Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
- Millennium Falcon cockpit replica
- Star Trek set
- Shatner on set
Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
(1) CASTING CALL. James Davis Nicoll wants young people for his next project.
I am looking for volunteers for the follow up to Young People Read Old SFF, Young People Listen to Old SF. Participants will get to listen to and react to one moderate length olden timey radio drama per month.
DM me or email me at jdnicoll at panix dot com
(2) NEEDS A PURPOSE. Abigail Nussbaum returns to China Miéville in her latest column “A Political History of the Future: The City & The City” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.
…Introducing a premise like The City & The City without tying it into current political issues feels like a much less tenable proposition right now. And yet this is what the BBC did in its recent miniseries adaptation of the book. As an adaptation, the miniseries is dutiful but not very exciting. It does a good job of transposing the book’s technique, of slowly revealing its setting until we finally realize that there is nothing going on except a mass delusion, to a more visual medium. In one particularly memorable scene, Borlú and his assistant, Lizbyet Corwi, speak on their cellphones, he from Ul Qoma and she in Bes?el. The camera cuts between them as we’d expect from any TV series trying to convey that two characters are in different physical spaces. Then it pulls back to reveal that Borlú and Corwi are sitting on the same bench, which is half in one city and half in the other. The series also does a good job of beefing up the roles of women, giving Corwi more to do, changing the gender of Borlú’s Ul Qoman counterpart, and even giving her a wife. (A similar impetus might have been at the root of a new subplot involving the disappearance of Borlú’s wife, but it just ends up reading like the common trope of motivating a man by having a woman suffer.)
Still, one has to wonder why you’d even try to adapt this novel, at this moment in time, if you weren’t willing to change it enough so that it actually says something…
(3) WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH. Just came across this today. As we say around here, it’s always news to someone. From Know Your Meme.
(4) 2001 RETURNING TO THEATERS. The director of Dunkirk finds more use for 70 mm projectors installed to show his film: “Christopher Nolan returns Kubrick sci-fi masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to its original glory”.
Christopher Nolan wants to show me something interesting. Something beautiful and exceptional, something that changed his life when he was a boy.
It’s also something that Nolan, one of the most accomplished and successful of contemporary filmmakers, has persuaded Warner Bros. to share with the world both at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and then in theaters nationwide, but in a way that boldly deviates from standard practice.
For what is being cued up in a small, hidden-away screening room in an unmarked building in Burbank is a brand new 70-mm reel of film of one of the most significant and influential motion pictures ever made, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science-fiction epic “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Yes, you read that right. Not a digital anything, an actual reel of film that was for all intents and purposes identical to the one Nolan saw as a child and Kubrick himself would have looked at when the film was new half a century ago.
Vulture Bones is a quarterly speculative fiction magazine showcasing the voices of transgender and nonbinary writers.
Vulture Bones is what is left when everything useful is harvested, even the gamey meat of scavengers.
Vulture Bones is the name of a bald and genderless sharpshooter with thirteen enemies and one bullet left.
Vulture Bones is something morbid and foundational.
Vulture Bones is a wild ride.
(6) STAFFCON. Kevin Standlee takes you inside the room where it happened this weekend – “StaffCon”.
“StaffCon” for Worldcon 76 planning had over 100 people registered, using the same RegOnline system that the convention itself is using. Today was a chance to do a bit of a dry run of what on-site registration would be like, and to discover some bugs now while there is a chance to adjust them and make things better for the actual convention. After the initial morning session, there were numerous impromptu meetings (including a short WSFS division meeting with the four members of the division who are actually here), followed by groups touring the San Jose Convention Center. There’s an event moving in today, so we couldn’t get at everything, but everyone got a decently good look around before the lunch break. The break allowed people to spread out and find places to get lunch within a short distance of the convention center. There are many such places (far more than there were sixteen years ago).
(7) GET FINALISTS TO THE WORLDCON. The GoFundMe to bring Campbell Award finalist Rivers Solomon to Worldcon 76 reached its goal, and now additional money is being raised to help get more Hugo and Campbell finalists to the ceremony. Mary Robinette Kowal wrote in an Update:
Folks, we’ve got two additional Campbell finalists who could use a boost getting to the Hugos. I’ve got a form set up for additional finalists.
Let’s see how many we can get to the ceremony.
Need help? The link to the application is in Update #2.
(8) GOLLANCZ OBIT & KERFUFFLE. A trade publication’s obituary about Livia Gollancz (1920-2018), who once ran UK publisher Gollancz, a major publisher and now imprint of sf, got pushback from the imprint’s current editor.
For anyone under 40, Gollancz is merely a science fiction imprint—“the oldest specialist sci-fi and fantasy (SFF) publisher in the UK.” Gollancz indeed published many award-winning and successful SFF authors, J G Ballard and Terry Pratchett among them, but Gollancz is far more important than that, which makes the story of its last two decades a tragedy.
Victor Gollancz, a classics graduate from Oxford, was just 30 when he set up his eponymous company in 1927. He published George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, and Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim, as well as books by Ford Madox Ford, Daphne du Maurier, Franz Kafka and Vera Brittain. On his daughter Livia’s watch, Julia Hales’ The Green Consumer Guide and Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch were trendsetting bestsellers….
I was genuinely shocked to see the comments about Gollancz in Livia Gollancz’s obituary published in The Bookseller. To describe a beloved publishing list as “merely a science fiction imprint” and its last two decades as a “tragedy” is offensive to my colleagues; our authors and fans; our reviewers and bloggers; fellow SFF publishers; and to the wider genre community. While everyone has a right to their personal opinion and literary preferences, to air such a definitive bias against genre fiction in the obituary of our former owner was troubling and frankly insulting.
It is easy to point out how many of the greatest works ever written are SF or Fantasy titles. From the Iliad to Jules Verne, to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, to The Handmaid’s Tale, right up to Naomi Alderman’s The Power, speculative fiction has been an unrivalled way of exploring our world and society. It is just as easy—as your publication has demonstrated—to dismiss that claim by saying those books are ”proper” literary novels not “merely SFF”.
That argument is nonsense. Worse, it is prejudiced and badly informed nonsense….
Important letter from @jontwood about @gollancz with apologies from me that the obituary gave out the impression it did, clearly my error to let it through, and not our views of @gollancz or sci-fi in general https://t.co/i44KgMMHqb… also published here https://t.co/G02skO4fWi
— Mr Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) May 3, 2018
My comments on the diminution of Victor Gollancz should not be interpreted as a slight on the proud history of SF publishing itself, at Gollancz or anywhere else. Rather it is a reminder, to readers and publishers too young to remember the “old” Gollancz, that Victor Gollancz Ltd was a leader in so many ways and an independent powerhouse that set standards and trends in both adult and children’s publishing….
(9) BIRTHDAY BOY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) AURORA AWARDS HEADS-UP. Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association members have until May 26 to nominate eligible works for the Aurora Awards – see the nominations page.
(12) KEEP YOUR SUIT ON. In this Wired video, Chris Hadfield makes nude space walks sound even less attractive than they already did. And that’s just for starters.
Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield helps debunk (and confirm!) some common myths about space. Is there any sound in space? Does space smell like burnt steak? Is NASA working on warp speed?
(13) HURTS SO GOOD. I keep reading Galactic Journey despite Gideon Marcus’ tendency to break my teen-aged fannish heart. It’s bad enough the things he says about every issue of Analog. Now he’s lighting into one of young Mike’s all-time favorite sf novels (in the hardcover version, Way Station): “[May 6, 1963] The more things change… (June 1963 Galaxy)”.
The proud progressive flagship [Galaxy] appears to be faltering, following in the footsteps of Campbell’s reactionary Analog. It’s not all bad, exactly. It’s just nothing new…and some of it is really bad. Is it a momentary blip? Or is Editor Pohl saving the avante-garde stuff for his other two magazines?
…Simak is one of the great veterans of our field, and he has been a staple of Galaxy since its inception. He is unmatched when it comes to evoking a bucolic charm, and he has a sensitive touch when conveying people (human or otherwise). This particular tale begins promisingly, but it meanders a bit, and it frequently repeats itself. Either over-padded or under-edited, it could do with about 15% fewer words. Three stars so far, but I have a feeling the next half will be better….
Next he’ll be telling Mozart “too many notes”!
(14) SPOCK IN OREGON. As long as we’re revisiting the Sixties, here’s Leonard Nimoy to tell you all about his Star Trek character….
Interview from 1967 conducted by KGW-TV, a news station in Portland, Oregon. This was rediscovered in 2010 in their film archives. Nimoy talks at length about playing Mr. Spock on “Star Trek”, then in its second season.
(15) TAKEI IN BOSTON. George Takei is still with us – and in the public eye: “‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei to speak at Boston library” on May 8.
Takei on Tuesday is set to discuss his experience during World War II spent in U.S. internment camps for Japanese-Americans.
Takei used his family’s story as the inspiration for the Broadway musical “Allegiance.”
The show tells the narrative of the fictional Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
The cast of the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Takei’s musical also will perform during the event at the library’s main branch at Copley (KAHP’-lee) Square.
(16) IT’S DEAD, JIM. Self-conscious about your Latin pronunciation? Let @Botanygeek James Wong put you at ease. Jump on the thread here:
In fact, botanical Latin isn't really Latin. But a mix of Ancient Greek, Latin, plus a whole bunch of other languages mixed in.
It's only there to provide a universal name, so everywhere in the world people know what you are on about.
Want proof? Begonia DARTHVADERiana?? pic.twitter.com/90lBzrj7t1
— James Wong (@Botanygeek) May 1, 2018
(17) WELL THAT SUCKS. Once more, a story goes viral only to yield a dud: “Egypt says no hidden rooms in King Tut’s tomb after all”.
New radar scans have provided conclusive evidence that there are no hidden rooms inside King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said Sunday, bringing a disappointing end to years of excitement over the prospect.
Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said an Italian team conducted extensive studies with ground-penetrating radar that showed the tomb did not contain any hidden, man-made blocking walls as was earlier suspected. Francesco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin presented the findings at an international conference in Cairo.
“Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Porcelli said, “As you know there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers but unfortunately our work is not supporting this theory.”
(18) BRAIN DEATH. Vice headline: “This Neurologist Found Out What Happens to Our Brains When We Die”. German neurologists Jens Dreier and Jed Hartings have published a study about what happens to the human brain while dying. It turns out some of the details are remarkably like that discussed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Skin of Evil” during the death of character Tasha Yar.
…if German neurologist Jens Dreier had just binged enough Star Trek: The Next Generation, he could have already known the outcome of his groundbreaking research, which the sci-fi series predicted 30 years ago.
Dreier works at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, one of Germany’s leading university hospitals. In February, the 52-year-old and his colleague, Jed Hartings, published a study that details what happens to our brain at the point of death. It describes how the brain’s neurons transmit electrical signals with full force one last time before they completely die off. Though this phenomenon, popularly known in the medical community as a “brain tsunami”, had previously only been seen in animals, Dreier and Hartings were able to show it in humans as they died. Their work goes on to suggest that in certain circumstances, the process could be stopped entirely, theorising that it could be done if enough oxygen is supplied to the brain before the cells are destroyed.
Soon after their discovery, the two researchers also found out that a 1988 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation shows chief physician Beverly Crusher trying to revive Lieutenant Tasha Yar, while clearly describing the exact processes the neurologists have been trying to understand for years. I spoke to Dreier about their discovery and how it feels to be beaten by a TV show by three decades.
And didn’t Connie Willis’ Passage make use of this premise as well?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Jay Byrd, Avilyn, Alan Baumler, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
More videos follow the jump —
Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
The roundup continues after the jump —
(1) BANKS WITH AND WITHOUT THE M. Abigail Nussbaum’s latest column for Lawyers, Guns & Money is “A Political History of the Future: Iain M. Banks”.
In this installment of A Political History of the Future, our series about how science fiction constructs the politics and economics of its future worlds, we discuss the late, great SF author Iain M. Banks, and specifically his Culture series.
Iain M. Banks died in 2013, and his last work of science fiction was published in 2012. In the context of this series, one might even argue that the last book Banks published that is relevant to our interests was Look to Windward (2000), or maybe The Algebraist (2004). There are, however, two reasons to go back to Banks in 2018. The first is that last summer, the University of Illinois Press’s Modern Masters of Science Fiction series (edited by Gary K. Wolfe), which produces short studies about important mid- and late-20th century science fiction authors, published what is to my knowledge the first complete critical study of Banks’s life and work. Iain M. Banks, by the Hugo-nominated British critic Paul Kincaid (by next week we will know whether he’s been nominated a second time for this volume), is both a biography of Banks’s life and his writing career, and an analysis of the themes running through his work. It is essential reading for any Banks fan.
(2) THIS SPACE NOT INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK. Farah Mendlesohn’s book about Heinlein now has a title.
One of the comments I’ve frequently made, is that in some ways I have been channelling the great man himself. Verbosity, intemperance, etc etc. But nowhere has this been truer than my inability to come up with a title. Heinlein had a terrible ear for titles. Most of his stories were titled by magazine editors, and most of his adult novels were titled by Virginia. His original title for Number of the Beast, for example, was The Panki-Barsoom Number of the Beast, or even just Panki-Barsoom.
So I did what Heinlein did and outsourced the problem, in this case to many friends on facebook.
And the title is…..
The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein.
With a release date in March 2019.
(3) A WAY. In “Mountain and Forest” Nick Stember analyzes “the Tao of Ursula K. Le Guin.”
For science fiction fans, the fact that The Left-Hand of Darkness owes a debt of inspiration to Taoism is nothing new, of course. As early as 1974 Douglas Barbour was pointing out parallels in Le Guin’s earlier books in the Hainish cycle, and Le Guin herself said as much in interviews. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that Le Guin’s last novel in the Hainish cycle, The Telling, was directly inspired by the Cultural Revolution:
I learned that Taoist religion, an ancient popular religion of vast complexity and a major element of Chinese culture, had been suppressed, wiped out, by Mao Tse-tung…In one generation, one psychopathic tyrant destroyed a tradition two thousand years old…And I knew nothing about it. The enormity of the event, and the enormity of my ignorance, left me stunned.
(4) SUSPICION. The authorities spent the day grilling two writers:
Detective: So Ms. Rowland… Where were you on the night of May 17th?
Me: A-at home.
Detective: Was that when you made your decision to get these two characters FAKE MARRIED?
Me: I WANT TO SPEAK TO MY LAWYER
— Alexandra Rowland? (@_alexrowland) March 26, 2018
(5) DON’T BOTHER ME BOY. And yet they let this one go Scot-free! Richard Paolinelli, borrowing a page from Lou Antonelli’s book – the one printed on a thousand-sheet roll – tried to embroil Camestros Felapton with the Aussie cops:
Richard this is something you’ll need to take to your local police. Gather your evidence first – they can investigate. All the best.
— AFP (@AusFedPolice) March 26, 2018
(6) PRO TIP. This is the way professional writers handle feedback, says Cole McCade in “The Author’s Guide to Author/Reviewer Interactions”. Strangely enough, calling the cops isn’t on his list.
B-but…I read a bad review of my book!
Then stop reading your goddamn reviews.
…all right. Okay. I know you won’t. I still read my reviews sometimes, I just don’t talk about it. And I generally try to stay on the positive ones; they’re a good pick-me-up. Even those, though, I don’t talk about.
That’s the thing. You can read reviews all you want, but you can’t engage with them save for in very specific circumstances. Don’t like a review on GoodReads. Don’t flag it for removal unless it actually meets the guidelines, such as posting derogatory things about you as a person/author rather than reviewing the book. Don’t comment on the review. Don’t send your fans to comment on the review defending you. (I actually have a policy in my street team that anyone caught attacking negative reviewers gets booted from the group.) Don’t seek out tweets about your book and reply to them (particularly if you or the book aren’t mentioned by name; if you’re stalking reviewers on social media for the idlest sideways mention of your book, that’s fucking creepy and intrusive). If you happen to have friendly conversations with a reviewer, do not bring up their review or try to chat about it.
You know why?
Because reviews are not for you.
They’re for other readers.
(7) EXPLOITATION. At the SFWA Blog, John Walters is irate about “The Egregious Practice of Charging Reading Fees” – although his examples are from outside the sff field —
The sad state of affairs in the field of literary magazines is that a high percentage now charge reading fees. The amounts range from two dollars to five dollars or more, but the average is three dollars. They justify it in all sorts of ways. Some, to avoid the stigma of charging reading fees, call it a handling fee or a software fee. Evidently they haven’t heard that many email services are free. Some, even as they ask it of writers, say outright: This is not a reading fee. Yeah, right. As if calling it by another name makes it all better. Several sites explain that if you were to send the manuscripts by mail you would have to spend at least that much in postage, so send that postage money to them instead. Most modern magazines and anthologies are getting away from postal submissions anyway, both as a money saver and to protect the environment, so that argument doesn’t make any sense.
(8) BSFATUBE. The British Science Fiction Association’s publication Vector has branched out to producing YouTube videos. Here’s the first one:
Glasgow-based DJ Sophie Reilly, aka ‘Sofay’, talks about her love of science fiction and the connections that exist between some of her favourite records and novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ and Stanislaw Lem’s ‘Solaris’…
(9) CARRINGTON OBIT. Actress Debbie Lee Carrington has died at the age of 58:
She began her acting career in 1981, appearing in the Chevy Chase-starring comedy, Under the Rainbow. Later, Carrington landed a role in Return of the Jedi, famously playing the Ewok who consoles another Ewok that was blown up by a landmine. She ended up starring in The Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: Battle for Endor as Weechee, Wicket’s older brother. Carrington was also an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in Hollywood and also had a degree in child psychology, which earned her much respect in the industry along with her giant body of work. Mike Quinn, who worked with Debbie Lee Carrington on Return of the Jedi, had this to say.
“So sad to hear of the passing of a fellow Return Of The Jedi performer Debbie Lee Carrington. She was an advocate for actors with disabilities and had a degree in child psychology. She had done so much, not only as an Ewok but was inside the costume for Howard The Duck, appeared in Total Recall, Grace & Frankie, Dexter, Captain Eo, the list goes on… Way too young. She was a real powerhouse! My condolences to all her family and friends at this time.”
(10) CAMERON OBIT. SF artist Martin G. “Bucky” Cameron died unexpectedly on March 26.
For over 35 years he worked as a professional artist. He was the first 3D artist at the Lucasfilm games division. Other game companies he worked for included NAMCO, Broderbund, and Spectrum Holobyte. He also did art for magazines including Analog and Penthouse, and for myriad companies.
His recent project was creating a shared Steampunk world with Robert E. Vardeman. The first issue came out in February.
MT Davis adds, “Martin was usually known as ‘Bucky’ at the Cons he attended and was part of the Sacramento/Bay Area Fan nexus that went into the computer Gaming industry as it rose in the late 80’s early 90’s. Very congenial and always cordial accepting of almost all.”
TODAY’S YESTERDAY’S DAY
It’s Tolkien Reading Day!
Tolkien Reading Day is held on the 25th of March each year.
It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages. We particularly encourage schools, museums and libraries to host their own Tolkien Reading Day events.
Why 25 March?
The 25th of March is the date of the downfall of the Lord of the Rings (Sauron) and the fall of Barad-dûr. It’s as simple as that!
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY VACCINE
On March 26, 65 years ago, Dr. Jonas Salk announced he had successfully tested a vaccine against polio. Look back at Dr. Salk’s achievement.
Alan Baumler comments, “If you are wondering ‘Who is the model for the heroic scientist who saves the world?’ as seen in thousands of SF stories, it is probably him.”
From the Wikipedia:
Author Jon Cohen noted, “Jonas Salk made scientists and journalists alike go goofy. As one of the only living scientists whose face was known the world over, Salk, in the public’s eye, had a superstar aura. Airplane pilots would announce that he was on board and passengers would burst into applause. Hotels routinely would upgrade him into their penthouse suites. A meal at a restaurant inevitably meant an interruption from an admirer, and scientists approached him with drop-jawed wonder as though some of the stardust might rub off.”
For the most part, however, Salk was “appalled at the demands on the public figure he has become and resentful of what he considers to be the invasion of his privacy”, wrote The New York Times, a few months after his vaccine announcement.
(15) CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN. Not much about superhero movies has to make logical sense, but there’s an odd reason why this development does. Inverse reports that “‘Captain Marvel’ Will Bring Back Two ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Villains” who audiences have already seen killed off.
Captain Marvel may be the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but thanks to its Nineties setting, it’s chronologically the second film in the series, following Captain America’s World War II setting. That means that MCU characters who died in recent movies would still be alive during Captain Marvel’s time, and Marvel revealed on Monday that three somewhat unexpected deceased characters will be appearing in the upcoming film.
In a posting announcing the start of principal photography on Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson as the titular hero, Marvel announced that Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, and Clark Gregg would all make appearances in the upcoming film. Hounsou and Pace played Guardians of the Galaxy villains Korath the Pursuer and Ronan the Accuser, respectively, while Gregg played the beloved Agent Coulson in the MCU’s Phase One (and continues to play the character on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
(16) OH BRAVE NEW WORD. Tor.com’s Emily Asher-Perrin investigates “What We Mean When We Call Something ‘Shakespearean’”.
It does seem a term that falls into two categories: (a) a term used to denote high quality, or (b) a term used to denote a certain type of story. Sometimes it is used to indicate both of these things at the same time. But we see it everywhere, and often reapplied past the point of meaning. When Marvel Studios released the first Thor film in 2011, it was heralded as Shakespearean. When Black Panther was released earlier this year, it was labeled the same. Why? In Thor, the characters are mythological figures who speak in slightly anachronistic dialects, and family drama is the three-dollar phrase of the hour. Black Panther also contains some elements of family drama, but it is primarily a story about royalty and history and heritage.
So what about any of this is Shakespearean?
(17) APOSTLE TO THE CURMUDGEONS. What do Ambrose Bierce and the fashion magazine Cosmo have in common? Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett says you might be surprised: “Ambrose Bierce Buries Jules Verne”.
In Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vol. XL No. 2, December 1905 [Bierce] reacted to what he considered to be a hagiographic response to the death of Jules Verne:
The death of Jules Verne several months ago is a continuing affliction, a sharper one than the illiterate can know, for they are spared many a fatiguing appreciation of his talent, suggested by the sad event. With few exceptions, these “appreciations,” as it is now the fashion of anthropolaters to call their devotional work, are devoid of knowledge, moderation and discrimination. They are all alike, too, in ascribing to their subject the highest powers of imagination and the profoundest scientific attainments. In respect of both these matters he was singularly deficient, but had in a notable degree that which enables one to make the most of such gifts and acquirements as one happens to have: a patient, painstaking diligence—what a man of genius has contemptuously, and not altogether fairly, called “mean industry.” Such as it was, Verne’s imagination obeyed him very well, performing the tasks set for it and never getting ahead of him—apres vous, monsieur. A most polite and considerate imagination, We are told with considerable iteration about his power of prophecy: in the “Nautilus,” for example, he foreshadows submarine navigation. Submarine navigation had for ages been a dream of inventors and writers; I dare say the Egyptians were familiar with it…
(18) STOKERS. The Horror Writers Association has posted video of the 2018 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony held at StokerCon in Providence, RI on March 3.
(19) ROBO PUNCHING. NPR’s Glen Weldon, in “‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ serves up another helping of mech and cheese”, holds a mock press conference:
REPORTER #1: … and then we clucked our tongues, the way we do, and sat there a while basking in our keenly developed aesthetic sense. Then we got to wondering who in the world would ever actually see it.
CRITIC: I mean … you shouldn’t.
REPORTER #1: So you agree. (Cluck.)
CRITIC: Do I agree that you shouldn’t see it? I very much do. I mean, listen to yourself. You expressly do not count yourself among the cohort of giant-robots-fight-giant-monsters potential filmgoers, safe to say. So clearly you shouldn’t see it. I mean … I would have thought that was obvious. Unless … I’m sorry, is someone forcing you to go see it? Are there armed gangs of street toughs employed by Universal Studios going house-to-house and frog-marching the hapless citizenry into Pacific Rim Uprising showings across this nation?
REPORTER #1: No. Look, I’m just sayi-
CRITIC: Yes, you are just saying, not asking, and I’m here to answer questions about the film Pacific Rim Uprising. This is not a forum for your smug condemnation of the fact that a given piece of popular culture is popular. This is a press conference, not Facebook. Security, kindly remove this person. Next question. Yes, you there….
Chip Hitchcock calls it, “Much kinder than the Boston Globe’s response: ‘If only they hadn’t made a movie that plays like a lost “Transformers” entry.’”
(20) RESISTANCE IS RUTILE. Got to love this. On Quora Nyk Dohne answers the question “Would a Borg Cube be any match for a Star Destroyer if the two ever met in battle?”
Here is what clearly will happen: The Borg beam over some scouts to investigate. Because the Death Star is so huge, let’s say it is only a few dozen scout Borg. Stormtroopers try to repulse them, and 2 Borg are killed before they adapt and become quite invulnerable. The Death Star predictably uses the superlaser to destroy the Borg Cube, which doesn’t have a chance to adapt because it is all over in one shot. Only a few components of the cube survive re-entry as they scatter and fall on the nearby forest moon; all the Borg humanoids are dead. All? Not quite: There are still a few dozen (-2) Borg on the Death Star. Those few dozen quickly begin Assimilating the Death Star and it’s crew. Because the Death Star is so huge, it takes a LONG time, but the Imperials are not known for the innovative tactics required to stop the onslaught. The battle lasts for months, but it is unstoppable. The Borg grows exponentially, despite reinforcements….
And Nyk goes on from there.
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, MT Davis, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Alan Baumler, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) SPIT TAKE. All you short fiction fans pay attention: “Short Story Dispenser to spit out free stories at three locations around Philadelphia” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Like picking up a pack of Oreos from the cafeteria vending machine, a new kiosk concept in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia will allow visitors to obtain short stories at the touch of a button.
Announced Thursday as part of the Public Library Association’s 2018 conference, Philadelphia was selected as one of four cities to receive a grant for Short Story Dispensers. The thin, sleek 5-foot-tall kiosks will be at three yet-to-be-determined locations throughout the city.
Each will offer one-, three-, and five-minute stories from a range of 20 genres. Stories will be spit out like an ATM receipt to users — and for free — on eco-friendly paper.
(2) IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. “Time for a new episode of my Eating the Fantastic podcast,” says Scott Edelman, “And time to test the Internet gods!” Episode 62 invites you to chow down on calamari with Paul di Filippo:
Paul Di Filippo has published more than than 200 short stories—which as you’ll hear, I teased him about as conversation began—and has appeared in such magazines as Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Interzone, and many others. Some of those stories have been collected in The Steampunk Trilogy, Ribofunk, Fractal Paisleys, Lost Pages, Little Doors, Strange Trades, Babylon Sisters, and many, many others. And then there are the novels, such as Ciphers, Joe’s Liver, Fuzzy Dice, A Mouthful of Tongues, and Spondulix. He’s been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction Association, Philip K. Dick, Wired magazine, and World Fantasy awards. He was also my go-to reviewer back when I edited Science Fiction Age and then, for the Syfy Channel’s Science Fiction Weekly.
Paul’s the one who suggested Angelo’s Civita Farnese as our venue. The Italian restaurant was opened in Providence 1924 by Angelo Mastrodicasa. Paul’s entree of french fries with meatballs, a combination I’ve never seen before, turned out to be one of Angelo’s signature dishes, started during the Depression as a way for customers to fill up without emptying their wallets.
We discussed why the first story he ever wrote was Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan fiction, the pact he made with a childhood friend which explains why he owns none of the Marvel Comics he read as a kid, what caused the editor who printed his debut story to make the bold claim it would be both his first and last published piece of fiction, how his life changed once he started following Ray Bradbury’s rule of writing at least 1,000 words per day, why he’s written so much alternate history and for which famous person he’s had the most fun imagining a different life, why after a career in science fiction and fantasy he’s begun a series of mystery novels, what happened to the never-published Batman story he sold DC Comics which we never got to see, and much more.
(3) KURT BUSIEK OPTION. Todd Allen has the details: “Kurt Busiek Working on an Astro City Pilot With FreemantleMedia – Another Super Hero Universe License Acquired”.
If memory serves, Astro City has been under option of some kind since at least the early-to-mid ’00s. Back then, super hero movies were just starting to heat up with Spidey and X-Men, but Marvel hadn’t gotten their own studio together yet. These days, TV is arguably as needy as the film studios when it comes to comics licenses. (See: Netflix) And so, FreemantleMedia North America has come into possession of the film rights for Astro City.
FreeMantle is actually pretty big. They produce everything from The Price is Right to American Gods. What’s a bit more interesting is that Kurt Busiek, himself, is co-writing the pilot….
(4) THE UNFORGOTTEN. Pulp Librarian (@PulpLibrarian) ran a retrospective on Laser Books today. Mark Hepworth’s comment accompanying the link ended, “…complete with some really bad covers!” Since one of my favorite artists, Kelly Freas, did every Laser Book cover, I’m not going to print that…. Jump on the thread here —
Today in pulp: a cautionary tale of trying to shoehorn fiction into a standard formula, just because it’s in the same genre.
This is the story of Laser Books… pic.twitter.com/6GIlpBvO6o
— Pulp Librarian (@PulpLibrarian) March 23, 2018
(5) STORYBUNDLE. Time is running out on The Feminist Futures Bundle curated by Cat Rambo.
Rosemary Kirstein, one of the contributors (The Steerswoman), describes the bundle as “10 authors with novels that simply assume that their female protagonists are equal participants in society and able to pursue their goals — no preaching or excoriating involved!” The Storybundle is in its last week and ends March 29. You’ll find several posts with more info about the bundle at Kirstein’s blog.
Nicole Kimberling, another of the bundle authors, wrote a piece for The Mary Sue on “Why We Still Need Feminist Science-Fiction”.
When Cat Rambo first approached me about including my novel, Happy Snak, in a StoryBundle, I thought it would be representing the “outer space” niche in a collection of genre-based comedies. So when I realized my story would be included in “Feminist Futures,” I was taken aback. Happy Snak is about a woman who owns a dinky snack bar in space. She fraternizes with aliens and refuses to comply with arbitrary regulations but is otherwise largely apolitical. Why, I wondered, would anybody consider this feminist? Then, thinking further, I realized that for many women, just being themselves and making (and spending) their own money is still considered a threatening and subversive act. (I’ve got my eye you, Quiverfull.)
And Cat has two video interviews of the authors included in the bundle:
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
(7) OVERTIME. JonnyBaak’s video takes a behind-the-scenes look at the 1966/67 Irwin Allen hit The Time Tunnel.
(8) LEGO IDEAS WINNER ABOUT TO HIT MARKET. io9 advises “Start Saving Your Quarters Because Lego’s Tron: Legacy Light Cycles Set Finally Arrives Next Week”.
Originally approved for production back in late November of last year, the light cycle design that BrickBros UK submitted to the Lego Ideas site looks significantly updated and streamlined by Lego’s own designers for the production version of this set. But the changes certainly seem to benefit fans of Tron: Legacy, as the set now includes two light cycles, and three minifigure versions of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa), complete with identity discs.
(9) ABOUT THOSE SJW CREDENTIALS. Dogs and cats – never the twain shall mark.
— Shane Ivins (@CharmingKobold) March 24, 2018
(10) UNBELIEVABLE. A professional cartographer makes fun of real-world map of New Orleans: “A guy who makes Role-playing games has criticised a map of New Orleans for being “unrealistic” and it’s gone viral”. Start the thread here:
Holy cow—if you like fantasy maps, spend some time looking at New Orleans. WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON WITH THIS CITY?! If this came in from a freelancer, there are half a dozen things that would raise my eyebrows. pic.twitter.com/ApqYYWlE8d
— James L. Sutter (@jameslsutter) March 19, 2018
(11) BRADBURY’S WRITING TIPS. Tripwire has rediscovered “Ray Bradbury’s 12 Rules For Writers”. Here are the first two —
(12) ACCESSIBLE EMOJIS. Proposed emojis for various disabilities: “Apple proposes 13 new emoji that represent people with disabilities”
The original Apple submission to the Unicode Consortium [PDF file] (the ruling body for emoji selection and all things else Unicode) states (in part):
- Completeness Does the proposed pictograph fill a gap in existing types of emoji?
The proposed set in itself provides a significant advance in coverage to depict various forms of disability, and fills a significant gap in representation and inclusiveness among existing emoji. We welcome other considerations that can help complete the set.
Mike Kennedy sent the link with a note: “It occurs to me that people who work Access for cons might have some ideas for additional emojis to “help complete the set.”
(13) SETTLEMENT IN TREK ACTOR’S DEATH. “Anton Yelchin: Star Trek actor’s parents settle legal case with car firm”: The rollaway that killed the new Chekov led to 11,000,000 cars recalled; damages will support a foundation.
Gary Dordick, the lawyer for Yelchin’s parents, said the money would go to the Anton Yelchin Foundation. The amount hasn’t been disclosed.
The money will also help fund a documentary about Yelchin’s life.
The actor was born in Russia and played Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films released in 2009 and 2013.
He died when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a concrete mailbox at his LA house in June 2016.
His parents filed a wrongful death case against Fiat Chrysler in August that year, saying the gear changer was defective.
In April 2016, the company had recalled 1.1 million vehicles across the world because of concerns that they could roll away after drivers exit.
(14) STAY FROSTY. “Thrills and chills at Broadway’s Frozen musical” — a hit with the audience, and the critic.
The puppet design provided for Sven and Olaf the snowman is a highlight of this Frozen, which had its official opening night on Thursday.
Credit for this goes to puppet designer Michael Curry, who previously made magic as Julie Taymor’s collaborator on The Lion King, Disney’s longest-running Broadway hit.
Yet for all the clever design elements involved in the production, it’s the performances, guided with wit and tenderness by acclaimed British director Michael Grandage, that propel the story.
That story is spun by librettist Jennifer Lee, adapting her own screenplay, and composer/lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – Academy Award winners both for Frozen and, more recently, Coco.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I can’t resist this video of the “Flaming Tomb on Easter Sunday.” People begin to see the light at the 1:18 mark.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Bill, Rosemary Kirstein, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lenora Rose, with an embellishment by OGH.]
(1) READ FOR LIFE. Inc. tells “Why Reading Books Should be Your Priority, According to Science”.
People who read books live longer
That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.
(2) SOMTOW. The Thailand Tatler covers Somtow Sucharitkul’s fundraising concern for a U.S. orchestral tour: “Siam Sinfonietta Takes To The States”.
As the local music scene continues to thrive and as Thai musicians of all ages and styles gain increasing recognition both at home and abroad, the talented youths of Siam Sinfonietta are getting ready to play at Carnegie Hall in the Big Apple for the third time this April as part of the New York International Music Festival.
Siam Sinfonietta is a scholarship orchestra that aims to provide local prodigies with the great opportunities to perform professionally, regardless of background or income. In order to ensure that all 70 musicians and orchestral staff can have a smooth tour of the States in April, Opera Siam is holding a series of fundraising events, such as a recent Star Wars-themed concert on March 15. Find out how you can still support them here.
Listen to the opening of their Star Wars marathon concert – and see his lightsaber conductor’s baton!
(3) SOCIETY PAGE. Congratulations to Catherynne Valente!
Rolling up a new character!
First Adventure: September 27th, 2018. pic.twitter.com/rZLwWeShOB
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) March 19, 2018
(In case it’s a bit obscure, the ultrasound pic is a clue.)
(4) ANOTHER CLUELESS ATTENDANT. Author Fran Wilde was lectured on a plane that her cane could be a weapon.
No ma'am a cane is an assistive device and we apologize for any misunderstanding. We realize Customer Service and positive interactions are key to any trip – please DM your flight details and we'll talk more. -Steve https://t.co/mQmfkXW4oV
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) March 19, 2018
(5) BLUE MAN GROUP. Expedition 55 sets new standards in space fashion. Or as David Klaus ad libs, “Are we not Astromen? We are DEVO! Also, if you tailor those uniform coveralls to fit, you have the uniforms of the Starfleet of the NX-01 Starship Enterprise.”
(6) BRIAN ALDISS, CURMUDGEON. Kim Huett had to take a short hiatus from Doctor Strangemind which he is determined to make up with a new 3,400 word article “about a story that Brian Aldiss assures me is only 3300 words long. Still, is 3400 words too many for what Brian also assures me is the WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!”
You’ll have to read the article and decide for yourselves: “Brian Aldiss & the Worst Story Ever!!!”
It is my impression that Brian Wilson Aldiss was generally considered to be a stern but fair elder statesman until he passed away in 2017. I, on the other hand, considered him to be far more curmudgeonly than that (he would never have made a passable member of the Beach Boys for example). It also my opinion that Brian Aldiss adopted his curmudgeonly persona relatively early in his career. Oh, but Doctor Strangemind I hear you all cry, Brian Aldiss was never a curmudgeon, at least not until he was old enough to carry the title with a suitable level of gravitas! Ah ha, my poor innocent audience! You have fallen into my cunningly constructed audience trap and now while you lay squirming in the metaphorical mud at the bottom of the pit of unwarranted assumption I’ll just sit here on the lip above and tell you all about how in Australian Science Fiction Review #15 (published by John Bangsund in April 1968) that young curmudgeon, Brian Aldiss, did go so far as to accuse two fellow British authors of writing as he put it the, ‘WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!’ To quote from Aldiss himself:
There was one story in particular in Authentic which, ever since I read it on its first appearance in 1954, had impressed me as reaching a really impressive level of badness. To my great delight, I found on reading it again that it has grown even worse over the intervening fourteen years. I therefore would like to nominate as the worst sf story ever published:
The Lava Seas Tunnel, by F.G. Rayer and E.R. James, (Authentic SF, edited by H.J. Campbell, Vol.1, no.43, March 1954.)
(7) BUJOLD AT RIVENDELL. The Rivendell Discussion Group of the Mythopoeic Society will host Lois McMaster Bujold at its April 7 meeting in Minneapolis.
(8) NEED SHARPER HEARING? Cnet says “Spock’s ‘Star Trek III’ ear tips can be yours”.
An iconic set of pointy ears worn by Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” are up for auction through Lelands.com and they look pretty funky when you see them up close. You’ll notice pits and wrinkles in the flesh-colored appliances. On film, they were artfully blended with make-up to match Nimoy’s own ears.
(9) CLARKE CENTER. A bonus podcast by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s associate director sharing his personal reminiscence on Stephen Hawking, who passed away on March 14, 2018. Viirre was the medical director for Hawking’s trip into weightlessness on a zero gravity flight in 2007.
Only last December, he accepted the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Lifetime Achievement (his citation and acceptance speech can be seen here), during which he said, “It is no small task to be judged as having met with what would have been Arthur’s expectations for intellectual rigor powered by imagination, insatiable curiosity, and concern for our planet and its inhabitants.”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) PRISONER COMICS. First shown on Canadian and UK TV screens in 1967, The Prisoner was co-created, written, directed and starred Patrick McGoohan (Scanners, Braveheart). Titan’s new comic series is released for the 50th Anniversary of the first US broadcast in 1968.
Titan Comics are excited to announce that they are partnering with print and poster house Vice Press to create a Diamond UK exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1. This first-ever Vice Press exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1 – designed by Star Wars movie concept artist, Chris Weston – is based on his original silk-screen poster created for Vice Press to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner hitting US TV screens.
Titan’s new The Prisoner comic series, licensed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, is set in the world of The Prisoner – based on the celebrated cult TV series – from writer Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and artist Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest)…
“I’ve made no secret about how The Prisoner is my favourite television show of all time,” said Vice Press cover artist Chris Weston, “I have always wanted to create my own artistic tribute to The Prisoner. Fortuitously, my friends at Vice Press offered me the chance to fulfil my lifelong ambition to create a loving artistic homage, timed to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary.”
(13) OSCAR’S LOVECHILD C3PO. Joal Ryan, in “Let’s revisit the spacy ‘Star Wars’ Oscars from 40 years ago” at Yahoo! Entertainment, has several clips from the 1978 Oscars, in which Star Wars was the only film of this series to be nominated for Best Picture and when Bob Hope, in his last time as Oscars MC, made some groaning Star Wars jokes.
Bob Hope, as he had done 17 times before, hosted the ’78 Oscars. The icon was 74, and this would be his last show as emcee. But he was as quick as ever with the lecherous gag, and the rat-tat-tat monologue that had been punched up with current events. (“1977 will be known as the year of Star Wars, which has grossed over $200 million,” one Hope line began. “That’s more than even some baseball players make.”)
(14) PLATYPUS NEWS. If you thought milking a cow was dangerous…. “Platypus milk: How it could combat superbugs”
Platypus milk could help combat one of humanity’s looming problems, antibiotic resistance, scientists say.
The weird creatures have a duck’s beak, venomous feet and are one of only two mammals able to lay eggs.
Australian scientists discovered in 2010 that the semi-aquatic animal’s milk contains a potent protein able to fight superbugs.
They’ve now identified why, and say it could lead to the creation of a new type of antibiotic.
(15) ALEXA BASHING. Paris Martineau at The Outline says “Hey Alexa, shut up”. My question is: would Paris say that if it was a man’s voice?
Why do voice assistants need to talk so much? If you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s ridiculous, yet rather addictive (I have two) Echo products, you know what I’m talking about: Whether you’re setting a timer, or asking her to play a podcast, Alexa just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes”) it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”), which can be more than a little annoying when it’s two in the morning and you don’t exactly want a booming robot voice waking your roommates up a wall over.
(16) DRIVING WHILE BETAZOID. From Marina Sirtis’ appearance at Dublin Comic Con last year.
Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) tells the hilarious story about driving the Enterprise as well as burning the bridge.
[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, Brian Z., and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) MOOMIN FAN. She remembers the Moomin scape her father made for her: “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” in The Guardian.
I don’t remember the precise moment I was introduced to the Moomins. They were always just there; a cosy, comforting and slightly weird presence in my childhood that has stayed with me. My father called Tove Jansson “one of the greatest children’s writers there has ever been”, and credited her writing as one of the reasons he became an author.
My father’s family were the kind of postwar, no-nonsense British people who didn’t really do hugs or talk about their feelings. Instead, they showed their love by building things: toys, puzzles, go-carts, treehouses. It was a tradition that my father, still very much the awkward hugger himself, would continue during my childhood. He built me a market stall, a beehive (complete with toy bees), a stove and, most memorably, Moominvalley.
It was crafted out of wood and papier-mache – a staple of all art projects in the 70s and 80s. It had a forest and a river and even a dark cave. He also made the Moominhouse and crafted all the Moomin characters out of clay; then painted and varnished them. Many years later we would turn over an entire attic full of junk trying to find a box that I thought might contain a solitary hand-made Moomin. He’s still out there somewhere.
(2) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Declan Finn says something’s missing from Amazon. It’s the reviews he’s written about people’s books, and some of the reviews others have written about his books. Why? He calls it “Amazon’s War on Users”.
Has Amazon declared war on authors?
It would seem so at first pass. Last week, I had 315 reviews spread out over my various and sundry projects. Honor at Stake, for example, had 63, 68 reviews.
Today, I only have 238 reviews over all of them. Honor at Stake in particular having only 45 now. When I ask Amazon via email, they know nothing. Could I be more specific? It’s literally EVERY BOOK. They need a road map?
The mystery depends when I looked at reviews that I myself have written. They’re all gone. Poof. Vanished.
What the Hell?
And I’m not the only one. In fact, one writer’s group I’m a part of has had a lot of the same problem.
The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.
Funny that. And the one person outside of CLFA who had also had problems is friends with three of us.
However, I’m not about to declare enemy action just yet. For that, I need your help, that of the average reader. Because there is a problem. We can’t ask people outside the group, that we don’t know, if they have the same problem. Why? Because if we don’t know them, it’s hard to ask. And if we know them, it can be construed as guilt by association.
Camestros Felapton joined the investigation. The conspiracy-minded won’t find his thoughts nearly as pleasing as Finn’s: “Amazon Purging Reviews Again”.
(4) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. BBC reports — “Black Panther film: ‘Game-changing’ movie takes $1bn”.
Marvel’s superhero film Black Panther has taken more than a billion US dollars (£794m) at cinemas worldwide.
It is the fifth movie based in Disney’s Marvel Universe to hit the milestone.
(5) WAKANDA. A group hopes to run Wakanda Con in Chicago, IL this summer. Right now they’re building a list of interested fans.
WAKANDA CON is a fan-driven, one-day celebration of Afro-Futurism, Tech, and Black superheroes in film, television, and comic books, and of course, Black Panther. Our event will be held in Chicago, IL in Summer 2018. Join fellow citizens of Wakanda for discussion, education, networking, and festivities.
Marvel’s Black Panther has ushered in a new wave of thought about issues surrounding the African Diaspora and a new future for Black people around the world. The image of an African country with advanced technology and equality has inspired some of the world’s greatest thinkers and all of Black Twitter to create, think, and respond. WAKANDA CON is chance to take the conversation about Black Panther offline and into the real world.
(6) BRING KLEENEX. John Scalzi gives people lots of reasons to want to see A Wrinkle in Time.
(And, you may ask, what do I think about the film’s multicultural and feminine viewpoint and aesthetic? I think it works very well, and it’s a reminder that things that are not designed specifically for one in mind may still speak significantly and specifically to one, if one is open to it. I would not have imagined A Wrinkle in Time the way DuVernay has — I seriously doubt I could have imagined it this way — and yet there I was crying my eyes out all the same. I do not need the world to be imagined as I would have imagined it. I want the world and the things in it to exceed my imagination, to show me things I cannot make for myself but can take into myself, hold precious, and make my imagination that much wider from that point forward. As I noted before, this movie was not, I think, made for me, and still here I am, loving it as much as I do.)
(7) HEARTFELT STORY. Charles Payseur is just as persuasive in getting people to read his short fiction reviews: “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus March 2018”
GigaNotoSaurus offers up a beautiful short story for March that might have been a bit more appropriate for February and Valentine’s Day because it is adorable and wonderful and sweet and just good! I’m a sucker for romance, and so the focus of this story for me is refreshing, especially because it refuses to tread the same tired paths of angst and powerlessness that seem to dominate so many romantic story lines. It’s not without darkness or sadness, but it’s a story to me about the triumph of love and humans over despair, loss, and death. To the review!
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) COMEDIAN SECTION. Today’s relevant joke, from the just-late Ken Dodd: “Ken Dodd: 17 of his funniest one-liners”.
So it turns out that if you bang two halves of a horse together, it doesn’t make the sound of a coconut.
(Other 16 are NSF just about everything….)
(11) BEYOND THE FAIL FRONTIER. ScreenRant delights in finding these contradictions: “Star Trek: 17 Memes That Prove The Show Makes No Sense”. They begin with an infographic —
(12) INCLUSIVE OR NOT? Dave Huber, in The College Fix story, “MIT Librarian: Tech Posters Plastered With Star Trek Posters, Other Geeky Stuff Is Non-Inclusive to Women,” says that MIT head librarian Chris Bourg has said that students should “replace Star Trek posters with travel posters…and generally just avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes” if they want to be inclusive for women.
Since the many incarnations of “Star Trek” are considered some of the most diverse shows in the history of television, not to mention that about half those attending Star Trek conventions are female, The College Fix contacted Bourg about this particular reference.
She responded by pointing out her advice “comes directly from the research,” and provided a link to the study: “Ambient Belonging: How Stereotypical Cues Impact Gender Participation in Computer Science.”
The 2009 study examined whether “stereotypical objects” like Star Trek posters “signal a masculinity that precludes women from ever developing an interest in computer science.” Or, as the authors dub it, how the “ambient belonging” of women is affected by tech-geek ware.
While conceding that the tech-geek “masculinity” in question may not refer to a “traditional definition” (think “strength, assertiveness, and sexual prowess”) the authors argue the “stereotypicality” of the group still has a “profound” effect on the ability to recruit people who do not see themselves as fitting that stereotype.
(13) PROPHET OF DOOM? “Tim Berners-Lee says net has ‘heaps of problems'”. [[Voice only]]
The inventor of the World Wide Web says the internet as we know it is “under threat” and faces “heaps” of problems.
Monday 12 March marks 29 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. This year is expected to be the first time that more than half of the world’s population will have internet access.
Sir Tim spoke to the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones about the challenges faced.
(14) ELON MUSK. More blue-skying? “Elon Musk: Mars ship test flights ‘next year'”.
A Mars colony, he said, would reduce the chance of an extended new Dark Ages if a nuclear conflict was to wipe out life on Earth.
But, aware of his reputation, he added: “Sometimes my timelines are a little… y’know.”
But enough about reality.
Elon Musk is unquestionably the most interesting businessman in Silicon Valley – arguably the world – thanks to his almost single-handed reignition of the space race.
(15) MONITORING TV. Rich Lynch says tonight’s “Literary L.A.” Category on Jeopardy! had a Bradbury clue. It even showed a photo of him.
The contestant got it right.
(16) TENT TECH. It’s not your grandfather’s yurt — “To Fight Pollution, He’s Reinventing The Mongolian Tent”.
In Gamsukh’s office those possibilities seem endless. Books, papers and sketches cover a desk and table. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Gamsukh, whose dark hair has a slight orange tint, comes off as artistic. But the sketches he produces are not dreamy musings. They are technical drawings supported by mathematical calculations. They are solid, like the sturdily built Gamsukh. Many are already being implemented, including a partially completed passive solar heated immobile ger that adds windows, insulation and solar collectors to the traditional model. Passive solar heating design uses windows, walls and floors to collect, store and distribute heat in the winter and reject it in the summer. Designs vary depending on the climate in which they are built, but shade can be used to block the sun in summer without taking away from warmth in winter because the sun is higher in summer.
When it is finished, Gamsukh plans to call it home. He is also testing another modified ger that uses solar power and those underground pipes he tried to dig in winter for heat.
(17) SHORT ORDER ROBOT. “Burger-flipping robot begins first shift” at Cali-Burger in Pasadena, CA. See a video of the robot in action, at the link.
Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, has begun work at a restaurant in Pasadena, Los Angeles.
It is the first of dozens of locations for the system, which is destined to replace human fast-food workers.
The BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee saw it in action.
(18) BUSTED. To go with the recent Pixel on Iceland running out of energy due to Bitcoin generation: “Iceland police arrest suspected Bitcoin server thieves”.
Police in Iceland have arrested 11 people suspected of stealing more than 600 computers that were being used to mine crypto-currencies, reports AP.
The computers were stolen during four raids on data centres around Iceland.
The country is a popular location for data centres because almost 100% of the power generated there comes from renewable sources.
(19) THE OTHER JJ. ScreenRant says this JJ Abrams sketch was cut from Saturday Night Live for time.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Allen, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Niall McAuley.]
(1) PITCH IN. John Picacio calls for donations to help Mexicanx Initiative attendees afford travel to Worldcon 76.
While the initial Membership Fund is essentially “mission accomplished” because we fully funded 50 Attending Memberships, the Assistance Fund has been accepting separate monies since January, for helping Recipients with their travel, hotel and food needs because so many face an expensive, sometimes complex, journey. I’ve been doing that without going public, but as of today — anyone can give to The Fund, encouraging diversity and inclusion toward a stronger, more balanced sf/f field.
And here’s where you make it happen:
Your money will go directly to Worldcon’s Treasury. They will allocate it toward The Assistance Fund (different from the already-completed Sponsored Membership Fund). How will the Assistance Fund money be distributed to the Recipients? Every dollar will be given to the Recipients via Worldcon 76’s Registration Team at the convention in August, and will be distributed in equal portions. I suspect our south-of-the-border Mexicanx will receive the bulk of the funds, divided evenly amongst them. The north-of-the-border Mexicanx will receive the remainder, again divided evenly amongst them. No Assistance grants will be distributed until funding is completed, but 100% will go to our Membership Recipients at Worldcon 76.
This way, all will receive a share of assistance, but the south-of-the-border attendees will receive more than the north, which is what I want. In the coming weeks, I hope we can generate at least $15,000 to help these folks make their Worldcon dream come true, and from what I’m hearing, we already have $6000 toward that figure.
Make donations through Worldcon 76’s “Mexicanx Initiative Assistance Fund”.
This fund is to assist members sponsored via Guest of Honor John Picacio’s Mexicanx Initiative to cover their travel and lodging expenses. Worldcon 76 and SFSFC are managing this fund independently of the main Worldcon 76 budget as directed by Mr. Picacio.
(2) MARKET INFO. Parvus Press’ focused submission call for writers of color and indigenous persons — “Open Call: Writers of Color” continues until April 30, 2018 at midnight US Eastern Time. Managing editor John Adamus says:
Everyone should have a chance to see themselves in art, and not as caricature or as some demonized trope solely in the story to make some other character look better. Authorial voice and truth are what make stories passionate and dynamic expressions of the personal and the creative, and no one should ever feel like their voice and truth somehow aren’t worth making known.
I think one of the great creative crimes that we’re now really starting to prominently see reversed is the silencing and minimizing of authors and creators who aren’t the majority or who don’t identify along majority lines. All stories have the potential to affect and move other people, but only if they’re given equal space on shelves and in minds and hearts.
It is so important to me that Parvus Press be a place where the minority author find opportunity and that their voice and story not be relegated to the side or the back because of biases or differences. I’m proud to be able to work with all authors and see them succeed, no matter who they are or how they identify. Representation matters.
(3) HOPPER’S GENRE WORK. You recognize Nighthawks, but what came before that? Not sff, but what the heck. LitHub tells about “The Unlikely Pulp Fiction Illustrations of Edward Hopper”.
In the winter of 1956, Alexander Eliot, art critic for Time magazine, interviewed Edward Hopper for a cover feature on the painter’s roundabout path to fame. Intended to familiarize general audiences with the man behind classic paintings like Nighthawks and Early Sunday Morning, the resultant profile reads today like a paean to an American master. Eliot was taken with Hopper’s “unalterable reserve.” Presenting the artist as a frugal and unsentimental old man who often conflated self-effacement and self-flagellation, he painted his own portrait of a folksy messiah—a humble savant capable of rescuing American realism from a clique of “clattering egos.”
Given this messianic tilt, it’s not surprising that as Eliot broached Hopper’s early days as a commercial artist, he referred to the period as his “time in the desert.”
… Between March 1916 and March 1919, Hopper illustrated five issues for the publication. In these magazines, the famed realist—a man whose plaintive portraits and landscapes now sell for tens of millions of dollars—drew heading art for stories like “The Sourdough Twins’ Last Clean-Up,” “Snuffy and the Monster,” and “A Fish Story About Love.” Hopper enlivened these stories with images that ranged from amusing to maudlin. One illustration, perched above Holda Sears’ “The Finish,” shows an explorer in a life-and-death struggle with a man-sized python. Another, atop Hapsburg Liebe’s “Alias John Doe,” depicts two cowboys “tabletopping” a patsy—one of his subjects kneeling behind their victim while the other topples him over. Additional pictures portray rampaging apes, spear-wielding natives, and pioneers wearing coonskin caps.
(4) BURTON READS BRADBURY. Phil Nicols’ Bradburymedia naturally was first to spot “LeVar Burton Reads… Bradbury”.
LeVar Burton – Emmy and Grammy Award-Winning actor-director, and star of Star Trek – has a weekly podcast where he reads selected short stories. Think of it as PBS’ Reading Rainbow for adults! The most recent episode is a full reading of Ray Bradbury’s “The Great Wide World Over There”.
The production values are high in this series. Not just a straight reading of the story, the episode includes subtle sound effects and almost subliminal music cues. Burton performs each character distinctly – and the sound design separates the characters out from the narration, so that it almost sounds like a full cast dramatisation, but the cast is just LeVar alone.
(5) COMICS SECTION.
(6) GAME OF BREW. Ommegang Brewing has announced the final one of their Game of Thrones beers, Bend the Knee, which is coming out on Memorial Day with three different labels, so you can choose whether you want the Stark, Targaryen, or Lannister versions.
This is a beer that’s nine percent alcohol by volume, which is a lot! So it leads to a new definition of binge-watching: while you’re at home watching the show, you can binge AND watch at the same time!
(7) AND A SHIRT TO STEER ME BY. There can’t be many things left on his bucket list. This is one: “William Shatner Wants to Play a Red Shirt on ‘Star Trek'”.
Star Trek icon William Shatner has a surprising role on the top of his list of Star Trek characters he’d like to play who are not James T. Kirk.
I guess it technically doesn’t count that he died in a Trek movie wearing a red vest.
(8) CSI: FOREST. Unlike redshirts, red squirrels are the survivors in this forest: “Red squirrel numbers boosted by predator”.
This is according to scientists at the University of Aberdeen, who carried out an in-depth forensic study of the relationship between the three species.
The pine marten is a predator of the reds, but in areas where it thrives, the number of grey squirrels reduces.
…The journal study suggests that the pine martens reverse the “typical relationship” between red and grey squirrels, where the red always loses out, according to lead researcher Dr Emma Sheehy.
“Where pine marten activity is high, grey squirrel populations are actually heavily suppressed. And that gives the competitive advantage to red squirrels,” she said.
“So you see lots of red squirrels and you see them coming back into areas where they hadn’t been for quite some time.”
…Pine martens – cat-sized members of the weasel family – are gradually becoming re-established in parts of Scotland, after their near extinction in the UK.
They used to be trapped in large numbers by game-keepers, and also hunted for their fur, which was a valuable export from Scotland.
It is has been illegal to hunt the animals since the 1980s, and their numbers are now increasing.
(9) A BETTER SCARECROW. This should have been an entry on Shark Tank: “‘Super Monster Wolf’ a success in Japan farming trials”.
A robot wolf designed to protect farms has proved to be such a success in trials that it is going into mass production next month.
The “Super Monster Wolf” is a 65cm-long, 50cm-tall robot animal covered with realistic-looking fur, featuring huge white fangs and flashing red eyes, Asahi Television reports.
It’s been designed to keep wild boar away from rice and chestnut crops, and was deployed on a trial basis near Kisarazu City in Japan’s eastern Chiba prefecture last July.
When it detects an approaching animal, its eyes light up and it starts to howl, Asahi TV says.
(10) ROBERT MOORE WILLIAMS. Galactic Journey reviews an Ace Double issued 55 years ago — “[March 6, 1963] Generation Gap (Ace Double F-177)”. The Traveler wasn’t impressed with Robert Moore Williams’ side of the volume:
Robert Moore Williams was first published in the pre-Campbell days of Analog. He has since written more than a hundred stories for a variety of magazines, but his DNA was baked in the Golden Age of science fiction. The future world of The Star Wasps is an archaic, mechanistic one. Society simplistically hinges on the activities of a half-dozen people. There is a Resilient Woman Character whose primary role is to be the Love Interest. After the intriguing set-up, Wasps degenerates into a figurative car chase, with people running around and pulling levers until the enemy is defeated.
Robert Moore Williams was one of the first sf writers I personally met, and he was impressive for unapologetically calling himself a “hack” whose career depended on avoiding a too-literary style. As he would say: “I have to stink ‘em up just right.”
(11) RETRO OSCARS. Io9’s Germain Lussier makes his pitch for “12 Scifi Movies That Totally Deserved to Win Best Picture Before The Shape of Water”. Hells yeah, give cousin Judy an Oscar!
The Wizard of Oz
Even in 1939, the Academy acknowledged that The Wizard of Oz was a masterpiece. The movie got six nominations, including Best Picture, but only won statuettes for song and score. It probably would’ve had a better chance if it wasn’t up against Gone With the Wind. Still, The Wizard of Oz remains one of the most beloved films of all time regardless of genre, and would have been a worthy recipient of the biggest honor in movies.
(12) PORGS MEET TERPSICHORE. And while I’m talking about io9, I say bless them for pointing out this video:
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]
Compiled by Carl Slaughter:
Warning! This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Read at your own risk!
Star Trek: Discovery continued its Mirror Universe story arc on “The Wolf Inside,” and there were many reveals that surprised both Michael Burnham and fans of the entire franchise. Among other reveals, Star Trek fans got to see Mirror Sarek, who had a stylin’ goatee much like his son, Mirror Spock. The nod to the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” definitely didn’t escape fans, but there was one additional crazy reference that might have. The episode revealed that Mirror Spock, like Original Series Spock, also went against his father’s wishes, but in a way some fans should be thinking hard about….
- The Mystery of the Spore Drive
As noted in an earlier entry, Star Trek: Discovery has multiple starships with “spore drive,” a displacement-activated propulsion system that utilizes an organic mycelial network that exists throughout the universe in a subspace mycelial plane.
By integrating tardigrade DNA into a human host, the USS Discovery was able to use this genetically-modified “navigator” to successfully traverse the mycelial network and enable the ship to move across great distances instantaneously.
It’s curious, then, that the spore drive has never been mentioned anywhere else in the 50-plus years of Star Trek, even as a failed experiment….
According to “Star Trek: Discovery” co-showrunner Gretchen Berg, legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling is the reason why no major character dies in the season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery.”
“We worked on the original ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’” she told IndieWire, “And somebody was going to die or not going to die, and his attitude came back down that he didn’t want the person to die and I was like, ‘Why? Come on, that’s life!’”
TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
AARON HARBERTS | I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.
The “Star Trek” franchise has spent a lot of time developing concepts about alien physiology across its many shows and movies, but one longtime fan theory about Klingon sexual anatomy has never been confirmed. That is, until Sunday night’s “Star Trek: Discovery” season finale.
“Star Trek” shows like “The Next Generation” and “Voyager” have established that Klingons evolved numerous anatomical redundancies, including two livers, an eight-chambered heart, and two stomachs. Unsurprisingly, science fiction fans being what they are, Trekkers have long speculated that this means Klingons have two of everything. Yes, we mean speculated that they have two penises.
According to “DS9” showrunner Ira Steven Behr, the writers initially tried to make the show similar to other “Trek” series, but the results were not satisfying. Behr and David Zappone are co-directors of the documentary “What We Left Behind: Looking Back at ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’” The film, currently in post-production at Paramount, marks the series’ 25th anniversary and is slated for release in summer, 2018.
“We tried all these different types of things and none of them really seemed to work,” says Behr. “The standalone episodes just kind of bored the hell out of us for the most part. We were struggling. Then the episode that seemed to work at the end of season one had the double whammy of ‘Duet’ and ‘In the Hands of the Prophets.’ So by the end of season one, I felt that I had a handle on what the strength of this show was, which was building on this complicated backstory [creators] Michael [Piller] and Rick [Berman] had given the show.”
On December 8, news broke that Tarantino was in talks with Paramount Pictures to direct a new, potentially hardcore Star Trek project. Since then, the in-development film has purportedly hired Revenant scribe Mark L. Smith to write the script. And Frakes has one big reminder for the Tarantino project, should it actually materialize.
“Don’t forget the heart,” Frakes told Inverse in a phone interview. “Before you eat it, don’t forget the heart!” Though Frakes’s Star Trek: First Contact was considered a pretty brutal Trek movie when it was released in 1996, it still contains perhaps some of the most heartwarming scenes of hope and friendship in any Star Trek story ever. The Vulcans made contact with the human race, Picard learned to let go of his Captain Ahab rage, and Data admitted he only thought about betraying the Enterprise for like half a second.
The paper’s author, a biologist for 30 years and a fan of “Star Trek,” wrote up a research paper based on the “Voyager” episode. He submitted it to 10 open-access journals known or suspected of charging authors publication fees without providing the editorial services associated with legitimate journals, such as careful peer review and vetting of the paper’s claims. Four accepted it, though only one, the American Research Journal of Biosciences, published the paper.