In its 13th year of honoring literature in translation, the Best Translated Book Awards named their 2020 longlists for fiction and poetry on April 1. The complete longlists are at the link.
The BTBA longlists feature a diverse group of authors and translators from a variety of publishers, both large and small. The 25 fiction books and 10 poetry books on this year’s longlists represent 20 different countries and feature authors writing in 18 languages.
The works of genre interest on the Best Translated Book Award 2020: Fiction Longlist are:
Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated from the Spanish by Achy Obejas (Dominican Republic, And Other Stories)
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Japan, Pantheon)
China Dream by Ma Jian, translated from the Chinese by Flora Drew (China, Counterpoint)
Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, translated from the Spanish by Sara Moses and Carolina Orloff (Argentina, Charco Press)
Parade by Hiromi Kawakami, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Japan, Soft Skull)
Thanks to financial support from the Amazon Literary Partnership, the winning authors and translators will receive a monetary prize. The shortlists for both the fiction and poetry awards will be announced by early May.
This year’s fiction jury is comprised of Elisa Wouk Almino, Pierce Alquist, Hailey Dezort, Louisa Ermelino, Hal Hlavinka, Keaton Patterson, Christopher Phipps, Lesley Rains, and Justin Walls.
Today is International Women’s Day, and people have been busy celebrating the women in their lives, including their favorite franchise characters. Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo wrote a special post in honor of Carrie Fisher, and he’s not the only one to celebrate the women of Star Wars. The official Instagram account for Star Wars also took to social media to share a “Women of the Galaxy” video, which showcases most of the women featured in the original Star Wars trilogy, prequels, sequels, and both live-action and animated series.
It started with my then agent telling me that a Mexican publisher wanted to publish BUG JACK BARRON in a cheap Mexican edition for a small advance. BUG JACK BARRON had been published in Spanish, but not in Mexico, since, like English language rights split between the US and Britain, Spanish language rights are generally split between Spain and Latin America. I shrugged, and said okay, not knowing much more about it, except that it was Paco Taibo, who I knew years ago, was making the deal, and I didn’t think much more about it then.
But then Paco asked me to come to Mexico City for the book launch, which was also going to be the launch of a new collection of the overall publisher, La Fondo de Cultura Economica. What is that ? I asked, and Paco told me the brief version.
La Fondo de Cultura Economica is a non-profit publisher subsidized by the Mexican government which publishes 500 books a year, distributes the books of other publishers in its 140 book stores in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, whose mission is to allow people who otherwise might not be able to afford buy them to buy a wide assortment of books at cut-rate prices.
Lem’s fiction is filled with haunting, prescient landscapes. In these reissued and newly issued translations — some by the pitch-perfect Lem-o-phile, Michael Kandel — each sentence is as hard, gleaming and unpredictable as the next marvelous invention or plot twist. It’s hard to keep up with Lem’s hyper-drive of an imagination but always fun to try.
(5) BAD ACTORS AT GOODREADS. Camestros Felapton notes that Ersatz
Culture “has been doing some deep data-driven detective work on Goodreads
sockpuppet accounts” and rounds up the related Twitter threads here — “Just
some links to Ersatz Culture’s detective work”. Felapton explains why
the abuse is so easy:
To register an account with Goodreads you have to give an email address BUT unlike most websites these days there is no email verification step i.e. you don’t NEED multiple actual email addresses to set up multiple accounts. The system is wide-open for abuse.
Ersatz Culture says the issue is: “Suspicious Goodreads
accounts giving a slate of books 5-star reviews, and potentially getting
them onto the Goodreads Choice Award as write-in nominees.”
* On a Hugo-related list on Goodreads that Contrarius admins, a few months ago I noticed patterns of user rating that were atypical and (IMHO) suspicious
* I spent a load of time this weekend digging into why this happened. Ultimately it came down to 80+ brand new user accounts created in October and November 2019 all giving 5-star ratings to a slate of 25-35 books (plus a few others)
* The November cohort of these accounts were created in the week when the Goodreads Choice Awards were open to write-in candidates. Quite possibly this is coincidence – there’s no way of proving any connection, that I can see – but two of the books on their slate were successful in getting into the nominations; one of them turns out to be a massive outlier compared to the other nominees in its category when you look at metrics of number of Goodreads users who’d read it etc.
The details are in three long Twitter threads: here, here,
(6) THE ROARING THIRTIES. First Fandom Experience is
at work on a project to acquaint people with “The
In honor of the upcoming centenary of Ray Bradbury’s birth (August 22, 2020), we’re digging through our archive of 1930s fan material to find the earliest appearances of Ray’s writings — in any form. We hope to publish a compendium of these in the next several weeks.
We’re not talking about the well-known and oft-reproduced works such as Futuria Fantasia, or even the somewhat-known and occasionally-reproduced “Hollerbachen’s Dilemma.” We’re seeking anything that appeared prior to 1940 that has been rarely if ever surfaced, especially as it was originally printed.
A primary source for Ray’s earliest articles is the Los Angeles Science Fiction League’s organ, Imagination! This zine’s first issue was published in October 1937 — the same month that Ray joined the LASFL. It ran for thirteen issues through October 1938. Through years of ardent questing, we’re fortunate to have assembled a complete run.
See pages from those zines at the link.
DRAMATIZATION ONLINE. Brian
Aldiss’ Hothouse is a 5 part audio book series downloadable from BBC
Radio 4 Extra: “Brian
Aldiss – Hothouse” read by Gareth Thomas.
Millions of years from now, a small tribe battles to stay alive in Earth’s dense jungle.
Congratulations on having three novellas come out this year, including two Cormac & Amelia stories, and “Gremlin,” which came out in Asimov’s Science Fiction, about a gremlin partnering with a WWII fighter pilot. What are some of the challenges in writing novella-length fiction?
Thank you! Novellas have actually reduced some of the challenges I’ve been facing recently, as strange as that sounds. Over the last couple of years, I’d been putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to write a “big” novel. Big ideas, big impact, etc. That wasn’t working out so well for various reasons, and novellas gave me a chance to back up and rediscover my creative well, without as much pressure. Novellas have enough space to tell an in-depth story with lots of detail and character development, but without the commitment of writing a full-length novel. I went into my rough drafts folder and found some stories I had abandoned or not really developed because I thought they were supposed to be novels—but it turns out that maybe they were meant to be novellas. I could finally develop them without the pressure to “go big.” “Gremlin” and “Dark Divide” both came out of that effort. So did “The Ghosts of Sherwood,” which will be coming out in June 2020. I’ve found novellas to be more liberating than challenging.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 8, 1978 — The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast 42 years ago today. Tonight BBC Radio 4 Extra has several programs on the Guide starting with Vogon Poetry: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is 42”
To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Dan Mersh and Helen Keen put on their dressing gowns and make themselves a nice hot cup of tea as they introduce all 6 episodes of the 1978 radio series alongside archive programmes and especially made H2G2-related features and interviews.
March 8, 1984 — The comedy musical Voyage of the Rock Aliens premiered. It was directed by James Fargo and Rob Giraldi. It starred Pia Zadora, Jermaine Jackson, Tom Nolan, Ruth Gordon and Craig Sheffer. It was conceived as a B-movie spoof, and you can see if that’s true here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 8, 1859 — Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows of course, which it turns out has had seven film adaptations, not all under the name The Wind in the Willows. Did you know A.A. Milne dramatized it for BBC Radio 4 back in the Seventies as Toad of Toad Hall? Oh, and he did write one other fantasy, The Reluctant Dragon which I’ve never heard of. Have any of y’all read it? (Died 1932.)
Born March 8, 1914 — Priscilla Lawson. In 1936, she was cast in the very first Flash Gordon serial as the daughter of Ming the Merciless. Princess Aura’s rivalry with Dale Arden for Flash Gordon’s affection was one of the main plots of the serial and gained Lawson lasting cult figure status. (Died 1958.)
Born March 8, 1921 — Alan Hale Jr. The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided wasgenre, and he did show up in such films as Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl, The Fifth Musketeer and The Giant Spider Invasion which is most decidedly SF, if of a pulpish variety. Series wise, I see he was on The Wild Wild West and Fantasy Island. (Died 1990.)
Born March 8, 1934 — Kurt Mahr. He’s one of the first authors of the Perry Rhodan series which, according to his German Wiki page, is one of “the largest science fiction series of the world.” I’ve not read any Rhodan fiction, so how is it? (Died 1993.)
Born March 8, 1939 — Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute. His other publications were Science Fiction at Large, The Science in Science Fiction edited by Nicholls and written by him and David Langford, and Fantastic Cinema. He became the first Administrator of the UK’s Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.)
Born March 8, 1950 — Peter McCauley, 70. I remember him best from the most excellent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series where he played Professor George Challenger. He also showed as Mr. Spilett on Mysterious Island, another series shot in New Zealand and based off Jules Verne’s novel L’Île mystérieuse. Continuing the Verne riff, he was Admiral McCutcheon in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Nineties TV version of the novel.
Born March 8, 1970 — Jed Rees, 50. Another Galaxy Quest performer, he played Teb, a Thermian. His most recent major genre outing was on Deadpool as Jared / Agent Smith / The Recruiter. He’s had one-offs in Ghost Whisperer, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The Net, X-Files,Outer Limits,The Sentinel and Sliders.
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 44. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Foxtrot’s Jason Fox discovers that role-playing the Witchers may be harder than it seems.
…In communication with The Austin Chronicle late on Friday, SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson told the outlet that the festival does not have an insurance plan to cover this specific reason for cancellation. “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather). However bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”
The cancellation follows many companies choosing not to participate this year as a safety precaution, including Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, WarnerMedia and Amazon Studios.
In announcing their cancellations, several companies cited concerns over the spread of the virus, which has resulted in 3,000 deaths worldwide and affected over 90,000 people in numerous countries. Though little is known and a vaccine is not currently available, coronavirus causes the virus, which involves flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and respiratory trouble.
…In an industry not known for its permanence, it is perhaps no surprise that the Great Movie Ride is no more — its replacement, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, opened this week — but Feige’s comments cut to the importance of not only remembering but also safeguarding our past. The value of pop art, and how revered and inspirational it can be to its audience, is arguably directly proportional to the care with which we treat it. At least that’s a core thesis of a new Disney-themed exhibit opening at Orange County’s Bowers Museum, which aims to look not only at Disney’s history but the art of conservancy itself.
For 50 years, the Walt Disney Archives has amassed one of Hollywood’s most extensive corporate histories, a collection that ranges from company memos — the initial contract for the silent 1920s Alice Comedies — to figurines from, yes, the recently retired Great Movie Ride. That Alice Comedies contract, as well as a xenomorph from “Alien,” which was once housed in that Walt Disney World attraction, are part of the expansive “Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic,” an exhibit opening this weekend and continuing through Aug. 30 at Santa Ana’s Bowers Museum.
[Friday] night, SpaceX launched its first generation Dragon capsule on its twentieth — and final — resupply run to the International Space Station.
The launch marks the Dragon’s last mission as the capsule makes way for SpaceX’s updated and improved Dragon 2 capsule, which will begin making resupply runs to the space station in October.
Alongside cargo to resupply the ISS, the Dragon will be bringing along payloads for experimental research aboard the space station. Including an Adidas experiment to see how it can manufacture midsoles in space; a project from the faucet maker, Delta, to see how water droplets form in zero gravity; and Emulate is sending up an organ-on-a-chip to examine how microgravity affects intestinal immune cells and how heart tissue can be cultured in space.
SpaceX launched another cargo mission to the International Space Station Friday, successfully landing the flight’s rocket booster for the 50th time in the last five years, the Associated Press reported.
The rocket lifted off to a countdown and cheers from an audience at SpaceX’s headquarters in California, but the largest cheers came for the successful landing of the rocket’s first-stage booster. After falling away from the Dragon capsule, the “Falcon 9” touched back down on the landing pad, amid flashes of bright light and smoke.
“And the Falcon has landed for the 50th time in SpaceX history!” announced lead engineer Jessica Anderson on a livestream from SpaceX HQ.
A peckish pig who swallowed a pedometer ended up sparking a fire in its pen.
Fire crews were called to a farm near Bramham, Leeds, at about 14:00 GMT on Saturday after copper from the pedometer’s batteries apparently reacted with the pig’s excrement and dry bedding.
The pedometers were being used on pigs to prove they were free-range. No pigs or people were hurt in the fire.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had gone to “save the bacon”.
(17) THE BAT CAPITAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] And here everybody thought Gotham was a stand in for NYC.
Turns out it was London all along. ComicBook.com is there when “Epic Batman Statue Debuts in London”
DC Comics just debuted an epic new Batman statue in Leicester Square. They posted about the monument to the superhero on Facebook with an image of the Caped Crusader looking down on the populace. The detailing on this piece looks very intricate with the muscle work, utility belt, and cowl deserving special shout outs. The post also calls back to Batman Day when the company made Bat-Signals all across the world in different cities. London was on the list of places that got the light show…
A lot of fans have big hopes for Matt Reeves’ The Batman next year. They believe it could give them a fresh take on the character that will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the other movie version of the hero.
“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale. It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional,” Reeves said to THR. “It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.”
(18) 007 VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.] Saturday Night Live host Daniel Craig of course talked about playing James Bond in the opening
monologue. He also played a purported clip from No Time To Die.
It’s really funny!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Darrah Chavey, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
In general, speculative fiction in translation (SFT) accounts for a very small fraction of the fiction published in English each year. This past year was no exception: 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers. While this may not sound like much, it does signify a slow but steady increase in non-Anglophone speculative fiction since the turn of the century. Not since the 1960s and ’70s have we seen such an increase, and while I can’t point to any one factor as an explanation, I imagine that the unprecedented worldwide connectivity brought about by the internet at the end of the last century, coupled with the increase in small and micro-presses and magazines that regularly publish speculative fiction, may offer a partial answer. Perhaps another factor is the growing interest of speculative fiction fans in stories that are written from a non-Anglophone perspective…
(2) LONDON’S OFF THE HOOK. Yesterday, the London Book Fair planned
to carry on, even in the face of businesses dropping out because of coronavirus
fears. Today, The Guardian reports
it’s been cancelled.
One of the world’s biggest international literary events, the London book fair, has been cancelled over coronavirus fears, amid growing anger that the delay in calling it off was putting people’s health at risk and an unfair financial strain on publishers.
Organiser Reed Exhibitions announced on Wednesday that the escalation of the illness meant the fair, scheduled to run from 10 to 12 March, would be called off. Around 25,000 publishers, authors and agents from around the world had been due to attend the event, where deals for the hottest new books are struck.
But the event was already set to be a ghost town when it opened its doors, after publishers and rights agencies began withdrawing en masse over the last week. Some of the world’s biggest, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette had already pulled out, as had Amazon and a host of literary agencies including Curtis Brown.
(3) NO TIME TO DEBUT. Another British institution, Agent
007, has also been affected by fears of the spread
of the COVID-19 flu: “No
Time to Die’s Release Is Delayed Seven Months Because of Coronavirus”.
The 25th James Bond movie was
supposed to premiere in April, but GQ reports it now will open in
November. The date has been pushed back so the film can make money in Asian countries
whose movie theatres are currently in trouble because of the coronavirus.
Now there are reports that the spread of the illness—and subsequent quarantines and travel restrictions in China—will likely impact the arrival of Baby Yoda toys.
Hasbro, which has the license for several Star Wars toys, including some dolls and figures of The Mandalorian’s breakout star, is very concerned about the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt its toy-making supply chains. CNN Business spoke to toy-industry expert Jim Silver, who said that the first batch of Baby Yoda toys, which are supposed to arrive later this month, are mostly in the clear so far. However, if things don’t return to normal by the start of the summer, Silver predicts “shortages on a litany of toys.”
In a filing released on Thursday, Hasbro admitted that it was experiencing coronavirus-related production difficulties in China, where more than 80,000 people have been infected. The company added that the flu “could have a significant negative impact on our revenues, profitability, and business.”
(5) NEXT YEAR IN HORROR. The StokerCon 2021 website has gone live. Next
year’s Horror Writers Association gathering will take place in Denver, CO from May
20-23. Memberships go on sale April 20 for $150 (Early Bird Special). The next rate
hike is June 30, 2020.
(6) TURNOVER ON THE MASTHEAD. Sean Wallace, Publisher of The Dark Magazine, told
followers about some recent and upcoming personnel changes.
Just before the start of the new year, our reprint editor Michael Kelly stepped back from his duties to put more time and energy in his small press company, Undertow Publications, and we wish him all the best in his endeavours. And then in other somewhat-related sad news, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is also soon leaving The Dark Magazine to focus on her writing career, which is really taking off, and rightfully so. As such, her last month will be with the July 2020 issue, which we are putting together the original lineup as we type this out.
Beyond that, we have no immediate plans to hire a new co-editor, at least for the remainder of 2020, but I will be sending out a further update on this closer to the end of the year.
OBIT. Aly Parsons (1952-2020) died February 9, reports Locus
Online. With her husband Paul Parsons (d. 2008), she hosted the Potomac
River Science Fiction Society for 12 years, and worked on Unicons and the 2003
World Fantasy Convention. She cofounded a Washington DC writers’ group that met
for decades. Her pro sales included a short story published in Marion Zimmer
Bradley’s Darkover anthology Sword of Chaos (1982).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 4, 1956 — The Atomic Man premiered. If you saw it in the U.K., it was Tinmeslip. It was directed by Ken Hughes, and produced by Alec C. Snowden from The Isotope Man by Charles Eric Maine, who also wrote the screenplay. It starred Gene Nelson and Faith Domergue. You’ll need to watch it for yourself here to see how it is as there’s no Rotten Tomatoes ratings for it.
March 4, 1958 — Cosmic Monsters (The Strange World of Planet X in the U.K.) premiered. It was produced by George Maynard and John Bash, directed by Gilbert Gunn. It starred Forrest Tucker and Gaby André. It was a double bill with The Crawling Eye. It bombed at the Box Office, critics at the time hated it and it currently has a 6% rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
March 4, 1977 — Man From Atlantis premiered. Created by Mayo Simon and Herbert Solow, the pilot was written by Leo Katzin. It starred Patrick Duffy, Belinda Montgomery, Alan Fudge and Victor Bruno. It ran for thirteen episodes that followed four films. It was not renewed for a full season. We cannot offer you a look at it as it’s behind a paywall at YouTube.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 4, 1905 — Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. (Died 1980.)
Born March 4, 1923 — Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders, that kind of thing of thing.” Despite that, he’s here because, he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour.“ And he was in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well. (Died 2012.)
Born March 4, 1933 — Bernie Zuber. A fan artist who was the original vice president of the Mythopoeic Society. He was also a long-time member of LASFS who joined in the Fifties. He served as one of the first editors of Mythlore, but leftafter a falling out with the Mythopoeic Society, and became the founder and president of the Tolkien Fellowships. He published Butterbur’s Woodshed, Germinal and The Westmarch Chronicle. (Died 2005.)
Born March 4, 1938 — Paula Prentiss, 82. One of the wives of the original Stepford Wives, she also appears as Sonia Dracula in the second Mr. and Mrs. Dracula pilot in 1981 after the first pilot was deemed not workable by the network. That pilot was also not brought to series either.
Born March 4, 1958 — James Ellroy, 72. Ok Filers. ISFDB lists two novels by him as being genre, Blood Moon and American Tabloid. I’ve read neither but nothing that I can find on the web suggests that either is even remotely genre adjacent. Who’s read them?
Born March 4, 1965 — Paul W. S. Anderson, 55. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event Horizon, Alien V. Predator, Pandorum and even the forthcoming Monster Hunter which no, isn’t based off the work of a certain Sad Puppy.
Born March 4, 1966 — Daniela Amavia, 54. She appeared as Alia Atreides in the Children of Dune series.usually I wouldn’t include a performer fir just one genre credit, but she made a most perfect Alia that I will make an exception and do so in her case.
…But sometimes, Doctor Who’s willingness to play fast and loose with things we previously knew to be true just makes its stories unnecessarily complicated without adding anything of value to them. (See also: Clara’s status as the Impossible Girl, Melody Pond growing up to be River Song or the Hybrid mystery.) It certainly feels like that’s the case in the Season 12 finale, an episode which gives the Doctor an entirely new origin story, destroys her race (again!) and creates what feels like an almost limitless number of incarnations of the character that we, as viewers, will likely never meet.
Because the question at the end of all this is: So what?
After promising a game-changing finale that would upend everything we, as viewers, understood about the show, “The Timeless Children” didn’t really live up to that promise. It actually changes very little. By the time the closing credits roll, the entire series’ universe is supposed to be different. The problem is, it’s not. Not really. There are new pieces to the story, sure. But largely those pieces exist in the same places the old ones did. So, it’s hard to tell precisely why this story matters….
Because you can’t have it both ways: Either existing Doctor Who lore is important enough that shaking it up and turning it inside out and fighting strangers on the internet about it matters, or it doesn’t. If we change the rules, those changes need to mean something, and the story that comes out of those has to be worth rewriting the things that have come before. (And you have to respect that there were rules that existed in the first place.) It’s not clear that this episode does that, regardless of whether we’re talking about the Master’s characterization, the Doctor’s past, or the apparent erasure of Rassilon from existence. If nothing is truly different in the aftermath of stories that supposedly change everything, then what’s the point of telling them? Sure, “The Timeless Children” dropped the bombshell that the Doctor is functionally immortal, but we all sort of knew that already, since she was given a new set of regenerations back when she was Eleven.
(12) FRAUD, HE SAYS. While Paste Magazine is dubious,
John C. Wright is absolutely outraged (as one might expect) and calls the season-ending
Death of Doctor Who”. Again, BEWARE SPOILERS.
…So the Doctor turns out to be, not an eccentric Time Lord who stole a broken TARDIS to flee into time and space for madcap adventures helping the helpless, nay.
He is in fact a foundling, a poor little black girl, who is the sole source of the regenerative ability of the Time Lords, hence the true founder of their society, not Rassilon.
…The point of message fiction is twofold.
The first, like Aesop, attempts to convey a moral maxim or lesson in a palatable fashion to influence young minds.
This can be done well or poorly, depending on whether the story rules the message, or the message rules the story.
The message itself, like any sermon, can also be well written or poorly written.
But if the message derails the story, that is fraud. The author who promises an entertainment, but delivers a lecture instead, is just as much a cheat as a bartender who charges for a mug of beer but puts a glass of buttermilk before you. Buttermilk may be better for your health, but, honestly, the bartender is not your mother, and he is not doing the job you paid him for.
Wright proceeds to condemn all of this in the strongest terms. I can only imagine how upset he might have been if he had actually watched the show, but he assures his readers —
I have not seen the episode, nor, indeed, the season, nor ever will I.
(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s Jeopardy!
contestants strike out on this one:
Category: America’s Richest Self-Made Women
Answer: Part of this author’s nearly $400 million fortune came from books she wrote under the J.D. Robb pseudonym.
For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to edit a gene while the DNA is still inside a person’s body.
The groundbreaking procedure involved injecting the microscopic gene-editing tool into the eye of a patient blinded by a rare genetic disorder, in hopes of enabling the volunteer to see. They hope to know within weeks whether the approach is working and, if so, to know within two or three months how much vision will be restored.
“We’re really excited about this,” Dr. Eric Pierce, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, who is leading a study that the procedure launched, tells NPR.
“We’re helping open, potentially, an era of gene-editing for therapeutic use that could have impact in many aspects of medicine,” Pierce says.
The CRISPR gene-editing technique has been revolutionizing scientific research by making it much easier to rewrite the genetic code. It’s also raising high hopes of curing many diseases.
Before this step, doctors had only used CRISPR to try to treat a small number of patients who have cancer, or the rare blood disorders sickle cell anemia or beta-thalassemia. While some of the initial results have been promising, it’s still too soon to know whether the strategy is working.
In those other cases, doctors removed cells from patients’ bodies, edited genes in the cells with CRISPR in the lab and then infused the modified cells back into the volunteers’ bodies to either attack their cancer or produce a protein their bodies are missing.
A filmmaker says social media rules to prevent extremist material going online are thwarting his attempts to tackle hatred and extremism.
Rizwan Wadan said algorithms used by Facebook and TikTok were making it hard to promote his films.
Mr Wadan, 38, of Luton, said automatic filtering of words such as “jihad” and “terror,” forced users underground to learn about and discuss the issues.
Facebook said his trailer broke its ban on “sensational content” in adverts.
Mr Wadan, based at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, developed camera stabilisation systems and has worked on films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
He set up a £1.2m project called The Error in Terror to “give Muslims a voice,” and made films intended to deter acts of terrorism and challenge people to rethink their views.
But he said trailers for his work have been “restricted” on Facebook and said TikTok removed the content because it was deemed to break its guidelines.
“If we have algorithms that pick up words like ‘terrorism’ and ‘jihad,’ if we’re not allowed to discuss these things on social media platforms, then people who need to learn about this get pushed underground,” he said.
“They might start to learn about these things from people abroad where jihad is applied very differently and it could encourage individuals to get into revenge and retaliation, and this is very dangerous for us.
“It’s the responsibility of social media platforms to allow this kind of discussion to take place.”
11-year-old Star Wars fan Isabella Tadlock was born with a nub on the end of her left arm and no fingers on her right hand. Actor Mark Hamill saw her story on Twitter and helped her get a R2-D2 bionic arm.
(18) BOOKSHOPPING LEADS TO BOOKHOPPING. Powell’s Books
Blog presents “Portrait
of a Bookseller: Dana P.”, who recommends V.E. Schwab and Neil Gaiman,
and confesses a habit that will probably sound familiar to some of you.
Do you have any odd reading habits? I definitely have a bad habit of hoarding books and then starting too many of them at once. I love the feeling of just starting a book, when it holds so much potential, so I’ll often have about six books I’m in the middle of — but I’ll bounce back and forth between them so none of them feel neglected.
(19) THE INTERNET OF REBELLIOUS THINGS. Connected is about —
…an everyday family’s struggle to relate while technology rises up around the world! When nature-loving dad Rick… determines the whole family should drive Katie to school together and bond as a family one last time…. the Mitchells’ plans are interrupted by a tech uprising: all around the world, the electronic devices people love – from phones, to appliances, to an innovative new line of personal robots – decide it’s time to take over. With the help of two friendly malfunctioning robots, the Mitchells will have to get past their problems and work together to save each other and the world!
It arrives in theaters September 18.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
Mike Kennedy, Michal Tolan, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack
The winners of the 10th Xingyun
(Nebula) Awards for Global Chinese Science Fiction were announced by World
Chinese Science Fiction Society at the ceremony in Chongqing, China on October
The winners are indicated in boldface.
The Azure Tragedy, by Hui Hu (win)
The Orphans of Red Planet, by Liu Yang
The Dead,by Han Song
Life Upgrade, by Tianjiang Longxia
Flowers on the Other Side, by A Que (win)
Brain Gambling, by Gu Shi
The Wings of Earth, by Jiang Bo
The Peach Blossom Spring, by Suo Hefu
The Kites of Jinan, by Liang Qingsan (win)
Fear Machine, by Chen Qiufan
Sin, by Yang Wanqing
Science Fiction (Long Form)
Mind Surveyors by, Xu Yanli (win)
Qi Qiguai’s Historical Adventures in Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties, by Chao Xia
Cosmic Adventure King vol. 10, by Peng Xuluo
Adventures of Four Friends, by Lu Yang
Science Fiction (Short Form)
Millions of Tomorrows, by Qin Yingliang (win)
Where have you been, Dad? , by Chao Xia
Nightmare of Conan, by Lu Yang
Immigrating to Planet 9, by He Tao
From Rebirth to Immortality: Post-human, Cyborg and Blockchain, by Chen Qiufan
The History of Chinese Science Fiction, by Xu Yanli
Strange Person and His Strange Books: about Han Song’s Science Fiction Works, by Dong Renwei
After the Three-body Problem, from Science Fiction to Literature: A Reflection on Contemporary Science Fiction, by Song Mingwei
The Golden Man: Collection of Philip K. Dick vol. 3, by Philip K. Dick, translated by Hao Xiuyu (win)
The Quantum Magician, by Derek Künsken, translated by Yan Wei
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson, translated by Chen Yuechen
Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer, translated by Hu Shaoyan
Cover art of Red Ocean, by Butu (win)
Cover art of The Fountains of Paradise, by Guo Jian
Cover art of The Poetry Cloud, by Guo Jian
Cover art of Twelve Lenhu Lakes, by Yongren
Yang Wanqing (win)
Awards for Special Contribution
Frank Gwo (director of The Wandering Earth)
Hao Jingfang (author of Folding Beijing)
Feng Zhang explained in comments: “Non-Fiction category is in a lot of debates about what should be classified as non-fiction and how to compare a book with an article. It will be reviewed for 11th Xingyun Awards. As for this year, according to the jury, these four nominees are not quite up to the standard of the golden award. Therefore, the jury decided to give No-Award.”
(1) CHANGES TO NY TIMES BESTSELLER LISTS. Publishers
Weekly reports “‘NYT’
Shifts Its Lists Again”. Mass market paperbacks and graphic books will
be tracked again, and middle grade paperback and YA paperback lists will debut.
After cutting the mass market paperback and graphic novel/manga lists in 2017, the Times‘ Best Sellers team will again track mass market paperback sales, as well as debut a combined list for graphic books, which will include fiction, nonfiction, children’s, adults, and manga. Two new monthly children’s lists, middle grade paperback and young adult paperback, will debut as well. (The Times retired its middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists in 2017.) In addition, the Times will cut its science and sports lists, explaining that “the titles on those lists are frequently represented on current nonfiction lists.” The changes are effective October 2 online and October 20 in print.
The Times has already cut back its print lists on the combined print/e-book and print hardcover lists to 10 titles, from 15, although the online lists will continue to show 15 titles. A representative of the paper said that the change “was made for design reasons, specifically to improve the readability of the lists in print.”
Barbara Krasnoff is the author of over 35 short stories, including “Sabbath Wine,” which was a finalist for the Nebula Award, and recently published a mosaic novel titled The History of Soul 2065. She’s also responsible for a series of captioned photos that can be found under the hashtag #TheirBackstories.
Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp and its sequel, Latchkey. Her next novel, Firebreak, is due out from Saga in 2020. She can be found online at nicolekornherstace.com or on Twitter @wirewalking.
The event begins 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just
off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
New York, NY.
(3) SUNDAY IN THE PARK. Last Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Andrew Porter took this photo of the Dell Magazines booth which was hosted by Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams and her daughter.
(4) NEW AWARD PROMOTES DIVERSE SFF. Gollancz
and author Ben Aaronovitch are launching a writing prize championing under-represented voices in science fiction,
fantasy and horror after stats showed less than 1% of the genres’ books
come from British BAME authors. (BAME is used in the UK to refer to black, Asian and minority ethnic
Submissions for the
Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award will
be taken from October 1, 2019 until January 31, 2020 — 5,000
to 10,000 words consisting of either a self-contained short story or the
opening of a novel that fits into the scifi, fantasy or horror genres
The prizes include:
£4,000 for the overall winner alongside a critique and year-long mentoring programme with Gollancz commissioning editor Rachel Winterbottom.
Second place: £2,000 and a critique of their work
Five runners-up will receive £800 and a Gollancz goodie bag.
Gollancz publisher Anne Clarke said:
The current lack of representation in science fiction and fantasy is no secret and it has to change. As modern speculative fiction publishers, we at Gollancz have a responsibility not just to say our doors are open, but to actively seek out and support writers whose backgrounds and experience have historically been – and still are – under-represented in our genre. I hope this award will encourage writers who have perhaps not always felt welcome in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing and I’m looking forward to discovering exciting new writing talent within the submissions.
It’s Hollywood logic to try bleed more money from a stone. Whenever there’s a successful franchise, it’s natural for studios to stay safe and invest in more of the same product and produce as many sequels, prequels, TV shows, and reboots of the property. However, every so often, Tinseltown fails to catch lighting in a bottle a second time. Not every movie deserves 815 more iterations of the same story.
the middle of the list is —
Long before DCEU fans bemoaned the current DC movies, they were (rightfully) bailing on another one. Somehow, DC was able to zap all of the fun and sultriness out of Selina Kyle for the long-gestating Catwoman movie, which starred Oscar winner Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, and Benjamin Bratt. All in all, not a bad trio. So what went wrong?
First, the entire origins of a cat burglar/vixen are heaved out the window and replaced with an Egyptian Cat Mythology. That mythology would have worked if it was a little more thought out and the movie itself wasn’t just an excuse to feature the gorgeous Berry in as little clothing as possible.
…Steampunk is not exactly something you would associate with Papenburg, even though the steamship MV Liemba a.k.a. Graf Goetzen, which starred in The African Queen as the German gunboat Königin Luise, was built here in 1913. Therefore, I was very surprised to learn that Papenburg not only has an active Steampunk community, but also hosts Steamfest, a Steampunk festival which took place for the second time in 2019. And since Papenburg is only about 114 kilometres away, I of course decided to pay Steamfest a visit.
Magic as revenge, retaliation, or retribution is the theme of many of September’s best short speculative fiction stories. There are some new authors on this list alongside some very well-known names, yet no matter where they are career-wise, the stories they’ve written have left a mark on this world. Here are some of the ten best science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories I read in September.
The contributing authors include Kameron Hurley, Mur
Lafferty Patrice Sarath, Wendy Wagner, Julie C Day, Paul Jessup, Jamie Mason,
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Ross Lockhart, Karen Bovenmyer, with open submissions to
It used to be if someone wanted to mug you, they had to look you in the face and make a threat. Not anymore. Hackers can wipe a bank account without ever having to risk drawing blood. Bad people use technology for personal gain. Nothing’s new about that. What is new is the ways technology opens up opportunities for exploitation.
New technology is coming on-line all the time, creating new opportunities for creative criminals and dissidents. Stolen elections, companies held hostage by hackers, and acts of terror have all been committed with technology that didn’t exist a few short years ago.
Join leading edge speculative fiction authors on an exciting walk into darkness where people and machines plunder, cheat, kill, and steal in ways we can’t even imagine with tools that may not even exist, yet. But, they’re coming.
(9) SATIRE ON TWO WHEELS. Remember Knight
Rider? Well, here’s David Hasselhoff in Moped Rider…
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 27, 1958 — In Italy, The Day the Sky Exploded (Italian: La morte viene dallo spazio, “Death Comes From Space”. It is known as the first Italian SF film, predating even the SF films of Antonio Margheriti.
September 27, 1979 — Buck Rogers in the 25th Century began its regular first season (after the airing of the film) with an episode called “Planet of the Slave Girls”.
September 27, 2002 — Joss Whedon’s Fireflypremiered on Fox TV. It was cancelled after eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired. Eventually it concluded in a film called Serenity which Will Shetterly reviewed here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 27, 1902 — Henry Farrell. Novelist and screenwriter, best known as the author of the “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” story which was made into a film of the same name starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. (Died 2006.)
Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as he appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd”” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion”. I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd. He also had one-offs on I-Spy, Munsters, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but not confirmed he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley, 85. His first genre role is as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cacoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf, 72. He has a tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’d argue some of his music videos are genre stories in their own right. He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes, more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the Crypt, The Outer Limits, Monsters, Masters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars.
Born September 27, 1950 — Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 69. He’d be on the Birthday Honors list if he’d only been Zylyn in Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. But he’s also shown up on Babylon 5, the premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Superboy, Alien Nation, the Australian version of Mission: Impossible, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Stargate SG-1, Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Librarians, voicing characters on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rebels. He’s currently got two main roles going, the first being Nobusuke Tagomi in The Man in The High Castle, the other being Hiroki Watanabe in Lost in Space.
Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 63. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction last fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor in 2011 and 2012. With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s Robots, Isaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
Born September 27, 1972 — Gwyneth Paltrow, 47. Yes, she is Pepper Potts in the Marvel Universe film franchise but her first genre role was as a young Wendy Darling in Hook. And she shows up in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow asPolly Perkins, a reporter for The Chronicle.
(12) ROCKET ROYALTY. In Olav Rokne’s post “Many
Princes; One Crown” at the Hugo Book Club Blog, readers are
reminded of the challenges in voting on works translated to English, beginning
with a recent Retro-Hugo winner.
…But the case of The Little Prince is more comparable to that of the first translated work to appear on a Hugo Ballot: the 1963 novel Sylva, which was written by French war hero Vercors (A.K.A. Jean Bruller). No translator is mentioned on the dust jacket of the book. And until this summer, when the record was updated at our request, the official Hugo Awards site did not list the name of the translator, Rita Barisse. The Wikipedia entry for the Hugo Awards, and several other publications continue to neglect Barisse’s contribution to the work….
(13) LAFFERTY AWARENESS. Shelf Awareness checks in
with the author of Lies My
Teacher Told Me in
with… James W. Loewen”. R.A. Lafferty gets a big shout-out:
Book you’re an evangelist for:
The only historical novel I recommend without reservation: Okla Hannali by R.A. Lafferty. Even though by a white author, I credit it as a Choctaw history of the 19th century, in the form of a biography of a fictional Choctaw leader who was born in Mississippi around 1801 and died in Oklahoma in 1900. I realize such a statement creates all sorts of problems for me–expropriation of Native knowledge, white arrogance, etc. My only defense is the work itself. I have no idea how Lafferty, otherwise known for science fiction, learned so much about Choctaws (and white folks), but every time I have checked out any fact in Okla Hannali, no matter how small, Lafferty got it right. And what a read! Only a little over 200 pages long, but an epic, nevertheless.
(14) ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS. David Gerrold contends
art and the artist should be regarded separately in his public
So let’s say that I point out that the owners of a specific fast-food chain have donated a lot of money to anti-LGBTQ+ causes.
This is not an invitation to say:
“The food is terrible.”
Let’s say that I point out that a particular actor has said some unsavory things about politics. This is not an invitation to say,
“She can’t act anyway.”
Or maybe a well-known author has said something egregiously stupid. That’s not an invitation to say,
You are on a runaway trolley. On one track are five people who have not yet seen The Good Place and don’t intend to, and who will die if you don’t move the lever. On the other track is one person who, like you, is caught up and can discuss the show with you. What do you do?
(16) PENN AND POURNELLE. There’s a pair of names you wouldn’t
put in the same sentence – unless you’re Tedium’s Ernie Smith. In “All
Penn, No Teller” he recalls when Penn Jillette was “a sometimes-rebellious big-name computer magazine
columnist in the ’90s.”
…Now, tech writing of this era doesn’t have the pedigree of, say, good music journalism in the 1970s. Certainly, there were good tech writers during this time, particularly free-wheeling voices like fellow moonlighter Jerry Pournelle of Byte, hard-nosed insiders like journeyman scribe John C. Dvorak and the long-anonymous Robert X. Cringely, and well-considered newspaper voices of reason like syndicated columnist Kim Komando and the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.
But Jillette was something different. He was already famous—certainly more famous than Pournelle, an established science-fiction author, thanks to being a regular fixture on television during much of his career and starring in a legendary Run-DMC music video—and he likely did not need a nationally distributed computer magazine column to make a living. Jillette simply liked computers and knew a lot about them, which meant that he could rant about the details of an Autoexec.bat file just as easily as he can about politics. He gave the tech writing form something of an edge, while maintaining the freewheeling nature established by fellow pre-blogging voices like Pournelle….
“Caltech scientists have discovered a new species of worm thriving in the extreme environment of Mono Lake. This new species, temporarily dubbed Auanema sp., has three different sexes, can survive 500 times the lethal human dose of arsenic, and carries its young inside its body like a kangaroo.”
Terry Hunt sent the link in with a note: “I was
irresistibly reminded of Vonda N. McIntyre’s story ‘Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand’ and its novel expansion Dreamsnake.”
(18) LOOKING FOR ET IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD. The Beyond Center
presented the 2019 Eugene Shoemaker Memorial Lecture with James Benford on
Abstract: A recently discovered group of nearby co-orbital objects is an attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to locate for observing Earth. Near-Earth objects provide an ideal way to watching our world from a secure natural object that provides resources an ETI might need: materials, a firm anchor, concealment. These co-orbital objects have been little studied by astronomy and not at all by SETI or planetary radar observations. I describe the objects found thus far and propose both passive and active observations of them by optical and radio listening, radar imaging and launching probes. We might also broadcast to them.
The future: The fully realized version of Shapeshifter would be a “mothercraft” lander that carries a collection of 12 mini robots (“cobots”) to the surface, acts as the main power source, and uses a suite of scientific instruments that can directly analyze samples. The cobots could work together to carry and move the mothercraft to different areas. They would be able to operate individually or as one cohesive unit, in order to adapt to a variety of terrains and environments.
For example, the cobots would be able to separate and fly out in different directions or together as a flock, link up together like a barrel of monkeys in order to explore narrow caves and caverns, or even float on or swim in liquid.
(22) SURVIVE BY A WHISKER. Gato Roboto
a video game designed to let you channel your inner feline.
Pounce inside of your cozy armored mech and set off on a dangerous trek through an alien underworld full of irritable creatures and treacherous obstacles in a valiant effort to save your stranded captain and his crashed spaceship. Tiptoe outside the friendly confines of your technological marvel and follow your feline instincts through tight tunnels and mysterious waterways to scavenge for new weapons and gear. Adventure awaits the most curious of cats in Gato Roboto!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Terry Hunt, Nina Shepardson,Cliff, Rob Thornton,
Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna NImmhaus.]
(1) ASTOUNDING AWARD. CoNZealand will use the new name immediately. (At least one very well-known business meeting regular has been trying behind the scenes to convince other conrunners they don’t have the authority to make the change, and failed.)
Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”
Becky Chambers just earned a Hugo Award for her blisteringly optimistic Wayfarers trilogy, and coming off that win, she’s shifting gears with a new, standalone novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate. In the 22nd century, scientists make a big breakthrough that will help astronauts adapt to the harsh realities of space, opening up distant destinations in the cosmos to human explorers.
One team of astronauts ventures out to a solar system 15 light years away, and as they transform and adapt to their new home, so too is Earth. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “Chambers packs an immense amount of story into a novella worthy of full-length praise.”
TAKEAWAYS. Eric Wong and
Greg Hullender cover their Ireland tour and Dublin 2019 in “Dublin
2019 Recap “. Says Greg, “Yeah, it had a few issues, but we had fun.”
Greg was on the “Fanzines Now!” panel, and that was the only panel we participated in this year. This panel was a discussion about the state of fanzines today. We had a good mix of people doing online fanzines (Rocket Stack Rank, Journey Planet, and Nerds of a Feather Flock Together) as well as Joe Siclari, who runs the Fanac History Project.
As usual for fanzine panels, the audience included lots of people involved with the traditional paper-based fanzines. Somewhat to our surprise, they were broadly supportive of modern online efforts. Joe remarked at one point that he had thought he’d be the conservative one on the panel, but he found himself standing up for the idea that “a blog is a fanzine, even if it only has one contributor, and even if no one ever comments on it.”
In 1979, the year before he was awarded the World Fantasy Professional Award, DMG published Acts of Providence, The Road of Azrael, Lack Colossus, The Black Wolf, Tales of the Werewolf Clan, Jewels ofGwahlur, Lovecraft’s Providence and Adjacent Parts, Mayhem on Bear Creek, and Hawks of Outremer.
The year after Grant won the award, Stephen King approached him with the rights to publish the first edition of any and all books in the Dark Tower series. King didn’t believe they would have a wide appeal among his general audience.
(5) TIPTREE DISCUSSION. Geoff
Ryman’s thoughts about the call to rename the award (which the Motherboard
today declined to do) is here on
Facebook and attracted comments from writers including David Gerrold, Nisi
Shawl and Eileen Gunn.
(6) MONGOLIAN HANDMAID. Ferret Bueller checks in from a
Mongolian bookstore once again. (Eat your heart out Locus!)
I don’t think I’ve had free time to visit File770 more than three times the past several months, but I saw the newest Mongolian SFF translation at the bookstore near my office today and immediately thought I’d pass on a picture if anyone was interested?. First is the full view and then the picture cropped to give a good look at the book at the top left, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (the translation of the title is exact). It’s next to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera (though that title is rendered in Mongolian as Love in a Time of Plague), both of which were released about a month or two ago, maybe longer.
(7) DICKS OBIT. Perhaps the most prolific contributor to Doctor
Who, Terence Dicks (1935-2019) died August 29. Working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script
editor from 1968 to 1974, he was credited in 156 episodes of Doctor
Who. He wrote several Doctor Who serials and scores of novelizations. His final short story Save Yourself will be published next month in BBC Books’ Doctor Who: The Target Storybook. He wrote for TV’s The Avengers, the soap opera Crossroads,
and co-created and wrote for the series Moonbase 3. He also worked as a
producer on Sunday Classics. He authored several children’s series,
including about a cat call Magnificent Max and, his longest running, another
about a golden retriever The Adventures of Goliath. He received the 2015 Scribe Grandmaster career award for
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. He’s in Doctor Who with the First Doctor as Kublai Khan in “Mighty Kublai Khan” and “Assassin at Peking”. He’s Professor Spencer in The Avengers in “The Master Minds” and he shows up in The Prisoner as Number Fifty Four in “It’s Your Funeral”. He also showed up as Dutrov in Department S in the series finale, “The Perfect Operation”. (Died 1969)
Born September 2, 1909 — David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character that became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapting his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. (Died 2003.)
Born September 2, 1911 — Eileen Way. She appeared on Doctor Who in An Unearthly Child, a First Doctor story, as Old Mother Karela the series first on-screen death, and in The Creature from the Pit, a Fourth Doctor story, as Karela. She would appear yet again in the 1966 Peter Cushing film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (as Old Woman), based on the serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth. (Died 1994.)
Born September 2, 1936 — Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin” was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lots of tales. (Died 2016.)
Born September 2, 1964 — Keanu Reeves, 55. Ok Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a lot better film than its sequel. And I find the Matrix franchiseto be a pretentious mess that almost works. And let’s not talk about Johnny Mnemonic which bore little resemblance to the brilliant Gibson story.
Born September 2, 1966 — Salma Hayek, 53. Her performance as Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. I do like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
Born September 2, 1968 — Kristen Cloke, 51. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum Leap, The X-Files, Millennium and The Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which is base64 code for “Followers”.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Batman’s arch-nemesis in a new origin-story movie. But is this dark, dingy drama any better than any of the other supervillain films?
Now that Hollywood studios are running out of superheroes to make films about, they’re turning to supervillains instead, starting with Suicide Squad and Venom, and moving onto Batman’s smiley-faced arch enemy, the Joker. Todd Phillips’ revisionist origin story is different from those other entries in the bad-guy sub-genre, though. Devoid of fist fights and bank robberies, Batcaves and Batmobiles, Joker is a dark, dingy drama about urban decay, alienation, and anti-capitalist protests, with a distinctive retro vision and a riveting central performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Whether these differences make it much better than other supervillain movies, however, is open to question.
The film doesn’t specify when it is set, but its Gotham City is modelled on the graffiti-sprayed, litter-strewn pre-gentrification New York of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. This is the home of Arthur Fleck, played by Phoenix as a greasy, disturbingly emaciated figure with ribs and vertebrae poking out at all angles. No male actor has been this skinny since Christian Bale – yes, Batman himself – starved himself to stick-insect proportions for The Machinist.
…The film traces his gradual uncovering of family secrets, and his slow descent into homicidal mania – and I do mean slow. Joker doesn’t have much of a plot, let alone any subplots, so there are only a couple of major sequences that haven’t already been in the trailers. Phoenix is a magnificent presence – always believable, how outrageous he becomes – and I was quite happy to sit and watch him skipping around in his outsized shoes and striking balletic poses on beautifully grimy staircases. But, however unusual its grungy 70s styling may be, Joker is ultimately nothing but a flimsy, two-hour supervillain origin movie, so the viewer is just waiting for Arthur to become the fully-fledged Clown Prince of Crime. If it had been chopped down to an hour and then intercut with a Batman plot, what a film that might have been.
In May 1937, John W. Campbell, Jr. was looking for work. He was in good company — the unemployment rate in the United States was fluctuating around 15%, reflecting the lingering economic malaise of the Great Depression. Despite his degree in Physics and some success as a writer of science fiction stories, Campbell hadn’t found a steady gig.
This was to change in the Fall of that year when Campbell was hired as the Editor of Astounding Stories, where he reigned until his death in 1971….
The bottom of this page begins a critical passage that relates Campbell’s relationship with Mort Weisinger, a former editor of Science Fiction Digest / Fantasy Manazine, the most prominent fanzine of the mid-1930s. At the time of this letter, Weisinger had crossed into the professional ranks as Editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories.
This page essentially says that Weisinger taught Campbell how to be an editor, and wrote a letter of recommendation for him in that vein. It seems likely that both the advice and the reference played key roles in Campbell acquiring his job at Astounding. This is a tremendous testament to the role that prominent fans played in establishing science fiction as an industry during this period.
What do hideous mall t-shirts, emo bands from the mid-aughts, and gorgeously-wrought realist novels about dissolving marriages have in common? Simply this assertion: Life Sucks. And it does suck, undoubtedly, even for the happiest and/or richest among us, not one of whom is immune from heartbreak, hemorrhoids, or getting mercilessly ridiculed online.
Still, at certain points in life’s parade of humiliation and physical decay almost all of us feel a longing—sometimes fleeting, sometimes sustained—for it to never actually end. The live-forever impulse is, we know, driving all manner of frantic, crackpot-ish behavior in the fringier corners of the tech-world; but will the nerds really pull through for us on this one? What are our actual chances, at this moment in time, of living forever? For this week’s Giz Asks, we spoke with a number of experts to find out.
Answers are essayed by Alice
Parker (“Dean’s Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Southern California, whose research focuses on
reverse-engineering the human brain, among other things”), Lindsay Wu (“Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head
of the Laboratory for Ageing Research at the University of New South Wales,
Sydney”), David Sinclair (“Professor of Genetics and
co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard
Medical School, whose research focuses on why we age and how to slow its
effects”), and Mark
McCormick (“Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center”).
In the nearly two decades since a co-founder of Dragon Con was accused of molesting teenage boys, a strange legal odyssey has unfolded, including a proposed move to Israel, a trial delay because of a presidential election and an extradition by air ambulance.
Now, Ed Kramer faces new charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
As one Disney movie continues succeeding at the box office, another falls another spot down on the all-time charts. Thanks to another steady weekend at the box office, The Lion King hyper-realistic reimagining has passed Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite The Avengers on the worldwide all-time box office chart. The Lion King is now seventh on the chart with $1.56 billion while the Marvel Studios hit drops to eighth with $1.52b.
It appears that’s the highest Jon Favreau’s remake will go on the worldwide charts as Jurassic World is sixth with a hefty $1.67b.
Three full truck loads of dinosaur fossils were shipped out of the “Mission Jurassic” dig site in North Wyoming as scientists brought the 80-day excavation season to an end.
The specimens included skeletal parts from giant herbivorous sauropods and meat-eating theropods.
The fossils will now be cleaned to see precisely which species they represent.
Mission Jurassic is a major undertaking involving researchers from the US, the UK and the Netherlands.
It is led by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCMI) which has taken out a 20-year lease on a square mile (260 hectares) of ranch land.
The BBC was given special access to the site in July.
The fossil beds exposed at the secret location in the Big Horn Basin record dinosaur activity around 150 million years ago – and the summer’s work confirms the site is particularly rich.
One three-tonne block of rock lifted on the final day last week was embedded with multiple remains all stacked one on top of the other.
“Overall we must have moved something like 500-600 bones; it’s just a huge amount of material we’ve been able to shift in one year,” said Prof Phil Manning, a University of Manchester palaeontologist and TCMI scientist in residence.
A British inventor has taken up the challenge to deliver a letter across open water through donning a jet engine-powered suit, 85 years after the idea of rocket post failed.
Richard Browning has followed in the footsteps of German entrepreneur Gerhard Zucker, who tried to send mail by rocket to the Isle of Wight, in 1934.
The distance from Hurst Castle in Lymington to Fort Albert in Freshwater is 1.3 km, and is the furthest Richard has ever flown.
(18) MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD. BBC reminds
everyone about “The ‘ghost work’ powering tech magic”. Chip
Hitchcock notes, “It’s ironic that Amazon’s collaborative tool is named
Mechanical Turk, considering the fraud behind the original.”
Armies of workers help power the technological wizardry that is reshaping our lives – but they are invisible and their jobs are precarious.
Next time you ask Alexa a question, your voice might fly halfway round the world to Chennai, India, where human workers toil away to fine tune her artificial intelligence- (AI-) powered responses.
In nine-hour shifts workers transcribe audio, classify words and phrases into categories, and evaluate responses from Amazon’s digital assistant. It’s one of many Amazon centres around the world where “data associates” prepare millions of chunks of data to train Alexa’s AI.
The work can be relentless, says a former employee. He was crunching roughly 700 Alexa questions a day with strict benchmarks for how long each should take. Workers’ performance figures were circulated daily and targets crept up over the time he spent there. The work was monotonous, but the volume and pace were mentally exhausting, and he eventually quit.
“It’s not possible to work like a machine every day,” he says. “The system is built in such a way that every time you have to give 100%. From the point of a human, it’s not possible.”
To users, digital assistants, search engines, social media and streaming services seem like software wizardry, but their smooth running relies on armies of humans whose contribution often goes unrecognised.
(19) WIKIPEDIA TODAY. When he saw the Wikipedia had selected “the Nebula Award for Best Short story” for on Today’s Featured Article, John King Tarpinian snapped his screen. So to speak.
There are so many words and phrases that we use in science fiction—and even science—without giving it much thought. But where did we get terms like “death ray,” “terraforming,” “hive mind,” “telepathy,” and “parallel universe”?
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Egg” on YouTube is an animated adaptation of a short
story by Andy Weir about the meaning of life
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, JJ,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Hampus
Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
(1) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Christopher
J. Garcia and Chuck Serface are co-editing an issue of The Drink Tank
dedicated to science-fiction comics of the 1950s and 1960s! Any critical
articles, fanfic, personal remembrances, artwork, and any media we can publish
in a fanzine are welcome.
Chuck Serface says, “Consideration of materials from any comic publisher of the time is fair game: Atlas/Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Charlton, Warren, EC, ones I’m forgetting at the moment — all of them.”
The deadline’s October 14, 2019. They’ll have it out
by the end of the calendar year. Send submissions to email@example.com.
(2) COLSON WHITEHEAD Q&A. His new book is not sff, but some of his answers are about genre in “Powell’s Interview: Colson Whitehead, Author of ‘The Nickel Boys’”.
Rhianna: You’ve mentioned in other interviews being an avid reader of horror, and your novel Zone One is a zombie horror story. You’re very skilled at depicting violence. I was wondering if the horror genre has stylistically influenced the way that you depict historical atrocities, like those in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys.
Whitehead: Again, I think the story determines how you tell it. The violence in Zone One is gorier. It’s more flamboyant than some of the stuff in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys. In those two books, I think the horrific brutality that they experience speaks for itself. They don’t have to be dramatized.
This kind of language, I borrowed from reading the slave narratives. You don’t have to dramatize or sell to the listener or the reader how terrible everything is that is happening because it speaks for itself. If the violence is speaking for itself, I can concentrate more on the characters and what they’re feeling.
San Diego’s Comic-Con International starts Wednesday night, which makes this the perfect time to talk about Bad Weekend, a noir set against the backdrop of a fictionalized version of the now famous comics convention.
Writer Ed Brubaker described the graphic novel — with art by Brubaker’s longtime collaborator Sean Phillips and colors by Phillips’ son Jacob — as a weird love letter to comics, being a fan, and the strangeness of the comic book industry.
…Bad Weekend is the product of filing away stories he’s heard around the comic book industry for the past 20 to 30 years, according to Brubaker — stories of who screwed over whom, of success not bringing happiness, and of comic companies getting rich off their work with movies and TV shows without the creators sharing in that wealth.
(4) OP-EDS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If, like me, you’ve been enjoying the New
York Times’ series of science fictional op-eds, they’ve just created a landing
page with all the articles in the series now organized in one place: “Op-Eds
From the Future”
It’s worth checking back every second Monday to
see the latest installment, as they’ve been excellent so far.
(5) FILER NAMED FGOH. Chris Barkley shared on
Facebook: “I am pleased to
report that I was asked and accepted to be the Fan GoH at the 2021 Astronomicon
in Rochester, NY along with my good friend (and Identical twin) Robert
I have taken this past week to ponder a response to Neil Clarke and Taiyo Fujii’s objections to the viability of a Hugo Award category for Best Translated Novel. And frankly, their objections puzzle me.
I ask this of Mr. Fujii and to Mr. Clarke; if the three Hugos awarded to translated works are the awakening of fandom to translated literature, why haven’t more of those works been nominated in their wake? In the past three years of nominations; only 2017’s Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu, has been included in the Best Novel category, all of the other nominees in the category have all been decidedly anglocentric.
The truth of the matter we think that the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards have been overwhelmingly perceived for quite a while as an English speakers only party since a majority of the conventions have been held in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Fujii may see the proposed award as either unnecessary, pandering or condescending to authors and fans but all Ms. Cordasco, my co-sponsors and I only want to do is shine a spotlight to fervently call attention to and honor authors and their translators. Speaking for myself, had there been three, four or five nominees on the final ballot since those historic awards, I would not have contemplated initiating and offering this proposal for an open debate…
Horizon still could have gotten the case to trial, but it then needed to show an inference of copying through the similarity of the works. Specifically, Horizon argued the two works were “strikingly similar,” with reliance on an expert report discussing anatomical structures, faces and heads, and camera views.
The judge responds that the expert report is “equivocating” on some of the noteworthy similarities by addressing features on careful viewing and not going quite so far to rule out any reasonable possibility of independent creation. Plus, the judge adds, “there remain enough differences between the two works,” nodding to Marvel’s pointing out differences in pose, differing placement of blue lights, and significantly different overall coloring.
(8) SEE READERCON 30. Ellen Datlow has posted 89 photos
taken at ReaderCon 30 in a Flickr
A nationally representative sample of 2,200 adults carried out between July 8 and 10 revealed that, when it comes to genre properties, Marvel is far and away the most successful, with 63 percent of those surveyed considering themselves fans. The next most popular property was Marvel’s Disney sibling, Star Wars, with a 60 percent fandom, and DC followed with 59 percent.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California.
July 17, 1987 — Robocop premiered on this day.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 17, 1858 — Florence Balcombe Stoker. She was the wife and literary executor of Bram Stoker. She’s best remembered for her extended legal dispute with the makers of Nosferatu, an unauthorized film blatantly based on her husband’s novel Dracula. (Died 1937.)
Born July 17, 1889 — Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best known for the Perry Mason series of detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. (Died 1970.)
Born July 17, 1944 — Thomas A. Easton, 75. SF critic and author who wrote the book review column in Analog from 1979 – 2009. His Organic Future series is quite entertaining and I’m reasonably certain I read Sparrowhawk when it was serialized in Analog.
Born July 17, 1952 — Robert R. McCammon, 67. Horror writer whose Michael Gallatin books, The Wolf’s Hour and The Hunter from the Woods, Alllied WWII werewolf agent and his adventures, I strongly recommend. His “Nightcrawlers” short story was adapted into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Born July 17, 1954 — J. Michael Straczynski, 65. Best known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for as well as the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the commit sides, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written Superman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles.
Born July 17, 1967 — Kelly Robson, 52. I just got done reading her brilliant “Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach”. Right now, it appears only this plus “A Human Stain” and “Waters of Versailles” are available on iBooks and Kindle for reading as she has no collection out yet. And no novel as far as I can tell.
Born July 17, 1971 — Cory Doctorow, 48. I’ll admit that I’ve mixed feelings about his work. I enjoyed Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, his first novel, and thought The Rapture of the Nerds had potential but really failed to live to that potential to great. Everything else is ‘Meh’. His activism is oft times that of an overeager puppy trying to get attention for himself.
Born July 17, 1976 — Brian K. Vaughan, 43. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, Saga, Y: The Last Man, and his newest affair, Paper Girls. And yes, he’s won Hugo Awards. You could spend an entire summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of the television series Lost during seasons three through five. And was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series.
From its inception, Comic-Con had intergalactic ambitions.
The initial show, then called San Diego’ Golden State Comic Con, featured science fiction writers Ray Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt; Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America, X-Men and other iconic superheroes; vintage films; an art auction; and dozens of dealers peddling mountains of new and used comics.
An unforgettable event — for the 300 attendees. Few others noticed and even they dismissed this as a juvenile jamboree. For instance:
On the show’s first day, Aug. 1, 1970, the author of “Fahrenheit 451″ and “The Martian Chronicles” granted an interview to The San Diego Union. Yet Bradbury’s spirited defense of comics was buried on page B-11, under articles about a flower show, the repainting of the White House East Room and a medical brief with the headline “Fat Men More Tipsy.”
… Neil Kendricks is a writer, filmmaker and teacher who recently led a San Diego State course on comics and sequential art. In the early 1980s, though, he was a high school student at his first Comic-Con. In the dealer’s room, he bumped into a white-haired gentleman flipping through the cardboard boxes full of used comics.
“Mr. Bradbury,” he stammered, “will you be here for awhile?”
When Ray Bradbury nodded yes, Kendricks dashed out of Golden Hall and ran the half-mile to Wahrenbrock’s Book House.
“I went upstairs to the science fiction section and bought as many of his books and I could find. Then I ran all the way back and he signed them. That,” Kendricks said, “could never happen now.”
…At a presentation at the California Academy of Sciences, hastily announced via Twitter and beginning a half hour late, Musk presented the first product from his company Neuralink. It’s a tiny computer chip attached to ultrafine, electrode-studded wires, stitched into living brains by a clever robot. And depending on which part of the two-hour presentation you caught, it’s either a state-of-the-art tool for understanding the brain, a clinical advance for people with neurological disorders, or the next step in human evolution.
The chip is custom-built to receive and process the electrical action potentials—“spikes”—that signal activity in the interconnected neurons that make up the brain. The wires embed into brain tissue and receive those spikes. And the robotic sewing machine places those wires with enviable precision, a “neural lace” straight out of science fiction that dodges the delicate blood vessels spreading across the brain’s surface like ivy.
…And, sure, there’s more. A public records request from WIRED in April 2019 found that Neuralink is licensed to have hundreds of rats and mice in its research facilities. In a seemingly unplanned moment at the Cal Academy, Musk also acknowledged that Neuralink’s research had progressed beyond rodents to non-human primates. It’s only because of a records request filed by Gizmodo that Neuralink’s affiliation with the primate research center at UC Davis is public knowledge. That affiliation has apparently progressed: “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI,” Musk said during the Q and A after the presentation.
His team seemed as surprised and discombobulated by the announcement as the audience. “I didn’t know we were running that result today, but there it goes,” said Max Hodak, president of the company, on stage next to Musk. (Monkeys have controlled computers via BCIs before, though presumably this would be the first time one used Neuralink.)
One small holograph for man, one giant holograph for the Washington Monument.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a life-size projection of the Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Saturn V rocket is now iconic for carrying the Apollo 11 crew to the moon in 1969. The projection-mapping artwork will occupy 363 of the monument’s 555 vertical feet.
As the 17th century’s most famous Italian astronomer surveyed the heavens, he likely never dreamed a rocket shooting fire would one day power people up among the stars he eyed through his telescope, or that his work would help guide a ship to the moon.
But Galileo Galilei’s observations would become a key link in the chain of scientific research and discovery fundamental to our understanding of the universe and our drive to explore it.
That scientific continuum is at the heart of a new Houghton Library exhibit connecting early celestial calculations to the Apollo 11 mission that put two American astronauts on the lunar surface 50 years ago this July. “Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty” features gems from Harvard’s collection of rare books and manuscripts as well as NASA artifacts from an anonymous lender and Harvard alumnus, many of which were aboard the spaceship that left Earth’s orbit in 1969.
Not all of the equipment carried into space was cutting edge and expensive. Some of the more humble odds and ends even prevented disaster.
…25: Length of duct tape rolls carried to the Moon, in feet
If there’s one saviour time and again of American space missions over the past 50 years, it’s a roll of duct tape. During Apollo missions, it was used for everything from taping down switches and attaching equipment inside the spacecraft, to fixing a tear on a spacesuit and, during Apollo 17, a fender on the lunar rover.
…Esquire was not expecting much from Neil Armstrong.
“While the space program is poised on the brink of a truly epoch-making triumph of engineering, it is also headed for a rhetorical train wreck,” the story said.
“The principal danger is not that we will lose the life of an astronaut on the Moon, but that the astronauts will murder English up there . . . . That they are likely to litter the intergalactic void with gibberish and twaddle.”
The smugness is rather remarkable, because despite the talent of the people it enlisted, Esquire got not a single decent line from any of them.
It got, in fact, a lot of gibberish and twaddle.
…With that as your benchmark, here’s a sampling of what Esquire’s best and brightest came up with:
John Kenneth Galbraith, the Harvard economist: “We will hafta pave the damn thing.”
Ayn Rand, libertarian thinker and novelist: “What hath man wrought!”
…Leonard Nimoy, the actor, then in his third season as Spock on the new TV series Star Trek: “I’d say to Earth, from here you are a peaceful, beautiful ball and I only wish everyone could see it with that perspective and unity.”
(17) A KING WILL BE CROWNED. Looper fills us in
about The Most Anticipated Sci
Fi Movies Of 2020.
2020 might feel far away, but Hollywood’s major studios are already planning ahead with some legit super hits on the horizon. And if you’re a fan of sci-fi flicks, then 2020’s looking like an especially good year for you. These are just a few of the most anticipated sci-fi blockbusters on their way to a big screen near you. Film fans will finally get the answer to an age-old question in 2020, when Godzilla and King Kong face off on the big screen. Director Adam Wingard has already assured fans that his take on the two monsters will crown a definitive winner, unlike the 1962 film that first pit the two characters against each other. This will be the fourth entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, first established in 2014’s Godzilla and further explored in Kong: Skull Island.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) ARISIA BACK IN THE WESTIN. The convention website indicates
Arisia 2020 will return to the Westin
Boston Waterfront, from January 17-20, 2020.
(2) READERCON. Kate Nepveu compiled a great set of panel
notes about the Readercon panel “Translation and Embedded
with Anatoly Belilovsky, John Chu,
Neil Clarke, Pablo Defendini, Tamara Vardomskaya (mod).
Neil: is publishing translations without being able to read original, has to count on team of people. So a lot of these granular issues settled before comes to, but not always. It’s interesting when there’s an American in the translated story . . . who is not always that American. They try to get the spirit of story across, so often work extra with the translators on that situation. Has edited bilingual anthology of Chinese SF, two volumes published in China, not been able to get published in U.S.
Tamara: gives example from Ada Palmer, in whose books gender is outlawed: everyone uses “they” (except narrator) to signal that progressive viewpoint has won. Polish translator said, in Polish that’s the conservative position, the progressive is to give high visibility to female existence (e.g., “waitress and waiter”, not “server”). Ada went with political connotation rather than word-for-word….
This month, Simon & Schuster will reissue a short story collection entitled The Toynbee Convector, by science fiction master Ray Bradbury, best known for classics like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. First published in 1988, The Toynbee Convector features 23 stories, among them “Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned,” about a priest who hears a chilling confession on a snowy Christmas Eve.
That story—as well as countless other science fiction classics published over the centuries—raises an intriguing question: Why do priests and other religious figures play such an important role in the fantastic worlds and futuristic dystopias conjured by a wide range of sci-fi writers?
(5) SPACE INVADERS. The Alien Party Crashers
official trailer has dropped.
In the style of Shaun Of The Dead, The Lost Boys and Attack the Block, this is a funny, dark and action packed sci-fi horror comedy that pits a group of drunken friends on New Years Eve in a Welsh valley against an invasion task force of creepy time-traveling aliens. A kick-ass M.O.D agent, an insecure radio DJ and a kung fu master who owns the local B&B learn their new years resolution this year is simple: STAY ALIVE.”
(6) HEAR WRITERS’ THOUGHT PROCESSES. Authors
Marshall Ryan Maresca, Alexandra Rowland, and Rowenna Miller have started a
podcast called World Building for Masochists, Downloadable at the website, transcripts also available. They have two
episodes out so far. The first, “Playing God in Your Spare Time” includes this
ROWENNA: …I think that I start thinking about the character first, and what are they encountering, what do they have for breakfast, what do they see when they go out of their door in the morning, and there might be things that the character doesn’t know about their world. I think, you know, like you, Marshall, I started the story in a city, and my character actually doesn’t know very much about what’s going on outside of that city; she’s never been outside of it. So there’s kind of a freedom there for her to be ignorant, and it was kind of weird for me at first to be like, okay, there are things that I might know, but I need to keep that shoved aside, because there’s no reason for her to know what this other city would look like, or what the patterns of trade are between, you know, these two coastal towns. She’s never been there, she has no idea.
MARSHALL: But she might have, say, heard the name, and has her own preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to be.
ALEXANDRA: And I think that having a character with some degree of ignorance can also be a really useful tool for you as an author, because then you can — and I’m going to keep bringing this up because it’s my favorite trick of all time to use — you can sort of build a negative space and invite your character to make assumptions about the world, and also invite the reader to make assumptions about the world…
We’re keeping an eye out for the arrival of
“World Building for Sadists,” too.
Netflix has said that Stranger Thingsamassed a bigger audience over its first four days than any other original show in its history. New data from Nielsen shows that a lot of people did, in fact, spend the July 4 holiday weekend watching the series.
Per the ratings service’s SVOD content ratings, the eight episodes of Stranger Things 3 had an average minute audience — the closest approximation for streaming shows to Nielsen’s average viewership on linear TV — of 12.8 million viewers over its first four days of release. That’s a 21 percent increase over the same time frame after the release of season two in October 2017 (10.6 million)
The other characters in the novel, human and otherwise, are the strength, power and richness of the novel. Beyond Marian herself, Robin comes off as a prat at first, someone to intensely dislike and hate because of his abandonment of Marian. The reasons how and why he did so, and his ultimate connection with the unraveling of the plot, humanize him to a degree, but the writer’s and reader’s intended sympathy comes off the page intended for Marian. Even by the end of the novel, I still thought he was a prat for his actions, even if I ultimately understood the how and why of them by the end of the novel.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 13, 1904 — Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps. (Died 1961.)
Born July 13, 1937 — Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time Bandits, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor he says to play three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Wombles, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997)
Born July 13, 1940 – Sir Patrick Stewart, 79. If you count The Avengers as genre (and I certainly do), his first SF role was as a man walking in from the sea in “The Town of No Return” episode. Setting aside Trek, other memorable genre roles include Leodegrance in Excalibur, Gurney Halleck in Dune, Prof. Macklin in The Doctor and the Devils, Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise and he’s played Macbeth myriad times in the theatre world.
Born July 13, 1942 — Mike Ploog, 77. He’s a storyboard and comic book artist, as well as a visual designer for films. his work on Marvel Comics’ Seventies Man-Thing and The Monster of Frankenstein series are his best-known undertakings, and as is the initial artist on the features Ghost Rider, Kull the Destroyer and Werewolf by Night. He moved onward to storyboarding or other design work on films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, Little Shop of Horrors, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and The Storyteller series.
Born July 13, 1942 — Harrison Ford, 77. His best films? Raiders of The Ark, Star Wars and Blade Runner. Surely that’s not debatable. His worst film? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Equally not debatable.
Born July 13, 1955 — David J. Schow, 64. Mostly splatterpunk horror writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays. (He’s oft times credited with coining the splatterpunk term.) His screenplays include The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. He’s also done scripts for Masters of Horror, Perversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he’s did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch fiction, The Lost Bloch.
Born July 13, 1953 – Chip Hitchcock, 66. A conrunner who co-chaired the 1999 World Fantasy Convention with his wife, Davey Snyder, he also has worked Worldcons as a Division Head, and chaired Bosklone, Lexicon 7 and Boskone 24. He was made a Fellow of NESFA in 1979. Other fannish credits include book editing, Worldcon floor plans, and producer of fannish theatricals.
Born July 13, 1966 — David X. Cohen, 53. Head writer and executive producer of Futurama. Cohen is a producer of Disenchantment, Matt Groening’s fantasy series on Netflix. He also wrote a number of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes on the Simpson’s which have a strong genre slant such as “Treehouse of Horror VII” (“Citizen Kang”).
(12) IN THIS DICTIONARY, HIS PICTURE REALLY IS RIGHT NEXT TO
THE WORD. For reasons you can now guess, Sir
Patrick Stewart figures in the entry for the Wikitionary word of the day for
July 13, 2019: “calvous”.
(13) UNDER THE LID. Alastair Stuart’s “The Full Lid 12th July 2019” stops “in at Centerville for Jim Jarmusch’s deeply strange The
Dead Don’t Die, which may be the oddest horror movie you’ll see this year.
It’s certainly, along with Midsommar, one of the most interesting. Also
on deck this week is Greg van Eekhout’s startlingly good middle-grade SF novel Cog
and the always excellent ZoomDoom Stories continue to impress with season one
of The Six Disappearances of Ella McCray.”
The Dead Don’t Die
The best way to spot a Jim Jarmusch movie is to throw a dart, blindfold, at a wall of ideas. He’s done existential westerns (Dead Man), anthologies about taxi drivers (Night on Earth), a documentary about The Stooges (Gimme Danger) and the best hip-hop/samurai/film noir movie ever made (Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai). Now, he’s turned his attention to horror comedy and the result is so inherently Jarmuschian it basically breaks the meter and embeds the needle in the wall of the lab. Where, I can only assume, Bill Murray stares at it for a moment, goes…’Huh’ and then continues about his day.
Can I admit to something silly? I am a little bit scared of mind-readers. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually believe in telepaths. Then again, who knows what sort of freaky experiments certain entities get up to.
I just think the idea of someone reading my mind, or even manipulating it, is one of the most horrifying concepts out there.
And it looks like Doctor Who agrees with me.
(16) CHESS PLAYER CHEATED IN TOILET. I saw ESPN’s headline
and I said to myself, that’ll get some clicks. They sourced their post from
GM Igors Rausis is under investigation for cheating after he was caught with his phone during a game at the Strasbourg Open. The 58-year-old Latvian-Czech grandmaster had raised suspicions after he increased his rating in recent years to almost 2700.
During an open tournament July 10-14 in Strasbourg, France, a phone was found in a toilet that had just been used by Rausis. He later signed a declaration that the phone was his.
Whether he was using his phone to get assistance from a chess engine is not clear at the moment.
In a comment to Chess.com, Rausis said:
“I simply lost my mind yesterday. I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement]. What could I say more? Yes, I was tired after the morning game and all the Facebook activity of accusers also have a known impact. At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me—I played my last game of chess already.“
…Six years ago, in May 2013, [Rausis’] rating was still 2518, and it had fluctuated around the 2500 mark for at least 10 years. It has since increased by almost 200 points.
Over the last six years, Rausis increased his rating steadily as he mostly limited himself to playing lower-rated opponents against whom he continued scoring perfectly or almost perfectly. For instance, in the July 2019 rating calculations, he scored 24.5/25 against almost only players rated more than 400 points below his own rating.
…To increase one’s rating like Rausis did requires almost perfect play over a long period of time, which is not easy even against very low opposition.
The case of Rausis is similar to that of a Georgian grandmaster who got banned from a tournament in 2015 after his phone was found in a toilet. In that case, it was discovered that he had been analyzing his position with a chess engine. He was banned for three years and lost his GM title.
In the summer of 1962, Walter Schirra — who would soon become America’s third man to orbit the Earth — walked into a Houston photo supply shop looking for a camera he could take into space.
He came out with a Hasselblad 500C, a high-end Swedish import that had been recommended to him by photographers from Life and National Geographic.
“He was sort of an amateur photographer,” Jennifer Levasseur, a curator in charge of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s astronaut cameras, says of Schirra. “Somewhere along the line, the decision was made that he could select what camera was flown on his flight.”
…When NASA got a look at Schirra’s Hasselblad, they liked what they saw. The space agency purchased at least one more. Engineers tore into the off-the-shelf consumer model to make it space-worthy. They stripped it down to save weight and painted it dull black to reduce reflections. They also had to “astronaut-proof it,” says Cole Rise, a photographer and filmmaker who builds custom reproductions of the Hasselblad space cameras.
…Hasselblad’s Chris Cooze says until then, the space agency was so focused on the technical side of spaceflight that photography was something of an afterthought.
He says it was in 1965, when NASA released stunning photos of Ed White’s spacewalk on Gemini 4, that Hasselblad “put two and two together” and realized the pictures were taken with one of their cameras.
“Then they got in touch with NASA to see if there was anything that we could cooperate on,” Cooze says.
Curious how much the ground shifted after the two large earthquakes last week in Southern California? NASA has just the map for that question — and it happens to look like beautiful, psychedelic art.
On July 4, a 6.4 magnitude quake hit the town of Ridgecrest, north of Los Angeles. The next evening, the area was jolted again by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Luckily, there were no serious injuries or major infrastructure damage.
The map was created by the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It shows rippling rainbows forming a circular pattern around the faults of the two quakes.
Each rainbow stripes[sic] means that the ground has been displaced there by some 4.8 inches. It’s the same logic as a topographic map, where lines that are closer together indicate steeper slopes. In this case, the closer together the rainbow stripes are, the more the ground was displaced by the temblor.
(19) THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT. Steve J. Wright has done both sets of Hugo editor categories now:
The editing categories are always hard for us non-initiates to judge; we do not know the Dark Arts of editorship, the secret and sacred magic by which a piece of text is transmogrified into a professional story…. However, at least we can see the general tenor of a skiffy magazine, and read, well, editorials and the like, and we can work out from that how the short-form editors think. Sort of.
And, of course, it is distorted in 1943 by the unassailable fact that there’s only one right answer: Astounding, edited by John W. Campbell Jr. Like it or not, Campbell was shaping science fiction in his own image at this time. He is the unavoidable choice; the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of the SF world.
Wright begins his Long Form Editor reviews (the Retro
category was cancelled) with the same observation, but faithful to the
category, at greater length:
Anyway, here we are again, with the category no one is particularly qualified to decide on. We don’t know, for example, if Beth Meacham found a scrawled note one day that read “dere iz dis wumman who wantz 2 b a spaceman” and worked it up into The Calculating Stars from that, or if Mary Robinette Kowal submitted the manuscript exactly in its current form, and Meacham’s only contribution was to fling it at a passing minion with a cry of “Publish this!” The truth, of course, must lie somewhere in between those extremes… and it is probably (unless you’re actually interested in the minutiae of the editing profession) pretty darn boring, for those of us not directly concerned. I think it was John Sladek who said that there were secrets of the universe which Man was not meant to know, and some of them are not even worth knowing.
One of the most significant Russian space science missions in the post-Soviet era has launched from Baikonur.
The Spektr-RG telescope is a joint venture with Germany that will map X-rays across the entire sky in unprecedented detail.
Researchers say this information will help them trace the large-scale structure of the Universe.
The hope is Spektr-RG can provide fresh insights on the accelerating behaviour of cosmic expansion.
It should also identify a staggering number of new X-ray sources, such as the colossal black holes that reside at the centre of galaxies.
As gas falls into these monsters, the matter is heated and shredded and “screams” in X-rays. The radiation is essentially a telltale for the Universe’s most violent phenomena.
Spektr-RG is expecting to detect perhaps three million super-massive black holes during its service life.
(21) APOLLO DOCUMENTARY. Assembled by Voice
As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic mission to land humans on the surface of the moon, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh presents this reflection of the monumental achievement through the eyes of the NASA astronauts themselves. In exclusive interviews Farabaugh gathered, the men of the Apollo program reflect on the path to the moon, and what lies beyond.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chip Hitchcock, Cat
Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Kendall,
Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
(1) VINTAGE. New art from Star Trek: Picard. What should we call this episode? “The Grapes of Wrath of Khan”? The big reveal on the story and characters of the new show will be at San Diego Comic-Con next week.
(2) MORE BEST TRANSLATED HUGO FEEDBACK. Taiyo Fujii
commented about the proposal on Facebook.
Thanks for M. Barkley and Rachel S. Cordasco for proposing Best Translated Novel for Hugo, but I should say as a Japanese writer, It’s not necessary.
Hugo already honored 3 translated works without translated category, and we saw the translator of that works Ken Liu was celebrated on the presentation stage. This is why I respect Hugo and voters, who don’t cares the work is from overseas or not.
I worry if translated category is held, translated short forms will be ignored by s-s, novelette and novella which are fascinated category for new young non anglophone writers. We are trying to open the door to be just a writer with contributing short forms, and readers already saw our works, and voted for nomination. But if translated category was held, only novels are honored.
In fact, translated fiction category is set on literary award held in non anglophone country, then we Japanese couldn’t give prize for Three Body Problem as the best novel of Seiun Awards even if we hope to honor.
Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis (13 hrs)
I have argued that Dr. Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia is the most important resource for reading Narnia that has emerged in the new century. While one might argue with parts of Ward’s thesis–as I have done—Planet Narnia is a great book for providing close readings of Lewis’ greatest works in a literary way that invites us into a deeper understanding of the books behind the Narnian chronicles. I hope the publishers record The Narnia Code, the popular version of the Planet Narnia resource, but I am thrilled that they began with the magnum opus, Planet Narnia. Meanwhile, Audible also has Ward’s “Now You Know” audio course, “Christology, Cosmology, and C.S. Lewis,” a shorter but helpful resource for newcomers to the conversation. The audiobook reader, Nigel Patterson, is professional and even in tone.
(4) INTRODUCING NEWTON EWELL. Yesterday a commenter noticed
that artist Newton Ewell was one of the NASFiC/Westercon guests who had no entry
in Fancyclopedia 3. Overnight someone (“Confan”) decided rather than
complain, they’d write one for him. It’s very good, and apparently there’s a
lot to know about – Newton Ewell.
Early Europeans lived alongside giant 3-meter tall birds new research published on Wednesday explains. The bird species was one of the largest to ever roam the earth weighing in at a staggering 450 kg.
Bones of the massive, probably flightless bird were discovered in a cave in Crimea. “We don’t have enough data yet to say whether it was most closely related to ostriches or to other birds, but we estimate it weighed about 450kg,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Nikita Zelenkov. This formidable weight is nearly double the largest moa, three times the largest living bird, the common ostrich, and nearly as much as an adult polar bear.”
(6) MARTIAN CARAVANSARY. Slate has
posted an interview with Robert Zubrin, Founder and president of the Mars
Society and author of The Case for Space: “What Will Life On Mars be Like?”
Slate: How do you envision settling Mars will begin, and what will the early settlements look like?
Robert Zubrin: I think it will begin with an exploration, and then the establishment of a permanent Mars base to support exploration. Whoever is sponsoring this base, whether it’s the U.S. government, an international consortium of governments, or private groups, it’s going to be tremendously to their benefit to have people stay extra rotations on Mars because the biggest expense is transporting people back and forth. If it costs $100 million to send someone to Mars and back—and that’s a low estimate—it would be a no-brainer to offer someone $5 million to stay there an extra two years. So, I think you’ll start to see people staying extra rotations on Mars, just like there are some people who spend an extra rotation on trips to Antarctica. And then, relationships will form. And people will have children. And you will see the beginning of an actual settlement, a base.
(7) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2019 Aurealis Awards are now
The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2019.
Full guidelines and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website:
A federal appeals court’s opinion on Lindie Banks v. Northern Trust Corp. is — as one would expect from a case charging breaches of fiduciary duties — full of references to assets, investments and irrevocable trusts. Naturally, the Night King from Game of Thrones also makes a showing.
In the opinion filed July 5, Judge John B. Owens writes that the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit won’t discard a prior legal precedent “the way that Game of Thrones rendered the entire Night King storyline meaningless in its final season.”
Rip Torn, an Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in “Men in Black” and HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show,” has died, according to his publicist Rick Miramontez. He was 88.
Torn died Tuesday at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut with his family by his side, Miramontez said.
The actor had a seven-decade career in film, television and theater, with nearly 200 credits to his name.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 10, 1903 — John Wyndham. His best-known works include The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both written in the Fifties. The latter novel was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. Both iBooks and Kindle have an impressive selection of his novels though little of his short fiction is available alas. (Died 1969.)
Born July 10, 1923 — Earl Hamner Jr. Though much better known for writing and producing The Waltons, he wrote eight scripts for the Twilight Zone including “Black Leather Jackets” in which an alien falls in love with a human girl and “The Hunt” where raccoon hunters enter the Twilight Zone. He also wrote the script of the Hanna-Barbera production of Charlotte’s Web. (Died 2016.)
Born July 10, 1929 — George Clayton Johnson. He’s best known for co-writing with William F. Nolan the Logan’s Run novel, the source for the Logan’s Run film. He was also known for his scripts for the Twilight Zone including “A Game of Pool”, “Kick the Can”, “Nothing in the Dark”, and “A Penny for Your Thoughts”, and the first telecast episode of the original Star Trek, “The Man Trap”. (Died 2015.)
Born July 10, 1931 — Julian May. She‘s best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the UK) and Galactic Milieu series: Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask and Magnificat. She also chaired the 1952 Worldcon in Chicago. (Died 2017.)
Born July 10, 1941 — David Hartwell. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes him as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American science fiction publishing world.” I certainly fondly remember the The Space Opera Renaissance he co-edited with Kathryn Cramer. Not to mention that his Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best SF anthologies are still quite excellent reading. (Died 2016.)
Born July 10, 1945 — Ron Glass. Probably best known genre wise as Shepherd Book in the Firefly series and its sequel Serenity. His first genre role was as Jerry Merris in Deep Space, a SF horror film and he’d later show up voicing Philo D. Grenman in Strange Frame: Love & Sax (“slated as the world’s first animated lesbian-themed sci-fi film”; look it up as it as an impressive voice cast) and he showed up twice as J. Streiten, MD in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh and he was on Voyager playing a character named Loken in the “Nightingale” episode. (Died 2016.)
Born July 10, 1970 — John Simm, 49. The second of modern Masters on Doctor Who. He appeared in the final three episodes of series three during the Time of the Tenth Doctor: “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums”, and “Last of the Time Lords”.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Wizard of Id comes up with a problem faced by witches in the land of Oz, one that never occurred to me before.
The movie opens up aboard a spaceship carrying Commander Christopher Draper (played by Paul Mantee, appearing in his first film major film role), Colonel Dan McReady (Adam West, an actor commonly found on television westerns) and an adorable monkey named Mona. Things take an unexpected turn when they detect a meteoroid and are “forced out of orbital velocity to avoid collision with planetoid into tighter orbit of Mars.” As the situation worsens, the crew is left with no other option than to immediately attempt to land on the fourth planet. While fleeing the vehicle in their individual escape pods, Draper is separated from McReady and Mona.
Draper adapts to the conditions on the red planet, while searching for McReady and Mona. Even though he is part of the first crew on Mars, Draper learns quickly what it takes to survive. He finds shelter in a cave. For heat, Draper discovers yellow rocks that “burn like coal.” Heating the rocks not only keeps him warm, but also produces oxygen, which he then uses to refill his oxygen tank. Throughout the film, Draper keeps a careful audio record about all that he experiences, which provides a useful narrative device when things happen off-screen.
I knew this was going to be good, but I definitely did not know just how good it would be.
Elizabeth Lim’s Spin the Dawn was a classic-style story with a lush and beautiful world and gorgeous prose. Featuring the classic “girl dressing as a boy” trope, a Project-Runway-esque competition, and a quest, Spin the Dawn weaves tradition and fantasy into a phenomenal story.
…Fancast suffers from some of the same issues that many of the down ballot categories do, though perhaps “suffer” is the wrong word. There is a lot of institutional memory built in here for fancasts which are consistent year after year. With a core of listeners who are frequent participants in the Hugo Award process, it is not surprising to see a number of finalists come back year after year. I’ve said this about a number of other categories, but it does make me wonder a little bit about the health of the category, but on the other hand it does also give a snapshot of what the genre and fan conversation and communities may have looked like over a several year period. A positive takeaway, though, is that the only repeat winner was SF Squeecast in the first two years of the category. Both Be the Serpent and Our Opinions Are Correct are new to the ballot and are new to being a podcast.
Walker Stalkers LLC, which runs conventions under the Walker Stalker Con, Heroes & Villains, and FanFest names, has been having a bit of a rough patch when it comes to finances lately. We reported on this back in April, and while the company has made some effort to refund people for cancelled events and appearances, many might claim that it hasn’t been quite enough. Those issues seem to have come to a head though, as their problems are now becoming known outside of the geek community.
Nashville’s WSMV is reporting that the Better Business Bureau is now openly warning people to avoid Walker Stalkers LLC run events.
Swedish film reviewers are giving a cautious welcome to Midsommar, a horror film about a bizarre pagan festival in a remote part of Sweden.
Directed by Hereditary’s Ari Aster, the film stars Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor as an American couple who travel to Harga village in Halsingland to observe the midsummer ritual that takes place there only once every 90 years.
The film – which was actually shot in Hungary – has been getting strong reviews since it opened in the US earlier this month. It currently has an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
One critic, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich, tweeted that Midsommar would “do for Swedish pagan rituals what Psycho did for showers”.
The film opened in Sweden on Wednesday and the first reviews have been appearing in the Swedish press. So what do the critics there think?
When Disney announced that Halle Bailey, a teen actress and one-half of the singing group Chloe x Halle, had landed the role of Ariel in the forthcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, some people on social media went bonkers.
But not over the fact that it’s 2019 and the Danish fairy tale tells the story of a young female creature who loves singing and wearing a seashell bikini top and eagerly gives up her voice in exchange for a romance with a good-looking guy. Nor are critics outraged by the kind of message that narrative conveys to young children.
Instead, certain circles of the Internet are aghast that the ingenue cast by Disney is black.
The complaints run along the lines of: “The actress should look like the real Little Mermaid!” By which they presumably mean the white-skinned, blue-eyed cartoon character in the 1989 blockbuster film. The hashtag #NotMyAriel quickly began trending on Twitter, and since the announcement last week, scores of fans have pledged to boycott the film.
For days the company remained silent regarding the controversy, but Freeform, a cable network owned by Disney and on which Bailey appears as a cast member on Grown-ish, issued a statement on Instagram clarifying that, “Ariel…is a mermaid.”
To the many numismatists who may be reading this newsletter, here is a unique piece for your consideration: a Gemini 8 Flown United States 1864 Large Motto 2¢ Piece, graded MS 61 BN by NGC and encapsulated by CAG (Collectibles Authentication Guaranty) . This coin was supplied by an Ohio coin dealer to Neil Armstrong who took it with him on the mission, “carried in a specially sewn pocket in my pressure suit.” As you may know, Gemini 8 performed the world’s first orbital docking in space but it nearly ended in disaster when one of the Orbit and Maneuvering System thrusters stuck in the on position causing an uncontrollable tumbling. Armstrong was somehow able to control it and bring the craft in for a successful emergency landing. This coin, for many years on loan from the Armstrong family to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, is extensively provenanced by the dealer and also Neil Armstrong’s father.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John
King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
Chris M. Barkley, Juli Marr, and Mark Richards have submitted an motion to create a new Hugo Awards category for Best Translated Novel. It will soon be listed on Dublin 2019’s New Business Agenda. (Update Barkley says this is the text they submitted, but some minor tweaks will be made to the language before it is posted online.)
D.1 Short Title: Best Translated Novel
Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution for the purpose of creating a new Hugo Award category for Best Translated Novel, by inserting a new subsection after existing Section 3.3.4 and revising sections 3.2.5 and 3.2.6 as follows:
3.3.4: A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more that was translated and published into English for the first time within the previous calendar year. The Award will be given both to the writer(s) of the work and the credited translator(s) of the novel.
3.2.5: In the story categories (3.3.1-3.3.56 and 3.3.78), an author may withdraw a version of a work from consideration if the author feels that the version is not representative of what that author wrote.
3.2.6: The categories of Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story, and Best Translation shall be open to works in which the text is the primary form of communication, regardless of the publication medium, including but not limited to physical print, audiobook, and ebook.
Provided that unless this amendment is re-ratified by the 2022 Business Meeting, this Section shall be repealed and; and
Provided further that the question of re-ratification shall automatically be placed on the agenda of the 2022 Business Meeting.
Proposed by: Mark Richards (Attending Member), Juli Marr (Attending Member) and Chris M. Barkley (Attending Member).
Commentary by Chris M. Barkley and Rachel Cordasco:
Eighty years ago, in July 1939, NYCon 1, the very first World Science Fiction Convention was held in New York City.
The title “World Science Fiction Convention” was a bit of a misnomer; it was about as accurate and plausible as baseball’s championship title “World Series” is today. It was named as such in honor of the World’s Fair exhibition being held nearby in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
We have no doubt that while many of the convention’s participants (and those who were excluded for political reasons) imagined science fiction and fantasy literature had a future, at the time the only thing they could be sure of at that time was that war was on the immediate horizon.
As the decades passed, sf and fantasy literature not only took hold in North American and England, it became a worldwide cultural phenomenon.
And as the Hugo Award grew in stature, so did its reputation outside the confines of the English speaking nations where it was born and nurtured.
Until recently, a majority of the nominated writers in the fiction categories have been dominated by English language authors. In 2015, Cixin Liu’ s The Three Body Problem (translated by Ken Liu) became the first novel translated from another language to win the Hugo Award.
Since then there have been very few non-English language nominees in the fiction categories although there have been two winners in the short fiction categories (Hao Jingfang, also from China and Thomas Olde Heuvelt of the Netherlands).
We feel that it is high time that the World Science Fiction Society honor writers from around the world with one of literature’s highest honors.
Each year, US/UK/Australian publishers are giving us more SF in translation (SFT) to read from countries like France, Iraq, Argentina, Japan, Finland, Israel, and many others. In recent years, the number of translated speculative novels has risen to 60-70. After several decades of speculative fiction flowing mostly from the US and UK into other countries, the tide seems to be turning and people who grew up reading translations of Anglophone science fiction or fantasy have been inspired to become translators themselves. Plus, more presses and magazines are open to SFT, and we now have two online publications that actually specialize in international speculative fiction (Samovar Magazine and Future Science Fiction Digest).
The Hugo Award, like the annual Worldcons, are sponsored by the World Science Fiction Society, and it is this inclusion of the word “world” that is at issue when discussions of a “Best Translated Novel” come up. As Donald Wollheim once wrote, “We science fiction readers whose native language happens to be English-…tend to a curious sort of provincialism in our thinking regarding the boundaries of science fiction. We tend to think that all that is worth reading and all that is worth noticing is naturally written in English. In our conventions and our awards and our discussions we slip into the habit of referring to our favorites as the world’s best this and the “world’s best that.”
Shouldn’t the Hugo Awards recognize more than just those texts originally written in English? SFT is more popular than some people think, and if given the opportunity to recognize a non-Anglophone novel, SFT readers would probably jump at the chance. It’s time to shrug off our Anglocentric perspective, especially in relation to a genre that encourages us to look beyond our immediate environs and learn about those who are sometimes radically different from us.
Simply put, if the Best Novel Category is the equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture, the Best Translated novel can serve as our Best Foreign Film. If France, Spain, Israel, China, and other countries can successfully include a “Best Translated Novel” category in their SF awards, so can the US/UK-dominated Hugos.
As the noted philosopher and American football coach George Allen once sagely noted, “The Future is NOW.”