Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
- Generations movie documentary
More videos after the jump.
Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
More videos after the jump.
(1) ADVICE AND DISSENT. When Elon Musk described himself as “…a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks” on Twitter he got plenty of pushback. Soon Lee and Rob Thornton report that the pushers included Charles Stross, Hal Duncan, Cory Doctorow, and —
Most of Musk's projects seem a bit half-baked at times, but his plan to get us a new Culture novel by making Iain so furious that he'll come back from the dead to write it seems to have a good chance of success.
— Cheryl Morgan (@CherylMorgan) June 17, 2018
For those who need an introduction, Edward Champion’s 2013 essay “The Culture Novels of Iain M. Banks” looks promising:
When not committing his considerable energies to such intense Bildungsromans as The Wasp Factory or bleak-humored narratives like The Crow Road, Banks inserts an M into “Iain Banks” and writes science fiction novels. Most of these speculative volumes concern the Culture, a utopian-anarchist society that extends across a sizable cluster of the universe. These Culture vultures gambol across the galaxy in ships with such eccentric names as Don’t Try This at Home and Serious Callers Only. Culture citizens live for centuries, and can even change their appearances if they grow discontent with their corpora. These conditions encourage these civilized sybarites to have more fun than a flighty Dalmatian discovering a chiaroscuro sea of spotty companions. Never mind that there’s always an intergalactic war going on.
(2) DOLLAR BLAST. Just as you’d expect superheroes to do: “‘Incredibles 2’ crushes animation box office record”.
The Disney and Pixar film premiered to an estimated $180 million at the domestic box office this weekend. The sequel to the popular 2004 computer animated film soared past the record for biggest animated film opening in box office history by $45 million.
That record belonged to another Pixar film, “Finding Dory,” which opened to roughly $135 million two summers ago.
So far the film brought in $231.5 million around the world.
(3) BIG CAT. Should an owner discourage the ambitions of an SJW credential?
I’m sorry, Margarita, but it’s not going to make you a weresaber. pic.twitter.com/TezGznh23M
— Brian Switek (@Laelaps) June 17, 2018
(4) HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED LEX. Some fantastic beasts who practice law in Hollywood are sowing darkness across the land: “Warner Bros. Crackdown Puts Dark Mark Over Harry Potter Festivals”.
Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it’s necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they wll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic.
“It’s almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that has coincided with an annual Harry Potter festival in suburban Philadelphia.
Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill’s business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects from the film series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.
(5) WELL ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE. Owen King tells readers of The New Yorker about “Recording Audiobooks For My Dad, Stephen King”.
My father gave me my first job, reading audiobooks on cassette tape. He had caught on to the medium early, but, as he explained later, “There were lots of choices as long as you only wanted to hear ‘The Thorn Birds.’ ” So, one day, in 1987, he presented me with a handheld cassette recorder, a block of blank tapes, and a hardcover copy of “Watchers,” by Dean Koontz, offering nine dollars per finished sixty-minute tape of narration.
This was an optimistic plan on my father’s part. Not only was I just ten years old, but when it came to reading aloud I had an infamous track record. My parents and I still read books together each night, and I had recently begun demanding an equal turn as narrator. Along our tour through Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped,” I had tested their love with reckless attempts at a Scottish accent for the revolutionary Alan Breck Stewart, whom the novel’s protagonist, David Balfour, befriends. Even as they pleaded for me to stop, I made knee-deep haggis of passages like the following:
“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”
Despite this, my father enlisted me to narrate “Watchers.”
(6) WHAT A RUSH. It’s not going to take long for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2018 to fill up –
250 books entered for #SPFBO 4 in the first 29 hours!
The contest is on.
47 places remain.https://t.co/0CulpGtAme
— Mark Lawrence (@Mark__Lawrence) June 17, 2018
(7) ARCHEOVIDEOLOGY. Echo Ishii returns to the history of TV sff in “SF Obscure: Ace of Wands”.
Ace of Wands is an ITV fantasy show broadcast in 1971 to 1972. It’s technically a children’s/ family show, but it’s fairly sophisticated and one that held my interest. Ace of Wands ran for three series, however, only the third series remains. At the time, ITV wiped old series due to the high cost of production materials and storage.
(8) CATCHY TITLE. Anna-Marie Abell gave her novel an irresistible name — Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. For the next couple of days it’s a 99-cent special on Amazon. If somebody reads it they can tell the rest of us whether it lives up to the promise of the cover.
Are you like me and love to get something for free? This week only you can download my e-book for FREE on Smashwords! Woohoo! ?#freebook #Smashwords #sciencefiction #RomanceBooks #ebooks #MustReads2018 #bookgiveaway #FreeDownload https://t.co/gMuUUpMHIi pic.twitter.com/JgIojTles8
— Anna-Marie Abell (@writtenbyanna) March 6, 2018
Anna-Marie Abell grew up in a trailer park. Well, several actually. Her trailer was on wheels so she got to experience the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of mobile home parks as her parents moved her from one to the other. Somewhere along the way, she got totally into UFOs. Probably because she was hoping extraterrestrials would come and abduct her. But they never did. Luckily for her she was smart, because her only hope of escaping trailer life was college and a full scholarship. Moving to sunny California on her almost full ride to Chapman University, she was well on her way to her new life. Two bachelor degrees later (Film and Television Production and Media Performance), and several honors and awards for her accomplishments, she managed to start working in an almost completely unrelated industry from her majors: infomercials.
It was in college that she got bit by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last twenty years researching the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.
(9) FRONT, PLEASE. Dorothy Grant’s “Cover caveats” at Mad Genius Club is a great introduction to the process.
So where do you find your cover art and cover designer? Well, you can search the premade options put together by artists and designers, so you know exactly what it’ll look like when you get the “Your Title” swapped out for your actual title, and “Author Name” swapped for your pen name or real name.
Or you can get one designed for you. If you have no idea what you want or need, this can involve writing up a short description of the book or sending the book to the designer. Be aware that a busy professional designer probably will not read your entire book, but is skimming for worldfeel, character descriptions, possibly an iconic scene.
Or, if you’re a little more artistically inclined, you’ll send the designer / artist basically three sets of URLs.
First, links to bestselling books in the same subgenre that have covers similar to what you want. (send 3, so they can get a feel for what’s standard to that subgenre vs. particular to that single cover.)
Second, Send them URLs from stock photo sites that say “models like this”
Third, URLs from stock photo sites saying “backgrounds like this”
Artists think in pictures, not words, so communicate in visuals as much as possible.
(10) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. I watched the first part of Live Slush Session 2 and was intrigued to hear Baen’s publisher and a contributing editor give candid reactions to authors’ manuscripts.
Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf and “Slushmaster General” Gray Rinehart read the openings of volunteer submissions to give writers some insight into the evaluation process.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL. The Stage’s George Hall reviews the opera based on a Silverberg story: “To See the Invisible review at Britten Studio, Snape – ‘a musical patchwork’”.
New at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Emily Howard’s chamber opera To See The Invisible has been freely adapted by playwright Selma Dimitrijevic from a taut and distinctly Kafkaesque short story by the American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg.
The central character has been found guilty of the crime of coldness and is sentenced to a year’s invisibility, during which he is completely ignored by (almost) everyone he meets.
In Dimitrijevic’s libretto the character’s isolation remains severe, though he now has a family consisting of a mother, father and sister. His encounters with them and other individuals – in court, in a public gardens and a brothel – ameliorate his plight while also allowing some of Silverberg’s focused purity to dissipate.
In the opera he also has a kind of shadow in the shape of what the libretto describes as The Other Invisible – Anna Dennis’ female soprano regularly in synch with Nicholas Morris’ baritonal male. The character’s dual vocality is undoubtedly one of the more successful features of Howard’s score….
(13) IT’S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. Olga Polomoshnova analyzes the villain who gave evil a bad name — “On Sauron’s motives” at Middle-Earth Reflections.
Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.
Having risen like the shadow of Morgoth, Sauron was nevertheless different from his former lord. His downfall arose out of good motives, nor was he the beginner of discord. Sauron belonged to the Maiar — spirits created from Ilúvatar’s thought. He came into existence before the physical world took shape. Originally Sauron, who was known as Mairon (the Admirable) at that time, was associated with the people of Aulë, so he was a very skillful smith….
(14) EATON PHOTOS ONLINE. Andrew Porter labors on, identifying people in Jay Kay Klein’s photos. At the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3, this shot of a panel audience showed Walt Liebscher, Ray Fisher, Arnie Katz, Lee Hoffman, and Bob Tucker:
(15) A PENNYFARTHING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Ninety years ago, when Frank R. Paul painted his cities of the future, he didn’t include any bicycles at all. Now the BBC is asking — “Tomorrow’s Cities: Will the bike become an urban must-have?”
Fifteen years ago there were just four bike-sharing schemes in cities around the world, but now there are close to 1,000.
Most require you to pick up and leave a bike at a designated area, but new “dockless” schemes from China are coming to cities around the world – and proving controversial.
(16) THE MUMMY DIET. There’s a blog devoted to mummies, and Michele Brittany’s Musing on Mummies is up to “Episode 11: Sokushinbutsu and the Mummification Method Not Often Discussed”.
Ii-wey! Natural or intentional is usually what comes to mind when discussing the process of mummification. Certain environments, deserts, high altitudes or arid cold for example, will naturally dry the deceased, arresting the process of decay as a result. Intentional mummification requires human intervention after a person has died and most often, the Egyptian mummies come to mind. However, there is a third process that is not as well known.
Sokushinbutsu is a Japanese term that refers to a Buddhist mummy that remained incorrupt, or without decay after death….
(17) RADIO FREE BRADBURY. Listen to Ray Bradbury’s Tales of the Bizarre on BBC Radio 4. Four episodes are available online, with three more to come.
(18) NOT THIS WAY. “Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won’t take people to Mars” — Hadfield told Business Insider why he’s skeptical.
…NASA’s Space Launch System, which is slated to debut in the 2020s, will power its engines with a combination of liquid hydrogen and solid chemical fuels. Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, is also looking to use liquid hydrogen. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is staking its future on burning liquid methane, which the company believes it can generate on the Martian surface.
Like other experts, Hadfield doesn’t doubt that any of the vehicles could actually get to Mars; his issue is about the safety of any humans on board. Explosions, radiation, starvation, and other problems would constantly threaten a mission.
“We could send people to Mars, and decades ago. I mean, the technology that took us to the moon back when I was just a kid, that technology can take us to Mars — but it would be at significant risk,” he said. “The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it. They’d die. Because the technology is still quite primitive.”
(19) EMMY TREK. Star Trek: Discovery submitted a long list of material to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in over 20 categories. The full list is available at the linked GoldDerby story: ”’Star Trek: Discovery’ Emmy Submissions: How Many Will it Win?”.
That post also links to a separate story showing Trek Emmy winners from the past series.
The original “Star Trek” series ran from 1966-1969 and didn’t win any Emmys, but it was nominated 13 times, including twice for Best Drama Series (1967-1968). “Star Trek: The Next Generation” followed two decades later and aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994, during which time it won a whopping 19 Emmys, all in Creative Arts categories. “TNG” struggled in top races, however, and wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Series until 1994 for its final season.
(20) DON’T QUIXOTE. Terry Gilliam’s tragedy-plagued project is still plagued but it may not be his anymore. Io9 reports: “Terry Gilliam Has Lost the Rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”.
Well, this is a strange new chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern film. For decades, famed genre director (and former Monty Python, uh, snake) Terry Gilliam struggled to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his own surreal take on the classic Spanish novel. He succeeded, finally, with a rendition starring Adam Driver, and the film premiered this year at Cannes Film Festival.
Except, uh, apparently Terry Gilliam just lost the rights to it. Yes, that’s correct: as reported by Screen Rant, the Paris Court of Appeal just ruled in favor of the film’s former producer, Paulo Brancho, who sued for rights to the project on the grounds that Gilliam made the film illegally.
(21) OH NOOO…. When will they make an end? Comicbook.com is spreading the alarm, er, the — “Rumor: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Claims 9 Movies in Development, Including More ‘Story’ Stand-Alones”. Voice actor Tom Kane is said to have claimed there are nine Star Wars movies in some stage of development. Kane has provided voices for Star Wars video games (starting with Shadows of the Empire in 1996), TV shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), and several of the more recent movies (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
Only six of the projects are known:
Disney-owned Lucasfilm also has plans for fan-favorite Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and famed bounty hunter Boba Fett, who will reportedly receive his own stand-alone from 3:10 to Yuma and Logan director James Mangold.
Lucasfilm is also said to be developing an all-new trilogy under The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, which will be unconnected to the Skywalker saga depicted in the episodic installments and set in an unexplored corner of the galaxy.
Johnson’s producer, Ram Bergman, recently gave an update on the “completely new trilogy,” saying, “It’s all new characters. Everything is new.” The project, he added, is “just in the early stages.”
Abrams’ Episode IX, Johnson’s planned three-movie series, and two new anthologies in Obi-Wan and Boba Fett make six, leaving three supposed projects on the docket.
[Thanks to Dann, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]
(1) VARIATION ON A THEME. James Davis Nicoll launches a new theme with a new panel reading some newish sff in “The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin”:
Welcome to the first post in the Old People Read New SF project, in which I will present my volunteers with a selection of recent (online) speculative fiction to see how they react.
Few authors are as representative of the modern face of SF as N. K. Jemisin. Similarly, few venues are as representative of modern SF in short form as tor.com. It seems only logical, therefore, to begin this project with Jemisin’s The City Born Great. The City Born Great was nominated for a Hugo and won the 2017 Eugie Award.
The City Born Great is available here.
(2) THE RIGHT ANSWER. This Jeopardy! champ will be 2020’s Arisia chair — Diana Hsu has won the past two days.
Malden’s Diana Hsu, a legal records assistant, outlasted a software developer from Santa Clara, Calif. and a political science professor from York, Penn. to become the new Jeopardy! champion last night, June 13.
Hsu won a total of $24,001 on the program, as she defeated returning champion Catherine Ono, a two-day champion, who ended up in second place.
Going into Final Jeopardy, Hsu was in the lead with $16,000, ahead of Ono by $4,600 and ahead of Nick Anspach by $11,000.
The Final Jeopardy clue on the episode, in the category of 1990s Animated Films, was: “Though it draws elements from ‘Hamlet,’ Disney says this was their first all-animated feature based on an original story.”
The correct response was, “The Lion King.” All three contestants answered correctly.
(3) NERDIST ERASES FOUNDER. Deadline reports “Chris Hardwick Wiped From Nerdist Website He Founded Amid Allegations By Ex-Girlfriend”.
Chris Hardwick, the Nerdist founder and host of NBC’s game show The Wall, AMC’s Talking Dead aftershow and a regular emcee in Hall H at Comic-Con, has been scrubbed from the Nerdist website he founded after being accused of sexual abuse and “long-term abuse” by his former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra.
Legendary Entertainment, which owns Nerdist Industries where Hardwick launched his career as a comic and podcaster, just released a statement.
“Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017,” it reads. “He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation.”
The move comes after Dykstra, a TV personality and host, penned a first-person account of their three-year relationship that posted on Medium. Dykstra never mentioned Hardwick by name, but details about the “mildly successful podcaster” who grew into “a powerhouse CEO of his own company” suggest she was referring to him.
Chloe Dykstra’s Medium article is here: “Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession.”
(Trigger warning: If abuse, sexual assault, or anorexia makes you uncomfortable, you might want to avoid this one.)
Over the years, I’ve attempted to write this, quite literally, 17 times. I’ve spoken to friends, therapists, lawyers, publicists. The drafts have ranged from cathartic, angry letters to litigious, hardened accounts of inexcusable treatment. Until I got one piece of advice from a friend: Write from your heart. You’ll know it’s right when it’s right. So, here I go.
(4) MEME WARS. Yahoo! Entertainment says you can add Millie Bobby Brown to the list of the sci-fi actresses run off social media by the rabid dogs. “Millie Bobby Brown of ‘Stranger Things’ leaves Twitter after becoming an antigay meme. She’s 14, y’all.”
Millie Bobby Brown, who found fame as Eleven in Netflix’s sci-fi show Stranger Things, has left Twitter because of Photoshopped images that have turned her into a homophobic meme.
The 14-year-old actress, like most people her age, is active on social media, including Twitter and Instagram.
For whatever reason, and there usually isn’t one when the internet gets involved, the new trend is Photoshopping fake antigay images on Brown….
(5) DAWN OF THE DEAN. Cartoonist Patrick Dean revealed he has ALS – in a cartoon. His Twitter bio: “I draw comics that no one reads and talk about the weather a lot. I also believe in ghosts. I will be one soon.”
Shit news, everyone. pic.twitter.com/z9sprElvvT
— Patrick Dean AA-1121 (@PDean_Yeah) June 13, 2018
(6) SECRET AGENT MAN IN THE MOON. At World of Indie, “McMoon: How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised” tells how some of the (very) high-resolution images of the moon were taken and transmitted to Earth prior to the Apollo missions, and how they are being preserved and restored:
Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from. Instead the images from that time were grainy and low resolution, made to be so by NASA.
(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites the internet to join A. M. Dellamonica for an Italian lunch in Episode 69 of Eating the Fantastic.
It’s time to return to Pittsburgh for another episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded during last month’s Nebula Awards weekend, following up on my Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree and dinner with Kelly Robson. On the Friday of that event, I snuck away with A. M. Dellamonica for lunch at Senti, which my research told me was one of the best places to go in the city for classic Italian.
Dellamonica‘s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her fourth, A Daughter of No Nation, won the 2016 Prix Aurora. She is the author of more forty short stories on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and most recently Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She was also co-editor of the Heiresses of Russ anthology.
We discussed how a long list of random things she liked eventually grew into her first novel, the intricate magic system she created for her series, how her novel Child of a Hidden Sea taught her she was less of a plotter and more of a pantser than she’d thought, the doggerel she wrote when she was five years old (which you’ll get to hear her recite), how discovering Suzy McKee Charnas at age 15 was incendiary, which run of comics made her a Marvel fan, what it was like attempting to live up to the pioneering vision of Joanna Russ while editing the anthology Heiresses of Russ, which YouTube series happens to be one of her favorite things in the world, the way John Crowley’s teachings might have been misinterpreted by her class during the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, the three mystery novels of her you’ll hopefully be reading in the future, and much more.
(8) IRON WOMAN ON STAGE. The Bookseller brings word: “Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre to stage Ted Hughes’ The Iron Woman”.
The Other Palace, a London theatre owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres Group, will this autumn stage an adaptation of Ted Hughes’s classic children’s book The Iron Woman (Faber Children’s).
The story, first published 25 years ago as a sequel to The Iron Man, is about how a girl called Lucy fights back against pollution, caused by a waste factory in her town, with the help of an Iron Woman who has emerged from the marsh.
Carol Hughes, Ted Hughes’ widow, said she approached Andrew Lloyd Webber about doing a play to mark 20 years since the poet’s death.
“I wanted to mark that anniversary in a positive way by highlighting his writing for children and also his lifelong passion for the environment,” she said. “This story of Lucy and the Iron Woman is a gripping, magical fable of what we can achieve once we, and the generations of children who follow us, realise we do have within us the power to fight back against the seemingly-relentless pollution that is blighting our lands, rivers and seas.”
The play will be written by Mike Kenny, whose previous stage adaptations include one for The Railway Children, with music by songwriter Pippa Cleary. It will open at The Other Palace theatre on 9th October.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) UNKISSED FROGS. Something else for Jurassic World? “Prehistoric frogs in amber surface after 99 million years”.
Frogs trapped in amber for 99 million years are giving a glimpse of a lost world.
The tiny creatures have been preserved in sticky tree resin since the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs.
The four fossils give a window into a world when frogs and toads were evolving in the rainforests.
Amber from Myanmar, containing skin, scales, fur, feathers or even whole creatures, is regarded as a treasure trove by palaeontologists.
(11) STARTING POINT. Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Calculating Stars, analyzes “The Responsibility of Narratives” on the Tor/Forge Blog.
As mainstream culture becomes increasingly vocal about the politics of gender, it makes me aware of all of the damaging narrative that I’ve internalized and which has created internal biases in myself. Those show up in my fiction. So when I sit down to write, I now assume that I have a bias.
Why is this a problem?
Kowal will tell you.
(12) UNEXPECTED VACANCIES. Star Trek: Discovery discovers it needs new showrunners. The Hollywood Reporter, in “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Showrunners Out; Alex Kurtzman to Take Over (Exclusive)”, cited unnamed sources who told them ST:D has made another change at the Producer level. Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg are out because of “budget woes and complaints of staff mistreatment.” Executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman will step in as “showrunner” (basically, producer) as well as heading the writers’ room. Harberts and Berg had replaced original showrunner Bryan Fuller. All this in less than two seasons.
(13) ANTIQUE SJW CREDENTIAL. “137 in Human Years: Thought to Be the Oldest Cat in the World, Rubble Celebrates His 30th Birthday”. People speculates:
Is this the oldest domestic cat in the world? The lucky feline in the photo above has lived nine lives and then some. Rubble, a long-haired ginger-and-white kitty living in the U.K., may just be the newest cat contender for the O.G. title. His owner, Michele Foster, recently celebrated her super-senior pet’s birthday in Exeter, Devon, reports Bored Panda.
Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment: “My Ex got Mabinogion aka. Mibble when we divorced. We rescued her from a gat station after we heard a very pitiful cry and found her near the pumps, her all black bod covered in tiny cuts and smelling strongly of diesel. We know that she was at least twenty-six years old when she passed on as we’d had her for twenty-five years. My current SJW creds are (I think) eleven years old, Freya, a tortie, and Taliasen who’s prolly three years younger.”
(14) MUSICAL MARVEL. Variety says “‘Captain Marvel’ to Be Scored by Female Composer, Marking Major Breakthrough”.
In a major breakthrough for women composers, Pinar Toprak has been signed to score “Captain Marvel,” the superhero movie due for release in March 2019.
Toprak, who just finished scoring the first season of SyFy’s “Krypton” and who penned additional music for the DC film “Justice League,” is the first female composer to score a major comic-book movie.
“Captain Marvel” also happens to be about a female superhero (played by Brie Larson). It’s slated for release in March.
(15) THE HECK YOU SAY. Lucifer has risen from…wherever he was before. Infernal Dis, perhaps. “‘Lucifer’ Rises! Netflix Has Ordered The Fourth Season For Axed FOX Series”.
Praise ‘Lucifer’! Or rather, ‘Lucifer’ fans should praise Netflix as the streaming service has rescued another cancelled series– FOX’s ‘Lucifer’ which was cancelled last month. Though neither Netflix nor Warner Bros. Television would officially comment, insiders have divulged that 10 new episodes have been ordered for the show’s fourth season. This is particularly odd since Netflix has never offered episodes of ‘Lucifer’, but presumably the existing three seasons will surface on the streamer soon. (FOX shows are pretty much exclusively available on Hulu.)
(16) GOT MIA. Two popular shows will pass on this year’s SDCC. The Wrap has the story: “‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Westworld’ Won’t Present at San Diego Comic-Con, HBO Says”.
This is the first time “Game of Thrones” will be absent from the convention. The wildly popular drama will air its eighth and final season in 2019. “Westworld” made its Comic-Con debut at last year’s convention, and its Season 2 finale airs June 24. Production on Season 3 has yet to begin on the drama, so there would probably be little to promote for “Westworld.”
(17) WHO AND WHO ELSE? ScreenRant posted its feature “New Doctor Who Cast Making First-Ever Panel Appearance at SDCC 2018” today. Will Chris Hardwick still be the moderator when SDCC comes round?
Introducing a brand new era of Doctor Who, this summer’s SDCC panel will include Whittaker; two of her co-stars, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, who will play two brand new characters in the series named Ryan and Yasmin, respectively; the series’ new showrunner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch); and executive producer Matt Strevens (who also produced An Adventure in Space and Time, the made-for-TV movie based on the making of Doctor Who). The panel will be moderated by The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, an outspoken, diehard fan of Doctor Who.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Franklin, Cat Eldridge, rcade, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) LICENSE TO THRILL. Steven H Silver spotted an unusual collectible in traffic the other day —
I was unaware that Illinois issued such event specific license plate until I saw this one today (June 6). The text around Superman indicates it is for the 40th Annual Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois from June 7-10. On the right you can see that the plate expires on June 10, 2018.
(2) SATISFYING SPACE OPERA. Abigail Nussbaum delivers insightful and fascinating sff analysis in “A Political History of the Future: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente”, at Lawyers, Guns & Money.
To which the answer is, because talking about Space Opera gives me an opportunity to point out a glaring lacuna in almost all the works we’ve discussed so far—the way that nearly every one of them leaves out the centrality of culture, and particularly popular culture, in shaping a society and reflecting its preoccupations.
When I say “culture”, I’m talking about several different things, each integral to the believability of any invented world. Culture can mean shared cultural touchstones, classic and modern, that give people a common frame of reference, like humming a pop song or quoting the Simpsons. It can mean characters who are artists, professional or amateur. It could refer to the way that culture can become a political battleground, as we were discussing just a few days ago in response to the news that conservatives want their own version of SNL. Or it could be a discussion of material culture—fashion, design, architecture—and how it allows people to express themselves in even the most mundane aspects of their lives.
It’s very rare, however, to see science fiction try to engage with any of these aspects of culture. Even as it strives to create fully-realized worlds, art—high and low, functional and abstract, popular and obscure, ridiculous and serious—tends to be absent from them. So are artists—try to remember the last time you encountered a character in a science fiction or fantasy story who had an artistic side, even just as a hobby. Even worse, few characters in SFF stories have any kind of cultural touchstones.
(3) KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Delilah S. Dawson tells what she thinks is the real meaning of that traditional writerly advice “kill your darlings.” The thread starts here —
Here's my story about learning the true meaning of 'kill your darlings'. When my agent sent feedback on my book, she suggested cutting the lighthouse chapter, as it did nothing for the story. Changed nothing. It was pretty, but useless. 1/
— Delilah S. Dawson (@DelilahSDawson) June 10, 2018
(4) IN THE BEGINNING. The International Costuming Guild presents its research into what fans wore to the masquerade at the Second Worldcon (1940) — “Convention Costuming History: The Pre-WWII Years – Pt. III”.
The earliest Worldcon masquerades were more like informal costume contests, with several well known authors of the time participating. The costumes worn were a mix of original designs, interpretations of literary characters and what would come to be known as media recreations. 1940 – Chicon I
Following the novelty of Ackerman’s and Douglas’ costumed appearance the previous year, a “Science Fiction Masquerade Party” was featured as part of the convention programming.(1) By Forrest Ackerman’s count, there were 25 people in costume there. The co-host masters of ceremonies were fans and writers Jack Speer and Milton Rothman. Judging from the accounts of the party, the occasion was informal – there was no stage, but there were one or two skits, including one by Ackerman and “Morojo” (Douglas) wearing their outfits from the previous year.
There were several reports of who was there for the first official costumed event. Among that first group of convention costuming contestants were…
(5) ICG IN PASSING. The International Costuming Guild’s in memoriam video, presented at Costume-Con 36 (2018) to recognize those in the community lost in the previous year, is posted on YouTube.
(6) WITH CAT IN HAND. Yoon Ha Lee will be doing an Ask Me Anything on June 12.
I'll be doing a /r/Books AMA on June 12, also the day my book Revenant Gun will be released–come ask Qs about writing, books, and my friendly cat! pic.twitter.com/6oT5m5Nvk2
— Yoon Ha Lee (???) (@motomaratai) June 6, 2018
(7) THIEVES LIKE US. A recent movie premiere inspires B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s listicle “12 Fantasy Heist Novels”.
There are genre tropes, and then there are those archetypes that are mainstays of not just science fiction and fantasy, but of popular culture in general. One of the best examples is the character of the Gentleman Thief (who doesn’t always have to be a gentleman). These rogues are witty, engaging, and will rob you blind with a rakish wink and a smile. You can’t help but be charmed by them. From Robin Hood to Danny Ocean, the character is a permanent favorite in books and on film….
The Holver Alley Crew, by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Maresca’s interconnected Maradaine books (multiple series examining life in the same fantasy city) are a real treat. The latest series is about the Holver Alley crew, a ragtag group of formerly retired thieves are forced to return to a life of crime when their new, respectable shop burns down. When they learn the fire was no accident, they are forced to take desperate measures. All of the Maradaine books are a treat, but this one really stands out because of the especially strong characters. In fine Oceans tradition, Asti and Verci are both brothers and ringleaders, and must assemble a skilled crew to pull of a job to rob a gambling house that took everything from them.
(8) HAWKING OBSEQUIES. Are any of you trying to get in? “Stephen Hawking: Ballot opens for Westminster Abbey service”.
The public is being offered the chance to attend a service of thanksgiving for Professor Stephen Hawking, who died in March aged 76.
It will take place in Westminster Abbey on 15 June and up to 1,000 tickets are available in a ballot.
During the service, the scientist’s ashes will be interred between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
His daughter, Lucy Hawking, said she wanted to give some of her father’s admirers the chance to remember him.
(9) LAST DAYS. Christopher Stasheff’s son, Edward posted the following to his Facebook page on June 9:
My father, Christopher Stasheff, is currently in hospice and expected to die from Parkinson’s Disease within the next two weeks, quite possibly this week. If anyone would like to say goodbye to him, post it as a response here, and I’ll read it to him the next time I see him (I visit him in the nursing home daily). Thanks.
The most recent reports are suggesting that he may only have a day or so left.
Update: His son reports Stasheff died this evening.
My father Christopher Stasheff died at 6:45 PM on June 10th, 2018, surrounded by his wife and two of his children. The other two were able to phone in and say goodbye before he passed. He is survived by hundreds of his students and uncountable fans, and his legacy will live on in all the lives he touched.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY
(11) VOLLEYED AND THUNDERED. Edmonton’s Hugo Book Club just put out a new blog post, “Is that The Canon in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”, in which they muse about literary awards and their relation to posterity and questions of enduring value. Is science fiction the new Western Canon?
It is worth noting that Harold Bloom’s 1993 list of The Western Canon included only two works that are traditionally categorized as science fiction: Ursula Le Guin’s Hugo Award winner The Left Hand of Darkness and George Orwell’s 1984.
But of Bloom’s list, I would argue the majority of the works cited are less relevant to the broad public – and to a concept of cultural literacy – than the recent Hugo Award winners and popular works of science fiction.
For example, references and allusions to Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 13th century poem Parzival are lost on the broader public, while Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One protagonist Parzival is familiar to many.
(12) ICE NINE. Galactic Journey’s Victoria Lucas has just read the new Vonnegut release – in 1963: “[June 10, 1963] Foma: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Cat’s Cradle)”
When a friend lent Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s newest novel, Cat’s Cradle to me, I thought, “Oh, I know this book!” because I saw, as I flipped through it, the “ice-nine” and “Bokonon” I’d heard people buzzing so much about. So I was glad to read it and understand the phenomenon.
But that’s where my joy ended. Vonnegut is a fine writer. His style is idiosyncratic, askew; this is a novel novel. But no one would accuse him of being optimistic or hopeful about the human future. No Pollyanna he….
(13) BBC RADIO STAR TREK DOCUMENTARY. BBC Radio 4 has just re-broadcast “Star Trek – The Undiscovered Future”, first aired December 2017. It’s available to listen to online right now.
How far have we voyaged towards Star Trek’s vision of the future and what of it is likely to be fulfilled or remain undiscovered in the next 50 years?
Kevin Fong presents archive material of the likes of Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) talking about the inception and filming of the original Star Trek series, and their thoughts about Roddenberry’s vision of the future and its impact in the United States at the time.
For example, Nichols relates how she had a chance encounter with Martin Luther King the day after she had told Roddenberry that she intended to leave Star Trek after the first series. King told her he was her number fan and almost demanded that she didn’t give up the role of Uhura, because she was an uniquely empowering role model on American television at the time.
For a perspective from today, Kevin also talks to George Takei who played Mr Sulu. Takei laments the ethnically divisive politics of the United States in 2016.
He meets Charles Bolden – the first African American to both command a shuttle mission and lead NASA as its chief administrator. In the age of the International Space Station, he compares himself to the ‘Admiral of Star Fleet’. But the former astronaut also talks about the anger he first felt in 1994 when he was asked to fly the first Russian cosmonaut ever to board an American space shuttle.
Kevin also talk to cultural broadcaster and Star Trek fan Samira Ahmed about the sexual and racial politics of the Original series.
(14) ST:D SEASON TWO. Comedian and new Star Trek: Discovery cast member Tig Notaro opened her set on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert poking fun at her inability to understand any of the tech talk from her Trek dialog. See “‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Tig Notaro Talks Technobabble” at Comicbook.com.
Tig Notaro is one of the new additions to the cast of Star Trek: Discovery in the show’s second season and while she’s excited to be a part of the Star Trek universe she doesn’t exactly speak the language.
Notaro was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote her new comedy special Happy to be Here. She greeted Colbert by saying his theater was “like a room full of pleasant subspace particles wrapped in a tachyon field of good vibes.”
The comment is obviously a reference to her role on Discovery, though she admits “I have no idea what I’m saying on that show…I can’t even picture what I’m talking about.”
She revealed that her character is human and that she plays Commander Jet Reno, a name she got to choose for herself. As for how she got the job, “They just asked if I wanted to do it” she says.
(15) BAD WITH NUMBERS? Deadline interviewed the president of Marvel Studios: “Kevin Feige Talks Marvel’s Success, Female Directors, ‘Infinity War II’ & How He’s ‘Bad With Numbers’”.
More female directors on Marvel pics: Captain Marvel is the first Marvel title to have a female director at the helm Anna Boden (who is co-helming with Ryan Fleck. And having more female directors behind his superhero pics is a trend he plans to maintain, “I cannot promise that (the next) 20 Marvel movies will have female directors but a heck of a lot of them will,” he said in response to an audience member’s question. The Marvel boss mentioned that agencies are sending more female directors than men for Marvel directing jobs.
On the $1.3 billion success of Black Panther, Feige said that Marvel “wanted to destroy the myth that black movies don’t work well around the world,” and being at Disney with its platinum marketing department allowed the comic book studio to swing for the fences.
“The budget for Black Panther was bigger than Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and you can’t do that without the support and encouragement from the leaders of the company,” he said.
Feige also applauded Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s championing his diverse below-the-line team in Hannah Beachler as production designer, Ruth Carter’s costumes, and DP Rachel Morrison. Their resumes, like Marvel’s directors, didn’t scream tentpole experience, but Feige is grateful he heard them pitch rather than rely on his regular team.
“We can’t imagine the movie without them, and the future movies we hope to make with them,” he said.
(16) JURASSIC LARK. In Parade, “Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard Talk Dinosaurs, Parenting and Friendship”.
After their wildly successful first dino film in 2015, the pair reunited last year to film much of Fallen Kingdom on the Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii. But even surrounded by tropical paradise, they faced more than a few challenges on camera, from filming in a chlorinated pool that fried Pratt’s hair and skin to riding in a zero-gravity gyrosphere that made Howard nauseous. And Pratt had to do some awkward face-offs with a velociraptor that wasn’t really there—until the special-effects department created it. He acts out how he’d say to the air in front of him, “Get back, get back . . .” and then “Whoa!” as he’d throw himself on the ground. The camera crew, watching on monitors nearby, “didn’t want to say how stupid it looked!”
(17) SCARIEST MOVIE. The Washington Post’s Monica Castillo, in “The story behind ‘Hereditary,’ the Toni Collette horror movie that scared the bejesus out of Sundance”, interviews Hereditary director Ari Aster who, “in his first feature, marries the horror and melodrama genres into an unnerving movie about grief.”
Aster said he deliberately amped up the drama in the film slowly. “I’m not affected by anything in a film unless I’m invested in the people at the center of it,” he said. “I wanted to take my time and immerse people in this family’s life and their dynamic, which is quite complicated. I just wanted to make a film in the tradition of the horror films I grew up loving, like ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘The Innocents.’ Films that take their time are very much rooted in character.”
Setting also plays an important role in the creepiness in “Hereditary.” The family’s luxury cabin in the woods has the right dark corners and haunted attics to make it feel like a trap where its inhabitants are left to slowly die. Annie’s miniature houses become a motif. “The miniatures just struck me as a potent metaphor for the family’s situation,” Aster said. “They have no agency, and they’re revealed over the course of the movie to be like dolls in a dollhouse, being manipulated by these outside forces.”
(18) SPONGEBOB TONY. In “How ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ invaded our brains”, Washington Post writer Sonia Rao interviews the cast and creators of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which is up for 12 Tonys as best musical tonight and is making a lot of Millennials very happy.
Tom Kenny never thought SpongeBob SquarePants, a character he originated on the children’s program almost 20 years ago, would one day end up on Broadway. Why would he have? Parents clamp their hands over their ears whenever they hear SpongeBob’s helium voice, let alone his nasal laugh. The anthropomorphized sponge is no Hugh Jackman.
And yet, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” is up for 12 Tonys on Sunday, tied with “Mean Girls” for the most nominations. Its resonance with serious theatergoers is surprising until you consider that even as adults, those of us who watched the series can’t shake its omnipresent songs, references and memes. Somehow, it became a cultural earworm.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Lexica, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Jonathan Cowie, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) EMMY CAMPAIGN. Comicbook.com spotted these “For Your Consideration” videos touting Star Trek: Discovery for costuming and makeup Emmy nominations.
(2) WISCON PROGRAM NOTES. Yes, there were other panels at WisCon… Lady Business has launched a series of posts to tell you about them, beginning with – “WisCon 42 Panel Writeups: ‘Positive Representations of Masculinity’”.
I didn’t think to say this during the panel itself, but I’ve seen the “helping hand” ethos more and more on reality tv lately. I’ve been watching a lot of Face Off, which is a makeup/special effects artist competition show, and once of the great sellings points of that show for me is how often the competitors help each other. On that show there’s often an element of “this person’s idea for the makeup is so good and it would be a shame if they didn’t manage to realize their vision because of [impediment of the hour].” It’s great to see this approach spreading through more and more competition shows. It’s not just a question of what kinds of contestants are on these shows, but deliberate editing decisions about choosing to play up cooperation rather than conflict. Face Off started out playing up the conflict a lot more in early seasons, but as the show went on they chose more and more to highlight the collaborative aspects and the artistry. I think this is a really important trend in terms of what producers and editors predict or perceive audiences reacting well to, and it’s a trend we can and should reward.
(3) WISH FULFILLMENT. C.E. Murphy’s friends made it happen — “Agent Carter Kisses”.
I have, from time to time, made noises about how much I wanted the Agent Carter kit from Besame Cosmetics, all with a “maybe someday I can buy it” wist.
Well, some of my friends conspired and got it for me as a birthday gift! In fact, I got the package from the Lead Conspirator, my friend Mary Anne, and I thought “???” and turned it to see ‘cosmetics’ written on the customs form, and, as Young Indiana will attest, said, “Oh, she didn’t,” right out loud.
… Later, after everybody said BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ONES I went to try them, too, and holy carp.
Me, looking at the color of the 2nd lipstick (“Forget Me Not”): oh, this will definitely by my least favorite of three colors.
Me, putting it on: holy shit if this is my LEAST favorite this is gonna be an AMAZING trio!!!
The products are still available from Besame Cosmetics’ Agent Carter Shop.
We are overjoyed to introduce our 1946 Agent Carter collection. This labor of love was sparked by Marvel’s use of our popular shade, 1946 Red Velvet, on the iconic Agent Carter. Peggy’s fierce independence, glamour, and intelligence — as well as our love for the series — inspired us to create a collection dedicated to the show.
(4) GUFF. Congratulations to Donna Maree Hansen for publishing her GUFF Trip Report so quickly!
My GUFF trip report is complete at 62 pages comprised of 26,000 words and photos. The report contains the account of the trip I made to Finland for Worldcon 75 and my adventures meeting fans around northern Europe, Ireland and the UK.
If you would like a copy then please order below. All money raised from the report goes to the GUFF to support other SF fans to travel to SF cons in Europe and Australasia.
I’ve set the minimum donation to $7.00.
Thank you in advance.
(5) IT COMES IN THE MAIL. Seen at ~12:00 in this video, Campbell (best new writer) nominee Jeanette Ng sent a copy of her book with a thank you note to the creators of a wrestling podcast she thanked in the acknowledgements.
DMS, who sent the item, says “And, yes, I do watch a show about opening mail.”
(6) A PEEK AT THE BALLOT. Joe Sherry resumes his Nerds of a Feather series with “Reading the Hugos: Novella” —
River of Teeth: From my review: “Um, did you know there was a serious plan to bring hippopotamuses to America to alleviate a meat shortage? I didn’t either, but Sarah Gailey did. I’m so happy that she knew this because it grew into this insanity of a novella that delivers a fantastic story that feels like the wild west as seen from hippoback. River of Teeth is glorious, but it is more than just the wonderful idea of using hippos as beasts of burden and transit (and oh, this idea is so well excuted) – it is also filled with striking characters like Winslow Remington Houndstooth and Regina Archambault, but the whole cast, really. It’s great.” The fact that this is my least favorite of the finalists does not denigrate River of Teeth at all, but rather it shows just how high the bar is in this category.
(7) ON FIRE. Paul Weimer’s latest Nerds of a Feather contribution is “Microreview [book]: Fire Dance, by Ilana C Myer”.
In 2015, attracted by it’s cover and premise, I became interested in the work of then debut novelist Ilana C Myer. Her Last Song Before Night was a triumph of poetry, language and worldbuilding that immersed me from the first page and refused to let me go. I was left wanting to learn much more about Lin and her world of Court Poets, returning magic, and vivid language.
Fire Dance, although not strictly a sequel to Last Song Before Night, returns us to that same world, set not longer thereafter. The consequences of Lin’s unleashing of long suppressed magic in the land of Eivar is only starting to be felt, with none understanding what this will truly mean….
(8) VACATIONING FROM THE NEW AND SHINY. Book Smugglers’ Ana Grilo turns back to “Old School Wednesdays: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud”.
This is another entry in a series of Old School Wednesdays posts, brought to you by the amazing folks who supported us on Kickstarter. As one reward level, backers were given the opportunity to pick an Old School title for one of us to read and review online.
It starts with the summoning of one of the most powerful djinn in history, Bartimaeus. He is tasked with stealing the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, one of England’s greatest and most powerful magicians. Bound and controlled by the magician who summoned him (and WHO could have that kind of power?), Bartimaeus sets out to accomplish the deed.
(9) TIMESCAPE IMPRINT. James Davis Nicoll reminds Tor.com readers “Why Editors Matter: David Hartwell’s Extraordinary Timescape Books”.
Thanks to Asimov’s repeated admonitions that editors matter, I began at an early age to pay attention to the humans responsible for the books I consumed en masse. When I knew which editors were behind the works I liked, I would follow them from company to company. Thus I first became aware of Hartwell as the person behind Pocket Books’ remarkable Timescape imprint1.
(10) MAREN OBIT. Jerry Maren, the last of The Wizard of Oz’ Munchkin actors, died in May. The Hollywood Reporter has the details: “Jerry Maren, Last Surviving Adult Munchkin From ‘Wizard of Oz,’ Dies at 98”.
He also appeared in ‘Superman’ and Marx Brothers movies, as well as on television in ‘The Gong Show’ and ‘Seinfeld.’
Jerry Maren, the last surviving adult Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, has died. He was 98.
The actor, who stayed active in show business long after Dorothy had returned to her home in Kansas, died last month, a niece and his nephew reported in separate Facebook posts.
Maren had been residing in an assisted-care facility in the San Diego area, Steve Cox, co-author of the 2006 book Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin, told The Hollywood Reporter.
At age 19, Maren (at 3-foot-4) appeared as one of the three Lollipop Guild Munchkins (the green one in the middle) in the classic 1939 movie. He had been spotted by an MGM scout while performing in a show at the Bond Hotel in Connecticut and was the youngest of the 124 adult actors to suit up as a Munchkin. (A few children were used as a well.)
(11) PEW PEW. The Pew Research Center has published a new study of how Americans view the roles of NASA and of private companies in space endeavors: “Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the U.S. Remain a Global Leader in Space”
Despite the increasing role of private companies in space exploration, most believe NASA’s role is still vital for future.
Sixty years after the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), most Americans believe the United States should be at the forefront of global leadership in space exploration. Majorities say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country and that, on balance, NASA is still vital to the future of U.S. space exploration even as private space companies emerge as increasingly important players.
…And, as the private sector increasingly ventures into space – through companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic – 65% of Americans believe NASA should still play a vital role in the exploration of space, while a third (33%) say private companies will ensure enough progress in this area even without NASA’s involvement.
Pew summarizes their findings as regards NASA with this graphic:
Three news sources provide their own takes on what the Pew research “really” means (note the variability in headlines, in particular):
A study published today by the Pew Research Center has found that a majority of Americans reckon that staying on top of the space pile should be a US priority, with NASA still attracting a lot of love.
However, party poppers are unlikely to be fired within NASA’s scattered spaceflight centres since the idea of putting boots back on the Moon or on Mars doesn’t attract quite the same levels of affection.
While previous studies, like this one by the National Science Board, found that 25 per cent of Americans felt too much was spent on space exploration (45 per cent said it was OK and 21 per cent wanted more), the new research focussed on where US citizens think space priorities should lie and who – NASA or the private sector – should be doing the work.
Americans rank monitoring Earth’s climate and detecting asteroids and other objects that could hit the planet as top priorities for NASA, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Lowest on the list: returning astronauts to the Moon — a top priority for the White House.
For the future: Half of the 2,541 Americans surveyed think people will be routinely traveling to space as tourists in the next 50 years. But 58% of respondents said they wouldn’t want to orbit Earth.
The Trump administration has vowed to make America great again in spaceflight, and the centerpiece of its space policy to date has been a re-prioritization of human spaceflight as central to NASA’s activities. As part of this initiative, the White House has sought to reduce funding for satellites to observe environmental changes on Earth and eliminate NASA’s office of education.
However, a new survey of 2,541 Americans by Pew Research Center, which aims to represent the views of US adults, finds that these views appear to be out of step with public priorities.
(Special thanks to Mike Kennedy for pulling this item together.)
(12) MEANWHILE, BACK AT REALITY. NPR reports “Space Station For Sale: NASA Administrator Is In Talks With International Companies”.
Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is scheduled to blast off Wednesday morning with its three-member crew to begin what is billed as Expeditions 56-57 at the International Space Station.
But new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, this week is talking openly about a very different future the International Space Station and space travel in general. The big idea is less government and more private investment.
In an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Bridenstine says he is in talks with international companies about commercial management of the space station.
Bridenstine, who was sworn in this past April, says there are many large corporations that are interested the commercial potential of the ISS.
(13) FROM HERE TO THERE. Camestros Felapton became positively obsessed with working up a list of all the possible ideas about “How To Teleport”. Amazing! Here are three examples –
- Transport only your consciousness, transmit into clone or robot bodies somewhere else. Obviously has a potential duplication issue. Seems a lot like demonic possession the more you think about it.
- Quantum tunnelling. Fundamental particles can do this so why can’t you? There’s a chance that you might be somewhere else and so sometimes you are somewhere else. Requires messing with the fundamentals of probability.
- A wormhole/portal. You physically move but through a piece of space that is a shortcut. The implication is that places in space ae all physically closer than they appear.
Then he followed up with a 19-paragraph set of model “Terms and Conditions” for using such a device — highly entertaining!
Teleport-buffer Terms & Conditions
1 You must access and use the HereThere!(tm) teleport-buffer (“teleport-buffer”) only in accordance with these terms and conditions (“Teleport-buffer Terms and Conditions”) the Energiser/De-energiser Terms and Conditions and any instructions for use provided or made available by Tel-E-Port-U Centauri Pty Ltd or its affiliates (“Tel-E-Port-U”) or Engineering Officers from time to time.
2 The teleport-buffer is designed for HereThere!(tm) VIP Club members (“Members”) to contain their own thoughts, DNA-profiles, matter states and continuity of persistent existence profiles. The materials holding thoughts and opinions contained on this teleport-buffer (including the responses in the ‘HereThere!(tm) Help Panel and the ’DNA-check sum’ area) are the thoughts and opinions of the teleported parties and not those of Tel-E-Port-U. Tel-E-Port-U does not endorse or support any buffered thoughts or opinions or guarantee the accuracy of any of the information, beliefs or perceived facts stored on the teleport-buffer no matter how brief or protracted storage in the buffer might be.
(14) CONCAROLINAS. Author Jason Gilbert, who ran ConCarolinas’ film festival, told Facebook readers why he won’t be involved anymore.
On a professional level, it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
ConCarolinas was the first con that ever accepted me as a guest, and I have considered it my “Home Con” for years. But the past few years have shown the con to be moving in a direction that I cannot go. The event itself and the past few days have made my decision easier. Where I was originally going to resign from running the film festival since I only agreed to do it for one year, I cannot make myself return in any capacity. I have seen ConComm members treating guests and vendors with disrespect. I have seen scheduling that made any form of professional development almost impossible, and turned what could have been good panels into a conversation led by people who have no knowledge in that particular subject, and are questioning why they were placed on the panel in the first place when they never signed up for it. Filmmakers who worked hard on their projects and were rewarded with recognition and awards were treated as an afterthought.
But, beyond that, I have seen horrific behavior from the ConComm on social media. A disabled guest was openly mocked in two separate Facebook threads, which disgusted me to my core. I have screenshots. Complaints about John Ringo’s fans using the ConCarolinas page to hunt down Guests and Attendees in efforts to troll and harass them on their own walls to the point of abuse and hate speech were ignored. I have screenshots. The conchair went to David Weber’s page and offered discount passes to next year’s event if those on the “Right” could tell stories of actions taken against them by those on the “Left.” I have screenshots. Two con security volunteers, both with no more than the basic, required 8-hour training in order to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon in North Carolina, were carrying over the weekend. One of them the head of the team. I have screenshots. I have contacted the hotel and gotten their policy. Based on my conversation with them, they had no idea that, not only were there loaded guns at the event, but that there have been loaded guns at the event for years. One guest will be having a conference call today over this, as management is apparently floored.
(15) TREK ACTORS REUNITED. GeekTyrant has this story covered: “First Trailer For The Sci-Fi Thriller 5TH PASSENGER Brings Together Several Fan-Favorite STAR TREK Actors”
The first trailer has been released for a new sci-fi thriller 5th Passenger and the cool think about this film is that it brings together several fan-favorite Star Trek cast members.
…The cast of the film includes Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Generations), and Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
5th Passenger was funded through Kickstarter and they ended up raising a little over $80,000. The goal was to create the film centered around a strong female lead. The director of the film, Scott Blake, had this to say about his film:
“I directed 5th Passenger because it’s a film I wanted to see. It is inspired by my love of the science fiction genre, The Twilight Zone, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. All twisted storylines with principled characters thrown into extreme situations where society breaks down and their morals and values are tested.”
(16) KISSY-FACE. Iphinome hit it out of the park with these two scales for measuring literary displays of affection:
Having given it some thought, here’s a kissy-face scale.
0 – No kissy face
1 – rare and chaste kissy face
2 – What you would expect from two people who date
3 – Delectable, some people do like to make kissy face and it is wonderful but that’s not the main plot
4 – There’s a lot of kissy face here. Might be uncomfortable.
5 – They’re kissing again. Is this a kissing book?
And a second scale for grownup sexy times
0 – Eww no keep your cooties out of my reading time
1 – This book contains grown ups and you should assume they like sexy times from time to time but it isn’t really talked about.
2 – Implied grownup sexy times. I hate a great time last night. Come to my room later. Cut away to another scene after the kissy face.
3 – On page low detail grownup sexy times.
4 – Grown up sexy times with detail, low frequency. One or two such events in a novel length work.
4.5 – Outlander
5 – You’re reading this story because you really like reading detailed depictions of grown up sexy times.
Swordspoint gets three kissy face emoji.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, DMS, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
File 770’s Black History Month Part Two, Star Trek: Discovery, Season One
By Chris M. Barkley:
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access, ***1/2) with Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz with guest appearances by Michelle Yeoh, James Frain, Riann Wilson, Jayne Brook, Clare McConnell, Mary Cheiffo and Rekha Sharma and Chris Obi. Created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman based on Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry.
The defining factor of Roddenberry’s vision is the optimistic view of the future … Once you lose that, you lose the essence of what Star Trek is. That being said… Star Trek has always been a mirror to the time it reflected and [the topical question now] is how do you preserve and protect what Starfleet is in the weight of a challenge like war and the things that have to be done in war.
—Executive producer Alex Kurtzman on the balance between classic Star Trek and new elements in Discovery.
Before we dive in here, I must say in full disclosure that I have purposefully avoided a great many critiques of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery to avoid copycatting anyone else’s opinion or views. I would like to think that as a fan of a certain age (sixty -one, for the record), and having watched every incarnation of the series since it started, I have a uniquely comprehensive view of the franchise.
On Sunday morning at Capricon 38, I joined forty-five fans and three panelists gathered in a small meeting room. The subject of the panel was Star Trek: Discovery vs. The Orville.
Basically this was a contrast and compare panel but the vibe of the room felt as though there were some very passionate feelings about both shows, but especially against Discovery. and as the hour-and-a-half panel unfolded, most of the discussion was centered on that issue.
When I was asked point-blank by an audience member how I would compare the two side by side, I pointedly stated that for the most part, Discovery was professional grade television and The Orville was some very nice fan-fiction.
Mind you, I stated in my review in a previous column that Seth McFarlane’s show was a pretty decent effort for someone who is demonstrably a big fan sf, of the original series and The Next Generation in particular. But the first several episodes featured some very off-color and rude humor mixed into the rudimentary sf concept. There were several outstanding episodes as their first season progressed (“Pria”, “In the Fold,” “Cupid’s Dagger” and “Mad Idolatry” among them) and for the most part, the show is worth keeping an eye on.
Star Trek: Discovery however, dazzled me right out of the gate with its pilot episodes, “The Vulcan Hello” and “The Battle of Binary Stars”, as I recounted in my impressions from another previous column. At the end of these episodes that Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) of the Shenzhou is dead after a surprise raid on an enemy ship went sideways, the Federation is in an all out war with the Klingon Empire and that First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) was convicted of mutiny and imprisoned for life.
And then things got decidedly more complicated.
Six months into her sentence, Burnham’s transfer to another prison is delayed by an emergency “rescue” engineered by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) of the USS Discovery. Lorca deliberately sought to have her diverted to serve on his ship under the title “Specialist” in order to help the Federation’s war efforts. (Or so it seems.) Burnham, who is still feeling quite a considerable amount of guilt about Georgiou’s death and her part in starting the war, somewhat reluctantly accepts the assignment over the objections of First Officer Saru (Doug Jones), who was the Science Officer aboard the ill-fated Shenzhou. The only person besides Lorca who welcomes her aboard is her roommate, Syvia Killy, a somewhat ambitious (and talkative) Starfleet Cadet.
Captain Lorca is unlike any officer Burnham or any of the crew has ever served with before. Having lost his own crew in a wartime disaster, he seems to be driven by a desire to avenge his loss at any means necessary. Starfleet has seen fit to overlook his obvious symptoms of post traumatic distress and the bending or breaking regulations and laws because of his success in battle against the Klingons.
Aiding in those victories is the innovative spore-drive developed by (and eventually guided by) Science Officer Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) that can teleport the Discovery to practically any point in known space. But what Staments has withheld from Lorca and the ship’s chief medical officer (and his lover) Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) is that there are some debilitating side effects each time he uses it.
Meanwhile, the Klingons have not been idle; following the death of T’Kuvma, the leader who briefly unified the twenty-four houses of the Empire, two outcasts, L’Rell (Mary Cheiffo) and Voq (initially played by Javid Iqbal) formulate their own plan to take the USS Discovery and the spore drive for themselves…
As the season progresses, Burnham faces off against a future frenemy of Captain Kirk, Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainn Wilson), is reluctantly attracted to a former prisoner of war turned crewmate, Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), is forced to deal with her relationship while close proximity to Saru, who is wary of her and her motivations for being on the Discovery and is plunged, along with the rest of the crew, into the infamous “mirror universe” where the Federation’s xenophobic counterpart, the Terran Empire, holds sway.
One of the great storytelling devices of all time is to throw the protagonist(s) into a very deep hole and see if they can claw their way out. I think that the creators of Discovery knew that this would be the only way to start the series out, with the Federation being faced with its greatest challenge; how does an organization dedicated to peace stay true to their beliefs in a time of crisis.
Since there has been little in the way of a historical accounting of the ten years prior to the adventures of the original Star Trek series, creators Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman (who also was involved in the big screen “Kelvan Universe” films) decided that this would be a fertile ground to explore.
The biggest complaint that I have heard among critics and fans was simply, “This is not Star Trek.”
Star Trek, with the notable exception of Deep Space Nine, has been mainly about peacekeeping, diplomacy, seeking out new life forms and civilizations and boldly going where no one had gone before. And, under the dictum of creator Gene Roddenberry and his successors, Rick Berman and the late Michael Piller, personnel in Starfleet NEVER engage in significant personal conflicts (unless they are mentally ill, possessed by an alien life form or worse, whatever that might be) discouraged to show any basic human flaws. This rule has been inconstantly enforced at times over the course of the series but many a writer and producer have found out the hard way that while this may be noble cause in practice, but it is a hell of a roadblock for storytellers to hurdle on weekly basis.
Refreshingly (as far as I’m concerned), series creator Bryan Fuller and his team of producers decided to brilliantly defenestrate this rule in the very first episode and had its main character commit mutiny to put an exclamation point on it. “The rules of Starfleet remain the same,” producer Gretchen J. Berg told Entertainment Weekly in June of 2017. “But while we’re human or alien in various ways, none of us are perfect.”
I imagine that a lot of fans felt put out that these drastic variances in the series were completely outside of their previous experiences with Star Trek. Factors such as the décor and uniforms not matching previous incarnations, the addition of openly LGBTQ characters or the introduction of more women and people of color and in command positions. But this is the 21st century and Discovery, by far, has the most diverse cast in the Star Trek canon, especially with the casting of people of different ethnicities in key roles and a black woman in the lead role.
Critics of Discovery also nitpicked about the aesthetics of the art and set direction (which Kurtzman freely admits was based on the current movie sets). Other complaints were aimed the design of the Klingon’s makeup and costumes; some enormous, balding prosthetics along with the organically baroque looking uniforms designed by Neville Page and Glenn Hetrick are reminiscent of the best work of the late H. R. Giger. I, for one, was not as bothered by all of that as much as I was by how slowl*y and deliberately the Klingon characters were speaking and acting.
Admittedly, this new look was very interesting and invigorating to me, a long time Star Trek watcher. But I rolled with it because I appreciated what these creators were doing, forging a new, sustainable path for Star Trek.
While most of the main storyline involved the redemptive path of Michael Burnham, I was also very intrigued and ultimately surprised by others, especially her ill-fated friendship with Ash Tyler, L’Rell’s long game of treachery, seeing the chemistry between Lt. Stamets and Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz), the depths of duplicity committed by Captain Lorca and revelation of Tilly’s lofty career ambitions, which reach some shockingly surprising heights by her counterpart in the mirror universe. The only major criticism I have is that the bridge crew, as stalwart, loyal, upstanding and brave as they are, remain ciphers to me. I am hoping that the writers and producers have some big plans for including them in more storylines in season two.
THE biggest and most vocal objection I have read online or heard from fans and at conventions was CBS’s decision to place the series on its All-Access streaming channel after airing the first episode. Full disclosure; I signed up immediately for a monthly subscription immediately. Because (a) I liked what I saw and (b) the freaking cliffhanger!
My continuing subscription is $5.99 a month, which comes out to a little over $2.50 an episode for the fifteen episodes of the first season. I am still paying. Why, you might ask? Because that nearly $6.00 a month not only grants me access to thousands of hours of CBS programming (Hello Perry Mason and NCIS and Medium), it also supports original programming like Discovery, The Good Fight (a sequel to The Good Wife) and the just announced revival of The Twilight Zone which will be produced by the newly minted media mega-hyphenate and Oscar nominee, Jordan Peele. Other shows, genre and otherwise are currently in development.
And Discovery was not cheaply made. The actual cost of each episode of Discovery was estimated to be between $8 and 8.5 million dollars each, the cost of a small independent film!
It’s been twelve years since a Star Trek series was on the air. Would Discovery have been a smash hit if were broadcast on cable or the network instead of streaming? It’s certainly possible. But it’s already a moot point; Star Trek: Discovery was considered so successful from CBS’s point of view in the form of paid subscriptions, that they ordered a second season in October of last year the day after the sixth episode aired.
I have encountered people who think that the shows they love should be available at no charge. But someone is paying and it is you. Television shows produced for legacy networks and syndication were never really “free. They charge a premium price to allow advertisers to showcase products on programs and in turn, those costs have been passed along to you, the consumer, through the prices of those products you buy. As the decades have passed, this business model has been changing; first, the advent of cable eroded traditionally huge audiences for networks, and further divided them as hundreds of cable channels were created, giving the limited pool of viewers an unprecedented amount of material to see.
So, for better or worse, this may be the model that the broadcast networks may follow in the next decade. And the success of Star Trek: Discovery is just another indication that it works.
Like it or not, welcome to the future. And if you love Star Trek, you’ll be there, too.
(Just a word of warning: The photo is actually an Instagram post from August of 2015 and has been photoshopped to convey the message above. BUT, in this December 2017 interview from Gulf News, Sir Patrick gave his enthusiastic approval to discovery (even though he hasn’t seen the show yet) so that is my justification for including it here. Discretion is advised for using it , but, what the hell, it’s cute!
By Standback: Twelve years after the last Enterprise episode; eight years since JJ Abrams rebooted Trek with a new movie series, Star Trek: Discovery has been greeted with gargantuan portions of excitement, suspicion, and discussion.
Now that Discovery’s first season has concluded, here’s a round-up of reviews, discussions, and observations throughout the web.
CONTAINS SPOILERS for all of Season One.
(1) THE GOOD.
(1A) Matt Zoller Seitz, at Vulture, writes that Discovery Just Pulled Off An Incredibly Good Season:
The season’s final run of episodes was also very affecting for the way that it brought Michael’s story full circle. The symmetry and sense of balance were evident while still emotionally messy. (…) I can’t think of another Trek series, TV or theatrical, that went as deep into trauma and irresolvable despair, or as often.
Humanity in this future mirrors how many of us feel in our society right now: some big advances have been made, but the biggest challenges still remain, and it feels like things are coming apart. Discovery gives the hopeful vision of the future as a moral adventure that Star Trek has always offered, enhanced by a deeper sense than any previous series of how much failure, tragedy, hard work, trauma, and redemption are integral parts of human progress. Discovery gets that empathy and relationships are also forms of technology that need advancing?—?and that’s exactly what Star Trek needs to be doing right now.
(2) THE BAD.
(2A) Angelica Jade Bastién, in Vulture, explains Why Discovery Needs to Evolve:
In many ways, Discovery has imported the worst habits from modern television: brutal violence and casual deaths that make it seem any character could be killed at any moment; rape scenes; bold twists that mask ramshackle stories; and juvenile vulgarity that masquerades as intriguing world-building. But the greatest failing of Discovery that undercuts the appearance of trailblazing progressivism is its poor character development, seen most acutely in Michael and Ash.
(2B) Daniel Cooper, at Engadget argues that the show Failed To Do What Good Sci-Fi Does:
Discovery gave me 15 episodes of serialized storytelling that, as Alex Kurtzman admitted to TrekMovie, was worked out backwards. Now, lots of TV shows are plotted in this manner, but with this series it led to incidents and character development that took place because the storyline demanded it. I doubt even he could explain, in a single sentence, what Discovery’s overarching theme was, or if it had one at all.
(2C) Zack Handlen, at the Onion AV Club, rips into the finale, although he does feel the season concludes With A Promise To Do Better:
If “Will You Take My Hand?” works, it works because it does a confident job of convincing the audience it’s seeing something meaningful. It hits the notes it assumes we want it to hit. I can respect that to an extent—it’s certainly entertaining—but I still can’t forget this is all built on a hollow foundation.
The more you pick at this, the worse it gets.
(3) THE MIXED.
(3A) The season ends with both “A Bang (and a Whimper),” writes Annalee Newitz, at Ars Technica:
This season of Star Trek: Discovery has been wobbling between awesomeness and toxic muck, and last night’s finale didn’t tip the balance. (…)
Over the season, we’ve had standout, brilliant episodes mixed in with 60-minute clunkers. Burnham’s character arc has been consistently fascinating, but characters like Lorca and Voq/Tyler have slowly eroded from multi-dimensional people into mere plot devices. Most of the show’s worst problems cropped up in the second half of the season, when we took a long detour into the Mirror Universe. Though finale “Will You Take My Hand” tied up any number of loose threads, often in ways that were rich and satisfying, the episode also doubled down on some of the series’ biggest mistakes.
(3B) The IGN Scorecard, by Witney Seibold, recognizes Discovery for its characters, and for its tech and visuals. Demerits are awarded for tone and for storytelling.
(4) MULTIPLE IDENTITIES. Abigail Nussbaum, “Through a Mirror, Darkly”:
Here we are, nearly a week after the finale, and I’m no closer to a conclusion. Neither, it seems, is the rest of fandom, which often feels like it’s watching and reacting to several different shows. And no one, no matter their opinion, seems very clear on what Discovery is. Is it a bold reinvention of the franchise for the Peak TV era, or a shallow action-adventure whose ambitions often outstrip its capacity to execute them? Is it the spiritual successor of the reboot movies, reveling in Star Trek tropes and fanservice without understanding the franchise’s meaning, or is it a genuine attempt to grapple with the core ideas of Star Trek fifty years after its inception? Is it, in short, Star Trek?
(5) MINIMALLY INVASIVE STORYTELLING. Gerry Canavan suggests Discovery has “No Follow-Through” in his piece at the LA Review of Books:
Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends, but Discovery is all beginnings, constantly rebooting itself over and over again without allowing its narrative to develop or to reach an organic conclusion. In that sense it is the exemplary Star Trek series for our time, the latest in a series of prequels and reboots that continually retell the beginning of the story and then peter out before they find their own identity or a way to put a unique spin on the franchise. From Enterprise to the Abramsverse films to Discovery, Star Trek seems paralyzed by the idea of doing the one thing the fans of the series actually want: telling new stories that take place in the Prime Universe after the end of Voyager.
(6) CRUDE MORALITY. Crude Reviews highlights The Moral Lesson of ‘Discovery’: We Should Use Super Weapons To Install Despots In Foreign Nations.
With all of that history behind us, what do the writers have our so-called heroes choose as their heroic, principled solution to a war in space?
They hand a weapon of mass destruction to a religious extremist, and install her as a dictator over her own people.
(7) YOU’RE DEAD, JIM. From Genevieve Valentine, at Vox: How ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and ‘The Good Place’ find humanity in hell. SPOILERS for both shows.
Though they couldn’t be more tonally different, each show is deeply concerned with how one person making moral decisions — or compromising them — can change a world. And those complexities of subjective morality, utilitarianism, and acceptable collateral damage are all tied into stomach-sinking revelations: The characters in these stories are trapped in horrible places, the utopia they’ve been sold is a lie, and it’s a surprisingly small jump from that supposed utopia to their horrible reality.
The central question of each show is whether their protagonists will be defined by the hell they’re in, or whether they’ll be able to redefine it.
(8) FILERS CAN DISCO. Lots of discussion of the finale, and Discovery in general, at Camestros Felapton’s blog post “Star Trek Discovery: Finale!” which opens:
What an odd episode. What an odd show.
Cora Buhlert offers some in-depth thoughts on the finale, on the seedy Orion camp, on the cliffhanger, and on the show in general, in “The Star Trek Discovery Season Finale or ‘Hey, we finally remembered we’re making Star Trek and not Game of Thrones in Space.’”:
So can Star Trek Discovery become a good Star Trek show after all? It’s certainly possible and the production team have done their best to tie up the messy first season to give themselves as clean a start as possible. And Star Trek is rather infamous for weak first seasons. However, this is one area where Discovery‘s serialised structure really harms the show. For while it is perfectly possible to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and skip over dreadful early episodes and pretend they never happened, it’s not nearly so easy to ignore the bad episodes of Discovery‘s first season and watch only the handful of good ones, because the serialised structure means that the episodes don’t stand alone well.
(9) BREAKDOWN. At Consequence of Sound, Andrew Bloom and Clint Worthington pick highlights, lowlights, and moments of note from the season in their Season One Breakdown. They try to identify major elements of the show’s story — and of fans’ reactions.
(10) FIVE THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Chris Taylor, on Mashable, wrote a listicle explaining Why ‘Discovery’ is a Cosmic Dud.
The bizarre mid-season finale, with its scenes of Klingon rape and a twist that saw Discovery jumping into an entirely different universe altogether, left me cautious but hopeful: okay, let’s see where this thing is going.
But by the time Season 1 ended on Sunday, however, I had no defenses left. My shields were down as the show fired photon torpedoes of poor choices at any desire to care about the characters or keep watching.
(11) WE CAN REBUILD HIM. Crude Reviews, a vocal critic of Discovery, has embarked on “Re/Discovery” — “a personal project to re-write the series from the bottom up.” First installment is here; tag for all posts is here.
The first post explains:
I’ve set myself a few rules – first, that most of the premises set up by the show are maintained. Specifically:
- Burnham is a disgraced officer who threw away her career with some really poor judgement, precipitating a war with the Klingons.
- The Discovery is a ship with an experimental spore drive.
- Lorca is a mirror-universe impostor with a hidden, wicked agenda.
- Ash Tyler is a sleeper agent, with Voq’s memories and personality suppressed.
I will also be keeping almost all of the same characters and settings, where possible, and will do my best to hit the same plot milestones as the show.
This is entirely self-indulgent, and I make no apologies. I certainly have no shame.
(12) THE ENDING AND AFTER. “What Does The Ending Mean?” poses eight questions about where the finale has left the show, and what to look forward to:
(1) THE DOCTOR IS | IN | . Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention, is taking place in Los Angeles this weekend, and fans are posting some great photos:
— Hiba @ Gallifrey One (@HibaIssa) February 16, 2018
— Riley @ Gallifrey One (@rileyjsilverman) February 17, 2018
— Alisa Stern @ Gallifrey One (@TheDoctorPuppet) February 17, 2018
— Alisa Stern @ Gallifrey One (@TheDoctorPuppet) February 16, 2018
(2) THE LEFT MENU OF DARKNESS. The Paris Review, which has previously interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin, has recently published an article by Valerie Stivers in which the author created a series of recipes based on food from Le Guin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. Dishes include Hot Beer For Two, Batter-Fried “Sube-Egg” Porridge with Winter Vegetables, and others:
Overall, I found Winter’s low-food-chain ingredients easy to work with; they fit in well with our modern sustainability-oriented cooking, an approach Le Guin, a passionate environmentalist, would have welcomed. The sticking point was the drinks. The characters in The Left Hand of Darkness consume hot beer, which, Ai explains, may sound gross but “on a world where a common table implement is a little device with which you crack the ice that has formed on your drink between drafts, hot beer is a thing you come to appreciate.” Some research revealed that even on Earth, hot beer was common prior to refrigeration and often contained nutritious items like eggs or half-curdled cream. I tried several recipes that were uniformly undrinkable until coming up with an adaptation of something I read about in a Wall Street Journal story calling hot beer a trend. As improbable as it sounds, the results were wonderful, and I can only urge you all to try it. Remember, sometimes it’s nice to be speculative – in beers as well as in love and in fiction.
(3) IN MEMORIAM. In “Two Seattle Memorials to Ursula K. Le Guin”, Cat Rambo provides specifics for those who wish to attend:
Folio Forum: A Tribute to Ursula Le Guin
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 7:00 PM
The Seattle Athenaeum, 314 Marion Street, Downtown Seattle
$10 at the door; $8 for Folio Members, SFWA Members, and Town Hall Members
Complimentary wine reception to follow
Noted local authors and fans honor the great writer, plus a recording of Le Guin, reading her famous story
Celebration of the Life and Work of Ursula K. Le Guin
Sunday, February 25, 7:00 PM
Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, Washington 98105
$free (please support our venue by buying food and drink!)
Please join us for a reading to commemorate the words and worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018).
(4) ABUSER MANUAL. Lurkertype points to a graphic sequence where “Someone kinda like The Little Mermaid ‘splains how to fight sealioning”.
— Everyday Feminism (@EvrydayFeminism) January 28, 2017
(5) ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERS TO THE ELDER GODS. In “Octlantis is a Just-Discovered Underwater City Engineered by Octopuses”, Ephrat Livni describes a revelation in octopod behavior:
Gloomy octopuses – also known as common Sydney octopuses, or octopus tetricus – have long had a reputation for being loners. Marine biologists once thought they inhabited the subtropical waters off eastern Australia and northern New Zealand in solitude, meeting only to mate, once a year. But now there’s proof these cephalopods sometimes hang out in small cities.
In Jervis Bay, off Eastern Australia, researchers recently spotted 15 gloomy octopuses congregating, communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens at a site the scientists named “Octlantis.”
The discovery was a surprise, Scheel told Quartz. “These behaviors are the product of natural selection, and may be remarkably similar to vertebrate complex social behavior. This suggests that when the right conditions occur, evolution may produce very similar outcomes in diverse groups of organisms.”
(6) CAN’T LET IT GO. In “Why (some of the) Right Hates Elsa”, Camestros Felapton unpacks some of the criticisms of the Disney animated movie Frozen from conservative blogs, and tries to determine why, more than 4 years after its release, the film still seems to generate so much antipathy in some quarters:
The issue is not hard to diagnose. Frozen is mainly conventional Disney – in some ways even less than that. The plot is slight compared to other classic Disney films (e.g. the Lion King) and the songs (bar one) are unmemorable. Yet it does a few things and those things are interesting…
The story rejects romantic love as its central message and instead centres on the familial love of two sisters.
This being Disney, there really is zero implications about Elsa’s sexuality EXCEPT that at no point does she act out of desire for a romantic relationship with anybody of any gender. And with that we get to part of the multiple issues the right continue to have with the film.
(7) IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME. A new Kickstarter promotes the 6th Extinction Card Deck, a playable poker deck showcasing 54 extinct animals and birds from the ice age to the 1980’s, as illustrated by 34 different artists. One of the artworks featured is by Oor Wombat; her designated lifeform has not yet been revealed, but perhaps we can pry it out of her with a suitable bribe.
The Kickstarter has thus far achieved $843 in pledges toward a goal of $3,600, with 25 days left to go.
(8) GO MAKE ME A SAMMICH. Forget digging to China, here’s the new global craze: Earth Sandwich. (click on the photo on the left, then click on the right arrows to scroll through the gallery)
— Mashable (@mashable) February 16, 2018
(9) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, REDUX. The January 22 Pixel Scroll (Item #13) reported the viral campaign of New York native Frederick Joseph to set up screenings of Black Panther for children across the U.S. through the #BlackPantherChallenge. The website for the challenge is now live; donors can click on any of the icons on the map to see existing GoFundMe challenges and choose one to which to contribute. (unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a “list” view, so in areas with numerous challenges, zooming in on the map is required to differentiate between them)
(10) HOT COUTURE. On the Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw interviews Gersha Phillips, who designed the costumes for Star Trek: Discovery:
In the end, Discovery wound up with a more sleek and high-tech look. The new uniforms follow the classic idea of color-coded Starfleet departments (gold, silver and bronze accents for Command, Science, and Operations), but also take inspiration from contemporary athleisure brands.
Speaking to Gersha Phillips, we delved into Discovery’s fashion influences from Alien to Balenciaga. She’s a fount of knowledge about the canon background for costuming details like Klingon armor (Klingons have different internal organs!), and cosplayers have her to thank for the Mirror Universe’s beautiful gold capes.
(11) #BOWIEURCAT. Somehow, I don’t think that this is quite what the Thin White Duke had in mind.
It's a gosh awful small affair
To the Cat with the Purple Hair
But his Human is saying 'No'
But his bladder wants him to go
But the tray is nowhere to be seen
So he pees in the silver tureen
And the wee begins to pour
And he's done this ten times or more
— Timothy The Talking Cat (@TalkingTimothy) February 15, 2018
Are there cats on Marssss ahhh ahahh arrsssss pic.twitter.com/rDTJ7fD9wx
— Timothy The Talking Cat (@TalkingTimothy) February 15, 2018
(13) MORE GALLIFREY ONE PHOTOS.
— Sarah Dollard (@snazdoll) February 18, 2018
— Whovian Feminism @ Gallifrey One (@WhovianFeminism) February 17, 2018
— Christian Young (@CA_Young) February 18, 2018
— Clarissa C. S. Ryan @ Gallifrey One #gally1 (@wintersweet) February 18, 2018
(14) FIRE THE CANON. Grant Snider, at Incidental Comics, asks “Who Controls the Cannon of Literature?”
(15) MAPPING THE WORLDS. Sarah Gailey contributes to what has now become a series of posts on cartography in SFFnal worlds with “Hippos, Worldbuilding, and Amateur Map-Making”:
About a year ago, I attended a panel on worldbuilding in young adult literature. All of the authors on the panel were young, brilliant, dynamic women. They wore flower crowns and they talked about mapmaking and spreadsheets. They were impressive as all get-out. I have never felt more intensely envious in my life.
I was jealous of their flower crowns, of course. I was also jealous of the easy way they talked about going in-depth on planning color schemes for each chapter they wrote, and the Pinterest boards they referenced for their character aesthetics. I was jealous of the way their worldbuilding all seemed to start from the ground up, because that seemed to me to be a whole other level of professional-writer-ness. My worldbuilding has always leached out from my character development – I write how a character moves, and their movement defines the world they live in. The women on this panel were talking about writing thousands of words about the world their characters inhabited, all before they put a single line of dialogue on a page. They were clearly worldbuilding masters. I was in awe.
It only took seven words for my awe to become fear.
(16) THE TOR BOYCOTT IS STILL TOTALLY WORKING. The Tucson Festival of Books will take place from March 10-11, and you can do your part for the Tor Boycott by checking out their author sessions. Tor/Forge and Tor.com Publishing authors Candice Fox, Nancy Kress, K Arsenault Rivera, Myke Cole, Annalee Newitz, Kristen Simmons, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Patty Garcia will be participating. A schedule can be found at the link.
(17) DEMAND EXCEEDS SUPPLY.
So @SFWA people frustrated with Nebula hotel being sold out, the events team is working on alternatives. Signups came faster and at a higher rate than we thought, which is not a terrible problem to have!
— ?RainbowRiotRambo? (@Catrambo) February 17, 2018
(18) BIRTHING PAINS. Jill Lepore, in a very long and very interesting essay at The New Yorker about childbirth, grief, and the de-feminization of Shelley’s best-known work, says in “The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein”: (content warning for miscarriage and infant death)
Because Shelley was readily taken as a vessel for other people’s ideas, her novel has accreted wildly irreconcilable readings…
“This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good,” Shelley remarked about the creature’s theatrical billing. She herself had no name of her own. Like the creature pieced together from cadavers collected by Victor Frankenstein, her name was an assemblage of parts: the name of her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, stitched to that of her father, the philosopher William Godwin, grafted onto that of her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, as if Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley were the sum of her relations, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, if not the milk of her mother’s milk, since her mother had died eleven days after giving birth to her, mainly too sick to give suck – Awoke and found no mother.
(19) RULE 34 MEETS THE SHAPE OF WATER. (warning: this item is utterly Not Safe For Work) Doug Jones, who plays the fishman in Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical movie, admits of the glow-in-the-dark erotic accessory currently being marketed:
With a light chuckle, I can tell you it’s not exactly what I’d hoped for. After pouring my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this romantic, beautiful, magical role, the last thing I want to be remembered for is a silicone appendage that comes in two sizes.
(20) NOT EXACTLY WHAT I MEANT BY “SPIDEY-SENSE”.
this really happened pic.twitter.com/dYGHwzMYoc
— mille batson (@lokivy) February 16, 2018
(21) UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE. The exhibit “A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells” will run from January 25 to March 10, 2018 at The Grolier Club. Publishers Weekly describes the exhibition:
This erudite and altogether fascinating collection of essays from Wessells (Another Green World) explores the development of science fiction from its roots, focusing on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which the author considers “the point at which science fiction emerges from the gothic.” He then takes the reader on a personal journey through his favorite books, pointing out historic firsts such as Sara Coleridge’s Phantasmion (1837), the first fantasy novel published in English. He surveys the publishing history of some of the pillars of the genre, including Philip K. Dick, James Blish, Thomas M. Disch, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robert Sheckley, as well as highlighting the work of authors whose names are less well known by the general public, such as Avram Davidson and R.A. Lafferty.
(22) MAKE THE ROBOT HAPPY. An SF & Fantasy Humble Bundle from Angry Robot is currently available, including books from Anna Kashina, Carrie Patel, Christopher Hinz, Dan Abnett, Danielle L. Jensen, Foz Meadows, Ishbelle Bee, Jay Posey, Justin Gustainis, Kaaron Warren, Keith Yatsuhashi, Megan O’Keefe, Peter Mclean, Peter Tieryas, Rod Duncan, and Wesley Chu. 10 days are left to grab the bundle, which benefits humanitarian charity Worldbuilders (be sure to click on “Choose where your money goes” before going through the checkout process).
(23) GIVE MY REGARDS TO KING TUT. Io9 says, “You Can Now Watch the Original Stargate Movie for Free”:
Back in 1994, few could have predicted what Stargate would become. The original film was a hit, but what happened after is damn near unprecedented. Not a theatrical sequel, no, but several popular television series and a rabid fandom that far overshadowed the people who saw the original movie in theatres.
But it did start with that original movie, directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. And though it’s been available in multiple formats since its initial release, this week MGM put the full film on YouTube for free.
[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Cora Buhlert, Greg Machlin, Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, jayn, Juliette Wade, lauowolf, lurkertype, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, Rob Thornton, and Robin A. Reid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]
(1) FIVE FAVORITES. Uncanny Magazine released its 2017 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll Results. Six stories made the Top Five – now that’s uncanny!
3- IS A TIE!!!
(2) BANKS ART BOOK COMING. Did you know Iain M. Banks could draw, too? “Orbit announces the publication of original Culture drawings from the Estate of Iain M. Banks”.
Original drawings by Iain M. Banks, author of the hugely popular Culture novels, will be included in a book that celebrates the author’s vision of the Culture universe. The previously unseen drawings, most of which are annotated by the author, and many of which predate the writing of the novels themselves, will be curated by the Estate of Iain M. Banks and Iain’s life-long friend and science fiction writer Ken MacLeod. With additional commentary by MacLeod, further notes on the Culture, and extracts from the Culture novels, the book will provide a unique insight into the Culture, including its history, language, technology, philosophy and values.
(3) KEEP THE HONOR IN GOH. Seanan McGuire has spot-on advice for conrunners about GoH invitations and etiquette. Jump on the thread here —
Because this (and versions of this) gets asked all the time:
I go where I am invited. I don't (usually) charge an appearance fee, but I'm a full-time author; I can only afford travel that's subsidized in some way, usually by a convention.
— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) February 13, 2018
(4) WOMBAT IN DEMAND. A gig at Anthrocon is in her future.
— Anthrocon, Inc. (@anthrocon) February 13, 2018
(5) THE WAY TO SAN JOSE. John Picacio revealed more recipients of Mexicanx Initiative sponsored Worldcon memberships.
Proudly announcing #TheMexicanxInitiative's next wave of Sponsored Membership Recipients to @worldcon2018! cc: @sillysarasue @DavidOBowles @gabrielintica @AdelanteArts @jencerv @LoboRafagas @TanyaLealSoto. @scalzi @MaryRobinette @KateElliottSFF @JamesSACorey More TBA next week! pic.twitter.com/N3tafYk1u6
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) February 12, 2018
(6) THE SCHOOL OF BAD EXAMPLES. Diana Pharaoh Francis tells how to learn craftsmanship in “The Classroom of Dissatisfaction” at Book View Café.
Likewise, he’s never noticed her and suddenly she’s his ‘mate.’ (This is a shifter story). He’s apparently been dreaming about her and even though he’s known her previously, never paid attention to her. But what bothers me is that when he realizes he has to work to win her affections, he doesn’t stop to consider what their relationship has been, how they’ve interacted before, and why she might not like him.
The more I read, the less I’m convinced that their attraction is real instead of shoehorned into a situation without enough attention to actually building a believable foundation.
So what do I learn from this? Well, stuff I already knew. The motivations have to be believable. The character interactions have to be genuine and real. That readers want to stick with the story but won’t waste their time if there are significant cracks in it. But I also learned that you can have things in the story that will pull a reader along despite problems. That a reader *wants* to like the characters and will be fairly forgiving if you just smooth out the road a little.
I’ve read books that I wanted to put down because of the problems, but I kept getting dragged along because *something* in the book demanded it. But then I get to the end and I have regrets that the book wasn’t executed better. And those regrets make me sad.
(7) STAR TREK DISCOVERY WITH SPOILERS. Looking ahead: “‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Producers on Season 1 Finale, and How Season 2 Will Be ‘What Trek Does Really Well’”.
According to “Star Trek: Discovery” co-showrunner Gretchen Berg, legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling is the reason why no major character dies in the season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery.”
“We worked on the original ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’” she told IndieWire, “And somebody was going to die or not going to die, and his attitude came back down that he didn’t want the person to die and I was like, ‘Why? Come on, that’s life!’”
Added Aaron Harberts, her co-showrunner, “The Mr. Spelling in me is always like, ‘You don’t kill a character! You just don’t. Because it’s good to be able to bring them back.’”
(8) CRIDER OBIT. Crime fiction writer Bill Crider died February 12 at the age of 72. Crider, who also won a 2015 Sidewise Award for his story “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” had entered hospice care in December.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(11) MUSIC TO WRITE BY. Neil Gaiman has written an essay about ex-Pixies guitarist Kim Deal’s band The Breeders to celebrate their new album All Nerve:
The first time I heard of Kim Deal, it was because the co-owner of Dark Carnival, the bookstore in San Francisco I was signing in had been mistaken for her the night before by a waiter, who had taken her protestations that she was a bookshop person as a cover story and brought her and the people she was with, bookstore people whom he believed to be the rest of the Pixies, free drinks all night. I now knew a band called the Pixies existed.
I owned a tiny black and white television that sat on the corner of my desk, and kept me company when I wrote, all alone, too late at night, playing badly dubbed European Detective shows, late night rock shows, cheap television. Somewhere in 1989 it played a Pixies video. A week later I had every Pixies CD you could find in London record shops. I loved the aesthetic as much as the music: the Vaughn Oliver art and typefaces.
Information scarcity. I didn’t know who these people were. I was 29 years old, writing Sandman, in England, with two small children. I bought the CD of Pod, and I wrote Sandman to the jangly Breeders music.
(12) PRO TIP. From Sarah Gailey:
An important part of the writing process is taking edit notes with grace and professionalism pic.twitter.com/wOhkB5ffWW
— Sarah Gailey (@gaileyfrey) February 12, 2018
(13) SEVENTIES WOMEN SFF WRITERS. James Davis Nicoll is back with “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part II” at Tor.com. First up —
Gearhart may be best known now for her political activism and her decades of scholarly work. The Sally Miller Gearhart Chair in Lesbian Studies at the University of Oregon is named for her. SF fans unacquainted with her work might do well start with The Wanderground, a novel about feminist separatism set in a near future. Any of you planning to write a feminist separatist novel (or found a separatist feminist community) might want to explore prior art, including Gearhart’s contributions.
(14) SCRIPTER AWARDS. SyFy Wire reports “Under His Eye The Handmaid’s Tale wins yet another award”.
On Saturday night, the 30th annual Scripter Awards were hosted at the University of Southern California. The Scripter Awards are given out annually honoring adaptations of “printed word into film” and are awarded to both the original author and writer of the screenplay. The pilot episode of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale won in the television category with writer Bruce Miller, who is also the creator and executive producer of the show, picking up the award.
(15) OPEN FIELD. Diane Duane is one writer unaffected by last year’s version of Best Series, as she explains in “2018 Hugo Award eligibility: for those who were asking”.
First of all: the 2017 e-publication* of Interim Errantry 2: On Ordeal means that the Young Wizards series is once again eligible for Hugo consideration. In 2017 this would have been because of the 2016 publication of Games Wizards Play, which made the series eligible for the Best Series one-time “special” Hugo awarded by Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. That, however, was a different award from the new Best Series Hugo. (A distinction that apparently may make a difference for last year’s award finalists, if this year’s Hugo Administrator decides to rule out their nomination this year. But that’s hardly an issue for me.)
So — as confirmed here on the list of Best Series Hugo eligibles at File 770 — the Young Wizards series is eligible for nomination for the 2018 Best Series Hugo. Yay! …And if (as someone eligible to nominate) you feel inclined to nominate it, then I encourage you to do so.
(16) SECRET SFWA OPERATION CODENAMES REVEALED. The leak came right from the top!
This year I gave all my SFWA projects cool code names. So this year I'm working on FENRISTOOTH, DEATHFALCON, SCHEHEREZADE, BABELFISH, and PEEMONKEY. I'm really not sure what the last is but I named it after my cat.
— ?RainbowRiotRambo? (@Catrambo) February 11, 2018
(17) LIFE PRESERVER. The BBC, in “UK team set for giant Antarctic iceberg expedition”, tells about a team looking at life hidden over 100K years, now exposed by calving.
Scientists will set out in the next week to study an Antarctic realm that has been hidden for thousands of years.
A British Antarctic Survey-led team will explore the seabed ecosystem exposed when a giant iceberg broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017.
The organisation has also released the first video of the berg, which covers almost 6,000 sq km.
(18) USA TODAY’S TOP 100 SELLERS OF 2017. Here are the works of genre interest that made the top 100 books of the year, according to data from USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list.
5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
12. It by Stephen King
15. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
19. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
31. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
32. 1984 by George Orwell
41. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
54. Goodnight Moon Board Book by Margaret Wise Brown, art by Clement Hurd
55. Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
57. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPré
59. The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
63. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling; art by Jim Kay
65. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book by Eric Carle
66. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
70. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
76. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
80. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
86. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
92. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
93. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
94. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
(19) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. SFF is the latest fashion — “Philipp Plein takes NY Fashion Week on snowy spaceship ride”.
Provocateur Philipp Plein descended on New York Fashion Week with a giant spaceship, silvery rock formations and Migos lighting up the crowd Saturday night as fake snow fell and covered the floor of a huge industrial space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
And there were clothes. Skiwear mostly, lots emblazoned with Plein’s name, skulls and crossbones and some Playboy logos.
The show roared to life with a couple of motorcycle riders and a space utility vehicle that plowed through Plein’s fake wall of rocks. Later came a schmoozy transformer (big person in costume) who greeted Irina Shayk as she slinked out of the ship in a black bodysuit emblazoned with “I Love You Philipp Plein.”
(20) HUMANS EVOLVED. The Titan Official Trailer.
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, JJ, Joel Zakem, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Soon Lee, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
(1) HORROR POETRY. At the Horror Writers Association blog: “The Word’s the Thing: An Interview with Michael Arnzen”
Q: How important is language in poetry? I realize the question is a bit open ended and hints of a “duh” question. However, there is something that distinguishes the many genre poets from a Marge Simon, Linda Addison or Bruce Boston. The subject matter may be similar but the language of poets of that caliber is just different. You can read many imitations of Poe or The Graveyard Boys, but the handful of poets that truly stand out seem to have this almost magical way of using language.
A: There’s no poetry without language, obviously, but you make a really good point about what distinguishes one poet from another – I’d call it their “voice.” Poetry is a kind of music; the sound matters and it should reverberate in the body and fetch the ear when spoken in a way that narrative fiction cannot. Words are as important as the “notes” in music, but every poet might have an instinctive, experienced and individual way of “singing” or giving shape to those words. But genre poetry is not opera and it doesn’t require a reader to be schooled in anything special; it’s more like pop music. Remember, although we can trace the legacy of genre back to Beowulf, through the Graveyard Poets of the Romantic Period and then Edgar Allan Poe, horror poetry as we think of it today really got its start as filler — a way for pulp magazine editors to put content in the blank spaces on the page of early magazines and fanzines. So some of the best horror genre poets in my opinion are more accessible and reaching readers with more easy to swallow language, perhaps using lyrical forms but not in an overbearing way, while still retaining a unique voice. I’ve read hyper-literary genre poetry, but no matter how interesting it might be, it often feels like its pretending to be something it’s not, and rings false when it taps the emotional chords. So in my opinion language matters, but it really can’t get in the way of the emotional connection in this field. Music is the instinctive part of poetry that just “feels” right, and the best genre poets are the kind who know how to reach the audience — they sing in a way that reaches new fans and experienced readers/viewers/lovers of horror alike.
(2) UNSTOPPABLE MONSTER. Forbes’ Ian Morris says “Hulu Is Gaining On Netflix, But Star Trek Discovery Is An Unstoppable Monster”.
What’s interested me though is the Star Trek: Discovery “Demand Expressions” or, better known as the number of people talking about a show. According to Parrot Analytics – video below – Star Trek: Discovery has more than 53 million people talking about it in the US. That beats The Walking Dead which has around 46m expressions. Netflix’s Stranger Things also has a staggering 33m of these within the US.
(3) IRONCLAD PROMISE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series”.
Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.
The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Harness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes.
(4) APEX MAGAZINE THEME ISSUE TAKING SUBMISSIONS. This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) will guest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.
As the stars align themselves above, write bold, fun, weird, scary, sensual stories that heal, frighten, intrigue, amuse.
Length: 1500-5000 words
Genres: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, etc.
Deadline: May 1, 2018
Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Payment: Original fiction $.06/word; Solicited Reprint fiction: $.01/word; Podcast $.01/word
(SFWA-certified professional market)
No simultaneous submissions. No multi-submissions for short fiction.
Publication: August 2018, Apex Magazine
(5) MEREDITH MOMENT. John Joseph Adams’ anthology HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects is discounted to $1.99 on Kindle from now until Feb. 7 (11:59pm PT).
- Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/ROBOT-Other-Improbable-Crowdfunding-Projects-ebook/dp/B00LFAGOLI
- Book website: http://www.johnjosephadams.com/robot-army/
- Twitter post: https://twitter.com/JohnJosephAdams/status/959100361586782208
- Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/johnjosephadams/posts/10155398791666158
Includes stories by Seanan McGuire, Daniel H. Wilson, Chuck Wendig, Tobias S. Buckell, Carmen Maria Machado and many others.
(6) TWISTED OPEN. Editors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore are taking submissions for their horror anthology The Twisted Book of Shadows until February 28.
- Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
- Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
- Will pay professional rates — a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
- Will pay royalties — a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.
- Will make our best efforts to spread the word, so that marginalized communities of horror writers will be aware of the call for stories.
- Will employ a diverse Editorial Committee. In recognition of the possibility of inherent bias in our reading, the editors have engaged an astonishing team of diverse writers and editors who will read submissions alongside us and will offer their input and aid in the selection process. These authors and editors have a breadth and depth of experience that has transformed this project into THE horror anthology for the coming year.
Golden told Facebook readers:
PLEASE share this far and wide, but I’d ask that you make a special effort to share with authors interested in horror who also happen to be women, people of color, non-binary, LGBTQ, or part of any commonly marginalized community. Anyone who has ever felt discouraged from submitting is actively ENCOURAGED to submit to this. If the work isn’t great, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can guarantee you a fair process, blind to any identity other than the quality of your story. All we care about is what you write.
(7) RECOGNIZING ROMANCE. Awards news at Amazing Stories — “Science Fiction Romance Awards Announced”.
This is a big week in science fiction romance as the SFR Galaxy Awards for 2017 were announced on January 31st. Judged by respected book bloggers and reviewers in the genre, the Award has the following theme per their website: The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain.
(8) AT 45. Megan McArdle says“After 45 Birthdays, Here Are ’12 Rules for Life'” at Bloomberg. There’s a familiar name in the first rule:
- Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Somewhere in eighth grade, many of us acquired the idea that the nasty putdown, the superior smile, the clever one liner, are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the great John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it. Those with greater ambitions should leave casual cruelty behind them.
(9) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank has posted its “Annotated 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction”, sorted by score to highlight the stories that made it into the “year’s best” anthologies so far (Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Neil Clarke) and the “year’s best” lists from prolific reviewers (Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Greg Hullender [RSR], Sam Tomaino [SFRevu], Jason McGregor, and Charles Payseur).
Annotations include time estimates, links to the story on the author’s website (if available), author links with Campbell Award-eligibility marked (superscript for year 1 or 2), blurbs for RSR-reviewed stories, links to reviews, and links to digital back issues (of print magazines) at eBookstores and library websites.
RSR reviewed 96 out of the 123 stories in the Locus list (78%). Of the 27 not reviewed by RSR, 10 were stories from horror magazines and horror anthologies. The rest were from other science fiction & fantasy sources, some of which might be reviewed by RSR as time permits.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Could be even worse than yesterday’s! Fox News reports “China is building a laser 10 trillion times more intense than the Sun that could tear space apart”.
According to the Science journal, this laser would be so powerful it “could rip apart empty space”.
The idea is to achieve a phenomenon known as “breaking the vacuum”, whereby electrons are torn away from positrons (their antimatter counterparts) in the empty vacuum of space.
Right now, it’s possible to convert matter into huge amounts of heat and light, as proved by nuclear weapons. But reversing the process is more difficult – although Chinese physicist Ruxin Li believes his laser could manage it.
“That would be very exciting. It would mean you could generate something from nothing,” he explained.
The team has already created a less powerful version called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser, which is capable of a 5.3-petawatt pulse
(14) NO UNIVERSES WERE HARMED. Meanwhile — “Simulation of universe provides black hole breakthrough”.
The most detailed simulation of the universe ever created has provided a breakthrough revealing how the most powerful and mysterious forces interact on an enormous scale.
Scientists said the detail and scale provided by the simulation enabled them to watch how galaxies formed, evolved and grew while also nursing the creation of new stars.
Dr Shy Genel, at the New York-based Flatiron Institute’s Centre for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), said: “When we observe galaxies using a telescope, we can only measure certain quantities.”
But “with the simulation, we can track all the properties for all these galaxies. And not just how the galaxy looks now, but its entire formation history”, he added.
He said the simulation is the most advanced ever developed.
(15) CRUSADING JOURNALISM. Florida Man has been heard from again: “Man Prefers Comic Books That Don’t Insert Politics Into Stories About Government-Engineered Agents Of War” – The Onion has the story.
APOPKA, FL—Local man Jeremy Land reportedly voiced his preference Thursday for comic books that don’t insert politics into stories about people forced to undergo body- and mind-altering experiments that transform them into government agents of war. “I’m tired of simply trying to enjoy escapist stories in which people are tortured and experimented upon at black sites run by authoritarian governments, only to have the creators cram political messages down my throat,” said Land, 31, who added that Marvel’s recent additions of female, LGBTQ, and racially diverse characters to long-running story arcs about tyrannical regimes turning social outsiders into powerful killing machines felt like PC propaganda run amok….
(16) BANGING ROCKS TOGETHER. To go with the recent Pixel about early humans ranging more widely, “Discovery In India Suggests An Early Global Spread Of Stone Age Technology”.
Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.
The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.
Neanderthals in Europe also used these tools around the same time. And scientists have thought that the technology spread to other parts of the globe much later — after modern humans moved out of Africa.
But scientists in India recently discovered thousands of stone tools made with Levallois technique, dating back to 385,000 years ago. These latest findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the Levallois technique spread across the world long before researchers previously thought.
(17) BIRDS DO IT. Everybody’s doing it: “Luxembourg PM sees his country’s satellite launched”.
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has just watched one of his country’s satellites go into orbit.
He was at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to see the launch of GovSat-1, which will be providing telecommunications services to the military and institutional customers.
The Luxembourg government has a 50-50 share in the project.
Its partner is SES, the major commercial satellite operator that bases itself in the Grand Duchy.
GovSat-1 is another example of Luxembourg’s burgeoning role in the space sector.
Its deputy prime minister, Etienne Schneider, who was also at the Cape, has recently positioned the country at the forefront of plans to go mine asteroids.
GovSat-1 rode to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. It will try to forge a new market in satellite communications.
(18) EARLY WARNING. With this it may be possible to detect dementia before it ravages the brain — “Blood test finds toxic Alzheimer’s proteins”.
Scientists in Japan and Australia have developed a blood test that can detect the build-up of toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The work, published in the journal Nature, is an important step towards a blood test for dementia.
The test was 90% accurate when trialled on healthy people, those with memory loss and Alzheimer’s patients.
Experts said the approach was at an early stage and needed further testing, but was still very promising.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Andrew Porter, John Joseph Adams, Greg Hullender, Jason Sizemore, StephenfromOttawa, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]