The Pennsic War, the Society for Creative Anachronism’s largest event, has been cancelled and rescheduled to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The annual medieval encampment draws more than 10,000 people from all over the world to witness the mock war between the SCA’s Kingdom of the East and the Middle Kingdom. The event was originally planned for July 27-August 7.
When I took on the office of Mayor of Pennsic 49, I promised to, and was entrusted with, the welfare and safety of the entire Pennsic Family. It is therefore with great sadness that I must inform you today that, we have decided to postpone Pennsic 49…
This postponement will come as heartbreaking news to many of you and it has been an exceedingly difficult decision for us to make. Since the first Pennsic Wars at Cooper’s Lake we have been so proud to welcome people from all over the Knowne World to beautiful lands of Aethelmearc, but this year, sadly we cannot gather together as before.
As many of you have read in my previous COVID-19 updates, the impact of this terrible pandemic has effects that reach far past just those that attend Pennsic War….
Even if we cannot be together this July, we remain optimistic that the situation will soon improve. I know we are all very worried about the impact that COVID-19 is having on our loved ones and daily lives. My Pennsic team and I send you our very best wishes. We cannot wait to share time together at Cooper’s Lake again with you all.
Pennsic 49’s new dates are July 30, 2021 through August 15, 2021.
The first Pennsic was held in 1972. Now held annually at Coopers Lake Campground in Butler County, Pennsylvania, Pennsic’s annual impact on the local economy amounts to $1.8 million, with many local businesses citing the period during Pennsic being among their busiest of the year.
…As some of you may be aware, over the course of several weeks, trolls created dozens of false accounts as part of a harassment campaign against some writers. We reached out to Goodreads to ask for assistance in stopping those attacks and they were, thankfully, responsive. Goodreads was as committed to solving this as SFWA was. If readers lose their faith with the site because of false reviews, that’s a problem for all of us.
During the course of the conversation, we shared with them some ideas that they might use to block this form of targetting. They are working on implementing some of those, although I hope you’ll understand that we won’t be able to share the details of those particular efforts….
There are also some existing tools on Goodreads that were not immediately apparent. We offered to highlight those to our members while Goodreads puts the other measures into place.
Flagging reviews – Goodreads does not allow Ad Hominem reviews or attacks on an author. They made it clear to us that when reviews become about the author, not about the book, authors are able to flag uses of harmful language or when the intent is to harm the person, not to review the book. If an author is receiving an avalanche of those, they may send a link to email@example.com or send a link via Goodreads’ contact form.
Reporting entire accounts – Sometimes, a single actor will create negative reviews of an author’s entire body of work. In those cases, any author may send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) RIPPED BODICE. Since Courtney Milan is one of them, the Scroll will
report all the winners of the inaugural Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in
Romantic Fiction. The award was launched last year by Leah and Bea Koch,
co-owners of the
Ripped Bodice bookstore
in Culver City, Calif., and is sponsored by Sony Pictures Television. Chosen by
a panel of industry experts, each honoree receives $1,000 plus a $100 donation
to the charity of their choice.
The winning titles are:
Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
If Doctor Who seems like a show that has been disappointing its devotees for 56 years and counting, perhaps that is to be expected. After all, no other TV series in history has shown such a wilful disregard for anything approaching a house style, happily pressing the re-set button every week and leaping between planets and time zones, comedy and tragedy, psychodrama and space opera.
More people want a new Back to the Future film than want a new instalment in any other franchise. But one of its creators says doing another movie would be like “selling your kids into prostitution” – so it’s been rebooted as a stage musical instead.
Walking though the Manchester Opera House foyer a week before the first performance of Back to the Future: The Musical means picking your way through piles of props and kit that are waiting to be slotted into place before opening night.
A skateboard and some of the Doc’s scientific equipment are lying around, and a crew member walks past carrying what look like dancers’ 1950s dresses. The components of the Doc’s nuclear-powered flux capacitor are probably spread around somewhere.
…Thursday’s first performance will mark the end of a 12-year journey to bring one of the best-loved films to the stage. Another journey will start – the show is set to go to the West End after Manchester, and then perhaps Broadway.
“It’s the same story of the movie,” says Bob Gale, who has scripted the stage show and co-wrote the movies. “But there are things that you can do and can’t do on stage that differ from cinema.”
So in the show, Marty plays more music, and new songs take us deeper into the characters’ emotions and back stories. But some of the action (like the skateboard chase and the gun-toting Libyan terrorists) has been changed. And, sadly, there’s no Einstein the dog.
“Lots of people were clamouring, ‘Why don’t you guys do Back to the Future part 4? Why don’t you do a reboot of Back to the Future?'” Gale says.
‘The wrong thing to do’
But he and Robert Zemeckis, director and co-writer of the three films, had it written into their contracts with Universal that no new film could be made without their say so. Studio bosses have tried their best to persuade them.
…”We don’t want to ruin anybody’s childhood, and doing a musical was the perfect way to give the public more Back to the Future without messing up what has gone before.”
(6) DUNCANN OBIT. Geraldine Duncann died
February 2 at the age of 82, her daughter
Leilehua reported on Facebook. Duncann announced to FB readers in
January that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Astrid Bear described Duncann in these terms:
As Mistress Geraldine of Toad Hall, she was a major force in the Society for Creative Anachronism from its very early days, excelling in all she tried, whether cooking, sewing, embroidery, pottery, singing, writing, or anything else. Her generosity, wit, intelligence, and zest for life were wonderful.
Her memorial/celebration of life will be on her
birthdate, May 9, at the Golden Gate Bridge and include a Bridge Walk. Details
will be posted on her FaceBook page and her Questing Feast Patreon blog.
(7) SHRAPNEL OBIT. [Item by Steve Green.] John Shrapnel (1942-2020): British actor,
died February 14, aged 77. Genre appearances include Space: 1999 (one episode, 1975), Fatherland (1994), Invasion:
(three episodes, 1998), Spine Chillers (one episode, 2003), Alien Autopsy (2006), Apparitions (five episodes, 2008), Mirrors
(2008), The Awakening (2011), Merlin (one episode, 2012), Macbeth
(2013), Hamlet (2015).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 15, 1955 — Captain Midnight aired “Saboteurs Of The Sky”. Captain Midnight began September 9, 1954, on CBS, continuing for thirty-nine episodes until January 21, 1956. This was the twenty-fifth episode of the program’s first season. Captain Midnight itself started as a serial film, became this show, and later was both a syndicated newspaper strip and a radio show. The series starred Richard Webb who was not the actor of the Captain Midnight role , Robert O’Brien, from the film serial. (Two actors, Sid Melton and Olan Soule, were retained from the serial.) When the TV series went into syndication in 1958 via Telescreen Advertising, several changes happened. First a change in advertisers happened as Ovaltine was no longer involved. More importantly Wander Company owned all rights to use of Captain Midnight which meant that Screen Gems had to change Captain Midnight to Jet Jackson, Flying Commando, and all references in the episodes to Captain Midnight to Jet Jackson, Flying Commando, both text and sound wise. You can watch this episode here.
February 19, 1978 — The Project U.F.O. pilot: “Sighting 4001: The Washington D.C. Incident” first aired on NBC. It was created. by that Jack Webb Harold Jack Bloom, was based rather loosely on the real-life Project Blue Book. It starred William Jordan, Caskey Swaim and Edward Winter. Most of the UFOs were by Brick Price Movie Miniatures that were cobbled together from the usual model kits. You can see the pilot here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 19, 1893 — Sir Cedric Webster Hardwicke. His first SFF role was a plum one — in 1937‘s Solomon’s Mines as Allan Quatermain. He’s been in a lot of genre films: On Borrowed Time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Invisible Man Returns, The Ghost of Frankenstein, Invisible Agent, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The War of the Worlds (the voice doing providing commentary). (Died 1964.)
Born February 19,1912 — Walter Gillings. UK fan. He edited Scientifiction, a short lived but historic fanzine. Shortly thereafter he edited Tales of Wonder, regarded as the first UK SF zine. Clarke made his pro debut here. He’d edited a number of other genre zines later on, and ISFDB lists him as having two genre stories to his credit whereas Wiki claims he has three. (Died 1979.)
Born February 19, 1930 — John Frankenheimer. Depending on how widely you stretch the definition of genre, you can consider his first SFF film as director to be Seven Days in May. Certainly, The Island of Dr. Moreau is genre as is Prophecy and Seconds. He also directed an episode of Tales from The Crypt, “Maniac at Large”, and directed Startime’s “Turn of The Screw” with Ingrid Bergman in the lead role off the Henry James ghost story of that name. (Died 2002.)
Born February 19, 1937 — Lee Harding, 83. He was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club along with Bertram Chandler. He won Ditmar Awards for Dancing Gerontius and Fallen Spaceman. In the Oughts, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation would give him the Chandler Award in gratitude for his life’s work. It does not appear that any of his work is available fir the usual digital sources.
Born February 19, 1937 — Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds to his widow. (Died 1987.)
Born February 19, 1944 — Donald F. Glut, 76. He’s best known for writing the novelization of the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. I’m more fascinated that from the early Fifties to the late Sixties, he made a total of forty-one amateur films including a number of unauthorized adaptations of such characters as Superman, The Spirit and Spider-Man. Epoch Cinema released a two-DVD set of all of his amateur films titled I Was A Teenage Moviemaker.
Born February 19, 1963 — Laurell K. Hamilton, 57. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but one or two novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive.
Born February 19, 1964 — Jonathan Lethem 56. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel, so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Feral Detective.
Born February 19, 1966 — Claude Lalumière, 54. I met him once here in Portland at a used bookstore in the SFF section. Author, book reviewer and editor who has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of Worship, The Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains.
…But his reverie was broken by the phone 12 minutes later. “I picked it up and thought, ‘Please don’t let this be a credit card offer.’ Can you imagine? I would have just burst into tears.”
On the other end of the line, Newbery committee chair Krishna Grady told Craft that his graphic novel New Kid (HarperCollins) had been chosen as winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal. “Then the people in the background started screaming and then I started screaming, then I screamed more and they screamed more,” Craft said. “It was pretty amazing.” It is also historic, as New Kid is the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal.
New Kid introduces African-American seventh grader Jordan Banks, an aspiring artist who leaves his home in Washington Heights each morning and takes the bus to his new, private, mostly white school in the Bronx. In his sketchbook, he chronicles what it’s like for him to navigate his two different worlds, the ups and downs of middle school, and the various micro-aggressions he faces each day. The book was inspired by Craft’s own school experiences, as well as those of his two sons, and has been a hit since its release last February. Prior to ALA Midwinter, New Kid had already earned starred reviews in the major review journals, landed on numerous best-of lists for 2019, became a New York Times bestseller, and won the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature.
Craft was still riding high from the Newbery call when his phone rang again at 7:07 a.m. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s weird,’” Craft said. “I saw area code 215, which is Philadelphia [where ALA Midwinter was being held], and I thought, if they’re calling me up to say, ‘Hi, we thought you were Jerry Pinkney when we called earlier. Sorry about that—we hope you didn’t tell anyone,’ that would have made me cry even more.” But, of course, there was no such mix-up. The second call alerted Craft to the fact that he had also won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. “I was stunned,” he recalled, noting that he hadn’t heard any buzz, or seen anything like a mock Coretta Scott King Award poll.
Hands over hearts, folks. On February 12, NASA announced that Vanguard 1 had gone silent, and the agency was finally turning off its 108 Mhz ground transceivers, set up during the International Geophysical Year. The grapefruit-sized satellite, launched March 17, 1958, was the fourth satellite to be orbited. It had been designed as a minimum space probe and, had its rocket worked in December 1957, would have been America’s first satellite rather than its second. Nevertheless, rugged little Vanguard 1 beat all of its successors for lifespan. Sputniks and Explorers came and went. Vanguards 2 and 3 shut off long ago. Yet the grapefruit that the Naval Research Laboratory made kept going beep-beep, helping scientists on the ground measure the shape of the Earth from the wiggle and decay of Vanguard’s orbit.
(12) THE TINGLE WAY. Now that you’ve explained it, I
(13) POUNDED BY YOUR CREDIT CARD. But wait! There’s all
kinds of Chuck
Tingle merchandise available. Like this hoodie, or this towel.
“The Scream” is fading. And tiny samples of paint from the 1910 version of Edvard Munch’s famous image of angst have been under the X-ray, the laser beam and even a high-powered electron microscope, as scientists have used cutting-edge technology to try to figure out why portions of the canvas that were a brilliant orangeish-yellow are now an ivory white.
Since 2012, scientists based in New York and experts at the Munch Museum in Oslo have been working on this canvas — which was stolen in 2004 and recovered two years later — to tell a story of color. But the research also provides insight into Munch and how he worked, laying out a map for conservators to prevent further change, and helping viewers and art historians understand how one of the world’s most widely recognized paintings might have originally looked….
If you’ve never heard of the board game Settlers of Catan, you aren’t alone.
Marcus Smart hadn’t. Neither had Kemba Walker. Nor Brad Stevens.
If you have heard of it, you’re in good company, too.
The game is a favorite of Celtics rookie Grant Williams.
Williams was introduced to Settlers of Catan — Catan, for short — when he was a sophomore on the basketball team at Tennessee. He walked in on Riley Davis, the team’s video coordinator, playing the classic strategy game with players Lucas Campbell, Brad Woodson, and Yves Pons. A self-proclaimed nerd, Williams wanted to learn.
“They’re like, ‘Oh dear, we have to teach Grant now,’ ” Williams recalled. “Next thing you know, we played and I won my first game.”
Williams was hooked. The group kept a board at the training facility, where they would play at least twice a week, as well as one in each of their dorm rooms. There also was a “road-trip board” that would travel with the team.
…The objective of the game sounds simple: Collect resources to build roads, settlements, and cities on the island of Catan. The implementation is a bit more complicated.
Krispy Kreme and Adult Swim have teamed up for a limited line of sweet R &M-inspired products, including a donut modeled after Pickle Rick. Don’t worry, though, the green pastry isn’t salty and sour like a brined cucumber. That would be nasty. Instead, it’s filled with “mouth-watering lemon crème, dipped in white choc truffle, with a white choc ‘Pickle Rick.'”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Nina Shepardson, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, plus a crowdsourced aspostrophe.]
The district attorney requested a controlled DNA swab from Luis Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, at the latest hearing in Orange County (NY) court on December 6. He wants the New York State Police forensic lab to compare Rondon’s DNA profile to evidence found at the scene of Deborah Waldinger’s death and elsewhere.
Rondon, who was Waldinger’s boyfriend, is accused of
killing her with a framing hammer. He faces felony charges of second-degree
murder and first-degree manslaughter as well as misdemeanor weapon possession.
Rondon’s lawyer opposed the DNA request, saying prosecutors have not shown probable cause that a sample from Rondon will yield relevant evidence.
Waldinger’s body was found in her New Windsor, NY apartment on
October 9. Police arrested Rondon a few days later in California, where he had
traveled for an SCA event.
On Friday, in court before Judge Craig Brown, Milza revealed that lab testing of bloodstains from gloves police located in a trash can about 30 feet from where Rondon parked his car at Newark International Airport showed DNA consistent with three people, with Waldinger, 32, as the major contributor. Bloodstains on sneakers police found in the trash outside Rondon’s house on Quassaick Avenue in New Windsor also matched Waldinger’s DNA profile, Milza said.
Officials have security video of Rondon buying a box of garbage bags, and an identical box was found within three feet of Waldinger’s body, he said. Milza said investigators swabbed bloodstains from a bathroom wall next to a light switch, and a Nov. 21 lab report determined that the DNA matched Waldinger and a male.
“I can think of no more relevant evidence,” Milza told the judge.
… Milza [later] said Rondon’s Google searches and website visits in the days after the slaying included “can they track your movements with the Galaxy S10,” the type of phone Rondon owned; “what destroys DNA;” “can bleach destroy DNA;” and “if you want to get away with murder use a special detergent.”
The judge gave the defense attorney time to file further
arguments against the DNA sample. He also heard the defendant’s bail
application, at set bail at $2.5 million cash or $7.5 million bond.
Luis Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s
East Kingdom, was back in Orange County (NY) court November 8, where his
attorneys entered a not guity plea to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter,
felonies; and misdemeanor weapon possession.
believe that Rondon used a framing hammer to beat 32-year-old Deborah Waldinger
to death on October 7. He then traveled to California to attend
the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of
the SCA, and was arrested by Taft (CA) police on October 11 at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area where the
event was in progress. He was extradited to New York.
Waldinger left her job in Middletown about 1 a.m. on Oct. 7, her usual time, and at 2:08 a.m. she texted a friend that she was home, also typical, Milza said.
At 1 a.m. on Oct. 7, Milza said, Rondon is on video at WalMart buying items including a white Tyvek-type coverall suit and several bottles of bleach. Two hours later he returned to the store and bought cleaning and first-aid items, Milza said.
Waldinger was due to work on Oct. 7, but failed to show.
Early on Oct. 8, Milza said, Rondon flew to California, leaving his car at Newark International Airport. Rondon went to a medieval history and reenactment event in Taft, Calif. Detectives who tracked him down in California observed a cut on his forehead, which had been visible in the 3 a.m. WalMart video, and cuts on his hands and chest, Milza said.
Rondon was later extradited back to New York.
Milza said police got warrants for Rondon’s cars and home. In the car at the airport, he said, investigators found a number of distinctive-looking black rubber gloves with white interiors in the backseat, and more of the gloves, along with cloth and other items, in a nearby trash can. Some of the items from the can tested positive for the presence of blood, Milza said.
In a second vehicle, he said, police found receipts showing that Rondon’s credit card was used Oct. 1 to buy a 50-gallon bin and a box of large, industrial-type garbage bags. A box matching that description was found next to Waldinger in her apartment, Milza told the judge.
Milza said the medical examiner found “at least 12 blows, and possibly another one or two” had been inflicted on Waldinger.
The prosecutor asked the judge to deny bail. The judge scheduled a December 6 hearing where the defense attorneys can make formal bail arguments, meantime, Rondon remains in custody awaiting trial.
(1) ANOTHER TESTIMONY ABOUT HARASSMENT AT CZP. Kelsi Morris,
who rose from intern to managing editor of ChiZine
Publications – all unpaid – shared a painful account of the chronic sexual
harassment she endured from its owners and authors on
Facebook. (Much more at the link.)
…I think we can all agree there is a clear pattern of financial mismanagement and ill treatment of authors. What has only just started to be touched on is the deeply rooted culture of bullying, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and the silencing of victims. And this is why I think it’s important I finally say something.
I started with ChiZine in 2012, when I was 22 years old and less than a week out of publishing school…
…I did move up quickly. I started as an intern (unpaid, of course), then became the head of marketing & publicity (also unpaid), then at 23 years old, became the managing editor for the biggest indie speculative fiction publisher in Canada (still unpaid). And more than that, I had somewhere I *belonged*.
…I was considered cool enough to hang, which meant I got to go to the exclusive parties, all the cons and events (at my own expense, of course), was invited to the casual pool nights, and fancy family dinners. I loved being included, and I was still young enough to be starstruck around so many amazing authors I admired.
Being cool, and eventually becoming friends with the “inner circle”, also meant that everyone talked freely around me. I heard the cruel ways they talked about their friends who weren’t around. I heard them plan out ways of breaking up couples. I attended family dinners where folks brought short stories written by their peers to read dramatically aloud and laugh. I heard the boundless misogyny, the mockery of women who spoke out about harassment at cons & the snowflakes who found comfort in content warnings, and the resentment they held towards their authors who had the audacity to expect to be paid. I sat, and listened, and internalized the implicit threat of what could happen to me.
And so I continued to just sit, and listen, with an uncomfortable smile pasted on my face, when I was hit on by male authors more than 15 years my senior. I smiled when hanging out with the inner circle and they made jokes about my body. I grimaced when one of the authors caressed my ass in full view of all my colleagues in the crowded con suite, but didn’t move away. I dressed accordingly at events when Sandra told me the only thing that mattered was “tits and teeth”. I nervously laughed along with everyone else when I was the only woman in a room full of men, and one of them started making rape jokes about me. …
…There are so many people who were complicit in, or at the very least enabled, what has accurately been described as the cult-like culture of bullying, abuse, harassment, and silencing. This will continue to be a problem long after ChiZine is gone, if it’s not something we start talking about now….
(2) FIREBELL IN THE NIGHT. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has quit
the professional organization SF Canada over its lack of support for the
ChiZine authors who have voiced grievances. The thread here.
In order to deal with congestion issues at its warehouses,Amazon has been cutting book orders to publishers over the last several weeks. It isn’t clear how widespread the reduction in orders is, but several independent publishers contacted by PW reported cuts in their weekly orders since late October. One publisher reported that an order placed last week was about 75% lower than an order placed last year at this time. “It’s a nightmare,” the head of one independent publisher said.
…The head of yet another company said if Amazon orders don’t rise to what has been typical ordering patterns in past years within two weeks, “we [could] lose the entire holiday season.” He added that if problems with Amazon persist and orders continue to be low, it is possible that some online book sales could move to BN.com and other retailers such as Walmart, which has invested heavily in its online operations. If Amazon starts running out of stock, he added, “maybe they’ll lose some market share to their competitors.”
(5) WRITING ABOUT A DIFFERENT RACE. In “Who Gave You The Right To Tell That
Story?” on Vulture, novelists discuss how
they wrote about characters who were a different race than they are.
Among the writers who contribute short essays are N.K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle,
and Ben H. Winters.
N. K. Jemisin, The Broken Earth Trilogy
I’ve learned to not fear obviousness when I’m describing race or topics related to oppression. With an American audience, you have to be as in your face about it as possible because our society encourages delicate euphemism. I’d rather be accused of being obvious than allow people to get away with thinking all of my characters are white people. The truth is, when you walk into a room and you see a bunch of strangers, the first thing you notice is their appearance, their race and gender. When I first describe a character, I sometimes hang a lampshade on race. My narrator will immediately think: ‘She might be Latino, oh maybe not, she might be Indian.’ I render that mental process.
You’re not going to be perfect. In The Broken Kingdoms, my protagonist was a blind woman, and she had a superpower associated with her blindness. As I now know, disability as a superpower is a trope. I didn’t read enough literature featuring blind people to really understand it’s a thing that gets done over and over again. Ehiru, a character from The Killing Moon, is asexual, and I don’t think I explored that well. If I were writing it now, I would have made him more clearly ace. I figured this out by reading Tumblr. I am on Tumblr quietly — I have a pseudonym, and nobody knows who I am. Because lots of young people hang out there and talk about identity and the way our society works, it’s basically a media-criticism lab. It’s an interesting place to talk about identity, and I did not understand until I saw these conversations that asexuality was an identity. I thought about it as a broken sexuality. My story reflected my lack of understanding of how that worked.
The Neukom Awards, now in its third year, offers prizes in three categories of speculative fiction. Each category will receive an honorarium of $5,000 at a Dartmouth-sponsored event related to speculative fiction.
The speculative fiction awards are offered for playwriting, established author and first-time author.
The deadline for all submissions is December 31, 2019. The awards will be announced in the spring of 2020.
Joker has become the most profitable comic book movie of all time, having made more than $950 million (£738m) at the worldwide box office.
It tells the story of how Arthur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) becomes the Joker, Batman’s nemesis and one of the most infamous comic book villains ever.
Joker has now made more than 15 times what it cost to make, reports Forbes.
Director Todd Phillips made the movie on a budget of $62.5m (£49m), a fraction of the budget of many comic book adaptations.
Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing movie of all time, has earned close to $2.8 billion (£2.2bn) but had a budget of $356 million (£276m).
Endgame has made more at the box office overall, but Joker has made more in relation to what was spent to make it.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 11, 1951 — Flight to Mars premiered. It was produced by Walter Mirisch for Monogram Pictures, and directed by Lesley Selander. It starred Marguerite Chapman, Cameron Mitchell and Arthur Franz. Most of the interiors are from the Rocketship X-M shooting. It currently has a 21% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 11, 1917 — Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con. He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius. And I’ve seriously enjoyed his short fiction. Wildside Press has seriously big volumes of his fiction up at Apple Books and Kindle for very cheap prices. (Died 1983.)
Born November 11, 1922 — Kurt Vonnegut Jr.The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Mondayis his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
Born November 11, 1925 — ?Jonathan Winters. He’s in a number of genre series and films including Twilight Zone, Wild Wild West, Mork & Mindy where he was Mearth, the animated Smurfs series and The Animaniacs. And that’s a very selective list. (Died 2013.)
Born November 11, 1926 — Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of Neffer Amateur Press Alliance. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2003.)
Born November 11, 1960 — Stanley Tucci, 59. He was Puck in that film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, his first role was asDr. John Wiseman in Monkey Shines. (Shudder.) he shows as in forgettable The Core, and was amazing as Stanley Kubrick in The Life and Death of Peter Seller. And I’m fond of his voicing Boldo in The Tale of Despereaux.
Born November 11, 1962 — Demi Moore, 57. Ghost, of course, getting her Birthday Honors. And yes, I did see it. Sniff. But she got her genre creds with her second film Parasite which is good as she didn’t do much after that of a genre nature.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Grimmy shows why it can be disillusioning – but funny – to meet your heroes.
(11) DISNEY DROPS
SONG FROM REMAKE. Ethan
Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “The
Controversial Scene That’s Not In The Live-Action of The Lady and the Tramp“ says that in The Lady and the Tramp
remake, streaming on Disney+ on November 12, Disney decided to keep the scene
where the Lady and the Tramp bond over a plate of spaghetti but decided to cut
“The Siamese Cat Song” because it reflects a “50s-era
Orientalism” considered out of place today.
Interestingly, Disney+ subscribers will have the chance to watch both the the 2019 version of Lady and the Tramp and the 1955 version on the studio’s new streaming service, allowing families to compare and contrast the two films, and discuss moments like “The Siamese Cat Song.”
Judith Merril was a founding member of the Futurians, an editor, founder of what is now the Merril library and of course a science fiction writer.
“Wish Upon a Star” is a generation ship story. By their nature, the need for a stable society able to keep a small community functioning for decades in total isolation, generation ships are forced to make some striking adaptations. In most cases, those adaptations included mutiny, cultural amnesia, barbarism and eventual extinction.
Merril’s characters made very different choices. Let’s see what the Young People made of them.
(13) AN EARLIER STRANGER
IN A STRANGE LAND. Jeff
Lafcadio Hearn” at the LA Review of Books surveys the Japanese
Tales of Lafcadio Hearn,
edited by Andrei Codrescu, the author’s Japanese
and Monique Truong’s “mesmerizing”
novel The Sweetest Fruits.
In 1890, Hearn moved to Japan, where he was to spend the last 14 years of his life, initially teaching English in remote Matsue, in Shimane Prefecture, and subsequently at Waseda University and the University of Tokyo. He also had stints in journalism and became an influential and popular interpreter for a Western audience of what was regarded at the time as an inscrutable culture and society. He is now best remembered for his traditional Japanese stories about supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons. Hearn died from heart failure at age 54, yet he was a prolific writer, despite poor health in his final years. His insights into turn-of-the-century Japan attest to his powers of observation and interpretation. Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan (1894) is a classic, conveying his rapturous appreciation for all things Japanese, especially traditions, customs, and ways of living unsullied by foreign accretions.
Just a few months after the triumph of Apollo 11, Nasa sent another mission to the lunar surface. But it came chillingly close to disaster.
In November 1969, just four months after men first set foot on the Moon, Nasa was ready to do it again. Basking in the success of Apollo 11, the agency decided that Apollo 12’s mission to the Ocean of Storms would be even more ambitious.
Unlike Neil Armstrong, who had been forced to overshoot his planned landing site because it was strewn with boulders, Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad was aiming for a precision touchdown, within moonwalking distance of an unmanned Surveyor probe. Conrad and landing module pilot, Al Bean, would then spend longer on the surface – with two excursions planned – while beaming back the first colour television from the Moon.
On 14 November, Conrad, Bean and Command Module Pilot Dick Gordon settled into their couches at the top of the 111-metre-high Saturn 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Meanwhile, in mission control Houston, flight director Gerry Griffin took his seat behind his console – his first time leading a mission.
At the launchpad, the ground was wet from storms that recently passed through the area and the sky is overcast. But with the rocket and crew ready to go, and US President Richard Nixon watching (for the first time) from the VIP stands, all systems were green for launch.
At 11.22, the giant white rocket slowly lifted off the pad and accelerated into the clouds.
“This baby’s really going,” shouts Conrad to his crewmates as the launcher cleared the tower and Houston takes over control. “It’s a lovely lift-off.”
Then, 36 seconds into the flight, Conrad sees a flash. All the fuel cells supplying power to the capsule fell offline and the entire alarm panel lit up….
An endangered yellow-eyed penguin has won New Zealand’s coveted Bird of the Year competition after two weeks of intense campaigning.
The hoiho saw off more than five rivals to become the first penguin to win the annual honour in its 14-year history.
(18) RUH ROH! SCOOB! is a Scooby-Doo
remake which Warner Bros. will release in the summer of 2020.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Luis Rondon, former king of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, was arraigned in Orange County (NY) on October 25, charged with second degree murder for the fatal beating of a New Windsor, NY woman. The judge entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
The victim, Deborah Waldinger, was also active in the SCA, as well as in the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia. Police believe Waldinger died October 7 of blunt force trauma. A maintenance worker found the body inside her apartment two days later.
By then, Rondon had traveled to California to attend the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of the SCA. On October 11, Taft (CA) police arrested him at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area where the event was in progress. He was extradited to New York.
[Rondon’s attorney] asked that the jail hold Rondon in protective custody because he is an officer with the MTA Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority. The only words Rondon spoke during arraignment were to tell the judge he is a peace officer, and to confirm the agency’s name with “yes, your honor.”
The judge said he would make a note about the request on the commitment paperwork.
Waldinger’s family told a reporter that she met Rondon several
years ago through their mutual interest in medieval groups, and had moved to
New Windsor from Long Island about two years ago to be near him.
Luis R. Rondon, King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s
East Kingdom, has
been expelled by from the Society following
his arrest on a felony charge of second degree murder. The East Kingdom covers
Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania and New York, the New England states and eastern
A New Windsor man arrested Friday night in California for the death of 32-year-old Deborah A. Waldinger was a “known acquaintance” of the victim, police said Sunday afternoon.
…Waldinger’s body was discovered Wednesday morning by a maintenance man who had gone to her Southgate Village apartment complex residence to do work.
The Orange County [New York] Medical Examiner’s office determined that Waldinger died due to blunt force trauma to the head.
The East Kingdom’s Board of Directors announced on October 12 —
…the Society Seneschal expelled Luis R. Rondon, known in the Society as Luis de Castille, from the Society for Creative Anachronism. This is due to a criminal investigation of Mr. Rondon.
Mr. Rondon has abdicated his position of King of the East.
East Kingdom’s Social Media Officer discouraged members from discussing the
situation publicly: “What the East faces ahead will be difficult. There isn’t a
person in the Kingdom who thinks otherwise at this point, I believe. More
information will be released as we are permitted to do so.”
(1) LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Authors Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Black, Seanan McGuire, and John Scalzi, as well as many other writers outside of the genre, will be at the “2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival”. The Festival will be held in Washington, DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on August 31. Check out the Festival blog.
(2) ON THE WAY TO THE MOON. The first two episodes of the new Washington Post podcast Moonrise focus heavily on John W. Campbell and Astounding Science Fiction, and it looks like there’s a lot more to come. Episodes can be downloaded from various distributors, or listened to through the Post’s website.
Want to uncover the real origin story behind the United States’ decision to go to the moon? In the 50 years since the moon landing, as presidential documents have been declassified and secret programs revealed, a wild story has begun to emerge. “Moonrise,” a new Washington Post audio miniseries hosted by Lillian Cunningham, digs into the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, the transformation of American society and politics ?— and even the birth of science fiction ?— to unearth what really drove us to the moon. Listen to the episodes as they’re released each week, and come along with us on a fascinating journey from Earth to the moon.
(3) WHAT IS “SENSE OF WONDER”? In
Men and Original Sins” at Image, Adam
Roberts reviews the movie First Man, Catherine Newell’s Chesley
Bonestell biography Destined
for the Stars: Faith, Future, and America’s Final Frontier, and Kendrick Oliver’s To Touch the Face of God, in
order to discuss the sense of wonder many feel about space.
PROFANE IS AN INTERESTING WORD. Etymologically the word describes the ground outside—or, strictly, in front of (pro)—the temple (fanum). How do we understand the profanity, or otherwise, of space travel? Is earth the temple and outer space the outer (pro) fanum? Or could it be that the heavens are the temple, and it’s we who are stuck down here in a mundane, profane antechamber? Is the sense of wonder that attends space exploration fundamentally a religious impulse? Or is the achievement of Apollo a triumph of solidly non-spiritual science, engineering, technology, and materialism?
This matter is addressed by To Touch the Face of God, Kendrick Oliver’s absorbing social history of the space program. Oliver has sensible things to say about the limitations of simply mapping the religious convictions of NASA scientists and astronauts onto a project like Apollo, but nonetheless he assembles a convincing picture of just how interpenetrated the undertaking was by a kind of providentialist, Protestant ethos, exploring the pros and cons of considering spaceflight as a religious experience. He’s especially good on the way the program channeled national concerns about the separation of church and state, a debate that had been galvanized by the 1963 Supreme Court judgment ruling mandatory school prayer unconstitutional.
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon in December of 1968, astronaut Bill Anders informed “all the people back on earth” that “the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.” They then read the creation account of Genesis 1 aloud. The reading, Oliver shows, had an enormous impact. The Christian Century ran an editorial declaring themselves “struck dumb by this event,” and Apollo flight director Gene Kranz wept openly in the control room: “for those moments,” he later recalled, “I felt the presence of creation and the Creator.”
(5) STUDENT JOURNALISTS LOOK INTO SCA. Paul Matisz was one
of the people interviewed by the student magazine The Tattler for its
article about “The Dark Side of Medieval Reenactment.” (The issue is here, and the article is on pages 17-19.) Matisz, who formerly
participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism as Fulk Beauxarmes, has
posted the full text of his responses on his blog “Interviewed
for an Article on the SCA”. He praised the thoroughness of their
Here’s a clipping from the article:
(6) RINGS A BELL. While skimming Shelf Awareness, Andrew Porter spotted a notice for The Best of Manhunt edited by Jeff Vorzimmer (“… the crime-fiction magazine Manhunt (1952-1967)….editor Jeff Vorzimmer has pulled together 39 gripping and pitiless tales…”) That seemed an uncommon name and he wondered if this fellow was any relation to Fifties fan Peter Vorzimer (with one “m”, his fannish AKA spelling). Indeed, Jeff is his son, as confirmed by this blog post: “Death in Hollywood” (2017). I’ve heard of Peter myself – his name was still cropping up in anecdotes about the old days of LASFS when I joined in the Seventies. Most of this excerpt quotes a reminiscence written by Peter himself:
My father was in the last half of his senior year at Hollywood High and … he was inconvenienced by losing his driver’s license for a year.
“It was on the way to HAC one day, March 17th, 1954, that I got involved in an accident in which I killed an elderly pedestrian. Which, though she had made some negligent contribution, cost me my driver’s license for one year. It also took the wind out of my senior year of high school.
“My lack of wheels forced me to concentrate on my writing skills—particularly my editorship of an amateur science fiction magazine, Abstract, a fanzine, as they are called. This brought me closer to a group of similarly minded young men. Charley Wilgus was my closest friend, followed by Don Donnell, Jimmy Clemons and Burt Satz. Don was the most creative and, at 16, already a good writer; Burt, who was universally picked on by the rest, was the best read (Hemingway, Joyce, and a host of others). Clemons introduced me to the world of Science Fiction and the L. A. Science Fiction Society—whose meetings were attended by E. E. “Doc” Smith, Ray Bradbury, and the agent Forry Ackerman. Possibly because of its controversial—read argumentative—editorials, its excellent mimeographed and often salacious art, Abstract became quite popular in the world of science fiction fandom. The high point of my early career was my bus trip to San Francisco to meet various pen pals: Gilbert Minicucci, Terry Carr, Bob Stewart, and Pete Graham. It took something for my mother to permit her 15-year-old son to go up by bus to San Francisco from L.A. to attend a Sci Fi convention on his own for a week!”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 30, 1911 — Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course, most of us do. (Died 1992.)
Born July 30, 1927 — Victor Wong. I’ll single him out here for his role as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, a film I adore. He also appeared in Beauty and the Beast as Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode, and in Poltergeist: The Legacy as Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode. (Died 2001.)
Born July 30, 1948 — Carel Struycken, 71. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Homn on Next Gen, companion to Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen…
Born July 30, 1961 — Laurence Fishburne, 58. Appeared in The Matrix films of which I watched at least two before deciding I could be reading something more interesting. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man.
Born July 30, 1966 — Jess Nevins, 53. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I didn’t know he was an author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident.
Born July 30, 1970 — Christopher Nolan, 49. Obviously the Batman films of which I think I’ve seen several (too noisy, too vivid). However The Prestige is magnificent as is Inception and Interstellar.
Born July 30, 1975 — Cherie Priest, 44. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is quite good and Clockwork Universe series isa refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks. I’ve not read Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how they are.
Born July 30, 1984 — Gina Rodriguez, 35. Anya Thorensen in Annihilation based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novels which I’ve read though I’ve not seen the film. She was also Robin I the “Subway” episode of the Eleventh Hour series, and directed the “Witch Perfect” episode of the new Charmed series.
Here’s a pair of vintages that should be engaging to “Star Trek” fans.
The first two selections in a new Star Trek Wines series are available with one celebrating the United Federation of Planets, the other paying tribute to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” character Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart.
The 2016 Chateau Picard Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux, France, is timely as Stewart’s Picard returns next year in a new CBS All Access series, “Star Trek: Picard.” That wine can be purchased along with a numbered, limited edition of the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve for $120 (Only 1,701 packs will be sold. Star Trek fans will know 1701 as the starship Enterprise’s identification number.)
The wines, available at StarTrekWines.com, are being brought to market by Wines that Rock, which sells wines carrying the labels of rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and The Police and Woodstock. They will be poured at the Star Trek Las Vegas event, which runs Wednesday to Sunday.
(10) DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? Who needs a Hugo Award when
you’ve got an SJW Credential?
…This was the start of what Emett called his “machines.” He gained international fame for designing the contraptions featured in the 1968 film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Soon, companies began hiring him to create fanciful machines to use in their marketing.
As for the sculptures at Air and Space, “The Exploratory Moon-Probe Lunacycle M.A.U.D.” was on loan and eventually went back to Britain. The museum commissioned “S.S. Pussiewillow II” — imagine a wispy dirigible — but removed it from display in 1990 after a motor caught fire, burning a “flying carpet” that was part of the work.
Despite that, “Emett’s machines are remarkably reliable,” said Tim Griffiths, founder of the Rowland Emett Society, a group of enthusiasts. “The motor that failed on the Pussiewillow wasn’t the original and was possibly installed because of the difference in voltages between the U.K. and U.S.”
It’s a cameo that makes perfect sense and at London Film and Comic Con last weekend, Robert Picardo (The EMH and Dr Zimmerman from Star Trek Voyager) confirmed that his agent was in talks with CBS to possibly return in Season 2 of Star Trek Picard.
“I am pleased that they (CBS) have expressed interest in me. They have reached out to my agent about next season. So I’m looking forward to seeing what it is. As you know I play two characters, primarily the Doctor but also Lewis Zimmerman.”
Robert Picardo – Sunday 28th July, LFCC.
A recording of the entire interview is here —
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Alec Nevala-Lee, John
King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of thee stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) STRIVING FOR BALANCE. Mystery writer Laura Lippman has an op-ed in the Washington Post
about how her next novel, Lady in the Lake, will be narrated by an
African American ghost and whether it is all right for a white woman to write
about black characters: “Is
it ok for a white author to write black characters? I’m trying.” She notes that none of the 20 characters in
her novel resemble her, and “In creating this wide-ranging cast, I took a lesson
from one of my heroes, Donald Westlake, who once said, ‘I became a novelist so
I could make things up.’ So I did that–but I also asked that my novel be
assigned to a sensitivity reader.”
…When I teach creative writing, I tell my students that the biggest mistake they can make is to try to write around problems, hoping no one else will see them. I advocate running right at the problem, making it the story. I have never shied away from writing characters of color, but that choice is clearly different and more fraught now, even in the 14 months since my last novel appeared. So with my most recent book, to be published next month, I took my own advice, inventing a middle-aged white woman who tries to give her life meaning and purpose by investigating the death of a young black woman. It was a particularly meta choice. This is what I do, after all. I write about death, and the stories are often inspired by real-life crimes, which is another kind of appropriation….
Shannon Wheeler, Eisner Award-winning New Yorker cartoonist (Too Much Coffee Man, Sh*t My President Says, God is Disappointed in You), and veteran journalist Steve Duin (The Oregonian, Comics: Between the Panels, Oil and Water) turn their critical eye on the Mueller Report – a comprehensive, understandable, and readable graphic novel version of the book every patriot needs.
Fight the spin spewing forth from both parties and political pulpits and check out this graphic novel that brings a 400-page legal document down to size. Wheeler and Duin, in graphic form, bring to life scenes detailed in the report: from the infamous Trump Tower Meeting of 2016 to Trump exclaiming “I’m f*cked” upon finding out he was the subject of investigation. It’s in the report and it’s in the graphic novel!
The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel borrows style from classic private detective yarns, complete with a villain’s rogues’ gallery, nail-biting cliffhangers, and a lone lawman standing proud against the wave of crime.
…To go to an academic conference, let alone earn an advanced degree in history, literature, or art history, requires an enormous amount of money and free time. To participate in the SCA requires… an interest in the Middle Ages and a reasonable attempt at pre-17th century clothing, which can be made with $12 of material from Jo-Ann’s Fabric and half an hour at a sewing machine. (I should know; that was me in college.) Who, then, are the privileged ones? If anything, the SCA game threatens to destabilize systematic racism by replacing real-world hierarchies of race and class with its own imaginary social structure.
The SCA is diverse in other ways, as well: While academic historians focus narrowly on, say, women’s faith in the 14th century or the role of the Capetian dynasty in building the French state, the SCA is interested in everything that happened under the premodern sun from the death of Elizabeth I back to… the birth of Hammurabi, apparently. These include sword-fighting, cooking, visual arts, fabric arts, dancing, equestrian arts, and the list goes on. As my friend Mike Cramer points out, it’s like a state fair of medieval stuff.
(5) HOLLAND OBIT. [Item by Rob Hansen.] News of someone who was a LASFS club mascot as a child in the 1940s, namely Francis T. Laney’s daughter. She was named in Harry Warner Jr’s All Our Yesterdays (Advent, 1969):
To this second wife, Jackie, the two Laney Children were born. They were Sandra Rae, born Aptil 8th, 1940, and Sonya Lynn, born November 11th, 1942, mentioned in a thousand fanzine pages as Sandy and Quiggy.
Rob Hansen says, “Out of curiosity I did a web search and discovered this obit for Sandy originally published by Oregon Live from which I discover her sister still goes by Quig, and that Jackie’s actual name was Alberta, something I hadn’t known.”
Sandra Rae Laney Holland April 8, 1940 – Sept. 11, 2018 Sandra Rae Laney Holland, 78, of Vancouver, passed away Sept. 11, 2018, in Vancouver. Sandi was born in Lewiston, Idaho to Francis and Alberta Laney, April 8, 1940….
Found among Washington Irving’s papers are fragments of what might have been notes for a memoir, scribbled down in spare moments during either 1843 or 1845 (the date is hard to decipher), when he was the American minister to Spain under President John Tyler. In one entry he describes the genesis of his most famous story:
When I first wrote the Legend of Rip van Winkle my thought had been for some time turned towards giving a colour of romance and tradition to interesting points of our national scenery which is so deficient generally in our country. My friends endeavored to dissuade me from it and I half doubted my own foresight when it was first published from the account of the small demand made for that number, but subsequent letters brought news of its success and of the lucky hit I had made. The idea was taken from an old tradition I picked up among the Harz Mountains.*
June 23, 1976 — The George Clayton Johnson/William F. Nolan-scripted movie based on their book, Logan’s Run, premiered.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 23, 1945 — Eileen Gunn, 74. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and Others, Steampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future.
Born June 23, 1947 — Mark Olson, 72. One could reasonably call him an Uberfan. And among his many accomplishments is that he oversees Fancyclopedia 3 which I constantly use. If you don’t know him, I’m going to send you to his Fancyclopedia 3 bio which is far too long to quote here. It’s just a little boastful as it should be.
Born June 23, 1957 — Frances McDormand, 62. She’s God. Well at least The Voice of God in Good Omens. Which is on Amazon y’all. Her first genre role was in the “Need to Know” episode of Twilight Zone followed shortly thereafter by being Julie Hastings in Sam Raimi’s excellent Dark Man. She’s The Handler in Æon Flux and that’s pretty much everything worth noting.
Born June 23, 1963 — Liu Cixin, 56. He’s a winner of a Hugo Award for The Three-Body Problem and a Locus Award for Death’s End. Anyone got a clue what’s going on with the alleged Amazon production of The Three-Body Problem as a film?
Born June 23, 1964 — Joss Whedon, 55. I think I first encounter him with the Buffy tv series. And I’ll hold that I think Angel was better told. Firefly was an interesting mess. And don’t get me started on the Avengers: Age of Ultron…
Born June 23, 1972 — Selma Blair, 47. Liz Sherman in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She also voiced the character in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space.
Born June 23, 1980 — Melissa Rauch, 39. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory which is at least genre adjacent if not genre. She gets to be really genre in voicing Harley Quinn in Batman and Harley Quinn which Bruce Timm considers “a spiritual successor to Batman: The Animated Series”. H’h.
Born June 23, 2000 — Caitlin Blackwood, 19. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The God Complex”, and had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”. She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond. No idea how she was cast in the role.
…There had been some worry inside NASA about whether, from Earth, they would be able to pinpoint the lunar module’s landing location. The Moon was mapped, but not in anything like fine, up-close detail; there were no constellations of tracking satellites around the Moon in 1969. “With a wry smile, (Armstrong) radioed Houston, ‘The guys who said we wouldn’t know where we were are the winners today.’ ”
It’s an interesting selection of these that 1943 brings us. First off, there are three instances of a peculiar little subgenre, the afterlife story – people who are newly dead or on the verge of death, who are given a last chance to face up to the realities of heaven and hell, and try to make the right choice….
Three films with the same underlying idea, but the treatment of it is very different.
2. BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception (Infocom 1988)
Way back in the pivotal year of 1984, Chicago-based FASA developed a mecha combat game using designs from Japanese sources without permission. Coming at the perfect time, FASA had a true hit on their hands, and the BattleTech empire was founded. While originally, BattleTech was a tabletop wargame, today, BattleTech is also a successful series of video games that all started in 1988. Infocom, that gave us Zork!. The first BattleTech game, The Crescent Hawk’s Inception, was released for a variety of PC machines like the Commodore 64 and the ATARI ST. Featuring an amazing cover, it was sadly not as dynamic as the cover art would lead you to believe. This turn-based RPG game looks more like The Legend of Zelda than MechWarrior, and had you play as a Mechwarrior cadet named Jason Youngblood in the service of the Lyran Commonwealth during the 31st century. During the game, Jason will be thrust into a war, finding LosTech, and the fate of this lost father. From videos and articles, the game is complex and lengthy, that proved successful enough to warrant a sequel in 1990 called BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Revenge. The reason for these early BattleTech games becoming LosTech was that the kinetic nature of mech combat was not expressed in the gameplay like later titles, and the fact they were released back in 1988 media.
It’s midnight in Sommaroy, but the sun is still shining on this Norwegian island. The clock strikes 12, but the island’s residents are playing, working, fishing and socializing. Nighttime commands sleep, but Sommaroy doesn’t want to listen.
If the 350 residents of Sommaroy get their way, the clocks will stop ticking and the alarms will cease their noise. A campaign to do away with timekeeping on the island has gained momentum as Norway’s parliament considers the island’s petition.
“Why do we need time and clocks when there is no night?” reads the campaign’s Facebook page. During a 70-day period leading up to and following the summer solstice, from May 18 to July 26, darkness never falls across the sky.
“There’s always less wind at night here, perfect to paint the garage. Fishermen are out half the night, after all. If we get tired, we’re fit to go after a nap on the sofa. Why don’t we just sign out of time, throw away all the clocks and forget about them? Life would be so much easier,” the Facebook post continues.
This 1987 science fiction novel concerns a woman named Lilith who wakes up with no idea where she is or how she got there. As she begins to figure things out, she comes to understand that she’s been taken by the Oankali, aliens who want to blend with humanity as a way of diversifying their species and allowing the remnant of humanity to continue in a less violent (and less human) fashion. What makes this book so effective is you are never sure to what degree Lilith should be considered a collaborator with the enemy. Even Lilith isn’t sure. The moral implications of the novel are immense, and Butler shifts the tension every time you (or Lilith) begin to become comfortable. It builds slowly but inexorably, leaving readers in ethical ambiguity until the end, trapped in the dilemma of not knowing what to think. It’s one of the most unsettling books I’ve ever read, partly because of how benign and reasonable the aliens seem as they gently manipulate Lilith.
(13) SO MUCH SPACE, SO LITTLE TIME. Or so it might seem.
The size and age of the universe seem to not agree with one another. Astronomers have determined that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old and yet its diameter is 92 billion light years across. How can both of those numbers possibly be true? In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln tells you how.
(14) HOT PITCH. ScreenRant encourages everyone to step inside the pitch meeting that led to 2005’s Fantastic
[Thanks to Rob Hansen, JJ, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
King Wilhelm and Queen Vienna — a Connecticut couple whose real names are Jackie and Brian Van Ostenbridge — reign over the East Kingdom, which encompasses the Northeast and parts of Canada.
It is one of the society’s 20 kingdoms in North America, each of which is subdivided into provinces, baronies and shires. There is the Crown Province of Ostgardr, which includes all five New York City boroughs and several surrounding counties, many of which also have their own medieval names.
Manhattan is known as Whyt Whey, a reference to Broadway’s White Way. Brooklyn is Brokenbridge, a reference to the Brooklyn Bridge. Westchester County is known as Northpas, and Nassau County is Lions End. Southwest Connecticut is the Barony of Dragonship Haven, while the rest of the state is the Barony Beyond the Mountain.
“The Labyrinth” has been republished by the New York Review of Books press, and looking back into it is a revelation. The book opens with an extended, tour-de-force version of a Steinberg classic, the Line, seven pages unified by a single horizontal line that functions in myriad ways, as a timeline of history, a horizon line, the line dividing water from land, the edge of a table, the top of a bridge, a topographical mark and a clothesline (with socks, towels and shirts appended). From there, the book unfolds as a set of interlocking mini-essays on Steinberg’s favorite and recurring subjects: music and musicians, architecture, the chatter of socialites, the vanity of power and ambition, and the iconography of mid-century America.
However, it’s because of the works of Leigh Brackett, who was the first woman to be shortlisted for a Hugo and worked on the original screenplay for TheEmpire Strikes Back, that we have certain concepts of the Space Opera in both literature and film.
Pop culture has downplayed a lot of Brackett’s additions to the Star Wars storyline, since George Lucas apparently didn’t like that screenplay, but as io9?s co-founder and award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders brought up years ago, “the basic story beats are the same,” and Brackett came up with the concept of Luke Skywalker having a twin sister.
Brackett was also a mentor to Ray Bradbury, and despite being mocked for writing “space fantasy,” rather than “hard” science-fiction, her influence on the genre still holds up.
“Looks like someone’s staying on the naughty list… Larry, light him up!!” What the craziness is this?! 20th Century Fox has released an extra-violent, stop-motion animated short film titled The Predator Holiday Special. And it’s actually all kinds of awesome. The funny short is just a new mash-up of Predator and the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated TV movie, telling a story about a Predator invading the North Pole – but Santa has an elite defense force of his own that jumps into action and fights back….
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 24, 1910 – Fritz Leiber. I can say that my fav work by him is The Big Time which I either read or listen to every year. And yes I’ve read the Change War Stories too, difficult to find as they were. Yes I know it won a Hugo — much, much deserved! I’m also fond of Conjure Wife, but otherwise I prefer his short fiction to his novels. (Died 1992.)
Born December 24, 1945 – Nicholas Meyer, 73. Lovely novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is. Much better Ithan the film I think. Now his Time After Time film is spot on. And let’s not forget his work on the Trek films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (much of which went uncredited), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Born December 24, 1964 – Mark Valley, 54. He made my Birthday list first by being the lead, Christopher Chance, in Human Target, a short-lived series created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino for DC. He was also John Scott In Fringe as a regular cast member. He voiced Clark Kent / Superman in the second part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Born December 24, 1966 – Dietrich Bader, 52. I know him best as the voice of Batman on The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. No, he’s not Kevin Conroy but his Batman is quite enjoyable and interesting in his own right. He’s best cast as Batman / Brace Wayne in the forthcoming Harley Quinn series on the DC Universe service.
Born December 24, 1969 – Mark Millar, 49. Comic book write whose resume is long at both house so I’ll like of his work. The Millar/Quitely era on The Authority was politically edged and often got censored by DC as it commented on the Iraq War — well worth your reading. His run on Swamp Thing from 142 to 171 has a lot of other writers including Morrison. He the Ultimates at Marvels and a lot of the superb series ended in the Avengers film. Finally his excellent Civil War was the basis of the Captain America: Civil War film and his not to missed Old Man Logan was the inspiration for Fox’s Logan film.
There are some trademark signs in the industry that you’ve truly “made it.” Like if you’re a musician, and you hear your song on the radio, or even moreso, when that song gets remade by Weird Al Yankovic. Or if you’re an actor, and you get a beefy role in a Marvel movie, or get nominated for an award, or you get to go on Saturday Night Live, or in Karen Gillan’s case, you’re featured in a question/answer on Jeopardy! What a fun and exciting treat!
(8) UNEMPLOYED MEN TELL NO
TALES. In case there was any doubt the other day – he’s
out. The Independent has the
Johnny Depp’s tenure as Captain Jack Sparrow has officially come to an end, following a Disney executive’s confirmation that the actor will no longer be a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The studio’s production chief, Sean Bailey, was speaking about the previously announced reboot – set to be written by Deadpool‘s Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese – when he was asked whether the series could survive without Depp.
Rather than deny the reports, Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter: “We want to bring in a new energy and vitality. I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”
(9) FRANKENSTEIN (1910) RESTORED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Slate shines a little light on the fact that “The First Film Adaptation of Frankenstein Has Been Restored, and You Can Watch It Right Here”. The 1910 silent movie by Edison Production was restored by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from the sole remaining print (and other source material) and posted on their site in 2017. It is also available on YouTube. Music for the restoration was composed and performed by Donald Sosin. The Edison Production title card bills it as “A liberal adaptation from Mrs. Shelly’s famous story” and indeed significant liberties are taken. (Then again, cramming the full story into about 13 minutes would have been difficult, though IMDb clams the original was about 16 minutes.) The LoC site describes the film thus:
“While he is in college, Frankenstein decides he must attempt to make a perfect human being. The being he creates is given life in a vat of burning chemicals. On the day Frankenstein weds his sweetheart, who has been living patiently at home, he sees the monster he created reflected in a mirror. Having disappeared, the monster returns to his creator to gain acceptance. However, when the creature is in front of the mirror he disappears again, with only his slowly vanishing reflection left. When Frankenstein arrives and stands in front of the same mirror he witnesses the fading image, signifying the monster’s destruction in the face of Frankenstein’s increased love for his wife and life.”
“Please sit down,” he said gesturing to a wooden crate marked “cheap tobacco”.
“I’m sorry,” he continued, “but all our furniture was replaced with old shipping crates due to budget cuts. I understand you’ve come out about the role we advertised?”
“Sure,” I responded, “the assistant to ‘Mr Scrooge’.”
I’d heard rumours of this Scrooge guy. A man of old but indeterminate age. Misanthropic, holed up inside an ageing house. A nexus of supernatural events. Everything about this Scrooge guy’s profile said ‘vampire’….
Straw Puppy: Um, isn’t the title ‘Ghost of X-mas Future?
Tiny Tim the Cat: Oh crap. Too late now, we’ve published it.
Nobody had any clue. There was certainly no warning. It’s part of the picture that now points to a large underwater landslide being the cause of Saturday’s devastating tsunami in the Sunda Strait.
Of course everyone in the region will have been aware of Anak Krakatau, the volcano that emerged in the sea channel just less than 100 years ago. But its rumblings and eruptions have been described by local experts as relatively low-scale and semi-continuous.
In other words, it’s been part of the background.
And yet it is well known that volcanoes have the capacity to generate big waves. The mechanism as ever is the displacement of a large volume of water.
Except, unlike in a classic earthquake-driven tsunami in which the seafloor will thrust up or down, it seems an eruption event set in motion some kind of slide.
(13) TOP COMICS ARTIST. Complex shares
“Spider-Man to Spawn, How Todd McFarlane Became the Biggest Comic
Book Artist Ever.”
Todd McFarlane opens up about his career as a comic book artist that includes making Spider-Man cooler and creating the Spawn character. He also shares his blueprint to launching Image Comics and McFarlane Toys.
(14) BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS
OTHER GUY? CBS Sunday Morning took
viewers “Inside the studio of legendary comic book
artist Alex Ross.”
In the world of comic book artists, Alex Ross is a superhero. He’s been called the Norman Rockwell of comics and has put his imprint on Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Captain America. Ross wields his superpower in his paintbrush and he allowed “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason into his secret lair.
John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock,
Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]