Looking ahead, in SeptemberSF² Concatenation will (hopefully, depending on its lock-down) have its autumnal (northern hemisphere) edition. This will consist of some articles and some standalone book reviews. (Many thanks to its book review panel members who have been sending in their reviews on USB memory sticks by old-fashioned snail-mail post as SF² Concatenation’s mission control is digitally isolated.) Alas, there will be no seasonal news page in September for the autumn as publishers are going rather quiet on the book promotion front, cinemas are closed to new films, and all SF conventions have been cancelled.
Looking further aheadSF² Concatenation will be suspending operations (other than receiving books from publishers for review). They will not be checking their e-mails (their mission control is digitally isolated during UK lock-down — ironically to prevent computer virus infection/master site hacking etc.) but they will pick up articles submitted by e-mail at some point in the future when they can get to their office.
Still further into the future, they aim to resume their seasonal editions three months after British lock-down ends. (This is because many publishers have ceased sending out physical review copies of books during the current SARS-CoV-2 crisis and so they will have to wait to accrue a season’s worth of books and review them before they can resume full editions.) They say they will though pick up their e-mails as soon as lock-down ends and liaise with contributors at that time. SF² Concatenation will also monitor publishers’ catalogues as soon as the resumption of production of new ones recommences and so their first seasonal news page may have lengthier forthcoming books listings as these will include recent releases not previously covered.
(1) CORONAVIRUS IMPACT. Eric Flint told Facebook
readers today he has cancelled
his upcoming trip to Los Angeles for the annual Writers of the Future award
ceremony due to the coronavirus threat.
I’m one of the judges for the contest and I’ve attended the ceremony every year since I became a judge (which is more than a decade, now.) I hated to do it, for a lot of reasons, one of them being that LA is my home town and I always visit friends and relatives (when possible — my relatives now all live in Ventura, and sometimes I don’t have time to get up there).
(2) CONVENTION UPDATE. Ace Comic Con Northeast (March
20-22), which previously announced they’d go on, has now
(3) LETTING READERS KNOW. Sharon Lee shared an important personal
medical update on her blog: “Whole New World”.
Details at the link.
(4) STARGIRL. A teaser trailer for the new series. Comicbook.com
Stargirl is coming to both The CW and DC Universe in just a two more months and now, fans are getting another brief look at the young DC hero in action in a new teaser for the upcoming series. The brief teaser offers a glimpse of Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore in action as Stargirl with a voice over talking about how she finally knows who she really is offering a sense of optimism as she wields the Cosmic Staff against her adversary.
…You could look at one ship and immediately know that, say, the show would take place in the relatively near future, and have a pretty good grounding in science, or look at another and immediately know nobody gave two shits about physics, but it’ll be a fun ride.
I compiled several thousand examples and fed them into the Jalopnik Mainframe (a cluster of over 400 Timex-Sinclair 1000 computers dumped into an abandoned hot tub in a bunker underneath Ed Begley Jr’s combined EV R&D lab/sex-lab) which ran an advanced AI that categorized the ships into eight distinct classes….
If you want to see the big version, or maybe print it out for your ceiling so you can lay in bed and contemplate it, click here!
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is built around a harbour on the southern tip of New Zealand. Although it’s a small city, with about 400,000 residents, visitors won’t have a shortage of things to do.
New Zealand has a strong creative and fan community. Its National Science Fiction Convention has been running since 1979. This year (2020), it will be hosted at the CoNZealand Worldcon, along with the Sir Julius Vogel Awards that recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders.
Those, participating in the CoNZealand Worldcon, choosing to extend their holiday to visit other parts of the country will find fantasy and science fiction-themed adventures in all corners: from the Hobbiton film set in the North Island, to Oamaru, steampunk capital of the world, in the South. Most fantastical of all are New Zealand’s landscapes, including beautiful beaches and snowy ski-fields….
(7) OR ARE THEY DANGEROUS VIBRATIONS? [Item by Jonathan Cowie.]
BBC Radio 4 has
the first of a new three-parter in their Dangerous Visions anthology
Horror will be available to download from 12th march – i.e. shortly —
for a month.
London, 2050. The transplant industry is in full swing. But can a new body ever fulfil the life-changing expectations of lowly mortician Caroline McAleese? A dystopian thriller by Lucy Catherine.
Developed through the Wellcome Trust Experimental stories scheme. The Wellcome Trust is a charity based on a huge endowment whose investment profits fund biomedical research and biomedical communication. To give you an idea of their size, they invest as much as the UK government in biomedical science research. They also do a little public engagement in science and arts and supporting this programme is part of that.
The Weird Tales of Tanith Lee by Tanith Lee. She has always been one of my favorite writers. While I was growing up, I collected all her books. She was also a prolific writer of short stories. Since they were published in the days before the Internet, they weren’t always so easy to find. Now, posthumously, they are being reissued. This book is a collection of all the short stores that she ever published in Weird Tales magazine.
My mom lent me a book called Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. It’s the story of three women whose lives intersect at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. It’s a brutal story, but as someone who always searches for meaning in what happened to my family in the Holocaust, it feels necessary.
(9) IMAGINEERS. In “Disney Books
Galore”, Leonard Maltin reviews a trove of books about the Magic
Kingdom and its creators.
Walt Disney was stingy with compliments, but he called longtime animator Marc Davis his “renaissance man” and meant it. As the production of animated films wound down in the 1950s, Disneyland and the upcoming New York World’s Fair consumed much of Walt’s time and nearly all of his energy. His Midas touch intact, Disney reassigned many of his artists to his WED operation, later renamed Imagineering. Davis brought his artistic talent and whimsical imagination to the task of world-building and left his mark on such enduring attractions as the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Country Bear Jamboree, to name just a few.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 11, 1971 — THX 1138 premiered. It was the first feature film from George Lucas. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch. It starred Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence. A novelization by Ben Bova was published. The film was not a box office success though critics generally loved it and it developed a cult following after Star Wars released, and it holds a ninety percent rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see THX 1138here. We suspect that it’s a pirate copy, so watch it soon before it disappears.
March 11, 1974 — Latitude Zero premiered. It was directed by Ishir? Honda. It was written by Ted Sherdeman from his radio serial of the same name, with the screenplay by Ted Sherdeman. The film starred Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Akira Takarada, Masumi Okada, Richard Jaeckel, Patricia Medina, and Akihiko Hirata. American producer Don Sharp sent the American cast to Japan just as his company went bankrupt so Toho, the Japanese company, picked up the entire budget. Most critics at the time like the campy SFX but said it lacked any coherent. It gets a middling audience rating of 50% at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see the English language version here.
March 11, 1998 — Babylon 5‘s “Day of the Dead” first aired. Written by Neil Gaiman, it featured among its cast Penn & Teller as the comedians Rebo and Zooty visiting the station on The Brakiri Day of the Dead. Many think Teller speaks here but his voice is actually provided by Harlan Ellison. Dreamhaven sold an annotated script with an introduction by J. Michael Straczynski. You can find the episode on YouTube though it requires a fee. It’s available also on Amazon or iTunes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fanzine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo Award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part dedicated to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement which is odd as he published a number of novels after that decision became in effect. (Died 2005.)
Born March 11, 1925 — Christopher Anvil. A Campbellian writer through and through, he was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956. The Colonization series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote two novels, The Day the Machines Stopped andThe Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
Born March 11, 1928 — Albert Salmi. Though he had virtually no major genre or genre adjacent roles, he showed up in quite a number of series starting of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and going on to be in The Twilight Zone in multiple roles, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Lost in Space (twice as Alonzo P. Tucker), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (as E-1), Empire of the Ants (in a starting role as Sheriff Art Kincade), Dragonslayer and Superstition. (Died 1990.)
Born March 11, 1935 — Nancy Kovack, 85. She appeared as Nona in Trek’s “A Private Little War”. She also showed up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, as Medea in Jason and the Argonauts, Batman (twice as Queenie), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Dream of Jeannie, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold, Marooned,Get Smart! and The Invisible Man.
Born March 11, 1947 — Floyd Kemske, 73. I’m betting someone here can tell me the story of how he came to be the Editor of Galaxy magazine for exactly one issue — the July 1980 issue to be precise. I’ve not read either of his two novels, so I can’t comment on him as a writer, but the Galaxy editorship story sounds fascinating.
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve have read and listen to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and escapes my understanding its charms. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 57. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. She was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila, and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks, and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. She’s been continuing her River Song character over at Big Finish.
Born March 11, 1967 — John Barrowman, 53. Best genre role without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters in the form of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul. He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdinand Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons.
(13) FRESH INTRO TO MALZBERG. D. Harlan Wilson has a new introduction for the upcoming
reprint of Barry N. Malzberg’s Revelations (1972): He’s made
it available on his website here.
With Galaxies, Beyond Apollo, and The Falling Astronauts, Revelations is part of a thematically linked group of Malzberg’s novels, all of which are now available from Anti-Oedipus Press. This special edition includes an introduction by D. Harlan Wilson, “Barry N. Malzberg and the Gravity of Science Fiction,” and two afterwords by the author, one from the second printing of Revelations in 1976, the other written in 2019 for this latest reprint.
Michelle Hanlon moved around a lot while growing up. Her parents were part of the Foreign Service, the government agency that formulates and enacts U.S. policy abroad, so she found herself in new places all the time. Despite relocating often, one memory of her childhood remains constant. “We always had Star Trek,” Hanlon tells SYFY WIRE. “You know how families have dinner around the table? I remember eating meals in front of Star Trek, watching it no matter where we were.”
That connection to Star Trek, in part, inspired Hanlon to create For All Moonkind, a volunteer non-profit with the goal of preserving the Apollo landing sites on the Moon, alongside promoting the general preservation of history and heritage in outer space.
More Star Trek
Hanlon, who is a career attorney, has always had an interest in outer space. She didn’t study engineering or other sciences while at school, though, so she felt it couldn’t be more than a hobby. But after Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the head of the European Space Agency, made an offhand joke about how China may remove the United State’s flag from the Apollo moon landing site during a press conference, Hanlon started thinking about space preservation and what would eventually become For All Moonkind. She started the group in 2017 with her husband after returning to school to get a master’s degree in space law.
One point Hanlon and For All Moonkind stress is the idea that we can only preserve our history in space if we put the space race behind us and do it together — an ideal partially inspired by Star Trek. “I’ve never felt that I couldn’t do what I wanted because of my gender or race because I grew up with Star Trek,” Hanlon, who has a Chinese father and Polish mother, says. “The diversity of Star Trek was a reflection of my life; I was shocked to not see it when I came back to the U.S.”
(15) AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Andrew Dalton, in the AP story “Avengers
Campus to let Disneyland visitors sling like Spidey”, went on a press preview of the new
Avengers Campus opening at Disney’s California Adventure in July, replacing the
Bug’s Life ride. The ride will include opportunities for patrons to
“sling spider webs” like Spider-Man, and includes
“warehouses” for the Avengers designed to look like old
buildings. Food items include “Pym’s Test Kitchen,” which
features a tiny brioche bun and a giant breaded chicken breast, and a
“shwarma joint” similar to the one featured at the end of The
…“We’ve been trying to figure out how do we bring this land to life not just where you get to see your favorite heroes or meet your favorite heroes, but where you actually get to become a hero,” Brent Strong, the executive creative director behind the new land for Walt Disney Imagineering, said at a media preview that revealed new details and provided a first look at the project that was first announced last year. “It’s about living out your superhero fantasies.”
Central to that aim is “WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure,” which uses a combination of physical and digital imagery to allow riders to play Peter Parker along with onscreen Spidey Tom Holland….
At Pym Tasting Kitchen, the land’s main restaurant, a “Quantum Tunnel machine” and size-adjusting Pym particles experiment with food — and drinks at the adjacent Pym Tasting Lab — in a menu bolstered by Disney’s corporate partnerships with Coca-Cola and Impossible Foods plant-based meat.
The Quantum Pretzel, an oversized Bavarian twist pretzel, is Pym Tasting Kitchen’s most iconic item. It comes towering over a side of California IPA cheddar-mozzarella beer cheese. Similar to the park’s other large-scale pretzels at first glance, it clocks in at around 14 inches. Another ridiculously oversized dish, the Not So Little Chicken Sandwich, pairs a large chicken schnitzel with a small slider-sized potato bun, topped with Sriracha and teriyaki citrus mayos and pickled cabbage slaw. The gag, like the short skirt-long jacket of theme park cuisine, is executed brilliantly. (See also: the Caesar salad, served wedge-style with a head of baby romaine, vegan dressing, and a “colossal crouton.”)
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Dvein vs. Flamingos on Vimeo, you learn what
you shouldn’t mess with a pink flamingo.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Ben
Bird Person, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Shaun Lyon, Mlex,
SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
Michael Lee Aday, better known by his stage name “Meat Loaf,” is currently suing horror convention Texas Frightmare Weekend and its venue the Hyatt Regency DFW in Tarrant County, Texas. According to NBC 10:
(3) READ ALL ABOUT IT. SF2 Concatenation’s spring edition is now up.
Principal contents include:
4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?
Jeff Vandermeer’s Shriek: An Afterword. I loved the first Ambergris book, City of Saints and Madmen. I picked up Shriek next, and found it utterly incomprehensible and dull. Years later, I got the third book in the sequence, Finch, and loved it. I then gave Shriek another try, and it felt like a completely different book. I was astounded at myself for hating it the first time, and I’ve no idea why I bounced off it so hard.
(7) CAROL SERLING OBIT. Carol Serling, widow of Twilight
Zone’s Rod Serling and mother of author Anne Serling died
January 9 reports the Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin.
After the death of her husband, due to complications after heart surgery, Carol worked to keep Rod’s legacy alive.
In 1981, she launched the monthly “The Twilight Zone Magazine” and served as the publication’s editor from 1981 through 1989. She held the legal rights to Serling’s name and likeness. CBS owns the rights to the television series.
In 1994, two new episodes of the sci-fi television series were aired on CBS based on material found by Carol after Rod’s death and then sold to CBS. They aired in a two-hour special titled “Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics.”
That same year, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror theme park ride opened at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (then MGM Studio Theme Park) in Orlando, Florida, and Binghamton High School dedicated its arts program as the Rod Serling School of Fine Arts.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 14, 1954 — Riders To The Stars premiered. It was directed by Richard Carlson (who also stars) and Herbert L. Strock (who is uncredited for unknown reasons) and has the additional cast of William Lundigan, Martha Hyer, and Herbert Marshall. Riders to the Stars is the second film in Ivan Tors’ Office of Scientific Investigation trilogy, which was preceded by The Magnetic Monster and followed by Gog. All in all, reviewers considered it a quite unremarkable film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes though Amazon reviewers were kind to it. Fortunately you can judge for yourself as the film is here to watch.
January 14, 1959 — Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
January 14, 1976 — The Bionic Woman aired its first episode. A spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man, it starred Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. It run just three seasons, half of what the parent show ran. It on ABC, NBC and finally on CBS.
January 14, 1981 — Scanners premiered. Directed by David Cronenberg and produced by Claude Héroux, it starred Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane and Michael Ironside. Reviewers, with the exception of Ebert, generally liked it, and reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a healthy 64% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 14, 1924 — Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
Born January 14, 1943 — Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was. (Died 2009.)
Born January 14, 1948 — Carl Weathers, 72. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other SFF creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly comedy The Sasquatch Gang and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very not SFF.
Born January 14, 1949 — Lawrence Kasdan, 71. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Born January 14, 1957 — Suzanne Danielle, 63. A Whovian as she showed up as Agella in “The Destiny if The Daleks,“ a Fourth Doctor story. She was on the Hammer House of Horror series in the Carpathian Eagle” episode, and she’s also in Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected multiple times in different roles. To my knowledge, her only other SFF appearance was on the Eighties Flash Gordon film.
Born January 14, 1962 — Jemma Redgrave, 58. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who.
Born January 14, 1963 — Steven Soderbergh, 57. Though largely not a SFF person, he’s ventured into our ‘verse on occasion by directing such films as Solaris (which he also wrote), Nightwatch which he was the writer of, Contagion which he directed and The Hunger Games for which he was Second Unit Director. I’m tempted to call Kafka for which he was Director at least genre adjacent…
Born January 14, 1964 — Mark Addy, 56. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost followed by by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Games of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis.
Born January 14, 1990 — Grant Gustin, 30. The actor, known as Barry Allen aka the Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode on A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well the Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.
The two men accused of stealing and reselling more than $500,000 worth of rare books, maps and other artifacts from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh reached a plea deal Monday with prosecutors who agreed to drop most of the charges they faced.
…Gregory Priore, 63, of Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, was the archivist and manager of the library’s William R. Oliver Special Collections Room from 1992 until April 2017.
The room held a collection of rare books, maps and other items worth millions. Priore was accused of stealing the items from the library and selling them to John Schulman, 56, of Squirrel Hill, who owns the Caliban Bookshop in Oakland.
Among the items that were stolen was a 400-year-old Bible printed in London. It was recovered in April 2019 in the Netherlands as part of the criminal investigation.
Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam.
One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its “chest”. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads.
“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”
When Lai was certain of her win on Saturday, she took to Facebook at 8 p.m. to write: ” Hello friends, I am Lai Pinyu, lawmaker of New Taipei City’s 12th District. Please give me your feedback over the next four years.” In her post, Lai included a photo of herself dressed as Sailor Mars from the “Sailor Moon” Japanese manga series, gaining her 30,000 likes, 2,800 comments, and 2,200 shares within 12 hours.
I don’t want to talk about Blood Heir without acknowledging the route this book took to publication. Originally scheduled for release the beginning of 2019, the book was delayed after numerous ARC readers identified significant sensitivity issues with an aspect of the plot and characters. Blood Heir deals in some depth with the concept of indenture, with marginalised characters in the place where the book is set at high risk of being forced to sign work contracts which leave them effectively in slavery. In original ARCs, the story’s depictions of race provoked strong concerns about how the story came across in the context of historic Black slavery in the USA. In response, author Amélie Wen Zhao delayed the book, revisited in the context of her original intent – to explore concepts of indenture with real-world parallels in Asian countries – and has now released the book, as of late November, satisfied that it did so. Having never read the original ARC, I don’t know how much changed before publication, and I should be clear that I’m white and, as a non-American, less likely to pick up cues that would read “chattel slavery” to US audiences – so I’m not going make claims about whether Blood Heir is now “fixed”, other than to note I didn’t pick up anything other than the author’s intended parallels in my own reading. However, from where I stand it feels like Blood Heir’s delayed, revised publication is an example of sensitivity reading going right, albeit late in the process and therefore more loudly and messily than might have occurred if concerns had been raised earlier. People were right to raise concerns. Zhao was right to listen and use those concerns to revisit her intended, ownvoices, message. I hope and suspect the book is stronger for it.
Science fiction writers often have to deal with things on a very large scale. Whether they take readers across vast reaches of space, or into unimaginably far futures, they frequently look at time and the universe through giant telescopes of imagination, enhancing their vision beyond ordinary concerns of here and now.
(This is not to say anything against more intimate kinds of imaginative fiction, in which the everyday world reveals something extraordinary. A microscope can be a useful tool for examining dreams as well.)
A fine example of the kind of tale that paints a portrait of an enormous universe, with a chronology reaching back for eons, appears in the latest issue of Worlds of Tomorrow, from the pen of a new, young writer.
Can you remember
when Larry Niven was a “new, young writer”?
Scientists analysing a meteorite have discovered the oldest material known to exist on Earth.
They found dust grains within the space rock – which fell to Earth in the 1960s – that are as much as 7.5 billion years old.
The oldest of the dust grains were formed in stars that roared to life long before our Solar System was born.
A team of researchers has described the result in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When stars die, particles formed within them are flung out into space. These “pre-solar grains” then get incorporated into new stars, planets, moons and meteorites.
“They’re solid samples of stars, real stardust,” said lead author Philipp Heck, a curator at Chicago’s Field Museum and associate professor at the University of Chicago.
OF THE DAY. In
“I Have A Secret: Another Bite” on Vimeo, Michael Sime
introduces us to a guy who DOES have room for dessert in a restaurant.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse
Wooster, Cliff Ramshaw, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day BGrandrath.]
(1) DROP INN. [Item by Errolwi.] Upside when your house gets covered in fire retardant,
house probably doesn’t burn. Downside, it is now pink! Upside, you have a fun
medium to present a message to the ‘fireys’.
(2) #AUTHORSFORFIREYS. Check out the #AuthorsForFireys hashtag for fund-raising by authors on Twitter.
Authors For Fireys is an auction of signed books, illustrations, unique experiences, one-off opportunities and writers’ services. Over 500 writers and illustrators are auctioning on Twitter from 6th Jan 2020 under the hashtags #AuthorsForFireys and #AuthorsForFiries. The auction ends on 11th Jan 2020 at 11pm (Syd/Mel time).
(3) PIXELS AUF DEUTSCH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] kulturzeit is a German language daily cultural TV program I’ve been
watching for a long time now. They’re normally not what you’d consider SFF
friendly, but today they had a report about Hopepunk. Alexandra Rowland is
namechecked and quoted and they also interview a few German science fiction
authors, who wrote Wasteland, the first German language hopepunk novel.
The video is here. Only in German, alas.
kulturzeit‘s books for younger readers recommendation column also included the graphic novel West, West Texas by Hugo finalist Tillie Walden today: “’West, West, Texas’ von Tillie Walden” The other recommended book, a picture book, is genre as well — the video is here. The book is Emilia and the Boy from the Sea by Dutch writer and illustratator Annet Schaap. Maybe an SFF fan joined their staff.
(4) RETRO REVIEWS. Cora Buhlert also has posted a second review of fiction eligible
for CoNZealand’s edition of the Retro Hugos. “Retro Review: ‘The Wedge’ a.k.a. “The Traders”
by Isaac Asimov” discusses
one of two eligible Foundation stories from 1944. She says the review
for “The Big and the Little”, the other 1944 Foundation story,
will go up next week.
My guest for the first Eating the Fantastic episode of 2020 is Leslye Penelope — who publishes as L. Penelope. She started out as a self-published author, and her debut fantasy novel Song of Blood & Stone was so successful it was later picked up by St. Martin’s Press. That book earned (among other things) the 2016 Self-Publishing EBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and after being republished and brought to a wider audience, named as one of TIME magazine’s top fantasy books of 2018. She has since published two sequels, Breath of Dust & Dawn and Whispers of Shadow & Flame. Additional installments in the series are forthcoming.
We got together for lunch in Columbia, Maryland at The Turn House — because I’d heard about chef Thomas Zippelli, who has put in time at both the French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park, and wanted to check the place out. It turned out to be worth the visit for the porchetta alone.
We discussed why The Neverending Story was her favorite childhood movie, which Octavia Butler quote inspired one of her tattoos, why she decided to go the self-publishing route — and how her indie success resulted in her first novel getting picked up by a traditional publisher, the catalytic scene which sparked her Earthsinger Chronicles series, how she manages to meet the expectations of both fantasy readers and paranormal romance readers, her advice for breaking out of writers block, and much more.
(6) WHERE THE ‘F’ IS PERHAPS ‘FANTASY’. [Item by Daniel
Dern.] On Zoe’s Extraordinary
Playlist on NBC, an earthquake (the show is set in San Francisco) while
she’s getting an MRI results in Zoe, a programmer who’s already established as
listening to bunches of music along with listening to audiobooks, episodically
experiencing people around her burst into song (and dance), apparently
expressing their innermost thoughts.
So, lots of good singing and dancing, including great
larger production numbers. E.g., on “Help!”
The NPR reviewer said the show didn’t really
get into gear until mid-Episode-2, I disagree, and, ahem, felt it founds its
groove from the start. Recommended.
(Note, the pilot episode just ran — it’s on YouTube
already — but no more episodes until mid-February.)
Books aren’t the only thing being checked out at this Queens library.
The feds are now probing the problem-plagued new library branch in Hunters Point, The Post has learned.
The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn hired an architectural expert to conduct a December survey of the $41.5 million book hub to look for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, new Brooklyn federal court filings in a lawsuit against the library reveal.
An attorney for the city’s Law Department blew the lid off the probe in documents filed for the pending suit, saying they needed more time because they’re still awaiting the investigation’s results.
The decade-in-the-making outpost of the Queens Public Library system was hailed by officials as a “stunning architectural marvel” when it opened in September.
But it has since come under fire for its stacks of design and construction problems — including a three-tiered fiction section, a rooftop garden and a reading space on the children’s floor that are all inaccessible for people who use wheelchairs.
In November, news broke that Fargo and Legion creator Noah Hawley would write and direct Star Trek 4, a movie said to continue the voyages of Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk and his crew. But a few weeks later, star Simon Pegg turned heads when he suggested that the news had been incorrect, and that his Enterprise crew would not be returning for Hawley’s movie. Now Hawley himself is suggesting that is indeed the case.
“To call it Star Trek IV is kind of a misnomer. I have my own take on the franchise as a life-long fan,” Hawley told The Hollywood Reporter podcast TV’s Top 5, in an interview set to bow in April.
(9) PEART OBIT. Neil
Peart, drummer and primary lyricist for Rush, dead at 67 hreports the CBC.
The band was much honoured at home, including with an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994, Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1999; a lifetime achievement honour at the 2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards; and an Order of Canada — the first time that a group was chosen to receive the honour.
The trio was inducted into the U.S. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, after years of lobbying by devoted fans.
Peart also co-authored two books in the Clockwork
Angels series with Kevin J. Anderson. They also co-authored the short story
“Drumbeats” in the Shock Rock II anthology.
(10) HENRY OBIT. Buck Henry died
January 8. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute —
Buck Henry, the impish screenwriter whose wry, satirical sensibility brought comic electricity to The Graduate, What’s Up, Doc?, To Die For and TV’s Get Smart, has died. He was 89.
Henry, a two-time Oscar nominee who often appeared onscreen — perhaps most memorably as a 10-time host (all in the show’s first four years) on Saturday Night Live — died of a heart attack Wednesday at a Los Angeles hospital, his wife, Irene, told The Washington Post. He had suffered a stroke in November 2014….
Henry wrote for Get Smart and was the show’sstory editor for the first couple of seasons.
Henry, who won an Emmy (shared with Leonard Stern) in 1967 for writing the two-part episode “Ship of Spies,” came up with the cone of silence shtick for the sitcom.
…For TV, Henry also created the 1967 NBC comedy Captain Nice, centered on a mild-mannered guy (William Daniels) who becomes a superhero, and the late ’70s NBC sci-fi spoof Quark, which starred Richard Benjamin. Both series were short-lived.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 10, 1967 – The Invaders made its TV premiere. Created by Larry Cohen, it aired on ABC for two seasons. Roy Thinnes stars as David Vincent is the star of the series. Gold Key Comics published four issues of an Invaders comic book based off the series. The series was a Quinn Martin production who was also responsible for A Twist in the Tale, an anthology series that did some SFF, and a film called The Aliens Are Coming.
January 10, 1997 — The Relic premiered. It was directed by Peter Hyams and based on the SFFish Relic novel written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It starred Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt and James Whitmore. Some critics really liked, some really like it and it holds a 34% rating among the frankly astounding 26,735 reviewers who took the time to give it a review. Oh and it bomb at the box office.
January 10, 1999 — Batman Beyond premiered on Kids’ WB. It was created by Bruce Timm. Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis, the new Batman and you know who played the old Batman. It lasted three seasons and fifty-two episodes. The actual origin episode for Terry is to be found on Justice League Beyond in the “Epilogue” episode. The episode was originally intended to be the series finale for Justice League and the DCAU in general but they got renewed for a third season after it aired as the second season finale. If you’ve the DCU streaming service, all three seasons are there.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 10, 1902 — Andrew Bensen. Sometimes the time someone spends in our universe is very brief. Bensen has but one credit in SFF, the cover for Weird Tales for May 1926. Now admittedly it’s a great cover even if not particularly SFFish. His cover for Real Detective Tales and Mystery Stories for August 1926 is striking in its artistic similarities. He later drew comic book stories for Dell’s Roy Rogers Comics in the late 1940s, and drew a number of other Western themed projects. (Died 1976.)
Born January 10, 1904 — Ray Bolger. The Scarecrow In The Wizard of Oz, the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, and Vector In “Greetings from Earth” on the Seventies version of Battlestar Galactica. (Died 1987.)
Born January 10, 1908 — Bernard Lee. He’s best known for his role as M in the first eleven Eon Productions James Bond films ending with Moonraker. He also portrayed Tarmut the sculptor in Terence Fisher’s Hammer Horror picture Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. And he appeared in several episodes of Danger Man. (Died 1981.)
Born January 10, 1924 — Mike Butterworth. In 1965, he became the primary script writers at Ranger magazine where he was responsible for scripting the space opera The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire which remains to this day one of the most popular boys’ adventure strips ever published in the UK. Between Ranger and later Look and Learn, it would have a run of 854 issues in total, divided between the two magazines. (Died 1986.)
Born January 10, 1937 — Elizabeth Anne Hull, 83. Scholar, and widow of Frederik Pohl with whom she co-edited the most excellent Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. Not surprisingly, she later edited Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl. She has been a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986.
Born January 10, 1944 — William Sanderson, 76. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner, but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood.
Born January 10, 1947 — George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least twice as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories set in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review. (Died 2002.)
Born January 10, 1959 — Jeff Kaake, 61. He’s on the Birthday Honors list as he was Captain John Boon on the Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. That was a fun show! He was also Thomas Cole on Viper which lasted four seasons. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a SJW Cred) as well.
(14) IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO TODAY. Ian McKellen still has his
I am aware of the high expectations of Tolkien’s fans – like myself. But, never having imagined that I would ever play any sort of wizard, I am ill-prepared. I just worked with a witch, however, a white one, whose spells are formidable. Her energy is impressive. I shall have to come to understand the nature of Gandalf’s energy – what keeps him going. What keeps any of us going?
Marcin “Alqua” Klak is a fan form Poland who loves conventions and exploring fandom in different countries. He regularly blogs about conventions he visits and about other fannish matters on his blog: www.FandomRover.com. In 2018 he was a GUFF (Get Up-and-under Fan Fund) delegate to attend Continuum XIV in Melbourne, Australia. Currently, he chairs the SFF club in his home city of Kraków.
(16) NO TRUE SCOTSMAN. [Item by David Goldfarb.] I was watching
the second game of the current “Greatest of All Time” tournament on Jeopardy!, and in the
Double Jeopardy round this was the $1600 answer in the category “Pop
regenerated in “Doctor Who”, this actress confessed, “Sorry,
half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scotsman”
readers should have no problem finding the right question to that one!
Show card lettering artists were usually anonymous to the public. Art was a commercial service and few people signed their names or were credited for their craft. Edgar Church (1888 – 1978) was among the few who received a certain amount of acclaim – and some of that recognition today is thanks to Chuck Rozanski, an avid comics collector (drag queen) and founder of Mile High Comics. Church was one of the leading comics collectors in the 20s, 30s and 40s. The two disciplines, comics and graphic design/lettering, were intertwined — and comics splash panels certainly influenced his work.
Church maintained his art service studio in the Denver area from about 1910-1965, with the majority of his work – clichés, spot art and custom lettering, produced from 1918-1950. He also created numerous color paintings and landscapes during this time. He was hired on a freelance basis for variegated lettering styles, borders and pen and ink illustrations for ads running in the Colorado Yellow Pages. Rozanski states that Church worked “in the evenings and on weekends for literally thousands of small businesses, creating everything from letterheads, to Christmas cards, to full-page ads in local newspapers.”
…His renown, however, derives from the collection of comic books that he amassed, later known as the “Edgar Church collection.” Under the umbrella of the “Mile High collection”, Church is most famous for his valuable stash, including between 18,000 and 22,000 early comic books….
Andrew Porter sent the link with the comment, “Gorgeous
examples of his work at the link. But I bet one company later changed their
(18) INSIDE STORY. The Full
Lid returns from the holiday break with a
look at the interesting common ground the new Master on Doctor Who has with The
Witcher’s own hype man, Jaskier. We also take a look at remake culture and find
a very surprising musical example of how to do it right. This week’s Signal
Boost covers One YA A
Day’, a new blog series looking at the Cast
of Wonders back catalog, new Leverage watch-along show The Pod Job, tour dates for the NoSleep Podcast live tour and details
of the Last Fleet RPG
Kickstarter. The link is: The Full Lid – 10th January 2020.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Robert
Downey, Jr. runs the Dolittle – Auditions.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dann, David Goldfarb, Errolwi, Andrew
Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Alasdair
Stuart, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The impact of romance books on the culture is outsize because everyone is interested in romance, whether they admit it publicly or not.
…But there’s inevitably a small contingent of writers who simply can’t handle being criticized, whether directly or indirectly. Vitriolic responses to critics are hardly limited to well-known writers; those who aspire to become household names are equally prone to them. Having your work dissected, discussed and sometimes even demeaned, however, is part of putting it out into the world. All writers know this — or at least they should — and writing romance novels is no exception.
(2) FOLLOW THE MONEY. Jason Sanford continues releasing
interviews he conducted with sff
magazine editors in conjunction with his well-researched report#SFF2020:
The State of Genre Magazines.
Jason: You said Fireside pays its editors a fee for each issue of the print magazine, with the fee based on Fireside’s word rate and the revenue to pay for this coming entirely from subscribers. Was there a break-even point with subscribers where this started to work? Do you still rely on any fundraising to support the magazine?
Pablo: I think using a word like ‘fundraising’ is misleading. Fireside is not a non-profit, and it’s not a charity – so we’re not ‘raising funds’ for anything. Using vocabulary linked to non-profits and charities implies that the people who support us are doing so out of the kindness of their heart, without receiving any direct value in return. The stories, artwork, and publications that Fireside publishes have value, our customers recognize that, and are willing to pay money for it.
Jason: According to this year’s Locus Magazine survey, Escape Pod has an audience size of 37,000 people, making it one of the largest English-language SF magazines in the world. What percentage of your audience supports the magazine with donations? Any thoughts on how to convinces more genre readers and listeners to support the magazines they love?
Mur: I believe we have the typical 1% rate of donation. We have no funding but our listeners, and the couple of times we’ve been in trouble, we’ve been honest with saying, hey, we can’t keep delivering the show to you if you don’t support us, and they’ve always stepped up. With Patreon it’s much easier to allow people to donate on a sustaining level and get rewards as well!
…On Monday, Terrio walked back that explanation, saying that the real issue with Rose had nothing to do with visual effects.
He told Vulture: “I badly misspoke if in an earlier statement I implied that any cut scenes between Rose and Leia were the fault of our VFX team and the wizards at ILM. In that earlier interview, I was referring to a specific scene in which Leia’s emotional state in ‘Episode VII’ [‘The Force Awakens’] did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in ‘Episode IX’ [‘Rise’] and so it was cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done.”
Terrio underscored to the Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the issue did not involve “photorealism,” as he earlier stated. “I would sometimes come and sit at the VFX reviews and my jaw would drop at seeing Leia live again.”
(Representatives from the film have not yet responded to a request from The Post to speak with Terrio.)
Every year, around Christmas and New Year a round-robin is sent to many members of the SF² Concatenation team asking for their favourite SF/F/H books and films of the previous year. If just two or three nominate the same work then it gets added to a list of Best SF/F/H works of the previous year. This list appears in the Spring (northern hemisphere academic year) edition’s news page. It is simply a bit of fun and not meant to be taken too seriously but as a pointer for our regulars to perhaps check out some recent works. Yet over the years, each year sees a few from these lists go on to be short-listed, and even win, a number of SF awards.
…Parisot remembers Colantoni’s audition inventiveness setting the tone for the Thermians. After a solid read, the direct says he could tell the actor was holding back on his way out the door.
“For some reason I said, ‘Rico, it seems like you’ve got something on your mind,’” recalls the director. “He goes, ‘Well, I have this voice. I don’t know if it works.’ I said, ‘What is it? Try it.’ He did it and I just went, ‘Oh my God, that’s it!’
“The Thermians came out of that voice,” Parisot continues. As more actors were added to the Thermian ranks, that voice became the reference point with every addition, including Missi Pyle (Laliari), Jed Rees (Teb), and Patrick Breen (Quellek).
“We had alien school and we would come up with things like the walk,” Parisot remembers. “Rather than swinging in the direction most people do, we went the opposite direction with the arms, and the posture because they’re basically giant calamari hiding in human shape.
India’s space agency says that four astronaut candidates have been selected for its first human mission, targeted to launch by 2022, but they’ve not been publicly named or identified.
India hopes to join the United States, Russia and China as the world’s fourth nation capable of sending people to space. It has been developing its own crewed spacecraft, called Gaganyaan (or “sky vehicle” in Sanskrit), that would let two to three people orbit the Earth on a week-long spaceflight.
K Sivan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, held a press briefing on New Year’s Day and told reporters that the four astronauts would start their training in Russia in a few weeks.
(9) NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION DAY. There’s even
entry – unfortunately, one that makes it sound like a big commercial. That
attitude would make more sense to me if I’d ever seen a Hallmark card for the
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 2, 1996 — The Demon Headmaster aired the first episode of its three seasons. Based on the children’s series by Gillian Cross of the same name, the later books were based off the screenplays for the series which Cross wrote. The cast included Terrence Hardiman, Frances Amey, Gunnar Atli, Cauthery and Thomas Szekeres. A sequel series was done.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 2, 1920 — Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarize him here so I won’t. My favorite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction but I’ll be damn if I can recall any of it specifically right now. (Died 1992.)
Born January 2, 1940 — Susan Wittig Albert, 80. She’s the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a series of mysteries featuring that writer. Really. Truly. Haven’t read them but they bear such delightful titles as The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She has non-genre series involving an herbalist and a gardening club as well.
Born January 2, 1948 — Deborah Watling, Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.)
Born January 2, 1952 — Caitlín Matthews, 68. Fiction writer. Well she sure as Odin’s Beard isn’t a scholar in any meaningful sense. With her husband John, she’s written such works as King Arthur’s Raid on the Underworld: The Oldest Grail Quest, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures and on her own, Mabon and the Mysteries of Britain: An Exploration of the Mabinogion. They’re entertaining as long as you accept that they’re really mostly fiction.
Born January 2, 1959 — Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 61. Wiki in a fit of exuberance list him as a “editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger”. Which is true. He’s won three Hugo Awards for Best Editor Long, and he won a World Fantasy Award for editing the Starlight 1 anthology.
Born January 2, 1967 — Tia Carrere, 53. Best remembered for her three-season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a lot of one-offs on genre series including Quantum Leap, Hercules, Tales from The Crypt, Airwolf, Friday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13.
Born January 2, 1979 — Tobias S. Buckell, 41. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection.
Born January 2, 1983 — Kate Bosworth, 37. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series done the superb Len Deighton novel. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I- Land Netflixseries where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns.
(12) SOLAR TO BLAME. Mark Lawrence’s “Star
one stars!” features bad reviews that Amazon customers gave books, complaining
about things that aren’t in the writer’s control. His first example —
I was recently the lucky recipient of this 1* review on Amazon. It struck me as worthy of note because not only is it not a review of the book, it’s not even a criticism of Amazon. It’s more of a critique of the customer’s own life skills…
“1*: Can’t remember ordering these books. Not my type of subject. Unable to find a method of cancelling the transaction”
(13) LIGHT ‘EM UP. Cora Buhlert tells how she celebrated a “Happy New Year
2020” in Germany, where fireworks are part of the tradition – but for how
…However, this year some organisations are calling for a complete ban on private fireworks. The initial reasons given were environmental – fireworks release smoke and microparticles, but then other reasons like animal welfare and health and safety were also given. Plus, there is a call – echoed by various charities – that fireworks are a waste of money and that the people should rather donate the money spent on fireworks to charity. One figure that’s often bandied about is that in 2018, 130 million Euros were spent on fireworks in Germany. That sounds like a lot – until you do the calculations and realise that this figure means that every person in Germany spent 1,57 Euros per year on fireworks on average. And 1,57 Euros per person is not a lot of money, especially if you consider that the total figure of 130 million Euros also includes money spent on professional fireworks.
So why are fireworks suddenly so controversial, especially since they are limited to one night of the year – with the occasional firecracker going off a few days before or after? IMO, the underlying reason is just that some people find fireworks annoying, because they are noisy, frivolous and the wrong kind of people (teenagers, immigrants, poor people) are having fun. In recent times, there has been a resurgence of the kind of joyless moralism that dominated the 1980s. And not coincidentally, the “Give to charity rather than buying fireworks” campaign originally also dates from the 1980s.
(14) IN TIMES TO COME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] Nature points out “The
science events to watch for in 2020”. This includes… 2020 will
see a veritable Mars invasion as several spacecraft, including three landers,
head to the red planet. NASA will launch its Mars 2020 rover, which will stash
rock samples that will be returned to Earth in a future mission and will also
feature a small, detachable helicopter drone. China will send its first lander
to Mars, Huoxing-1, which will deploy a small rover. A Russian spacecraft will
deliver a European Space Agency (ESA) rover to the red planet — if issues with
the landing parachute can be resolved. And the United Arab Emirates will send
an orbiter, in the first Mars mission by an Arab country. Closer to home, China
is planning to send the Chang’e-5 sample-return mission to the Moon.
is a pic of the forthcoming Mars lander being tested.
3600-SOME-ODD SHOPPING DAYS ‘TIL. In “The
2030 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide” on Vice, Tim Maughan
foresees what the hot holiday items of ten years from now will be, including
Barron Trump’s rap albums and Marvel Vs. Star Wars VI: The Final Conflict.
…Want to take a low flying helicopter ride over the Texas Refinery District Toxic Exclusion Zone? Try urban scuba deep under what was once the Miami waterfront? Or maybe you want to take a leaf out of your favorite influencer’s book, and get your photo taken on the rim of the crater that was once the Space X test facility? The Unlimited Dream Company can make it happen, with its range of exclusive, customizable tourist trips. You’ll be given full safety training and orientation—including an entry level handgun course for trips in disputed states—and will be accompanied by medical staff*, Darklake certified security agents, and tour guides with unmatched local knowledge.
True story, Word of Honor: Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer now dead, and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?” And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?” And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” Not bad! Rest in peace!
It isn’t hard to imagine yourself inside an Edward Hopper painting — having a coffee at a late-night diner, or staring out the bedroom window at the bright morning sun.
Now, for $150 a night, you can sleep in one — or a reproduction of one — at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Designers have constructed a 3D version of Hopper’s 1957 Western Motel, and invited Hopper fans to sleep over.
It feels a little funny getting undressed for bed in a museum. (There are plenty of nudes on the walls, but you don’t expect to be one yourself.) But suddenly there you are, in your jammies — a guard outside in the hallway — turning off the goose-neck lamp on the bedside table, tucking yourself under a deep burgundy bedspread, and looking out the big picture “window” at a green Buick parked outside.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to get its first transgender superhero.
“And very soon. In a movie that we’re shooting right now,” Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said during a Q&A at the New York Film Academy.
Asked by a fan whether there were any plans for more LGBT characters in Marvel’s films, “specifically the T, trans characters”, Kevin said: “Yes, absolutely. Yes.”
This year, The Eternals will introduce Marvel movies’ first gay character.
There have been reports since 2019 that Phase 4 of the MCU – the films following the Avengers Infinity saga – would star a trans character.
Marvel has also said it will introduce its first deaf superhero in The Eternals and its first Asian-American superhero, in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
“You look at the success of Captain Marvel and Black Panther. We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen,” Kevin Feige previously said.
Love the Fralinger String Band? Then you came to the right place. We’ve got Fralinger’s 2020 Mummers Parade performance video of their “Lunar Effect” theme and some photos below.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy,
Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
Nominations will continue to take place here on /r/Fantasy. Nomination rules are below. Please read them and ask any questions under the comment pinned at the top of the thread.
The method for voting will be explained when the voting thread goes live. The nominations thread will close December 26 at 12:30 p.m. PST. The voting thread will go live no later than about 10 pm on Saturday, December 28.
(2) DIZZYLAND. For your maximum confusion, the Best Visual
Illusion of the Year Contest presents its Top
10 Finalists. First prize goes to “Dual Axis Illusion.”
This spinning shape appears to defy logic by rotating around both the horizontal and vertical axis at the same time! To make things even more confusing, the direction of rotation is also ambiguous. Some visual cues in the video will help viewers change their perception.
(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Eric Flint has posted on
Facebook a fully detailed account of the medical problems that caused him
to be hospitalized during NASFiC, and the course of treatment since, leading up
….Within a few weeks, my condition has improved drastically. My 02 saturation levels are back to normal and I’ve stopped having to use oxygen supplements. I spent the past weekend engaged in a long overdue cleansing of the basement – think “scouring of the shire” –which had me going up and down stairs for hours carrying heavy stuff without getting short of breath right away. Granted, after a few hours I’d get a little fatigued and need to rest a bit, but gimme a break. See “almost 73,” above. When I was a teenager, I spent a whole summer once digging ditches. Those days are behind me. (Happily. It’s not like I enjoyed it at the time any more than I would today. It’s just that at the age of 17 I was ABLE to do it.).
Okay, enough. This turned into a very long post so I’ll wait a day or so before posting a progress report on how my work is coming along. The gist is: “Quite well, actually.” As I said earlier, as long as I was sitting on my butt or lying down I was able to keep working despite the hypoxemia – and, o joyous day! – my current (and hopefully last) profession involves sitting on my butt or lying down pretty much 100% of the time.
…The new clip from the site cuts up footage from Marriage Story as well as both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars sequel trilogy to tell a similar story, but with Black Widow and Kylo Ren trapped in a relationship that has since become poisoned.
While both Driver and Johansson are earning buzz for their portrayal of the estranged couple undergoing divorce proceedings in Marriage Story, many fans are interested in their roles in their respective franchises.
(5) BROOKER OBIT. Tony Brooker
(1925-2019), mathematician and computer scientist who designed the programming
language for the world’s first commercial computer, died on 20 November 2019
aged 94. See the New York Times tribute.
Mr. Brooker had been immersed in early computer research at the University of Cambridge when one day, on his way home from a mountain-climbing trip in North Wales, he stopped at the University of Manchester to tour its computer lab, which was among the first of its kind. Dropping in unannounced, he introduced himself to Alan Turing, a founding father of the computer age, who at the time was the lab’s deputy director.
When Mr. Brooker described his own research at the University of Cambridge, he later recalled, Mr. Turing said, “Well, we can always employ someone like you.” Soon they were colleagues….
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 21, 1937 — Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood, California
December 21, 1963 — During Doctor Who’s first season, the first part of “The Daleks” aired. Written by Terry Nation and directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin. The Daleks which are created and co-owned by Terry Nation will make their first appearance in this story. The below image is Dalek free so that I don’t spoil your appreciation of their first appearance.
December 21, 1979 — C.H.O.M.P.S. premiered. Hoping to take bite out of the kid-friendly box office, it was produced by Burt Topper and Joseph Barbera (yes, that Barbera as it was a Hanna-Barbera film), and a cast headed by Wesley Eure, Valerie Bertinelli and Conrad Bain. Critics found it mediocre at best, and reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it as it has Currently a 32% rating there.
December 21, 1979 — Disney’s The Black Hole premiered. Intended as The Mouse’s Reponse to Star Wars, it was directed by Gary Nelson. A cast of Joseph Bottoms, Maximilian Schell, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, and Ernest Borgnine were to be found here, while the voices of the primary robot characters were provided by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens who both were uncredited. Special effects were developed in-house as apparently were most of the matte paintings used. Critics for the most part didn’t like it, and it holds a 40% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. And it bombed at the box office.
December 21, 2010 — Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus premiered. Robert Picardo was the sole performer of genre interest in it, and it was directed by Christopher Ray, son of noted exploitation director Fred Olen Ray. Is it genre? Is it sci-fi? No one liked it, the critics gave it scathing reviews, and currently it has a 19% score among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It has, alas, at least two sequels.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 21, 1929 — James Cawthorn. An illustrator, comics artist and writer who worked predominantly with Michael Moorcock. He had met him through their involvement in fandom. They would co-write The Land that Time Forgot film, and he drew “The Sonic Assassins” strip which was based on Hawkwind that ran in Frendz. He also did interior and cover art for a number of publications from the Fifties onwards including (but not limited to) Vector 3, New Worlds SF, Science Fantasy and Yandro. (Died 2008.)
Born December 21, 1937 — Jane Fonda, 82. Sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella? Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.
Born December 21, 1943 — John Nance. Let’s just say he and David Lynch were rather connected. He’s Henry Spencer in Eraserhead, he had a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud in Dune and he’s Pete Martell in Twin Peaks. He’s also a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper’s villain character in Blue Velvet but even I couldn’t stretch that film to be even genre adjacent. (Died 1996.)
Born December 21, 1944 — James Sallis, 75. He’d be getting a Birthday today if only for his SJW cred of giving up teaching at a college rather than sign a state-mandated loyalty oath that he regarded as unconstitutional. But he also does have a short SFF novel Renderings, more short fiction than I can count, a book review column in F&SF and he co-edited several issues of New Worlds Magazine with Michael Moorcock. Worthy of a Birthday write-up!
Born December 21, 1948 — Samuel L. Jackson, 71. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone)in the Incredibles franchise, Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him.
Born December 21, 1966 — Kiefer Sutherland, 53. My he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including Flatliners, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-Matrix, Dark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Mirrors, and yes, he’s in the second Flatliners as a new character.
Smile (A Dental Drama) by Raina Telegmeier (Scholastic, 2010) Telegmeier is, simply put, likely the most important figure in comics of the last decade; after a string of adaptations of the Babysitters Club novels for Scholastic, she’s spent the last ten years creating more comic readers than arguably any other creator with a series of graphic novels for publisher Graphix that mix autobiography with pure fiction, combining clear, easy to understand, visuals with writing that’s accessible and consistently smart and (perhaps most importantly) respectful of its target audience. Smile, Telegmeier’s first book this decade, remains perhaps the finest example of her work, with her story of dental problems as a kid able to win over any audience.
There are a lot of moments in Skywalker that, while affecting, could have been even more so if they hadn’t been so gosh darn rushed. The prequel trilogy had excellent actors who weren’t utilized fully because as a director Lucas didn’t know what to do with people; the Disney trilogy has excellent actors who aren’t utilized fully because they simply don’t have the time to process, onscreen, the overwhelming emotions they’re supposed to be having. Abrams the director steps on several of those moments because apparently he’s got another plot point he’s gonna cram in. It’s deeply rare, especially these days, that I say a film should be longer — Jesus, they really don’t need to be any longer — but Skywalker genuinely could have benefited from an extra ten or fifteen minutes, just to let its actors do their jobs.
(12) PUNCH PULLED. Leonard Maltin declined to throw his
popcorn box at the screen – after all, says he, other people will like the
Wars: Variations on a Theme”.
I had a good time watching J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, even though I felt sucker-punched more than once. The filmmaker knows that this is the last time he (or possibly anyone) will get to play with George Lucas’s original concept and characters and his giddiness gets the better of him. Without spoiling any surprises, let’s just say that elements of identity, the powers of the Force and matters of life and death are toyed with in the name of “gotcha” entertainment.
At the same time, Abrams knows that diehard fans share his sentimental longing to spend a little more time with the people who first won our hearts in the initial installments of the Star Wars saga. He milks this for all it’s worth, and if he errs on the side of excess I bet there are lots of folks who won’t mind.
…Lots of critics pointed out that the coda of “Star Wars,” when three heroes march up a corridor between columns of massed soldiers, is a visual quote of the wreath-laying at Nuremberg in “Triumph of the Will,” but everyone seems to assume this is a random allusion, devoid of historical context. It’s not as if Lucas was oblivious of the source. His film is full of fascist iconography — all, up until this moment, associated with the Empire. Assuming this final image is deployed intentionally, it might be most hopefully interpreted as a warning: Don’t become the thing you’ve fought against. The intimation of a hidden kinship between our hero and his enemy was right there in Darth Vader’s name all along — the dark father.
… As a devoted Harry Potter fan who also happens to be transgender, it was like a punch in the gut.
For the past decade, I’ve been an active player in the Harry Potter fan community, serving as the spokesperson for an independent nonprofit inspired by the boy wizard, sitting on the brain trust for a prominent Harry Potter fan conference and making videos about the impact the series has had on my life. I’ve seen the mind-blowing creativity of fans — from wizard rock music to cosplay to fan fiction that will make you weep — as well as their unparalleled capacity for positive change. Fans have organized in Harry’s name to donate over 400,000 books around the world, campaign in support of marriage equality and even convince Warner Bros. to switch to ethical sourcing for its Harry Potter-branded chocolates.
It was this community of loving, passionate people who accepted me with open arms when I came out as transgender at the age of 25. While I was nervous about coming out to some relatives and acquaintances, I never doubted that the Harry Potter fan community would accept me for who I was. After all, we all adhered to the values we learned from the books about being yourself, loving those who are different from you and sticking up for the underdog….
(15) A PAIR OF SCIENCE ROUNDUPS. Science has just published its
round-up of top science of the year. In the mix is the biological
recovery at the dinosaur asteroid impact site, a look at the human precursor
Denisovan species, quantum computing breakthroughs and new Horizons Kuiper belt
Forest fires consumed thousands of square kilometers of the Amazon this year, and many blame the policies of Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, for fanning the flames.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) estimates the number of fires in the Amazon increased by 44% compared with 2018. One factor was an increase in deforestation, to about 9700 square kilometers in the 12 months through July, the largest area since 2007–08, INPE reported in November. Ranchers and farmers cut down and sell valuable trees and then burn the forest to make space for planting crops or raising cattle. Remote sensing indicated that this year’s fires tended to be far away from where crops are grown, suggesting ranchers were probably responsible….
It’s been a tough year for viral cats. Grumpy Cat passed away May 14 at age 7 following a urinary tract infection, and, on Dec. 1, Lil Bub, a special-needs perma-kitten with an ever-dangling tongue, died in her sleep at age 8. Going strong, however, is Nala Cat, a Siamese-tabby mix with 4.3 million Instagram followers, who happens to be the sole feline client of powerhouse agency CAA….
A six-year-old cat has become an internet “superstar” as the first in Italy to receive two prosthetic hind legs following a serious road accident.
Vito, or Vituzzo, had both rear legs amputated after they were crushed by a vehicle in Milan while his owners were away on their honeymoon.
The couple, former basketball player Silvia Gottardi and her wife Linda Ronzoni, returned home immediately.
Vito’s story has been widely shared with the hashtag #vituzzosuperstar.
His surgery to attach two prostheses by inserting them directly into his remaining upper leg bones has reportedly never before been achieved successfully in Italy.
(18) SEUSS-COOKED MEAL. What’s this wrapped up in breakfast-scented paper for you from Sam? Surprise reveal, there’s a second serving of Green Eggs & Ham on Netflix.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, N., John King
Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna
(1) DARK MARK WALKED BACK? Christine Feehan tweeted another
update, saying that she “asked my trademark lawyer to withdraw all of the
current single word applications that have been filed and are causing so much distress.”
The statement, screencapped below, has been greeted with a mix of approval and skepticism
– see comments in the thread which starts here.
(2) MULAN. A second trailer for Disney’s Mulan dropped
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
… The Doctor Who and Broadchurch star is fronting the eight-part drama, which is produced by Slim Film + Television.
Following an outrageous bet, Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, played by rising French actor Ibrahim Koma, take on the legendary journey of circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days, swiftly joined by aspiring journalist Abigail Fix, played by The Crown’s Leonie Benesch, who seizes the chance to report on this extraordinary story.
Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, where the famed 19th-century author and literary critic lived during the 1830s, has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries, a nationwide advocacy group and division of the American Library Association.
The Poe House will be Maryland’s first Literary Landmark, but not the first involving Poe. Philadelphia’s Edgar Allan Poe House, one of several places the author called home while living in Philly, was added to the list in 1988. And a stuffed Grip, Charles Dickens’ pet raven and the inspiration (so many believe) for Poe’s poem (the one Baltimore named its NFL team after), resides in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. It was named to the list in 1999.
The national registry of Literary Landmarks, begun in 1986, singles out sites and objects with special literary significance….
(5) EREWHON LIT SALON. Carlos
Hernandez and C.S.E. Cooney will be the readers at the Erewhon Literary Salon
on December 12. The event takes place in the
office of Erewhon Books in the Flatiron/NoMad district of Manhattan. For
full information and policies, and to
RSVP, click here. Event address
and information will be emailed to those who have RSVPed a few days before the
CARLOS HERNANDEZ is the author of over 40 SFF short stories, poems, and works of drama. His critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria came out in 2016 from Rosarium, and his middle-grade novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe was published by Disney Hyperion in 2019. Carlos is a CUNY professor of English and a game designer and enthusiast. Look for Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe in May 5, 2020.
C.S.E. COONEY is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories. Her work includes the Tor novella Desdemona and the Deep, three albums: Alecto! Alecto!, The Headless Bride, and Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and a poetry collection: How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Sword and Sonnet anthology, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and elsewhere.
…There are more tricks available, but every solution boils down to three things: make sense, make it matter, and make it clear.
“Make sense” means that whatever you do needs to feel true. The disruption to the available speculative elements needs to be either baked into the world, or clearly explained, so that it doesn’t feel like the exception is just there to allow the story to be told (even though that’s totally why you did it)…
(7) RETRO LANDS IN
HOUSTON. The late Fritz Leiber won a Retro Hugo at Dublin 2019 –
it’s now safely ensiled at the University of Houston Libraries:
(8) WEINER OBIT. Canadian sff writer Andrew Weiner, whose
first published story was “Empire of the Sun” in Again, Dangerous Visions (1972),
died December 3. The family obituary is here.
He wrote three novels, Station Gehenna (1987), Getting Near the End (2000),
Among the Missing (2002), and many shorter
works. The first of his several short story collections was Distant Signals
and Other Stories (1990)
of Science Fiction’s John Clute says, ” Craftsmanlike,
witty and quietly substantial, Weiner never gained a reputation befitting his
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 5, 1954 – The Shadow radio show aired “Murder by Proxy”. Starring Bret Morrison as The Shadow (Lamont Cranston) Gertrude Warner as Margot Lane. The script was by Judith Bublick and David Bublick, who contributed many scripts during the last two years it was on the air. (This “Murder by Proxy” is not the same script as an earlier show of the same name.)
December 5, 1956 — Man Beast premiered. It was directed and produced by Jerry Warren. It starred Rock Madison and Asa Maynor. The film was distributed in the States as a double feature with Prehistoric Women. Critics generally intensely disliked, and it has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 5, 1980 — Flash Gordon premiered. Directed by Mike Hodges and produced by Dino De Laurentiis of Dune fame, it starred Sam Jones, Max von Sydow and Melody Anderson. Most critics sort of liked it although Clute at ESF definitely did not. It holds an 80% rating among viewers at Rotten Tomatoes and it did exceedingly well at the Box Office.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. (Died 1976.)
Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney . With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT). (Died 1966.)
Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
Born December 5, 1936 — James Lee Burke, 83. This is one of the listings by ISFDB that has me going “Eh?” as to it being genre. The Dave Robicheaux series has no SFF elements in it and despite the title, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, neither does that novel. The character makes it clear that it’s likely he’s hallucinating. Great novel.
Born December 5, 1943 — Roger Robinson, 76. Owner of Beccon publications, a British small-press publisher specializing in SF and filk. He’s looked at filk (On the Filk Road), reviews (Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 by Gary K Wolfe), fiction (Elizabeth Hand’s Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol) and Fred Smith’s Once There was a Magazine ~~, a look at Unknown Magazine).
Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-Piscatello. SF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
Born December 5, 1954 — Elizabeth R. Wollheim, 65. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction. DAW is, despite being headquartered at Penguin Random House, a small private company, owned exclusively by its publishers.
Born December 5, 1971 — Kali Rocha, 48. She is best remembered for her recurring role on Buffy as Anya’s vengeance demon friend, Halfrek, and as William the Bloody’s love interest, Cecily. She appeared with fellow Buffy alum Emma Caulfield in TiMER. And she’s in Space Station 76 which has remarkably good reviews.
Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 46. Her fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Born December 5, 1980 — Gabriel Luna, 39. He plays Robbie Reyes who is the Ghost Rider rather perfectly in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Much better I’d say than Nick Cage did in the films. He was also Terminator Rev-9 in Terminator: Dark Fate, and he did voice work for the BlackSite: Area 51 video game.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio finds it impossible to escape the long reach of Disney.
(12) PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS. In “A
Tube Map of SF&F Genres” Camestros Felapton has designed an irresistibly
amusing representation of the field.
As with any London Tube style map, distance on the map has no connection with distance in reality. Position is about how to make everything fit. I feel like it needs more stops on the big pink Fantasy circle line. Green stops allow you to change services to mainstream rail lines. Purple stops allow you to change to the horror tram services.
There is a foot tunnel between Cyber Punk and Steam Punk.
(13) A CHRISTMAS SUGGESTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie.] What to get the SF fan who has
nearly everything? SF²; Concatenation has a seasonal suggestion in their
advance-post (ahead of their spring edition) — Joel
Levy’s latest non-fiction: From Science Fiction to Science Fact: How
writers of the past invented our present, a colorful exploration of the
science fiction visions that came to be technological realities.
has recently been published under two different titles, one for each side of
the Pond. It is published in N. America as Reality Ahead of Schedule: How
Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact.
Packed with full
color illustrations and well researched, it is an ideal gift for fans of all
persuasion (or even a Christmas present to themselves). SF²; Concatenation
From Science Fiction to Science Fact may not be an encyclopaedic work, but there is sufficient here (and it is structured to be navigable) that those who personally like to study SF, as opposed to simply consuming it, will find this quite useful as a reference work of pointers. It will also be a welcome addition to any SF aficionado’s bookshelf if not coffee table. Here, the production values are high.
(14) IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE CW. [Item by Daniel
Dern.] Why (some of us) love the WB tv series
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow…
…because they do goofy great.
(15) GAHAN WILSON ON NPR. A nice snippet from a 1986 interview with Gahan Wilson from Fresh Air on NPR was replayed December 2 to commemorate Gahan after his recent passing. “The linked webpage has a transcript for those who do not wish to listen to the audio,” says Tom Boswell-Healey. “I think the audio is worthwhile as it contains Gahan’s verbal effects.”
GROSS: When you came to New York with your portfolio of cartoons and tried to sell them to magazines, was it hard to get in initially?
WILSON: Very. Very, yeah because I’m still regarded as sort of far-out in some circles, and at that point, I was really, really far out. And I mean, I was really bizarre. They – what I’d – what had happened to me was this singularly frustrating scene where the editors would say, look at this stuff, and they’d laugh at it hysterically and just think it was marvelous and compliment me on – this is – kid, you’re really great. This is great stuff, kid, but our readers would never understand it. And then they would hand it back to me. And that was my big block, was that they figured that I was beyond the – those jerks out there.
GROSS: Could you maybe describe a couple of those early cartoons?
WILSON: Oh, sure. Let’s see. There’s this fellow, and he’s in a cannibal pot. He’s being cooked. And he has a evil look on his face, and he has a bottle of poison, and he’s pouring the poison, and the water is being cooked in. And that was one. And then let me see – oh, they were – there was one where there’s this little kid, and he’s with his father, and they’re in a snowstorm. And there’s this dead bird on the snowbank with his feet in the air, and the little kid’s pointing at it. And he says look, Daddy – the first robin.
An unprecedented mission to venture close to the sun has revealed a strange region of space filled with rapidly flipping magnetic fields and rogue plasma waves.
These surprises are among just some of the first observations by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which blasted off last year to get up-close-and-personal with our nearest star.
Scientists say the findings, described in a series of reports in the journal Nature, could help explain long-standing mysteries — like why the sun’s extended atmosphere is hotter than its surface.
They also could help scientists better understand and predict solar storms that might disrupt vital artificial satellites that orbit our planet.
…From Earth, during a total solar eclipse, it’s easy to see the sun’s corona, an aura of plasma that is the sun’s outer atmosphere. The Parker Solar Probe is designed to plow through the corona with instruments that measure magnetic fields, plasma, and energetic particles.
All of this lets researchers explore the origin of the solar wind, charged particles that continually spew out of the sun.
It turns out that close to the sun, the wind seems to get sped up by powerful, rogue waves that move through the magnetic field, says Kasper.
“We’d see suddenly a spike in flow, where in just a couple seconds the solar wind would start flowing 300,000 miles an hour faster,” he says.
A newly discovered planet offers new insights into the Solar System after the Sun reaches the end of its life in 5-6 billion years.
Astronomers observed a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf, the small, dense objects some stars become once they have exhausted their nuclear fuel.
It’s the first direct evidence planets can survive the cataclysmic process that creates a white dwarf.
Details of the discovery appear in the journal Nature.
The Solar System as we know it won’t be around forever. In about six billion years, the Sun, a medium-size yellow star, will have puffed up to about two hundred times its current size. In this phase, our parent star will be known as a Red Giant.
As it expands, it will swallow and destroy the Earth before collapsing into a small core – the white dwarf.
Researchers discovered a white dwarf that lies 2,000 light-years away had a giant planet thought to be about the size of Neptune (though it could be larger) in orbit around it.
“The white dwarf we’re looking at is about 30,000 Kelvin, or 30,000C. So if we compare the Sun, the Sun is 6,000 – almost five times as hot. This means it’s going to be producing a lot more UV radiation than the Sun,” said Dr Christopher Manser, from the University of Warwick.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborvilleis getting into the spirit with a snowy present-filled makeover of Giddy Park, a social hub where plant and zombie players can mingle and duke it out. Alongside update 1.03, PopCap went ahead and booked Sir Patrick Stewart to recite a festive poem.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John
King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie, Tom Boswell- Healey,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) ONE STOP SHOPPING. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’sAutumn
2019 edition is up. Voluminous
seasonal news and reviews page of both SF and science which includes the major
UK SF/fantasy imprint book releases between now and New Year. (Many of
these will be available as imports in N. America and elsewhere.)
(2) LEM V. DICK. [Editor’s note: I apologize for what amounts to misspelling, but characters that WordPress would display as question marks have been changed to a letter of the alphabet without marks.]
[Item by Jan Vanek Jr.] Yesterday the English-language website of the Polish magazine Przekrój published (and started promoting on Facebook, hence my knowledge) the translation of a 2,700-word excerpt (not a self-contained “chapter” as they claim) from Wojciech Orlinski’s 2017 biography of Stanislaw Lem detailing what led to “the famous Lem-Dick imbroglio” with PKD’s “famous Lem report to the FBI”: “access to previously unpublished letters […] resulted in what is likely the first accurate description of the incident, as well as the ultimate explanation as to how the concept of ‘foreign royalties under communism’ is almost as much of a mess as ‘fine dining under communism’ (but not quite as fine a mess)”:
…It all began with Lem’s depiction of Dick – in the third of his great essay collections, Science Fiction and Futurology as little more than a talentless hack. Lem had a poor opinion of almost all American authors, and never thought much of the literary genre of which he himself was an exponent (think of his equally critical view of Pirx the Pilot, for example, or Return from the Stars)….
I found it a quite informative and interesting read, although “Lem’s unfortunate expulsion from the SFWA” that ensued is mentioned only briefly and I think misleadingly (I have checked the Polish book and there is nothing more about it, but it has been described in American sources, many of them online).
(3) ABOUT AO3’S HUGO AWARD. The Organization for Transformative Works has clarified
to Archive of Our Own participants — “Hugo
Award – What it Means”.
We’re as excited as you are about the AO3’s Hugo win, and we are shouting it to the rafters! We are grateful to the World Science Fiction Society for recognizing the AO3 with the award, as well as to the many OTW volunteers who build and maintain the site, and all of the amazing fans who post and enjoy works on it.
The World Science Fiction Society has asked us to help them get the word out about what the award represented—specifically, they want to make sure people know that the Hugo was awarded to the AO3, and not to any particular work(s) hosted on it. Therefore, while we can all be proud of the AO3’s Hugo win and we can all be proud of what we contributed to making it possible, the award does not make any individual fanwork or creator “Hugo winners”—the WSFS awarded that distinction to the AO3 as a whole. In particular, the WSFS asked us to convey this reminder so that no one mistakenly describes themselves as having personally won a Hugo Award.
Thanks for sharing our enthusiasm, and consider yourselves reminded! We appreciate every one of your contributions.
So far there are 80 comments, any number by Kevin Standlee making Absolutely Clear Everybody Must Understand Things Exactly The Way He Does. One reply says, “You aren’t doing a particularly good job of reading the room here.”
(4) ARISIA PERSISTED. Arisia
2020 has issued its first online
Progress Report. Key
points: (1) It’s happening! (2) It’s (back) at the Westin Boston Waterfront. (3)
The headliners are Cadwell Turnbull, Author Guest of Honor, Kristina Carroll, Artist
Guest of Honor, and Arthur Chu, Fan Guest of Honor.
Halloween’s almost here… well, OK, it’s more than a month away, but that means it’s time for Halloween haunts — aka Halloween mazes, aka scary Halloween things at theme parks and the like, to start.
Halloween Horror Nights has been taking over Universal Studios Hollywood for 21 years, and we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of two of the brand new mazes, Ghostbusters and Us. We were guided through by Creative Director John Murdy, the man in charge of creating the stories and the scares inside all of the mazes.
He works with an art director to design every moment, writing treatments for each attraction than can run up to 100 pages.
“It’s a narrative from the guest’s POV — everything I see, hear, smell, etcetera, as if I’m going through the maze,” Murdy said. “But it also has a very elaborate technical breakdown by scene, by discipline, down to the timecode of the audio cues.”
…On Wednesday, the day before WorldCon officially started, I helped with move in and set-up at Point Square. This involved carrying boxes, assembling shelves for the staff lounge and crafting area, taping down table cloths and helping to set up the Raksura Colony Tree model. This was my first time volunteering at a WorldCon and it was a great experience. Not only do you get to help to make a great project like WorldCon happen, no, you also get to meet a lot of lovely people while volunteering. Especially if you’re new to WorldCon and don’t know anybody yet, I recommend volunteering as a way to meet people and make friends. What is more, I also got a handful of groats (which I used to buy a very pretty necklace in the dealers room) and a cool t-shirt.
(7) MEMORIAL. Jim C.
Hines tweeted the link to his post about the Memorial held for his wife,
Amy, on September 8, a touching and highly personal tribute.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 14, 2008 — The Hunger Games novel hit bookstores. (For some reason, the bookstores did not hit back.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 14, 1915 — Douglas Kennedy. No major SFF roles that I see but he’s been in a number of films of a genre nature: The Way of All Flesh, The Ghost Breakers, The Mars Invaders, The Land Unknown, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, The Alligator People and The Amazing Transparent Man. Series wise, he had one-offs on Alcoa Presents, Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits. (Died 1973.)
Born September 14, 1919 — Claire P. Beck. Editor of the Science Fiction Critic, a fanzine which published in four issues Hammer and Tongs, the first work of criticism devoted to American SF. It was written by his brother Clyde F. Beck. Science Fiction Critic was published from 1935 to 1938. (Died 1999.)
Born September 14, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. (Died 1997.)
Born September 14, 1932 — Joyce Taylor, 87. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series.
Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig, 83. Best-known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester on Babylon 5. Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there.
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
Born September 14, 1947 — Sam Neill, 72. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which he reprised in Jurassic Park III. He was also in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, Bicentennial Man, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, Thor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit.
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 58. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.
Construction of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is in full swing.
On Friday, Lucas — along with his wife and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — watched as construction crews helped bring his vision to life.
And he thanked them for the tireless effort.
“You’re doing the impossible — thank you so much,” Lucas said.
“Millions of people will be inspired by this building. We were just in our board meeting for the museum and George said you are the artists so you’re the artists of this art museum,” says Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the museum’s co-founder.
Henry Lien teaches law and creative writing at UCLA Extension. A private art dealer, he is the author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series, which received New York Times acclaim and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
High school can be a turbulent time for any budding teenager, but when you’re allowed to dress up as your favorite movie or television character, facing picture day isn’t the daunting challenge it once was. Per a report from The Huffington Post, North Farmington High School in the suburbs of Detroit allowed its senior pupils to assume the persona of their favorite pop culture icon for the sake of ID photographs. What followed was a parade of Woodys (Toy Story), Shuris (Black Panther) Fionas (Shrek), creepy twins (The Shining), and so many more!
…Now, because her fans kept asking, she is getting more personal than ever. The Eisner Award-winning author who launched her publishing empire with 2010?s “Smile,” about her years-long dental adventures as a kid, is prepared to bare new parts of her interior world with “Guts,” available Tuesday, which centers on how fear affected her body.
“This is the reality of my life,” Telgemeier told her fans. She quickly got to the heart and GI tract of the matter: “I was subject to panic attacks and [was] worrying that something was really wrong with me.”…
(15) SIGNAL BOOST. Naomi Kritzer offers an incentive for
supporting a cause that needs a cash infusion.
And there may be a financial cost. Over the Sept. 6-8 weekend, New Line and director Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two opened to $91 million domestically, a 26 percent decline from the first It, which debuted to $123.4 million on the same weekend in 2017. The sequel ran a hefty 169 minutes, 34 minutes longer than its predecessor.
“Andy had a lot of story to tell in concluding his adaptation of Stephen King’s book, which is more than 1,100 pages,” says Jeff Goldstein, chief of distribution for Warner Bros., New Line’s parent. “We strategically added more shows and locations to counterbalance losing a show on each screen.”
Adds a rival studio executive regarding It: Chapter Two, “look, $91 million is a great number. But anytime the second film in a hoped-for franchise goes down — and not up — that’s not what you wish for. And I do think the fact that it was so long didn’t help.”
(17) COLBERT. Stephen Colbert’s “Meanwhile…” news roundup
includes a furry joke related to the movie Cats, and a bit on “The 5D Porn Cinema No One Asked For.”
These items start at 2.02 — here on
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cinema verite of author Liz Hand on
Vimeo. A 5-minute video of Hand
at work and play
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew
(1) SNEAK PEEK. The folk at the
seasonal SF² Concatenation have advance-posted a review of the Dublin
Worldcon ahead of their autumnal edition.
The SF² Concatenation is largely run by Brits — however, the conreport here is by Sue
Burke, a US fan and sff author (Semiosis): “Dublin
…Despite the inconvenience, the snaking queues became good places to meet new people.
The Auditorium held only 2,000, so events there required wristbands to get in, and we had to line up in the afternoon to get them. I didn’t attend the Opening Ceremony/1944 Retro Hugos, Masquerade, or Hugo Award Ceremony. (During the Closing Ceremony, I was instead standing in line at the airport). I wanted to get a wristband for the Hugo Awards, but the queue was enormous and located outside, next to the CCD, during a cold, windy rainstorm, so I abandoned that attempt. (In fairness to the organisers, I am not sure where else the queue could have been located. All available space inside the building was in use!)
Other than that, the convention was splendid: well-organised and always on time. Events started at 9 a.m. with accessible yoga and a “stroll with the stars” morning walk, and ended in the wee hours at Martin Hoare’s Bar – known as Martin’s, named for the volunteer who was to be Fan Bar Manager but who died a few weeks before the convention.
…Other than [overcrowding] the convention was splendid: well-organised and always on time.…
…For me, one of the many high moments of the convention came on Saturday evening at the Bright Club Ireland, a stand-up comedy show. Steve Cross made an excessively deep, textual reading of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to determine the exact date that the Earth is destroyed by the Vogons.
….Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis (Once Upon a Time) and Josh Gad (Frozen) have walked away from the scriptedcomedy, called Muppets Live Another Day, which they had been quietly at work on for months, and Disney+ has opted to abandon work on the series.
…The decision to retool the planned Muppets show will not impact the unscripted shortform series Disney+ announced last month at D23. That show — Muppets Now— will feature beloved characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy alongside celebrity guests.
Margaret Atwood says thieves made concerted efforts to steal her manuscript for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
The author and her publisher were targeted by “fake emails” from “cyber criminals”, trying to obtain the unpublished novel, she told the BBC.
She described the attempts as a “phishing exercise” that could have led to blackmail or identity theft.
“It was a commercial venture of a robbery kind,” Atwood said.
“People were trying to steal it. Really, they were trying to steal it and we had to use a lot of code words and passwords,” she told BBC arts correspondent Rebecca Jones.
“What would they have done with it if they had succeeded? They might have said, ‘We’ve got the manuscript, and we’re putting it up online [unless you] give us your credit card details’. Or they might have said, ‘Read this excerpt and download it. And if you downloaded it, a virus would have stolen your information’.
…But don’t fear creating words. Heck, Shakespeare did it all the time. Just make sure they sound authentic to the world created. Sometimes those words even become part of our own Earthly languages. Like William Gibson’s “cyberspace.” We instinctively knew what it meant the first time we heard it. And J.K. Rowling may have added more words to the English language than anyone since Shakespeare. Time will tell….
(5) NEW DEAL. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo!
Entertainment story “‘Bonkers’
new ‘Joker’ sidesteps controversy, ‘Batman’ hook-up”, has an interview with Joker
director Todd Phillips, who says that his film, set in a world resembling New
York City in the late 1970s “was never meant to connect” to anything
in the DC Extended Universe, “and I don’t see it connecting to anything in
the future,” meaning it’s unlikely Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker will take on
Robert Pattinson’s Batman.
Meanwhile, Phoenix choked up while paying tribute to his late brother, River. “When I was 15 or 16 my brother River came home from work and he had a VHS copy of a movie called Raging Bull and he sat me down and made me watch it. And the next day he woke me up, and he made me watch it again. And he said, ‘You’re going to start acting again, this is what you’re going to do,’” the younger Phoenix recalled while receiving the TIFF Tribute Actor Award. “He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that because acting has given me such an incredible life.”
What initially appeared to be a curious experiment is shaping up to be a sure thing, at least in terms of box office. According to some forecasts, Joker is on track to enjoy a $100 million opening weekend, topping last year’s Venom, which also billed itself as a darker alternative to the usual superhero fare. And the Toronto audience largely greeted the movie with cheers and applause, with the majority of the praise being directed in Phoenix’s direction.
(6) HORROR YOU CAN BANK ON. The Hollywood Reporter asks
‘It’ a New Kind of Horror Franchise?” Tagline: “Never before has
there been a series that’s been closer to being the ‘Avengers’ or ‘Star Wars’
of the genre.”
…But with only two films to its name, It is larger than its competing properties. Consider: It: Chapter One did around 40 percent of the Conjuring series’ combined global gross with just the first installment. It: Chapter Two‘s success remains unwritten, but short of disaster the film will cement this duology among the genre’s greatest blockbusters. Chalk that up once more to King’s name; that alone gives It: Chapter One and Chapter Two a built-in audience at a moment when the author’s material is a ubiquitous hot commodity. (See: April’s Pet Sematary re-adaptation, Hulu’s Castle Rock, the upcoming Doctor Sleep and In the Tall Grass.) Give credit to It‘s shapeshifting antagonist, Pennywise, too, a movie monster tailor made to scare the bejesus out of a wide viewing audience. Spiders might be your worst nightmare. Maybe werewolves. Maybe diseased hobos, mummies, your abusive father, your dead brother, a kindly old lady lurking naked in her kitchen or, last but not least, clowns. It has all of these (plus a very cute pomeranian that isn’t actually so cute after all).
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 10, 1935 — Popeye was heard for the first time on NBC radio.
September 10, 1993 — Fox TV first aired The X-Files.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 10, 1898 — Bessie Love. In 1925, she starred in The Lost World based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She wouldn’t show up again in a genre film until 1963 when she was in Children of the Damned followed by being in Battle Beneath the Earth a few years a later and then having a small uncredited role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She’d be in Vampyres, Gulliver’s Travels and The Hunger to round her genre career. Vampyres btw is described as a “erotic/lesbian vampire horror film”, an apparent subgenre in the Seventies. (Died 1986.)
Born September 10, 1952 — Gerry Conway, 67. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC.
Born September 10, 1953 — Pat Cadigan, 66. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she co-wrote with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love.
Born September 10, 1953 — Stuart Milligan, 66. He first shows up as Walters on the Sean Connery-led Outland and a few years later we see him as a Police Sergeant on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He’ll play Richard Nixon in Doctor Who for two Eleventh Doctor stories, “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of The Moon”.
Born September 10, 1955 — Victoria Strauss, 64. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised for being founder along with AC Crispin for being founder of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog.
Born September 10, 1959 — Tara Ward, 60. She played Preston in the “Warriors of the Deep”, a Fifth Doctor story. After Doctor Who, she shows up in one-offs in Star Cops and Dark Realm beforehaving a very minor role in the Justice League film.
Born September 10, 1959 — Nancy A. Collins, 60. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues 110 to 138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative. She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile.
Born September 10, 1968 — Guy Ritchie, 51. Director of Sherlock Holmes and its sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, both of each I rather liked, and the live-action Aladdin. He did also directed / wrote / produced the rebooted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which got rather nice reviews to my surprise as well as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which apparently sucked.
(9) BRADBURY HISTORY. In
this decade-old video, Roslyn Shapiro talks about Ray Bradbury’s writing group
with her husband in the 1940’s.
Scientists have a recording of the worst day on Earth; certainly the worst day in the last 66 million years.
It takes the form of a 130m section of rock drilled from under the Gulf of Mexico.
These are sediments that were laid down in the seconds to hours after a huge asteroid had slammed into the planet.
You’ll know the event we’re talking about – the one researchers now think was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals.
The high-resolution account of this catastrophe was recovered by a UK/US-led team, who spent several weeks in 2016 drilling into what remains of the crater produced by the impact.
Today, this 200km-wide structure is positioned under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, with its best preserved central portions sitting just offshore of the port of Chicxulub.
The team pulled up a great long core of rock but it’s a particular 130m-long section that essentially documents the first day of what geologists call the Cenozoic Era, or as some others like to refer to it: the Age of Mammals.
(11) INSPIRATION. BBC’s current affairs and entertainment channel Radio 4 presents a 25-minute
‘religious’ program, Beyond Belief. Yesterday’s episode focused
on the implications for religion of the novel Frankenstein.
Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the religious content in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which is often lost in its interpretation on the big screen.
It’s a shiny, tightly framed snapshot of a couple of friends of mine, posing as we share a booth at a New York diner. It’s almost (but not quite) square, with a distinctive white border that’s thicker at the bottom than on the other sides.
As you may already have figured out, the item I am cradling in my hand is a Polaroid photo.
But unlike the hundreds—thousands?—of Polaroids I’ve shot in my life, this one began its life as a digital image. I took it with my Pixel 3 smartphone and then used a new gadget, the Polaroid Lab, to transfer it onto a piece of proudly analog Polaroid instant film, where it developed before my eyes in classic fashion.
… For the most part, I liked how my Polaroid-ized photos came out—but not because they were perfect replicas of the digital originals. They were soft rather than crisp, with a dreamy color palette and an element of surprise, since two copies of the same image don’t necessarily develop identically. The current Polaroid Originals film is the best it’s made since Impossible revived the format, but it still isn’t as consistent as Fujifilm’s Instax.
…The Variety Show format enabled three things. First, its gloss of adult sophistication completely undercut by silliness was incredibly attractive to me and my sister. Secondly, it got us to delight in the work of a revolving cast of top-notch, old school voice actors who’d grown up in radio and knew how to sell a line. June Foray, for example, is the common thread that weaves together the everyman fast-talkers of Warner Brothers films (she voiced Granny and Witch Hazel for Looney Tunes), the pop culture and political satire of Stan Freberg, and the Cold War kiddie fare of “Bullwinkle” (as Rocky, Nell Fenwick, Natasha, and more).
“Fractured Fairy Tales” were narrated by veteran actor Edward Everett Horton, a Warner Bros. stable favorite, and featured Daws Butler (Elroy Jetson), a Stan Freberg comedy show veteran, along with Paul Frees and June Foray. Before giving voice to Dudley Do-Right’s nemesis Snidely Whiplash, Hans Conried was better known as Captain Hook in Disney’s “Peter Pan,” as well as for his years’ long yeoman’s work on radio mystery shows, “I Love Lucy,” and “Burns and Allen.”
Finally, the show’s format and depth of talent connected my sister and me to a world of comedy that was well before our time, but helped us navigate what came afterwards. Apart from Sesame Street and the Electric Company (whose cast was a gift to future Broadway lovers) the cartoon landscape during the 1970s was bleak. I don’t know what happened during the Summer of Love to cause formerly respectable shops like Hanna-Barbera to go from “Jonny Quest” to “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels,” but it can’t have been pretty.
In a twist straight out of a pulpy page-turner, a son says he discovered his late mystery-novelist father’s signed books had been stolen — after seeing them go up for auction at Soetheby’s, according to a new lawsuit.
Upper West Sider Richard Dannay — son of detective-fiction author Frederic Dannay — claims 33 of his dad’s signed books were stolen by his step-mom Rose, passed to her son Terry Koppel and eventually given to Sotheby’s for auctioning, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed late Wednesday.
Richard says he didn’t even know the books existed until he got the brochure from the auction house on Nov. 18, 2016 which described the collection as “The Terry R. Koppel Collection of Ellery Queen,” the court papers say.
OF INTEREST CONTINUES TO FUEL CONFLICT. Washington
Post economics columnist Steven Pearlstein discusses the debate between
writers v. agents in Hollywood, saying that showrunners ought to end their memberships
in the Writers Guild of America so that they can be “honest brokers”
who are neither writers of talent agencies and then can act as a check on
talent agencies’ power. “Big
agencies and studios have a lock on Hollywood. It’s high time to apply
… Five months ago, with the backing of 95 percent of its members, the Guild instructed writers to fire their agents unless they agreed to limit themselves to making money the old-fashioned way — taking a 10 percent commission for every contract they negotiate. Some of the small and midsize agencies agreed. But the Big Four — William Morris Endeavor, United Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency and ICM Partners, which together negotiate 75 percent of the writers income — refused. The big bone of contention: a decades-old industry practice known as “packaging.”
These days, four of five TV shows and movies are said to be “packaged,” meaning that a talent agency has put together a group of its clients — actors, directors, writers and other talent — to participate in a project. For this, they earn a packaging fee that, in television, is almost always 3 percent of what a network pays the studio to produce the show, or somewhere between $15,000 to $30,000 per episode. Although these package fees are paid by the studios out of the production budget, they substitute for the traditional 10 percent commissions that writers, actors and directors would otherwise be required to pay their agents. The agencies claim that packaging is saving writers $49 million a year in commissions. The writers contend that whatever they are saving in commission is more than offset by the lower salaries they earn when production budgets are squeezed to pay packaging fees to their agents.
… The five-month standoff has also caused a rift among the writers, some of whom are having secondthoughts about the Guild’s hard-line strategy. With the quiet encouragement of the agencies, more than 500 guild members are backing a slate of dissidents running against the current leadership in an election that will be decided Sept. 16.
The dissidents — headed by top “showrunners” such as Greg Berlanti (“The Flash,” “Arrow”), Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”), Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing,” “Network”), John Wells (“ER,” “The West Wing”) and David Kelley (“Big Little Lies,” “Goliath”) propose to reopen talks in the hope of reaching a “reasonable” compromise with the agencies.
On Twitter, the dissidents have been called “scabs” and “shills,” while the current leadership is accused of waging a needless battle and weakening the Guild as it heads into more important negotiations next year on a new contract with the studios and networks….
OF THE DAY. In “To Scale: The
Solar System,” a 2015 video on YouTube, Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet
travel to Nevada’s Blackrock Canyon to build a scale model of the solar system
so large that Neptune’s orbit is seven miles in diameter.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ,
John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
It may not be in the Red Keep, but it was once a throne fit for George R.R. Martin. The “Game of Thrones” creator spent four years living in an apartment in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Now, you can live there too – for $354,900.
The third-floor unit in the 900 block of West Margate Terrace on the North Side, where Martin lived from 1971 to 1975 along with several roommates, has hit the market. The three-bedroom condo is listed on Martin’s website as the home where he lived after getting his master’s degree from Northwestern.
“I say ‘three bedroom,’ but for our purposes there were five, once we put a bed in the dining room and another on the back porch,” he wrote. “The rent was $150 a month, after all. There was no way a bunch of guys just out of college could afford that without cramming.”
(2) WORLDCONS PAST AND FUTURE. Here’s video of the chairs
introducing themselves at the 2019 Worldcon Chairs photo session.
… But what set Tumblr, Twitter, Discord, and text chats alight across the world was the news that Archive of Our Own won the Hugo for Best Related Fanwork. This was the Archive’s first time being nominated, news initially treated as somewhat contentious by those who still don’t want to try and understand the vital, ever-growing, incredibly rich and variegated culture of fan-created work.
…Archive of Our Own’s win felt like a real victory for millions of us who write and create fanart, videos, podfic, meta essays, and more. It sure is nice to have that shiny rocket statue and acknowledgment from one of the most prestigious award-giving bodies in genre fiction that we are here and crafting wondrous things.
…To the members of the Business meeting and the SMOFs mailing list I say this: I thank you for your advice and patience. Your vigilance in protection of the Constitution and the Hugo Awards has been long and admirable. But your seeming officiousness, proof of worthiness, over reliance on years and years of committee studies are your weakness. These things scare and alienate fans from engaging in the process. While it was all good and well to fast track the Best Fancast and Best Series categories, it was done at the expense of the Young Adult Award, which lingered for years before it was decided to give it a trial and only then as something other than a Hugo category. The BM has proven itself to be nimble to act when we were threatened by the Puppies and yet unable to debate the merits of a Best Game or Interactive Experience amendment after a year in committee and a detailed, sixty page report from its proponents. I implore you all to be more intuitive and take more risks and chances, especially with those who come before you for the first time.
To you, the members of this community who contemplating going to the Business Meeting or are loath to spend any amount of your precious Worldcon time attending these long, laborious meeting; if you do not approve of what is happening at the World Science Fiction Convention or with the WSFS Constitution and the Hugo Awards, there is no substitution for GETTING INVOLVED!. There are a lot of things I regret; not learning how to become a switch hitter in softball, learning to play a musical instrument or becoming bilingual. But every moment I spent the Business Meeting has been well spent. So go down to your independent/used bookstore or online and get a Roberts Rules of Order and jump into the action. If you don’t, you haven’t any damned right to bitch about it….
(5) ENTERING THE LISTS. [Item
by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Hugo long-list has
been announced. How does this compare with SF² Concatenation’s
beginning-of-year suggestions as to the best SF works of 2019? You may
recall that at the beginning of each year the SF² Conatenation team members
have a round-robin suggesting best works of the previous year and multiple
citations of work get listed. it is purely a bit of fun but over the
years we have noticed that regularly a few of these go on to be nominated for
major SF awards and in turn some of these turn out to be winner.
Semiosis by Sue Burke (character-driven, exo-planet first contact) Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (futuristic, post climate-apocalyptic world building) Before Mars by Emma Newman (off world, mundane-ish, new wave SF) Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor – also short-listed
In a parallel universe, I may be an avid reader of science fiction. In this one, the genre has almost entirely eluded me. And yet on Thursday, through some warp in the space-time continuum, I found myself among the speakers on a panel at Worldcon 2019, an extraordinary event that has brought thousands of sci-fi enthusiasts to Ireland from all over the world. If you see any strange-looking people wandering around Dublin this weekend, it’s them.
The subject of the panel was Flann O’Brien, formerly of this parish, whose work would not normally be described as science fiction, although it appears to have formed a bridge to that community. Crucial to this is his novel The Third Policeman, which revolves around the work of a mad scientist. Among other things, it inspired part of the cult 2005 TV series, Lost, through which many of the world’s sci-fi enthusiasts first heard of its author.
“If you see any strange-looking people wandering
around Dublin” – isn’t it reassuring that some things never seem to change,
like the stereotypical view of SF fans among reporters?
The American creator of the hugely popular fantasy book and TV series said he appreciated that readers loved his fantasy writing, but urged people not to “neglect real history.”
He made the comments in a public interview at the GPO in Dublin this evening, where he was awarded the 2019 An Post International Recognition Award for his contribution to fantasy and science fiction writing over the past 40 years.
“I’m glad so much of the world has fallen in love with my books and my TV show. But we’re living in perilous times, folks, in the US and UK and I’m sure it’s affecting every part of the world.
“Nothing is ever truer than those who do not know real history are doomed to repeat it.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 21, 1888 — Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at TheMagazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
Born August 21, 1911 — Anthony Boucher. I’m currently reading Rocket to the Morgue which the folks at Penzler Publishers sent me for review. Really great read. If you can find a copy, The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read. Unfortunately, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction is the collection available digitally. (Died 1968.)
Born August 21, 1937 — Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
Born August 21, 1943 — Lucius Shepard. Damn I didn’t know he’d passed on. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
Born August 21, 1956 — Kim Cattrall, 63. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris inStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series wise, she was one offs in Tales of the Gold Monkey, Logan’s Run, The Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits.
Born August 21, 1957 — John Howe, 62. Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films is the one we’ll most know and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
Born August 21, 1966 — Denise Mina, 53. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”. ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
Born August 21, 1967 — Carrie-Anne Moss, 52. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. As of late, she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe.
Sony says it’s “disappointed” not to be working with Disney on future Spider-Man films.
We might not see actor Tom Holland in new Marvel movies because a fresh deal can’t be reached over the character.
The film rights to the superhero are owned by Sony – but he could appear in movies like Avengers: Endgame due to a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios – owned by Disney.
Sony says it hopes things “might change in future”.
In a series of tweets, Sony thanked Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige for his “help and guidance” with the franchise.
(9) ISFIC WRITERS CONTEST. The 2019 Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago (ISFiC) Writers Contest is
accepting submissions until September 1. Don’t miss out!
If you are a writer currently living in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Kentucky, or Ohio, or were a Windycon 2018 attendee, and if you have not yet been paid to publish your fiction, you’re eligible to submit your work! Please review the complete contest guidelines here.
The ISFiC Writers Contest began in 1986 and has helped many authors begin their careers in publishing. All authors retain the rights to their stories and are free to publish them elsewhere after the contest, with the winning story making its debut in the Windycon 2019 program.
Winners will enjoy a $300 cash award and the opportunity to attend Windycon 2019 with a complimentary membership badge and double room at the convention hotel. Honorable mentions will receive a commemorative 1oz American silver coin.
(10) GRAPHS TO THE RESCUE. Camestros
Felapton has been inspired by Nicholas Whyte’s Hugo vote analysis to think
about ways to save the whales Best Fanzine Hugo: “More
Hugo Graphs, Fanzine & Ramblings”.
“We were surprisingly close to not giving a Best Fanzine award in both 2019 Hugos and 1944 Retro Hugos this year. The total first preference votes for Best Fanzine finalists other than No Award in both cases was 26.9% of the total number of votes cast overall (833/3097 and 224/834).”
Strangest fact: While most sci-fi hedges its bets and sets the story long after both author and audience have shuffled off this mortal coil, some stories are far more daring, portraying a drastically different near-future, when in fact the near future usually looks mostly like the present but everyone’s phone is thinner and more expensive. Kevin Costner’s infamous bomb The Postman took place only 16 years after its 1997 release, and in that short time the public has forgotten who Shakespeare is (but thankfully not Tom Petty). But the 2013 of the film is still reeling from a long-ago disaster that happened in… 1997, meaning the movie’s premise was already out of date by the time the film hit DVD.
The Postman isn’t the only one that cut it close. 12 Monkeys (1995) predicts a virus that wipes out most of humanity in 1996; Roland Emmerich’s 2012 came out in 2009; 1988’s Alien Nation portrays a 1991 in which aliens have integrated into society after landing on Earth in 1988
(16) FURRIES AT WAR. Blake Montgomery, in the Daily
Beast story “How
A Cooling Vest Invented by a Furry Made Its Way To The U.S. Military” says that the EZ Cooldown vest was
invented by Dutch furry Pepeyn Langedijk in 2014 as a way of keeping cool when
wearing furry outfits. It’s gained ground in the U.S. military,
particularly among tank crews, but its rise is in part due to
“Milfurs,” soldiers who spend their spare time in furry fandom.
In his green claws, the former armorer for the U.S. Army held a collection of military insignia, including a Combat Action Badge, signifying that he had engaged with enemy fighters in Iraq. He stood before an amused audience of men in tight haircuts and camouflage as his unit came together to honor his service.
In his fursuit, Travis is better known as “Stolf,” a fantastical big cat blending the features of a snow leopard, tiger, and wolf. He likes the odd motorcycle ride or ski run while dressed up, and enjoys meeting other “furries”—members of an internet subculture centered on dressing up as anthropomorphic animals.
In his less colorful uniform, Travis was entrusted with the maintenance and repair of small arms like the Mk 19 grenade launcher, both in Iraq and at his duty station, McChord Air Force Base in Washington state. (Travis asked that only his first name be used because of online threats he’s received.)
(17) PITT STOP. A
new trailer for the sf adventure Ad Astra was just released. In theaters
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and 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.
[Thanks to Steven H Silver, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]