CBS All Access has dropped a short trailer for the new series Star Trek: Picard, coming soon.
(1) NEBULA LIVESTREAM. You can see it on SFWA’s YouTube channel at 8:00 p.m. Pacific.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are presenting the 2018 Nebula Awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing, live from the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA.
(2) NEW OWNERSHIP. Have you ever rescued something a neighbor put out in the yard? The Toronto Globe and Mail has a story to share: “Starship Enterprise replica seeks new life, new civilization with new Toronto owner”.
The Starship Enterprise has travelled far and wide throughout the galaxy, encountering countless civilizations — and now it is sitting in a garage in eastern Toronto.
…Bill Doern, a 51-year-old who runs a boutique public relations and marketing firm in Toronto, watched reruns of the original Star Trek television series as a boy. His favourite character is Spock. His favourite captain is Picard. When his wife was pregnant with their first child, he hoped to name the boy Mr. Sulu (they ended up naming him Elijah).
Mr. Doern is, in other words, about as much of a Trekkie as a Trekkie can be.
The Saturday before Mother’s Day, he was driving home from doing some grocery shopping when he saw a scale replica of the Enterprise NCC-1701-A, last seen in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, released in 1991, on a neighbour’s front lawn.
Mr. Doern stopped to get a picture of the ship, which is about as big as a small car. As he was snapping a pic, the homeowner came out with a “For sale” sign.
(3) ARTIFICIAL OBSTREPOROUSNESS. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson has a lot of fun foretelling “The Coming of the Fanbots”.
…It should come as no surprise then that a joint team comprised of members of MIT’s Media Lab (Artificial Intelligence Division) and Hanson Robotics was recently formed to address the need for Fanbots – electronic replacements for geeks and nerds.
“This project actually began in Hollywood”, said Dr. Calvin, Chief Administrator for the project. “Studio heads approached us a few years ago and asked us to blue-sky a response to the negativity that was surrounding, among other things, Disney’s evisceration of the Star Wars extended universe, not to mention Paramount’s problems with Star Trek fan films, the on-going complaints about Fox’s cancellation of Firefly, the regular eruption of re-make hysteria, the encroachment of real world politics into entertainment.”
Calvin went on to explain that the studios were expressing grave concern over the reliability of fans, and concern over the increasing sense of “ownership” fans were expressing regarding favored properties. One director stated that he was “sick and tired of being told what prior works he had stolen his ideas from; another expressed dismay over fan’s insistence that some degree of logicality accompany the plots of entirely fictional characters; marketing division heads complained about the complete and utter unreliability of fan audiences who seemed to select favorites and stinkers in an entirely arbitrary and fickle manner.”…
(4) FIRST UNMEN IN THE MOON. Print covers the release of “Robert Grossman’s Moon Walk”.
Three years before he died last year, the brilliant caricaturist, illustrator, animator and comic strip artist, Robert Grossman completed his as-of-then unpublished magnum opus, a decade long passion titled Life On The Moon: A Completely Illustrated Novel (Yoe Books). Grossman prided himself on illustrating “the un-illustratable” — an historical graphic novel based on the “Great Moon Hoax,” the most successful fake news story ever published.
Robert Grossman and the Moon
In 1835, The New York Sun published a series of six articles declaring the discovery of life–and advanced civilization–on the moon, which the newspaper attributed to the famous contemporary astronomer Sir John Herschel. According to the Sun, the lunar inhabitants included unicorns, bison, bipedal tail-less beavers, and intelligent humanoids with bat-like wings.
(5) SCOFFER. Karen Yossman gives a right-wing take on the various controversies in YA publishing at Spectator: “Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive”.
…Nor is the contagion confined to American authors. Last month John Boyne, best known for the Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, received such a barrage of abuse prior to the publication of his latest book, My Brother’s Name Is Jessica, which features a transgender central character, that he was briefly forced off Twitter. Critics labelled the book ‘transphobic’, suggesting that because Boyne is not transgender the story ‘lacked authenticity’ and its title ‘misgendered’ the fictional protagonist.
At almost the same moment that Boyne was deleting his Twitter account, Lincolnshire-based Zoe Marriott, a prolific writer of YA fiction, was also being hounded on the site over her new fantasy novel, The Hand, the Eye and the Heart, because it’s set in ‘fairy-tale China’. One prominent YA blogger warned: ‘White authors need to stay the hell away from the stories of people of color.’ Curiously, said blogger’s day job involves manning the tills at Foyles, one of London’s most revered bookshops — pity the poor sod who dares trouble her for a copy of Othello, or Tolkien for that matter. The father of fantasy fiction has come in for criticism for his portrayal of orcs in The Lord of the Rings. Some feel his work is ‘racialized’. And what’s a sensitive young bookseller to do if a young customer requests a C.S. Lewis, whose Narnia books were branded ‘blatantly racist’ and misogynistic by fellow fantasy author Philip Pullman? Pullman has since been labelled ‘transphobic’ himself after tweeting in October that he was ‘finding the trans argument impossible to follow’.
(6) FELDGRAU DISCOURAGED. Unsurprisingly, Bounding Into Comics needles this new policy: “Anime NYC Institutes Ban on Cosplays of ‘Fictitious Nazis or Nazi-Like Organizations’”
…Though the rule in question specifically targets the promotion or display of “fictitious Nazis or Nazi-like organizations,” Anime NYC has been highly inconsistent in its application of the rule. Tanya the Evil, a series specifically noted in the rules, features allusions to aspects of World War II (such as the appearance of the World War II-era MP40 submachine guns or a character based on Werner Von Braun) but is entirely set in a fictional country based heavily on World War I-era Europe.
Furthermore, in a move deemed hypocritical by some fans, the close professional partnership between LeftField Media and Crunchyroll led to Anime NYC promoting a special screening of The Saga of Tanya the Evil – the Movie:…
(7) THE SCIENTIFIC ANSWER. Readers can discover “The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones” at Scientific American.
… The show did indeed take a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that downturn goes way deeper than the usual suspects that have been identified (new and inferior writers, shortened season, too many plot holes). It’s not that these are incorrect, but they’re just superficial shifts. In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.
At its best, GOT was a beast as rare as a friendly dragon in King’s Landing: it was sociological and institutional storytelling in a medium dominated by the psychological and the individual. This structural storytelling era of the show lasted through the seasons when it was based on the novels by George R. R. Martin, who seemed to specialize in having characters evolve in response to the broader institutional settings, incentives and norms that surround them.
After the show ran ahead of the novels, however, it was taken over by powerful Hollywood showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Some fans and critics have been assuming that the duo changed the narrative to fit Hollywood tropes or to speed things up, but that’s unlikely. In fact, they probably stuck to the narrative points that were given to them, if only in outline form, by the original author. What they did is something different, but in many ways more fundamental: Benioff and Weiss steer the narrative lane away from the sociological and shifted to the psychological. That’s the main, and often only, way Hollywood and most television writers tell stories….
We’re pleased to see that an inter-city bus carrier has begun to sell tickets for intercity bus service Reno-Tonopah-Las Vegas-Phoenix, starting July 3, 2019. This should give people traveling to Tonopah by air to Reno or Las Vegas an additional way of getting to Tonopah without having to rent a vehicle or group with other people doing so.
The good feeling only lasted until Lenore Jones told Filers what she read in Streamliner’s “contract of carriage”, a document with many remarkable restrictions, such as:
Prohibition of Social Justice Warriors
Due to attempted vandalism, Social Justice Warriors may not travel on Streamliner. Social Justice Warriors include:
- Persons self-proclaiming to be “Social Justice Warriors” or “SJWs”.
- Persons supporting California regulations prohibiting or restricting Streamliner operations.
- Persons supporting boycotts, sabotage, agitation, protests, and terrorism against Streamliner.
(9) SMITH OBIT. Artist Dennis Neal Smith, chair of the first WesterCon in San Diego in 1966, has died reports Greg Bear.
Fond farewell to Dennis Neal Smith, famous for many things, and scholar of many things, who inspired Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” with his richly textured illustrations, and who illustrated my first story collection for Arkham House, as well as Joanna Russ’ collection.
Jackie Estrada says Smith died of cancer:
But his biggest claim to fame was his artwork. Harlan Ellison based several of his short stories on drawings by Dennis, including “Bright Eyes,” “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” and “Delusions for a Dragonslayer.” He also did the art for the first progress report for the 1972 San Diego Comic-Con and served on the committee back then.
The 1966 San Diego Westercon hotel inspired Poul Anderson to write the immortal filk “Bouncing Potatoes”.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
May 18, 1962 — The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series. Some are outstanding, some less so. Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think read is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out. (Died 2007.)
- Born May 18, 1934 — Elizabeth Rogers. Trek geeking time. She had two roles in the series. She provided the uncredited voice for “The Companion” in the “Metamorphosis” episode. She also portrayed Lt. Palmer, a communications officer who took the place of Uhura, in “The Doomsday Machine”, “The Way to Eden”, and the very last episode of the series, “Turnabout Intruder”. She also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants, Bewitched, The Swarm and Something Evil. (Died 2004.)
- Born May 18, 1946 — Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. His first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He alsohad appearances on Alien Nation, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Millennium, Star Trek: Enterprise and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. (Died 2006.)
- Born May 18, 1948 — R-Laurraine Tutihasi, 71. She’s a member of LASFS and the N3F. She publishes Feline Mewsings for FAPA. Not surprisingly, she’s had a number of SJW credentials in her life and her website gives honour to them here.
- Born May 18, 1949 — Rick Wakeman, 70. English musician who did a number of genre themed recordings including Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Nineteen Eighty-four.
- Born May 18, 1952 — Diane Duane, 67. She’s known for the the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse.
- Born May 18, 1958 — Jonathan Maberry, 61. The only thing I’ve read by him is a number of works in the Joe Ledger Series which has a high body count and an even higher improbability index. I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra.
- Born May 18, 1969 — Ty Franck, 50. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that s James Corey, author of the Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it!
(12) SCARES THAT CARE. [Item by Dann.] Episode 219 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene included an announcement of the 3rd Horror Show telethon to benefit the Scares That Care charity. The first telethon in 2017 raised over $10,000, last year’s telethon raised over $20,000. Both events took place in Pennsylvania and heavily featured guests living on the east coast of the United States.
This year’s event will take place on September 27-28 at Dark Delicacies located at 822 N. Hollywood Way located in Burbank, CA. This is a new location for the bookstore that bills itself as the “Home of Horror”.
One feature of holding this year’s event in California is the ability to draw on the talented people in the horror genre that live and work on the west coast of the United States.
Unlike the first two telethons, this year’s event will take place in a location with less room for live viewing. It is hoped that attendees will circulate in and out of the viewing area that patrons of the store will still be able to shop.
The telethon will be broadcast live via one of the streaming services. Online fundraising will be performed via the Scares That Care website.
Fans wanting to participate in a Scares That Care event on the east coast can attend the “Scares That Care Weekend from August 1 to August 4 in Williamsburg, VA.
(13) GEOGRAPHY OF FANTASY. At Fantasy Literature, Brad Hawley reviews “God Country: A Sentient Sword Comes to Texas”.
…The sword, Valofax, is a giant sentient blade that is the embodiment of all swords and knives throughout the universe. It changes the life of a small family: Grandfather Emmett Quinlan, his son, and his son’s wife and young daughter. The story takes us from Texas to Hell and finally to the far-off home of Valofax, whose creator wants the sword back even as his planet dies all around him….
Does that mean it’s supposed to be a long distance between Texas and Hell?
(15) AT THE KGB. Ellen Datlow posted her photos from the KGB Readings on May 15.
Kai Ashante Wilson and Simon Strantzas read from their short work and they were riveting
(16) THOSE DARNED HUGOS. Galactic Journey’s Traveler notes with asperity that almost none of the Hugo nominees this year (that being 1964) were good enough to be shortlisted for his own Galactic Stars. “[May 18, 1964] Aspirations (June 1964 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”. (The Traveler needs to buy a bigger hat.)
If you plunked down your $2 for a Worldcon membership (Pacificon II in San Francisco this year), then you probably sent in your nominations for the Hugo Awards, honoring the best works of 1963. Last month, you got the finalists ballot. Maybe, like me, you were surprised….
(17) ANDERS ANSWERS. “Bay Area sci-fi author Charlie Jane Anders dishes on planets, books” in the Mercury News.
What do you think accounts for the recent boom in speculative fiction?
There’s been a trend over the last 20 years of “mainstream” literary authors dipping into speculative fiction — Margaret Atwood, John Updike. (But) we’re living in a time where everything is a little more science fictional. Technology has transformed lives in a short time, things like smartphones, medical technologies. A third thing is that speculative fiction is finally opening out and including authors who had previously been kept out of the genre: people of color, women, queer people, transgendered people, disabled people. That, I think, leads to an explosion of creativity and a ton of really interesting stories.
(18) NEBULA CONFERENCE VIDEOS. SFWA has posted several panel discussions from this weekend’s event.
- Shifting To Games. With Phoebe Barton, Kate Dollarhyde, Darusha Wehm, Natalia Theodoridou, and Kate Heartfield.
- Now What? Emerging writers discuss life after their debut. With Rebecca Roanhorse, Peng Shepherd, Mike Chen, R.R. Virdi and R.F. Kuang
- How do the writers of 2019 incorporate modern themes while writing in past settings? With Susan Forest, Connie Willis, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kate Heartfield
(19) STAR WARS PITCH. ScreenRant lets you step inside the pitch meeting that led to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope!
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jim Caughran, Dann, Nancy Sauer, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) DEALING WITH DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS. Chuck Wendig, who doesn’t want people using social media to shove their negative reviews of his work in his face – point taken – goes on to make an unconvincing distinction between customer complaints about his fiction and everything else: “Hi, Definitely Don’t Tag Authors In Your Negative Reviews Of Their Books”.
…You might note also that negative reviews are one of the ways we communicate with creators of products and arbiters of service in order to improve the quality of that product or that service — which is true! If someone at American Airlines shits in my bag, I’m gonna say something on Twitter, and I’m going to say it to American Airlines. If the dishwasher I bought was full of ants, you bet I’m going to tag GE in that biz when I go to Twitter. But books are not dishwashers or airlines. You can’t improve what happened. It’s out there. The book exists. You can’t fix it now. And art isn’t a busted on-switch, or a broken door, or a poopy carryon bag, or an ant-filled dishwasher….
(2) THE PERIPHERALS WHISPERER. Ursula Vernon has many talents – this is another one.
(3) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Simon Strantzas and Kai Ashante Wilson on Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
Simon Strantzas is the author of five collections of short fiction, including Nothing is Everything (Undertow Publications, 2018), and is editor of the award-winning Aickman’s Heirs and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3. His fiction has appeared in numerous annual best-of anthologies, in venues such as Nightmare, Postscripts, and Cemetery Dance, and has been nominated for both the British Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.
Kai Ashante Wilson
Kai Ashante Wilson won the Crawford award for best first novel of 2016, and his works have been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. Most of his stories are available on Tor.com. His novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey may be ordered from local bookstores or online. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.
(4) FAT ISSUES IN ENDGAME? Adam-Troy Castro rejects complaints about Thor’s character in Avengers: Endgame. Beware Spoilers.
I am a fat guy. I will likely always be a fat guy.
Fat Thor is not fat-shaming.
Fat Thor is character humor: the man has given up. Tony Stark went in one direction, the Odinson went in another. He’s a binge-drinking, binge-eating, emotionally fragile shell of himself, and while some of the other characters make unkind (and, dammit, funny) remarks, it is his diminishment and not his enlargement that is the source of the humor.
Sure, bloody explain it to me now.
I don’t know, I don’t understand.
Fvck you, I’m a fat guy. I do know, I do understand. I have been mocked for my weight, sometimes viciously. I know it all.
(I haven’t personally encountered these complaints, I can only assume there must be some, else why Castro’s post.)
(5) JUNE SWOON. It’s 1964. the prozine pendulum is swinging, and apparently it’s getting away from Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus: “[May 8, 1964] Rough Patch (June 1964 Galaxy)”.
I think I’ve got a bad case of sibling rivalry. When Victoria Silverwolf came onto the Journey, she took on the task of reviewing Fantastic, a magazine that was just pulling itself out of the doldrums. My bailiwick consisted of Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, IF, and Galaxy, which constituted The Best that SF had to offer.
Ah for those halcyon days. Now Fantastic is showcasing fabulous Leiber, Moorcock, and Le Guin. Moreover, Vic has added the superlative Worlds of Tomorrow to her beat. What have I got? Analog is drab and dry, Avram Davidson has careened F&SF to the ground, IF is inconsistent, and Galaxy…ah, my poor, once beloved Galaxy…
(6) TERRAIN TERROR. Laird Barron now writes crime novels set in Alaska. But he used to be a horror writer, and “In Noir, Geography Is a Character” on CrimeReads, Barron has anecdotes about Michael Shea and the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose.
…A decade ago, bound for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, I stared out the window of a light commercial plane swooping in low over the Central Valley. Low enough I made out details of oak trees covering big hills and the rusty check patterns of the yards of individual homes. Country roads radiated like nerves from a plexus. Cars crawled along those snaking roads through golden dust. The rumpled land subtly descended toward the haze of the Pacific. I realized this was where Michael Shea got his flavor. This “obvious” revelation slapped me in the face.
Michael left us too soon five years later in 2014. His memory looms large in the weird fiction and horror fields as the man who wrote the landmark collection Polyphemus. A deep vein of mystery and noir travels through his work, grounding the fantastical tropes. I’d read him since my latter teens, absorbing the unique cadence of his prose without giving conscious thought to how echoes of the natural world inflected his grimiest urban settings, how the superstructures and sprawl of his version of LA and San Francisco were influenced by the ancient earth they occupy….
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
This was a big date in sff history.
May 9, 1973 — Soylent Green premiered.
May 9, 1986 — Short Circuit debuted in theatres.
May 9, 1997 — The Fifth Element arrived in movie houses.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 9, 1860 — J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. (Died 1937.)
- Born May 9, 1920 — William Tenn was the pen name of Philip Klass. Clute says in ESF that ‘From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.’ That pretty sums him up I think. All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.)
- Born May 9, 1920 — Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other. Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
- Born May 9, 1925 — Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. (Died 1980.)
- Born May 9, 1936 — Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
- Born May 9, 1951 — Geoff Ryman, 68. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel.
- Born May 9, 1979 — Rosario Dawson, 40. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Women in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Pearls Before Swine throws cold water on the dreams of aspiring authors.
(10) INTERZONE BEGINS. SFFDirect downloads the history of a famed sf magazine from one of the founders: “Early years of Interzone, told by Co-Ed Simon Ounsley”.
In 1981, Eastercon was held in Leeds. Four attendees were David Pringle, Simon Ounsley, Alan Dorey (then chairman of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA)) and Graham James. David Pringle was a co-chairman of the convention and Simon Ounsley was assisting with the finances. The convention made a profit of £1,300, which Simon states was completely unintentional and purely down to cautious budgeting. At Graham James’ suggestion, the committee agreed to use the money to launch an SF magazine. Simon recalls how controversial this decision was at the time, but in any event, the four men teamed up to start a magazine.
At the same time, four friends in London were also trying to get an SF magazine off the ground. They were Malcolm Edwards, who worked for SF publisher Gollancz, and SF critics John Clute, Colin Greenland, and Roz Kaveney. They had asked the BSFA if they would publish the magazine and it had declined. However, Alan made David aware of the London proposal and the two groups got together.
As Simon says, this was an ideal match because the Leeds contingent had the money and the London team had the connections. The name of the magazine was suggested by David. It was an imaginary city in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch.
(11) THE HOST WITH THE MOST. Stephen Colbert helped fans get a head start watching the new biopic: “Stephen Colbert Hosts First ‘Tolkien’ Screening With Cast and Director” in The Hollywood Reporter.
Moviegoers across the country were able to see Tolkien ahead of its release this Friday, along with a Q&A moderated by Lord of the Rings super-fan Stephen Colbert, even if they weren’t at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on Tuesday for the first-ever screening of the movie.
The panel, featuring the Fox Searchlight film’s stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins with director Dome Karukoski, was simulcast to select theaters following special screenings. In Montclair, Karukoski revealed what goes into a film like Tolkien, which chronicles the formative years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life as he forms friendships, goes to war and falls in love….
To close out the Q&A, Colbert praised Karukoski’s efforts and Tolkien itself. “Thank you for the film you created. It reminds me of the power of story, and how it can give us hope,” the late-night host said before citing one of Tolkien’s quotes from The Return of the King: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
Continued Colbert, “I cried many times watching this film, and I want to thank you for those tears of pain and of those tears of joy and thank you for what you have given me of his [Tolkien’s] life and for your beautiful performances.”
(12) CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE. “Australia’s A$50 note misspells responsibility” – time to get the appertainment flowing Down Under.
Australia’s latest A$50 note comes with a big blunder hidden in the small print – a somewhat embarrassing typo.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) spelled “responsibility” as “responsibilty” on millions of the new yellow notes.
The RBA confirmed the typo on Thursday and said the error would be fixed in future print runs.
But for now, around 46 million of the new notes are in use across the country.
The bills were released late last year and feature Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament.
What looks like a lawn in the background of Ms Cowan’s portrait is in fact rows of text – a quotation from her first speech to parliament.
(13) HEAVY METAL. Alas behind a paywall at Nature: “Collapsars forming black holes as a major source of galaxy’s heavy elements” [PDF file]. Here scientists report simulations that show that collapsar accretion disks (in black hole formation) yield sufficient heavy elements to explain observed abundances in the Universe.
Although these supernovae are rarer than neutronstar mergers, the larger amount of material ejected per event compensates for the lower rate of occurrence. We calculate that collapsars may supply more than 80 per cent of the r-process heavy element content of the Universe.
(14) HE CALLED FOR HIS BOWL. BBC calls “Southend burial site ‘UK’s answer to Tutankhamun'”.
A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK’s answer to Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003.
Tooth enamel fragments were the only human remains, but experts say their “best guess” is that they belonged to a 6th Century Anglo-Saxon prince.
It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial.
Now, after 15 years of expert analysis some of the artefacts are returning to Southend on permanent display for the first time.
When a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) excavated the site, they said they were “astounded” to find the burial chamber intact.
(15) STAR BLECCH. Matt Keeley encounters one of the earliest Star Trek parodies while revisiting a Sixties issue of MAD: “Not Just a Classic Issue, MAD #115 (December 1967) Predicted the Future”.
…Mort Drucker’s art is exquisite as always, and DeBartolo’s writing is top notch, loaded with puns and hilarious jokes. (Spook: “That’s what your MIND says! What does your HEART say?” Kook: “Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat — just like everybody else’s!”) But one of the most interesting things about this parody is the way the story wraps up — the solution is for the Boobyprize to reverse orbit and go back in time. You might recognize this plot device from the first Superman movie. Somehow DeBartolo ripped it off, despite “Star Blecch” coming out 11 years before the film.
(16) IF IT’S GOOD, IT’S A MARVEL. Nerds of a Feather panelists Adri Joy, Mike N., Phoebe Wagner, and Vance K assemble for a “Review Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame”.
Today I’ve gathered Brian, Mike, Phoebe and Vance to chat about our Endgame reactions: what made us punch the air in glee and what had us sliding down in our seats in frustration. Needless to say, all the spoilers are ahead and you really shouldn’t be here unless you’ve had a chance to see the movie first.
Adri: So, Endgame! That was fun. Even more fun than I expected after, you know, all the dead people and the feelings about them.
Brian: First impressions are that I thought this was a great conclusion to all of the movies that came before it. The MCU could stop here (it won’t, but it could) and I would be completely satisfied.
Vance: The woman seated next to me — and I’ve never experienced this in a movie theater — started taking deep, centering breaths the moment the lights went down. And I love her for it. Infinity War was a gauntlet for fans, yet she was there opening day for whatever came next, no matter how gutting. Turned out the movie was a lot of fanservice, so she made it through. As did I!
(17) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. (If you see that sign, it won’t lead you to a fabulous new alien, I guarantee!) The LA Times tries to find out — “After hyping a $1-billion Star Wars land, how does Disney get visitors to leave?”
…Once a time window expires, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters will politely tell parkgoers that they need to leave the land to make way for new visitors.
Disneyland representatives say they expect that most guests will abide by the courteous directions to move on. But they remain mum about what will happen if guests ignore the requests.
“Four hours is a long time in the land,” said Kris Theiler, vice president of the Disneyland Park. “Most guests are going to find that they’re ready to roll after four hours.”
[Thanks to Greg Hullender, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) CALL FOR CLEANUP ON CHANNEL 3. TechCrunch has an eye-opening story — “Walmart’s Vudu shows off original content and shoppable ads, hints at interactive shows”.
…[Vudu Senior Director Julian] Franco had more details to share when it came to Vudu’s plans for non-interactive, original content. He announced that the service is producing (in partnership with eOne and Bell Canada) “Albedo,” a science fiction detective series from “Rampage” director Brad Peyton that will premiere next year, and will mark “Lost” star Evangeline Lilly’s return to TV. In addition, the first three episodes of Nickelodeon’s remake “Blues Clues & You” will premiere on Vudu before they air on linear TV.
Also in the works are unscripted shows like “Turning Point with Randy Jackson” and “Friends in Strange Places,” a travel show with Queen Latifah.
In total, the service will be premiering around a dozen original movies and TV shows later this year, Franco said.
As for those shoppable ads, Vudu Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Scott Blanksteen said the service is already testing them. These are ads that allow you to purchase the featured products through a pop-up window. He added that these ads are dynamic, changing based on viewer preferences.
(2) WESTEROS SPINOFFS. Although Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman told The Hollywood Reporter in April that his time with the franchise is over for now—because the spinoff series he was attached to is officially scrubbed, George R.R.Martin had this to say on his blog.
Oh, and speaking of television, don’t believe everything you read. Internet reports are notoriously unreliable. We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term “spinoffs”) at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely. The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer. What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of FIRE & BLOOD and come up with your own theories.
(3) WILDE MOVES INTO ACADEME. Western Colorado University’s “Graduate Program in Creative Writing” has appointed writer Fran Wilde as Director of their Genre Fiction MA / MFA Program.
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 5, 1908 — Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon. also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
- Born May 5, 1926 — Richard Cowper, penname of John Middleton Murry Jr. Christopher Priest in his obit says ‘His best SF is found in the novel The Twilight of Briareus and the books in the White Bird of Kinship series, but most of his short stories were also remarkable. His work always stood out in the SF genre: he was anachronistic, but he dazzled with his elegant, precise, bountiful prose.’ (Died 2002.)
- Born May 5, 1942 — Marc Alaimo, 77. Best known for his role as recurring villain Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine. He was also a security officer in Total Recall named Captain Everett, and the human form of an alien in The Last Starfighter.
- Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 77. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her?
- Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 76. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. Though decidedly not genre, I going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
- Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 75. Known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, Macbeth in Gargoyles, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films.
- Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne M. Valente, 40. The list thing I read by her was The Refrigerator Monologues which is a lot of fun. Space Opera is in by TBR pile and I’d like to know what y’all thought of it. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man.
- Born May 5, 1983 — Henry Cavill, 46. Best known portraying Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. He appears next in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He did early in his career as Mike in Hellraiser: Hellworld and was The Hunter In Red Riding Hood, an interesting musical.
(5) COMICS SECTION.
- Free Range tells a story about Noah that was left out of Genesis.
- Frank and Ernest have questionable advice for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.
(6) STARFLEET CREDENTIALS. SYFY Wire introduces the new recruits: “Felines join Starfleet in Chronicle Collectibles’ cool new line of Star Trek Cats”.
“To Boldly Go Where No Cat Has Gone Before” is a motto that Texas-based Chronicle Collectibles has taken to heart with its wonderfully whiskered new line, the Star Trek Cats Collection, which is based on the whimsical feline artwork of Jenny Parks.
(7) YODA, HOW YOU’VE GROWN! Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia dressed up as Yoda on Star Wars Day and helped give out bobbleheads at the park before the game.
(8) FAN MAIL FROM A FLOUNDER? Galactic Journey has reached the publication date of a fan letter by one of its contributors — [May 2, 1964] The Big Time (May 1964 Analog).
Many people harbor a desire for fame — their face on the screen, their star on a boulevard, their name in print. That’s why it’s been so gratifying to have been given plaudits by no less a personage than Rod Serling, as well as the folks who vote for the Hugos.
But it wasn’t until this month that one of us finally made the big time. Check out this month’s issue of Analog, for in the very back is a letter whose sardonic commentary makes the author evident even before one gets to the byline. Yes, it’s our very own John Boston, Traveler extraordinaire.
Bravo, Mr. Boston. You’ve got a bright future.
As for Analog… there the outlook isn’t so clear….
(9) WHEN THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME. John Scalzi weighs in with his (spoiler free) “Review: Avengers: Endgame”.
With that said, “watchable” and “entertaining in the moment” are not precisely the same thing to me as “fun” and “enjoyable.” Watching Endgame to me felt like being on a forced march through a checklist of plot points and character moments, and after a (very short) time I began to be rather conscious of all the scenes that existed not to be an organic moment of story but to be fanservice for a particular character (or set of characters), or to make sure some barely-remembered loose end was tucked in. By the third act and its climactic and overstuffed battle scene, it stopped being clever and started being exhausting. I felt like a kid on vacation being dragged to all the sights on a tour, with no time to really enjoy any of them because look, we’re on a schedule here.
(10) HEAVY METAL. Camestros Felapton returns from his mountaintop experience with a series of Hugo nominee reviews, such as — “Hugo 2019 Novels: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik”.
…Spinning Silver is not “Uprooted 2” but it shares common features: based on folk tale tropes and using a (sort of) Eastern European setting to tell an original story with familiar aspects. Instead, we get a story of multiple characters navigating a world of promises, oaths and bargains and the consequences of ambiguous terms.
(11) GETTING READY TO LAUNCH. Astronaut Scott Kelly advised a New York Times reporter about “How to Prepare Yourself for Space”.
“You’ve been trying not to pee in your pants your whole life,” says the retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who wore a diaper for liftoff and landing on all four of his space missions. Going into orbit will require you to confront your body in ways you don’t have to on Earth. Get over decades of conditioning by rehearsing basic bodily functions on land: Put on a diaper, lie on the floor with your legs up on the couch, and practice urinating without shame or gravity’s assistance. (Don’t, and you’ll risk damaging your bladder when your body won’t relieve itself in space.)
Leaving Earth is dangerous; you might die, and you should acknowledge and grapple with that before you go. Kelly has spent a total of 520 days in space. Before departing, he always wrote letters to his loved ones to be opened only in the case of his death. Seek help beforehand. Don’t step foot in a spacecraft without some counseling….
(12) AN APPEAL FOR MORE MASSIVE MEDIA. The opening of BBC’s article “Why David Cameron set Tina Fey a secret mission to change British TV” is followed by interesting nitty-gritty discussion of differences in approach and economics.
It’s not unusual for TV fans to wish that their favourite shows would carry on (Fleabag anyone?). But it seems viewers who long for more have an unlikely ally – former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking on David Tennant’s podcast, US writer and actress Tina Fey revealed that, while leader, Mr Cameron implored her to lobby the British TV industry to churn out as many episodes as US shows do.
“Come and convince our showrunners that they can’t just make six episodes of things. Like you guys, they should make 200 episodes,” she recalled him saying.
Fey rejected the request, however, explaining that US writers were, in fact, jealous of the less-is-more British approach.
(13) FUSSIN’ & FEUDIN’. The cold opening of last night’s Saturday Night Live is a Family Feud episode pitting the Game of Thrones against the Avengers.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.
A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.
A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.
The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.
The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….
He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.
On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.
(2) COSPLAY: A HISTORY. Andrew Liptak has one on the way to the press says SYFY Wire. “First Look: Cosplay expert Andrew Liptak examines fandom fashion in Cosplay: A History”.
Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.
Liptak’s own press release says –
Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write.
The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more.
The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology.
(3) SWAMP THING TEASER. A new original series DC Universe Swamp Thing premieres May 31.
SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.
And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next seasonal edition will appear in September.
(5) PACKET ITEM AVAILABLE. Bogi Takács has released eir Hugo Voter’s Packet for Best Fan Writer – the material is at this link: “Hugo award voter packet 2019 (works from 2018)”.
I successfully produced my Hugo award voter packet! ….I hope. It features some highlights from 2018, but I had a lot more stuff in 2018, so please feel free to browse around.
The packet only has reviews and other forms of fan writing, because it is for the Fan Writer category. So no original fiction or poetry!…
(6) TICKETS TO RIDE. There’s an Omaze fundraiser for The Planetary Society — “Win a One-of-a-Kind 1958 VW® Bug Powered by Tesla® Batteries”. Buy tickets for a chance to win at the link.
- Score a rare, custom Zelectric 1958 Classic VW Bug with an electric motor and Tesla batteries (the only one of its kind!)
- Enjoy 102 HP thanks to its electric motor and a nearly 100 mile range battery that’ll keep you moving
- Rock this car’s classic style and upgraded perks like new leather seats, high-quality flooring, ragtop sunroof and more
- Support The Planetary Society’s work to advance space science and exploration
(7) NICK TREK. The Hollywood Reporter informs fans — “‘Star Trek’ Animated Series Gets Green Light at Nickelodeon”.
The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.
(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.
Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.
Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.
After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.
Further information about the memorial will be posted on Vonda’s CaringBridge page at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/vondanmcintyre/journal.
Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at email@example.com before May 11.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 25, 1897 — Fletcher Pratt. Pratt is best known for his collaborations with de Camp, the most well-known of which is the Harold Shea series which is collected as The Complete Enchanter. His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also superb. Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The club would later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Asimov. Pratt would be fictionalized in one story, “To the Barest”, as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur. (Died 1956.)
- Born April 25, 1925 — Richard Deming. Ok, I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, or in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, in the digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were the writers who penned novellas in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series. (Died 1983.)
- Born April 25, 1929 — Robert A. Collins. Scholar of science fiction who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Editor of the Fantasy Newsletter & Fantasy Review from 1978 to 1987, and editor of the IAFA Newsletter from 1988 to 1993. Editor, The Scope of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the First International Conference on the Fantastic in Literature and Film and Modes of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twelfth Annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2009.)
- Born April 25, 1939 — Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic Horror, Frankenstein: The Monster Wakes, Dick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.)
- Born April 25, 1950 — Peter Jurasik, 69. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5 — Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film.
- Born April 25, 1952 — Peter Lauritson, 67. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Star Trek films.
- Born April 25, 1969 — Gina Torres, 50. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And, of course, Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?
(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.
Asmodee Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK and export trade.
To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.
(11) PEAK GEEK. Vox suspects “Geek culture may never again be as all-consuming as it is right now”. “Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones make this moment feel like a series finale for geek pop culture too.”
…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….
(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack — “Harry Potter & The Plague of Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”
JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.
(13) SHELVES FULL OF BOOKS. Laura Lee expounds on “Women’s Bookshelves and Clutter”.
I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…
I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.
Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.
It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.
…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?
(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:
(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS. In “Timothy’s Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks of a slate – because he put them there.
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.
(16) NEUTRON LONGEVITY. Nature reports “Physicists close in on neutron puzzle” [PDF file].
Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.
Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!
Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago.
(17) BEEN TO SEE THE DRAGON. Doctor Science is right, there aren’t too many eyewitness accounts like this — “A first-hand description of a dragon”.
The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…
Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.
Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….
(18) BEHIND THE SCENES WITH HALDEMAN. The Partially Examined Life podcast talks to one of the field’s greats: “Constellary Tales #7: Interview with Author Joe Haldeman”.
SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…
- How “I of Newton” went from the page to The Twilight Zone
- The unusual origins of Hugo Award–winning short story “Tricentennial”
- Getting The Forever War published (and bootlegging the stage production)
- Details about Joe’s new novel in the works (!!!)
(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A TED-Ed presentation written and narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”
Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror
Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) PULL THE TRIGGER. NPR follows up on a recent Pixel: “‘Uncharted Waters’: Union Tells Hollywood Writers To Fire Their Agents.”
Thousands of Hollywood writers have been told by the Writers Guild of America to fire their agents — a drastic move that could impinge the production of new TV shows and films.
The abrupt directive on Friday followed a breakdown in negotiations over proposed changes to the agreement that has guided the basic business relationship between writers and agents for the past 43 years.
With talks stalled ahead of a midnight deadline, the WGA sent its 13,000 writers an email with instructions to notify their agents in writing that they cannot represent them until signing a new code of conduct.
…At the center of the conflict is a complaint among writers that their agents are not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay. The dispute threatens to hinder production at a time when the major broadcast networks are typically staffing up for their fall lineups. It could also lead to job losses in the industry.
“This whole fight is really about the fact that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business … writers themselves are actually earning less,” said Goodman.
A main point of contention involves what are known as packaging fees, the money that agents get from a studio when they provide a roster of talent for a film or TV project. Traditionally, agents would earn a 10 percent commission for the work their clients receive from a studio. But with packaging fees, they are compensated by the studios directly. “They are not incentivized to increase the income of those writers,” Goodman said.
(2) TIME SCOUTS KICKSTARTER. “The Time Scouts Handbook” is the focus of a Kickstarter launched by 826LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. They’ve raised $15,978 of their $20,000 goal with over three weeks to go.
Introducing THE TIME SCOUTS HANDBOOK, your guide to traveling the whatever of whenever from 826LA. Filled with over 80 pages of time travel tips, writing prompts, and other useful scout tips like space knots, the Time Scouts Handbook has been lovingly designed to explore the most important place in space and time – your imagination.
With your help, we’ll not only create a print version of this manual for 21st century consumption, you’ll fund access to Time Scout programming for students across Los Angeles.
Time Scouts and this handbook are part of 826LA, a very real nonprofit dedicated to supporting students and teachers across Los Angeles. It is definitely not a front for an intergalactic, time-traveling adventure organization called Time Scouts. Who told you that? Was it Frida?
(3) SNAPCHAT GIMMICK. Is there a dragon landing pad on the roof of Tor.com headquarters?
(4) COMING ATTRACTIONS. You better believe it – there’s bank to be made! The Hollywood Reporter tells readers “Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy on Planning “Next 10 Years” of Star Wars Films”.
“We are looking at the next saga. We are not just looking at another trilogy, we’re really looking at the next 10 years or more,” Kennedy said.
“This [movie] is the culmination of the Skywalker Saga; it’s by no means the culmination of Star Wars,” said Kennedy. “I’m sitting down now with Dan Weiss and David Benioff…and Rian Johnson. We’re all sitting down to talk about, where do we go next? We’ve all had conversations about what the possibilities might be, but now we’re locking it down.”
This summit is on the calendar for next month, Kennedy said.
(5) SPACE COMMAND. Marc Zicree’s latest Mr. Sci-Fi video – “He Met Star Trek’s Uhura When He Was 10 — and Shows Her His Scrapbook 50 Years Later!”
Mr. Sci-Fi shares a very special moment on the Space Command shoot with Nichelle Nichols!
(6) PETS, PITS, AND SIR PAT. Dann sent a pair of pet-related items: “So I ran into a link about optical illusions increasing pet adoptions. The first wasn’t as genre-tangential as I thought it might be.” — “Brilliant Optical Illusions Inspire Families To Adopt Rescue Pets”.
To promote a recent pet adoption event, the Mumbai, India-based group World For All commissioned a visual campaign aimed at encouraging families to find a place in their lives for a needy animal — and what resulted couldn’t be more brilliant at doing just that.
The images are optical illusions, showing people framed in such a way that they form the shape of a pet in the empty space between them, along with the simple tagline:
“There’s always room for more. Adopt.”
“But the next story in the cart was about Patrick Stewart fostering a pitbull and a pitbull mix. And hey! Patrick Stewart!” “Patrick Stewart’s New Foster Dog Can’t Stop Smiling At Him”
Many people might say that Sir Patrick Stewart is famous for his iconic roles in television, movies and even on stage — but dog lovers know that one of the most important parts Stewart has played is as a homeless pit bull’s foster dad in his real life.
This was back in 2017 — and Ginger has since been adopted by a loving family.
But now Stewart is at it again.
(7) MAKING THE TABLE ROUNDS. And another knight has been out doing good. “Ian McKellen spotted at The Hobbit pub” was an item in the BBC’s April 11 roundup.
Acting legend Ian McKellen stopped by The Hobbit pub in Southampton yesterday.
The Lord of the Rings actor stepped in to help pay a copyright licence fee in 2012 so the pub could carry on trading as The Hobbit after Hollywood film firm the Saul Zaentz Company threatened it with legal action.
At the time Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf, described the company’s actions as “unnecessary pettiness”.
The pub posted a picture of the actor on Instagram, prompting one user to reply: “I have never been more jealous in my life.”
Terry Hunt sent the link with a note, “The Hobbit is a LoTR-themed pub, particularly popular with students, which I’ve been visiting occasionally for around 25 years: see http://thehobbitpub.co.uk. In 2012 the film franchise sitting on the rights (who notoriously failed to pay the Tolkien Estate anything from the films’ earnings – not sure what the state of play is on that story) threatened the pub over its use of the name, etc., but apparently arrangements were made as it continued trading as before: at the time I missed the relevant report: (see here). I hadn’t realised until now that Sir Ian McKellen/Gandalf had been the co-payer, along with Stephen Fry, of the necessary fee.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 14, 1925 — Rod Steiger. Carl in The Illustrated Man which is specifically based on three stories by Bradbury from that collection: “The Veldt,” “The Long Rain,” and “The Last Night of the World.” Great film. Genre-wise, he also was Father Delaney in The Amityville Horror, showed up as Charlie on the short-lived Wolf Lake series, played Dr. Phillip Lloyd in horror film The Kindred, was Pa in the really chilling American Gothic, played General Decker in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (really, really weird film), Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in Modern Vampires and Peter on “The Evil Within” episode of Tales of Tomorrow series. (Died 2002.)
- Born April 14, 1929 — Gerry Anderson. English television and film producer, director, writer and if need be, voice artist. Thunderbirds which ran for thirty-two episodes was I think the best of his puppet-based shows though Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Fireball XL5 and Stingray are definitely also worth seeing. Later on, he would move into live productions with Space: 1999 being the last production under the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. (Died 2012.)
- Born April 14, 1935 — Jack McDevitt, 84. If you read nothing else by him, read Time Travelers Never Die as it’s a great riff on the paradoxes of time travel. If you’ve got quite a bit of time, his Alex Benedict space opera series is a fresh approach to conflict between two alien races.
- Born April 14, 1954 — Bruce Sterling, 65. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s been published to date.
- Born April 14, 1958 — Peter Capaldi, 61. Twelfth Doctor. Not going to rank as high as the Tenth Doctor or the Seventh Doctor on my list of favourite Doctors, let alone the Fourth Doctor who remains My Doctor, but I thought he did a decent enough take on the role. His first genre appearance was as Angus Flint in the decidedly weird Lair of the White Worm, very loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name. He pops up in World War Z as a W.H.O. Doctor before voicing Mr. Curry in Paddington, the story of Paddington Bear. He also voices Rabbit in Christopher Robin. On the boob tube, he’s been The Angel Islington in Neverwhere. (Almost remade by Jim Henson but not quite.) He was in Iain Banks’ The Crow Road as Rory McHoan (not genre but worth noting). He played Gordon Fleming in two episodes of Sea of Souls series. Before being the Twelfth Doctor, he was on Torchwood as John Frobisher. He is a magnificent Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers series running on BBC. And he’s involved in the current animated Watership Down series as the voice of Kehaar.
- Born April 14, 1977 — Sarah Michelle Gellar, 42. Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes I watched every episode. Great show. Even watched every bit of Angel as well. Her first genre role was as Casey “Cici” Cooper in Scream 2 followed by voicing Gwendy Doll in Small Soldiers. Her performance as Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions is simply bone chillingly scary. I’ve not seen, nor plan to see, either of the Scooby-Doo films so I’ve no idea how she is Daphne Blake. Finally she voiced April O’Neil in the latest animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
- Born April 14, 1982 — Rachel Swirsky, 37. Writer, editor, poet and podcaster. She was the founding editor of the superb PodCastle podcast and served as the editor for several years. As a writer, she’s a master of the shorter form of writing, be it a novella, a short story or a poem. Indeed her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” won a Nebula Award. Her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” won another Nebula Award for Best Short Story. She’s the editor of People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Real Life Adventures get a laugh with its variation on Star Wars’ iconic opening.
(10) ONE BEST FAN WRITER TO ANOTHER. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid – April 12 edition features a review of Una McCormack’s excellent new novella The Undefeated and a look at the movie adaptation of Tim Lebbon’s The Silence, as well as the first of a planned series of Hugo spotlights on Charles Payseur.
Best Fan Writer finalist (Like me! That still sounds AWESOME) Charles Payseur is a writer, poet and a major part of the ongoing redemption of short fiction as an art form worthy of discussion. That sounds a touch high faluting I know but it’s true, short stories continue to enjoy a renaissance triggered by podcasting (Such as these fine shows) and the massive rise in digital magazines (Such as these fine magazines). The weird thing is that for the longest time that surging market has been largely overlooked by critics. Charles is not one of those critics.
(11) PSA. “RIKER IPSUM” delivers random messages that appear to be quotes from ST:TNG’s Riker:
I can’t. As much as I care about you, my first duty is to the ship.
(12) PC PROGRAMS. A BBC story reports “US lawmakers to probe algorithm bias”.
Computer algorithms must show they are free of race, gender and other biases before they are deployed, US politicians have proposed.
Lawmakers have drafted a bill that would require tech firms to test prototype algorithms for bias.
(13) DRONE CRIME. “Gatwick drone attack possible inside job, say police” – BBC has the story.
The drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas was carried out by someone with knowledge of the airport’s operational procedures, the airport has said.
A Gatwick chief told BBC Panorama the drone’s pilot “seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway”.
Sussex Police told the programme the possibility an “insider” was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry.
…Police told the BBC they had recorded 130 separate credible drone sightings by a total of 115 people, all but six of whom were professionals, including police officers, security personnel, air traffic control staff and pilots.
(14) HIKARU. CBR.com’s “Comic Legend” series confirms “How Vonda McIntyre’s First Name for Sulu Became Canon”.
Peter David’s comic book adaptation of Star Trek VI helped to get Vonda McIntyre’s first name for Sulu made canon.
The world of science fiction lost a great voice when the amazing Vonda McIntyre passed away earlier this month. McIntyre was a multiple Nebula Award-winning author, with her novel, Dreamsnake, capturing both the 1979 Nebula Award AND the 1979 Hugo Award….
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Soon Lee.]
(1) SCHOEN LEAVES SFWA BOARD. Earlier this week Lawrence M. Schoen announced he was “Resigning from the SFWA Board of Directors”:
Effective as of 10am today, April 10th, 2019, I am resigning my position as a member of the SFWA Board of Directors.
We live in a world where appearance often carries more weight than intention. Recent controversies, and my perceived involvement in them, have increasingly made it difficult for me to effectively perform the responsibilities for which I’d been elected. Accordingly, it makes sense for me to step aside and allow someone else to continue the work.
Today’s decision notwithstanding, I remain committed to the ideals and goals of SFWA, perhaps best expressed by the statement the Board composed at last year’s Nebula Conference: “We are genre writers fostering a diverse professional community committed to inclusion, empowerment, and outreach.”
It has been my privilege to be of service to this organization and our community. I encourage you all to pay it forward.
Schoen’s statement does not specify what “recent controversies” he is perceived to be involved in. They may relate to Jonathan Brazee’s 20Booksto50K Nebula recommendation list. Schoen’s novelette “The Rule of Three” is one of the stories on the list that made the Nebula ballot. Brazee responded to criticism by apologizing for the list.
(2) NICHOLS ON SPACE COMMAND. Marc Zicree told fans, “Today’s shoot with Nichelle Nichols went great! Here’s a behind the scenes clip, with more to come.”
To help with the GoFundMe to pay for their efforts, click on “Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Space Command Scene!”. At this writing they’ve raised $2,310 of their $15,000 goal.
(3) LUCAS’ FINGERPRINTS. IGN explains “How George Lucas Helped Finish Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”.
The new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker features quite the surprise: as the trailer comes to a close, the screen cuts to black and our ears are filled with the cackling of Emperor Palpatine. It’s a laugh cold enough to send shivers down your spine and a character inclusion crazy enough to make your head spin. He met his electrifying end in Return of the Jedi, after all. IGN talked to director and co-writer JJ Abrams at Star Wars Celebration Chicago about how the iconic villain came to be a part of the film, and his answer included a meeting with the Maker himself, George Lucas.
“This movie had a very, very specific challenge, which was to take eight films and give an ending to three trilogies, and so we had to look at, what is the bigger story? We had conversations amongst ourselves, we met with George Lucas before writing the script,” Abrams revealed. “These were things that were in real, not debate, but looking at the vastness of the story and trying to figure out, what is the way to conclude this? But it has to work on its own as a movie, it has to be its own thing, it has to be surprising and funny and you have to understand it.”
(4) COPING. Sarah Hughes, TV critic at The Guardian, tells how Game of Thrones helped her cope with her cancer diagnosis. “Game of Thrones, cancer and me…”
…Best of all, while I might not find out how Martin himself intends to finish his series (there are still two long-awaited books to come), I will almost certainly see the TV series of Game of Thrones return for its brutal, no doubt bloody and hopefully rewarding conclusion this month. As for Tottenham Hotspur winning the league in my lifetime, that remains too great a step for even the most benign of gods to arrange.
(5) CLFA VOTING BEGINS. At the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance “The 2019 Book of the Year ballot is now open!”
Ready to cast your vote for CLFA Book of the Year 2019? Go here to support your favorite!
(6) YAKFALL. We only thought we’d figured out the subject for Ursula Vernon’s next Hugo acceptance speech. Hilarious thread starts here.
Another great thread about their Tibetan explorations begins here.
(7) THE ESSENTIALS. Can a fannish kitchen be complete without a set of “Star Trek Klingon Alphabet Fridge Magnets”? ThinkGeek takes the “No” side of the debate.
- A fun way to teach anyone the basics of pIqaD (the Klingon alphabet)
- For use on magnetic surfaces, like your fridge or your ship’s hull
…This set contains the entire alphabet, with multiples for the more frequently used, plus a few apostrophes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 13, 1937 — Terry Carr. Lifelong fan and long after he turn pro, he continued to be active in fandom, hence was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. He worked as an Editor, first at Ace where he edited The Left Hand of Darkness. After a fallout with Wollheim, he went freelance where he developed Universe and Best Science Fiction of the Year, the latter on a remarkable four publishers. He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo thirteen times and won twice. He wrote three novels, one with Ted White, and three collections of his stories in print. (Died 1987.)
- Born April 13, 1943 — Bill Pronzini, 76. Mystery writer whose Nameless Detective has one genre adventure in A Killing in Xanadu. Genre anthologist, often with Barry N Malzberg, were many and wide ranging, covering such things as Bug-Eyed Monsters (with Malzberg), Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (with Greenberg and Malzberg) and Arbor House Necropolis. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote “The Pillars of Salt Affair”, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novella that ran in the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine.
- Born April 13, 1951 — Peter Davison, 68. The Fifth Doctor and one that I never came to be fond of. Just seemed too lightweight for the role. I thought he put more gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.
- Born April 13, 1954 — Michael Cassutt, 65. His notable genre TV work includes executive producing, producing or writing, or both, for Strange Luck, Seven Days, Outer Limits, Eerie, Indiana, and The Twilight Zone. He was also story editor for the Max Headroom series which I loved.
- Born April 13, 1959 — Brian Thomsen. Editor, writer and anthologist. He was founding editor of Warner Books’ Questar Science Fiction, and later served as managing fiction editor at TSR. He co-wrote the autobiography of Julius Schwartz. Strangely enough, I’ve actually read one of his anthologies, A Yuletide Universe, as I remember it from the cover art. (Died 2008.)
- Born April 13, 1950 — Ron Perlman, 69. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Hellboy: Blood and Iron and Redcap). He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno followed quickly Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by a hard SF role as Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him amazing.
- Born April 13, 1962 — Stephen Holland, 57. I’m a deep admirer of those who document our genre and this gentleman is no exception. In handful of works, he’s created an invaluable resource for those interested in SF published in paperback. British Science Fiction Paperbacks and Magazines, 1949-1956: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide and The Mushroom Jungle: A History of Postwar Paperback Publishing certainly look to be essential reading, and his Fantasy Fanzine Index: Volume 1 also sounds useful.
Through July 28 the public can “see Game of Thrones® immortalised in a giant, 77-metre long Bayeux style tapestry at the Ulster Museum.”
(10) THRONE CHOW. Delish says that in the UK, “TGI Friday’s Is Celebrating The Game Of Thrones Premiere With A Menu Inspired By The Series”.
In honor of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones—which premieres in just three days, people!!!—TGI Friday’s has released a limited-edition menu inspired by the series. However, vegetarians and vegans may want to steer clear of the “Dragon Slayer Feast.” It’s definitely a meat-heavy selection….
You can also order up Dragon Fire Hot Wings and the Bucket of Beast Bones, which is a combo of ribs and Friday’s famed glazed wings. However, as far as we know, the GOT special is currently a U.K. exclusive. The meat-filled feast will kick off April 10.
(11) ALTERNATE ASTRONAUTS. Camestros Felapton continues working his way through the finalists: “Hugo Novels: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal”.
The Calculating Stars has a more grounded aesthetic than it’s predecessor, and aims to present a plausible alternative history where the space program is accelerated and is also a more international collaboration. In the centre of this effort is Dr Elma York who desperately wants to go into space but who must also navigate through the complexities of 1950s America.
It’s an engaging fictional autobiography of a remarkable person — the kind of multi-talented character that you find in accounts of America’s space program. Drive, talent, brains and luck conspire to put Elma in a spotlight but the attention that comes with it reveals Elma’s greatest weakness: social anxiety in crowds when she is the focus of attention. Ironically the press characterising her preemptively as ‘The Lady Astronaut’ complicates her attempts to actually become an astronaut.
(12) CREDIT WHERE DUE. Misty S. Boyer’s long Facebook post provides further detail about who contributed to the newsmaking black hole photo.
…The photo that everyone is looking at, the world famous black hole photo? It’s actually a composite photo. It was generated by an algorithm credited to Mareki Honma. Honma’s algorithm, based on MRI technology, is used to “stitch together” photos and fill in the missing pixels by analyzing the surrounding pixels.
But where did the photos come from that are composited into this photo?
The photos making up the composite were generated by 4 separate teams, led by Katie Bouman, Andrew Chael, Kazu Akiyama, Michael Johnson, and Jose L Gomez. Each team was given a copy of the black hole data and isolated from each other. Between the four of them, they used two techniques – an older, traditional one called CLEAN, and a newer one called RML – to generate an image.
The purpose of this division and isolation of teams was deliberately done to test the accuracy of the black hole data they were all using. If four isolated teams using different algorithms all got similar results, that would indicate that the data itself was accurate….
(13) POST MORTEM. What happened? “Beresheet spacecraft: ‘Technical glitch’ led to Moon crash”.
Preliminary data from the Beresheet spacecraft suggests a technical glitch in one of its components caused the lander to crash on the Moon.
The malfunction triggered a chain of events that eventually caused its main engine to switch off.
Despite a restart, this meant that the spacecraft was unable to slow down during the final stages of its descent.
(14) BIG STICK. “Internet Archive denies hosting ‘terrorist’ content”.
The Internet Archive has been hit with 550 “false” demands to remove “terrorist propaganda” from its servers in less than a week.
The demands came via the Europol net monitoring unit and gave the site only one hour to comply.
The Internet Archive said the demands wrongly accused it of hosting terror-related material.
The website said the requests set a poor precedent ahead of new European rules governing removal of content.
If the Archive does not comply with the notices, it risks its site getting added to lists which ISPs are required to block.
(15) BULL MARKET. Science reports “Beliefs in aliens, Atlantis are on the rise”. (Full text restricted to subscribers.)
Beliefs in “pseudoarchaeology”—ancient aliens, Atlantis, and other myths—are on the rise. In 2018 41% of Americans believed that aliens visited Earth in the ancient past, and 57% believed that Atlantis or other advanced ancient civilizations existed. These outlandish beliefs have been circulating for decades, and archaeologists are now mobilizing to counter them. They are taking to Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and newspapers to debunk false claims and explain real archaeological methods, and they plan to compare notes this week during a symposium at the Society for American Archaeology meeting.
(16) IT’S ALL JUST FUN AND GAMES UNTIL… Never forget that Quidditch is a field sport: “For Some Quidditch Players, The Magic Wears Off As Injury Risks Grow Clearer”.
It happened in a split second, and Vanessa Barker doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t remember dropping to the field, nor does she remember how she got hit.
When she came to, she was sitting on the sidelines with an EMT, being evaluated for what turned out to be her first concussion. Over the next two years, she’d suffer another two more while out on the field — hardly what she expected when she decided to start playing quidditch.
…”If I ever have any others, I’ll have to stop playing,” she said.
(17) PLAYING A TATTOO. For the next four weeks you can listen online to BBC4’s production of “Ray Bradbury – The Illustrated Man”, dramatized by Brian Sibley.
A young traveller encounters a vagrant on the road, who claims that his tattoos come to life after dark and tell the future. Starring Iain Glen and Elaine Claxton.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Black Hole: Based on Stephen Hawking’s Reith Lecture” on YouTube is an animation done for BBC Radio4 of an excerpt of a Stephen hawking lecture where Hawking says it’s not hopeless if you fall into a black hole.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]
(1) STAR WARS TRAILER UNVEILED AT CHICAGO CON. The Hollywood Reporter was at the Star Wars Celebration when the Episode IX trailer was screened.
After a year’s worth of speculation, emcee Colbert, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and filmmaker J.J. Abrams unveiled the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to a packed (and raucous) crowd at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Friday.
Among the big reveals is that Emperor Palpatine, the villain played by Ian McDiarmid in the previous two trilogies and thought to be dead, is back — as his laugh is heard at the end of the teaser. McDiarmid also walked out onstage after the trailer and ordered it to be replayed.
Earlier in the panel, Abrams made what might have been a reference to Palpatine, though he didn’t name him.
“This movie, in addition to being the end of three trilogies, it also has to work as its own movie,” said Abrams. “It’s about this new generation and what they’ve inherited, the light and the dark, and asking the question as they face the greatest evil, are they prepared? Are they ready?”
(2) 949. Maybe C-3PO deserves a new number, and not just the strange typo Fansided gives him while declaring “Anthony Daniels is the G.O.A.T. of the Star Wars films”
Daniels is one of the few characters who has appeared in all nine of the Star Wars films, which is a remarkable feat that should be celebrated among the Star Wars universe.
In fact, it was fitting that Daniels would be the first cast member introduced at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago along with R2-D2, the other character to grace every single film. When you think of 3-CPO, you often think of Daniels, and without his unique take on this iconic character, 3-CPO wouldn’t be the beloved character he is today.
(3) PRIEST HONORED. GenCon 2019 has announced Cherie Priest as its Author Guest of Honor.
Gen Con, the largest and longest-running tabletop gaming convention in North America, has named Locus Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated author Cherie Priest as the event’s 2019 Author Guest of Honor. Ms. Priest will take part in several events as part of the convention’s Writer’s Symposium program, including book signings and appearances.
(4) LOOKS LIKE HECK. NPR’s Chris Klimek’s reaction to Hellboy: “Hell, no!”
Hellboy, despite its colon-free title, is actually the fifth movie starring the good-guy demon hero (if you count the two animated films that featured the same cast as the live-action films made by monsteur auteur Guillermo del Toro in 2004 and 2008) and it’s even more exhausting than this sentence.
Pity. The blue-collar, crimson-skinned agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — basically a more inclusive version of the Men in Black, with a more casual dress code — is a marvelous character on the page. And because filmmaker del Toro has at least as much affection for 1930s serials and monster movies and European folklore as cartoonist Mike Mignola (Hellboy’s creator) does, his two adaptations of Mignola’s comics were revered. But like most del Toro films they were only moderate box office successes, and the profligate profitability of Marvel movies in the subsequent decade (Hellboy is a creator-owned specimen of IP, outside the Disney megalith) demanded that someone try to tap that rich vein again.
Englishman Neil Marshall would appear to be a sterling candidate: He made a trio of well-regarded low-budget genre flicks and directed two episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Blackwater,” which featured the climactic battle of the series’ second season. The chaotic, repetitive movie he’s given us here calls into question not just his competence but his taste….
(5) NIGHTFIRE BLAZES TO LIFE. “Tom Doherty Associates Announces Nightfire, a New Horror Imprint” – Tor.com has the story.
Tom Doherty Associates (TDA) President and Publisher Fritz Foy announced today the creation of NIGHTFIRE, a new horror imprint that will join Tor, Forge, Tor Teen & Starscape, and Tor.com Publishing as part of Tom Doherty Associates.
Foy will be Publisher, and TDA will add dedicated staff in editorial, as well as supplemental staff in marketing and publicity. Under the Nightfire imprint, editors will acquire and publish across the breadth of the genre—from short story collections to novellas and novels, from standalone works to series, from dark fantasy to the supernatural, from originals to reprints of lost modern classics. In addition to publishing books across all formats (print, audio, and ebook), Nightfire’s releases will also include podcasts, graphic novels, and other media.
(6) FINISHING SCHOOL. Jeff Somers brilliantly envisions “How 15 of Your Favorite Authors Might Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
After reviewing George R.R. Martin’s notes, Sanderson announces it will take not two but six more books to finish the story properly. After delivering four 1,000-page tomes, Sanderson himself passes away (buried under a pile of 3,500 manuscript pages for the ninth book in the Stormlight Archive) with the story still incomplete. It is the year 2049. The final two books are completed by Christopher Paolini, working from Sanderson’s notes on Martin’s outlines, and are beamed directly into people’s brains via the NookVR brain uplink.
(7) QUIDDITCH REVISIONISM. Emily Giambalvo in the Washington Post profiles the University of Maryland Quidditch team, currently ranked No. 1 and headed to the national Quidditch Cup in Round Rock, Texas this weekend. But only a quarter of the quidditch players have read Harry Potter and capes and bristles on the “brooms” are now banned (platers compete with PVC pipes between their legs). “Crab cakes and quidditch: That’s what Maryland does”.
The Maryland quidditch team has a 27-3 record and is ranked No. 1 in the country, but it still exists in relative obscurity. Fellow students walk by the practice without adjusting their pace, but they keep their heads turned toward the training. Sometimes onlookers pull out their phones, capturing what seems like a strange combination between playful chaos and a serious sport.
(8) A LITTLE REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes finds “Little: A Wrong-Body Comedy That Can’t Get Comfortable”
Marsai Martin is a star.
If you’ve seen her as Diane, the younger daughter on ABC’s Black-ish, you might already know. Diane is wise, wily, funny and a step ahead of her twin brother, Jack. And while scripts work wonders, you cannot create a character like Diane around an actress who wasn’t yet ten years old when she was cast in the role unless the actress in question has the chops for it. Martin’s first starring role in a film comes in Little, where she holds the screen opposite comedy powerhouses Issa Rae and Regina Hall. What’s more, everyone involved in promoting the movie says it was her idea — which she pitched when she was ten. Now, at 14, she’s an executive producer on the film.
…Unfortunately, the film needs more comedy and more consistency in the comedy it has. When it’s funny, it’s really funny, but it’s not funny frequently enough….
(9) TIME TREKKERS. YouTuber Steve Shives tries to determine “Who Is Actually Star Trek’s Most Reckless Time Traveler?”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 12, 1884 — Bob Olsen. He wrote stories for Amazing Stories, from 1927 to 1936, many of them said to be of humorous inclination. He was one of the first writers to use the phrase ‘space marine’ in a two-story Captain Brink sequence consisting of “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (November 1932 Amazing) and “The Space Marines and the Slavers” (December 1936 Amazing). I’m fairly sure thathe wrote no novels and less than twenty-four short stories. I do know that severe arthritis curtailed his writing career in 1940. (Died 1956.)
- Born April 12, 1915 — Emil Petaja. An author whose career spanned seven decades who really should be remembered as much for his social circles that included early on as H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and August Derleth which later expanded to include Anthony Boucher, Frank M. Robinson, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein. It should not be overlooked that he did write seven novels and around forty short stories during his career with the stories appearing in Weird Tales, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantastic Adventures, Worlds of Tomorrow, Future Science Fiction Stories and other venues as well. (Died 2000.)
- Born April 12, 1936 — Charles Napier. Well let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I surprised to learn that he was General Hardcastle in Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series. (Died 2011.)
- Born April 12, 1958 — Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 61. A LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She is has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she writes such papers as ‘Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites’.
- Born April 12, 1971 — Shannen Doherty, 48. Prue Halliwell on Charmed. (Watched the first, I think, four seasons. Lost interest at that point.) Her first genre role was voicing a mouse, Teresa Brisby to be exact on The Secret of NIMH. She was Cate Parker in Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys — a film that can’t possibly be as bad as its name, can it? Though I’m willing to bet that Borgore & Sikdope: Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse, an Internet short film, in which she is a News Anchor is every bit as bad as its title!
- Born April 12, 1979 — Claire Danes, 40. Best known genre role is Kate Brewster in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Also was Yvaine in Stardust, a film that’s not even close to its source material.
- Born April 12, 1979 — Jennifer Morrison, 40. Emma Swan in the Once Upon a Time series, and Winona Kirk, mother of James T. Kirk in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She also paid her horror dues in Urban Legends: Final Cut as Amy Mayfield, the student videographer whose film goes terribly wrong. I’m intrigued to see that she’s the voice actor for the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in the forthcoming Batman: Hush, a film that needs a R rating to be told properly.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Ziggy makes an out of this world real estate deal.
(12) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Popular Mechanics feels “Cave Paintings Suggest Ancient Humans Understood the Stars Much Better Than We Thought”.
Studying cave paintings from Turkey, Spain, France, and Germany, researchers have come to the conclusion that humanity’s ancient ancestors were smarter than previously given credit for. These famed paintings were not simply decorative, a new study says—they represent a complex understanding of astronomy predating Greek civilization.
And the paper their article is based on is just fascinating – the PDF is here: “Decoding European Palaeolithic art: Extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes”.
(13) BLACK HOLE PHOTO CREDIT. The Washington Post sets the record straight in “Trolls hijacked a scientist’s image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist.”
…Identical memes quickly spread across Twitter, where one typical response was, “Andrew Chael did 90% of the work. Where’s his credit?”
But those claims are flat-out wrong, Chael said. He certainly didn’t write “850,000 lines of code,” a false number likely pulled from GitHub, a Web-based coding service. And while he was the primary author of one piece of software that worked on imaging the black hole, the team used multiple different approaches to avoid bias. His work was important, but Bouman’s was also vital as she helped stitch together all the teams, Chael said.
“Katie was a huge part of our collaboration at every step,” Chael said.
In truth, singling out any one scientist in a massive, cross-disciplinary group effort like the Event Horizon Telescope’s project is bound to create misapprehensions. Many who shared an equally viral image of Bouman clutching her hands in joy at the sight of the black hole came away wrongly believing she was the sole person responsible for the discovery, an idea the postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has tried to correct.
(14) TILT THE TABLE, LUKE. Polygon reports “Entire Star Wars Pinball collection coming to Switch, with new modes”.
In addition to being sold through the Nintendo eShop, Star Wars Pinball will also get a physical edition release, a first ever for a Zen pinball suite. Star Wars Pinball will launch for Switch on Sept. 13, 2019, the studio/publisher announced today in advance of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration.
(15) REDFEARN. StokerCon UK, to be held April 16-19, 2020 in Scarborough, has announced its Editor Guest of Honour:
Gillian Redfearn is the Hugo Award-nominated Deputy Publisher of Gollancz, the world’s oldest Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint.
Within five months of joining the Gollancz team as editorial assistant she had commissioned the bestselling First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie, swiftly followed by acquiring the UK rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ novels. When she became Editorial Director for the imprint in 2014 she was selected as a Bookseller Rising Star, and two years later Gollancz was shortlisted for best imprint in the Bookseller Awards.
Throughout her career Redfearn has worked across the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres, with bestselling and award winning authors including Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Aliette de Bodard, Joe Hill, Charlaine Harris, Joanne Harris, Sarah Pinborough, Brandon Sanderson, Alastair Reynolds and Chris Wooding, among many others.
(16) PKD’S LAST BOOK. Electric Lit’s Kristopher Jansma, in “Philip K. Dick’s Unfinished Novel Was a Faustian Fever Dream “, says “the sci-fi author died before he could write ‘The Owl in Daylight,’ but he described trippy plot ideas about aliens, music, and Disneyland.”
On January 10, 1982, the science fiction author Philip K. Dick sat down for an interview with journalist and friend Gwen Lee to discuss The Owl in Daylight, a novel that he’d been composing in his mind since May of the previous year. He wouldn’t finish—or even really begin—the book before his death from a stroke a few weeks later, but the novel he outlined to Lee has had as strange an afterlife as Dick himself.
(17) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter monitored tonight’s Jeopardy! outrage —
Answer: The director of the 2018 version of this 1953 classic said, Yes, books were harmed in the making of this motion picture.
Wrong Question: “What is Burn After Reading”?
(18) WHAT DO THEY KNOW. Heresy! “Coffee not essential for life, Swiss government says”.
The Swiss government wants to put an end to its emergency stockpile of coffee after declaring that it is “not essential” for human survival.
Switzerland began storing emergency reserves of coffee between World War One and World War Two in preparation for potential shortages.
It continued in subsequent decades to combat shortages sparked by war, natural disasters or epidemics.
It now hopes to end the practice by late 2022. But opposition is mounting.
It currently has 15,300 tonnes saved up – that’s enough to last the country three months.
(19) EARLY LEARNING. “Artists draw on Scotland’s Neolithic past” to teach people how to build their own timber circles. Should they be interested, that is…
Artists have drawn on Scotland’s Neolithic past to create a series of new illustrations.
The artwork, which includes a tribe and a guide to building a ceremonial timber circle, is for a free education pack called The First Foresters.
It has been created by Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forestry Commission Scotland, and Archaeology Scotland.
The artists were guided by European Neolithic artefacts for their drawings.
…”Alan produced the bulk of the illustrations, including a fantastic image of a decaying timber circle being enclosed by an earthen henge, and a fabulous ‘how to build a timber circle’ instruction sheet.
(20) GUNS & WHAMMO. Apropos of recent discussions here, Evan Allgood shows you what “Poorly Researched Men’s Fiction” looks like, at McSweeney’s.
I had a whole gaggle of 100-point bucks in my sights, sleeping peacefully on their feet, like cows. The way they were lined up, I could take down the whole clan in a single shot of gun, clean through their magnificent oversized brains. That’d be enough (deer) meat to last Nora and the baby through the harsh Amarillo winter. I shifted my weight in my hidey spot, snapping a twig and pouring more pepper on the fire by muttering, “God dammit all to hell.” But like any hunting man worth his salt, I was wearing camouflage — that swirly brown-and-green stuff you sometimes see on bandanas. The deers, famously self-assured creatures, didn’t budge. They were awake now, munching happily on some squirrels they’d killed for food, the carnivores. But now they were the squirrels in this equation, which felt somehow ironic….
(21) UNAIRED. You can see a four-minute clip from an unaired Star Trek pilot filmed in 16mm.
The original print from Star Trek’s 2nd pilot was never aired in this format. Had different opening narration, credits, had acts 1 thru 4 like an old quinn martin show and had scenes cut from aired version and different end credits and music. The original 16mm print is now stored in the Smithsonian
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]
(1) HUGO CONTENDING ART BOOKS. The Daily Beast gives a rundown — “These Are 2019’s Hugo Awards Art Book Finalists”.
… We compiled the six art book finalists below to give you an idea of what’s competing for the venerable award in August, along with some information about them from Amazon….
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, $36 on Amazon: Illustrated by Charles Vess, Written by Ursula K. Le Guin. “Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea, this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.”
(2) LARSON & JACKSON TOGETHER AGAIN. NPR’s Linda Holmes says “Brie Larson’s Directorial Debut Glitters With The Charming ‘Unicorn Store'”.
“Bringing a unicorn here is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor. You have to be the right sort of girl.”
The right sort of girl.
The backbone of Brie Larson’s offbeat directorial debut, the comedy Unicorn Store, is the idea of what it means to be the right sort of girl. Larson plays Kit, a woman pushing 30 who lives with her parents and favors an aesthetic heavy on rainbows, glitter and — yes — unicorns. And after she receives a couple of mysterious magical letters, she finds herself in the company of a man who calls himself The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s the one who says these words, who tells her that she’s in line for a unicorn of her own. But she has to earn it. She has to be stable. She has to make a home for it. She has to be an adult, ironically, to be the right companion for a unicorn.
(3) NICE TRY? BBC reports “Google’s ethics board shut down”.
An independent group set up to oversee Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, has been shut down less than a fortnight after it was launched.
The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition.
One member resigned and there were calls for another to be removed.
The debacle raises questions about whether firms should set up such bodies.
Google told the BBC: “It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted.
“So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”
There had been an outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles James, who is president of conservative thinktank The Heritage Foundation. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, over what they described as “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant” comments.
(4) HEY RUBE. Steve Davidson complains that he can’t evaluate what technical changes make Archive of Our Own eligible in the 2019 Hugo category for which it was nominated, then, disregarding the argument he just made, asks why AO3 wasn’t nominated in another category that isn’t designed to recognize technical changes: “The Hugo Awards Best Related Work Category and the AO3 Nomination” at Amazing Stories.
In terms of AO3, since I can’t see the “change”, how am I to judge the substantiability? Maybe, in my mind, it isn’t transformative enough to warrant a vote. But I can’t make that judgement because I have no reference. I do not have the opportunity to weigh in on the Hugo Administrator’s choices.
Third: we’ve already determined that websites can qualify under the Best Fanzine category and we can read right in the definition of Best Related Work that works qualify for that category “provided that they do not qualify for another category”.
Why doesn’t a website featuring fanfic qualify for the Best Fanzine category? Call me a rube, but I can hardly think of a better category for a collection of fanfic than Best Fanzine. In fact, I seem to recall that a bunch of highly regarded professional authors published their fanfic in…fanzines. (The printed kind that some of you may not be familiar with.)
(5) BOOKS SHE LOVES. Shelf Awareness brings you “Reading with… Sarah Pinsker”:
Book you’re an evangelist for:
Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It’s a wordless depiction of an immigration experience. The protagonist doesn’t share a language with anyone in his new country; their language is gibberish to him and gibberish to the reader. Any item we might recognize is rendered in such a way as to make it foreign to the reader as well, so we experience the confusion that the man feels: strange fruit, strange animals, strange monuments. Tan’s illustrations tell the immigrant’s story a thousand times better than words could have.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Saga Press is reissuing three Molly Gloss novels over the next few months (Outside the Gates,Dazzle of DayandWild Life) followed by her first collection, Unforeseen. I already had two of the books, but I’ve preordered all four of these both for her prose and the gorgeously stark matching covers by Jeffrey Alan Love.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- April 6, 1967 — Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”, written by Harlan Ellison, first aired.
- April 6, 1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey was released.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 6, 1905 — Thomas P. Kelley. Writer of Thirties pulp novels that were serialised first in Weird Tales (The Last Pharaoh, A Million Years in the Future and I Found Cleopatra), Uncanny Tales (The Talking Heads) and Eerie Tales (The Weird Queen). (Died 1982.)
- Born April 6, 1918 — Kaaren Verne. She appeared in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon as Charlotte Eberli. The film btw was very much fanfic bearing little resemblance to the original premise of Holmes. She also appeared in The Twilight Zone, Kraft Suspense Theatre and Fireside Theatre (freelance writers such as Rod Serling were a script source for the latter). (Died 1967.)
- Born April 6, 1935 — Douglas Hill. Prolific writer of short novels for both adults and younger of a sword and sorcery bent even when within an SF setting. Best known series include The Last Legionary, Demon Stalker and Huntsman. He served for a short period as assistant editor of the New Worlds magazine under Michael Moorcock. (Died 2007.)
- Born April 6, 1937 — Billy Dee Williams, 82. He is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in The Empire Strikes Back. Other genre appearances include being Harvey Dent in Batman and voicing Two Face In The Lego Batman Movie.
- Born April 6, 1947 — John Ratzenberger, 72. In-house voice actor for Pixar whose roles have included Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He made minor live appearances in Superman and Superman II.
- Born April 6, 1948 — Larry Todd, 71. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction and Imagination magazines being three of his venues. He also did some writing for If magazine. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet.
- Born April 6, 1981 — Eliza Coupe, 38. Tiger, one three main roles in Future Man, a web series where a video game apparently is actually real and deadly. She also had a recurring role on Quantico as Hannah Wyland, a series I swear is edging into genre. She was also in Monster Mash (also known as Monster Mash: The Movie and Frankenstein Sings), based on the Bobby “Boris” Pickett song “Monster Mash” and other sources.
(8) SPOTTED OWL. Mike Lawson has won the Spotted Owl Award for his mystery House Witness. The Spotted Owl Award is handed out by a group called Friends of Mystery, based in Portland, Oregon. Eligible are mysteries written by authors from the Pacific Northwest. The finalists were —
- Baron Birtcher – Fistful Of Rain
- Robert Dugoni – A Steep Price
- Warren Easley – Moving Targets
- G.M. Ford – Soul Survivor
- Elizabeth George – The Punishment She Deserves
- Stephen Holgate – Madagascar
- Mike Lawson – House Witness – winner
- Martin Limon – The Line
- John Straley – Baby’s First Felony
- Jon Talton – The Bomb Shelter
(9) CARTER BROWN. The winner of the inaugural Carter Brown Mystery Writing Award has also been announced:
- Alibi for a Dead Man by Wilson Toney
The award is named in honor of the prolific Australian author Alan Geoffrey Yates (aka Carter Brown).
(10) MARKETPLACE. Here’s a service someone should start:
(11) WATCH OUT FOR THOSE BOUNDERS. Jim C. Hines referees “Bounding Into Comics vs. Fonda Lee” and finds it’s definitely not a fight by the Marquis of Queensbury rules.
I got to meet and hang out with author Fonda Lee at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop a few years back. Recently, Lee was at Barnes and Noble and observed:
“This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it’s face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here’s who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys.” (Source)
Her Tweets got a lot of attention, leading to an article by John Trent at Bounding Into Comics that derides Lee and accuses her, among other things, of criticizing Tolkien. Not that Lee ever did this. Her second Tweet in that thread said, “Before you @ me about the importance of classics, I love LOTR too, okay?” One might almost suspect Trent’s comment, “Lee isn’t the first person to criticize Tolkien,” of being an attempt to stir up shit.
An effective attempt, it seems. Lee has been barraged by Tolkien Defenders over on Twitter….
(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. “How Artificial Intelligence Is Used To Make Beer”.—Forbes has the story.
There are many ways artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make our world more productive and effective. There are even breweries that are using AI to enhance beer production. Is this brilliant or unbelievable? While it’s admittedly too soon to tell, using data to inform brewmasters’ decisions and the possibility of personalized brews makes AI-brewed beer definitely intriguing.
(13) SJWC RETRACTION. Yesterday’s NPR-headline Pixel was quickly corrected: “All Right. Some Cats Do Fetch”.
A tongue-in-cheek NPR.org headline comparing the fetching abilities of cats and dogs revealed a truth known by countless cat owners: Some cats do fetch.
“Cats Don’t Fetch, But Know Their Names As Well As Dogs, Researchers Say,” the original headline proclaimed. This didn’t sit well with some readers.
“In what world do cats not fetch?” Kate Haffey commented on Facebook.
“Artemis knows her name and fetches,” Brandi Whitson said on Twitter. “She’s obsessed.” …
(14) HAPPINESS IS… And while we’re pushing your buttons, read this article in the Portland (ME) Press-Herald — “Dog owners are much happier than cat owners, survey finds”.
The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.
Dog or cat?
In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population – nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one -they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.
For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).
But when you break the data down by pet type – cats, dogs or both – a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.
(15) HISTORIC GADGET. “Heath Robinson: WW2 codebreaking machine reconstructed” – BBC has the story. For any Filers not in on the joke: the US equivalent to Heath Robinson is Rube Goldberg — but this machine worked.
A World War Two codebreaking machine has been reconstructed after a seven-year project so it can run in public for the first time.
The Heath Robinson has been restored at The National Museum of Computing in Milton Keynes by a team of six.
The machine was an early attempt to automate code-cracking and, due to its complexity, was named after the illustrator W Heath Robinson.
Phil Hayes, of the museum, said the work was “quite an achievement”.
He said it completed using a hand-drawn circuit diagram along with replica circuits based on 1940s technology.
(16) OLD HABITS DIE HARD. CNN wondered why “Why 2.7 million Americans still get Netflix DVDs in the mail”. They came up with six reasons. In the process, they made Cat Eldridge’s day: “Years ago I had an argument with a techie who insisted that new technologies always drive out old technologies. I said that’s simply not true. And here’s proof of that.” Cat and Bruce Sterling agree.
Remember when Netflix used to be a DVD-by-mail company? Well, for 2.7 million subscribers in the US, it still is.
The familiar red envelopes have been arriving in customers’ mailboxes since 1998 and helped earn the company a healthy $212 million profit last year.
Why are so many people still using this old-school service in the age of streaming? There are a number of reasons.
(17) FIRE IN THE HOLE. NPR watches as “Japan (Very Carefully) Drops Plastic Explosives Onto An Asteroid”.
Early Friday morning, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated an explosive device over a small asteroid. The goal was to create a fresh crater that will later be studied by the spacecraft.
Researchers watched from mission control in Sagamihara, Japan, and clapped politely as Hayabusa2 released an experiment known as the Small Carry-on Impactor. The device consisted of a copper disk packed with HMX high-explosive. Once the mothership had safely moved out of the line of fire, the impactor apparently detonated, firing the disk into the side of the asteroid. A camera released by Hayabusa2 appeared to catch the moment of impact, which sent a stream of ejecta into space.
…”These particular asteroids are the precursors to what Earth was made from,” Connolly says. Ryugu is rich in carbon, and minerals on its surface contain water and so-called prebiotic compounds that could have started life on this planet.
“Ryugu is a time capsule,” says Connolly.
This is not Hayabusa2’s first attack. In February, the spacecraft physically touched down on Ryugu and fired a small pellet into its surface. The dust kicked up by that opening shot was collected and eventually will provide researchers with detailed information about the asteroid’s makeup.
But to really understand Ryugu, researchers also want to know what’s down there, and that’s why they created Friday’s crater. In a few weeks, after the dust has settled, the little spacecraft will survey the blast site to see what lies beneath. It may even land a second time to collect subsurface samples.
(18) CLASSIC APOLLO 11 PUBLICITY RESOURCE. In honor of the flight’s 50th anniversary, David Meerman Scott has scanned in his collection of Apollo 11 press kits:
Press kits prepared by the public relations staff at the major contractors for the Apollo 11 mission provided valuable additional information not found in NASA issued news releases. Reporters and editors from media outlets including television and newspapers had access to such documents from dozens of manufacturers while working on stories about the first lunar landing.
(19) STAR TREK FAN FILM. Gizmodo/io9 is drawing your attention to a fan film (“Temporal Anomaly is a Star Trek Fan Film Half a Decade in the Making”). The film appears as two parts, each from 24–27 minutes each.
(20) DISCOVERY. The Popcast analyzes The Borg Paradox.
If you thought the last Paradox was good, you’re going to love this one. The Borg are here and Resistance is Futile!
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Cunnane, in “Gary the Gargoyle: Short and Breakdown” on Vimeo, offers a short fiilm about a gargoyle and an analysis of how the creatures in the film were designed.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Conrarius, John King Tarpinian, Bill, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) CATS SLEEP ON $FF. Cat Rambo issues a warning about “Writing Contests and Fees”, and rebuts several arguments she’s heard trying to justify them.
Here’s one of her answers:
Charging a fee means better submissions. Great reason for editors and magazines; meaningless to writers and in fact, means people that self-reject will be even more likely to do so. It also ensures economically disadvantaged people don’t get to participate. The price of a latte for one person may be the next person’s daily food budget.
(2) PROBLEMS FOR JUDGE WHO ENGAGED KRAMER’S COMPUTER SERVICES. More revelations about the judge, from the Gwinett Daily Post. Recent news proves that not only did the judge know about Kramer, but that she was in phone contact with him. She currently is being asked to recuse herself following making false statements and recording the DA during a meeting without his permission or knowledge. “Gwinnett DA files motion for Superior Court judge to recuse herself from all criminal cases”.
Just days after a court filing alleged that Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader expressly gave a convicted sex offender access to the county’s computer network, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is calling for her to recuse herself from all criminal cases.
…In Friday’s filing, which included an affidavit, Porter said he confronted the judge about her computer being monitored, but “at no time during this meeting did Judge Schrader disclose that she had any direct knowledge of this monitoring, or that she had hired Ward, Karic and Kramer to do so.”
The judge also recorded the meeting “through a video on her phone without (Porter’s) knowledge or consent,” Porter wrote in the affidavit.
On March 15, when the GBI interviewed Schrader, she accused Porter of hacking her computer, Porter’s affidavit said.
“Because Judge Schrader has alleged that I committed a criminal offense against her, I have grounds to reasonably question her impartiality in any criminal case that my office handles before her,” Porter’s affidavit said. “This is further supported by the fact that Judge Schrader has surreptitiously recorded our private conversations without my knowledge or consent, while feigning ignorance of the very individuals she had employed and allowed to access the entire Gwinnett County Computer network.”
(3) AGED, BUT NOT GOLDEN. Is reviewer Christopher Priest so eager to lash out at a writer who died 30 years ago, or was this an irresistible opportunity to downcheck a favorite of some of his living American colleagues? He reviews Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein for The Spectator: “Robert A. Heinlein: the ‘giant of SF’ was sexist, racist — and certainly no stylist”.
…Mendlesohn describes how Heinlein, who when younger had made a well-earned name for himself as an author of serious and innovative speculative fiction, became a rotten writer in the second half of his career. He always told stories well, but his style was execrable. From Starship Troopers (1959) onwards, his books had an endlessly hectoring, lecturing tone, almost always phrased in long and unconvincing conversations full of paternalistic advice, sexual remarks, libertarian dogma and folksy slang. Reading one of his later novels produced the weird effect of meaningless receptivity: you could get through 20 pages at a gallop, but at the end you couldn’t remember anything that had been said, by whom or for what reason. The next 20 pages would be the same (but seemed longer).
… At the end of the war he began a series of juvenile novels, aimed unerringly at young readers but told in the same didactic voice. These novels, not published in the UK until years later when Heinlein was famous, had a profound effect on their American readers. There is still today a generation of middle- aged and elderly American science fiction writers for whom Heinlein is in a position of seminal influence, similar to Hemingway in other literary circles. Heinlein’s influence on modern American science fiction is not universal, but still detectable….
(4) SWATTER GETS 20 YEARS. On December 28, 2017 Andrew “Andy” Finch was killed when police officers in Wichita, Kansas responded to a 911 call about a hostage/murder situation. Tyler Barriss, who made the call, has now been convicted and sentenced: “20 years for man behind hoax call that led to fatal shooting”.
A California man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for making bogus emergency calls to authorities across the U.S., including one that led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between two online players over a $1.50 bet in the Call of Duty: WWII video game.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Tyler R. Barriss, 26, under a deal in which he pleaded guilty in November to a total of 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats. The plea agreement called for a sentence of at least 20 years — well over the 10 years recommended under sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors believe it is the longest prison sentence ever imposed for the practice of “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to descend on an address.
(5) LIKE A JAWA MARRIOTT. Take one look at the picture and you can have no doubts: “The upside down hotel said to have inspired Star Wars faces demolition”.
Much of the shooting for the original Star Wars movies took place in Tunisia, and legend has it that one local landmark made a powerful impression on its creator, George Lucas.
The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film.
(6) WOMEN AT THE FOREFRONT. The Bustle lists “12 Female-Driven Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels That You Definitely Don’t Want To Miss”. One of them is —
‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon
A millennium ago, a powerful, evil dragon, known only as the Nameless One, was locked away in the Abyss. The people of three nations want to keep the dragon sealed away, but fear that his return is imminent. In Samantha Shannon’s sweeping new fantasy novel, three women, one from each nation, must join forces if they want to keep their world safe.
(7) ADVANCED DEGREES. As Women’s History Month winds up, Yahoo! Entertainment explores the “Six Degrees of Peggy Carter: Why the S.H.I.E.L.D. Founder Is the Lynchpin of the Entire MCU”.
While there may not be direct links from Peggy to every single Avenger, her status as a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. links her intrinsically to the heroic group and their efforts to save the world from evil time and time again. So here is a very unofficial, fan-centric look at the impact Peggy Carter has had on the MCU, and the ways in which she helped bring Earth’s mightiest heroes together as a team. “All we can do is our best,” after all….
2. Iron Man
A “self-made man” in the same way that Kylie Jenner is a self-made billionaire, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) likely spent his childhood years on the receiving end of some very disapproving glances from his father’s friend and close confidante. Howard’s working relationship with Peggy — sans fondue, of course — is established in The First Avenger, but their friendship is explored even further in Agent Carter’sstellar two-season run on ABC. The pair teamed up to save the world more than a few times, forging a bond so strong, it’s impossible to believe that Peggy wasn’t a part of young Tony’s life — and that she didn’t have an impact on the hero he grew up to be.
And besides that, if Howard had died in Agent Carter’s season one finale, as he came very close to doing, Tony would have gotten scrubbed from the timeline, Marty McFly-style. Thanks, Aunt Peggy.
(8) CLASSIC TREK CONTRIBUTOR At Den of Geek, “Star Trek’s D.C. Fontana Talks the Origin of Spock’s Family”.
… For fans of Star Trek: Discovery, specifically, Fontana’s script for the animated episode “Yesteryear,” has been the visual and thematic backbone of nearly all of Discovery Vulcan-centric flashbacks in the second season, which has informed this version of Spock’s character. And, for those who love Spock parent’s— Amanda Grayson and Sarek—Fontana is the person who straight-up invented them.
…In The Original Series, Amanda and Sarek only appeared in “Journey to Babel,” written by Fontana. But, because that episode also featured a huge diplomatic summit on the Enterprise, this also means she created several of the big classic Trek aliens, too, including the Andorians and the Tellarites, who have both made huge appearances in Discovery first two seasons.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 30, 1904 — Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series ran twenty four volumes from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
- Born March 30, 1928 — Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
- Born March 30, 1930 — John Astin, 89. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode.
- Born March 30, 1948 — Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing ‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
- Born March 30, 1950 — Robbie Coltrane, 69. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at the airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film.
- Born March 30, 1958 — Maurice LaMarche, 61. Voice actor primarily known for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of) with Pinky modelled off Orson Welles, the entire cast as near as I can tell of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.
- Born March 30, 1990 — Cassie Scerbo, 20. She’s only here because in researching Birthdays for this date, one site listed her as being a member of the cast of Star Trek: Progeny, yet another of those video Trek fanfics. Though IMDB has a cast listed for it, that’s about all I could find on it. If I was betting a cask of Romulan ale, I’d wager this was one of the productions that Paramount got shut down three years back.
(10) IN THE ZONE Some TV history leading up to the Jordan Peele reboot, in the New York Times: “‘The Twilight Zone’: Here’s Why We Still Care”.
Today we live in a world where the words “Twilight Zone” are used as an adjective whenever anyone wants to describe stories (or real-life events) that are fearless, insightful, ironic and just a little bit spooky. And that theme song was killer too.
(11) FLIGHTS OF FANTASY. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky analyzes a new graphic novel: “In ‘She Could Fly,’ A Teen Wrestles With A Host Of Psychological Mysteries”.
“Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?” It’s the archetypal party question. It was already popular way back in 2001, when This American Life addressed it, and the years haven’t lessened its appeal. As recently as 2015, Forbes posed the question to 7,065 “business and professional leaders … across the globe” and Vulture brought it up with the stars of Ant-Man.
Fly, or turn invisible? The question’s popularity is probably due to its uncanny psychological subtext. The two powers don’t seem to conflict at first, but a closer look reveals that they represent opposing tendencies. To fly is to be triumphant, dominant, powerful. To be invisible is to recede, to hide.
Christopher Cantwell nods to this duality in She Could Fly, a graphic novel whose protagonist wishes she could fly and feels like she’s invisible…
Luna seems to be suffering from a particularly intense form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but she hasn’t been diagnosed or received any treatment. Taking it for granted that there’s no help for her, she shuts out such well-meaning people as the aforementioned guidance counselor. Luna has only one source of hope, and it’s a doozy: A mysterious woman spotted flying, superhero-style, around the skies of Chicago.
(12) MODERN MILSF. Andrew Liptak intends this as a compliment, I wonder if Hurley takes it as one? In The Verge: “The Light Brigade is a worthy successor to Starship Troopers”.
The world Hurley presents in The Light Brigade is a feudalistic nightmare, and makes a sharp commentary on the growing influence and dangers of a world ruled by corporations. Corporations control all aspects of the lives of the citizens, from the information they have access to, to how they’re educated and where they live, their lives given up to supporting whatever unknowable corporate goals their overlords have planned. It’s a perverse twist on Heinlein’s arguments about serving to earn citizenship, which implied that one has to earn their freedom through service. In Hurley’s world, freedom is an illusion. It doesn’t matter what you do, you end up serving your host corporation.
(13) THEY’LL SCARE THE CHOCOLATE OUT OF YOU. If you thought this happened only in Monty Python, not so, says Open Culture: “Killer Rabbits in Medieval Manuscripts: Why So Many Drawings in the Margins Depict Bunnies Going Bad”.
In all the kingdom of nature, does any creature threaten us less than the gentle rabbit? Though the question may sound entirely rhetorical today, our medieval ancestors took it more seriously — especially if they could read illuminated manuscripts, and even more so if they drew in the margins of those manuscripts themselves. “Often, in medieval manuscripts’ marginalia we find odd images with all sorts of monsters, half man-beasts, monkeys, and more,” writes Sexy Codicology’s Marjolein de Vos. “Even in religious books the margins sometimes have drawings that simply are making fun of monks, nuns and bishops.” And then there are the killer bunnies.
Hunting scenes, de Vos adds, also commonly appear in medieval marginalia, and “this usually means that the bunny is the hunted; however, as we discovered, often the illuminators decided to change the roles around.”…
Numerous illustrations at the link.
(14) SURVIVAL AT STAKE. “Tasmanian devils ‘adapting to coexist with cancer'” – BBC has the story.
There’s fresh hope for the survival of endangered Tasmanian devils after large numbers were killed off by facial tumours.
The world’s largest carnivorous marsupials have been battling Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) for over 20 years.
But researchers have found the animals’ immune system to be modifying to combat the assault.
And according to an international team of scientists from Australia, UK, US and France, the future for the devils is now looking brighter.
“In the past, we were managing devil populations to avoid extinction. Now, we are progressively moving to an adaptive management strategy, enhancing those selective adaptations for the evolution of devil/DFTD coexistence,” explains Dr Rodrigo Hamede, from the University of Tasmania.
First discovered in north-eastern Tasmania in 1996, the disease has since spread across 95% of the species’ range, with local population losses of over 90%.
(15) CAMELIDS VISIT COMIC CON. Two events in the same facility find they are unexpectedly compatible.
(16) PLATE SPECIAL. AMC’s series based on the novel by Joe Hill premieres June 2. Here’s the NOS4A2 “A Fight For Their Souls” official trailer.
[Thanks to Nancy A. Collins, JJ, Mlex, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]