yes, I want to take the reader on an intellectual journey”; to “Can a novel of ideas be written today, without irony?” JZ answered “As long as mankind doesn’t lose its curiosity to think about the miracles of being.” [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur shows us the first science fiction writer — and true Hard SF, even as to the medium it’s composed on.
Today’s Bizarro is not an SF comic, but one with good advice for the privileged rich kid starting a literary career.
…With that said, there’s another aspect of it, too, which I think I’ve been minimizing: it’s not just time on social media, it’s engagement when I am on it, and how social media is making me feel when I use it. The term “doomscrolling” refers to how people basically suck down fountains of bad news on their social media thanks to friends (and others) posting things they’re outraged about. It’s gotten to the point for me where, particularly on Twitter, it feels like it’s almost all doomscrolling, all the time, whether I want it to be or not.
…The BLM movement are not terrorists. They are not thugs. They are peaceful protesters, marching against industrial discrimination and system-entrenched bigotry. The demonstrators have actually caught looters and rioters and delivered them to the police.
It doesn’t matter how much the limousine-liberals preach equality if there are no serious efforts to redress the grievances of the disadvantaged.
If we truly are all in this together, then it behooves all of us to reach out to each other and create partnerships and opportunities. This isn’t preferential treatment. It’s a necessary bit of repair work to a damaged genre.
If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t take steps, if we don’t address it, then we are guilty of complicity. If the racism of the past was a product of its time, then let our attempts to redress the situation be a product of our time.
… These sets are up for preorder now from Lego at $59.99 and are set to ship on April 19.
Stormtrooper Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
Boba Fett Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
TIE Fighter Pilot Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
With the Stormtrooper, you’re getting a 647-piece helmet-building set, complete with the blacked-out visor, two nodes on the bottom for speaking and stickers to complete the look. Similarly, the Boba Fett helmet will let you pay homage to the original Mandalorian. This set is 21 centimeters tall (a little over 8 inches) and has 625 pieces. You’ll be constructing each detail of the helmet, including the fold-down viewfinder that lets Boba easily track down his targets. (He is a bounty hunter, after all.)
This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Chris Smither, “Henry David Thoreau” riffing on (same tune) Berry’s song. Oddly, even incomprehensibly, I find NO mention of it anywhere via DuckDuckGo nor Google, even though I’ve heard Smither sing it numerous times. (I also checked his discography.
It turns out that, while I have heard Chris Smither sing this song, he wasn’t the author. That was Paul Geremia, one of Boston/Cambridge’s wonderful acoustic blues musicians.
The song is on his Self Portrait In Blues album. (And on my ~2,800-song Spotify playlist, which is how, when it came around again this morning on the guitar, as it were, I realized my mistake.)
Flying snakes like Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, normally live in the trees of South and Southeast Asia. There, they cruise along tree branches and, sometimes, to get to the ground or another tree, they’ll launch themselves into the air and glide down at an angle.
They undulate their serpentine bodies as they glide through the air, and it turns out that these special movements are what let these limbless creatures make such remarkable flights.
That’s according to some new research in the journal Nature Physics that involved putting motion-capture tags on seven snakes and then filming them with high-speed cameras as the snakes flew across a giant four-story-high theater.
How far they can go really depends on how high up they are when they jump, says Jake Socha at Virginia Tech, who has studied these snakes for almost a quarter-century. He recalls that one time he watched a snake start from about 30 feet up and then land nearly 70 feet away. “It was really a spectacular glide,” Socha recalls.
Part of the way the snakes do this is by flattening out their bodies, he says. But the snakes’ bodies also make wavelike movements. “The snake looks like it’s swimming in the air,” he says. “And when it’s swimming, it’s undulating.”
The nation’s largest movie theater chain is delaying its U.S. reopening until the end of July because film companies have postponed release dates of two anticipated blockbusters.
AMC Theatres announced that a first round of approximately 450 locations will resume operations two weeks later than initially planned, to coincide with the updated August release dates of Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan.
“Our theatre general managers across the U.S. started working full time again today and are back in their theatres gearing up to get their buildings fully ready just a few weeks from now for moviegoers,” CEO Adam Aron said in a June 29 statement. “That happy day, when we can welcome guests back into most of our U.S. theatres, will be Thursday, July 30.”
The company said it expects its more than 600 U.S. theaters to be “essentially to full operation” by early August.
AMC Theatres made headlines earlier this month when it announced patrons will be required to wear masks, reversing course on a controversial reopening plan that had only encouraged them to do so.
For the first time, the familiar marble faces outside the New York Public Library will be obscured by masks.
Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion sculptures guarding the 42nd Street library, are wearing face coverings to remind New Yorkers to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The masks arrived on June 29, and measure three feet wide by two feet tall, according to a library statement.
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx emphasized the symbolism of the aptly named lions, and said New Yorkers are similarly strong and resilient.
(22) NEVERENDING SENDUP. The Screen Junkies continue their look at oldies with an “Honest Trailer” for The Neverending Story, where they show that gloomy Germans created “a world of neverending misery.” They discovered that star Noah Hathaway subsequently played Harry Potter Jr. in Troll (1986) with Michael Moriarty playing Harry Potter Sr.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to wandering minstrel of the day Cliff.]