[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top
books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the
Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter
Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Congratulations to Seanan McGuire and Colson Whitehead, whose
books received Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to
And also of genre interest, the Young Adult winner of the Asian/Pacific
American Award for Literature is They Called Us Enemy, written by George
Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker.
A list of all the 2020 award winners follows:
John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
written by Jerry Craft, illustrated by the author and published by
HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
Newbery Honor Books
written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and published by
Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;
Stories for Young Foxes,
written by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu and published by
Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group;
Words for Home,
written by Jasmine Warga and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of
written by Alicia D. Williams and published by Atheneum Books for Young
Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a
Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The book was written by Kwame Alexander and
published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Caldecott Honor Books
Came Along, illustrated
by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris and published by Little, Brown and
Company, a division of Hachette Book Group;
illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney and published by
Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Children’s Books, a division of
Penguin Random House LLC;
Down Home with Daddy,
illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons and published by
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African-American
author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:
written by Jerry Craft, is the King Author Book winner. The book is illustrated
by the author and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of
King Author Honor Books
Stars and the Blackness Between Them, written by Junauda Petrus and published by Dutton Books, an
imprint of Penguin Random House LLC;
Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, written by Kwame Mbalia and published by Disney-Hyperion, an
imprint of Disney Book Group;
Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, written by Jason Reynolds and published by Atheneum Books for
Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The book is written by Kwame Alexander and
published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
King Illustrator Honor Books
illustrated by James E. Ransome, written by the illustrator and published by
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s
Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book;
Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace, illustrated by Ashley Bryan,
written by the illustrator and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers,
an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn
Sulwe, illustrated by Vashti Harrison,
written by Lupita Nyong’o and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young
Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:
Genesis Begins Again, written by Alicia D. Williams.The book is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award:
What Is Given from the Heart, illustrated by April Harrison. The book is written by Patricia C. McKissack and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime
award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author
Born in Mississippi in 1943 and raised in Ohio, Taylor resides
in Colorado. “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” won the 1977 Newbery Award and a
Coretta Scott King Book Award honor.
Taylor received the international 2003 inaugural NSK Neustadt
Prize for Children’s Literature. Her books earned national recognition
including four CSK author awards and two author honors. Her 2020 Logan family
series conclusion “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” continues
addressing systemic injustice, entrenched inequality and the roots of racism.
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for
Dig, written by A.S. King. The book
is published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young
Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.
Printz Honor Books
written by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano and published by Godwin
Books/Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary
Valero-O’Connell and published by First Second/Macmillan Children’s Publishing
Hazards: A Memoir,
written by Nikki Grimes and published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills
the World Ends,
written by Geraldine McCaughrean and published by Flatiron Books, an imprint of
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic
expression of the disability experience:
Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, written by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López and
published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, wins the
award for young children (ages 0 to 10).
Honor book for Young Children
Friend for Henry,
written by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song and published by Chronicle
for a Whale,
written by Lynne Kelly and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random
House Children’s Book, a division of Penguin Random House LLC,
Honor book for middle grades
written by Pablo Cartaya and published by Kokila Penguin Young Readers Group,
an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Cursed, written by Karol Ruth
Silverstein and published by Charlesbridge
Honor book for teens
Silence Between Us,
written by Alison Gervais and published by Blink.
Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen
Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, By C.A. Fletcher, Published by Orbit, a division of Hachette
You Dream of Terra-Two?
By Temi Oh, Published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon &
Dominicana, By Angie Cruz, Published by
Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers
Queer: A Memoir,
By Maia Kobabe, Published by Lion Forge, an imprint of Oni Press
By Sara Quin and Tegan Quin, Published by MCD, a division of Farrar, Straus and
Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers
By AJ Dungo, Published by Nobrow
Middlegame, By Seanan McGuire, Published
by Tor.com Publishing, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of
By Colson Whitehead, Published by Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House
White & Royal Blue By
Casey McQuiston, Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, a division of St. Martin’s
Publishing Group, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers
By Lisa Lutz, Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a
division of Penguin Random House
Children’s Literature Legacy Award honors an author or illustrator
whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years,
a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books
that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and
2020 winner is Kevin Henkes, whose award-winning works include “Kitten’s
First Full Moon” which won the Caldecott Award in 2005 and “The Year of Billy
Miller,” recipient of a Newbery Honor in 2014. In addition, Henkes has received
two Geisel honors, two Caldecott honors and a second Newbery honor.
Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing
for young adults:
2020 winner is Steve Sheinkin. His books include: “Bomb: The Race to
Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon,” “The Port Chicago 50:
Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights,” and “The Notorious Benedict
Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery,” all published by
Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and
“Lincoln’s Grave Robbers,” published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of
2020 ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic,
librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, who then presents a
lecture at a winning host site.
Rudine Sims Bishop
will deliver the 2021 Children’s Literature Lecture. Dr. Sims Bishop, Professor
Emerita at The Ohio State University, has served on numerous noteworthy
committees for ALA and other organizations, and has been recognized with
prestigious awards for her work. Her research, writing, and teaching have
informed and expanded conversations about representation of African Americans
in children’s literature and provided a critical framework for research and
pedagogy. Her essay, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” is
not only cited globally, it has inspired shifts in publishing, teaching, and
the inclusion of authentic, diverse voices in literature for children and
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book originally published in a
language other than English in a country other than the United States, and
subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States:
Brown. Originally published in
Norwegian as “Brune,” the book was written by Håkon Øvreås, illustrated by
Øyvind Torseter, translated by Kari Dickson and published by Enchanted Lion
published by Godwin Books/Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s
Publishing Group, written by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuta Onoda and
translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano;
Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, written by Paola Peretti,
illustrated by Carolina Rabei, translated from the Italian by Denise Muir;
published by Enchanted Lion Books, written by Jens Raschke, illustrated by Jens
Rassmus, translated from the German by Belinda Cooper; and
Spring Comes to the DMZ,
published by Plough Publishing House, written by Uk-Bae Lee, illustrated by the
author, translated from the Korean by Chungyon Won and Aileen Won.
Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults,
available in English in the United States:
Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, produced by Scholastic
Audiobooks. The book is written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and narrated by the
author, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, Richard Ferrone and a full cast.
Odyssey Honor Audiobooks
produced by Hachette Audio, written by K.A. Holt and narrated by Cassandra
Morris and Tessa Netting;
for a Whale,
produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio
Publishing Group, written by Lynne Kelly and narrated by Abigail Revasch with
Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,
produced by Live Oak Media, written by Traci Sorell and narrated by Lauren
Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell, Tonia
Not from Here,
produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio
Publishing Group, written by Geoff Rodkey and narrated by Dani Martineck.
Pura Belpré Awards honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books
best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López.
The book was written by Margarita Engle and published by Atheneum Books for
Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Belpré Illustrator Honor Books
illustrated by Carlos Aponte, written by the illustrator and published by
Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC;
Papi Has a Motorcycle,
illustrated by Zeke Peña, written by Isabel Quintero and published by Kokila,
an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC; and
Let’s Go to the Market,
illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, written by the author and published by Versify,
an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez, is the Pura Belpré Author Award
winner. The book is published by Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book
Belpré Author Honor Books
written by Angela Cervantes and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of
Other Half of Happy,
written by Rebecca Balcárcel and published by Chronicle Books;
Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, written by Anika Aldamuy
Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar and published by HarperCollins Children’s
Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers;
for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War, written by Duncan Tonatiuh,
illustrated by the author and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an
imprint of ABRAMS.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished
informational book for children:
Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana
Martinez-Neal. The book is published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of
Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings.
Sibert Honor Books
in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World, written by Lori Alexander, illustrated
by Vivien Mildenberger and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;
Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality, written by Jo Ann Allen Boyce
and Debbie Levy and published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books;
Hazards: A Memoir,
written by Nikki Grimes and published by WordSong, an imprint of Highlights;
written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis and published by Neal Porter
Books, Holiday House.
The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is given to a digital
media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early
produced by PBS Kids.
Seek, produced by iNaturalist, and
of Matter by
Tinybop, produced by Tinybop, Inc.
Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s
& Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult
books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and
Aidan Became a Brother,
written by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita and published by Lee
& Low Books Inc.
written by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar and published by Hodder
Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group, part of Hodder and
Pet, written by Akwaeke Emezi and
published by Make Me a World, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a
division of Penguin Random House LLC;
a Love Story,
written by Abdi Nazemian and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of
Best at It,
written by Maulik Pancholy and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most
distinguished beginning reader book is:
written and illustrated by James Yang. The book is published by Viking, Penguin
Geisel Honor Books
and Brain: Smell My Foot!
written and illustrated by Cece Bell and published by Candlewick Press;
Is Not a Good Pet!
written and illustrated by J. E. Morris and published by Penguin Workshop, an
imprint of Penguin Random House; and
written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli and published by Disney-Hyperion, an
imprint of Disney Book Group.
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for
Field Guide to the North American Teenager, written by Ben Philippe. The book is published
by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Other finalists for the award:
Candle and the Flame, written
by Nafiza Azad and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of
in Love, written
by David Yoon and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers,
an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House;
Begins Again, written
by Alicia D. Williams and published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, an
imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; and
Will Come a Darkness, written
by Katy Rose Pool and published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan
Children’s Publishing Group.
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:
written by Rex Ogle. The book is published by Norton Young Readers, an imprint
of W.W. Norton & Company.
Other finalists for the award:
Great Nijinsky: God of Dance, written and illustrated by Lynn Curlee and published by
Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust, written by Albert Marrin and
published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a
division of Penguin Random House;
Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II, written by Elizabeth Wein and
published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; and
The True Story of the World War II Sinking of ‘The Children’s Ship’, written by Deborah Heiligman
and published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. The award promotes Asian/Pacific
American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic
The Picture Book winner
of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom, written by Teresa Robeson, illustrated
by Rebecca Huang and published by Sterling Children’s Books.
Picture Book honor title:
written by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed and published by Salaam
Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon &
Schuster Children’s Publishing.
Children’s Literature winner:
Stargazing, written by Jen Wang and
published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
Children’s literature honor title:
Ok, written by Patti Kim
and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon &
Schuster Children’s Publishing.
Young Adult Literature winner
Called Us Enemy,
written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, illustrated by
Harmony Becker and published by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW
Young Adult Literature honor title:
written by David Yoon and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of
Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and
teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.
Picture Book winner:
Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for
Generations to Come,
by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst and published by Paula Wiseman Books,
an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Picture Book honor books
by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates and published by Abrams Books
for Young Readers,
Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music, by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer and published by
Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.
Middle Grade winner
Bird: A Wonder Story, by
R. J. Palacio and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random
Middle Grade honor books
and the Dragon,
by Sofiya Pasternack and published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin
of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the
1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany, by Andrew Maraniss and published by Philomel Books, an imprint
of Penguin Random House.
Young Adult winner
We Will Fly,
by Rachel DeWoskin and published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint
of Penguin Random House.
Young Adult honor books
on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work, by Victoria Ortiz and published
by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and
Kids in Love,
by Hannah Moskowitz and published by Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled
American Indian Youth Literature award is announced in even years and
established to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by
and about American Indians.
Picture Book winner
Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi’idim, written by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe), translated into
Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation), illustrated by Jonathan
Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe) and published by the Minnesota Historical Society
Picture Book Honor titles
Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation, Mekusukey
Band), illustrated by Juana Martínez-Neal (Peruvian-American) and published by
Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan;
Birdsong, written and illustrated by
Julie Flett (Cree-Métis) and published by Greystone Kids;
the Mountain’s Base,
written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
(Tongva/Scots-Gaelic), and published by Kokila / Penguin Random House;
Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,
written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Frané Lessac, and published
by Charlesbridge; and
Makes the Aleutians,
adapted from a traditional Tlingit story and illustrated by Janine Gibbons
(Haida, Raven of the Double-Finned Killer Whale clan, Brown Bear House) and
published by Sealaska Heritage.
Middle Grade Book winner
written by Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande
Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee), cover art by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake
Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek), published by Tu Books / Lee & Low.
Middle Grade Book Honor titles
Can Make This Promise,
written by Christine Day (Upper Skagit), with cover art by Michaela Goade
(Tlingit, Kiks.ádi clan, Steel House), published by HarperCollins; and
Grizzly Mother, written
by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (“Brett D. Huson,” Gitxsan), illustrated by Natasha Donovan
(Métis Nation of British Columbia), and published by Highwater Press.
Young Adult Book winner
written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) and published by Candlewick Press.
Young Adult Book Honor
written by Tasha Spillett (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian), illustrated by Natasha Donovan
(Métis Nation of British Columbia), and published by Highwater Press;
Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela
Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk), published by
Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, written by Debbie Reese (Nambé
Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,
published by Beacon Press; and
in the Middle,
written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) and published by North
Dakota State University Press.
(1) A CENTURY OF THE GOOD DOCTOR. This week Asimov would have been 100. James Gunn marked the
occasion in an article for Science “Asimov at 100”.
A case can be made that, like H. G. Wells, Asimov came along at the right time. (Wells once commented that he made his writing debut in the 1890s, when the public was looking for new writers.) But Asimov also had a restless and productive mind. His early experience of reading, and then writing, science fiction gave his popular science writing a rare narrative model, while his fiction similarly benefited from his scientific training.
(2) NOW A JOURNALISTIC TECHNIQUE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Columbia Journalism Review, in “Journalism and the foreseeable future”, takes note of the trend in mainstream publishing to look at contemporaneous and emerging issues through the lens of science fiction. It’s a welcome trend that is producing excellent work we’ve seen featured on the Pixel Scroll several times, and I’m very glad to see this getting attention within journalistic circles.
Despite its dangers, [Sam] Greenspan sees the value of speculative journalism’s mix of the true and the fanciful. “I think the goal should be to use fiction or sci-fi to tell a better true story,” he says. “And I’m taking seriously the kind of emotional impact these stories have on people. By introducing even just the slightest amount of something fantastical, it gives your audience permission to have their minds wander a bit from what we know to be true, and really opens up this window into possibility and hope.”
(3) GUD LISTENING. On the latest Rite Gud podcast R.S. Benedict’s guest is Stephen Mazur, associate editor
at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. They talk about
whether or not originality really matters in writing. Stephen also gets into a
bit of inside baseball regarding F&SF publishing: the recent history
of the magazine, how many submissions they get, what kind of submissions they get,
the process, etc.
(4) ROMANCE WRANGLERS BEWARE. Who but Chuck Tingle would
add “no sex” as a selling point? Or need to?
Gorblin Crimble is an aspiring romance author with a brand new novel that could be his first breakthrough hit. Of course, Gorblin is going to need some help getting his work out there, and starts by seeking likeminded creatives.
After attending a local writer’s group, Gorblin makes a new friend, Amber, who points him towards Romance Wranglers Of America. It sounds like this community is exactly the helpful, loving, supportive group that Gorblin is looking for, but when him and Amber arrive at the Romance Wranglers Of America headquarters, they quickly realize something is wrong. This once loving group has been taken over by a dark and mysterious force; lead by a man named Demon and his chanting coven of board members in jet-black robes.
Something horrible from the depths of the cosmic Void has taken hold, but is it too late to prove that romance is about love, not hate?
This important no-sex tale is 4,300 words of reasonable writers looking for a kind and supportive romance community that respects its members and treats them fairly.
Jason Sanford: I suspect most people in the SF/F genre don’t understand the difficulties of publishing a magazine. What’s one aspect of running a genre magazine you wish more readers and writers knew about?
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas: We think it’s important that people know the financial margins for magazines to stay in the black are razor thin, and that most of the magazines are unable to generate income for their publishers. (And many aren’t able to pay the editors.) Almost all of the income generated by magazines are going to the writers and artists….
Jason Sanford: Amazing Stories was the first science fiction magazine, and helped launch the pulp fiction era of the 1920s and ’30s. What is it like publishing a magazine with such history? Has that history presented any difficulties to your relaunch of the magazine?
Steve Davidson: Well, you get unexpected support and assistance; a lot of people in the field are still very fond of both the magazine and its place in Science Fiction’s history. But that brings with it two difficulties. One, most younger fans among our potential market seem to assume that we’re publishing reprints of older works or new works in a golden-age style, despite the fact that promotion and discussion of the magazine – let alone our contributor’s own statements – clearly say otherwise. We’re an old, venerable name in the genre publishing new, ground-breaking science fiction from the current era. …
Jason: In many ways Clarkesworld helped birth the current movement in online and genre magazines. How have things changed since the founding of Clarkesworld? Would you say it’s harder or easier to run a genre magazine these days?
Neil: It was a very different world for magazines in 2006. Online fiction wasn’t particularly respected. I remember having established authors tell me point-blank they wouldn’t publish online because it was the domain of “newbie writers and pirates.” The year’s best anthologies and various genre awards rarely featured works from those markets. With two-to-three years, that started changing and today, the awards have heavily swung the other direction – something you could reasonably argue is just as problematic….
When Don Ashby caught a lift through town on Tuesday afternoon, he counted as many as 20 properties destroyed. One was his mother-in-law’s mudbrick cottage. Another was his own home of 20 years.
Ashby had evacuated his family to Melbourne and spent Monday night helping a friend to defend her house.
It had been an exhausting night and morning, punctuated by the rapid combustion of gas cylinders at a nearby storage business.
“It was like we were in the middle of the battle of the Somme,” he said.
When he returned to his own home, it looked unscathed. Then he realised it was just the facade that had been untouched by fire. The rear of the house was a blazing ruin. With no CFA tankers nearby and no water pressure left to fight the fire, he could only stand and watch it burn.
“It is all a bit grim really,” he said. “We really copped it.
“I have been in a few bushfires before but nothing like this. Nothing like this has happened before. The whole of Gippsland was on fire.”
(8) 2020 SIR JULIUS VOGEL AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New
Zealand (SFFANZ) is taking nominations for the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel awards until
11.59 pm NZT on March 31.
The awards recognise excellence and achievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2019 calendar year.
…A nomination made by a SFFANZ member carries a weight of two nominations, where non-members’ nominations carry a weight of one.
Full information about the awards, including the
rules and criteria for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, can be found here.
Eligibility list is here.
(9) PRO-ROWLING. Megan McArdle’s opinion piece in the
Washington Post “Has
J.K. Rowling figured out a way to break our cancel culture?” says that Rowling’s defense of Maya Forstater and
her refusal to back down after social media protests shows that “the
opinions of officious strangers, possibly thousands of miles away, who swarm
social media like deranged starlings over and over again” can be safely
The censorious power of Mrs. Grundys always depends on the cooperation of the governed, which is why their regime collapsed the moment the baby boomers shrugged off their finger-wagging. If Rowling provides an unmissable public demonstration that it is safe to ignore the current crop, we can hope others will follow her example, and the dictatorship of the proscriptariat will fall as quickly as it arose.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 3, 1970 — Doctor Who’s “Spearhead from Space” serial started airing. The Third Doctor as played by John Pertwee first appears in this episode. It would also be the first appearance of companion Liz Shaw who’s played by Caroline John. She only lasted a season because the next showrunner decided she was too intelligent to be a proper companion.
January 3, 1993 — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in television syndication. As you know, it would have a seven-year run with one seventy-six episodes in total. S.D. Perry wrote a sort of authorized ninth season in her Avatar novels. She’s written a number of Trek universe novels including a Section 31 one.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 3, 1892 — J. R. R. Tolkien. I’m not going to waste my time detailing Tolkien to this group. My go-to book for him for him after over forty years of reading him remains The Hobbit. The book that still annoys me? The Two Towers. Best Tolkien experience? Seeing The Father Christmas Letters read live. (Died 1973.)
Born January 3, 1898 — Doris Pitkin Buck. She’s got my feline curiosity aroused. Wiki says “She published numerous science fiction stories and poems, many of them in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.” That’s fine but there’s little said about her or how she came to be a SF writer. ESF notes her “still unpublished tale “Cacophony in Pink and Ochre” has long formed part of the announced contents of Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions.” So what do y”all do about her? (Died 1980.)
Born January 3, 1930 — Stephen Fabian, 90. He specializes in genre illustration and cover art for books and magazines such as H. Warner’s The Werewolf of Ponkert which you can see here. I see he got a World Fantasy Award—Life Achievement, and was nominated seven times for Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. Is that the most times for being nominated without winning? His collected works include Ladies & Legends and Women & Wonders. Of course, they’re genre.
Born January 3, 1937 — Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar Galactica, Galactica 1980, The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure any way to claim that’s even genre adjacent. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.)
Born January 3, 1940 — Kinuko Y. Craft, 80. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work.
Born January 3, 1956 — Mel Gibson, 64. I know the first thing I saw was genre wise involving him was The Road Warrior in a cinema which would be some forty years ago. Likewise I saw Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in cinemas, but I admit have mixed feelings about both of those films, though less about the latter as it’s at least fun. He’s in FairyTale: A True Story, a look at the the Cottingley Fairy photographs of the 1920s, and voices John Smith in Pocahontas. He plays Hamlet in Hamlet but I really don’t think I can call that genre, but I know some of you will.
Born January 3, 1975 — Danica McKellar, 45. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in Young Justice. It’s just completed its third season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it.
Born January 3, 1976 — Charles Yu, 44. Taiwanese American writer. Author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award.
It was before 10 a.m. on a gray summer Sunday, but already a small crowd had gathered outside Penguin Café at the end of a block in residential Tokyo. A woman named Kyoko, dressed in a white T-shirt and apron, unlocked the doors and motioned for everyone to come inside.
Half a dozen or so people filed in, several with signature pink dog carriers slung over their shoulders. As more entered, the group clustered at the center of the café. Carefully, they unzipped the mesh panels of their carriers and removed the small white and silver dogs inside, setting them down on the wooden floor. One owner peeled back a yellow blanket over a baby carrier strapped to her chest where she held her dog, still asleep.
Some of the owners fussed with the dogs’ outfits before putting them down — straightening a necktie or pulling up the elastic band on a pair of shorts. One owner had dressed their dog in a Hawaiian shirt, while another was wearing aviator goggles and had a strong resemblance to Snoopy. Several had tiny straw hats affixed between their ears. All the dogs were plastic, powered by facial recognition and artificial intelligence….
6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome? Thor: Metal Gods is a Serial Box serialized novel by Aaron Stewart-Ahn (the lead writer), Jay Edidin, Brian Keene, and myself. It features Thor and Loki, both coming to terms with old sins and old friends, a Korean tiger goddess, and a genderfluid space pirate and astronomer. There are black holes, eldritch abominations, heavy metal, and mayhem. We had terrific fun writing it and we hope you’ll enjoy it too.
… The European Space Agency is about to pull one of the bigger hunks of garbage from orbit. But there’s a problem: The same tech that could help make space cleaner might, in the long run, also make it more dangerous.
That’s because the ESA’s ClearSpace-1 orbital garbage truck, as well as other spacecraft like it, could double as a weapon.
Swiss startup ClearSpace designed the ClearSpace-1 vehicle to intercept a chunk of debris, latch onto it, and drag it back into Earth’s atmosphere where it can safely burn up. The ESA has scheduled the clean-up mission for 2025 and has even identified its target: a 265-pound piece of an old rocket orbiting 310 miles above Earth’s surface.
The 2025 mission will involve what ClearSpace CEO Luc Piguet called “non-cooperative capture.” That is to say, the targeted piece of debris wasn’t designed with an interface or any other system that might help a clean-up craft grab onto it.
…In a landmark discovery revealed this month, archaeologists unearthed the remains of four female warriors buried with a cache of arrowheads, spears and horseback-riding equipment in a tomb in western Russia — right where Ancient Greek stories placed the Amazons.
The team from the Institute of Archaeology at the Russian Academy of Sciences identified the women as Scythian nomads who were interred at a burial site some 2,500 years ago near the present-day community of Devitsa. The women ranged in age from early teens to late 40s, according to the archaeologists. And the eldest of the women was found wearing a golden ceremonial headdress, a calathus, engraved with floral ornaments — an indication of stature.
(16) WORDSMITH ALSO TUNESMITH. Don’t say you never got the
chance to hear Norman Spinrad sing. Today on Facebook
he reminded people about the time he performed at the Cirque Electrique in
Not that I’m planning to ever give up my day job, but I’ve had a long slow minor career with music, something around a dozen songs written or co-written, something less than that creating and recording, occasional live performances too such as this one, my best I think.
7. Middlegame: Middlegame is perhaps the most ambitious novels from Seanan McGuire and is a showcase for her skill at telling a good and complex story. Twins, math, alchemy, murder, time-bending, family, secret organizations, impossible powers, and just about everything McGuire can throw into this wonderous novel. Seanan McGuire has blended together as much as she possibly could stuff into one novel and she makes the whole thing work. It’s impressive. McGuire goes big with Middlegame. Doubt Seanan McGuire at your peril. (my review)
Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, the ninth book in his popular children’s novel series, published in 2012, features a comic strip made by the book’s incorrigible pranksters George and Harold, the stars of the series. This comic-within-a-novel marks the first appearance of Dog Man, Pilkey’s lovable crime-fighting superhero, who is surgically constructed from the body of a cop and the head of his police dog companion after they were both injured in a typically Pilkey-style zany accident.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From
Savag Entertainment, “Timelapse Reveals How Clever This Billboard Ad For The
BBC’s ‘Dracula’ Is.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Contrarius,
Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, R.S. Benedict, and Martin Morse Wooster for some
of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Daniel Dern.]
We had a great time talking with guest author Paul Krueger about his novel, Steel Crow Saga. Paul describes it as a love letter to Pokémon, and also as what would happen if Pokémon and Full Metal Alchemist had an anti-colonialist baby. He said he went way out on a limb with the book, using a different world with situations in it that are not average, and that it meant he had to draw on a lot more personal things in order to make it real and relatable.
… Paul told us that what really brought the book together was when he realized he was interested in the idea of forgiveness. Can you do the unforgiveable? Can you then forgive yourself afterwards? Returning to these questions kept him going.
He also said he believes in the forensic principle that all things that come in contact with each other leave traces behind. He applies this to characters. Watch what happens when two pairs of characters come in close proximity to each other. What happens if they switch “dance partners” for a while?
… I asked Paul about something he’d said online about fan art. Paul told us that his first book, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, didn’t have any fan art. When he whined about it, he was told he’d only vaguely described the characters. In Steel Crow Saga, therefore, he made sure that each character had colors and symbols, their own animal, and distinct physical traits. Paul said, “I went really overboard with visual cues.” The good news is, he’s gotten lots of fan art this time! Paul says being friends with artists has made him a better writer. He listed Victoria Schwab and Erin Morganstern as writers with great visuals.
(2) SOUND OF SKYWALKER. Disney has created an entire ”for your consideration” website to
recommend six films for awards – all of which happen to be genre-related.
(3) LOCKED AND LOADED. There’s a vein of alternate history
stories that dates back even farther than I was aware. Library of America’s story
of the week, “If
Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” by James Thurber, is part of it
At the end of 1930 Scribner’s Magazine began publishing what would prove to be a short-lived series of “alternative history” pieces. The first installment, in the November issue, was “If Booth Had Missed Lincoln.” This was followed by a contribution from none other than Winston Churchill, who turned the concept on its head. It was bafflingly titled “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg”—but, as we all know, Lee didn’t win the Battle of Gettysburg. Instead, Churchill’s essay purported to be written by a historian in a world in which Lee had won not only the battle but also the entire war. This fictional historian, in turn, speculates what might have happened if Lee had not won the battle. This type of dizzying zaniness brought out the parodist in Thurber, who published “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” in The New Yorker in December. The next month Scribner’s published a third essay (“If Napoleon Had Escaped to America”) before bring the series to an end. All three pieces were soon forgotten, but Thurber’s parody became one of his most famous and beloved works.
If someone is interested to take over the portal and the domain’s name, kindly let us know. Thank you all of you !
Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk immediately raised his hand – so perhaps
the site will be kept online after all. Stay tuned.
(5) LAST CHANCE. Tim Szczesuil of
the NESFA Press says they’re about to run out of two titles by popular sff
This is an informative notice that we are getting low on The Halycon Fairy Book by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon). At the rate it’s selling I expect to be out by the end of the month. If you’ve delayed getting a copy, this may be your last chance, since there are no plans to reprint.
On a similar note, we’re also getting low on Velveteen vs the Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire. In this case, we do not have the rights to reprint, and Seanan is not disposed to grant anyone these rights. So, when they’re gone, that’s it.
… Nineteen Eighty-Four is the most prominent example of this, by far, but the strict, legal regulation of language pops up in various science fiction novels and stories that follow Orwell’s. Inhabitants of Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green-sky have no means of expressing the negative emotions they feel, and are treated as social pariahs for being “unjoyful.” Ascians in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun do not understand any sentence constructions that do not appear in their government-issued manuals on “Correct Thought.” Lois Lowry’s The Giver portrays a society whose emotional range has been stunted by its insistence on “precise speech.”
First published in Sweden in 2012, Karin Tidbeck’s Amatka offers up a new, much more material take on language restriction—a world in which every object, from a chair to a pot of face cream, must be verbally told what it is and visibly labeled as such….
(7) IT NEVER ENDS. Paste Magazine came up with
another list — “The
25 Best TV Episodes of 2019” – but this one has a solid genre showing. In the order Paste
ranked them, here they are from lowest to highest.
“Adriadne,” Russian Doll
“Hard Times,” Good Omens
“Episode 4,” Years and Years
“Séance & Sensibility” Legends of Tomorrow
“Twin Cities,” Counterpart
“Pandemonium,” The Good Place
“The Trial,” What We Do in the Shadows
“Time to Make … My Move,” The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
“Vichnaya Pamyat,” Chernobyl
20. “Hard Times,” Good Omens
Good Omens is a series that tackles more than its fair share of deep philosophical issues, telling a story about hope, love and faith in one another during the literal end of the world. But despite the somewhat pressing nature of the impending Apocalypse, Good Omens spends most of its third episode exploring the complicated pair at the heart of story: prissy angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and snarky demon Crowley (David Tennant).
…Not bad for a sequence that, technically shouldn’t exist. None of these flashbacks appear in the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel on which the show is based and were specially written for the Amazon series. God—or Gaiman himself in this case— does indeed work in mysterious ways. —Lacy Baugher
… Part of it is that I’m a restless and then forgetful reader. Even after finishing an amazing book, I often want to switch gears to something different and then I fail to return to something else by the amazing book’s author. But mainly I do this on purpose. I like the feeling of looking forward to a sure thing, the comfort of a story I haven’t heard but I know will be good.
(10) THE WITCHER CHARACTER INTRODUCTIONS. You can’t
outrun destiny just because you’re terrified of it. The Witcher arrives
Henry Cavill is Geralt of Rivia.
Freya Allan is Princess Cirilla.
Anya Chalotra is Yennefer of Vengerberg.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 10, 1815 — Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. She was an English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers and Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. (Died 1852.)
Born December 10, 1824 — George MacDonald. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors Including Tolkien and Lewis, Gaiman and L’Engle, Beagle and Twain to name but a few. I’d single out. The Princess and The Goblin and Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women as particularly fine reading. (Died 1905.)
Born December 10, 1918 — Anne Gwynne. One of the first scream queens because of her numerous appearances in horror films such as The Strange Case of Doctor Rx, Weird Women (with Lou Chaney) and The House of Frankenstein (Chaney and Karloff). And she also was one of the most popular pin-ups of World War II. She’s Chris Pine’s grandmother. (Died 2003.) Photo is from a set of twenty four trading cards.
Born December 10, 1927 — Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K. He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter. He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
Born December 10, 1928 — John Colicos. You’ll recognize him as being the first Klingon ever seen on classic Trek, Commander Kor in “Errand of Mercy” episode. (He’d reprise that role as the 140-year-old Kor in three episodes of Deep Space Nine.) He’ll next show up as Count Baltar in the original Battlestar Galactica continuity throughout the series and film. He’ll even show up as the governor of Umakran in the Starlost episode “The Goddess Calabra”. (Died 2000.)
Born December 10, 1933 – Mako. It’s sounds weird but I mostly remember him in Robocop 3 as Kanemitsu and in a role on the Lovejoy series that only lasted two episodes. He’s had one-offs on I-Spy, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Hornet, Time Tunnel, Fantasy Island and quite a bit more. Among his genre film appearances, I think I’ll just single out Conan the Destroyer in which he plays Akiro the Wizard. (Died 2006.)
Born December 10, 1946 — Douglas Kenney. He co-founded National Lampoon in 1970 along with Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman. With Beard alone in 1969, he wrote Bored of the Rings. (Died 1980.)
Born December 10, 1960 — Kenneth Branagh, 59. Oh, Branagh, I feel obligated to start with your worst film, Wild Wild West, which, well, had you no shame? Fortunately, there’s much better genre work from you as an actor including as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related? Is Hercule Poirot genre adjacent?
Born December 10, 1984 — Helen Oyeyemi, 35. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in her latest, Mr. Fox, off of that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Frank and Ernest indirectly prove the benefits of being young – because with luck you may not be old enough to remember the commercial that sets up this pun.
(13) CONNIE WILLIS AT CHRISTMAS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] For
a few years, I’ve been invited onto a podcast to speak about Christmas
movies. This year, I took the opportunity to talk about how great Connie
Willis is by suggesting the (*very bad*) Christmas movie Snow Wonder
which was based on Willis’ (*very good*) novella Just Like The Ones We Used
To Know. Even though the movie’s a relatively faithful adaptation, it’s
shocking how much life they manage to drain from Willis’ work. The Movie Jerks
—Episode 372 – Olav Rokne, The Christmas Prince Royal Baby
and Snow Wonder
Olav Rokne is back to talk about for his yearly Christmas film review. This time we may have broke our guest, as we discuss the television film “Snow Wonder” and the third installment in the “Christmas Prince” series.
Three months after his bone marrow transplant, Chris Long of Reno, Nev., learned that the DNA in his blood had changed. It had all been replaced by the DNA of his donor, a German man he had exchanged just a handful of messages with.
He’d been encouraged to test his blood by a colleague at the Sheriff’s Office, where he worked. She had an inkling this might happen. It’s the goal of the procedure, after all: Weak blood is replaced by healthy blood, and with it, the DNA it contains.
…The implications of Mr. Long’s case, which was presented at an international forensic science conference in September, have now captured the interest of DNA analysts far beyond Nevada.
The average doctor does not need to know where a donor’s DNA will present itself within a patient. That’s because this type of chimerism is not likely to be harmful. Nor should it change a person. “Their brain and their personality should remain the same,” said Andrew Rezvani, the medical director of the inpatient Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at Stanford University Medical Center.
He added that patients also sometimes ask him what it means for a man to have a woman’s chromosomes in their bloodstream or vice versa. “It doesn’t matter,” he said….
But for a forensic scientist, it’s a different story. The assumption among criminal investigators as theygather DNA evidence from a crime scene is that each victim and each perpetrator leaves behind a single identifying code — not two, including that of a fellow who is 10 years younger and lives thousands of miles away. And so Renee Romero, who ran the crime lab at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, saw an opportunity when her friend and colleague told her that his doctor had found a suitable match on a donor website and he would be undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
In a photo that circulated on Chinese social media on the weekend, workers at a library located in Zhenyuan county in north-central Gansu province were shown burning books in an act the library described (link in Chinese) as a “quick and comprehensive” filtering and destruction of “illegal” publications, including books related to religion. The library said it wanted to enhance its function as a major propaganda tool in terms of promoting mainstream Chinese values. The post, which was originally published on Oct. 22, has since been deleted.
In total, the library destroyed 65 books under the supervision of officials from the Zhenyuan culture affairs bureau, according to the post. Zhenyuan’s propaganda department told a local Chinese publication (link in Chinese) that it was looking into the incident.
Under Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on the freedom of speech, religion, and ideas, authorities have been conducting a large scale clean-up of books in libraries in elementary and middle schools since October, according to a notice (link in Chinese) published by the Ministry of Education. The ministry ordered schools to remove books deemed “illegal” or “inappropriate,” including those that are “against the ideologies of the party,” “describe the party, the nation, or the military’s history in a mocking way,” or “promote religious doctrine, theory, and rules.”
The episode stirred an unusual backlash on Chinese social media, with many saying that it reminded them of the country’s painful history of repressing intellectuals and academic freedom. Many cited the example of the tyrannical emperor Qin Shihuang, who unified China more than 2,000 years ago and directed the “burning the books and burying the scholars” …movement which led to some 460 Confucian scholars being buried alive for their opposition against imperial policies.
Grandmother killer whales boost the survival rates of their grandchildren, a new study has said.
The survival rates were even higher if the grandmother had already gone through the menopause.
The findings shed valuable light on the mystery of the menopause, or why females of some species live long after they lose the ability to reproduce.
Only five known animals experience it: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, belugas, narwhals and humans.
With humans, there is some evidence that human grandmothers aid in the survival of their children and grandchildren, a hypothesis called the “grandmother effect”.
These findings suggest the same effect occurs in orcas.
(20) THE LONG AND WINDING FILM. The Criterion Collection
has available Wim Wenders’ director’s cut of Until
the End of the World, the 1991
French-German science fiction drama film.
Conceived as the ultimate road movie, this decades-in-the-making science-fiction epic from Wim Wenders follows the restless Claire Tourneur (Solveig Dommartin) across continents as she pursues a mysterious stranger (William Hurt) in possession of a device that can make the blind see and bring dream images to waking life. With an eclectic soundtrack that gathers a host of the director’s favorite musicians, along with gorgeous cinematography by Robby Müller, this breathless adventure in the shadow of Armageddon takes its heroes to the ends of the earth and into the oneiric depths of their own souls. Presented here in its triumphant 287-minute director’s cut, Until the End of the World assumes its rightful place as Wenders’ magnum opus, a cosmic ode to the pleasures and perils of the image and a prescient meditation on cinema’s digital future.
Earth has many stories to tell, even in the dark of night. Earth at Night, NASA’s new 200-page ebook, is now available online and includes more than 150 images of our planet in darkness as captured from space by Earth-observing satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station over the past 25 years.
The images reveal how human activity and natural phenomena light up the darkness around the world, depicting the intricate structure of cities, wildfires and volcanoes raging, auroras dancing across the polar skies, moonlight reflecting off snow and deserts, and other dramatic earthly scenes.
…In addition to the images, the book tells how scientists use these observations to study our changing planet and aid decision makers in such areas as sustainable energy use and disaster response.
(22) FORMATION FLYING. Amazon is going all-out to advertise
The Expanse Season 4.
The Expanse drone space opera lit up the sky at the 2019 Intersect Festival in Las Vegas.
There’s also a 6-minute version shot at ground level here.
(23) DIY AT HOME. Jimmy Kimmel Live showed everyone
the way to “Make Your Own Baby Yoda.” (He’s kidding, okay? Just kidding!!)
Baby Yoda is a very cute and popular character from “The Mandalorian,” but according to Disney, which owns Star Wars, Baby Yoda toys will not be available for Christmas. However, if you want a Baby Yoda for your kid or your adult nerd help is on the way. Guillermo demonstrates a simple way for anyone to make their own little Yoda at home.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter,
Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, N., Bill, Juliette Wade, Cat
Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) WEAR FOR ART THOU. The Geek’s
Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters promises their Star Wars Christmas sweaters “will keep you warmer
than the inside of a tauntaun (and smell better, too!)” They also offer
designs from Marvel, DC, and Disney film franchises, as well as Game of
Thrones and Harry Potter.
(2) #FLYINGWHILEDISABLED. Mari Ness has battled Aer Lingus for
repairs to her broken wheelchair. Thread starts here.
(3) SFF AT NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. [Item by Rob
Thornton.] The Library of Congress taped the
presentations made at this year’s National Book Festival and they are available
at the Library’s website. Here are four of the presentations that were related
Marketing campaigns for Captain Marvel, The Lion King and The Irishman are among the theatrical nominees for the 2019 Clio Entertainment Awards.
On the television side, Killing Eve, The Twilight Zone, Leaving Neverland, When They See Us and Fosse/Verdon made the shortlist for the awards, which will be handed out Nov. 21 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Craig Robinson is set to host the show, where the bronze, silver, gold and grand award winners also will be revealed.
Other theatrical nominees include campaigns for the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.
Nominees also were announced in several other categories, including games and home entertainment.
“When Francis [Ford Coppola] uses the words ‘those films are despicable,’ to whom is he talking? Is he talking to Kevin Feige who runs Marvel, or Taika Waititi who directs or Ryan Coogler who directs for us or Scarlett Johansson,” Iger said. “I don’t get what they’re criticizing us for when we’re making films that people are obviously enjoying going to because they’re doing so by the millions.”
(6) SUPERHERO MOVIES AS A RORSCHACH TEST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Perhaps you can see what you want to see in your average superhero origin story. Writing in the Guardian, Steve Rose wades into the feud between auteur directors like Martin Scorsese and fans of superhero movies. Without taking a side in the debate, Rose offers a nuanced exploration of superhero stories, superhero fatigue, and fandom. “Auteurs assemble! What caused the superhero backlash?”
“People who wear masks are driven by trauma,” says Smart’s FBI agent in the new Watchmen. “They’re obsessed with justice because of some injustice they’ve suffered.” Maybe that’s been happening on a global level. Maybe still we need more of it. There are always arguments for and against processing reality through genre escapism and there are always “healthy” and “unhealthy” examples of it.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 23, 1959. “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” featured Ida Lupino (1918 – 1995) who was the only person to have worked as both actress and though uncredited at the time as a director in the same episode of The Twilight Zone. She will be credited with directing “The Masks”. She was also the only woman to direct an episode of The Twilight Zone.
October 23, 1998 — T-Rex: Back To The Cretaceous premiered. It was shot for the IMAX 3D format. It starred Liz Stauber, Peter Horton and Kari Coleman. It did very well at the box office and it had a stellar 70% rating at Rotten Tomatoe
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 23, 1880 — Una O’Connor. Jenny Hall in the classic Invisible Man. She’d be Minnie in The Bride of Frankenstein, and Mrs. Umney in the Cantervillie Ghost. (Died 1959.)
Born October 23, 1918 — James Daly. He was Mr. Flint in Trek‘s “Requiem for Methuselah” episode. He also showed up on The Twilight Zone, Mission:Impossible and The Invaders. He was Honorious in The Planet of The Apes, and Dr. Redding in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler. (Died 1978.)
Born October 23, 1953 — Ira Steven Behr, 66. Producer and screenwriter responsible for the best of the Treks, Deep Space Nine. He went on to work on Dark Angel, The Twilight Zone, The 4400, Alphas, and Outlander. An impressive tally indeed.
Born October 23, 1955 — Graeme Revell, 64. New Zealand composer responsible for such genre soundtracks as The Crow, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Saint (1997), Titan A.E., Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Daredevil and Sin City.
Born October 23, 1959 — Sam Raimi, 60. Responsible for, and this is not a complete listing, the Darkman franchise , M.A.N.T.I.S., the Jack of All Trades series that Kage loved, the Cleopatra 2525 series, the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess series and the Spider-Man trilogy.
Born October 23, 1976 — Ryan Reynolds, 43. Lead in that Green Lantern film. He was Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity, and Seth in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He portrayed Wade Wilson / Weapon XI in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And he’s Deadpool.
Born October 23, 1986 — Emilia Clarke, 33. She’ll be most remembered as Daenerys Targaryen on the Game of Thrones. Her genre film roles include Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys and Kira in Solo: A Star Wars Story. She was also Verena in Voice from the Stone, a horror film. Not to mention Savannah Roundtree in Triassic Attack, a network film clearly ripping off Jurrasic Park.
Superman Smashes the Klan is a three-part graphic novel about a young Superman battling racists, helping an immigrant family, and wrestling with his own status as an alien outsider. It’s extremely charming.
The book comes from the award-winning cartooning team of Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, who were inspired by the 1946 Superman story “Clan of the Fiery Cross.” That story wasn’t a comic, but rather an arc of the immensely popular Adventures of Superman radio serial. In the audio adventure, Superman battled the racist machinations of the Ku Klux Klan. Excoriated and embarrassed by one of the country’s most popular radio shows, the white supremacist group actually saw a drop in membership.
Superman Smashes the Klan is the first time “Clan of the Fiery Cross” has been adapted to comics…
…I refuse to grovel, to attempt to put into words what will always be unsayable, which is to say that what makes certain stories reach into your chest cavity and rip out what is left of your heart needs not be discussed. It is itself all the justification a story will ever need. The best offense being no defense at all. And so: none offered. And you, my friend, recently said to me, “You’re lucky you write stories. I mean the form is an ideal forum for today’s uber-distracted society. Don’t you think?” And because I love and respect you, in spite of the pain in my soul the question inflicted, here I am answering by not answering which has been my MO for much of life. No I do not think. Ah, screw it: the short story is, with the glorious exception of poetry, absolutely the least ideal mode of expression for our distracted society because it takes a certain kind of intense concentration. Compassionate concentration? To appreciate. To grasp. To love. I’m talking about a reading a story, a good story. What’s a good story? How am I defining—
You tell me. Because you know. This is personal. To you and to me.
A Tennessee haunted house billed as the scariest in the world requires visits to sign a 40-page waiver, pass a physical and undergo a background check — and no one has ever finished the attraction.
Russ McKamey, owner of McKamey Manor in Summertown, said the price of admission is only a bag of food for his five dogs, and the prize for finishing is $20,000, but no one has ever collected the prize money.
… The visitors must then watch a 2-hour video called And Then There Were None, which features footage of every visitor from July 2017 and August 2019 quitting before the end of the experience. Visitors leave by uttering the code phrase, “You really don’t want to do this.”
(15) INSURANCE CLAIM. The house in this commercial is a
little creepy, nothing that would make you forget what they’re selling,
The gecko helps a new homeowner search through the attic of his home, and makes some creepy discoveries.
Tiny satellites are taking on a big-time role in space exploration.
CubeSats are small, only about twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube. As the name suggests, they’re cube-shaped, 4 inches on each side, and weigh in at about 3 pounds. But with the miniaturization of electronics, it’s become possible to pack a sophisticated mission into a tiny package.
…”I saw a flyer on a bus stop that said, ‘Want to build a satellite?’ ” says Hannah Goldberg. At the time, in 1999, she was an undergraduate engineering major at the University of Michigan. The flyer caught her attention, and she decided that building satellites was exactly what she wanted to do.
Today, Goldberg works at GomSpace, a Danish satellite company making CubeSats for the European Space Agency.
“In the beginning, in the early days of CubeSats, they kind of had a bad reputation,” Goldberg says. “People didn’t think you could do much science or much engineering benefit with them.”
…But with the advent of smartphones, Goldberg says, engineers started getting really good at packing a bunch of electronics into a small space. CubeSats started getting more sophisticated, and the cost of electronics that could be used in space came down. Scientists started to take notice.
Google says an advanced computer has achieved “quantum supremacy” for the first time, surpassing the performance of conventional devices.
The technology giant’s Sycamore quantum processor was able to perform a specific task in 200 seconds that would take the world’s best supercomputers 10,000 years to complete.
Scientists have been working on quantum computers for decades because they promise much faster speeds.
In their Nature paper, John Martinis of Google, in Mountain View, and colleagues set the processor a random sampling problem – where it checks a set of numbers that has a truly random distribution.
Sycamore was able to complete the task in three minutes and 20 seconds. By contrast, the researchers claim in their paper that Summit, the world’s best supercomputer, would take 10,000 years to complete the task.
Original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton are reunited in this latest instalment of the cyborg franchise – but otherwise it’s pointless, writes Nicholas Barber.
Well, he did say he’d be back. Arnold Schwarzenegger made that promise in The Terminator in 1984, little realising that “I’ll be back” would become his most famous line of dialogue, or that the homicidal cyborg he was playing would become his defining role. True to his word, he was back for Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, along with the original film’s writer-director, James Cameron, and its co-star, Linda Hamilton. After that, Schwarzenegger was back for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, Terminator Salvation in 2009, and Terminator Genisys in 2015, but they wandered further and further from the lean, mean high-concept thrills of the 1984 classic. And now he is back again in Terminator Dark Fate.
…[Most] viewers will be waiting for Arnie and Linda to show up – and when they eventually do, it’s worth the wait. Much like Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode in last year’s Halloween – another exercise in course-correcting a franchise by pretending several of the sequels didn’t happen – Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is now silver-haired, surly, armed to the teeth, and with a voice so low and harsh that it sounds as if her cigarette intake will kill her before any robots manage to. She is an icon from the moment she strides out of her car carrying a gun the size of a fully grown Christmas tree. Schwarzenegger’s arrival is even more welcome. That stillness… that deadpan line-delivery… that physical resemblance to one of Stonehenge’s standing stones… even at the age of 72, he is better than anyone at playing an unstoppable cyborg (Luna just doesn’t have the requisite menace). And he is quite touching, too, as a killing machine who has reformed and settled down as a grey-bearded family man.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Robot Chicken’s “O
Great Pumpkin” parody.
[Thanks John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Todd Mason, Mike
Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Russell Letson.]
(1) DEFINITELY A FIRST. Somtow Sucharitkul’s full day included
release of the Czech translation of his short story collection — Den v Mallworldu
What a day!
Siam Sinfonietta was honored by being made Orchestra in Residence of the International Music Festival in Olomouc
I received a medal for my work in cross-cultural outreach from Festa Musicale
My book was launched, the first book by a Thai author ever to appear in Czech
…Amazingly, while taking my orchestra on tour in Central Europe, well known fan and translator Jaroslav Olša organized the publication of all my stories that have previously appeared in Czech as a collection and I am having a book launch today – followed by conducting the orchestra in Martinu Hall! This has got to be a SF first, I would think!
A lot of people are going to wonder how did you make a Jurassic World short film without anyone getting wind of it?
TREVORROW: We shot it in Ireland last winter. They have a grove of redwood trees outside Dublin that look exactly like the national parks in Northern California. I honestly never thought we’d make it this far without getting found out. The Irish can keep a secret….
Netflix has a Jurassic World animated series arriving next year. Do you guys have an idea of how long you want the animated series to go for? Do you have a plan if the show is a huge hit?
TREVORROW: Camp Cretaceous. The animation is gorgeous, it’s really exciting and emotional. I think kids are going to love these characters. The writers are so deeply invested in making something we can all be proud of. If it’s a hit and people want more, we’re ready. Just say the word
The Pixel Project is a worldwide coalition of grassroots activists and volunteers who strongly believe that men and women must take a stand together for the right of women and girls to live a life free of gender-based violence. Our team, our allies, and our supporters use the power of the internet to mount a global effort to raise awareness about and hopefully mobilize communities around the world to get involved with ending violence against girls and women.
…Hang on a minute, you say. I was with you up to the magic paintings, but aren’t we writing historical fiction here? Isn’t that supposed to be, you know… accurate?
For the most part, yes. That’s why it’s so important to get the details right. To make sure everything else is meticulously researched and faithfully rendered, so that when that moment of departure comes, it makes a big impression. It helps if you can even ground your supernatural elements in real life – for example, by referring to unexplained incidents that actually exist in the historical record. For Murder on Millionaires’ Row, I researched ghost stories in the New York Times, selecting a few that took place at roughly the same time and even turning one of the real-life investigating officers into a major secondary character. Readers can go back to 19th century newspaper clippings and connect the dots between murders, ghosts, and a few other surprises—all against the backdrop of an otherwise historically accurate Gilded Age New York.
(6) TODAY IN
September 12, 1958 – The Blob premiered.
September 12, 1993 — CBS first aired Rockne S. O’Bannon’s Seaquest DSVon this date in 1993. Seaquest DSV would last just three years.
September 12, 1993 — Genre fans were treated to latest version of the Man Of Steel when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman debuted this day.
[Compiled by Cat
Born September 12, 1897 — Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
Born September 12, 1914 — Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period that Q was not in. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
Born September 12, 1916 — Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow). Yes, you know her better as just Mary Stewart. Genre wise, she’s probably best known for her Merlin series which walks along the boundary between the historical novel and fantasy. Explicitly fantasy is her children’s novel A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic. (Died 2014.)
Born September 12, 1921 — Stanislaw Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. Both iBooks and Kindle have generous collections of his translated works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1922 — John Chambers. He’s best known for designing Spock’s pointed ears, and for the prosthetic make-up work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. Some of those character creations, including Cornelius and Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes series, are on display at the Science Fiction Museum. He worked on the Munsters, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Mission Impossible, Night Gallery and I Spy along with uncredited (at the time) prosthetic makeup work on Blade Runner. (Died 2001.)
Born September 12, 1940 — Brian De Palma, 79. Though not a lot of genre in his resume, he has done some significant work including Carrie. Other films he’s done of interest to us are The Fury which most likely you’ve never heard of, and the first Mission: Impossible film along with Mission to Mars. Not genre, but I find it fascinating that he directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video which has a genre connection as actress Courtney Cox would be in the Misfits of Science series and the Scream horror franchise as well.
Born September 12, 1940 — John Clute, 79. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
Born September 12, 1942 — Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1962 — Mary Kay Adams, 57. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”.
(8) DOCTOR WHO
COLLECTIBLES. If you’re at the New York Comic Con (October 3-6) you might
have a shot at these —
WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Kerblam!” Kawaii TITAN
Titan Entertainment are proud to present the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor Kawaii TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re showcasing the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the seventh episode of season eleven “Kerblam!” Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!
WHO 3″ Thirteenth Doctor “Rosa” Classic TITAN
Titan Entertainment are thrilled to announce the latest in their series of limited edition Thirteenth Doctor classic TITANS vinyls! For NYCC 2019, we’re debuting the Thirteenth Doctor as she appears in the third episode of season eleven “Rosa”. Available in very limited numbers at Titan Entertainment Booth #2142!
That Mr. Williams wrote his score for “Star Wars” in the same year as “Close Encounters” speaks to his versatility. One is a grand space opera, with catchy Wagnerian leitmotifs and blaring immensity; the other is atonal and elusive, full of amorphous sound that rarely coalesces into melody. (Mr. Williams, ever adaptable, later wrote playfully enchanting music for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which the Philharmonic will perform in December.)
If you listen closely, there are signs that “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” share a composer: an affinity for Ligeti comes through in both, as does a mastery of cosmic Romanticism. But their differences are clear from the first measure. Where “Star Wars” begins with fanfare and a brassy overture, Mr. Spielberg’s movie doesn’t open with any sort of memorable theme….
Steven C. Smith, in his biography “A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann,” repeats a quip from the composer that Hitchcock completed only 60 percent of any film.
“I have to finish it for him,” Herrmann said.
That’s not too outrageous; in the films they collaborated on between 1955 and 1964, from “The Trouble With Harry” to “Marnie,” Herrmann’s soundtracks were vital in setting tone and offering insight into psychology.
In a small trial, drugs seemed to rejuvenate the body’s ‘epigenetic clock’, which tracks a person’s biological age.
A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age.
For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.
The results were a surprise even to the trial organizers — but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.
The new fantasy series sees Artemis’s twin brothers at the helm of a dangerously fast-paced adventure. With their brother, criminal virtuoso Artemis Fowl, away on a five-year mission to Mars, the younger Fowl children, 11- year-old twins Myles and Beckett, have been left alone at the Fowl family home.
One day, the twins manage to accidentally get caught up in an interspecies dispute when a troll burrows out of the Earth’s core right in front of Beckett’s eyes! In the events that follow the boys are shot at, kidnapped, buried, arrested, threatened and even temporarily killed but, despite their differences, the twins find that there is no force stronger than the bond between them.
(13) THE TESTAMENTS ON RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 are doing a Book
at Bed Time, Atwood’s The Testaments. They must have been quietly
working on this as I only heard of it yesterday (usually I am pretty genned up
on Radio 4 as it is piped to my study).
If you want an abridged audio book then this could be
it for you. Episodes begin Monday 16th Sept (so not downloadble yet) starting here.
Margaret Atwood’s powerful and hugely anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale picks up 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown. Now shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
For centuries rumours have persisted about a powerful and mysterious substance. And these days, adverts and videos offering it for sale can be found online. Why has the story of “red mercury” endured?
Some people believe it’s a magical healing elixir found buried in the mouths of ancient Egyptian mummies.
Or could it be a powerful nuclear material that might bring about the apocalypse?
Videos on YouTube extol its vampire-like properties. Others claim it can be found in vintage sewing machines or in the nests of bats.
There’s one small problem with these tales – the substance doesn’t actually exist. Red mercury is a red herring.
The hunt for red mercury
Despite this, you can find it being hawked on social media and on numerous websites. Tiny amounts are sometimes priced at thousands of dollars.
Many of the adverts feature a blurry photo of a globule of red liquid on a dinner plate. Next to it there will often be a phone number scribbled on a piece of paper, for anybody foolish enough to want to contact the seller.
(16) EXIT INTERVIEW. [Item by Jo Van.] In New Zealand, the law requires that people going for an employment-related meeting or medical consultation be permitted to bring a support person, who may be there to provide emotional support, other kinds of support for a mentally- or physically-disabled or ill person, or translation services in the case of someone whose English comprehension may not be strong. “Auckland adman hires professional clown for redundancy meeting” in the New Zealand Herald. (“redundancy” = “down-sized” or “laid off”.)
…The Herald understands that the clown blew up balloons and folded them into a series of animals throughout the meeting.
It’s further understood that the clown mimed crying when the redundancy paperwork was handed over to the staffer.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome,
Jo Van, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) DUBLIN 2019 PARAPHERNALIA. A Filers shows what she
received upon checking in at the Worldcon:
(2) DUELING SFF. Crooked Timber takes Fred Hoyle’s
Ride” as the jumping-off point for a discussion of modern Ireland.
…Hoyle was really responding to the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who regularly denounced Hoyle as a secular atheist on radio and had written his own science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, a decade before. The villain of Lewis’s book was a sinister institute called NICE, which Satanic aliens wanted to impose contraception, lesbianism, secularism and surrealist art on an unsuspecting Britain. Lewis wanted to preserve old Britain against the filthy tide of modernity.
Hoyle riposted with a novel where rational and benevolently ruthless aliens used an organization called ICE to pull the priest ridden republic next door into the technological age. His satirical portrait of Ireland told British readers that the world was being transformed around them, and that even their most backwards seeming neighbor would outstrip them if they didn’t embrace modernity.
The irony of history is that Hoyle’s parody is now the truth….
(3) THEY’RE SMOKIN’. NASA’s Universe Unplugged teaches
about exoplanets with the help of a couple of familiar actors: “The
Habitable Zone: Scorched Earth Enigma”. If you like it, there are several
previous installments in the series.
This new episode follows explorers Cas Anvar & Cara Gee (“The Expanse”) into a planetary danger zone in their quest for another Earth. Can their computer (Parry Shen of “General Hospital”) save them from a nasty fate?
AiPT!: Gwen has really blown up in the time since you have started writing her, too, with Into The Spider-Verse‘s massive success and Oscar win. Did you see the movie? Did it impact how you felt about the character or how you might approach her at all?
McGuire: I hadn’t seen the movie when I got the job, and I chose not to after I got the job, because that’s a different version of Gwen. I didn’t want her seeping in where she didn’t belong. But wow, is it nice seeing all the cosplayers. I keep wanting to tell them “You’re dressed as my girl!” and have to hold myself back from getting creepy.
AiPT!: What do you think sets Gwen apart from Peter or Miles or any of the other Spiders?
McGuire: Death loves Gwen Stacy. She lacks the “with great power…” motivator; hers is “only the right hands.” She has a calling, but it’s not the same as the calling most of the others have shared. She’s also better on the drums than they are.
More than a million fingerprints and other sensitive data have been exposed online by a biometric security firm, researchers say.
Researchers working with cyber-security firm VPNMentor say they accessed data from a security tool called Biostar 2.
It is used by thousands of companies worldwide, including the UK’s Metropolitan Police, to control access to specific parts of secure facilities.
Suprema, the firm that offers Biostar 2, said it was addressing the issue.
“If there has been any definite threat on our products and/or services, we will take immediate actions and make appropriate announcements to protect our customers’ valuable businesses and assets,” a company spokesman told the Guardian.
According to VPNMentor, the exposed data, discovered on 5 August, was made private on 13 August.
Taking place during the events of The Last Jedi, and leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, Season 2 finds our Resistance characters still on the run from the First Order, much like their movie counterparts. But now Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is seemingly taking a hands-on approach in their capture. […]
Check out the new trailer below for a preview of what’s to come:
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 14, 1910 — Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
Born August 14, 1929 — Richard Carpenter. Responsible for the simply superb Robin of Sherwood series. He also created Catweazle, the children’s series about an unfortunate wizard from the 11th century who is accidentally transported to the present day. And he was an actor who appeared in such shows as the Sixties Sherlock Holmes series, The Terrornauts film and the Out of the Unknown series as well. (Died 2012.)
Born August 14, 1932 — Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. The latter won the fanzine Hugo after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in-print. (Died 2007.)
Born August 14, 1940 — Alexei Panshin, 79. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
Born August 14, 1953 — James Roy Horner. Composer, conductor and orchestrator of film scores whose work on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is what he’s best remembered for. He also worked on Avatar, Alien, Field of Dreams and Cocoon. (Died 2015.)
Born August 14, 1962 — Tim Earls, 57. Set designer who stated out at Babylonian Productions on Babylon 5 and Crusade. Later worked on the Voyager seriesandBrannon Braga’s short-lived Threshold series as well. Designed sets for the Serenity film, and worked on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Born August 14, 1965 — Brannon Braga, 54. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes than anyone else has with one hundred and nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Hugo Award for excellence in SF writing, along with Ronald D. Moore. He’s one of the producers of The Orville.
Born August 14, 1966 — Halle Berry, 53. Her first genre was Sharon Stone in The Flintstones followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchiseand Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as the deservedly much maligned lead in Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas.
(9) JUST WONDERING. The tour of Christ Church Cathedral left
certain questions unanswered:
Automattic, the company behind the longstanding blog platform WordPress, just bought Tumblr from Verizon for a pittance — leaving many of the quirky, beloved social network’s users wondering what comes next.
Axios reported that Automattic purchased Tumblr, which launched in 2007, for “well below” $20 million; Axios business editor Dan Primack added in a tweet that the sale price was in fact below $3 million, and Recode’s Peter Kafka tells Vox that sources say the actual figure is closer to $2 million. That’s a very long way down from Yahoo’s infamous $1.1 billion purchase of the website in 2013. (Verizon subsumed Tumblr when it acquired Yahoo in 2017.)
… At the time that the Yahoo purchase of Tumblr from its CEO and founder David Karp was completed, it was clear that the ancient internet company was looking for something to revitalize it. Cue a community awash in GIFs, memes, fandom, and all other manners of contemporary online culture — a seemingly perfect answer to Yahoo’s question of how to combat its near-irrelevance. But reports soon began to emerge that Tumblr was floundering financially, as Yahoo tried and failed to wrangle the freewheeling blogging platform into a profitable, advertising-friendly brand….
(12) MONSTROUS ISSUES. A Noise Within theater in
Pasadena, CA is producing Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Dissect the story of Frankensteinwith director Michael Michetti, as well as Michael Manuel (The Creature) and Kasey Mahaffy (Victor Frankenstein), as they talk about the characters of Mary Shelley’s most famous novel.
“The Creature represents anyone who feels like they have been disenfranchised… It’s a really compelling human story that people connect to in a way that is surprising to them.”
(13) THE FAILURE MODE OF CLEVER. Facebook gave Larry Correia a 24-hour time-out. Larry wants you to know how silly it was.
My 24 hour Facebook ban is over. Luckily Big Brother was there to protect us from such dangerous violations of community standards as pretending to be one imaginary country while talking trash about another completely imaginary country….
Long before cats ruled the internet, marketing student Walter Chandoha became a pioneer of feline photography. Not only did Chandoha’s images appear on over 300 magazine covers and thousands of adverts, he elevated feline portraiture to an art form.
In New York in 1949 young marketing student Walter Chandoha found a stray kitten in the snow. Tucking the cat into his coat, he brought it home to his wife. The cat’s wild antics earned it the name Loco, and Chandoha, who had been a combat photographer during the Second World War, began to take pictures of his new subject.
Rather than get a job in marketing Chandoha turned to freelance photography. He considered cats ideal subjects because they were “just naturally expressive”. His images of cats appeared on advertisements, greetings cards, jigsaw puzzles, T-shirts, posters, calendars and pet food packages. They even featured on the giant 18×60-foot Kodak Colorama display in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
His images combine a genuine affection for the animals with flawless technique. They range from colour studio photography to black and white street photography, images from vintage cat shows and tender pictures of his children with cats.
He published several books, including Walter Chandoha’s Book of Kittens and Cats (1963) and the seminal text How to Shoot and Sell Animal Photos (1986). Before his death in January 2019 at the age of 98, Chandoha had been working on a retrospective book of 300 of his cat photographs.
“The FAA is aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In early July, we alerted airlines about the recall, and we informed the public,” the FAA said in an emailed statement.
“We issued reminders to continue to follow instructions about recalls outlined in the 2016 FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 16011, and provided information provided to the public on FAA’s Packsafe website: https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/,” it added.
Apple announced in June “a voluntary recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk.”
Even in the Arctic, microscopic particles of plastic are falling out of the sky with snow, a study has found.
The scientists said they were shocked by the sheer number of particles they found: more than 10,000 of them per litre in the Arctic.
It means that even there, people are likely to be breathing in microplastics from the air – though the health implications remain unclear.
The region is often seen as one of the world’s last pristine environments.
A German-Swiss team of researchers has published the work in the journal Science Advances.
The scientists also found rubber particles and fibres in the snow
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Date With Duke –1947” on Vimeo is a George Pal Puppetoon, restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, featuring Duke Ellington performing the “Perfume Suite.”
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster,
JJ, Eric Wong, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, Alan
Baumler, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) CODE OF CONDUCT INCIDENT. The Armadillocon 41 committee has posted an “ArmadilloCon Incident Report” about an event that happened August 3. The person removed from the con was not identified, nor have I found any statement of their own.
There was an incident at ArmadilloCon on Saturday night. A program participant who had gone significantly off-topic on a panel subsequently laid hands on another attendee. Several other attendees intervened and separated the two.
The convention was notified of the incident and proceeded to suspend the program participant from programming pending the outcome of the investigation. After speaking to several witnesses of this public incident and the program participant, the convention committee concluded that the program participant had violated the ArmadilloCon Code of Conduct.
The program participant was removed permanently from the programming schedule, their membership was revoked, and they left the convention without incident.
ArmadilloCon cannot and will not tolerate violations of our Code of Conduct at the convention. Respect toward fellow attendees is paramount.
I generally try to avoid writing something until it’s all right there in my head, and I have to get it all down before it disappears, so I end up writing in white heat, but only after a prolonged period of just thinking about it really hard. I’ve written hour-long TV scripts in 48 hours or less when there was an urgent need to do so, and I once rewrote an outside movie script in 72 hours when there was, again, a crisis situation and someone needed my help.
(3) BRADBURY CENTENNIAL. Symphony Space, a performing
arts center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan presenting hundreds of music,
literary, family, film, theatre, and dance events each year, will offer “Selected
Shorts: Ray Bradbury Centennial Celebration” on May 20, 2020.
Selected Shorts salutes science fiction icon Ray Bradbury, credited as “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream” by The New York Times. Host Neil Gaiman (Good Omens) takes the stage with Bradbury admirers who pay tribute to the legendary author’s unearthly short fiction and its enduring influence.
“It’s not often in the life of a writer lightning truly strikes. And I mean, there he is on the steeple, begging for creative annihilation, and the heavens save up spit and let him have it. In one great hot flash, the lightning strikes. And you have an unbelievable tale delivered in one beauteous blow and are never so blessed again.”
That’s how Ray Bradbury described creative inspiration in his 1992 book “Green Shadows, White Whale.” It’s a lightly fictionalized account of six months he spent adapting Herman Melville’s 1851 novel “Moby Dick” into a screenplay for mercurial director John Huston’s 1956 film, when tensions between them were bristling because literary lightning bolts were not striking. Bradbury had by then published “The Martian Chronicles” (1950) and “Fahrenheit 451” (1953) but was not yet the science fiction master he became before his death in 2012…
(5) WE’LL JUST KEEP THIS OUR LITTLE SECRET. Seanan McGuire has an unusual way of avoiding publicity. Thread starts here.
…The idea that a teleport is actually a machine that kills you and makes a living copy of yourself somewhere else has been explored in fiction including by Stanislaw Lem. The most famous philosophical example though is in Derek Parfit’s 1984 book Reasons and Persons*. In Chapter 10 “What we believe ourselves to be” Parfitt opens with a sci-fi vignette…
…The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees will play a regular season game Aug. 13, 2020 in Dyersville, Iowa, at the site of the beloved baseball flick. What’s more, the league will begin construction on a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark on the Dyersville site that neighbors the iconic movie location. A pathway through a cornfield will take fans to the ballpark, which will overlook the famed site. The right field wall will include windows to show the cornfields beyond the ballpark. Aspects of the ballpark’s design will pay homage to Chicago’s Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox from 1910 to 1990, including the shape of the outfield and bull pens beyond the center field fence.
The game, which will be broadcast by Fox and begin at 7 p.m. ET, marks the first-ever MLB game ever held at the location as well as in the state of Iowa. That the White Sox are participating is fitting, given that the 1919 squad featuring Shoeless Joe Jackson and dubbed the Black Sox for throwing the World Series (against the Reds) were featured in Field of Dreams. The game is being staged with the participation of Field of Dreams producers Universal Studios.
(8) THIRTEENTH DOCTOR. Titan Comics will have a new issue of Doctor Who on sale August 28.
DOCTOR WHO: THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR VOL. 2 TP – This second collection of the new Doctor’s adventures sends her to medieval Europe, where bloodsucking aliens are making a dent in the tourist trade…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 8, 1919 — Dino De Laurentiis. Maker of Dune obviously but less obviously also a lot of other genre including Conan the Barbarian, Flash Gordon, King Kong, Halloween II and Halloween III, Dead Zone and The Last Legion. (Died 2010.)
Born August 8, 1930 — Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for The Avengers,The Champions andMacGyver. (Died 1997.)
Born August 8, 1935 — Donald P. Bellisario, 84. Genre shows include Tales of the Gold Monkey, Airwolf and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. OK, is Tales of the Gold Monkey genre? Well if not SF or fantasy, it’s certainly pulp in the best sense of that term.
Born August 8, 1937 — Dustin Hoffman, 82. Ahhh, Captian Hook, the man who got swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah, I like that film a lot. By no means his only genre appearance as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (not a film I love), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
Born August 8, 1950 — John D. Berry, 69. Editor of myriad fanzines, notable as one of featured a column in the Eighties written by his longtime friend, William Gibson. “The Clubhouse”which he wrote from July 1969 to September 1972 for Amazing Stories reviewed fanzines. His last published piece was “Susan Wood: About and By”, an appreciation of the late author. Partner of Eileen Gunn.
Born August 8, 1961 — Timothy P. Szczesuil, 58. Boston based con-running fan who chaired chaired Boskone 33 and Boskone 53. He’s also edited or co-edited several books for NESFA, Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois and His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C. M. Kornbluth.
Born August 8, 1974 — Dominic Harman, 45. Wandering through the Birthday sources, I found this UK illustrator active for some twenty years. He’s won three BSFA Awards, two for Interzone covers and one for the cover for 2011 Solaris edition of Ian Whates’ The Noise Revealed. My favourite cover by him? Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon cover, the 2006 Del Rey / Ballantine edition, is an outstanding look at his work.
Born August 8, 1987 — Katie Leung, 32. She played Cho Chang, the first love interest for Harry in the Potter film series. Her only other genre appearance to date is as Dou Ti in Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Dou E Yuan, often also translated as The Injustice to Dou E, is a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing (c. 1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty with serious bloody magic realism in it. End of your history lesson.
Born August 8, 1993 — Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, 26. She’s an Kahnawake Mohawk. Why I mention that will be apparent in a moment. Her most recent role is recurring one as Sam Black Crow on American Gods but she has a very long genre history starting being Monique on the Stephen King’s Dead Zone series. From there, she was Claudia Auditore in Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a series of three short films based on the Assassin’s Creed II video game before showing up as Ali’s in Rhymes for Young Ghouls which is notable for its handling of First Nations issues. She’s Daisy in Another WolfCop (oh guess which monster), an unnamed bar waitress in Being Human, Nourhan in Exploding Sun and Sam in the The Walking Dead: Michonne video game. Out soon is Blood Quantum about a zombie uprising on a First Nations homeland.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Garfield plays a variation on a familiar sci-fi movie theme.
Life on Mars? Well, sure, if you can call this life: Close To Home.
(11) RADIO 4. Two more episodes of Stranger Than Sci-Fi are available for listening on BBC Radio 4 for the next few weeks. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “Last week’s episode included a fair bit on Sue Burke’s Semiosis about the science (compared with the SF) of plant intelligence, communication etc. Apparently, they (plants) can hear bees buzzing! (By the way, we – in our SF2 Concatenaton team annual round robin – cited Semiosis as one of the ‘Best SF Novels of 2018’ – though this is a bit of annual fun for us, we do seem to get a few that go one to be shortlisted and/or win awards. See our past year’s performance here ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year’).”
In this episode, Jen and Alice investigate the science behind Sue Burke’s book, Semiosis, about a mysterious breed of intelligent plants. They talk to Sue about how watching her houseplants formed the inspiration for the book. Then they ask the linguist Dr Hannah Little if we could ever learn the language of something that has a completely different understanding of what communication means. Finally, Professor Lilach Hadany explains how a radical new study might show plants are listening to each other – and maybe even to us.
Jen and Alice explore one of the oldest questions in science and science fiction – why should we travel into space? At a time when Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are promising space colonies in the next fifty years, is it time to rethink our relationship with space? They talk to the astro-biologist Dr. Louisa Preston about whether there is life out there on other planets. Then they find out how we might already be endangering that potential life. The space archeologist Dr Alice Gorman explains how we are polluting our solar system, why we should worry about space junk and what a manifesto for sustainable space travel might look like.
The Neukom Institute for Computational Science awarded the second annual Neukom Literary Arts Award for Playwriting to Francisco Mendoza. Mendoza was presented with a $5,000 honorarium and his award at this summer’s VoxFest, a week-long festival hosted at Dartmouth College and co-produced by Dartmouth’s department of theater and Vox Theate…
Daniel Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science, left, congratulates Francisco Mendoza. “When we first read Francisco’s play we were taken by its thoughtful and moving treatment of the possible effects of our relationships with machines and each other. It was clear from the performance that great strides were made with just one week’s worth of development and we very much look forward to see how Francisco’s continued work with VoxFest will strengthen an already strong and imaginative vision. I was thrilled with the reading and am excited by this continued collaboration between the Neukom Institute, Dartmouth’s Department of Theater, and Northern Stage,” said Rockmore.
(13) WHAT ARMADILLOCON IS ABOUT. Marshall Ryan Maresca’s “ArmadilloCon 41 Toastmaster Speech” was so good it got a shout-out from Martha Wells (“Toastmaster Marshall Ryan Maresca did a wonderful opening ceremonies speech about acknowledging the problematic past of fandom and SF/F and moving into the future, and how ArmadilloCon and the writers workshop give us the chance to pay forward to the next generations:”)
…Because—and this is so important—this isn’t just a place that celebrates what’s happening now in all the tremendously geeky and fannish things we love. Nor is it a place that just looks to the fascinating and problematic past of those things. It is a place that fosters the people who will make those things tomorrow. We do that with our writers workshop, with the multiple panels on craft and business. We do that by filling the room with people who want to share, who want to pay it forward, who want to hold out a hand to the person behind them and say, “Hey, let’s go.”
If you are a person who ever whispered to yourself, “Maybe I could do that. Maybe I could write that. Maybe I could make that. Maybe I could be that.”
This is a place that opens its doors to you.
You are seen.
You are heard.
You are believed in.
(14) BEING A REAL WRITER. Tobias Buckell exhorts writers to remember that a successful writing career doesn’t look only one way. His terrific thread starts here.
Mark Hamill is again having some fun after a man named Luke Sky Walker seems to still be getting in hot water.
It was reported on Wednesday that the 22-year-old Walker had a warrant issued for his arrest in Carter County, Tennessee, concerning a charge of property theft over $1,000, according to the sheriff’s office.
Just as he did last year when Walker was arrested for violating probation after a felony theft charge, the Luke Skywalker actor took notice and had some quips.
“It’s the only bottle in existence – I tremble when I pick it up,” says Prof Jim Smith, gingerly lifting a bottle of Atomik grain spirit.
The “artisan vodka”, made with grain and water from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, is the first consumer product to come from the abandoned area around the damaged nuclear power plant.
The team started the vodka project by growing crops on a farm in the zone.
“Our idea then was [to use that rye grain] to make a spirit,” they say.
As well as Prof Smith, who is based at the University of Portsmouth, UK, the team behind the spirit is made up of researchers who have worked in the exclusion zone for many years – studying how the land has recovered since the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986.
They hope to use profits from selling it to help communities in Ukraine still affected by the economic impact of the disaster.
The secret to protecting your seaside chips from scavenging seagulls is to stare at them, scientists have said.
The birds are more likely to steal food when they can avoid the gaze of their victims, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Exeter put a bag of chips on the ground and timed how long herring gulls took to approach when they were being watched.
They compared this to how long it took for the gulls to strike when the person looked away.
(18) FERAL BARD. A mashup of Shakespeare and D&D —
thread starts here.
[Thanks to Lise Andreasen, Karl-Johan Norén, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Avilyn, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Martin
Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
(1) THE LAST DAY. Macmillan Publishers is moving from the
Flatiron to the Equitable Building
and taking Tor.com with it. Seanan McGuire commemorates the departure in her
Way the Wind Blows”.
I turn. Our navigator is looking over his shoulder at me. Well. One of his heads is. The other is still watching the curved window that makes up the front of our airship, crystal clear and apparently fragile. Most people who attack us aim for that window first, not asking themselves how many protections we’d put on a sheet of glass that size. The fact that it’s not a solid mass of bugs doesn’t seem to be the clue it should.
“What is it?”
He smiles uncertainly. “I think I see the Flatiron.”
Tor Books also posted a group shot taken outside the building here.
(2) PITT THE YOUNGER SEEKS PITT THE ELDER.Ad Astra comes
to theaters in September 2019.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system when he finds his missing father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, has been doing threatening experiments in space. He must unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
(3) FROM DEEP IN THE FILES. Baen Ebooks is distributing
the English translation of a nonfiction work Judgment in Moscow by Vladimir Bukovsky on its retail ebook site, as well as
offering a selection of other ebooks from Judgment in Moscow publisher,
Ninth of November Press.
Bukovsky spent years in the Soviet gulag, finally being released to the West in 1976. In 1991, Boris Yeltsin’s government asked Bukovsky to serve as an expert witness at a possible trial of the Communist Party. Bukovsky combed through the archives, scanning and copying much of the material there, and, after the trial became a dud, smuggled the material out of Russia. Judgment in Moscow is a behind the scenes look at these original documents which detail how the Soviet leadership and the Communist Party kept the Russian nation enslaved, accompanied by Bukovsky’s commentary elucidating the extent of the evil recorded therein.
Judgment in Moscow is based on the trove of Communist Party archives that Bukovsky spirited away before access was shut down. These contain elaborate details of Soviet meddling in Western politics, and it also details Western complicity in Soviet Russia’s program of totalitarian oppression. Originally written in Russian, Judgment in Moscow was seen as a major indictment of political treachery both inside and outside the USSR.
Western publishers, including Random House in America, backed down from publishing an English translation out of what appears in hindsight cowardice and fear of offending the emerging new Russian oligarchy. Now after years with no translation available, a new English version has finally been created with Bukovsky’s wholehearted participation.
…Wallace villains are never just ordinary criminals, but run improbably large and secretive organisations with dozens of henchmen. At least one of the henchmen is deformed or flat out insane, played either by former wrestler Ady Berber or a charismatic young actor named Klaus Kinski, who gave the performance of his life as a mute and insane animal handler in last year’s The Squeaker.
The crimes are extremely convoluted, usually involve robberies, blackmail or inheritance schemes and are always motivated by greed. Murder methods are never ordinary and victims are dispatched via harpoons, poison blow guns, guillotines or wild animals. The villains inevitably have strange monikers such as the Frog, the Shark, the Squeaker, the Avenger, the Green Archer or the Black Abbot and often wear a costume to match. Their identity is always a mystery and pretty much every character comes under suspicion until the big reveal at the end. And once the mask comes off, the villain is inevitably revealed to be a staunch pillar of society and often a member of Sir John’s club.
(5) GLORIOUS COVER. Alex Shvartsman posted a cover reveal for his debut novel, Eridani’s Crown. It’s a beauty.
The full wraparound
cover was drawn and designed by Tomasz Maronski.
Holy Hall of Fame, Batman! The Caped Crusader is robbin’ all the other comic book superheroes to seize the illustrious distinction of becoming the very first inductee into the new Comic-Con Museum’s inaugural class of honored comics characters.
The Dark Knight will hold the door for all the rest of the museum’s first, still-unannounced heroic batch, DC revealed in a press release announcing “The Gathering,” a July fundraising event for the new museum. Located near the site of San Diego Comic-Con in the city’s Balboa Park, the Comic-Con Museum (or CCM) will be a 68,000-square-foot shrine to all things heroic and villainous, drawing on decades of rich history from the pages of comics, graphic novels, and more.
“On the occasion of Batman’s 80th anniversary, a ceremony honoring DC’s most popular super hero will be the centerpiece” of the July 17 event, which is timed to help kick off this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
(7) DARK PHOENIX. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence,
Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult and Tye Sheridan talk
about making Dark Phoenix together and reveal some of their on-set
(8) FINANCIAL OMENS. Our Designated Financial Times Reader
Martin Morse Wooster peered behind the paywall at Dan Einav’s
interview with Michael Sheen and David Tennant about Good Omens.
Stars are usually personally held accountable when a series fails to meet the expectations of the fans–and lovers of fantasy and sci-fi are often notoriously implacable, To say that a screen adaptation of “Good Omens” has been hotly anticipated is to understate the extent of the fervour Gaiman’s devotees have for his work.
Do the actors feel anxious about a potential backlash? ‘I read the book when it first came outm so I’m one of those fans and I’ve felt the weight of expectation,’ says Sheen. “But Neil has said all the way through that he’s not making it for the fans, he’s making it for Terry.”
Tennant, who is no stranger to opinionated fans from his days as Doctor Who, is a little more blunt, ‘You can’t make TV which pleases what people’s preconceived notions might be. You just have to make something you feel proud of and works for people who haven’t read the book.
(9) WHERE IS EVERYBODY? Likewise behind a paywall, at Commentary,
astrophysicist Ethan Siegel
argues in “Are
We Alone In The Universe?” that
the likelihood there is life elsewhere in the universe is vanishingly small.
When we ask the big question–where is everybody?–it’s worth keeping a great many possibilities in mind. Aliens might be plentiful, but perhaps we’re not listening properly. Aliens might be plentiful, but they might self-destruct too quickly to maintain a technologically advanced state. Aliens might be plentiful, but they may choose to remain isolated. Aliens might be plentiful, but they might purposely choose to exclude Earth and their inhabitants from their communications. Aliens might be plentiful, but the problems of interstellar travel might be too difficult to overcome.
But there’s another valid possibility that we must keep in mind, as well: Aliens may not be there at all. The probability of the three vital leaps, as described above, is enormously uncertain. If even one of these three steps is too cosmically impossible, it may well be that in all the universe, there’s only us.
(10) BRADBURY REMEMBERED. [Item by Robert
Kerr.] “Ray died 7 years ago today. I know
he’d like to be remembered, but he’d like to be remembered with joy. Among
Ray’s many accomplishments was writing the script for the Epcot attraction
Spaceship Earth. This picture was taken in 1982 at the opening of Epcot. Ray
took a bus or train to get to Florida, but he had to get back to L.A. faster
than a bus or train could get there. Ray was a self-proclaimed coward who
didn’t conquer fears very well. He never drove a car his entire life, and at 62
he was going to get on a plane for the first time. He said they put a bunch of
martinis in him and loaded him onto the plane. To commemorate the occasion of
Ray’s first time on a plane, some Disney animators drew a piece showing Ray on
a plane, martini in hand, with Mickey Mouse sitting next to him. Ray kept that
piece on display in his study for the rest of his life.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 5, 1908 — John Russell Fearn. British author and one of the first British writers to appear in American pulp magazines. A prolific author, he also published novels as Vargo Statten and with various pseudonyms such as Thornton Ayre, Polton Cross, Geoffrey Armstrong and others. As himself, I see his first story as being The Intelligence Gigantic published in Amazing Stories in 1933. His Golden Amazon series of novels ran to over to two dozen titles, and the Clayton Drew Mars Adventure series that only ran to four novels. (Died 1960.)
Born June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. He was secret agent Gary Seven in the “Assignment: Earth” on StarTrek. The episode was a backdoor pilot for a series that would have starred Lansing and Teri Garr, but the series never happened. He of course appeared on other genre series such as The Twilight Zone, Journey to the Unknown, Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1994.)
Born June 5, 1946 — John Bach, 73. Einstein on Farscape, the Gondorian Ranger Madril in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Also a British body guard on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he was the body double for shooting for Saruman in place of Christopher Lee, who was unable to fly to New Zealand for principal photography on The Hobbit film series
Born June 5, 1960 — Margo Lanagan, 59. Tender Morsels won a World Fantasy Award for best novel, and Sea-Hearts won the same for Best Novella. She’s an alumna of the Clarion West Writers Workshop In 1999 and returned as a teacher in 2011 and 2013.
Born June 5, 1976 — Lauren Beukes, 43. South African writer who’s the author of a number of SF novels. Zoo City won the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award, The Shining City, about a time travel serial killer and the woman who catches him, is being adapted as a series in South Africa, and Moxyland is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town. Very impressive!
(12) WHO WRITER OUSTED FROM ANTHOLOGY. Gareth Roberts has been “dropped from an upcoming Doctor Who
anthology over ‘offensive’ transphobic tweets” BBC Books has
Parent company Ebury confirmed that Roberts’ contribution to Doctor Who: The Target Storybook, will not feature….
Ebury’s decision to drop Roberts over his tweets, which it says conflicts with its “values as a publisher”, has sparked debate on social media.
For nearly three decades, Stephenson’s novels have displayed an obsessive, technically astute fascination with cryptography, digital currency, the social and technological infrastructure of a post-government world, and Asian culture. His novel Anathem is, among other things, an elaborate investigation into the philosophy of knowledge. His new book, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, pursues these themes literally beyond the grave, into the complications of estate planning and cryogenics.
(14) CALLING LONG DISTANCE. Drop by the Richard M. Nixon
Presidential Library and Museum between now and January 12, 2020 to see the phone
he used to call the Moon in the interactive exhibit Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for
Artifacts and objects featured in the exhibit include:
Buzz Aldrin’s penlight used in the Lunar Module and Apollo 11 patch worn on the surface of the moon
NASA X-15 silver-gleaming pressure suit used to train Neil Armstrong and America’s first astronauts in the 1950s
Moon rocks from the lunar surface, acquired during the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 missions
Oval Office telephone that President Nixon used to call Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they explored on the lunar surface
Presidential Medal of Freedom Award presented to astronaut Michael Collins by President Nixon
Original of President Nixon’s draft speech prepared in the event of a “moon disaster”
A 3-D printed, life-sized statue of Neil Armstrong in his space suit, as he climbed down the ladder of the Lunar Module on the moon
A giant, exact recreation of an Apollo mission command module
Thoughts: This story won the Nebula Award, and I don’t think it’s a bad pick for the award, which is a testament to the strength of this ballot. It’s a fantasy story about nine slaves’ lives and hopes, with the teeth taken from them as the gateway to their stories (and the effects of those teeth on George Washington) – with those slaves’ lives having various degrees of fantasy elements, all fitting the themes of those realistic slave-lives. Still, I think it probably works the least of these six as a cohesive whole, even if the individual parts of this story are excellently done (with the final part reclaiming the supposedly noble action of Washington to free his slaves on his deathbed, in a really nice touch).
A scientist walks up to a cottonwood tree, sticks a hollow tube in the middle and then takes a lighter and flicks it. A jet of flame shoots out from the tube.
It seems like a magician’s trick. Turns out, there’s methane trapped in certain cottonwood trees. Methane is the gas in natural gas. It’s also a powerful greenhouse gas.
So how does it get inside towering trees like the ones on the campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee?
“The wood in this particular species naturally has this condition called wetwood, where it’s saturated within the trunk of the tree,” says the lighter-flicking scientist, Oak Ridge environmental microbiologist Christopher Schadt.
This wetwood makes for a welcoming home for all sorts of microorganisms.
…Some of those organisms turned out to be species of archaea that are known methane producers. So it’s not the trees themselves that are making the methane, it’s the microbes living in the trees.
…Because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, Cregger says, it’s important to see how much of it the trees are actually producing.
This raises the surprising notion that trees could actually be contributing to global warming. Yes, these trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but could the methane be making things worse?
The Ásatrú faith, one of Iceland’s fastest growing religions, combines Norse mythology with ecological awareness – and it’s open to all.
…The ‘blót’, as the changing-of-the-season ceremony is known, began with the lighting of a small fire, which flickered in the breeze as the congregation listened to Old Norse poetry and raised the beer-filled horn to honour the Norse gods. Elsewhere on the island, similar ceremonies, I was told, were taking place.
The blót had been organised by the Ásatrú Association of Iceland, a pagan faith group that is currently one of the country’s fastest growing religions, having almost quadrupled its membership in a decade, albeit from a low base of 1,275 people in 2009 to 4,473 in 2018.
The congregation, which comprised a few dozen souls, including a Buddhist and a Hindu guest, had gathered near a sandy beach on the outskirts of Reykjavik, next to the city’s domestic airport, to celebrate the first day of the Icelandic summer. It was 25 April, slightly chilly and mostly overcast. Rain looked likely….
(19) WITH WINTER COMES ICE. The whole Game of Thrones cast raps in A Song of Vanilla Ice and Fire – Game of Thrones x Ice Ice Baby.
[Thanks to Lenore Jean Jones, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
…I’m tired of cancel culture, just as I was dully tired of everything that preceded it and will doubtless grow tired of everything that comes after it in turn, until our fundamental sense of what the internet is and how it should be managed finally changes. Like it or not, the internet both is and is of the world, and that is too much for any one person to sensibly try and curate at an individual level. Where nothing is moderated for us, everything must be moderated by us; and wherever people form communities, those communities will grow cultures, which will develop rules and customs that spill over into neighbouring communities, both digitally and offline, with mixed and ever-changing results. Cancel culture is particularly tricky in this regard, as the ease with which we block someone online can seldom be replicated offline, which makes it all the more intoxicating a power to wield when possible: we can’t do anything about the awful coworker who rants at us in the breakroom, but by God, we can block every person who reminds us of them on Twitter.
(3) A WARRIOR HANGS UP HIS SHIELD. Fulk Beauxarmes’ protests against the growing influence of white supremacists in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and use of their symbols in its heraldry, inspired me to nominate him for Best Fanwriter. In a new post he decries the continued inaction of the Society’s leadership and also announces that he’s “Leaving the SCA”.
On February 15th a post that Ronan Blackmoor had recently made was brought to my attention. He’d apparently posted to his Facebook page a triumphant announcement that he and Balder had been “completely cleared” of all accusations of wrongdoing and that there would be “consequences” for all the “leftists”, “SJWs” and “SCAntifa” who had brought “fake charges” against him.
…That was the last straw for me….
(4) AIRBNB ISSUE. Do
you need to check your reservations?
…I’ve come to realize that I have to pay if I want certain things in this world to exist, even if I don’t use them.
I subscribe to four SF magazines that I seldom read. I read when I can, or when I see a story recommended, or when a friend tells me about a story. I subscribe because I want them to exist. I subscribe because I want a place for new SF writers to get published. I subscribe because one day if I can ever get back into writing fiction I’ll have a place to submit my stories.
We have to realize that free content on the internet isn’t free. We’ve got to come up with revenue systems that work. I think the internet needs to remain free, so we can always have instant access to content, but we need to find ways to pay publishers who present free content on the web.
(6) THE KISS OF SOMETHING.
Chuck Tingle mingles praise and profitmaking in his response to Archive of Our Own’s Hugo nomination.
(7) GHOST OF A MACHINE. In “A
Crime Novel for Future Urban Planners” on
CrimeReads, Benjamin Samuel
interviews Seth Fried, author of The
Municipalists, a near future novel in which detective Henry Thompson solves
a cyberattack with the aid of OWEN, “an experimental, highly intelligent
hologram…who’s developed his own protocol for day drinking.”
Despite being a holographic projection of a supercomputer, OWEN can sometimes feel more human than Henry—or at least OWEN seems to enjoy life a little more. But ultimately, there are limitations to what he can do. What were some of challenges of having an AI character?
OWEN was a lot of fun to write. Since he’s a shape-shifting light projection, he’s essentially a superhero who can’t physically interact with anyone. So anything he wants to accomplish has to come through trickery or convincing Henry to give some life-threatening strategem the old college try.
(8) FRENCH ADDRESSING. Some authors had fun responding to this idea – Seanan McGuire and John Chu among them – but one took offense (see the thread).
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 5, 1900 — Spencer Tracy. Yes, he did some genre, to wit he was in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he played Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde! The film even featured Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. (Died 1967.)
Born April 5, 1908 — Bette Davis. She’s in Burnt Offerings, am Eighties horror film that did well with the audience and not so well with the critics; I also see she’s in Madame Sin which I think is SF given the premise. (Died 1989.)
Born April 5, 1909 — Albert Broccoli. He’s mostly known as the producer of many of the James Bond films, and his heirs continue to produce new Bond films. With Harry Saltzman, he produced the first eight Bond films including From Russia with Love which is still my favorite Bond film though You Only Live Twice with a screenplay by Roald Dahl comes close. (Died 1996.)
Born April 5, 1917 — Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommend. And I know that “That Hellbound Train” which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story is the piece of fiction by him I’ve read the most. (Died 1994.)
Born April 5, 1926 — Roger Corman, 93. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his film and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf on Syfy just a few years back was another such film. He’s a man who even produced such a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996.
Born April 5, 1920 — A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
Born April 5, 1965 — Deborah Harkness, 54. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which was an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense.
Born April 5, 1982 – Hayley Atwell, 37. Agent Carter with her as Peggy Carter I’ll freely admit has been the only series or film in the MCU repertoire that I’ve flat enjoyed so far. Even the misogyny of the males though irritating in that setting made sense. Oh, and I’m interested to see her in Christopher Robin as Evelyn Robin.
(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott
Edelman calls on everyone to “bond over bing bread” with Malka Older in Episode
92 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
This turns out to be a perfectly timed episode of Eating the Fantastic, though I didn’t plan it that way, and had no idea while recording such would be the case. The reason for my feeling of serendipity is because my guest is Malka Older, author of the novels Infomocracy, Null States, and State Tectonics — which comprise the Centenal Cycle — and which just a few days ago was announced as having made the final Hugo Awards ballot in the category of Best Series….
She joined me for lunch at Momofuku CCDC, a restaurant which will be familiar to regular listeners of this podcast, because Rosemary Claire Smith joined me there a little more than two years ago in Episode 32. I try not to be a repeat customer at any of the spots I visit — at least not while recording for the podcast — but a lot has changed since that visit. David Chang installed a new executive chef, Tae Strain, and gave him orders to “destroy” the menu (according to an article in the Washingtonian), which meant ditching the ramen and pork buns for which Momofuku is so famous. But hey, where else am I going to get a chance to try kimchee potato salad?
We discussed why democracy is a radical concept which scares people (and what marriage has to say about the dramatic potential of democracy), the pachinko parlor which helped give birth to her science fictional universe, how what was intended to be a standalone novel turned into a trilogy, her secrets (and role models) when it comes to writing action scenes, which of her characters moves more merchandise, how (and why) editor Carl Engle-Laird helped her add 20,000 words to her first novel, what she learned about herself from the collaborative Serialbox project, the one thing about her background I was embarrassed to admit I’d never realized, and much more.
(11) OVERFLOWING JOY. Alasdair Stuart’s latest issue
of Full Lid includes piece on Mac Rogers’ movie The Horror at Gallery Kay, a look at Us, a detailed look at Project
Blue Book (Stuart says “Turns out you can take the boy out of ufology but
the man keeps watching tv shows about it”) and some Hugos joy.
Project Blue Book was a real thing, the USAF’s probably whitewashed investigation into the UFO phenomena. Doctor J. Allen Hynek was a real person and remains one of the vanishingly small amount of actual scientists to look into UFOlogy as a field and not a snake oil vending machine. His son Joel is a prolific special effects technician who designed the camouflage effect for the Predator by the way. The cases the episodes are based on are real too, the first two episodes dealing with the Gorman (renamed Fuller) Dogfight and the The Flatwoods Monster. In the first, a pilot engaged a UFO in something approximating combat. In the second, a family were first terrified by what they were sure was a downed UFO and second by the enraged townsfolk who refused to believe them.
This sci-fi novel features space battles, espionage, and cute talking robots. Obviously, we see this book being turned into a space opera-esque RPG ala Mass Effect, with a touch of shoot ‘em style space battles. Think Galaga but with interdimensional space politics and dueling. 10/10 would play for days.
Lockheed Martin’s April Fools’ Day joke passed the smell test.
The aerospace company on Monday (April 1) kicked off its prank by announcing a launch, but rather than it being of a rocket or a spacecraft, it was Vector, “the first ever fragrance to capture the aroma of space.” And no sooner did the liftoff occur, than thousands of people came to Lockheed Martin’s website to request a sample.
One might expect that to be the gag, but the company went a step further, not only creating a spot-on ad for the bottled essence of space, but also producing the scent for real, as in actual vials of the unisex (if not also universal) eau de (zero-g) toilette
Auction house Bonhams said the first-edition copy of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone — known in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — attracted a high bid of $90,074.
The specific edition is famed in the Potter fandom for containing a handful of typos, including misspelling the word “Philosopher” and the repetition of “1 wand” on the list of items the boy wizard needs to obtain for school.
Think of all the rare typos I make here – I wonder how much Bonhams could get for my blog?
Shazam! wants to be slick and smartassy except when it suddenly chooses to be warm and sincere—like a TV commercial for some medication or life insurance. You can’t have it both ways but this film repeatedly tries to do so. I’ve always loved the character who originated as Captain Marvel in 1940s comic books (and lost that name to Marvel in a famous lawsuit). He was essentially a rip-off of Superman but he had his own style and flavor. This movie, however, is a muddle.
(16) SLAG HEAPER. Vox
Day sneers at this year’s Hugo-nominated novels in “From
pulp to Puppies” [Internet Archive link] at Vox Popoli.
Total nonentities. All six of these novels together won’t sell as many copies as a single Galaxy’s Edge novel. Novik would have been considered a C-level talent at best in the 1980s. And people could be forgiven for thinking that the Rabid Puppies were still dictating the nominees with titles such as “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” on the short list.
Congrats to all the Hugo nominees. I won’t whinge that the best novel category doesn’t, for the most part, reflect my tastes. Nor will I set up a movement of like minded people to ensure it does so in the future….
For about 20 seconds I considered trying to put together an Alternate Hugos Best Novel list, and then I realised (1) there are a lot of those and (2) you can’t have an Alternate Hugo list really. These are the books that fans who nominated *liked* the most. That’s fine and pretty cool.
I thought I knew what to expect, going in to Terra Nullius. I’d seen the book recommended on speculative sites, I’d read enough about it to know that its take on colonisation and extermination of indigineous people was almost but not quite based on the experience of Australia’s indigenous communities following the British invasion in 1788. And yet, by a hundred pages in, I was starting to doubt what everyone and everything (including the book’s own blurb) was telling me. Was I missing clues to a larger mystery? Were there adjectives that I was misreading or apparently historical references that I was misinterpreting? Where, to be blunt, was all the science fiction?
Of course, if you’re paying attention, that’s an intentional feature of Claire G. Coleman’s brilliant debut novel, which offers a perspective on the invasion of Australia which is very much a speculative novel, and yet still inexctricably and uncomfortably intertwined with the real historical treatment of Aboriginal Australians over centuries of white rule. Coleman herself is Noongar, a community from the south coast of what is now Western Australia, and Terra Nullius is the product of a black&write! indigenous writers fellowship. Despite being a first novel, this is a book that’s utterly confident both in its content and its narrative structure, and for very good reason….
He began shovelling off the layers of soil above where he’d found the fish. This “overburden” is typically material that was deposited long after the specimen lived; there’s little in it to interest a paleontologist, and it is usually discarded. But as soon as DePalma started digging he noticed grayish-white specks in the layers which looked like grains of sand but which, under a hand lens, proved to be tiny spheres and elongated droplets. “I think, Holy shit, these look like microtektites!” DePalma recalled. Microtektites are the blobs of glass that form when molten rock is blasted into the air by an asteroid impact and falls back to Earth in a solidifying drizzle. The site appeared to contain microtektites by the million.
As DePalma carefully excavated the upper layers, he began uncovering an extraordinary array of fossils, exceedingly delicate but marvellously well preserved. “There’s amazing plant material in there, all interlaced and interlocked,” he recalled. “There are logjams of wood, fish pressed against cypress-tree root bundles, tree trunks smeared with amber.” Most fossils end up being squashed flat by the pressure of the overlying stone, but here everything was three-dimensional, including the fish, having been encased in sediment all at once, which acted as a support. “You see skin, you see dorsal fins literally sticking straight up in the sediments, species new to science,” he said. As he dug, the momentousness of what he had come across slowly dawned on him. If the site was what he hoped, he had made the most important paleontological discovery of the new century.
The spaceship hurtling away from Earth is staffed with men and women sprung from death row to aid in a mysterious science experiment. The once-condemned crew believe they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves and do one final good deed for humanity. Only later, as their signals to Earth begin to go unanswered and their true mission comes into focus, do they realize they have in fact been condemned twice.
High Life is strange and wondrous, less a traditional sci-fi film than it is a seductive journey into the long, black night of death. For many Americans it will also be a wormhole into the work of French director Claire Denis, who’s been active in cinephile circles for three decades but has never before helmed a movie entirely in English. Of course, having the hipness cred of A24 and Robert Pattinson providing the rocket fuel doesn’t hurt.
A prologue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarkovsky film shows Pattinson’s human guinea pig Monte in the aftermath of something horrible, wandering alone on the deck of this rocket to nowhere, with only a mysterious baby keeping him company. It’s a great hook — what the hell happened here? — shot at Denis’ familiar meandering pace, proving that even lightspeed won’t rush her story. It’s also a mission statement. As he hurtles toward oblivion, Monte’s acts of paternal care exist in a kind of vacuum. Maybe life and love are possible within a universe of infinite cruelty, and it’s up to the individual to determine their worth.
The fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves has been discovered in Peru.
Palaeontologists believe the marine mammal’s four-metre-long (13 ft) body was adapted to swim and walk on land.
With four limbs capable of carrying its weight and a powerful tail, the semi-aquatic whale has been compared to an otter or a beaver.
Researchers believe the discovery could shed light on the evolution of the whale and how it spread.
“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” Dr Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study, said.
Call a dog by his name, and his tail wags, he starts panting happily, and he showers you with love and affection.
Call a cat by his name, and… well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what his name is?
So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?
Research on cats is slim compared to research on dogs. That may be because cats can’t be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the Japanese researchers devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, Michael Toman, ULTRAGOTHA,
Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Daniel Dern.]