(1) IN VINO VERITAS. How’s your Finnish? Tähtivaeltajablogi has put up a post about the translation of Bradbury’s Dandleion Wine, “Kirjat – Ray Bradbury: Voikukkaviiniä”. The beautiful cover speaks for itself!
…In Surround Yourself With Your Loves and Live Forever, edited by John L. Coker III, Bradbury’s friend Ray Harryhausen later recalled:
“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria, where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Ray Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual.
“Ray would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to the meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts.”
(3) RAY & RAY. Eyes on Cinema presents an undated video of these two friends and creators in dialog: “The importance of curiosity with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.”
(4) CALLING. This is from an interview with Tobias S. Buckell in the June Locus. Buckell grew up biracial in the Caribbean Islands.
“Ray Bradbury has a story in The Martian Chronicles about a couple with a kid that dies. The Martians can adopt whatever form people around them want, so one of them goes to their parents and looks just like the kid. Their son is back from the dead, and they don’t care why–they fold him into their routine. He starts disappearing a lot, so they follow him, and realize he’s also being a lot kid for another family along the way. The two families call him back and forth like a dog until he just rips apart and dies. I read that in high school in the US Virgin Islands and broke into tears. That story literalizes a metaphor about the question you asked earlier, about being pulled to one side or the other. That story is not about being biracial–but for me it was.”
(5) DESPARACION DE LOS LIBROS. Ray Bradbury was interviewed by Cristina Mucci on the Argentine TV show Los siete locos in 1997. The program is “dedicated to the dissemination of books and culture.” Bradbury’s answers were broadcast with Spanish subtitles. Early on, he was asked about Fahrenheit 451.
(6) A VISIT ON CABLE TV. The Planetary Society has posted this 1982 interview with Bradbury on their YouTube channel.
Mat Kaplan crossed paths with author, poet, and visionary Ray Bradbury many times across three decades. UK Planetary Radio fan and Bradbury expert Dr. Philip Nichols recently revealed that he had a VHS copy of Mat’s first interview with Ray, conducted in 1982. The author of The Martian Chronicles was a frequent visitor to Long Beach, California where Mat managed a cable television channel. Here’s that interview.
…In the world of pandemia in 2020, Bradbury’s stories resonate with a different irony. For those who can afford the technology, screen life has become more critical than ever, critical to education, business, government, and ministry. It has become a way of connecting, a method of community. It keeps us close, yet as Bradbury thought, isolated from our neighbors and family. But that’s the nature of the current virus, a destroyer of community. Bradbury did not predict a plague-inspired isolation, at least not this type of plague.
Instead I think he saw technology as the plague that isolates, a relentless social force. He would ask us, “What are we dependent on? What can we not live without?” As if Bradbury was thinking aloud, he offers several “solutions.” We could destroy technology, especially if we realize it controls us too much. In “The Murderer” (1953) Albert Brock is arrested for shooting a television set, murdering a telephone, a wall radio, a wrist radio, intercom system, and other things. Brock is happily committed to an institution for six months in a quiet cell. This is the stance of a rebel, not a conformist….
Experience the transformative power of creative writing through the life and works of famed fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury. As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury remains one of the 20th century’s most visionary and celebrated writers. This course explores practical creative writing strategies through a deep dive into the “dark fantasy” of Ray Bradbury.
(9) APOLLO 11 NIGHT. Ray Bradbury is interviewed on the night of the first moon landing by Mike Wallace. From Comic-con 2009, Ray’s own DVD. Part 1 of 2
Ray Bradbury Moon Landing Interview part 2
Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) tells where he was when the Moon landing happened. And he also relates Ray Bradbury’s anecdote about why he skipped out on David Frost’s show that night to find someone who would interview him about this great event.
(1) STABBY VOTING. Reddit’s r/Fantasy
voting for the Stabby Awards. They’ve suffered voting shenanigans in the
past, too, and here’s what they’ve done to stop them —
It’s now time to vote for the /r/Fantasy Best of 2019 Stabby Awards. Due to the sub’s growth over the past year (from the time that the nomination thread went live to now, we’ve grown by over 8,000 subscribers!) and to issues we experienced with vote gaming last year, voting will be taking place off Reddit.
We’re using a Google Form (same as we’ve used for our demographic census for years) and in order to vote you’ll need to include a link to your own user profile. Profiles will need to be at least 1 month old for their votes to count – we chose this cutoff to ensure that folks who created accounts solely to nominate and thus aren’t really part of our community aren’t going to affect the results.
…Voting will end January 4, 2019 at 9 p.m. PST. Results should be live by January 6, 2019 by 1 p.m. PST.
…An award-winning science-fiction thriller billed by critics as a modern Day of the Triffids takes a provocative approach to Britain’s growing dependence on mood-lifting chemicals and antidepressants.
Little Joe, released in UK cinemas in February, and starring Ben Whishaw, Emily Beecham and Kerry Fox, has divided reviewers with its odd, disturbing story of a newly bred plant designed to spread joy.
On set in a vast greenhouse laboratory, the acclaimed Austrian director Jessica Hausner first told her actors to forget about finding “the truth” of their characters.
“Little Joe looks at the question of how do you perceive whether someone has changed or not,” Hausner told the Observer. “That was the big issue when I talked to the actors. And so even when we were shooting, we were shooting different versions of each scene.”
…In the anxious winter of 1617, unfigurative wheels are turning beneath Johannes Kepler as he hastens to his mother’s witchcraft trial. For this long journey by horse and carriage, Kepler has packed a battered copy of Dialogue on Ancient and Modern Music by Vincenzo Galilei, his sometime friend Galileo’s father — one of the era’s most influential treatises on music, a subject that always enchanted Kepler as much as mathematics, perhaps because he never saw the two as separate. Three years later, he would draw on it in composing his own groundbreaking book The Harmony of the World, in which he would formulate his third and final law of planetary motion, known as the harmonic law — his exquisite discovery, twenty-two years in the making, of the proportional link between a planet’s orbital period and the length of the axis of its orbit. It would help compute, for the first time, the distance of the planets from the sun — the measure of the heavens in an era when the Solar System was thought to be all there was.
As Kepler is galloping through the German countryside to prevent his mother’s execution, the Inquisition in Rome is about to declare the claim of Earth’s motion heretical — a heresy punishable by death….
…But is this view of the Muse, who is after all a goddess, a being at whose feet the artist is supposed to lay the offering of the art created in order that she may judge it worthy, not very disrespectful? In assuming that the muse is just some empty thing to fill up with M. L’Artiste’s (and it is M., is it not) geeenyus?
François Truffaut once said of Catherine Deneuve: “I wouldn’t compare her to a flower or a bouquet, since there is a certain neutrality in her that leads me to compare her to the vase in which all the flowers are placed.” He meant that her reserve and air of mystery enabled spectators to “fill the vase” themselves; but the history of male film directors and their female muses is also a history of vase-filling: men translating their erotic fantasies into cinematic terms while failing to get to grips with the women themselves, who are invariably depicted as quixotic and inscrutable, even dangerous.
Not that I am sure which of the Nine would be the muse of movies – or would it vary by specific genre?
A renowned polymath, Alasdair Gray was beloved equally for his writing and art. His debut, Lanark, which Canongate published in 1981, is widely regarded as being one of the masterpieces of twentieth century fiction. It was followed by more than thirty further books, all of which he designed and illustrated, ranging from novels, short story collections, plays, volumes of poetry, works of non-fiction and translations – most recently, his interpretation of Dante’s Divine Trilogy.
The Guardian’s tribute
said he “blazed a trail for contemporary
Scottish fiction with his experimental novels.”
In 1954, Gray began writing the novel that would occupy him on and off throughout the 1960s and 70s. Lanark divides the story of a life into four books, alternating between Glasgow and a shadowy version of the city called Unthank. The novel opens with book three, in which a young man finds himself in a dark metropolis filled with strange diseases, and then jumps back to fill in the story of Duncan Thaw, who grows up in Glasgow just before the second world war. The Guardian called it “fluent, imaginative”, a novel “of undeniable quality, but rare, and not for all tastes, like an oyster, or a truffle”.
He made an indelible impression on
both the literary and fannish worlds. Alasdair
Gray and Russell Hoban were the guests of honor at the first Mexicon (1984) in
the UK. As David Langford recalls, he made ink
sketches of various fans there, and his “[John] Brosnan drawing is inscribed: ‘The
Author of Slimer, a seminal work which has influenced everything I have
(8) WOLLEN OBIT. Peter Wollen
(1938-2019), author of the influential film theory book Signs and Meaning in
the Cinema, who also directed films and wrote screenplays, died December 17.
York Times appreciation notes:
Mr. Wollen didn’t just talk and write about cinema; in the 1970s and ’80s he was actively involved in making it. Perhaps his best-known film, which he both wrote and directed, was “Friendship’s Death” (1987), an unusual science-fiction film about an extraterrestrial robot who is on a peace mission but takes a wrong turn and winds up in Amman, Jordan, in 1970, a time of conflict there.
Tilda Swinton, in one of her first film roles, played the robot. In a tribute to Mr. Wollen published by the film website IndieWire, she said “Signs and Meaning” was “the first seminal book I read about film that actually made sense while bopping you to bits with its braininess and taking the engine of cinema completely apart in front of you while making you even more excited to jump in and go racing about in it just as soon as you possibly could.”
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 29, 1967 — “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired. Written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager and Michael Pataki as Korax. Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.” It would come in second in the Hugo balloting to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at Baycon (1968) were Trek episodes.
December 29, 2009 — Princess of Mars premiered. This film from Asylum had Traci Lords as Dejah Thoris and Antonio Sabàto Jr. as John Carter. Rather loosely based on A Princess of Mars by Burroughs, the film was released in Europe as The Martian Colony Wars. Currently this film has a 10% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 29, 1901 — William H Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. in 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
Born December 29, 1912 — Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming Burning, Sword of Fire, Blaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
Born December 29, 1928 — Bernard Cribbins, 91. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film (with Peter Cushing movie as The Doctor.) He would make it into canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
Born December 29, 1949 — Ian Livingstone, 70. Co-founder of Game Workshop whose flagship products are are Warhammer Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000. (Have I mentioned that Game Workshop has local shops where fans can buy their unpainted miniatures and other goodies?) He was the first Editor of White Dwarf which, yes, I read a long time ago.
Born December 29, 1963 — Dave McKean, 56. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well, and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well.
Born December 29, 1966 — Alexandra Kamp, 53. Did you know Sax Rohmer’s novels were made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuruwhich Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’d also be in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Neilsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Neither will be mistaken for quality films.
Born December 29, 1972 — Jude Law, 47. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow In Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I., with my fav role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket In Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy In Repo Man and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.
All of the entertainment we used to consume in more independently quantifiable ways — via TV ratings, box office, album sales — has moved to streaming, where we just have to trust Netflix or Spotify or Apple to tell us how popular it is, and they will almost certainly lie. Netflix occasionally releases random stats about how many people watched something, and they usually strain credibility. In June, it claimed 30.9 million watched a new Adam Sandler movie in its first three days, which would have made it one of the biggest openings in history if it had been released in theaters. And we never know how successful any movie is when it’s released on for-pay VOD (via iTunes, Amazon, or your cable box) because nobody shares any numbers at all, which is strange because streaming is how plenty of non-superhero movies make most of their money now. Obviously, they will know — the producers and stars who benefit. But the public will be living entirely in the dark, never knowing if something is actually a hit or just totally Astroturfed. This will be really disorienting; today, at least, the popularity of an artist accounts for like half of the way we feel about them. And hard audience figures were, for a generation of barroom debaters about pop culture, the closest thing anyone actually ever got to a “fact.” —Lane Brown
Former President Barack Obama is making a list, and checking it twice. A day after he released the list of his favorite books of 2019, he’s issued a film/TV faves ledger, including one of his own creations….
I saw the first episode of The Witcher on Festivus, and boy did that unintentionally fit the holiday theme. tldr is that the writers are just phoning this in, and hoping the strength of the fight choreography will keep people watching.
… On Friday, JPL gave a rare media tour to show off the interplanetary robotic vehicle to reporters inside a meticulous dust, hair and oil-free “clean room.” It’s the last time it will be viewed before it’s shipped off to Florida for its July liftoff.
That meant this reporter had to don a full body “bunny” suit and take an air bath with jets to blow away any wayward dust or hair left on the suit.
It took a lot of time and trouble, but NASA’s Dave Gruel said it’s crucial to keep the rover from getting contaminated.
“It’ll be a real bad day for us in the future if those samples come back from Mars and guess what? They’ve got my whisker in that sample,” Gruel said. “That’ll be bad.”
Today, Saturday December 28, would have been the legendary Stan Lee‘s 97th birthday. To mark the occasion fans all around the world are taking a moment to reflect on and honor the prolific and influential comics figure who was responsible for helping to create many of the most iconic characters in comics history — The X-Men, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and more. It’s one of those characters that a minor league hockey team is using to help honor Lee on his birthday with special Spider-Man uniforms.
On Twitter on Saturday, the Indy Fuel hockey team shared a photo of their uniforms for the evening’s game against the Kansas City Mavericks. The special jerseys are part of the Fuel’s Marvel Super Hero Night event, which just so happens to land on Lee’s birthday. The team also posted thanking the creator for “creating a pretty awesome universe.” You can check out both posts below.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy,
Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Dann, Martin
Morse Wooster, David Langford, John Hertz, and Rich Lynch for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dennis
Howard – classic faanish reference explained here.]
(1) SFF MAGAZINE SURVEY. Jason
Sanford is working on a report about science fiction and fantasy
magazines for which he’s already interviewed a number of publishers and editors.
Sanford also wants feedback from the larger genre community – that means you!
Readers are welcome to respond to his short survey hosted on Google Docs.
Sanford aims to release his report after Thanksgiving.
…Science fiction provides its readers with iron-hard, fact-based possibility. For example, Frank Herbert’s Dune played with the possibility that the right combination of eugenics and hallucinogenic drugs (taken from enormous alien worms) might allow messianic figures to draw on the memories of their ancestors. Well, how else would it work?
(4) LOOKING BACKWARD. At Quillette, Craig DeLancey analyzes the removal of Tiptree, Campbell and Lovecraft from sff award iconography in “Science Fiction Purges its Problematic Past” to lay the foundation for his own unique proposal.
…If we must be concerned with the author and not just the work, then Houellebecq’s book is an example of the balance that our criticism should achieve: we must recognize that the work is one thing, the author another. Literary criticism should not be a struggle session.
But this is not the spirit of our moment. Instead, as speculative fiction becomes more diverse, the sense that it must be corrected grows, and author and art are evaluated together. There is a notable asymmetry in this evaluation. Most fiction readers are women, and many fiction genres are dominated by women. Men who write romance novels or cozy mysteries must write under female pseudonyms, because the audiences for these genres will largely avoid books by men. In publishing, this is considered merely a demographic fact, and not an ethical failure of some kind. The attitude is very different towards science fiction. That for decades science fiction was mostly written, read, and published by white men is seen, at best, as something that must be denounced and aggressively corrected, and at worst as evidence that racism and sexism were the driving engines of this creative explosion. We do not single out other genres of fiction, or other art forms, for this kind of invective. We do not hear admirers of the golden age of jazz, for example, denounce the great composers of that era because they were nearly all African-American men. Louise Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, and many other such men are honored for their genius, and we recognize their creations as a gift to humankind. Why not consider American science fiction in the twentieth century as a gift, instead of dismissing it as “Sterile. Male. White.”?
…Sigh. We won’t get into the idiocy of traditional publishing and their artificial restrictions on market, but still…
This poor woman has everything backward in her head. It makes it very difficult for me to believe that she can create any kind of sane or believable world. Why? Because she doesn’t understand the laws of supply and demand, which means she doesn’t understand reality….
…The dead great shall always be with us. You want to outsell them: write a lot and write well. Or find another job.
Economics in the end — regardless of what prizes you get for being a good little girl, or how much your professors praised you — is cold equations. Cold equations ALL THE WAY DOWN.
Is it fair? No. Well…. Not fair in the sense that it doesn’t matter how good you are if people don’t know you exist. But it is fair in the sense that if you write well and a lot and figure out how to advertise you’ll be rewarded.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 6, 1981 — Time Bandits premiered. Co-written, produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Kenny Baker, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and David Warner. It received critical acclaim with a current 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and was a financial success as well. Apple has gained the rights for a Time Bandits television series to distribute on Apple TV+ with Gilliam on board in a non-writing production role and Taika Waititi as the director of the pilot.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 6, 1907 — Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. (Died 2000.)
Born November 6, 1914 — Jonathan Harris. Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up such Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2002.)
Born November 6, 1951 — Nigel Havers, 68. The bridegroom Peter Dalton in “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith” on The Sarah Jane Adventures. He’s done a lot of children’s genre theatre: Jack in the Beanstalk twice, Robin Hood, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Aladdin. He’s been in one Doctor Who audiobook and narrated Watership Down once upon a time. He was Mark Ingram in An Englishman’s Castle, an alternate telling of WWII.
Born November 6, 1953 — Ron Underwood, 66. His first directing effort was Tremors starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire in her acting debut. Later genre efforts include Mighty Joe Young, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, episodes of Once Upon A Time, Fear the Walking Dead and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Born November 6, 1955 — Catherine Ann Asaro, 64. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them.
Born November 6, 1960 — Michael Cerveris, 59. Remembered best as the Primary Observer on Fringe. He’s played Puck and been in Macbeth way off Broadway so his creds there are covered too. He was Mr. Tiny in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, and Elihas Starr, the original Egghead, in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Born November 6, 1964 — Kerry Scott Conran, 55. A director and screenwriter, best known for creating and directing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a film I absolutely adore. And that’s it. That’s all he done.
Born November 6, 1968 — Kelly Rutherford, 51. She’s here for having the recurring role of Dixie Cousins on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and that’s in addition to managing to get herself involved in more bad genre series that got cancelled fast such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Kindred: The Embraced (8 episodes each). Indeed, her very first genre gig had the dubious title of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge.
Born November 6, 1972 — Rebecca Romijn, 47. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that cross all realities in The Librarians series. She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff the John Updike novel. She is now Number One on Discovery.
Discover how Stan Lee became known as the voice and face of comics at this conversation between Lee’s colleague and author Danny Fingeroth and animation historian Jerry Beck.
As editor, publisher, and co-creator of Marvel, Lee worked with creative partners, like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, to create world-famous characters including Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers. But Lee’s career was haunted by conflict and controversy. Be amazed by Lee’s complex and accomplished life at this illuminating discussion.
The book that influenced my writing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I read it as a teenager and the seething mess of nested narratives and charnel houses lodged itself in my imagination. I’ve read it more than any other book and hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of making corpses walk. Quite frankly Victor Frankenstein was a dick.
The book I think is most overrated Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. With apologies to my US friends and my English teacher. This book didn’t just leave me cold. When I finished I wanted to make a list of everybody who had recommended it and make them eat it.
WORK NOTED. BBC’s panelists invite everyone to “Explore the list of 100 Novels That Shaped Our
World”. Chip Hitchcock says, “I count 17 of the 100 (and there’s
probably a few I’m missing through not knowing the works), although I’d be
happier if the Twilight series wasn’t one of them.”
Aerospace giant Boeing has unveiled its proposal for a lander that could take humans to the Moon’s surface.
Under a programme called Artemis, the White House wants to return humans to the Moon by 2024.
Its approach, named “Fewest Steps to the Moon”, would use the huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The company says its plan reduces the complexity involved in sending several different bits of hardware into space on multiple launches.
For most robotic space missions, all the hardware needed for the mission is launched on one rocket. Likewise, the crewed Apollo missions to the Moon in the 1960s and 70s required only one lift-off.
However, the Artemis missions are expected to involve several flights to loft all the hardware needed. For example, the lander elements are likely to be launched separately from the Orion capsule carrying crew.
Boeing says it can land astronauts on the Moon with only five “mission critical events” – such as launch, orbit insertion and others – instead of the 11 or more required by alternative strategies.
…The company says its lander would be ready for the 2024 mission, called Artemis-3. But Boeing’s plan would depend on a more powerful variant of the SLS rocket called Block 1B.
Under current Nasa plans, the Block 1B version of the rocket wouldn’t be ready until 2025.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian,
Mike Kennedy, Nina Shepardson, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Short stories are short because there aren’t a lot of characters to interact with or places to go or things to do; otherwise, they’d be too long. Since long was my goal, I let myself daydream about the world around the spaceship. Who were these warriors? Who were they at war with? What was their culture, and how did it conflict with their enemy’s? Why did this priestess’ religion forbid speech?
I came up with anything—and many things that didn’t make it into even the first draft—to fill out the world. I didn’t limit myself at all. I added more characters and gave existing characters more goals based on more detailed backgrounds. I wrote what I now call the Worldbuilding Bible, a 30-page document of information on science, locations, and the histories of the two societies in humanity’s far future. And when I finally started writing the novel, I had a ton of characters on the board who would be sure to create conflict.
(2) ABOUT THE OTHERWISE AWARD. Keffy R.M. Kehrli explores his complex reaction to the decision to rename the Tiptree Award. Thread starts here.
…And look — yes, you can cosplay characters of other races. Most anime characters are asian, and no one’s asking white cosplayers to stop playing those characters. Heck, a white cosplayer can cosplay a black character. The important thing is you just don’t alter your skin color. That’s all you have to do. And if you don’t think you can accurately cosplay a character without doing so, maybe don’t cosplay that character. Or, y’know, just be okay without being perfectly “accurate.” Cosplay exists within a real world context, and maybe you should make sure you think about that context before suiting up.
Is that what I should be getting out of the wider discussion, that if I chose to dress as Black Panther without tinting my skin, everyone should be find with that? I wonder what Filers think.
The second season of The Outer Limits is now underway! As someone who is pretty devoted to her favorite shows, I anticipated the return of the science fiction anthology show with excitement. But something seems different. Could it be the result of the departure of producer Joseph Stefano, who contributed his creative vision and a number of scripts? Maybe changes in the show’s budget, time slot or its music? Read on, and tell me if you share my concern.
…Last week I shared an article about Copyright and Artificial Intelligence looking at the complications that artificial intelligence is bringing to copyright and the challenges we may face when machines, not people, are creating the bulk of our works.
However, as a serious Star Trek fan, I realized that the conversation wouldn’t be complete without an examination of episode 20 of season 7 of Star Trek: Voyager, entitled Author, Author. The episode involves an artificial intelligence writing a creative work and then having to fight to retain control over it as his infringers believe he doesn’t qualify copyright protection.
It’s a rare mix of science fiction, legal wrangling and debates over humanity that could only come from the latter episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. However, as we slide into more and more autonomous artificial intelligence, it may not be long before we have our own story like this one to ponder.
(6) BLOOM OBIT. Critic Harold Bloom died October 14. The New York Times obituary is here — “Harold Bloom, Critic Who Championed Western Canon, Dies at 89”. I mention him primarily because his eye-opening description of how many ways you can trace artists’ influence on one another – the similarities between their works being merely one possibility – had a big impact on Diana Glyer’s first Inklings book.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 14, 1926 — A. A. Milne’s classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, was published in the UK.
October 14, 1977 — Starship Invasions premiered. Released as Project Genocide in the UK, it starred Robert Vaughn and Christopher Lee. It scored 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.
October 14, 2011 — The Thing, the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing went into general release in the US. It was a financial and critical flop with rating at Rotten Tomatoes of 35%.
October 14, 2008 — Journey To The Center Of The Earth premiered on home video. It starred Greg Evigan of TekWar fame and Dedee Pfeiffer. It rated 29% at Rotten Tomatoes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 14, 1927 — Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint from for most of the Sixties. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! (Died 2017.)
Born October 14, 1946 — Katy Manning, 73. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Born October 14, 1949 — Crispin Burnham, 70. And then there are those who just disappear. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his People of The Monolith was publishedin Cthulhu Cultus #13 . Prior to that, he edited Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995, and wrote a handful of what I’ll assume is Cthulhuan fiction. No surprisingly, he’s not to be on iBooks or Kindle.
Born October 14, 1953 — Richard Christian Matheson, 66. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing Stories, Masters of Horror, The Powers of Matthew Star, Splatter, Tales from the Crypt, Knight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no series or show. Kindles and iBooks have a goodly number of story collections available.
Born October 14, 1953 — Greg Evigan, 66. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it.
Born October 14, 1956 — Arleen Sorkin, 63. To my ears, still the best Harley Quinn as she voiced her on the Batman: The Animated Series.
Born October 14, 1956 — Martin Millar, 63. Among his accomplishments was the novelization of the Tank Girl film. Apparently it’s even weirder than the film was! He won the World Fantasy Award for best novel with his book Thraxas, and the entire Thraxas series which are released under the name Martin Scott are a lot of not-too-serious pulpish fun.
Born October 14, 1963 — Lori Petty, 55. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The Hunger, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager, Brimstone, Freddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
Born October 14, 1968 — Robert C. Cooper, 51. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed!
In 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created a superhero based more on the classic Universal Horror monster ideals. While someone like The Thing looks like a monster, he still maintained his intelligence and was a true hero. However, Hulk was like a mixture of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf-Man.
As a matter of fact, early versions of The Hulk had him only changing at night like the Wolf-Man. Hulk was a monster that the world feared but someone who was a hero at the end of the day — despite the collateral damage he caused. He was so popular that it was Hulk that gave Marvel one of their earliest live-action TV shows.
Having sunk a significant amount of time into the goose uprising – learning the ways of the village, its routines, and what happens to all the items I’ve been throwing down the well – I have decided, rather than undertaking a review, to resurrect a hallowed Nerds of a Feather institution: the We Rank ‘Em post. I now bring my extensive goose game expertise to bear on the objective ranking of the villagers of goose game, from my omniscient perspective as the objective arbiter of their destinies. This ranking has been cross checked using the most advanced scientific principles available to game character analysts today, and was also compiled while I was hungry and therefore very motivated to put down the most straightforward, no-nonsense reasoning I could so as to get on with the more important business of reheating leftover noodles and maybe making a mug cake. With these factors in mind, I present to you: the definitive ranking of untitled goose game villagers….
The Force is strong in this trademark opposition. Disney is fighting a multi-million dollar tobacco company’s attempt to register the trademark JEDI in association with its line of e-cigarettes.
The word “Jedi” has no other meaning that being associated with the Star Wars franchise as it was coined by George Lucas and the mark first appeared in the 1977 film, Star Wars: A New Hope. Since this time, Lucasfilm has used the mark continuously in its movies, television shows, video games, and on merchandise. Lucasfilm even owns 22 registered ore pending trademarks for the JEDI mark. There can be no doubt but that when you hear the JEDI mark you automatically associate it with the Star Wars franchise.
Godfrey Phillips India Limited is an India-based tobacco company with reported annual revenue of $640 million. That’s a lot of cancer bucks….
A laryngectomy has separated Peter’s oesophagus and trachea. The operation prevents the risk of him swallowing and choking on saliva, but removes his voicebox.
Though he’ll no longer be able to speak with his biological voice, he’s instead banked his voice on a computer, meaning his new voice will be able to speak emotively – and in other languages if he wants.
Scientists have also designed a face avatar, which he can use to show expressions if he loses muscle control.
An electric wheelchair enables him to be upright, sitting or laid down.
He is fed through a tube and has a catheter and colostomy bag attached so he doesn’t need to eat or use the toilet.
(17) DOGWATCH. Snoopy
in Space is coming November 1 to the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+
Blast off with Snoopy as he fulfills his dream to become a NASA astronaut. Joined by Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang, Snoopy takes command of the International Space Station and explores the moon and beyond.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster,
Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip
The lawsuit filed in Texas on Wednesday names Wu, as well as Cenk Uygur, of the news outlet the Young Turks, and Mark Follman, of the magazine Mother Jones. It seeks damages and a “jury trail [sic].”
(2) SPACE DRAMA. For All Mankind premieres November 1 on the Apple TV app for those with an Apple TV+ subscription. The series will dramatize an alternate history depicting “what would have happened if the global space race had never ended” after the USSR succeeds in the first manned Moon landing. It’s created by Emmy Award winner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi.
Told through the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers and their families, For All Mankind presents an aspirational world where NASA and the space program remained a priority and a focal point of our hopes and dreams.
(3) RESTORE THE LEGEND! Chris Garcia has given
himself a task – to make Jack C. Haldeman II (or as everyone else called him,
Jay) famous again! The legendary writer and SMoF, Jay was also the master of
the SpecFi Sports story! This plan all starts with a simple plan – an issue of The
We’re looking for stories about Jay, personal reminiscences, appreciation of his writings, anything! We’d love stories particularly about folks who knew him from the 1970s and 80s, and especially anything about the Discon II! If you’ve got any photos of Jay, that’d be great, too!
(4) GAHAN WILSON APPEAL. Paul Winters, organizer of the “Help
Gahan Wilson find his way” GoFundMe, is calling for more donations
after Wilson had a medical emergency.
We have a crisis.
Gahan had surgery over the weekend and he was discharged from the hospital yesterday. It turns out that the hospital and the memory care facility didn’t have the best communication going, because today we were told that the memory care unit could not care for Gahan because of the severity of the surgery. The hospital won’t take him back and he can’t go to a rehabilitation facility.
We were informed that for him to stay in the memory care facility, we would need to get him a 24 hour care person to stay with him for the next thirty days until the doctors can assess his condition.
All through this gofundme I have been careful not to take in too much money. A few months ago, I suspended donations because it looked like we would have enough. Today, that all changed. Please, if you can spare any more, we could use it to pay this unexpected expense.
The circumstances of this whole hospital event have been surreal. I will spare everyone the details of the surgery, but we did it because the doctor said he would die without it. None of the medical experts warned or prepared us for the change that would make in his care level after the surgery.
I know that even with Alzheimer’s Gahan wants to live. Whenever we are with him, he speaks of how lucky we all are to be alive and the last cartoon he drew was of a guy holding a sign that read “Glad to remain alive!” I know he was drawing himself. We will keep trying to give him the best quality of life until the end.
This rulebook contains everything a group of buckaroos will need, including four playable types (bigfoot, dinosaur, human, and unicorn), five trots (bad boy, charmer, sneak, true buckaroo, and wizard), several unique ways, as well as hundreds of cool moves that are specially crafted for each unique play style.
Within these 270+ pages you will also find various magical items and a menagerie of monsters, ranging from pesky Void crabs to this villainous Ted Cobbler himself.
The only question left is: what are you waiting for?
(6) WISDOM SEEKER. Likewise, UrsulaV knew who could help her navigate the recent fannish storm.
Tingle even promised to get into the topic on his “My Friend Chuck” podcast — but I must be in the wrong timeline, it hasn’t dropped yet.
September 26, 1937 — The Shadowradio serial premiered with the first episode being titled “The Death House Rescue”. The introduction to the program, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” was spoken by actor Frank Readick.
September 26, 1987 — Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Encounter at Farpoint” opening episode premiered in television syndication. The series would run for seven years, the longest Trek series to date.
September 26, 2001 — Star Trek: Enterprise debuted. It was called simply Enterprise for the first two seasons. “Broken Bow” was the name of the first episode. Captain Archer was played by Scott Bakula, star of Quantum Leap. It ran for four seasons before being cancelled.
September 26, 2007 — The Bionic Woman first aired. This is NBC’s retooling of the 1970’s SciFi channel series Bionic Woman which starred Lindsay Wagner, and now starring Michelle Ryan. It lasted exactly eight episodes.
September 26, 2014 — Star Wars: Rebels first aired. It was produced by Lucasfilm Animation and set in the Star Wars universe five years before A New Hope. It lasted four seasons.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 26, 1866 — Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
Born September 26, 1877 — Edmund Gwenn. Dr. Harold Medford in the classic Big Insect film Them. He showed in the Fifties show Science Fiction Theatre twice, once as Dr. Pliny in “A Visit from Dr. Pliny” and another time as Dr. Lorenz in “The Strange Doctor Lorenz”. (We’re not mentioning his famous role as Santa Claus: since we all still believe, that must be classified as merely a courtroom drama.) (Died 1959.)
Born September 26, 1927 — Charles Macaulay. He appear twice in Trek, once in “The Return of the Archons” as Landru, and in the “Wolf in the Fold” as Prefect Jaris. He was Captain Townsend in “God Save The Queen” in The Tales of The Golden Monkey, and in the Wonder Woman series, he was Ambassador McCauley in “Formula 407”. (Died 1999.)
Born September 26, 1941 — Martine Beswick, 78. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch. She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
Born September 26, 1948 — Olivia Newton-John, 71. She was Kira in Xanadu which is considered responsible for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards. In 2017, she appeared in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. A coincidence? I think not. It got a 30% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Born September 26, 1956 — Linda Hamilton, 63. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
Born September 26, 1957 — Tanya Huff, 62. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me. And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
Born September 26, 1968 — Jim Caviezel, 51. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner.
Born September 26, 1985 — Talulah Riley, 34. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Crankshaft obviously has seen authors hawking their books in the dealer’s room.
Free Range gets a laugh from an unexpected link between the Olympics and UFOs.
As with any decent superhero origin, the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum here began in ambition and humility, overreach and wonder: Allen Stewart loved superheroes and comic books and spent every dime from his paper routes on superhero comics and toys and refused to throw anything away. His fever never abated, not as a teenager, not after he entered the military, not after he started a family, and so, when he became an adult and made some money in local real estate, he decided to splurge: He decided he would build the Justice League’s Hall of Justice in his backyard.
This was a dozen years ago.
…Still, the Hall of Heroes and its unlikely Hall of Justice were becoming a draw in Elkhart County. Within a few years of opening, he had 10,000 annual paying visitors, and the collection — which he now calls the largest superhero memorabilia collection in the world, and believes is worth about $5 million — exploded to include: a nine-foot tall Hulk statue, a Captain America shield used in the 2011 movie, rare Superman toys, original artwork and the debut comics of nearly every major superhero. His Hall went from something like a child’s bedroom shrine to superheroes to something like a museum.
…Another visitor who received a warm welcome in Germany was American Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he visited Berlin earlier this month. The official reason for the visit was a memorial service for John F. Kennedy, but Dr. King also used the opportunity to visit the Berlin Wall, where only hours before a young man had been shot during an attempt to flee East Berlin and only survived due to the heroic actions of an US Army sergeant who pulled him to safety, a sad reminder that about fifty people have already been killed trying to surmount the Berlin Wall….
(13) THE HUBBLE GAZE. Abigail Nussbaum drills into new sff
Astra at Asking the Wrong Question.
…This is absolutely a film that revels in the stark visual of a single space-suited protagonist made small against a backdrop of endless stars, or in stunning vistas of planetary bodies and orbital installations. It absolutely features long wordless stretches in which the cosmic soundtrack strives to create a 2001-esque sense of grandeur. And it absolutely filters all those sensory feasts through Pitt’s character, a soulful Competent Man whose emotional turmoil is both soothed and magnified by the scale of the setting he’s been placed in, and the challenges of surviving it. But Ad Astra also feels like a film aware of its antecedents, of the movies that have come before it over the last decade and the tropes they’ve established. If it isn’t quite a dismantling of those tropes, it is at least a more measured, more humane response to them….
(14) NOT SURPRISED BY DAN SIMMONS. RedWombat was ahead of
the curve, like usual.
(15) ALT-RIGHT HATES SEEING THOSE CLICKS GO TO WASTE. Jon
Del Arroz hopes he can rev up the last couple days of his latest Kickstarter
campaign by tweeting his own crap about Greta Thunberg. Was getting banned for
a week part of the plan? No idea. “BANNED
On Twitter And Can’t Promote!” [Internet Archive link.]
…To get started, just say, “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson.” You can then choose whether you want him to use explicit language or not, so it’s safe to assume that those who want him to curse will get a dose of his iconic “Motherf—er!” The beauty of it is, you can always change your mind and toggle between clean and explicit content as much as your heart desires.
Bacteria have been caught “stripping off” in order to evade antibiotics and survive, scientists show.
Researchers at Newcastle University filmed bacteria “undressing” and taking off their outer layer – or cell wall.
Antibiotics can attack cell walls so scientists think this is a new form of drug resistance and could explain why some infections keep coming back.
But experts said it was still unclear if this was having an impact on patients.
What are they taking off?
Some species of bacteria have a cell wall built out of sugars and amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
It gives the bacterium shape and protection but it is also a weak spot that can be exploited by antibiotics.
The first antibiotic to be discovered, penicillin, disrupts the cell wall and causes bacteria to burst.
The study, published in Nature Communications, looked at bacteria from elderly patients with urinary tract infections that kept coming back.
Researchers spotted that some bacteria were responding to antibiotics by slipping out of their cell wall in order to escape the drug’s effects.
(18) STARKILLER! [Item by Olav Rokne.] Stars and galaxies are being torn asunder, and nobody really knows why. Could it be The Doomsday Machine from Star Trek’s original series? Has some alien civilization found a Tox Uthat? Is it just a bunch of busy Vogons? Well, probably not. But hopefully, Canadian scientists working with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will be able to figure out the exact mechanism that explains why galaxies are being destroyed. The New York Post has the story: “Something in the universe is killing off entire galaxies”.
The cause of death is thought to be a shutdown of star formation, and a new project aims to use one of the world’s leading telescopes to observe the process in detail.
The Canadian-led project is called the Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide survey (VERTICO).
It will investigate how galaxies can be killed off by their own environment.
Principal investigator Toby Brown explained in The Conversation that he is leading a team of 30 experts who will be using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope to map stars being made in our nearest galaxy cluster, the Virgo Cluster.
A satellite delivery “taxi service” using a giant helium balloon is being developed by a start-up company.
B2space is looking primarily to launch commercial satellites, but it has even fielded an inquiry about “space funerals”, sending ashes into space.
…Described as a satellite “taxi service” by the company, balloons have already been sent to the edge of the atmosphere to test their components and systems – their first launch was from Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, and they have since taken off from Shetland Space Centre.
B2space’s technology will use a giant helium balloon to lift an unmanned rocket up over the sea to a height of around 22-25 miles (35-40km). The rocket, carrying a satellite, will then blast into space to deliver its cargo, while the balloon deflates and falls to earth to be retrieved from the sea.
This will be cheaper because the rocket does not have to power itself up through dense air up to 22 miles, using 85% less fuel, and the rocket will be smaller, the company claimed.
The man behind Marvel Studios’ string of comic book movie blockbusters is to develop a new Star Wars film, a senior executive at Disney has revealed.
Alan Horn, co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said it “made sense” for Kevin Feige to work with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on the project.
The film would be part of “a new era in Star Wars storytelling,” Horn told the Hollywood Reporter.
Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios are both subsidiaries of Walt Disney Studios.
Horn described Feige – who has been president of Marvel Studios since 2007 – as “a die-hard fan” of the Star Wars universe.
Under Feige’s leadership, the films that make up the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) have made more than $22 billion (£18 billion) worldwide.
(21) JEDI GAMES. EA has dropped a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen
Order game trailer — “Cal’s Mission.”
In the Galactic Empire, the Inquisitorius has only one mission: seek out and destroy all remnants of the Jedi Order. Learn more about what Cal Kestis is searching the galaxy for and why the Empire will stop at nothing to bring him down. Become a Jedi in Respawn Entertainment’s third-person action-adventure game, STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order™. Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this holiday season, November 15, 2019.
[Thanks to Chris Garcia, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Steven
H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
…Lucy A. Snyder’s a seven-time Bram Stoker Award finalist and a five-time winner, including for her first novel Spellbent in 2009, and most recently for her collection While the Black Stars Burn in 2016. She has published more than 80 short stories in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, and more. Her nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide. was published in 2014. She was a Bram Stoker Award nominee at this year’s StokerCon for her collection Garden of Eldritch Delights.
We took off for lunch one afternoon to Punjab Cafe, which has been operating in Quincy since 2000, and is by all accounts the best Indian restaurant in the area. They had a tasty looking buffet option available, but we ordered a la carte instead, because a buffet is definitely not the way you want to go when you’re trying to maintain the flow of a conversation and are both wired to a recorder.
We discussed how Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time made her want to become a writer, the rare bad advice she got from one of her Clarion instructors, the way Hunter S. Thompson and Truman Capote taught her about consensual truth, how she learned to embrace her uneasy relationship with horror, the time Tim Powers said of one of her early stories that “this is an example of everything that’s wrong with modern science fiction,” why if you want to write flash fiction you should learn to write poetry, what you should consider if you’re starting a new writing workshop, how best to prepare for public readings of emotionally difficult stories, the way she used Kickstarter to continue her Jessie Shimmer series (plus everything you need to know to start your own campaign), what it was like writing in the Doctor Who and X-Files universes, and much, much more.
…Being a writer is a lot like being on a roller coaster. For a start, if you are a small child or a cat some spotty gatekeeper won’t let you be a writer. “You have to be this tall to be a writer!” they say. “Keep you arms inside the carriage while writing is in motion” they say. Ignore these self-appointed petty tyrants in the fairground of publishing! You only need TWO things to be a writer 1. the willpower 2. the determination and 3. a valid ticket from the ticket booth….
… Last but not least there’s Gamergate itself, which has survived not just as an influence on current events and a template for subsequent harassment campaigns, but in something close to its initial form: The Gamergate subreddit is still very active. Its participants still mob journalists who report critically on them and games. So “gamers” didn’t die, and neither did socially conscious games journalism, nor efforts to increase diversity in games. Even individual Gamergate targets like Quinn, Sarkeesian, and others continue to work in their respective fields. But neither, it seems, did Gamergate.
Recent topics on the Gamergate subreddit—in 2019!—include lists of video games and game development studios to avoid because they pander to “social justice warriors” and complaints about Kotaku’s coverage of diversity in games and the industry. There are posts in the past month continuing to detail, and criticize, everything Quinn does. The lesson for all of us is that reactionary ideas and movements and cults of personality—ones that oppose progress and equality—won’t simply disappear even if they “lose,” even with the passage of time. Reporters who write about Gamergate—or any of the topics it reacted against—can still expect a brigade of hundreds of negative replies on social media. It hasn’t died. It never ends….
JP: This focus on the technical aspects of writing reminds me of what you’ve said before about the sentence: that the sentence is the most important unit of writing for you.
SD: For me, yes. I do go along with Gertrude Stein, in that the paragraph is the emotional unit of the English language. It’s also a point about the sentence instead of the word.
JP: Is that how you think of your own writing? Do you think of it as sentence-making?
SD: Basically, yes.
JP: And is that different for science fiction, versus fantasy and other kinds of genres?
SD: No, that’s not where the difference lies; I think all writing requires that. But I do think science fiction allows some unique combinations of words. It’s a genre that is distinguished, because certain things can happen in the language of science fiction that don’t happen anywhere else. Science fiction tends to take the literal meaning. If it has a choice between a figurative meaning and a literal meaning, the literal meaning is always available. Her world exploded. In science fiction, it’s not an emotionally fuzzy metaphor. Instead, it can literally mean a planet belonging to a woman blew up. As in, Princess Leia: Her world exploded.
Call it The Film About Rich People Hunting Poor People … That Lived.
But that’s a mouthful. Maybe The HuntStrikes Back; it’s pithier.
Just two weeks ago, Ready or Not seemed poised to represent a second data point in 2019’s “Murderous, Mansion-Dwelling One-Percenters In Film” trend graph, preceded by Craig Zobel’s “blue bloods vs. red staters” thriller The Hunt and followed in November by Rian Johnson’s latter-day Clue riff, Knives Out.
But with The Hunt withdrawn from release, Ready or Not assumes pride of place … albeit in the doggiest of days of the dead of August. And what should have blossomed into a delicate arc describing an emerging cinematic trend (and launching a thousand thinkpieces in the process) instead reverts to a flat line connecting two 2019 movies that both feature 1. rich jerks wielding bladed weapons in elegantly appointed rooms and 2. dumbwaiters, probably. One assumes.
…While both studios should be enjoying a victory lap after a successful summer, with Disney, hot off of their Marvel Studios Comic-Con announcements, set to make D23 this weekend’s event, and Sony releasing an extended cut of Far From Home over labor day weekend. Instead, Spider-Man has become victim of a messy custody battle that has dominated social media and shown just how ugly Disney fandom can get with #SaveSpiderMan and #BoycottSony hashtags trending this week.
Battle lines have been drawn on social media, and by way of willful ignorance on the parts of adults online behaving like children, Sony has been made the bad guy for refusing to give up its asset. While details surrounding Disney and Sony’s split have varied, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the breakup comes down to money. Disney, already possessing the merchandizing rights for Spider-Man and benefiting from the use of the character in the MCU, sought at least a 30 percent stake in future Spider-Man grosses. Others have reported figures as high as 50 percent. However you cut it, those numbers are a significant uptick from Disney’s previous 5 percent stake. It’s also worth noting that while Sony’s Spider-Man films may receive an uptick in box office grosses for their MCU connection, the studio doesn’t receive a share of the grosses for the Marvel Studios films in which Holland’s Spider-Man appears.
…She goes on … “Whether it’s Sony or someone else’s, the continued evolution of Stan’s characters and his legacy deserves multiple points of view.”“When my father died, no one from Marvel or Disney reached out to me. From day one, they have commoditized my father’s work and never shown him or his legacy any respect or decency.” JC’s parting words … “In the end, no one could have treated my father worse than Marvel and Disney’s executives.” Ouch!!!
“We’re building an immersive super hero-themed land at Disney California Adventure to enable our guests to join the Avengers to save the world,” Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said at D23 Expo, ComicBook reported.
The Avengers Campus will open in summer, 2020.
(9) TODAY IN
August 23, 1965 — In the United Kingdom, Dr. Who And The Daleks was released which starred Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 23, 1869 — Edgar Lee Masters. Author of the Spoon River Anthology which, since each poem is by someone who’s dead, should count as genre, shouldn’t it? (Died 1950.)
Born August 23, 1927 — Peter Wyngarde. Not a lead actor in any genre series but interesting none-the-less. For instance, he shows up in the two Sherlock Holmes series, one with Peter Cushing and one with Jeremy Brett. He’s one in a series of Doctor Who with the Fifth Doctor and he faces off against the classic Avenger pairing of Steed and Peel. He shows up as Number Two in The Prisoner as well. (Died 2018.)
Born August 23, 1929 — Vera Miles, 90. Lila Crane in Psycho which she reprised in Psycho II. On a much more family friendly note, she’s Silly Hardy in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, the very last of the twelve Tarzan pictures released by RKO. She has done one-offs on Buck Rogers in Twentieth Century, Fantasy Island, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I Spy and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Born August 23, 1939 — Barbara Eden, 80. Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. Her first genre role however was on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Lt. Cathy Connors though she’d show up a few years later as Greta Heinrich on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Some thirty-five years after I Dream of Jeannie went off the air, she had a recurring as Aunt Irma on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Born August 23, 1944 — Karl Alexander, 75. Author of Time after Time, which was filmed directed and written by Nicholas Meyer. Cast includes Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen and David Warner. Sequel of Jaclyn the Ripper is not as well known.
Born August 23, 1963 — Ed Gale, 56. Ok I now introduce you to the man inside of Howard the Duck. (Sorry JJ.) Well someone has to play that crappy role. And did you know that it’s been retooled to be called by the studio, and I kid you not, Howard: A New Breed of Hero? Did you know Seth Green voices Howard the Duck in Guardians of The Galaxy?
Born August 23, 1965 — Chris Bachalo, 54. Illustrator well known for his work on DC Comics’ Shade, the Changing Man and Gaiman’s two Death series, Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life.
Born August 23, 1970 — River Phoenix. The Young Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was his best known genre role. He was also Wolfgang Müller in Explorers, and he’s Talbot Roe in Silent Tongue, a horror film most likely you’ve never heard of. (Died 1993.)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
John A Arkansawyer sent the link to Wondermark with a note, “I’m surprised this technology was never used during the glory days of the APA era.”
Today marks the end of an era for DC’s Wonder Woman, as G. Willow Wilson is set to exit the title in the coming months. On Thursday, Wilson took to Twitter to confirm the news, citing that the exit will be so she can schedule out time for a “bucket-list-dream-project”.
Wilson also confirmed that Steve Orlando will be taking over the title, something that had previously been hinted at in DC’s solicitations….
I’ve probably reread The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson more than any other book. It’s not her greatest, that would be We Have Always Lived at the Castle, but I got to it when I was a teenager and so it entered my bloodstream early. I read it three or four times in high school alone.
There are lots of reasons why I love it, Jackson is an underrated literary stylist, and I love the way she loathes human beings. It’s cruel, but it’s almost always funny, too. Misanthropy always goes down better with a sense of humor. But maybe the reason I most love that book is for the house itself. Jackson does a wondrous job of animating Hill House without ever really answering the question of whether its truly haunted or merely haunted by the imagination of a lonely young woman.
Forty years after Life of Brian was first released, Nicholas Barber looks at why the Monty Python film was banned – and went on to become a box office hit.
It may not be true that all publicity is good publicity, but in the case of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which was released 40 years ago, some of the bad publicity was heaven-sent. The comedy team’s irreverent Biblical romp had been due to open on 200 screens across the US, but after various religious groups protested against it, the number of screens was tripled. “They actually made me rich,” said John Cleese of the protesters on one American talk show. “I feel we should send them a crate of champagne or something.”
The idea for Life of Brian came about when the team was promoting its previous film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Eric Idle joked that their next project would be called “Jesus Christ: Lust For Glory”, and his team-mates realised that no one had ever made a comedy about the Messiah. Initially, they planned to lampoon Jesus himself, but the more they read up on him, the less keen they were. “It was quite obvious that there was very little to ridicule in Jesus’s life, and therefore we were onto a loser,” said Michael Palin in 1979. “Jesus was a very straight, direct man making good sense, so we decided it would be a very shallow film if it was just about.”
They moved onto the character of Brian, a 13th disciple who never made it into the Bible because he always arrived five minutes late and missed the miracles. But they eventually settled on the premise that the hapless Brian (Graham Chapman) wouldn’t have any connection with Jesus at all; he would be someone who happened to live in Roman-occupied Judea at the same time, and who was mistaken for a Messiah by the fanatical masses.
The Pythons’ satire wouldn’t target Jesus or his teachings, instead caricaturing political militants, credulous crowds, the appeal of throwing stones at people, the complexities of Latin grammar, and the difficulties of being a tyrant when you’ve got a speech impediment. “I thought we’d been quite good,” said Idle in Robert Sellers’ behind-the-scenes book, Very Naughty Boys. “We’d avoided being specifically rude to specific groups.”
At least that’s what a new documentary about the Satanic Temple could be about to prove.
Despite the similarity of the name, the Temple is different to The Church of Satan, established in 1966 by chat show circuit celebrity Anton LaVey in San Francisco, California.
Human sacrifice? Wrong. Blood drinking? Wrong. Black Mass? Well, sort of right.
The Temple was founded in 2013 with a mission statement “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will”.
Hail Satan? directed by US film-maker Penny Lane, follows the Temple’s attempts to curtail what they see as the encroachment of Christianity on US life through its growing political influence….
…Perhaps the most famous novel of the subterranean genre is Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, in which Verne’s hero, Professor Lidenbrock, and his nephew, Axel, believe that there are volcanic tubes leading to the earth’s centre. Verne is a great story-teller and the adventures of these two very different characters and their guide Hans, involve natural dangers like running out of water and deadly storms as well as encounters with creatures from a far distant past.
Although there’s no actual time travel, Verne’s underworld seems located in prehistory, where everything is gigantic, whether it be insects, mushrooms or petrified trees; where an Icthyosaurus wins a battle with a Plesioraurus. The travellers’ most terrifying experience is an encounter with an enormous prehistoric man, all of 12 feet tall, watching over a herd of huge mastodons….
…The monsters aren’t the only Pixar creations headed to Disney+ for new adventures. Toy Story 4‘s Forky, the fan-favorite piece of trash who became a toy, will return in a new series of short films called Forky Asks a Question, starring Tony Hale reprising his role from the film. Fans in attendance at the presentation got a sneak peek of the first short, which features Forky talking to Hamm the Piggy Bank about the concept of money. That clip hasn’t landed online yet, but we’ve got the poster for the shorts right here:
Kevin Feige also revealed new details for ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Falcon & The Winter Soldier.’ Marvel Studios confirmed three new series in the works for Disney+ at D23: She Hulk, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel.
She-Hulk — AKA attorney Jennifer Walters, cousin to Bruce Banner, whose blood transfusion was responsible for her powers — first appeared in 1980’s The Savage She-Hulk No. 1, and was the last major Marvel character co-created by Stan Lee. After her original series ended after two years, she became a member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four as the character developed more of a distinct personality from her male counterpart, gaining a stronger sense of humor and intelligence and deciding that she preferred being super-strong and green permanently — or, at least, as much as possible. (Unlike the male Hulk, She-Hulk traditionally maintains her smarts and personality when Hulked out.)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, Cat
Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Lee Whiteside.]
(1) AHH, THE CLASSICS. Newly available from British fandom’s premier historian, Rob Hansen, a reader of fannish literature intended as a companion to his classic history of UK fandom, THEN, assembled by Rob and the late Vince Clarke.
Again: A UK Fanhistory Reader 1930-1979 is a free download (in multiple formats) from Dave Langford’s
TAFF website, but please consider making a donation to the Transatlantic Fan
Fund while you’re there. (And check out the other free downloads, too.)
This companion to Rob Hansen’s monumental THEN: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980 brings together the writings of many players on the stage of British and Irish fandom from 1930 to the end of 1979, telling in their own words the stories of SF groups – including the BSFA – fanzines, famous fannish addresses, bizarre fan activities and much more. There are 59 articles, several compiled from more then one source, plus an Introduction, Appendix and Afterword.
(2) SLIMED. Alyssa Wong was the victim today of right-wing
media circulating a fake anti-Stan-Lee tweet (dated last November) reports Bleeding Cool. Wong herself tweeted
What seems to have triggered the attack on Wong, says Bleeding
Cool, was this news:
Two weeks ago, Greg Pak announced that fantasy, sci-fi and comics writer Alyssa Wong was to work with him on the current Aero series, writing the character’s origin. This would be her first work for Marvel Comics.
As the article shows, Wong sharply
criticized Marvel’s C.E. Cebulski in the past, but that’s not in dispute.
Meantime, outlets like Bounding
Into Comics today ran stories capitalizing on the fake tweet. (I’m not linking
to it, you do what you need to do.)
Poul Anderson died on this day back in 2001. Anderson’s career spanned over sixty years, from the 1940s to the early 2000s. He wrote fiction and non-fiction. He published in many genres: fantasy, science fiction, historicals, and mysteries. He wrote dozens of novels and hundreds of shorter pieces, all of a level of quality that was never less than competent—and sometimes better. The often acerbic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls Anderson “his generation’s most prolific sf writer of any consistent quality[…].” (He was the anti-Lionel Fanthorpe.)
(4) IT’S ONLY NATURAL. John Scalzi has tweeted the photo
that goes with his Whatever post from the other day that said:
On my walks on my street these days, I pass by a dairy farm. Mostly the cows keep near the barn but yesterday they were down by the road, and they were very very interested in me as I walked by.
Of course these cows are interested — they’ve heard John knows when The Last Emperox is arriving.
That you can’t have machines deciding whether humans live or die. It crosses new territory. Machines don’t have our moral compass, our compassion and our emotions. Machines are not moral beings.
The technical argument is that these are potentially weapons of mass destruction, and the international community has thus far banned all other weapons of mass destruction.
What makes these different from previously banned weaponry is their potential to discriminate. You could say, “Only kill children,” and then add facial recognition software to the system.
Moreover, if these weapons are produced, they would unbalance the world’s geopolitics. Autonomous robotic weapons would be cheap and easy to produce. Some can be made with a 3-D printer, and they could easily fall into the hands of terrorists.
Another thing that makes them terribly destabilizing is that with such weapons, it would be difficult to know the source of an attack. This has already happened in the current conflict in Syria. Just last year, there was a drone attack on a Russian-Syrian base, and we don’t know who was actually behind it.
(6) THE WILL TO WRITE. “Facebook
funds AI mind-reading experiment”. The opening line of BBC’s article says
“Facebook has announced a breakthrough in its plan to create a device that
allows people to type just by thinking” – which sounds like it should be easy for
a company that already has people typing without thinking.
It has funded a study that developed machine-learning algorithms capable of turning brain activity into speech
It worked on epilepsy patients who had already had recording electrodes placed on their brains to assess the origins of their seizures, ahead of surgery.
Facebook hopes it will pave the way for a “fully non-invasive, wearable device” that can process 100 words per minute.
University of California San Francisco scientists asked the patients to answer out loud a list of simple multiple-choice questions ordered randomly.
And the algorithms learned to identify:
the question they had been asked, 75% of the time
their chosen answer, 61% of the time
“Most previous approaches have focused on decoding speech alone,” Prof Eddie Chang said, “but here we show the value of decoding both sides of a conversation – both the questions someone hears and what they say in response.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 31, 1932 — Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. if you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek, and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” and the Gorn in the episode “Arena”. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair”, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. (Died 1979.)
Born July 31, 1951 — Jo Bannister, 68. Though best know as a British crime fiction novelist, she has three SH novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The Matrix, The Winter Plain andA Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but one I wasn’t aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first.
Born July 31, 1955 — Daniel M. Kimmel, 64. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in Space and Time. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association.
Born July 31, 1956 — Michael Biehn, 63. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He’s also as being The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run.
Born July 31, 1959 — Kim Newman, 60. Though best known For his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88, a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten.
Born July 31, 1962 — Wesley Snipes, 57. The first actor to be Blade in that Blade film franchise. There’s a new Blade actor though they name escapes right now. I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man.
Born July 31, 1965 — J. K. Rowling, 54. I will confess that the novels were not my cup of Earl Grey hot but I loved the films. Anyone here read her Cormoran Strike crime series?
Born July 31, 1976 — John Joseph Adams, 43. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West which he did. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed and Nightmare Magazine since the early part of this decade.
Tagline: “A.I.-driven medical tools could democratize health care, but some worry they could also worsen”
There is no shortage of optimism about A.I. in the medical community. But many also caution the hype surrounding A.I. has yet to be realized in real clinical settings. There are also different visions for how A.I. services could make the biggest impact. And it’s still unclear whether A.I. will improve the lives of patients or just the bottom line for Silicon Valley companies, health care organizations, and insurers.
Just off the shore of the Loire estuary outside of Nantes, France, a slithering serpent rises from the water. Completed in 2012, Serpent d’océan is an impressive 425-foot (130 meters) sculpture by French Chinese contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping and is part of the Estuaire permanent public art collection along the estuary’s 37 miles.
The aluminum skeleton of the serpent is continually covered and uncovered by the tides, excavating itself as the water level decreases and revealing its archeological remains. The curving shape of the serpent’s spine mirrors the form of the nearby Saint-Nazaire bridge, harmonizing the creature with its surroundings.
Why did this humble tune, first conjured by medieval farmers, capture so many people’s imaginations and even feature in The Addams Family? Andrea Valentino takes a look.
Checking the pop charts today is simple. Want to know the most popular artist on Spotify? Just a few clicks will take you to Ed Sheeran and his 72 million monthly listeners. What about the most popular song? The scruffy ginger-haired heartthrob strikes again. Sheeran’s Shape Of You was the first track to be streamed a bewildering two billion times. The numbers elsewhere are even more astounding. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito has over 6.3 billion views on YouTube.
But for all that, the internet can’t tell you everything. What, for example, is the most popular tune ever? Not the most covered song: that would be Yesterday by The Beatles. But rather the most enduring melody, a simple theme that has been shaped by countless hands. One of the strongest candidates is a tune few will recognise. Yet for centuries, La Folia has dazzled hundreds of composers and musicians, up to the present day. Its story tells us much about the history of music, and maybe even something about ourselves….
(15) MCU COMMANDMENTS. ScreenRant chronicles “25 Strict Rules Marvel Actors Have To
Follow” if they want to keep making the big bucks.
In today’s ScreenRant video special, we’re going to look at some of the rules that Marvel devised. You lucky bunch. The video has a variety of different rules. Some rules dictate the public personas that the actors must show. Another rule looks at which other production companies that the thespians can’t work for. A different collection of rules include what the actors can be expected to do when on set. And finally a different bunch of rules that cover Marvel’s obsession with reducing the possibility of film leaks. So, strap in. Get your cape ready. And relax whilst we fill you in on Marvel’s collection of rules.
[Thanks to Moshe Feder, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian,
Carl Slaughter, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) MARY SUE ORIGIN STORY. [Item by Jerry Kaufman.] This
recent article from the London Review of Books
is about fandom, or fandoms as the case may be, the woman who identified the
“Mary Sue”, and her recent writing. (I am the real Jerry Kaufman –
accept no other) – “On
Sophie Collins”. (Registration required to
read full article.)
A ‘Mary Sue’ is an implausibly skilful, attractive or successful protagonist who seems to be a stand-in for the author, especially in fanfiction. The term comes from Paula Smith’s parodic story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ (1973), originally published in a mimeographed journal for Star Trek fans. In mocking ‘Mary Sue’, Smith was not attacking fanfiction but trying to bolster its literary quality against fans who used it naively for wish fulfilment. Most of these fans were (like Smith) female. As the term, and the critique, became more common, some fans, and some feminist critics, pushed back. They saw fan communities, and the defiantly unprofessional cultural production that emerged from them, as a kind of safe space, where the rules imposed by a patriarchal outside world about what one can say, and who one can be, could be ignored.
Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s proposal aims to honor Stan Lee’s Bronx roots by co-naming a section of University Avenue between Brandt Place and West 176th Street after the comic book genius.
The city council voted Tuesday to approve the proposal.
… “Stan Lee was a Bronx native who grew up in my district,” said Cabrera. “Stan Lee was a creative genius who co-created iconic super heroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Black Panther and more. Mr. Lee’s amazing talent brought joy and entertainment to countless children and adults and he deserves to be permanently memorialized in his home borough, the Bronx.”
(3) BUILDING A STORY WITH MAGIC. Juliette Wade’s new Dive
Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to “Julie
Czerneda and The Gossamer Mage“. View the video interview,
and/or read the summary notes at the link.
…I asked her where the idea for the book started, and she said it started with a pen – and proceeded to show us the pen in question! She brought a lot of cool props to show us, so I encourage you all to check out the video if you’re curious about them.
One of the things that Julie explored while writing this was the history of ink. Battles were fought over areas of the world that provided good ink ingredients, and pirates stole ink as well as other things.
I’ve always found constrained magic systems very interesting, so I asked her to tell us about the magic system she used in The Gossamer Mage. Julie said she agreed with me that she liked constrained systems. She said she liked it when everyone knows how to use the magic, but wait, it’s not so simple. This particular magic system is constrained in part because it requires writing, which means it requires a particular type of scholarship. You have to be able to write words that are not human words, and to intend them. Further, this magic can only be done in the one place in the world where magic remains. One important ingredient here is that magic used to be in more of the world, but is no longer present except in one region, ringed with mountains.
Thus, magic is constrained physically, and it is constrained to scholars….
Rereading A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I believe that an appreciation of poetry is essential for any writer in any field. That economy of language reminds you of the importance of choosing exactly the right word, not the word next to the right one on the shelf. On a conceptual level, I admire Ferlinghetti’s writing which comes at you from a right angle with a huge impact, so I reread his work every couple of years to keep my brain flexible.
And so, drip by drip, crumb by crumb, inch by inch, Straczynski manages to become a writer, and it turns out that not only can he write to deadline, he’s really good at it. Even projects that seem silly or trivial on their face, like writing for He-Man or The Real Ghostbusters, are treated with such intense seriousness that they just kill.
But this being Hollywood, where, famously, nobody knows anything, every success that Straczynski ekes out is eventually scuttled by venality, cowardice, grift, or all three, as greedy execs and bullshit-slinging consultants demand that he compromise on what he knows is right. And Straczynski being Straczynski — being the survivor of a campaign of terror visited upon him by a literal Nazi — refuses to back down, because despite the mountain of shit he’s climbed to get where he is, the prospect of falling down to the bottom is incapable of scaring him beyond his threshold of tolerability.
And, remarkably, despite industry concentration and a thousand variations of “you’ll never work in this town again,” Straczynski continues to work. His story is a beautiful parable about how luck is made: the way it’s told, it seems like Straczynski has a horseshoe up his ass, with opportunities dropping appearing over the horizon just a little faster than the burn-rate of the bridges he’s torched behind him, but when you look a little closer, you realize that the most improbable thing here isn’t the opportunities, but rather Straczynski’s relentless, singleminded determination to seize them, writing (for example) entire seasons of his TV shows when the studios’ dumb mistakes leave them shorthanded.
(6) REVOLUTIONARY DATA. Can you imagine Brent Spiner
playing John Adams in 1776? There’s a concept. He’s the guest on the
latest Maltin on
Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.
(7) THIS IS COOL. The
earth seen from outer space — here is a visualization of how Planet’s
satellites assemble swatches of remote sensing tiles to complete a global
observation in 24 hours:
In four years, Planet has flown on 18 successful launches and deployed 293 satellites successfully into low Earth orbit. With more than 150 satellites currently in orbit, Planet has the largest constellation of Earth imaging satellites in history.
As you may notice, the satellites are not always taking photos (or sending / “beaming” the data down to Earth). Parts of the landmass can also be missing due to complete cloud cover that day. See the Amazon, Central Africa, or Northern Australia for example.
A companion piece reveals more about the satellites themselves; the “doves”, “RapidEyes”, and “SkySats”. Explaining their sizes, the numbers out there already and the types of images they capture. Check out the story here!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 26, 1883 — Edwin Balmer. Together with author Philip Wylie, he penned When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. The first was made into the 1951 movie by George Pal. He also wrote several detective novels and collaborated with William MacHarg on The Achievements of Luther Trant, an early collection of detective short stories. The latter are not genre, despite being listed as ISFDB as I’ve read them. (Died 1959.)
Born July 26, 1894 — Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class decades ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? (Died 1963.)
Born July 26, 1919 — James Lovelock, 99. Just shy of a century now in life, the Gaia theorist wrote a genre novel with Michael Allaby, The Greening of Mars, of the transformation of the red planet into a green one. His newest work, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, thinks that hyperintelligent machines are coming into being by our own hand and that we better be prepared for their arrival.
Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The Shining. Barry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
Born July 26, 1945 — M. John Harrison, 74. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s not published deep in digital form at this time.
Born July 26, 1945 — Helen Mirren, 74. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellers’ last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born July 26, 1957 — Nana Visitor,62. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the best of the Trek series to date. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit.
Born July 26, 1971 — Mary Anne Mohanraj, 48. Writer and editor. Founder of Strange Horizons, a genre fiction magazine. She has one genre novel, The Stars That Change, and two stories published in the Wild Cards Universe, “Low Chicago” and “Ties That Bind”. She also an anthology, Without A Map, co-edited with Nnedi Okorafor.
Born July 26, 1978 — Eve Myles, 41. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. She and the full Torchwood cast did an an BBC 4 Radio Play called Golden Age in which they time travelled back to Imperial India. Highly recommended.
…Amazon’s new 8-episode series The Boys – about a team of non-powered mercenaries determined to take down the world’s premier team of evil, corrupt, soulless-corporate-shill superheroes – chooses to play in a sandbox that’s seen its share of use. A sandbox that’s been sitting out in the sun and rain and wind for decades, filling up with cigarette butts and cat poop and old toys left by previous storytellers, who’ve hit precisely the same themes.
This is even more true today than it was in 2006, when the comics series The Boys, by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson – from which the Amazon show has been adapted, freely – first debuted.
…What The Boys was, at the time — especially if you’d been reading comics for years — was tiresome, more than anything else: Really? We’re still doing … this?
I’m happy to report that the Amazon series improves on its source material. It does so by taking the comics’ lazy inciting incident – the accidental death-by-superhero of the girlfriend of its main character Hughie (Jack Quaid) – and treating it as something more than solely a plot trigger. The series gives Hughie time to absorb, to grieve, to soak in the brutal incident so – even though it is depicted, lovingly, in garish slow-motion – it becomes something more than another nihilistic gag.
That’s a hallmark of the show, as it turns out. Where the comic was content to steer headlong into bloody spectacle and smugly snicker, the show serves up the spectacle (on a budget) and then … takes the time to inspect it, examine it, unpack it. To legitimately honor it, in other words. In its way.
(10) NEW TENANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Zombieland: Double
Tap comes to theaters October 18.
A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland 2: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.
Although wackiness levels vary from video to video, the run times are all wisely kept brief. The only things that run longer than the time it takes to decide between regular avocados and organic ones are the cooking tutorials. Everything else—including charm-infused shorts like Christmas in Germany, produced by Condé Nast Traveler, which mixes traditional animation with stop-motion footage of Pfeffernüsse cookies and other German delicacies—runs at around the one-minute mark, making for a thoroughly undemanding watch.
This one’s very stfnal –
While this one’s just plain funky –
(12) NASFIC/WESTERCON IN UTAH. Rodford Edmiston has posted an
of photos from Spikecon at Flickr. Whether
intentionally or not, the photographer showed a genius for standing at the back
of a hall in which the only people were in the front row and on the platform.
STEPHAN PASTIS is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndication. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children.
Covered up by a secretive Soviet Union at the time, the true number of deaths and illnesses caused by the nuclear accident are only now becoming clear.
Springtime was always the busiest time of year for the women working at the wool processing plant in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine. More than 21,000 tons of wool passed through the factory from farms all across the country during the annual sheep shearing period. The April and May of 1986 were no exception.
The workers pulled 12-hour shifts as they sorted the piles of raw fleece by hand before they were washed and baled. But then the women started getting sick.
Some suffered nosebleeds, others complained of dizziness and nausea. When the authorities were called to investigate, they found radiation levels in the factory of up to 180mSv/hr. Anyone exposed at these levels would exceed the total annual dose considered to be safe in many parts of the world today in less than a minute.
Fifty miles away was the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On 26 April 1986 reactor number four at the power plant suffered a catastrophic explosion that exposed the core and threw clouds of radioactive material over the surrounding area as a fire burned uncontrollably.
But Chernihiv was regarded to be well outside the exclusion zone that was hastily thrown up around the stricken plant and readings elsewhere in the town had shown it to have comparatively low levels of radiation.
…Had Hauer played Batty as another stone-faced Eurobaddie, “Blade Runner” itself might have been a more comfortably classifiable genre effort, the kind of movie that many viewers expected in 1982, the kind that promised to pit Ford, the star so familiar to us as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, against a new kind of futuristic nemesis. Instead, audiences were thrown off by the knotty neo-noir that Scott and the screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples delivered, the film flopped, and a cult masterpiece was born.
Look no further than Batty’s extended final battle with Deckard to see both the evidence of the movie’s idiosyncratic tone and how Hauer’s remarkable performance enhances it, practically deconstructing the simple plot before our eyes. The replicant chases the beleaguered, frightened Deckard around an abandoned building, toying with the cop and playing singsong children’s games. But there’s still a catch in Batty’s words, slight pauses scattered in unusual places. Seeing that Deckard has killed his replicant lover, Pris (Daryl Hannah), Batty offers, “I thought you were good. Aren’t you the … good man?” The awkwardness of the words, combined with the pause before “good man” seems to question the film’s very moral universe…
(16) X MARKS THE PLOT. ScreenRant fires up another Pitch
Meeting – this one for Dark Phoenix.
The X-Men franchise has been running for nearly two decades, and it all culminates with Dark Phoenix, a storyline that the movies already covered in 2006. Once again, Jean Grey goes absolutely bonkers with power, but this time Wolverine isn’t around to stab her. The movie has a pretty awful score on Rotten Tomatoes and definitely raises a lot of questions. Like what’s the deal with the aliens, are they bulletproof or not? Why was Quicksilver dismissed from the movie so quickly? What was up with that Phoenix moment in X-Men Apocalypse? Why do these movies keep jumping forward a decade each time? Is Magneto supposed to be 62 years old, and if so, why is a 42-year-old with no make-up playing him? Why did they show Mystique dying in the trailer?
[Thanks to Jerry Kaufman, Juliette Wade, John Hertz, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, mlex, John King
Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
…Years later, my mother and the downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Horn, whose kids had also gone to Camp Woodland, were talking about “The Jewel Box Revue,” which had returned to the Apollo Theater at 125th Street in New York. And my mother said, “You know, that’s Mary, that was Mary Davies, who was a counselor up at the summer camp.” And I realized I knew Stormé DeLarverie. And I suddenly realized this is not a person who is far away from me, this is somebody I sat next to on the piano bench, who helped me write a cantata and sat beside me at chorus rehearsal at Woodland — someone who had been very close to me.
Cut to Stonewall.
Stonewall happened when I was 27, so a decade later. And who was the person who was supposed to have thrown the first punch at Stonewall? Stormé DeLarverie!
Just when it seemed as though the Toy Fair Exclusive Scarlet Spider sixth scale figure was a lock for “Fastest Hot Toys Sell-Out of 2019” after going to Wait List in under 12 hours, Hot Toys dropped a bombshell this week when they revealed an MMS that’s likely to blow poor Scarlet Spider’s sales out of the water! It’s so “out there” that many collectors never even considered it could happen, but the EXCLUSIVE Hot Toys Stan Lee in Spacesuit 1/6 figure is now up for order!
(3) WHERE THE FUR FLIES. Ursula Vernon reporting from the
scene at Anthrocon. Thread starts here.
…So, Anthrocon left Philadelphia and migrated to Pittsburgh in 2006. If there were any thoughts that the furries made the wrong choice, those were quickly assuaged the first day of the convention that year. People from Downtown restaurants, bars, and hotels all ascended to meet the furries at the convention center. [Sam Conway, the CEO of nonprofit Anthrocon] says they were there to welcome, greet, take pictures with, and even hug some of the furries.
“The city literally and figuratively ran out and gave us a hug,” says Conway.
Conway says Anthrocon and the furries have been in love with Pittsburgh ever since. He has been apologizing to Visit Pittsburgh for the last 14 years, saying he unfairly stereotyped the city of Pittsburgh. But he says that might have actually resonated stronger with furries, who have faced their own damaging stereotypes.
“Maybe that is why it resonated it,” says Conway. “We came here and realized, ‘Look at how wrong we were.’”
The TV coverage of this year’s con includes –
(5) ABOUT FANTASY. Well, when you put it that way —
What do you think these people are hoping for with these posts? What’s their endgame, and how do they think it will affect you?
…In the case of the alt-right dingleberry actively hoping for the collapse of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), which will presumably take me down with it: I think the plan there was reassuring the other dingleberries with whom he corresponds on social media that, yes, indeed, one day my virtue-signaling self will get mine, along with all of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), and what a glorious day that will be for them. As this particular alt-right dingleberry self-publishes on Amazon, there’s also the implication that upon the smoking ruins of traditional publishing (or at least Tor Books), and the dessicated bones of all the SJWs that toiled there, will come a new age where these alt-right dingleberries and their work will finally take their rightful place at the top of the science fictional heap, while I and my sort, I don’t know, maybe suck quarters out of vending machines to survive.
In case anybody cares which dingleberry is being discussed, in the
Twitter thread version of this post, a redacted tweet could be traced to Brian Niemeier.
(7) SFF DISQUALIFIED AS LITERATURE? A long and interesting study of Ted Chiang’s fiction in the New York
Review of Books: “Idea Man”. (Online version is behind a paywall.)
What fiction is made out of is a bit of a mystery, but an old bromide has it that ideas should not be a major component. T.S. Eliot praised Henry James for not having any in his fiction, which seems to accord with James’s own understanding of his work. “Nothing is my last word about anything,” he once wrote to a critic who had upset him by construing a particular portrait in one of his tales as a general statement. Along similar lines, George Orwell praised Charles Dickens for being “a free intelligence” who, in Orwell’s estimation, “has no constructive suggestions, not even a clear grasp of the nature of the society he is attacking, only an emotional perception that something is wrong.” Ideas, by virtue of their abstractness, are deprecated as too smooth and clean, deficient in the loam of contradictory specifics from which rich fiction grows, and the wish to demonstrate an idea is seen as dangerous because it might lead a writer to neaten her picture of the world, and thereby falsify it.
Some kinds of ideas probably should be kept out of literature. It’s understandable, for example, that Orwell dismissed political dogmas as “smelly little orthodoxies,” and that he celebrated Dickens for writing novels that were innocent of them. But does it make sense to exclude ideas drawn from science or math?
The challenge of science fiction is in its embrace of them….
When it was published 50 years ago, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” was an instant hit, an anti-war novel that was searing, satirical, strange and darkly funny. It revolves around a controversial moment in World War II, the firebombing of Nazi Germany’s loveliest city.
Marie Ponsot, one of my early mentors, has passed away, well into her 90s. She was 98. She was the dedicatee of my book ABOUT WRITING, and when I was sixteen, she gave me my first hardcover copy of NIGHTWOOD, a book I read more times than any other single novel and taught again and again.
She was a kind, generous, and wonderful poet. Her first book was True Minds, and her second was Admit Impediment. She was the pocket poet who lived on this side of the country and had known Ferlinghetti in France. Her French was excellent. Her daughter Monique remains my face book friend, and her son Antoine was the dedicatee of my third novel, The Towers of Toron. Sometime later she was the traveling companions of my wife, Marilyn Hacker.
Learn more in the Wikipedia article about her: Marie Ponsot.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 6, 1990 — Jetsons: The Movie premiered in theatres.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
July 6, 1916 — Donald R. Christensen. Animator, cartoonist, illustrator, writer. He worked briefly at Warner Bros. studio, primarily as a storyboard artist for Bob Clampett’s animation unit. After that, he worked for Dell, Gold Key and Western Publishing comic books, as well as Hanna Barbera, Walter Lantz Productions and other cartoon studios. He wrote and provided illustrations for such comic book titles as Magnus, Robot Fighter, Donald Duck, and Uncle Scrooge. (Died 2006.)
July 6, 1927 — Janet Leigh. Certainly best remembered as doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. She would also be in with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. She’s also in the Night of the Lepus, a very odd 70s SF film. (Died 2004.)
July 6, 1945 — Rodney Matthews, 74. British illustrator and conceptual designer. Among his many endeavors was one with Michael Moorcock creating a series of 12 large posters that showed scenes from Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion’ series. This is turned became the Wizardry and Wild Romance calendar. He also worked work with Gerry Anderson on the Lavender Castle series.
July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 74. Robin in that Batman series. He reprised the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes , and two recent films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. The latter have the last work done by Adam West before his death.
July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 73. Although I think Stallone made a far less than perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot on for the film which was something the second film, which had a perfect Dredd in Keith Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect.
July 6, 1950 — John Byrne, 69. A stellar comic book artist and writer. He’s done far too much to detail here so I’ll just single out that he scripted the first four issues of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, was the writer and artist on the excellent Blood of the Demon from 1-17 and responsible for Spider-Man: Chapter One which took a great deal of flak.
July 6, 1980 — Eva Green,39. First crosses our paths in Casino Royale asVesper Lynd followed by Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass, and then Angelique Bouchard Collins in Dark Shadows. Ava Lord in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (weird films are those) with a decided move sideways into being Miss Alma Peregrine for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And she was Colette Marchant in Dumbo. She’s got two series roles to her credit, Morgan Pendragon in Camelot and Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful.
(12) MY ULTIMATE PURPOSE. Seeing this tweet, I’m reminded of Sirens of Titan and how the Tralfamadorians directed the development of humanity simply to produce a needed spare part for a spaceship.
(13) BLIND BARD. Get a head start celebrating Heinlein’s
birthday tomorrow by listening to the X-Minus One radio broadcast of “The
Green Hills of Earth”:
“The Green Hills Of Earth”. The story of Rhysling, the blind folksinger of the spaceways! Great radio. The script was previously used on “Dimension X” on June 10, 1950 and December 24, 1950. + This is the story of Riesling, the singer of the space ways. Future generations of school children have sung his songs in English, French or German, the language doesn’t matter, but it was an Earth tongue. But the real story of Rhysling is not found in the footnotes of a scholars critique or a publishers biography. It is in the memories of the old time space men the pioneers who pushed the thundering old fashioned rockets to the far strange ports that are our common place heritage – these men know the true story of Rhysling.
An award exclusively for novels that do not depict violence against women has come under fire for the second year in a row. British author and screenwriter Bridget Lawless launched the Staunch Book Prize in 2018 specifically to recognize thrillers “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” The prize drew controversy almost as soon as it was announced, with crime writers such as Val McDermid arguing that “not to write about [violence against women] is to pretend it’s not happening,” and CrimeFest, the Bristol-based festival for crime novelists, ultimately withdrawing its support.
Sophie Hannah, who writes psychological thrillers as well as the continuation of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries, publicly announced that she would ask her publishers not to submit her books for the award. She also made the case in a lengthy Facebook post that the Staunch Book Prize muddies its message by taking an overt stand against one type of violence but not others: “If the Staunch Prize were to be awarded to a book in which a man is murdered, on the other hand, how could we avoid the conclusion that the prize, at worst, approves of this, or, at best, doesn’t disapprove of it all that much?”
“There’s no guarantee that Amazon.com can be a successful company. What we’re trying to do is very complicated,” said Jeff Bezos in 1999, just five years after launching the online firm.
That the firm’s founder was so uncertain of its future seems surprising.
Today, 25 years on from when it started, Amazon is one of the most valuable public companies in the world, with Mr Bezos now the world’s richest man, thanks to his invention.
What started as an online book retailer has become a global giant, with membership subscriptions, physical stores, groceries for sale, its own smart devices and a delivery system which can get things to customers in just an hour.
The Apollo programme pushed space and computing technology to its limit. Cutting edge at the time, some of the tech used seems alarmingly simple today.
74: Memory (ROM) of Apollo guidance computer, in kilobytes
Computer technology was one of the greatest – and long lasting – achievements of Apollo. From the solid-state microcomputer fitted to the lunar lander, to mighty IBM mainframes, with their flashing lights and banks of magnetic tape.
To navigate the Apollo spacecraft the quarter of a million or so miles to the Moon and then descend to a precise spot on the surface, astronauts used the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC).
Housed in a box around the size of a small suitcase, with a separate display and input panel fitted to the main spacecraft console, it was a masterpiece of miniaturisation.
Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the AGC was filled with thousands of integrated circuits, or silicon chips. Nasa’s order of this new technology led to the rapid expansion of Silicon Valley and accelerated the development of today’s computers.
(19) ON THE MOVE. In “Fairytales of Motion” on Vimeo, Alan Warburton explains how
animators, with an emphasis on classic Disney films, use motion in their
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, mlex,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Paul Weimer.]
Editor’s Note: My ISP took the site down for several hours to do database
maintenance. I was notified earlier today it would happen and put the info in a
comment, however, I doubt many people saw it. We’re back now!
(1) HOW TO SUCCEED AS A PANELIST Delilah S. Dawson’s thread
“So You’re On Your First Panel As A Writer” tells participants how to sharpen their
skills. Thread starts here.
In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Chicago, the Justice Department asked for a halt to Quad/Graphics’s planned $1.4 billion purchase of LSC Communications. Lawyers in the department’s antitrust division argued that the merger would decrease competition and drive up prices.
Quad publishes every Condé Nast title, including The New Yorker and Vogue, most publications from Hearst Magazines, including O: The Oprah Magazine, and Scholastic books. LSC Communications publishes two magazines from AARP that claim to have the largest circulations in the world, Penguin Random House books and more.
…In its attempt to block the deal, the Justice Department had two allies from the community of writers: The Authors Guild and PEN America. “The lack of competition among book printers has already caused a bottleneck and increased publishing costs, and a merger between these two companies could exacerbate this situation by creating a monopoly,” the Authors Guild said in a statement in March.
That same month, the Authors Guild and PEN America joined the Open Markets Institute, an antitrust think tank based in Washington, in sending a letter to the Justice Department recommending that the merger be blocked.
It was imperative that the government act, the letter said, because magazines and books “are fundamental to the ability of citizens to freely express and share their thoughts, ideas, opinions and works of art.”
Are Marvel fans a “Shallow” lot? They are lobbying hard for James Gunn to cast Lady Gaga as the voice of Lylla, a sentient otter from the comic books who winds up being the love interest of Rocket Raccoon, who is voiced by Bradley Cooper in the movies. This is after Film Updates posted a tease on Twitter that Gaga was under consideration, and that Lylla was “set to make an appearance” in Gunn’s upcoming ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3’.
(5) DESTROYING THE INTERNET. On reason.com,
Mike Godwin of the R Street Institute, in “What
If Widespread Disinformation Is the Solution to Fake News?” interviews Neal Stephenson about his idea,
expressed in Fall, that the solution to fake news on the Internet is to
hire people to perform “libel service,” flooding the Net with so many
slanderous articles about a subject that no one could believe anything on the
Net about a particular person.
I confess I haven’t yet finished Stephenson’s latest 800-plus-page tome, which so far might be characterized, although not necessarily captured, by the term “near-future dystopia.” But when I came across Stephenson’s depiction of how automated disinformation could actually remedy the damage that internet-based “doxxing” and fake news inflict on an innocent private individual, I paused my reading and jumped down the rabbit hole of tracing this idea to its 1990s roots.
…This whole chapter rang many bells for me, not least because it paralleled a discussion I had with a law professor at a conference last year when I pitched the idea of a “libel service.” Basically, you’d hire a “libel service” to randomly defame you on the internet, so that whenever anyone says something bad about you on Twitter or Facebook, or in the comments area of some newspaper, you could just say “that’s probably my libel service.” No one would know whether the defamatory statements were true or not, and people would be predisposed to doubt anything too terrible that’s said about you.
(6) MARVEL ONE-ACT PLAYS. Samuel French and Marvel Entertainment have launched Marvel Spotlight, a collection of one-act plays “telling the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Developed specifically for teenagers, these one-act plays star the iconic Super Heroes Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Squirrel Girl. The scripts are now available for purchase as well as licensing within the educational theatre market at MarvelSpotlightPlays.com.
Here’s the abstract for Mirror of Most Value: A Ms. Marvel Play:
Kamala attempts to boost Ms. Marvel’s fledgling super hero profile by writing her own fan fiction. But when building a fandom becomes an obsession, Kamala’s schoolwork and relationships begin to suffer. To become the Jersey City hero of her dreams, Kamala must learn to accept herself just as she is – imperfections and all.
(7) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. Camestros Felapton points
out the connections between Bradbury’s fiction and the Elton John biopic: “The
Rocket Man versus Rocketman”.
Both the song and story feature a man who pilots an interplanetary rocket as a routine job that takes him away from his family for large stretches of time. However, the song places the perspective with the pilot (the titular rocket man) but the story focuses on the feelings and experiences of the pilot’s son.
Bradbury is such a powerful writer. Even though the sci-fi trappings of the story are of the gee-whiz 1950s style shiny technology, the story itself is focused on emotional connections and that signature Bradbury sense of the past and memory.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 25, 1953 — Robot Monster debuted — the one where the guy in the gorilla suit wore a divers helmet with antennae.
June 25, 1965 — Dr. Who And The Daleks was released in London. The film featured Peter Cushing as Dr. Who. Cushing would do one more film, Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. a year later. Cushing was the First Doctor, so Roberta Tovey was cast as his granddaughter.
June 25, 1975 — Rollerball premiered
June 25, 1982 — Blade Runner arrived in theaters.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 25, 1903 — George Orwell. Surprised to learn he only lived to be forty-seven years old. Author obviously of Animal Farm and 1984, both of which I read a long time ago. Best use of the 1984 image goes to Apple in their ad where a female runner smashes the image of Big Brother. (Died 1950.)
Born June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, 93. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright.
Born June 25, 1935 — Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind,” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveller Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. (Died 2002.)
Born June 25, 1956 — Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!, (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
Born June 25, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 59. Now here’s an author that I’ve read a lot of starting with his first novel, Desolation Road, and following through to his most recent, The Luna series. I do have favorites — Desolation Road and the other Mars novel, Ares Express, plus the Everness series are the ones I like the best. Chaga I think is the one I need to read again as I was annoyed by it the first time.
Born June 25, 1981 — Sheridan Smith, 38. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eight Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.
(10) WHAT A KINDNESS. Actor Michael Sheen answered a
request in character as Aziraphale:
Stan Lee’s posthumous creative project A Trick of Light, initially announced as the beginning of a new series for Audible, will be published as a hardcover finished book this fall, EW has learned exclusively. The book will be classified as Lee’s first-ever novel for adult readers, and marks the first foray into his new Alliances universe, which was created in partnership between Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment, Ryan Silbert’s Origin Story, and Luke Lieberman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is set to publish A Trick of Light, with Kat Rosenfield serving as co-author.
A Trick of Light is a superhero origin story about the unlikely friendship between Cameron, a gifted young man struggling with newfound fame after a freak accident gives him the ability to manipulate technology with his mind, and Nia, a hacker and coding genius with a mysterious past. The two must combine their powers to fight the dangerous physical and online forces threatening to wipe out the human race. Audible’s original launches June 27; it’s narrated by Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi.
The setting was really interesting and philosophically fruitful: a fleet of generation ships dating back to a time before contact with aliens who possess advanced technology that made generation ships useless. Instead of traversing the inky depths of interstellar space, the Fleet orbits a planet. Still, the people continue to live there. Why? It’s complicated. But it prompts the existential question: What are we, the readers, doing on a rock hurtling through space heading nowhere in particular, destined to die? It starts off subtle but it all gets pretty deep (we’re talking meaning-of-life type stuff, some of it – damn it – coming from the angsty teen). This really surprised me considering a lot of the novel feels pretty… light and fluffy. You could totally read this as a light and fluffy space romp and enjoy it just fine, but there are depths if you’re willing to look into the subtleties.
(13) WILLITS TRIBUTE. Alan White’s Skyliner
#7 is a wonderful collection,
even if it is “a sad one, being
dedicated to the late, great Malcolm Willits, Author, Fannish Mogul, Citizen
Kane of Mickey Mouse, and one of the early fen who actually did something
worthy of the fannish pantheon.” It includes long autobiographical pieces, such
as “Gottfredson and Me” about Willits’ appreciation for the artist who
produced Disney’s Mickey Mouse comics.
I have long loved Floyd Gottfredson, even though I did not know his name. But I knew him through his work, through his wonderful Mickey Mouse stories, and especially through his wonderful artwork. I knew it first through the Big Little Books, those miniature jewels that came out during the Depression and reprinted Mickey’s great adventures. I remember them from the ten cent store; whole counters full, all spine out and a dime apiece
A few years later all my Big Little Books disappeared, along with the comic books I had carefully protected from the wartime paper drives, thereby prolonging World War II a microsecond. My father was a YMCA Secretary, and he had given all of them to the children of Japanese-American families being relocated to internment camps. In vain was my protest that the 10¢ war stamp I purchased each week in the 2nd grade was sacrifice enough. Nor was my offer to substitute my school books even considered. I soon found myself in a staging area looking at sad-eyed Japanese-American children being held in wire cages. Dad informed me they were as American as I. It was then I began to suspect his grasp of world affairs. Didn’t he know who Captain America was fighting; had he slept through that Don Winslow serial we had seen a week or two before and neglected to notice who the villains were? But I acted properly contrite and was rewarded with some new comic books on the way home, so the world turned bright again. When my father turned 90, he was honored for his work with the Japanese-Americans during World War II. My contribution remains unheralded.
…Do artists such as Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson really need their friends? John W. Campbell, legendary editor of astounding science-fiction once said that if all the fans stop buying his magazine he would never know. He meant the fans that filled the letter columns, attended the conventions, published the fanzines, and badgered the authors. They probably compromise 1% of the readership, and 90% of the headaches. By being so vocal they could manage from orbit the general policies of the magazine that were keeping the rest of the readership contented. Yet where would Barks and Gottfredson be today if it were not for the godsend that two fans, Bruce Hamilton, and Russ Cochran, we’re born to collect and publish the works of these two artists? How difficult it would be to place a historical perspective on them without the pioneering works Tom Andrae, Donald Ault, Bill Blackbeard, Geoffrey Blum, Barbara Botner, Mark Evanier, Alan Dean Foster, Bob Foster, Frank & Dana Gabbard, Gottfreid Helnwein, Gary Kurtz, George Lucas, Leonard Maltin, John Nichols, Tor Odemark, Mark Saarinen, Horst Schroeder, David Smith, Kim Weston, myself, Mark Worden, and many others both here and abroad.
(14) THE HORROR OF IT ALL. Nick Mamatas’ affection for the
Lovecraftian storytelling style is manifest in his review of “Toy Story 4“,
a post made public to encourage readers
to sign up for his Patreon.
…The uncanny and the unworthy populate the film. Woody, ignored by his new owner, feels valueless and thus assigns himself the task of attempting to keep Forky alive. The antagonists are antique store dolls–there a Chatty Cathylike figure whose voice box was damaged at her creation, so her pull-cord “I love you!” sounds like a twisted dream calling forth from the bottom of a tar pit. She commands a quartet of ventriloquist dummies who cannot speak and who do her bidding while flopping around on their twisted limbs. She desires Woody’s innards for her own….
Of course the Germans have a wonderful word for ‘Gothic novel’. Schauerroman. Literally: “shudder-novel”. A story that makes you shiver with fear. Because Gothic is the literature of the menacing and the macabre.
It’s the stuff of nightmares.
But how does such a dark art translate in sunny Australia? How do you cause your readers to shiver when the temperature sits stubbornly above 80 degrees?
Gothic influence has been loitering creepily in Australian literature ever since European settlement. In 1788, when the British began shipping their convicts to Australia, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Ontranto had recently been published in England and so the British transported the Gothic mode along with their very worst criminals.
SIR WILLIAM GULL in From Hell, by Alan Moore (art by Eddie Campbell)
In Moore’s brilliant graphic novel, we’re asked to bend all we know about a serial killer we all know: Jack the Ripper. The details and research embedded in the conspiracy theory that unfolds are haunting, staggering, and so well done. If the infamously gruesome homicidal maniac was one and the same as a highly respected royal physician, then we must consider who we are trusting with our lives, and why.
Nasa has put a miniaturised atomic clock in orbit that it believes can revolutionise deep-space navigation.
About the size of a toaster, the device is said to have 50 times the stability of existing space clocks, such as those flown in GPS satellites.
If the technology proves itself over the next year, Nasa will install the clock in future planetary probes.
The timepiece was one of 24 separate deployments from a Falcon Heavy rocket that launched from Florida on Tuesday.
The other passengers on the flight were largely also demonstrators. They included a small spacecraft to test a new type of “green” rocket fuel, and another platform that aims to propel itself via the pressure of sunlight caught in a large membrane; what’s often called a “lightsail”.
But it is the mercury-ion atomic clock, developed at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which has had most attention.
The UK has managed to get one of its major Antarctic bases operating in an automatic mode for the first time.
Halley base, on the Brunt Ice Shelf, is remotely running experiments that include the monitoring of the ozone layer and of “space weather”.
The station would normally be crewed year-round, even through the permanent darkness of winter.
But staff have had to be withdrawn because of uncertainty over the stability of nearby ice.
A giant berg the size of Greater London is about to break away from the Brunt, and officials from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) consider it prudent to keep people away from the area, at least until the light and warmth of summer returns.
That’s prompted the UK’s polar research agency to develop an innovative set-up that can continue the station’s priority science activities in what is now the third winter shutdown on the trot.
What will remain in 100 years’ time of the city or town where you were born: which landmarks or buildings? What about in 500 years? The controversial author Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers a counter-intuitive rule-of-thumb for answering questions like this. If you want to know how long something non-perishable will endure – that is, something not subject to the limits of a natural lifespan – then the first question you should ask is how long it has already existed. The older it is, the more likely it is to go on surviving.
…The logic of Taleb’s argument is simple. Because the only judge that matters when it comes to the future is time, our only genuinely reliable technique for looking ahead is to ask what has already proved enduring: what has shown fitness and resilience in the face of time itself, surviving its shocks and assaults across decades, centuries or millennia. The Tower of London may seem modest in comparison to the Shard skyscraper – which sits across the Thames at 11 times the height – but it has also proved its staying power across 94 times as many years. The Shard may be iconic and imposing, but its place in history is far from assured. When it comes to time, the older building looms larger.
(21) MUPPET HISTORY. DefunctTV: Jim Henson is a
six-part series chronicling the life and works of the man behind the Muppet
mayhem. Here’s the first of four installments.
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John
King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z, and
Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]