(1) WORLD FANTASY CON PRELIMINARY PROGRAM. WFC 2018 takes place in Baltimore from November 1-4. Their draft program is now up — World Fantasy 2018 Preliminary Program Grid.
This is the Preliminary program schedule. These are the program items we’re planning on having. New things may emerge, and any of these may disappear in puff of logic, all without warning. The program will be updated as information changes, but please check for official notifications during the convention.
(2) LE GUIN’S EARTHSEA ON RADIO. From SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie we learn: “Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 Extra has just started season 2 of Le Guin’s The Wizard of Earthsea.”
Episode 1 of season 2 here.
On the island of Gont, Tenar saves a remarkable young girl from certain death. She also makes a dangerous enemy.
Ursula K Le Guin’s enduring fantasy saga – based on the novel Tehanu adapted by Judith Adams.
“And the lovely folk have re-posted the 1st season on here on BBC i-Player so you can catch up. But note: season 1 will only be up on iPlayer for another 3 weeks.”
(3) DEVICES INCLUDED. The audience for the Thirteenth Doctor’s debut grows to record-setting levels when stats from devices are rolled in — “Doctor Who: Biggest first episode for new Doctor”.
Jodie Whittaker attracted a record audience for a new Doctor in the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who.
The episode was watched by 10.9 million viewers, which makes it the highest Doctor Who series opener since the show was relaunched in 2005.
The consolidated figures from ratings body Barb includes the number of people watching on devices as well as TV.
Barb only began counting ratings for phones, PCs and tablets last month.
The previous highest series launch episode for the drama was in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, which attracted 10.8 million.
That number obviously didn’t include device figures.
(4) SPECTRUM 25 CEREMONY. John Fleskes has just posted a story with photos about the Spectrum 25 awards ceremony last May in Hollywood: “Spectrum 25 Awards Ceremony Stories and Pictures”
To be able to create a gathering where the Spectrum community can get together and celebrate is not only meaningful, it helps to encourage others. All the award recipients had an emotional response and made sincere and expressive acceptance speeches. Everyone who attended left with a want to do more to create and inspire others to do the same. This is why Spectrum exists and why we find the awards ceremony to be so important to have and to share.
(5) GAME ART MASHUP. Fans in Japan get all the cool stuff. Well, at least if you think crossing Edvard Munch and Pokémon is cool (The Verge: “Pokémon’s upcoming ‘The Scream’ cards capture 2018’s existential horror”).
The world is running out of clean water, climate change continues to ravage the planet, and politics everywhere are a total nightmare: nearly every day of 2018 has carried the emotional weight of an entire year. It’s fitting, then, that this is also the year The Pokémon Company is announcing a partnership with the Tokyo Art Museum to produce special trading cards based on The Scream, the iconic expressionist painting by Edvard Munch.
According to the official release [Google Translate version], the promotional cards will be available starting October 27th to celebrate a special exhibition at the Tokyo Art Museum. Each card, which will retail for 450 yen, will feature a pocket monster with a scream attack that causes confusion (hence the crossover between the game and the painting). Cards will be available through official Pokémon centers in Japan when fans purchase booster packs, though there will also be other Munch / Pokémon-related merch up for sale, too.
(6) THIS IS MONSTROUS. A special exhibition—De Monstris—at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto caught the attention of Brigit Katz, writing for Smithsonian.com (“Rare Book Library Summons Tales of World’s Oldest Monsters”).
In December 1495, Rome was devastated by four days of heavy flooding. After the deluge subsided, rumors began to swirl about a terrible monster that had washed up onto the banks of the Tiber. The creature was said to be a grotesque pastiche of human and animal body parts: it had, among other peculiarities, the head of a donkey, the breasts of a woman, the bearded visage of an old man on its behind, and a tail crowned with a roaring dragon’s head.
This was the era on the cusp of the Reformation, and many were convinced that the monster had been conjured as an ominous portent of papal corruption, with each of its hodge-podge body parts representing a different vice. (The creature’s “feminine” breasts and belly symbolized “the sensuality of the cardinals and ecclesiastical elites”; the old man on its hind parts marked a “dying regime.”) Printed images of the so-called “Papal Ass” were circulated widely in the years after the flood. Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, even commented on the monster in his railings against the Catholic Church.
(7) SPACE VS. SCI-FI. In the Washington Post, Elahe Izadi tries to separate space movies from sci-fi flicks, with one difference being if space is “a pretty easy and chill place to hang out” then it’s sci-fi and not a space movie — “Sorry, your favorite ‘space’ movie is not actually a space movie”.
… But what, exactly, makes a movie a space movie? Is it merely the location? What if only a few scenes are in space? What about the involvement of aliens? Is it a space movie if the movie title has a space-y word, like “galaxy” or, say, “space”?
…These are the kinds of questions you have to grapple with before you even try to rank the best space movies. So, below is a system on how to tell whether your favorite movie is actually a space movie — including a handy, totally professional flowchart!
(8) LEARNING TO SPELL. WIRED’s Jason Kehe says he’s seen this before – plenty of times: “Why So Many Fantasy Novels Are Obsessed With Academia”.
The best fantasy debut of 2018 has a problem. It was also the best fantasy debut of 2009. And 2007. And 1997, 1985, 1982, and 1968.
Authors change; the story stays the same. In the darkness a child is born. The child suffers, but he has mysterious power. Posthaste, destiny leads the child to the same place it herds all the courageous orphan-protagonists of speculative fiction: a storied and exclusive institution of magical learning, where he unnerves the faculty, demonstrates arrogance, and forms lasting friendships on his way to vanquishing evil.
…This year’s Potter, though it pulls from a number of related sources, is The Poppy War, the first of a planned trilogy set in the Empire of Nikan, an evocation of 20th-century China in everything from geography and mythology to military history. Written by the scarily proficient newcomer R.F. Kuang—she was 19 and a student at Georgetown University when she sold it—the book adds to a recent wave of East Asian fantasy with a sad, gifted orphan of its own.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
- Born October 16, 1854 – Oscar Wilde, Writer, Journalist, Playwright, and Poet from Ireland whose only novel, the supernatural gothic horror work The Picture of Dorian Gray, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, made into countless radio plays, musicals, TV films and movies — the 1945 version of which was awarded a Retro Hugo — and had enduring influence on modern popular culture as an examination of morality. His long list of short fiction credits includes some fairy tales and genre stories, of which the best known is “The Canterville Ghost”, which has likewise undergone a copious number of translations and adaptations into various media.
- Born October 16, 1874 – Lucien Rudaux, Astronomer, Artist, and Illustrator from France who in the 1920s and 30s created famous space-themed paintings featuring planets and moons rendered according to the state of astronomical knowledge at the time, as well the illustrated work Sur Les Autres Mondes (On Other Worlds). The Rudaux crater on Mars and the asteroid 3574 Rudaux are named for him, as is the Lucien Rudaux Memorial Award, given by the International Association of Astronomical Artists to creators of space-themed works (recipients have included Chesley Bonestell and Rick Sternbach).
- Born October 16, 1925 – Angela Lansbury, 93, Actor from England who emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. Though perhaps best known now for her long-running Miss Marple homage TV series Murder, She Wrote, her early career included movies of some import, and she received Oscar nominations for genre films The Manchurian Candidate and the Retro-Hugo-winning The Picture of Dorian Gray. Other genre roles include Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Nanny McPhee, and The Mirror Crack’d (for which she received a Saturn nomination), and she has lent her distinctive voice to a number of animated features including the Saturn-nominated adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, the Hugo-nominated Beauty and the Beast, Anastasia, Fantasia 2000, The Grinch, and Heidi 4 Paws, which is, interestingly, a retelling of the well-known Heidi where all of the roles are played by dogs.
- Born October 16, 1926 – Ed Valigursky, Artist who created more than 200 pulp magazine and novel covers, mainly for Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and Ace Books, including Ace Doubles, along with dozens of interior illustrations. The more-than-50 covers he did in 1955 earned him a nomination for the Best Artist Hugo the following year. During the 1960s he contributed illustrations to classic trading cards sets, including the Topps titles Batman and Battle!. In the 1970s and 80s he created covers illustrating NASA’s space program for Popular Mechanics.
- Born October 16, 1927 – Claire Necker, Librarian and Writer. This might be going a little astray from genre birthdays, but I think not, given that most of us have SJW credentials. She wrote a number of feline-related academic works including The Natural History of Cats, Supernatural Cats: An Anthology — which includes stories by writers such as Fritz Lieber, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, August Derleth, and H.P. Lovecraft — and Four Centuries of Cat Books; Cat’s Got Our Tongue is a collection of feline-centered proverbs.
- Born October 16, 1940 – Barry Corbin, 78, Actor whose face will be familiar from his many character roles — frequently as gruff military officers or crusty eccentrics — including those in genre movies WarGames, My Science Project, Ghost Dad, Race to Space, Dawn of the Crescent Moon, Curdled, Critters 2, and Timequest, which appears to be an uncredited version of Greg Benford’s Timescape (which provided the name for the Pocket Books line of science fiction novels helmed by David G. Hartwell in the early 1980s). He narrated Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, based on the book by Mercury Seven astronaut Alan Shepard.
- Born October 16, 1963 – Glenn Glazer, 55, Conrunner and Fan who has been on the concoms for many Worldcons and regional conventions, chaired a Smofcon and a Westercon, and was one of three vice-chairs for Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. He has been involved in a number of APAs, including SWAPA, Mutations, The Calling, LASFAPA, APA-69, and APA-FNORD.
- Born October 16, 1966 – Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, 52, Actor, Writer, and Director. Aside from appearing in episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Voyager, and Quantum Leap, she’s credited with more than 500 voice acting roles in animated movies, TV series, and videogames, including The Avengers, Ghost in the Shell, X-Men, Steven Universe, and Bleach. She directed 18 episodes of the long-running anime Naruto, and has been Guest of Honor at Anime Expo.
- Born October 16, 1971 – Lawrence Schimel, 47, Writer, Editor, Poet, and Translator. He is a founding member of The Publishing Triangle, an organization promoting fiction by LGBTQ authors and/or with LGBTQ themes, which inform many of his short fiction works. He has edited, mostly in collaboration with Martin H. Greenberg, at least 10 anthologies. His solo anthology, Things Invisible to See, and one of his short fiction collections were both recognized with Lambda Award nominations, and his speculative poetry has garnered a Rhysling Award nomination and a win.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
A classic Trek-themed joke in Monty.
(11) DON’T LOOK DOWN. In an article at The Verge, astronaut Nick Hague recounts “What it’s like to fall 31 miles to Earth after your rocket fails”—and fortunately he’s here to tell his own tale.
For the first few minutes, the ride to space had been routine. NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his fellow crew mate, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were pressed into their seats inside a Russian Soyuz capsule as the vehicle rapidly climbed through the atmosphere. Then then there was a jolt.
“The first thing I really noticed was being shaken fairly violently from side to side,” Hague said during a round of broadcast interviews [16 October 2018].
The vehicle carrying Hague and Ovchinin had just taken off from Kazakhstan at 4:40AM ET (2:40PM local time). Just two and a half minutes into flight, the vehicle began to break apart. It’s still unclear what triggered the failure, but Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos thinks that there was some unintended contact during stage separation. On the Soyuz, four boosters surrounding the center core of the rocket are meant to break away during flight, but it’s possible one of the four crashed into the middle of the vehicle.
(12) SOYUZ. If the previous item doesn’t curb your enthusiasm, The Space Review points the way to joining the Russian space program — “So, you want to become a cosmonaut? Inside the 2018 cosmonaut selection process”.
For more than 50 years, Russia (and, previously, the Soviet Union) selected the majority of its cosmonauts from the ranks of Air Force pilots or engineering and scientific bureaus and agencies closely linked to the space program. There were exceptions, such as the four female parachutists (and one engineer) selected in 1962, but generally, this approach served the requirements of the Russian space effort.
This changed in 2012, when Roscosmos launched the first ever “open selection” for cosmonauts, to which any Russian citizen could apply, subject to having a higher education in certain specified fields, generally good health, and be under the age of 35.
As a result of this process, eight new cosmonaut candidates were presented to the media in August 2012. This group included candidates from a more diverse range of backgrounds, than the traditional careers mentioned above: mostly engineers, as well as two instructors from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and a solitary military pilot.
(13) FACT CHECKING FIRST MAN. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post says the scene in First Man where Neil Armstrong leaves a bracelet with the name of his dead daughter Karen on the moon is almost certainly a dramatization that did not actually take place: “‘First Man’ shows Neil Armstrong mourning his daughter on the moon. But did that really happen?”
Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian, said questions about the scene came up recently during an event for the movie at the Kennedy Space Center. The conclusion, he wrote in an email to The Washington Post: “The scene was created for the movie, and there is no specific evidence that Neil Armstrong left any ‘memorial items’ on the moon.”
(14) GRRM & PEOPLE WHO LOVE HIS BOOKS. Charles Yu profiles “George R. R. Martin, Fantasy’s Reigning King” for the New York Times.
MARTIN WAS RAISED in Bayonne, N.J., the son of a longshoreman and a factory worker. He has talked in the past about his childhood growing up in a federal housing project, gazing across the water at Staten Island, watching ships coming into port, imagining them traveling from distant lands he would never see.
He’s now based in Santa Fe, where he moved in 1979 from Dubuque, Iowa, where he was teaching journalism at Clarke College. After Tom Reamy, a friend of his and a fellow SFF author, died suddenly in 1977, at the age of 42, Martin was galvanized: “I thought, ‘Do I have all the time in the world? I want to write all these stories.’” He decided to quit teaching to write full time in New Mexico, spending the next decade and a half as a well-received, if not yet famous, fantasy author. He lives with Parris McBride, his second wife; the two of them are ardent supporters of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that rescues and provides sanctuary to captive-bred wolves. When it’s time for him to focus on his books, Martin heads to what he calls his “hideaway” in an undisclosed location.
(15) GRRM SIDEBAR. In this side feature, the writer discloses where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump. Watch the video or read the transcript — “George R. R. Martin Answers Times Staffers’ Burning Questions” at the New York Times.
We selected a handful of staffers’ queries for Martin to field on the set of his cover photo shoot, in Santa Fe, N.M., and filmed a number of his responses for the video above. Below are all of the questions that Martin answered — or, in some cases, tellingly declined to answer. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite books, where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump.
Dowd: Who reminds you most of Trump? Dan Weiss [one of the “Game of Thrones” creators and writers] told me that the character that reminded him the most of Trump is Hodor because he endlessly repeats his own name.
Martin: Well, that’s amusing. But I think even during the campaign I said that Trump reminded me most of Joffrey. They have the same level of emotional maturity. And Joffrey likes to remind everyone that he’s king. And he thinks that gives him the ability to do anything. And we’re not an absolute monarchy, like Westeros is. We’re a constitutional republic. And yet, Trump doesn’t seem to know what that means. He thinks the presidency gives him the power to do anything. And so, yeah, Joffrey is Trump.
(16) TIME PASSAGES. Inverse reports on an anomaly seen around the shooting of the upcoming Joker origin film (“Batmobile Sighting on the ‘Joker’ Set Hints at Time-Related Shenanigans”).
The new Joker movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role as Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, takes place before Batman ever existed. It’s a world where Bruce’s dad, Thomas Wayne, is still alive and running for mayor. So what’s the Batmobile doing on set?
That’s the question Batman fans are reckoning with after a video from the Joker’s New Jersey set revealed what looks a lot like the original Batmobile from the Adam West TV show.
So, sly TV reference aside, how does the Batmobile exist in a pre-Batman world? The Inverse article explores three possible—and very comic-book-esque—explanations.
(17) DOES GOOD FENCING MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS? Russia may be leading the lightsaber race. DW has the story — “Moscow Star Wars school trains novice Jedi”.
But saber fighting is more than a Star Wars fantasy for those training here. It is a style of stage fencing, which has been considered an official sport in Russia since 2008. And here at the school, the novice Jedi say it is a real workout, particularly because the movie fight scenes they are emulating are very dynamic. “I came out of my first training session and my knees were shaking — I thought I was going to sit down now and never get up,” Daria says, thinking back to when she started in January. “But it gets easier with every session.” Now she says she loves the physical challenge. “And also — it’s Star Wars!”
(18) MOVIE STAR DINOS. Scientsts suspect “The ‘ugly duckling’ fossil from the deep” is a juvenile rather than a progenitor of the species.
The mosasaurs recently took a star turn in the Jurassic World movie, showing off the Hollywood version of their fearsome jaws.
Now an “ugly duckling” from 85 million years ago is shedding new light on the giant marine reptiles that lived at the time of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Scientists have long puzzled over how the diminutive fossil fitted into the family tree.
They now think it was still developing the distinctive long snout of its clan.
(19) THE DATING GAME. Was Pliny the Younger too old to remember the right date? “Pompeii: Vesuvius eruption may have been later than thought” – an on-site graffito challenges Nth-generation copies of Pliny’s letter, but matches findings of harvested plants in ashes.
Historians have long believed that Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD, destroying the nearby Roman city of Pompeii.
But now, an inscription has been uncovered dated to mid-October – almost two months later.
Italy’s culture minister labelled it “an extraordinary discovery.”
(20) BITS IS BITS. When the BBC asks “Would you eat slaughter-free meat?” it means feather cells grown into chicken nuggets – a company says the product will be in restaurants “by the end of this year”
In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted that the human race would one day “escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”.
Eighty-seven years later, that day has come as we discovered at Just, a food company in San Francisco where we tasted chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather.
The chicken – which tasted like chicken – was still alive, reportedly roaming on a farm not far from the laboratory.
(21) ROBOT FRIENDS. Dara Elasfar in the Washington Post notes how the Smithsonian now has four robots named Pepper as helpers at four of its museums, a gift from SoftBank Robotics of Japan. Kids like them; Asa Bernstein, 6, said “If I had a robot named Pepper, I would make it do my homework, and make sugar cookies with me!” Video — “Meet the Hirshhorn’s newest staffer, Pepper the robot”.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Arnold Fenner, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]