Kiran Kaur Saini is the winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s 2020 Older Writers Grant.
Graham Robert Scott, Jeff Reynolds, and S.E. Greco received Honorable Mentions.
Kiran Kaur Saini is a writer of speculative and literary fiction whose short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train , Pleiades , and The Tahoma Literary Review , among other publications. She is a graduate of Smith College and received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Born in California, Kiran grew up in rural Pennsylvania, the daughter of a Sikh from Punjab and a North Carolina native. In the last year Kiran stepped away from a 15-year career in film production to care for her aging mother and now finds her writing focused on issues of aging, cultural identity, and autonomy.
The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant is awarded annually since 2004 to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. The $1,000 grant can be used as each writer determines will best assist his or her work.
Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers.
(1) MIYAZAKI EXHIBIT WILL KEYNOTE ACADEMY MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced the work of Hayao Miyazaki will feature in its inaugural temporary exhibition when the museum opens to the public on April 30, 2021. It will be the first North American museum retrospective dedicated to the acclaimed artist and his work.
With more than 300 objects, the exhibition will explore each of Miyazaki’s animated feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (2001). Visitors will travel through the filmmaker’s six-decade career through a dynamic presentation of original imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, posters, and cels, including pieces on public view outside of Japan for the first time, as well as large-scale projections of film clips and immersive environments.
From there, visitors move into the Creating Worlds gallery, a space that evokes Miyazaki’s fantastical worlds. The gallery will capture the contrast between beautiful, natural, and peaceful environments and the industrial settings dominated by labor and technology that are also often featured in Miyazaki’s movies. Visitors can view concept sketches and backgrounds that offer insight into Miyazaki’s imagination, including an original imageboard from his first Ghibli film Castle in the Sky (1986) and artworks from subsequent Ghibli features. Other areas explore Miyazaki’s fascination with complex vertical structures, such as the famous bathhouse in Spirited Away, and the underwater world of Ponyo (2008), as well as Miyazaki’s interest in flying, as seen in Porco Rosso (1992) and The Wind Rises (2013). As a highlight of the exhibition, visitors can enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation in the Sky View installation, addressing another frequent motif in Miyazaki’s films: the desire to slow down, reflect, and dream.
Next, the Transformations gallery affords visitors the opportunity to explore the astonishing metamorphoses often experienced by both characters and settings in Miyazaki’s films. In Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), for example, the protagonists go through physical transformations that reflect their emotional states, while in other films, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki creates mysterious and imaginative ways to visualize the changes that humans impose on the natural world.
Visitors then enter the exhibition’s final gallery Magical Forest through its Mother Tree installation. Standing at the threshold between dream and reality, colossal, mystical trees in many of Miyazaki’s films represent a connection or gateway to another world. After passing through the installation, visitors encounter the spirits of the forest, such as the playful Kodama from Princess Mononoke, through an array of storyboards and mixed media. Visitors exit through another transitional corridor, which guides them from the imaginative worlds of Hayao Miyazaki back into the museum.
(2) ATTEND A VIRTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE EXPANSE. Register here for the opportunity to hear news about the ninth and final book in the Expanse series on Wednesday at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be answering questions following the announcement.
(3) NEW HONOR FOR ATWOOD. Margaret Atwood has won the Dayton literary peace prize reports The Guardian.
Margaret Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes The Handmaid’s Tale, a depiction of a nightmarish totalitarian future for the US, has won a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.
The Canadian writer will receive the Richard C Holbrooke distinguished achievement award, officials of the Dayton literary peace prize officials announced on Monday. The award is named for the late American diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.
Atwood, a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays and comic books , has in recent years drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after a theocratic group overthrow the US government. The television adaptation, starring Elisabeth Moss, saw the book return to bestseller lists around the world, while some readers saw similarities to the leadership of authoritarian Gilead in the rise of US president Donald Trump…
(4) SLF STILL TAKING GULLIVER GRANT APPLICATIONS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking submissions for the Gulliver Travel Research Grant until September 30. Full guidelines on the website.
The SLF Gulliver Travel grants are awarded annually, since 2004, to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research, though we hope to offer such funds in the future. We are currently offering one $1000 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.
This episode, I was able to totally fulfill the mandate of this podcast, and lose myself in a meal as I sat across a table face to face with a creator. That’s because I’ve known this guest for 46 years plus a few months — and have been in constant conversation with her for almost all of that time. She’s been a part of comics and science fiction fandom several years longer than I have, and worked in comics longer than I did, too. When I started at Marvel Comics on June 24, 1974, she’d ready been there for a couple of months. She has many fascinating things to say about her time in comics — and her decades working in the romance field as well.
I’m of course talking about my wife — Irene Vartanoff — or as she was dubbed by Stan Lee — “Impish” Irene Vartanoff. Her novel Hollywood Superheroine — the final book in her comics-inspired Temporary Superheroine trilogy — was recently published, so this is the perfect time to have a chat about it all.
We discussed how she’d never have gotten into comics if not for her father’s cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the “heartbreaking” advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn’t face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.
(6) LE GUIN DISCOVERY. Sean Joyce-Farley finds worlds of meaning in Ursula LeGuin’s revision to a passage The Left Hand of Darkness, as explained in a post for Library of America, “Are You There Ursula? It’s Me, Sean”.
Knight Library lies tucked into the west side of the University of Oregon campus, just by the cemetery: a dark four-story brick building. Inside, sunlight falls into the Paulson Reading Room through the tall windows at my back. Rigged up in a mask, I look like a harbinger of things to come—but it’s the fall of 2019, and I just have a dust allergy.
There are no pens in the Special Collections, and no water. UO students periodically approach the desk only to learn that they need to take a different staircase to get to the other second floor, which is somehow not connected to this second floor. I take in camera, laptop, notebook, pencil. Grey boxes with my name on them—literally, stuck on in post-its—neatly line the shelf behind the librarian’s desk. The first box is number 77; inside, folders three to five house the handwritten manuscript of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I lift up the lid, and let the light in….
(7) GOT THAT RIGHT. “It’s Not Easy Being a BookTuber” on WIRED is an introduction to an episode of WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast which has an interview with Daniel Greene, who makes his living reviewing sf and fantasy books on YouTube. Greene discusses how he gets 20-30 requests from self-published authors to plug their books and how he has to keep reviewing bestsellers to satisfy YouTube’s algorithms.
Daniel Greene makes a full-time living off his YouTube channel, discussing fantasy authors such as Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Jim Butcher. Talking about your favorite books all day might sound like a dream come true, but Greene says that building a successful channel is harder than people think.
“For a few years I was doing a video every day of the week, seven days a week, which was insane, while also being a software engineer,” Greene says in Episode 431 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I’m a workaholic.”
(8) MORE SAND. MovieWeb alerted readers to a French-langauge variant of last week’s Dune trailer with some additional shots.
While the majority of the Dune trailer is the same as the one that debuted a few days ago, this version is slightly shorter and has been restructured. The trailer is in French but, while you may not have much idea what they’re saying, there are a few new shots included, giving us a further look at the likes of Gurney Halleck, played by Josh Brolin, who is seen preparing for battle, as well as a little more of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides enduring the excruciating pain of the Gom Jabbar Test.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 2000 — Twenty years ago this month, the online magazine Strange Horizons posted its first issue. It does short stories, poetry and reviews, essays, interviews, and other material as tickles its fancy. It was founded by writer and editor Mary Anne Mohanraj. Susan Marie Groppi who took over in 2004, won the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional in 2010 for her work as the Editor-in-Chief. Other editors have followed; the current one is Vanessa Rose Phin. Several of the stories first published here have been nominated for Hugos, Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” and Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s “The House Beyond Your Sky”. It was a finalist for the Best Website Hugo Award in two years, and for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine every year from 2013 through 2020. You can find it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 14, 1927 – Martin Caidin. His Cyborg was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Thirty novels for us, half a dozen nonfiction books about rockets and Space travel; eighty fiction and nonfiction books all told, a thousand magazine articles; an authority on aviation and aerospace. Restored to full airworthiness a 1936 Junkers Ju 52, toured extensively with her. Flew with the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron (U.S. Air Force), honorary member of the Golden Knights parachute demonstration team (Army). Twice won Aviation/Space Writers Ass’n Award for outstanding aviation author. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born September 14, 1931 – Ivan Klíma, 89. Kafka Prize and Magnesia Litera award. A Childhood in Terezin (in German, Theresienstadt; WW II holding ground for deportation to death camps e.g. Auschwitz; few survived) about his own experience. Biography of Karel Capek (software won’t allow the diacritical mark over the C showing it’s pronounced like ch in English church) translated into English, also memoir My Crazy Century. Penguin Classics ed’n of R.U.R. has his introduction. Three dozen other books. [JH]
Born September 14, 1932 — Joyce Taylor, 88. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.LE., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series. (CE)
Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig, 83. Best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester (named in homage of that author and a certain novel) on Babylon 5. Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there. (CE)
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them on as Dr. Jeff Brenner. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born September 14, 1948 – Elizabeth Winthrop, 72. Five dozen books, mostly children’s fiction. Fisher Award (after Dorothy Canfield Fisher; adults choose master list, children vote) for The Castle in the Attic; it and two more ours. Jane Addams Peace Prize for Counting on Grace. Sarah Lawrence alumna. Website here. [JH]
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 60. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certainly say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. There’s another nineteen novels written there. And he had other series going as well including being one of the main scriptwriters for the Jago & Litefoot Big Finish series, the characters being spin-offs from the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Wang Chiang”. And then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works. (CE)
Born September 14, 1962 – Leigh Cunningham, 58. Lawyer with three Master’s degrees. Her Being Anti-Social (2013) a Best Indie Book. Two novels for us. Ranks Nineteen Eighty-four above The Sound and the Fury. [JH]
Born September 14, 1964 – Lorie Ann Grover, 56. Firstborn for us (Kirkus starred review); verse novels; board books; The Magic Cup with Howard Behar former president of Starbucks. Illustrations: “I’m putting these up for fabbity publisher types to see my samples…. copyright…. Just ask me if you’d like to share them.” [JH]
Born September 14, 1972 — Jenny T. Colgan, 48. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. (CE)
Born September 14, 1989 — Jessica Brown Findlay, 31. She appeared as Beverly Penn in the film version of Mark Helprin‘s Winter’s Tale novel. She’s Lorelei in Victor Frankenstein, a modern take on that novel, and plays Lenina Crowne in the current Brave New World series on Peacock. Finally I’ll note she was Abi Khan on Black Mirrior’s “Fifteen Million Merits“ episode. (CE)
Born September 14, 1986 – Rick Griffin, 44. Co-authored, and illustrates, the Hayven Celestia universe, where the admirable geroo and various others suffer under the wicked krakun. Recently Tales of Hayven Celestia (in Gre7g Luterman’s name, the 7 is silent). Four more covers. [JH]
Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet.
Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted in the thick Venusian clouds the chemical signature of phosphine, a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy.
Several outside experts — and the study authors themselves — agreed this is tantalizing but said it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. They said it doesn’t satisfy the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standard established by the late Carl Sagan, who speculated about the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus in 1967.
“It’s not a smoking gun,” said study co-author David Clements, an Imperial College of London astrophysicist. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”
Venus is so inconsiderate. It presents itself as a sister world, one that would seem at first glance to be very Earth-like, but… on closer examination it’s utterly hostile to life as we know it. Surface conditions would be extremely challenging for terrestrial life, what with the toxic atmosphere, crushing pressures, and blast-furnace-like temperatures.
That’s at the surface, however. Just fifty kilometers above the surface, there is a region with terrestrial pressures and temperatures, a veritable garden of Eden where an unprotected human would not be almost immediately incinerated but instead would expire painfully (in just a few minutes) due to the lack of free oxygen and the prevalence of toxic gases….
(14) STAR WARS MUSICS HELPS CELEBRATE MILESTONE. [Item by David Doering.] Nice to see the Tabernacle Choir chose Star Wars to celebrate their 110 years of recordings:
Legendary film composer John Williams wrote the music for each of the nine Star Wars saga films, spanning more than forty years from 1977 to 2019. For Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Williams composed “Duel of the Fates” for orchestra and chorus, accompanying a climactic lightsaber duel. The words are a fragment of an ancient Welsh poem that Williams had translated into Sanskrit—he then rearranged the syllables himself to make the text essentially meaningless, while still retaining a forceful chant-like power. He intended the choral singing itself to give the scene an explicitly religious feel, as if it were a ceremony of some kind. “Duel of the Fates” went on to become a defining musical feature of the prequel trilogy, a symbol of the saga’s broad focus on the cosmic struggle between darkness and light.
The choir music was also used to demonstrate the first stereophonic recording made back in 1940.
Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.
…The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 5, rejected a Republican attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot, according to the Texas Tribune.
Groups affiliated with both major parties have gone to court in recent weeks to remove from the ballot non-major-party candidates perceived to be a threat. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats.
The GOP sued because the Libertarians didn’t pay their filing fees. But the state Supreme Court said Republicans missed the deadline to kick them off the ballot.
Antonelli, running in the 4th District, is one of the candidates the Republicans sought to block.
He’s trying to get Republican nominee Pat Fallon to join him in a public forum or debate, meantime trying to score off Fallon for not living in the district he wants to represent.
… Fallon lives in the Denton county portion of Prosper, an outer suburb of Dallas, which is just outside the 4th’s boundaries.
Even Wikipedia, the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web, notes Fallon’s position: “Fallon’s state senate district includes much of the eastern portion of the congressional district.”
However, regarding the 4th Congressional District, Wikipedia continues: “While candidates for the House are only required to live in the state they wish to represent, longstanding convention holds that they live either in or reasonably close to the district they wish to represent.”
The Libertarian Party candidate in the election, Antonelli said “A number of candidates who lost to Fallon in the district convention seem to feel his victory was due to arm-twisting by himself and Senator Ted Cruz, and they resent it and have told me so,”
“The residency requirement for the U.S. House is in the Constitution, so Fallon has done nothing illegal,” said Antonelli. “But Texas deserves congressional leaders who do better than just skirt the law.”
Antonelli is doing his best to leave no stone unthrown.
While stuck inside during quarantine this past spring, designer Anifa Mvuemba began playing around with 3-D technology. Soon, an idea struck: What if she held a virtual fashion show in which her feminine, curve-friendly designs glided along on invisible models? She’d been working on her line Hanifa for eight years but had never held a runway show — maybe it was time.
On May 22, she premiered the collection, called Pink Label Congo, on Instagram Live. The digital runway show featured ghostlike 3-D figures strutting sinuously down the runway in the collection.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Using Cuts as a Visual Effect” on Vimeo, David F. Sandberg explains how cutting can be just as effective a way to produce special effects as more expensive CGI. WARNING: Many scenes from gory horror movies.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Contrarius, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
The $1,000 Working Class Grant is intended to assist working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers who have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction due to the financial barriers that have made it much harder for them to access the writing world. SLF created the annual grant in 2013.
Callahan received the grant for her short story “The Zombie in the Yard.” She is also the recipient of a 2019 Writers of the Future Award for her short story “Dirt Road Magic,” which appears in Writers of the Future Volume 35.
Callahan has described her writing as Dirt Spec, or speculative fiction about people who are economically disadvantaged, inspired by her own background. She says that she “strives to portray these people with nuance even amid space wars, zombie invasions, and magical school graduations.”
(1) NEW BOB SHAW EBOOK. Rob Jackson and David Langford’s new Ansible Press edition The Full Glass Bushel by Bob Shaw is now available as a free download in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.) The official release date is June 30 but Langford gave File 770 permission to jump the gun.
Bob Shaw’s column “The Glass Bushel” in the legendary fanzine Hyphen has never until now been collected in full. Thirteen of these columns – selected by Bob himself – were brought together as the printed booklet The Best of the Bushel (1979) edited by Rob Jackson, introduced by Walt Willis and illustrated by Jim Barker – who has recreated his cover illustration for this ebook. A different though partly overlapping selection of fourteen columns appeared as 14 Bob the Bushel (1995) edited by Bruce Pelz.
The Full Glass Bushel includes the entire text of The Best of the Bushel and adds the remaining seventeen “Bushel” instalments from Hyphen, plus six non-Bushel pieces that Bob Shaw also published in Hyphen and two further columns from Science Fiction Review, where “The Glass Bushel” was briefly revived in 1984. All in all, it’s a huge feast of wit, wisdom and autobiography by one of our greatest fanwriters.
This collection complements The Serious Scientific Talks, issued as a TAFF ebook in November 2019. A third and even larger ebook of Bob Shaw’s other fanzine writings is in preparation, tentatively titled Slow Pint Glass.
…New cover art and layout by Jim Barker, plus selected interior art by Jim from The Best of the Bushel. Edited by Rob Jackson (who has contributed a new introduction) and David Langford. 81,000 words.
Langford adds, “The page mentions a third Bob Shaw ebook still under construction, which currently contains nearly 80 articles — more than 120,000 words.”
(2) SLF SEEKS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for people to read applications for their grants. More information on Facebook. There’s a $25 honorarium for serving.
The Speculative Literature Foundation needs jurors to read applications for the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants, and the AC Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. Please note: we’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.
Jurors will probably read 25-50 applications, which includes a writing sample of no more than 5,000 words. Jurors will have about six weeks to read applications, select finalists, and choose a winner or winners for the grants, as can be seen in more detail below… If interested, please send a brief note to Malon Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: JUROR. Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.
‘Afterland,’ by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland, July 28)
After the “Manfall” pandemic wipes out most of the men on the planet, Cole disguises her son — one of the last males on Earth — as a girl and tries to get him to safety before the government can snatch him. Their cross-country journey is treacherous, as they evade not only the Department of Men but also Cole’s sister, Billie, who is determined to separate mother and son. Beukes’s imagined world — complete with bootleg sperm and faux baby bumps — is a thrilling setting for an examination of maternal love.
Full list is probably paywalled. No other real genre cites, but #2 is Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s memoir, and deep in the list is a discussion of popular superstitions like the “devil” of the New Jersey Barrens.
Daveed Diggs: Congratulations on jumping into “Altered Carbon.” Are you a sci-fi head? Because I am, and you do an awful lot of sci-fi stuff.
Anthony Mackie: I’m not a big sci-fi person. I grew up on “Star Wars,” but I never got into anything futuristic. When I was in high school, there was this movie called “Starship Troopers.”
Mackie: In New Orleans we had huge cockroaches. “Starship Troopers” freaked me out. I can’t do it, man. My imagination is too vivid. But “Altered Carbon” was great. If you look at the “Avengers” movies, I’ve never been the lead, or had to do that much action. It became a painstaking weekly hustle to finish that show.
(5) AS YOU WISH. “Watch the Celebrity-Filled Fan-Film Version of The Princess Bride”. Tagline: “A-list actors worked secretly in quarantine to create a rough-hewn, homemade version of the classic film and raise $1 million for charity. Vanity Fair has the exclusive look at three clips from the series, which will start showing this Monday on Quibi.”
… Jeffrey Katzenberg loved the concept and was moved by the charitable effort, so Quibi made a $1 million donation to World Central Kitchen, which equates to approximately 100,000 meals, in order to distribute the handmade project.
The creators hope the footage can also provide some laughter to viewers in a time of hardship. Their scrappy version of The Princess Bride leans into its continuity lapses, utilizes absurd household props and back-of-the-closet costumes, and deploys multiple castings of the same roles to show that in a true fantasy, anyone can play anything.
Before we go any further, just watch some. It’ll be easier to explain after that.
That’s Josh Gad playing the little boy with a cold who is reluctantly told the swashbuckling story by his grandfather. If you’re wondering what the director of the original movie, Rob Reiner, thinks of this riff on his work—that’s him playing the grandfather in this sequence.
[Film Historian Bruce] Crawford: When they made the first Jurassic Park (1993), originally the full-body shots of the dinosaurs were to be realized through a form of stop-motion animation called go-motion, to be done by Phil Tippett. And even though they ended up using CGI instead, Tippett stayed on as one of the lead technicians, and many people on the crew, including Dennis Murren at Industrial Light & Magic — not to mention director Steven Spielberg — are huge admirers of Ray’s. Many of them cite movies like One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Valley of Gwangi (1969) as the most inspirational dinosaur films ever made. That shows in the film. For example, the scene where the T. rex attacks the Gallimimus was modeled specifically after a key moment in The Valley of Gwangi.
Also, remember when the T. rex eats the lawyer? Well, the lawyer survived in the book. But in the movie, the T. rex bites him from the head down and lifts him up in his mouth — very much like that scene in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), where the Rhedosaurus is rampaging around the city and snatches up a police officer. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in monster movie history, and Ray recognized that moment in Jurassic Park as an homage to his work. He was really touched by that.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 29, 1979 — Moonraker premiered. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert, and produced by Albert R. Broccoli. Screenplay was by Christopher Wood off the Moonraker novel by Ian Fleming. It was the fourth Bond film to star Roger Moore. Supporting cast was Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel and Corinne Cléry. Broccoli had originally intended to make For Your Eyes Only, but chose Moonraker because of the popularity of Star Wars. Some critics really liked it, some really hated it. (Connery thought it was crap.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 43% rating. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 29, 1900 – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Author, aviator, illustrator, journalist. His novella The Little Prince (1943) won the Retrospective Hugo and has been translated into 300 languages. He was a viscount, a pioneer of international postal flight, a pilot in and out of war with 13,000 flying hours; his complicated heroic life and his works outside SF are worth study, as is LP which may be even more than it seems. Prix Femina; Prix des Ambassadeurs; Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française; inscribed in the Panthéon, Paris; Officer of the Legion of Honor; Croix de Guerre with Palm; U.S. Nat’l Book Award. (Died 1944, maybe) [JH]
Born June 29, 1919 —Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And. of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born June 29, 1935 – Richard Harter, F.N. In his words, “a collector who prizes his mint copy of Dick and Jane meet Robby Robot, a club fan who is … also a diamond fan and a spade fan, a fanzine fan whose multitudinous publications, if not always award winning, certainly ought to be, and a convention fan noted for attending conventions that no one else attended.” Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; a service honor); six entries in the history section of the NESFA Website. Proposed the NESFA Hymnal. Upon retirement, moved back to South Dakota, from which he remained active. Always a Marine. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born June 29, 1940 – Joe Sanders, 80. Reviewer for Algol, Delap’s, Fantasy Review, Int’l Ass’n for Fantasy in the Arts Newsletter, Locus, NY Review of SF, SF Book Review, SF Chronicle, SF Commentary, Starling, Starship. Wrote Roger Zelazny, a Primary & Secondary Bibliography (1980: who’ll do a 2nd ed’n?); E.E. “Doc” Smith; Science Fiction Fandom; The “Sandman” Papers; The Heritage of Heinlein (with T. Clareson). Clareson Award after C died. Professor emeritus, Lakeland Community College, Ohio. [JH]
Born June 29, 1950 – Michael Whelan, 70. Seven artbooks, from Wonderworks (edited by Kelly & Polly Freas) through Beyond Science Fiction with this exhibit. Fifteen Hugos. Fourteen Chesleys, recently for “In a World of Her Own”, which was made the Beyond cover. Spectrum Award; SF Hall of Fame; 370 book and magazine covers, plus interiors. Many times Guest of Honor including 56th and 65th Worldcons. Among the very best. [JH]
Born June 29, 1956 – David Mattingly, 64. Hundreds of book and magazine covers for us, two thousand in all, plus interiors; Chesley for the Amazing Sep 91 cover; two Magazine & Bookseller Best Cover of the Year awards. Here is the Aug 81 Asimov’s. Here is A Rising Thunder. Guest of Honor at Boskone 25, Con*Stellation XX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t), Lunacon 49, Bubonicon 36 & 38, Canvention 38, Loscon 42. [JH]
Born June 29, 1957 – Fred Duarte, Jr. Chaired Fandom Ass’n of Central Texas; member of NESFA. Chaired ArmadilloCon 9-10, 14, 17, Fan Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 33. Co-chaired Westercon 49. Chaired World Fantasy Con in 2000, 2006. Chaired Smofcon 13. Copperhead Award. OGH’s appreciation is here. (Died 2015) [JH]
(9) JUST NEEDS SOME BIPLANES PILOTED BY MICE. Mlex asks, “Does this count as genre? I was thinking: King-Kong-esque.”
Astronomers say big cool patches on a “supergiant” star close to Earth were behind its surprise dimming last year.
Red giant stars like Betelgeuse frequently undergo changes in brightness, but the drop to 40% of its normal value between October 2019 and April 2020 surprised astronomers.
Researchers now say this was caused by gigantic cool areas similar to the sunspots seen on our own parent star.
There had been speculation that Betelgeuse was about to go supernova.
But the star instead began to recover and by May 2020 it was back at its original brightness.
Betelgeuse, which is about 500 light-years from Earth, is reaching the end of its life. But it’s not known precisely when it will explode; it could take as long as hundreds of thousands of years or even a million years.
When the giant star does run out of fuel, however, it will first collapse and then rebound in a spectacular explosion. There is no risk to Earth, but Betelgeuse will brighten enormously for a few weeks or months.
(11) ROWLING REITERATES. Incredibly, J.K. Rowling was back for another round on Twitter this weekend. Thread starts here:
(12) PUPPY ACTS OUT. P. Alexander, publisher of Cirsova, a 2017 Hugo nominee courtesy of the Rabid Puppies slate, today proclaimed “SFWA is a Terrorist Organization” [Internet Archive copy] due to its statement in support of Black Lives Matter.
…And it is for this reason that Cirsova Publishing has officially adopted the policy of recognizing the SFWA as a terrorist organization.
We strongly recommend any authors with good conscience leave this malign organization.
We strongly recommend any authors considering membership to avoid it.
While we will not make it a policy to ask, Cirsova Publishing will no longer consider submissions from new authors with SFWA credentials in the bio materials that they send us until the organization takes a real stand against racism and disavows and ceases supporting domestic terrorist groups.
…The cape appeared in 1978’s Superman: The Movie, 1980’s Superman II, and possibly 1983’s Superman III. According to Julien’s Auctions, the trademark red cape was used to film Reeve while he was mounted on a wire harness, for both blue screen and front projection work, to make it appear as though he was flying. Slits in the fabric accommodated the wires. There are also pockets at the bottom of the cape so rods could be inserted to make it seem as though it were flapping in the air.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Last Airbender Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why boiling down hours of anime into a 90-minute movie doesn’t work.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
The award-winning science fiction author Nnedi Okorafor always has a project—or three—on the go. From her home outside Chicago she creates stories driven by what she describes as Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism for children and adults -a legacy of her Nigerian roots. Her work now ranges across comics for Marvel, screenplays and yet another new novel due out in the summer.
But she wasn’t always destined to be a writer. She spent her youth training hard to be a top class athlete until she developed curvature of the spine, which put an end to her dreams. After corrective surgery she became temporarily paralysed and it was then, during her darkest time, that she began to create stories.
Now, as Chicago, like the rest of the US endures lockdown, Nnedi’s been adapting to her changed life and restricted movements. Mark Burman talks to her about her work and how her creative process has been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During recordings made in April and early May he eavesdrops on some of her writing moments including her fruitful collaboration with the Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu and their story of an A.I. traffic police robot—and hears about the therapeutic distraction of her trumpet-playing daughter and magnificent cat which now has his own Twitter account!
(2) Q&A AND SLF. The Speculative Literature Foundation has been posting interviews Mary Anne Mohanraj conducted with sff writers at various conventions on their YouTube channel this month.
(3) ULTRAMAN. Marvel’s The Rise Of Ultraman #1 hits stands this September, featuring a cover by Alex Ross. Ultraman has been a pop culture staple since the franchise debuted in the 1960s, and his stories have been depicted on both the page and the screen – and the 2007 Hugo base.
…Storytelling masters Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Winter Soldier) and Mat Groom (Self/Made), together with superstar artists Francesco Manna (Avengers, Fantastic Four) Michael Cho (Captain America) and Gurihiru (The Unstoppable Wasp) will take fans back into the days of darkness, where the terrifying Kaiju lurk….
“Across the globe, Ultraman is as iconic and well-recognized a character as Spider-Man or Iron Man, so when the opportunity arose for us to introduce his mythos to a new generation, as seen through the Marvel lens, we didn’t take that responsibility lightly,” said Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “For fans of the classic 1966 series, there’ll be plenty of Easter eggs that you’ll recognize. But for those who’ve never experienced an Ultraman story before, this series will start at square one—launching an epic showdown fit for the modern age.”
“With release of Marvel’s The Rise of Ultraman series, Tsuburaya Productions and our partners at Marvel Comics are taking ULTRAMAN a massive step forward onto the global stage,” said Tsuburaya CEO Takayuki Tsukagoshi. “Marvel’s rendering of the ULTRAMAN story has been faithfully created with the highest level of respect, quality and creativity resulting in a storyline that expands the ULTRAMAN universe.”
(4) RESOUNDING. Marc Laidlaw, is busy on his YouTube channel, too. He’s been reading short stories and posting them for a few months, but just today he began posting chapters of his new novel, Underneath The Oversea. It’s the first novel involving his long-running character, Gorlen Vizenfirthe. Marc will be posting all 28 chapters as an audio serial, over the next month or so…however long it takes.
…“Rick Baker didn’t want to come on if he had to redo [original creator] Chris Walas’s gremlins because what’s in it for him? And so to induce him, we changed the story so that there was a genetics lab run by Christopher Lee,” Dante says of the plot, which finds our furry friend Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) once again spawning dangerous offspring, this time in a Manhattan skyscraper. “They turned the gremlins into different kinds of gremlins. So all the designs and ideas that Rick had, we could come up with and we could make different kinds of gremlins out of them. And plus he changed the designs of Gizmo and the regular gremlins a little bit.”
This Key & Peele takeoff about the Gremlins sequel is funny:
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 16, 1896 — Murray Leinster. It is said that he wrote and published more than fifteen hundred short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Among those was his 1945 Retro-Hugo winning “First Contact” novella which is one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator in science fiction. So naturally his heirs sued Paramount Pictures over Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed. I’m guessing they filed just a bit late given the universal translator was used in Trek prior to that film. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born June 16, 1920 – Ted Dikty. Active fan from 1938; with Bob Formanek, fanzine Fantasy Digest; headed Indiana Fantasy Ass’n, published IFA Review; also 1940 Who’s Who in Fandom, see a PDF scan of it here – no, really, do see it; even more interesting from our perspective. Worked on Chicon I and II (2nd and 10th Worldcons). Married Julian May (she chaired Chicon II), each developing pro careers. With Everett Bleiler, our first annual “best” series, Best SF Stories 1949 and five more, Year’s Best SF Novels 1952 and two more; also Imagination Unlimited. Then alone, Best SF Stories 1955 through 1958, several more e.g. Great SF Stories About Mars, Great SF Stories About the Moon, Worlds Within Worlds. With Robert Reginald, The Work of Julian May. Sampo Award (given 1970-1980 for services to fandom). Co-founded Shasta Publishers and Starmont House. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born June 16, 1924 — Faith Domergue. Dr. Ruth Adams in the classic Fifties This Island Earth. She has a number of later genre roles, Professor Lesley Joyce in It Came from Beneath the Sea, Jill Rabowski in Timeslip (aka The Atomic Man) and Dr. Marsha Evans in Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet. She amazingly did no genre television acting. (Died 1999) (CE)
Born June 16, 1925 – Jean d’Ormesson. More fully Jean Bruno Wladimir François de Paule Le Fèvre d’Ormesson, a count of France; his father the Marquis of Ormesson was Ambassador to Brazil. Starting 1956, fifty books, novels, plays; in 1971 alternative history The Glory of the Empire – full of detail, all fictional – won the Grand Prix du roman (as novels are called in French; tr. English 1974, Amazon has a Kindle edition here) of the Academie Française; in 1973 its youngest member; in 2009 its longest-serving member and dean. Both staunch on the Right politically and a good friend of socialist Mitterrand; played M in film comedy Haute Cuisine about M’s chef. Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. Officer, National Order of Merit. Ovid prize (Romania). Macron called him “the best of the French spirit … intelligence, elegance, and mischief”. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born June 16, 1938 — Joyce Carol Oates, 82. No Hugos but she has garnered a World Fantasy Award in Short Fiction for “Fossil-Figures”, and has won more Stokers than I thought possible, the latest one for her most excellent collection of horror and dark fantasy stories, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror. She has written pure SF in the form of Hazards of Time Travel which is quite good. (CE)
Born June 16, 1940 — Carole Ford, 80. She played the granddaughter and original companion of the First Doctor. She reprised the role for The Five Doctors, the Dimensions in Time charity special, and of course for The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her first genre role was as Bettina in The Day of the Triffids, and she had an earlier role as an uncredited teen in the hall of mirrors in Horrors of the Black Museum. (CE)
Born June 16, 1939 — David McDaniel. A prolific writer of Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels penning seven of them, with such names as The Vampire Affair and The Hallow Crown Affair. He also wrote a novel for The Prisoner series, The Prisoner: Number Two. As a fan, he was quite active in LASFS, serving as its Director and Scribe, writing for various APAs (he aspired to be in all of them) and is remembered as a “Patron Saint” for his financial support of the club. (Died 1977) (CE)
Born June 16, 1958 – Don Sakers. Half a dozen novels, two dozen shorter stories; the Reference Library in Analog since 2009; Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three and three more anthologies; SF Book of Days. [JH]
Born June 16, 1963 – Robert Beatty. Pioneer in cloud computing. Co-founded Beatty Robotics with two daughters. Narrative magazine 2005-2013. Champion sabre fencer; licensed wildlife rehabilitator; Website shows him and wife with wedding-puppies (they lure-coursed whippets). Four novels about Serafina secretly in the basement of the Biltmore estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the first two and Willa of the Wood being New York Times Best Sellers. Here is his cover for his Dream Dance artbook about Ed Emshwiller. [JH]
Born June 16, 1969 – Hélène Boudreau.Acadian author of children’s books, a dozen so far; four for us about real mermaids e.g. they don’t sell seashells. “I’m a compulsive walker and train for half marathons and also love dark chocolate, bacon, and Perrier water (in that order).” [JH]
Born June 16, 1972 — Andy Weir, 48. His debut novel, The Martian, was adapted into a film directed by Ridley Scott. He received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His next two novels are Artemis and Project Hail Mary, the latter which is forthcoming. Intriguingly, he’s written one piece of Sherlockian fan fiction, “James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal“ which is only available as an Audible audiobook. (CE)
Born June 16, 1981 – Salla Simukka. Critic, editor, reviewer, scriptwriter for Finnish Broadcasting Co. Translator of books into Finnish as well as writing Finnish versions; a dozen of her own so far, three for us (As Red as Blood, As White as Snow, As Black as Ebony put Snow White into Finnish – told Sumukka’s way: see the 27 Sep 13 Publishers Weekly). Topelius Prize, Finland Prize. I couldn’t attend the Helsinki (75th) Worldcon; did you? Did you meet her? [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Pickles warns us that Grandmas can have mutant super-powers too,
What Speed Bump shows is less a super power and more of a super convenience.
(8) UNDER THE DOME. Warner Bros. passed on the invitation to be part of the online San Diego Comic-Con. Instead, they’ll host their own DC FanDome, a free, global, 24-hour virtual convention taking place on August 22.
With San Diego Comic-Con set to be held online this year due to the global pandemic, Warner Bros. is making its own plans to show off its movies, TV shows and everything else. Needless to say, the studio won’t be sitting out the annual pop culture convention scene. Far from it.
“The global event will immerse fans into the DC Multiverse, with new announcements from WB Games, Film and TV, and comics, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to hear from the casts and creators behind your favorite feature films and TV series,” reads the release.
(9) SPOT ON THE MONEY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Until now, if you wanted your very own Spot the Robot Dog you had to lease one. No longer. You now have the option to buy your very own Spot from maker Boston Dynamics, assuming you have about $75K to spare. You can even pick up a pair of them, but no more than that for now. WIRED has the story: “You Can Now Buy Spot the Robot Dog—If You’ve Got $74,500”.
Spot, Boston Dynamics’ famous robot dog, dutifully follows my every command. The machine traipses forward, then automatically scrambles over a raised bed of rocks. I make it side-step. I command it up a flight of stairs, which it tackles with ease. It meets its match when I steer it at a medicine ball, though; it takes a tumble, and for a moment lies paralyzed on its back. But with a click of a button, Spot twists and rights itself, and recommences its ramblings.
Such unfailing obedience, yet I’m nowhere near Spot, which is roaming about the company’s testing grounds in Boston. I’m piloting the robot through my web browser from the comfort of my apartment in San Francisco, 3,000 miles away. With almost zero latency, I either use the robot’s front camera feed to click on bits of terrain—think of it like scooting around in Google’s Street View—or flicking my keyboard’s WASD keys in the most expensive videogame imaginable….
One model maker could have reached the final frontier of construction with his latest work.
Geoff Collard, from Paulton in Somerset, has spent 500 hours recreating the bridge set from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
His model has won praise from Star Trek fans for its realism.
(11) TREK MAKE-OVER. William Shatner hasn’t lost his touch for cringe-inducing tweets – but the photo gallery is intriguing.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Darrah Chavey, Lise Andreasen, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Books by J K Rowling, E L James, Peter Kay, Stephenie Meyer, Philip Pullman and Zadie Smith will battle it out to be crowned the overall book of the past 30 years at this year’s British Book Awards (a.k.a. the Nibbies), as part of a unique celebration of the three decades of publishing championed at the annual awards, which were founded in 1990.
The longlist of titles—from Brick Lane to Longitude to Dreams From My Father—is made up of past winners at the British Book Awards, the book and trade awards founded in 1990 by Publishing News, and run since 2017 by The Bookseller. The longlist makes for a compelling history of the book trade and 30 years of successful publishing, with books such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Rowling, The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Northern Lights by Pullman, and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown going on to become huge backlist bestsellers, and spawning many imitators.
See the full list and ballot here. The
winner will be announced May 18, 2020.
The Bookseller now invites readers and the trade to share their memories of these books, make the case for titles to make it through to the next round, and suggest wildcard entries. A shortlist of ten will be announced in March. The winning author will be invited to the British Book Awards on 18th May to pick up their prize.
(2) IT JUST GOT STRANGER. Netflix
has dropped a trailer for Season 4 of Stranger Things.
(3) WHEN GREEN KNIGHTHOOD WAS IN FLOWER. [Item by Dann.]
Corey Olsen is an English professor with at
PH.D. in medieval literature. His classes cover a broad range
of medieval mythologies; including Arthurian legends and faerie stories. His
course offerings include the obvious children of those mythos; J.R.R. Tolkien’s
The Lord of the Rings. He has adopted the sobriquet of The Tolkien Professor.
In addition to his
work in academia, Professor Olsen has also participated in many cons
and symposiums (symposia?) focused on
LOTR and medieval literature. He currently serves as the president of Signum University; an online university.
Back in 2011,
Professor Olsen recorded a series of classes at Washington University on the
original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It may be useful to listen to some of
his earlier classes on faerie in medieval literature to acquire a broader
context of faeries within that period.
The $1,000 Older Writers Grant is awarded annually to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. Grant funds can be used as each writer determines will best assist his or her work. For more information about the Older Writers Grant, or how to apply, click here.
The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction. The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose. For more information about the A.C. Bose Grant, or to how to apply, click here.
The SLF is also currently accepting applications
for the 2019 Working Class Grant until February
29, 2020. For more information, or how to
apply, click here.
The Speculative Literature Foundation has chosen its 2020 Illustration of the Year, for a piece of artwork that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy as well as incorporating the SLF’s literary focus. The 2020 Illustration of the Year, entitled “Sir Spacediver 3020, is by artist and animator Sofiia Melnyk. Melnyk has a degree in animation from the Animationsinstitut of the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Melnyk’s winning piece is now featured n the Speculative Literature Foundation’s website and will be on its social media and marketing material throughout 2020.
Why do people love the Disney corporation? Why do people watch other people play video games? Can fans influence creatives’ work for the worse? Does the mainstreaming of geek culture represent a triumph for social outcasts, or is it all just a capitalist plot?
In part two of our discussion on the dark side of fandom, RS Benedict talks to Tim Heiderich about parasocial relationships, Twitch streamers, Nazis, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and fans who want to watch their idols burn.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 14, 1963 — The Day Mars Invaded Earth premiered. Directed by produced and directed by Maury Dexter, it stars Kent Taylor, Marie Windsor, and William Mims. Dexter named the film in hopes it’d remind film goers of The Day The Earth Stood Still. The storyline is merging of the story lines in The War of the Worlds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Strangely enough, it was the bottom half of a double feature with the Elvis Presley‘s Kissin’ Cousins. The NYT critic at the time called it a “pallid, pint-sized exercise” and the audience score at Rotten Tomatoes is a rather poor 18%. You can see the film here.
February 14, 1986 — Terrorvision premiered. It was directed by Ted Nicolaou, produced and written by Albert and Charles Band. It starred Diane Franklin, Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Chad Allen and Jonathan Gries. Wiki notes that “several songs (including the movie’s theme) were contributed by Los Angeles art rock band The Fibonaccis. TerrorVision was hoped to bring more attention to the group, but the movie (and ultimately the soundtrack) failed.” Pop Matters called TerrorVision “a truly wretched movie.” It holds a decent 43% audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Of course you can judge the film by seeing it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 14, 1919 — David A. Kyle. He chaired the 1956 Worldcon, was a leader in First Fandom, and wrote innumerable fanhistorical articles for Mimosa. Along with Martin Greenberg, he founded Gnome Press in the late Forties. He also penned two illustrated SF histories, A Pictorial History of Science Fiction and The Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas and Dreams. He wrote three novels set in the Lensman universe: The Dragon Lensman, Lensman from Rigel and Z-Lensman. So has anybody read these? (Died 2016.)
Born February 14, 1925 — J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital sources at very reasonable rates. (Died 2008.)
Born February 14, 1942 — Andrew Robinson, 78. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time, and a novella, “The Calling,” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone.
Born February 14, 1951 — John Vornholt, 69. I was musing on the difference between fanfic and profic (if such a word exists) when I ran across this writer. He’s written in a number of media properties with the most extensive being the Trek ‘verse where he’s written several dozen works, but he’s penned works also in the Babylon 5, Buffyverse, Dinotopia, Earth 2, Marvel metaverse… Well you get the idea. All authorized, but really no different than fanfic on the end, are they? Other than they pay a lot better.
Born February 14, 1952 — Gwyneth Jones, 68. Interesting person the she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading.
Born February 14, 1963 — Enrico Colantoni, 57. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpoint, a Canadian police drama television series is worth noting.
Born February 14, 1970 — Simon Pegg, 50. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the new Star Trek franchise. His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise.
Born February 14, 1975 — M. Darusha Wehm, 45. New Zealand resident writer who was nominated for the Nebula Award and won the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Martian Job novel. She says it’s interactive fiction. You can read the standalone prequel novella, Retaking Elysium, on her website which can be found here.
“The scale of the show. The scale of these sets, the costumes, it’s crazy. It’s like you’re doing a feature film every week.” Ryan says with a big smile. What impressed her most was the advances in set design and tech from her days on Voyager.
“In one of my scenes, where I had to go in and work a console, we go in for the first rehearsal and I had to touch buttons and the screen actually does something! And I totally flipped out, like: ‘Oh my god, actually having buttons that work!”
There was another change from working on Voyager that surprised her.
“What’s funny is that they actually added time to my ready time. They made [Seven’s] prosthetics more complicated to put on. So now I actually do have prosthetic makeup to add, outside of the full Borg suit and makeup, that I didn’t have on the old show.” (And yes, fans, she still has Seven’s original facial appliances somewhere in her house. “Though it’s pretty crunchy at this point,” she says. She also got to keep her first new set of appliances from Picard.)
Most fake meat products get protein from a small group of plants. In the case of the Beyond Burger or Nestle’s Awesome Burger, the main ingredient is pea protein; the Impossible Burger gets protein from soy and potatoes. Kellogg’s “Incogmeato” line is made with soy. But one new Bay Area startup relies on fungus instead—specifically, koji, the fungus used to make sake.
The startup, called Prime Roots, launched limited sales of its first product—a fungi-based bacon—online today. Bacon “is a very underserved meat alternative,” says Prime Roots cofounder Kimberly Le. “There’s a lot of ground beef out there. But there isn’t as much in the way of whole-muscle meat or a more formed product like bacon or chicken breast, which is something that koji does really well at replicating.”
The 77-year-old actor told host DeGeneres that filming would begin late this summer.
“it’s going to be fun,” Ford said. “They are great fun to make.”
The upcoming film’s title has yet to be revealed.
Ford has a TV interview about the production that will air on
Sunday – here’s a teaser.
In this preview of a conversation with correspondent Lee Cowan to be broadcast on “CBS Sunday Morning” on February 16, Harrison Ford, the actor who has played iconic characters in the “Star Wars” and Indiana Jones franchises, talks about returning to familiar roles.
Craig Ferguson is one of the funniest men on the planet, as he proves yet again in his multi-episode web series Hobo Fabulous, a hybrid of stand-up comedy and documentary on the Comedy Dynamics network. It’s no surprise that the former late-night host is a master of conversation, leaving Leonard and Jessie to marvel at his rapid-fire mind. He has significant film credits, as well, not the least being his voice-over work in the How to Train YourDragon animated features. Be sure to listen if you’re in need of cathartic laughter.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Hair Love–Oscar Winning Short Film” on YouTube is the
animated feature by Matthew A. Cherry that won this year’s Oscar for best short
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ Chip Hitchcock,
Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael Toman for some
of these stories. Title credit belongs to PJ Evans with an assist from Anna
Del Sandeen is the winner of the Speculative
Literature Foundation’s 2019 Diverse
Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants. The two $500 grants were awarded
for Sandeen’s novel-in-progress. Her fiction has previously appeared in FIYAH
Literary Magazine and Magnolia, and she is also the author of three
nonfiction books for young adults.
Writers grant is “intended to support new and emerging writers from
underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women,
queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose
marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the
writing/publishing process.” The Diverse Worlds Grant is “intended for work
that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.” Previous winners
of the grants include Carmen Maria Machado, Madhvi Ramani, and Gabriel
Thibodeau; last year’s winners were Nibedita Sen and LaTanya Lane.
Sandeen said that the grants “provide me the
opportunity to purchase any research materials I might need to make my novel
more authentic, as well as a few craft books that I believe would help me
improve my writing. As a working parent, it’s difficult for me to attend
out-of-town conferences and workshops, but with this award, I can now at least
attend an online class/workshop that will benefit me.”
Honorable Mentions for the 2019 Diverse Writers Grant were Jazmyn Taylor, Nigel Stone, and Angela M. Sanchez.
Honorable Mentions for the Diverse Worlds Grant were Amanda Wenger, Angela M. Sanchez, and Sibylla Nash.
María Isabel Álvarez is the winner of the 2019 Gulliver Travel Grant, awarded by the Speculative Literature Foundation. Álvarez is a Guatemalan-American writer whose work has appeared in a number of publications and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she is currently working on a novel.
The $1,000 grant
will support Álvarez’s writing, which, she says, tends to “take place between
two disparate settings. This duality offers a visceral representation of the
world for immigrants, one that is powered by two cultures, two languages, and
two countries.” Álvarez initially began writing in order to “give shape to the
image of my home country.” The Gulliver Travel Grant
is intended to assist writers of speculative fiction in research, and can be
used to cover airfare, lodging, and other travel expenses.
for the 2019 Gulliver Travel Grant went to Michaux Dempster, Jenni
Zellner, and Claire Holroyde.
Álvarez says, “I am grateful to the Speculative Literature
Foundation for encouraging writers to explore and experiment on the page as
painters would a canvas. Few organizations champion speculative fiction, let
alone reward writers for challenging readers’ imaginations, and I feel honored
to be included among SLF’s growing list of talented writers.”
He evolved his style over several issues of Moon Knight, then started putting it into comic book covers. Marvel offered him the chance to be the artist on X-Men — but he turned it down.
“Because, I told them, I want to do some experimentation. I want to just push and see what’s possible. So I don’t want to take Marvel’s flagship characters and drive them into the ditch,” Sienkiewicz said.
But he found a way in sideways. X-Men writer Chris Claremont came to him and asked if he wanted to work on X-Men spinoff New Mutants, and with more free range, he took the assignment as part of his quest to help change the perception of what comics are.
He used abstract expressionism, doing art that was more about the feeling than about being exactly true to reality. He describes his own work as being drawn well enough to look like what it’s supposed to, but that he’s more interested in what the people and the story feel like.
(2) PLAGIARIZED STORY? Pro-paying short story outlet Daily Science Fiction has published a story apparently plagiarized from another online source. Today’s story “No Time For Guilt Now” [Internet
Archive link] credited
to Abdullahi Lawal, is a copy of Avra Margariti’s “Ephemera” [Internet
Archive link] which ran in The Arcanist earlier
this year. (Wayback Machine links to the respective pages are provided in case
either original gets taken down.)
Several readers took notice in comments on DSF’s Facebook page. DSF has yet to respond either there or on its own website.
The Arcanist tweeted this reaction:
Update: Daily Science Fiction’s Jonathan Laden subsequently took down the story and posted this statement: “Apologies”.
A reader (and contributor) let us know that today’s story was evidently plagiarized from another story published by another site on the internet.
Sometimes a movie taps up a brand to design a shoe for a specific outfit and scene, which is how Reebok came to birth the Alien Stomper. A basic model of a basketball shoe provided the foundation for the sneaker that was worn by those operating the yellow Power Loader. A close-up reveals the Reebok logo in a moment of product placement. The sneaker saves Ripley in the climatic airlock sequence; which informed how the shoe was constructed, as designer Tuan Le explains — it needed to slip off with ease. On the 40th anniversary of Aliens, Reebok released a limited run of this iconic model.
The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium celebrates “An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.” Bringing together SF writers, scholars, and fans, the conversations today will reflect on the past, comment on the present, and contemplate the future of Analog SF. Linked to these discussions is the role of SF in a college of technology that recognizes the importance of the genre through its Science Fiction class and support for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. Together, we will explore these connections.
(5) UNEXPECTED CONNECTION. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Ursula K. Le Guin is the only science fiction author that
is discussed in Harold Bloom’s last book,The American Canon: Literary Genius
from Emerson to Pynchon, which is a collection of essays about significant
authors in America. According to Max Rubin, president and publisher of the
Library of America, Le Guin and Bloom knew each other. “He “lived and breathed literature”—Library of America
remembers Harold Bloom, 1930–2019”.
“Poetry…was always more important to Bloom than prose. Later in life he came to a real appreciation for the poetry of Ursula K. Le Guin and enjoyed a friendship with her via email.”
…This may sound far-flung from our own reality, but as the opening credits tell us, the film is set in Los Angeles, November 2019. In that sense, Blade Runner is no longer science fiction. It’s a contemporary thriller. The question is: in the 37 years between Blade Runner’s release and its setting – our present – how close have we come to the future presented in the movie?
…However, beyond particular components, Blade Runner arguably gets something much more fundamental right, which is the world’s socio-political outlook in 2019 – and that isn’t particularly welcome, according to Michi Trota, who is a media critic and the non-fiction editor of the science-fiction periodical, Uncanny Magazine.
“It’s disappointing, to say the least, that what Blade Runner ‘predicted’ accurately is a dystopian landscape shaped by corporate influence and interests, mass industrialisation’s detrimental effect on the environment, the police state, and the whims of the rich and powerful resulting in chaos and violence, suffered by the socially marginalised.”
In the movie the replicants have a fail-safe programmed into them – a lifespan of just four years – to prevent a further revolution. Trota believes there is “something prescient in the replicants’ frustration and rage at their shortened lifespans, resulting from corporate greed and indifference, that’s echoed in the current state of US healthcare and globalised exploitation of workers.” She adds: “I’d have vastly preferred the flying cars instead.”
(7) JOIN SLF. The Speculative Literature Foundation has
a fundraiser for its operating needs, a reading series, and a major project
THE PORTOLAN PROJECT. We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal for 2020 — to develop the Portolan Project, an open-source creative writing resource — sort of a Khan Academy for fiction.
We’ve begun interviewing masters of the field (including so far George R.R. Martin, Nalo Hopkinson, Kate Elliott), on aspects of craft. We’re building out a free website to host those interviews, along with syllabi, lesson plans, individual lectures and assignments on aspects of craft (plot and structure, language and style, setting and world building, etc.), the writing business, and the writers’ life.
We’re also interviewing emerging writers from across the planet, developing a better understanding of the international speculative fiction landscape, and the challenges and opportunities for writers in both independent and traditional publishing. We have academics helping us build a searchable database of speculative literature, to make it much easier to find stories that are relevant to you and your own work.
November 12, 1995 — The rebooted Invaders premiered on Fox. Directed by Paul Shapiro, it starred Scott Bakula, Elizabeth Peña, DeLane Matthews, Richard Thomas and Terence Knox. Invaders Roy Thinnes very briefly appeared as David Vincent. The two ninety minute episodes were intended as a pilot for a series that never happened.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 12, 1917 — Dahlov Ipcar. Though primarily an artist and you really should go visit her website, she wrote three amazing young adult novels between 1969 and 1978 which are The Warlock of Night, The Queen of Spells and A Dark Horn Blowing. She lived but thirty miles north of here and I was privileged to meet her a few times. Lovely lady! (Died 2017.)
Born November 12, 1922 — Kim Hunter. She portrayed the chimpanzee Zira in the Planet of the Apes films For the first three outings. Her first genre role was also her first film role, as Mary Gibson in the early Forties movie The Seventh Victim. She’s June in A Matter of Life and Death, and Amanda Hollins in The Kindred. She has one-offs on Project U.F.O., Night Gallery, Mission Impossible and even appeared on The Evil Touch, an Australian horror anthology series. (Died 2002.)
Born November 12, 1929 — Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film. Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time. The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike TheNeverending Story and Momo, which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)
Born November 12, 1943 — Julie Ege. A Bond Girl On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Helen, the Scandinavian girl. She also appeared in Hammer ‘s Creatures the World Forgot and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. And in The Mutations which got released under the alternative title of The Freakmaker. She had a role in De Dwaze Lotgevallen Von Sherlock Jones which got dubbed into English as The Crazy Adventures of Sherlock Jones. (Died 2008.)
Born November 12, 1943 — Wallace Shawn, 76. Probably best remembered as the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film.
Born November 12, 1945 — Michael Bishop, 74. David Pringle included his Who Made Stevie Crye? novel in Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987, high praise indeed. Though slightly dated feeling now, I’m fond of his Urban Nucleus of Atlanta series. And Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas is simply amazing.
Born November 12, 1952 — Max Grodénchik, 67. He’s best known for his role as Rom, a recurring character on Deep Space Nine. He has a long genre history with appearances in The Rocketeer, Here Come The Munsters, Rumpelstiltskin, Star Trek: Insurrection (scenes as a Trill were deleted alas), Tales from The Crypt, Sliders, Wienerland, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bruce Almighty.
Born November 12, 1982 — Anne Hathaway, 37. She starred as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in The Dark Knight trilogy. More impressive she was The White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, and she was Agent 99 in the remake of Get Smart! No, not as good as the original but fun none-the-less.
(10) EUPHEMISMS FOR DOLLARS. The Publishers Lunch news
service shared an intriguing bit of intelligence with potential contributors.
A handy key to our Lunch deal categories. While all reports are always welcome, those that include a category will generally receive a higher listing when it comes time to put them all together.
One of our collections staff takes you through the process of lowering, disassembling, and transporting large artifacts like the Douglas DC-3. These artifact moves are part of the multi-year renovation project at the National Air and Space Museum in DC to transform the museum from the inside out.
The clip shows two different Vulcan-ear options for actor James Frain in his role as Spock’s father, Sarek. We also get a look at how Kelpien faces are made.
The clip comes from Creature Comforts: Season Two, a behind-the-scenes feature that takes fans into the design process behind the characters, from make-up to making molds. It includes a one-on-one discussion with makeup artist James McKinnon and Mary Chieffo (L’Rell).
The film’s original trailer dropped in April, and led to a deluge of mockery and fan backlash on social media for the way Sonic looked. The reaction was so negative it led to the film’s director Jeff Fowler announcing that his team would rethink Sonic’s design, all of which led to a three-month delay to the release date.
(14) TRAILER TIME. Pixar In Real Life
is a hidden-camera show on Disney+ that watches what happens when people meet
live versions of Pixar animated characters on the street.
…As a friend, I frequently break the first rule of fiction: I’m all tell, no show. I’m not going to remember your kid’s birthday, or even yours, despite Facebook’s helpful nudges. When you’re in a crisis, I won’t know the right questions to ask. I blame my Southern parents for placing so many topics in the forbidden zone. I grew up being told it was rude to discuss age, income, health, feelings. I often think that’s why I became a reporter.
I have a list in my head of all the friends I let down. It’s not long, but it’s longer than I’d like, and it’s probably longer than I know. Most of those friends have forgiven me, but I never lose sight of my failures. It’s like a stain on a busily-patterned rug; once you know where to look, your eye goes there every time. I know where to look. I am aware of my misdeeds. Every friend who has ever called me out on being a bad friend had me dead to rights.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” on Vimeo is a surreal film about
a rationalist scientist who discovers religion in a surreal manner.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Edmund Schluessel, Rob Thornton,Andrew, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
latest Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) Deep Dish Reading series was
held on October 3 at Volumes Book Cafe in Chicago, Illinois. Co-hosted by
award-winning author Mary Anne Mohanraj and Chris Bauer, the event featured
readings by G. Scott Huggins, Jane Rosenberg LaForge and Silvia
Moreno-Garcia. Other readers included Sue Burke, Anaea Lay, Jeremiah John
and Mary Anne Mohanraj. These periodic free events are sponsored by the SLF
with assistance from SFWA grants. The next reading will be held in March of
2020. We’re currently open to interested readers.