The winners in the 24 competitive categories for the 2020 Audie Awards, including the Audiobook of the Year, were announced by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) on March 2.
The Audie Awards® recognize excellence in audiobook and spoken word entertainment.
At the Audie Awards® Gala a special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Stephen King.
Winners of genre interest include:
The Ten Thousand Doors of
Januaryby Alix E. Harrow, narrated by
January LaVoy, published by Hachette Audio
Emergency Skinby N.K. Jemisin, narrated by
Jason Isaacs, published by Brilliance Publishing
Full Throttleby Joe Hill, narrated by Zachary
Quinto, Wil Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew, Neil Gaiman, Ashleigh Cummings, Joe Hill,
Laysla De Oliveira, Nate Corddry, Connor Jessup, Stephen Lang, and George
Guidall, published by HarperAudio
The Instituteby Stephen King, narrated by Santino
Fontana, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
other winners are —
AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
Angels in America: A Gay
Fantasia on National Themesby
Tony Kushner, performed by Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Susan Brown, Denise
Gough, Beth Malone, James McArdle, Lee Pace, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Bobby
Cannavale, and Edie Falco, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Becoming,written and narrated by Michelle
Obama, published by Penguin Random House Audio
BEST FEMALE NARRATOR
Nothing to See Hereby Kevin Wilson, narrated by
Marin Ireland, published by HarperAudio
BEST MALE NARRATOR
Kingdom of the Blindby Louise Penny, narrated by
Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio
So You Want to Start a Podcast?, written and narrated by Kristen
Meinzer, published by HarperAudio
FAITH-BASED FICTION & NON-FICTION
How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim, narrated
by Tavia Gilbert, published by Oasis Audio
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated
by Blair Brown, published by Penguin Random House Audio
American Moonshotby Douglas Brinkley, narrated by
Stephen Graybill, published by HarperAudio
More Bedtime Stories for Cynicsby Kirsten Kearse, Gretchen
Enders, Aparna Nancherla, Cirocco Dunlap, and Dave Hill, narrated by Nick
Offerman, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Ellen Page, Jane Lynch, John Waters,
Anjelica Huston, Wendell Pierce, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Matt Walsh,
Nicole Byer, Harry Goaz, Aisling Bea, and Gary Anthony Williams, published by
LITERARY FICTION & CLASSICS
The Water Dancerby Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by
Joe Morton, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Charlotte’s Webby E.B. White, narrated by Meryl
Streep and a full cast, published by Penguin Random House Audio
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
The Chestnut Manby Søren Sveistrup, narrated by
Peter Noble, published by HarperAudio
NARRATION BY THE AUTHOR or AUTHORS
With the Fire on High, written and narrated by
Elizabeth Acevedo, published by HarperAudio
Grace Will Lead Us Homeby Jennifer Berry Hawes,
narrated by Karen Chilton and Jennifer Berry Hawes, published by Macmillan
Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar, narrated by
Nick Choksi, Harsh Nayaar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, and Rita Wolf,
published by Audible Originals
Devil’s Daughterby Lisa Kleypas, narrated by
Mary Jane Wells, published by HarperAudio
Hey, Kiddoby Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
narrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, Jenna
Lamia, and a full cast, published by Scholastic Audio
YOUNG LISTENERS (up to age 8)
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, written and narrated by Mo
Willems, published by Weston Woods
Boskone has a deaf attendee who would like to attend and providing ASL Interpreters is not in our budget. They have contracted to get their own ASL Interpreters at the cost of about $1200 for the one day they are attending. We are creating a GoFundMe to raise money, to first give to them to pay for the Interpreters, and second (if we raise more than this year’s Interpreters cost) to start a fund for future years should Interpreters be necessary again.
They’ve raised $573 of their $1200 goal as of this writing.
(2) NEXT RESNICK COLLECTION. UFO
Publishing will soon be releasing a Mike Resnick collection of Harry the Book
stories titled The
Hex is In: The Fast Life and Fantastic Times of Harry the Book: “Introducing:
The Hex is In”
This book will collect, for the first time, all fifteen Harry the Book stories Mike has written. These stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and magazines spanning a decade. Several of them were only published in the United Kingdom, and one has never been published anywhere at all.
…Harry the Book yarns are humorous fantasy set in the alternate version of New York where magic is real and fantastical creatures are commonplace. In fact, this is a shared setting with Mike’s Stalking the Unicorn series.
Harry the Book is a bookie who takes bets on everything from horse races to dancing contests to political campaigns. And — always — the hex is in. Unscrupulous magicians meddle with the odds forcing Harry and his motley crew (which includes a four-hundred-pound flunky, a six-foot-ten zombie, and a lovelorn wizard) to scramble, dealing with the consequences.
These stories are written in a unique voice–meant to emulate and pay tribute to Damon Runyon (author of Guys and Dolls and other stories). Runyon was the bard of the New York underbelly of the early 20th century, celebrating the hustlers, gamblers, and gangsters of the era.
…Carol Resnick, Mike’s wife who is a Runyon fan and for whom Mike wrote these stories, will pen the introduction.
(3) MORE REASONS TO VISIT THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT. Mythcon 51, the
gathering of the Mythopoeic Society, will be held July 31-August 3 in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. The theme will be The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien —
This year’s Mythcon theme provides multiple opportunities to explore the Other in fantasy and mythopoeic literature. Tolkien spoke in “On Fairy-stories” of “the desire to visit, free as a fish, the deep sea; or the longing for the noiseless, gracious, economical flight of a bird.” We invite discussion about the types of fantasy that are more likely to put us into contact with the alien, such as time portal fantasy and space travel fantasy. In addition to Inklings, some writers who deal particularly well with the truly alien who might be explored include Lovecraft, Gaiman, Le Guin, Tepper, and others….
Rivera Sun is the Author Guest of Honor:
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Roots of Resistance, and other novels. Her young adult fantasy series, the Ari Ara Series, has been widely acclaimed by teachers, parents, and peace activists for its blending of fantasy and adventure with social justice issues…. Rivera Sun’s essays have been published in hundreds of journals nationwide. She is a frequent speaker and presenter at schools, colleges and universities, where The Dandelion Insurrection has been taught in literature and political science courses. Rivera Sun is also the editor of Nonviolence News, an activist, and a trainer in making change with nonviolence. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice and have appeared in journals nationwide. She lives in an Earthship house in New Mexico.
David Bratman is the Scholar Guest of Honor:
His earliest contribution to the field was the first-ever published Tale of Years for the First Age, right after The Silmarillion was published. Since then he’s published articles with titles like “Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit Names Aren’t from Kentucky,” and “Liquid Tolkien” (on Tolkien and music). He’s been co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review since 2013, and has written or edited its annual “Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies” since 2004. David edited The Masques of Amen House by Charles Williams and contributed the bio-bibliographical appendix on the Inklings to Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep.
French fashion house Louis Vuitton made headlines last week with an eye-catching campaign for its Pre-Fall 2020 collection: A star-studden homage to pulpy genre paperbacks from the 1980s. In it, Léa Seydoux is menanced by a giant spider, Samara Weaving deals with a valentine from a werewolf, and Jaden Smith stares down a robot apocalypse.
The titles for the fake paperbacks were made up for the lookbook, but the art was not. It’s from veteran illustrators, and much of it was used on the covers of actual books from the same era.
The postage stamp looks like a postage stamp is supposed to look… But it’s not a postage stamp, not really, because its country of origin is Sealand—a metal platform about the size of a tennis court, off the English coast. Sealand is one of the quirky, strangely numerous states known as “micronations,” or self-proclaimed polities with no legal recognition. Some of them, to simulate legitimacy or at least make a little money, have issued their own flags, passports, coins, and yes, postage stamps.
Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago, who organized an exhibition at the 2020 Outsider Art Fair in New York of stamps from micronations and other dubiously defined places, believes that these tiny squares are more than a toss-off: They’re art, proof of imagination, and rather sophisticated bids for public recognition….
What’s the micronation stamp with the most interesting story?
I’m drawn to Celestia, the Nation of Celestial Space. James Thomas Mangan, founder of Celestia, registered the acquisition of “outer space” with the Recorder of Deeds and Titles in Cook County, Illinois, on January 1, 1949. Magnan laid claim to outer space to prevent any one country from establishing hegemony there. Later in 1949, he banned all atmospheric nuclear tests, and notified the United Nations of his decision.
(6) KELLY OBIT. Paula Kelly, the
actress, singer and dancer who starred in the film version of Sweet
Charity and earned an Emmy nomination for her turn on Night
Court, died February 9. She was 76. Kelly’s genre appearances included
The Andromeda Strain (1971), and
Soylent Green (1973).
Kelly was married to British director Donald Chaffey (One Million Years B.C.)
from 1985 until his death in 1990.
OBIT. Ron McLarty, the character actor who also became a published author thanks
to a rave from Stephen King, died February 8 at the age of
72, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I remember him as Detective
Frank Belson in Spenser
for Hire. His first onscreen role came in The
Sentinel (1977). He also was in Kevin Costner’s The
Postman (1997). However, it’s his audiobook work that really
drew him into the orbit of genre
McLarty was a leading audiobook narrator; since the 1990s, his 100-plus credits included work for such authors as King, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, Anne Rice, Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Scott Turow and George W. Bush.
In 2001, McLarty persuaded the small company Recorded Books to produce his third novel, The Memory of Running, directly onto tape as an audiobook. (The actor also narrated what is believed to be the first recorded audiobook of an unpublished novel.)
King heard it and loved the story — about a 43-year-old man who, after his parents die, takes a cross-country road trip on an old Raleigh bicycle to find his sister’s body — and in 2003 devoted one of his “The Pop of King” columns in Entertainment Weekly to it, calling Memory “the best book you can’t read.”
The endorsement sparked a bidding war among publishers that led to McLarty getting a reported $2 million from Penguin that included rights to release the novel in 2004 (and later two others) in the traditional way….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 11, 1970 — Hammer Films’ Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed premiered. Directed by Terrence Fisher, it starred Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. It was the fifth Hammer film that featured Baron Frankenstein. The screenplay was by Bert Batt, with the story written by Anthony Nelson Keys and Bert Batt. Critics thought it was one of the better Hammer films in quite some time, and it holds a sixty eight percent rating among the nearly three thousand who rated it over at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.
February 11, 1991 – Today is the 29th broadcast anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Clues” that Filer Bruce D. Arthurs wrote. (“Story by” Bruce, final teleplay credit shared with Joe Menosky.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 11, 1887 — Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. Russian writer of Polish extraction who John Clute likes a lot. His works are translated into English by Joanne Trumbull. Clute describe his short stories as “the extravagances of Absurdist SF and the generic opportunism of Fantastika”. And miracle of all miracles, he’s available at the usual digital sources including The Letter Killers Club which sounds amazing. (Died 1950.)
Born February 11, 1908 — Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr. He did several short stories with a Robert E. Howard, “Diogenes of Today”, “Eighttoes makes a play” and “ Red Blades of Black Cathay”. Donald M.Grant would publish them together in the Red Blades of Black Cathay collection. The title story originally appeared in Oriental Stories, an offshoot of Weird Tales. (Died 1984.)
Born February 11, 1910 — L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas. Sleep No More isavailable from Kindle. (Died 1974.)
Born February 11, 1915 — Pat Welsh. She was the voice of E.T. in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She was also the voice of Boushh in Return of the Jedi who Lucas hired because of her raspy voice which he thought gave the character an ambiguous voice. Those two films and Waterloo Bridge, a Forties film, are her entire acting career. (Died 1995.)
Born February 11, 1926 — Leslie Nielsen. I know the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.)
Born February 11, 1920 — Daniel F. Galouye. His work appeared in Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction In the Fifties and Sixties. He also wrote five novels including Simulacron-3 which was made into Roland Emmerich’s Thirteenth Floor. His first novel, Dark Universe was nominated for a Hugo but came in second at Chicon III to Stranger in a Strange Land. (Died 1976.)
Born February 11, 1939 — Jane Yolen, 81. She loves dark chocolate and I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance which her son Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on.
Born February 11, 1948 — Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are mostly popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.)
Born February 11, 1950 — Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott).
Born February 11, 1953 — Wayne Hammond, 67. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on him that’s been done including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide.
(11) PROXIMITY TO THE CORONA. [Item
by Jonathan Cowie.] It
is well known that Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother is alive and well in China what
with new mobile users having to have their face scanned and geo-positioned
etc. Now the State has turned this into an app that it is claimed
can help keep people safe from coronavirus: “China
launches coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app”.
China has launched an app that allows people to check whether they have been at risk of catching the coronavirus.
The ‘close contact detector’ tells users if they have been near a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus.
People identified as being at risk are advised to stay at home and inform local health authorities.
Until now, all the pictures of the sun have been straight-on head shots. Soon, scientists will be getting a profile.
NASA and the European Space Agency are set to launch a joint mission on Sunday to provide the first-ever look at the sun’s poles. Previous images have all been taken from approximately the same angle, roughly in line with the star’s equator.
…After the NASA/ESA probe called Solar Orbiter takes off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, it’ll use Venus and Earth’s gravity to propel itself outside that equatorial plane where all the planets in our solar system orbit the sun. Orbiter eventually will be able to look down onto the poles of the sun.
There are many reasons why scientists want to know more about the sun’s poles. They think the poles might be driving some important aspects of space weather throughout the solar system, which can impact spacecraft and even humans on Earth. “It has real world effects on our satellites, our GPS, our power grid and things like that,” McComas says.
NASA is at a critical juncture in its push to get people back to the moon by 2024, with key decisions expected within weeks.
This effort to meet an ambitious deadline set by the Trump administration last year faces widespread skepticism in the aerospace community, even as the new head of human spaceflight at NASA insists that it can succeed.No one has been to the moon since 1972, even though, back in 2004, then-President George W. Bush laid out several goals for NASA, including a “return to the moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions beyond.”
…In March of 2019, however, Vice President Pence announced that “it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.”
That would mean a remarkable speedup for NASA, which had been working toward a moon landing in 2028. In September, a member of Congress asked Ken Bowersox, who was the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, how confident he was that the U. S. would have boots on the moon by this new, earlier deadline.
“How confident?” Bowersox replied. “I wouldn’t bet my oldest child’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that.”
(15) ARSENAL OF THE FUTURE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, pays
a visit to Modern Props.
Star Trek! Men in Black! Blade Runner! Starship Troopers! Name your favorite sci-fi movie or TV show of the last forty years, and Modern Props has probably made some of the coolest things in it!
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, Karl-Johan Norén, Alex
Shvartsman, Lynn Maudlin, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael J. Walsh, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
(2) WITCHER THOUGHTS. Walter Jon Williams suspects if you cared you’ve already watched the series, thus the heading — “Reviews Too Late: Witcher”.
…Anyway, the Netflix series is based on a series of stories and novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, who I believe I met twenty years ago and found quite genial. I haven’t read any of his books, though I’ve played Witcher III: The Wild Hunt, which I recommend to any of you interested in action-oriented console RPGs.
The Witcher in The Witcher is Geralt of Rivia, who despite having long white hair, weird eyes, magical powers, “White Wolf” as a nickname, and a sword is not Elric of Melniboné, mainly because Geralt is actually useful in his world, and all Elric does is bring doom to everybody.
(3) HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY. Bill Murray is stuck in the loop
So is one of his good pals –
(4) ANOTHER SUPER AD. This cracked me up, too. Amazon’s “What
did we do before Alexa?”
“Would I love to reunite with some of those characters? Sure, I think that’d be great,” she says. “I don’t necessarily need to do a Voyager show again. I think that I’ve done that. But I’m not a writer. I can’t really tell you anything.
“I’m having a great time on Picard. It’s a very happy set. It’s a very relaxed set, which has been great. I didn’t have a phenomenal overall experience shooting Voyager. I don’t look back on that as a super fun four years for me, unfortunately, so to be revisiting this character in a more pleasant work experience is great.”
(7) HEAR A NOVEL OF THE YEAR. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting The Second Sleep as this
week’s book of bedtime (though the rate they are going through the book it will
last two weeks).
It is set in what at first appears to be in post-Tudor times but
soon (first couple of chapters) reveals itself to be in a future England
centuries hence following the fall of mankind.
Father Fairfax, a newly ordained priest has been sent by the Bishop of Exeter to the village of Addicott St George to bury Father Lacy who has recently died. But a mysterious figure appears at the funeral casting doubt on the accidental nature of the priest’s death.Fairfax soon discovers that Lacy had an unhealthy (sacraligious) interest in artefacts from before the fall. One of these was a communication device bearing the emblem of humanity’s sinful ways: an apple with a bite taken out of it…
MINIONS. But wait, there’s more! The full trailer for Minions: The Rise
of Gru, will debut worldwide on February 5, 2020.
This summer, from the biggest animated franchise in history and global cultural phenomenon, comes the untold story of one 12-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain, in Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Also known as “British Yorkshire Pudding
Day.” Note, the article includes a recipe.
Depending on who you ask, where you search, or how you
feel about it, Yorkshire Pudding and popovers either are or aren’t the same thing,
although they’re clearly related. Here’s some of those opinions (and more
Born February 2, 1882 — James Joyce. I’m including him on the Birthday list as ISFDB has a handful of his short stories and an excerpt from Ulysses listed as genre: “The Sisters”, “Everlasting Fire“, “Hell Fire”, “May Goulding”, “The Hero of Michan”, (an excerpt from Ulysses), “What Is a Ghost” and “The Cat and the Devil”. So who’s read these? (Died 1941.)
Born February 2, 1905 — Ayn Rand. Best known for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which is ISFDB lists as genre. Her works have made into films many times starting with The Night of January 16th based on a play by her in the early Forties to an animated series based off her Anthem novel. No, I really don’t care who John Galt is. (Died 1982.)
Born February 2, 1933 — Tony Jay. Oh, I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavors include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in ”Brisco for the Defense” (Died 2006.)
Born February 2, 1940 — Thomas M. Disch. Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.)
Born February 2, 1944 — Geoffrey Hughes. He played Popplewick aka The Valeyard in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”. Intriguingly he was also was the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine. (Died 2012.)
Born February 2, 1947 — Farrah Fawcett. She has a reasonably good SFF resume and she‘s been in Logan’s Run as Holly 13, and Saturn 3 as Alex. (Does anyone like that film?) She was also Mary Ann Pringle in Myra Breckinridge which might I suppose be considered at least genre adjacent. Or not. Series wise, she shows up on I Dream of Jeanie as Cindy Tina, has three different roles on The Six Million Man, and was Miss Preem Lila on two episodes of The Flying Nun. (Died 2009.)
Born February 2, 1949 — Jack McGee, 71. Ok, so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest to name some of his genre roles.
Born February 2, 1949 — Brent Spiner, 71. Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite movements of him as Data as I may or may appear on Picard. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen yet. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, Gargoyles, Young Justice, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Warehouse 13.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio turns Groundhog Day into a moment of terror. (In a totally different way than Bill Murray does it.)
(12) WIGGING OUT. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Today would have been Tom Disch’s 80th
birthday. Perhaps you’d enjoy these photos of him trying on wigs for GQ
John Carpenter‘s The Thing is, undoubtedly, a horror classic. If if you’ve never actually seen it—and shame on you if you haven’t, hypothetical person—you know at least one of the practical nightmares conjured up by the master. (The chest chomp? Come on.) But it turns out neither The Thing nor its 1951 predecessor The Thing From Another World were technically the full vision of author John W. Campbell Jr., who wrote the novella both films were based on, Who Goes There? That full vision would, in fact, be Frozen Hell, the novel-length version of Who Goes There? that was only unearthed in 2018, and Universal and Blumhoise reportedly plan to adapt into a feature film.
When you think of the Sundance Film Festival, it’s
usually associated with indie dramedies, coming-of-age stories, or intense or
quirky documentaries, but it’s also a showcase for insane horror madness and
unique sci-fi. Here’s the slate of genre pictures from this year – keep an eye
out for them sooner (or in some cases, later).
Films covered include:
PALM SPRINGS (Andy Samberg,
Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons)
DAYS (Winston Duke, Zazie
Beetz, Tony Hale, and Bill Skarsgård)
In a recent remake of a 2008 NASA video, planetary scientist James O’Donoghue shows what it would look like if all that water drained away, revealing the hidden three-fifths of Earth’s surface
And the YouTube introduction gives these details:
Three fifths of the Earth’s surface is under the ocean, and the ocean floor is as rich in detail as the land surface with which we are familiar. This animation simulates a drop in sea level that gradually reveals this detail. As the sea level drops, the continental shelves appear immediately. They are mostly visible by a depth of 140 meters, except for the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where the shelves are deeper. The mid-ocean ridges start to appear at a depth of 2000 to 3000 meters. By 6000 meters, most of the ocean is drained except for the deep ocean trenches, the deepest of which is the Marianas Trench at a depth of 10,911 meters.
(17) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. First, there’s Frozen 2
with alleged deleted scenes:
Then, “Society Debut,” where Bigfoot shows up at a snooty British party in 1918.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Scott
Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and
John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Steve Leavell.]
Michael Lee Aday, better known by his stage name “Meat Loaf,” is currently suing horror convention Texas Frightmare Weekend and its venue the Hyatt Regency DFW in Tarrant County, Texas. According to NBC 10:
(3) READ ALL ABOUT IT. SF2 Concatenation’s spring edition is now up.
Principal contents include:
4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?
Jeff Vandermeer’s Shriek: An Afterword. I loved the first Ambergris book, City of Saints and Madmen. I picked up Shriek next, and found it utterly incomprehensible and dull. Years later, I got the third book in the sequence, Finch, and loved it. I then gave Shriek another try, and it felt like a completely different book. I was astounded at myself for hating it the first time, and I’ve no idea why I bounced off it so hard.
(7) CAROL SERLING OBIT. Carol Serling, widow of Twilight
Zone’s Rod Serling and mother of author Anne Serling died
January 9 reports the Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin.
After the death of her husband, due to complications after heart surgery, Carol worked to keep Rod’s legacy alive.
In 1981, she launched the monthly “The Twilight Zone Magazine” and served as the publication’s editor from 1981 through 1989. She held the legal rights to Serling’s name and likeness. CBS owns the rights to the television series.
In 1994, two new episodes of the sci-fi television series were aired on CBS based on material found by Carol after Rod’s death and then sold to CBS. They aired in a two-hour special titled “Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics.”
That same year, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror theme park ride opened at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (then MGM Studio Theme Park) in Orlando, Florida, and Binghamton High School dedicated its arts program as the Rod Serling School of Fine Arts.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 14, 1954 — Riders To The Stars premiered. It was directed by Richard Carlson (who also stars) and Herbert L. Strock (who is uncredited for unknown reasons) and has the additional cast of William Lundigan, Martha Hyer, and Herbert Marshall. Riders to the Stars is the second film in Ivan Tors’ Office of Scientific Investigation trilogy, which was preceded by The Magnetic Monster and followed by Gog. All in all, reviewers considered it a quite unremarkable film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes though Amazon reviewers were kind to it. Fortunately you can judge for yourself as the film is here to watch.
January 14, 1959 — Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
January 14, 1976 — The Bionic Woman aired its first episode. A spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man, it starred Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. It run just three seasons, half of what the parent show ran. It on ABC, NBC and finally on CBS.
January 14, 1981 — Scanners premiered. Directed by David Cronenberg and produced by Claude Héroux, it starred Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane and Michael Ironside. Reviewers, with the exception of Ebert, generally liked it, and reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a healthy 64% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 14, 1924 — Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
Born January 14, 1943 — Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was. (Died 2009.)
Born January 14, 1948 — Carl Weathers, 72. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other SFF creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly comedy The Sasquatch Gang and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very not SFF.
Born January 14, 1949 — Lawrence Kasdan, 71. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Born January 14, 1957 — Suzanne Danielle, 63. A Whovian as she showed up as Agella in “The Destiny if The Daleks,“ a Fourth Doctor story. She was on the Hammer House of Horror series in the Carpathian Eagle” episode, and she’s also in Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected multiple times in different roles. To my knowledge, her only other SFF appearance was on the Eighties Flash Gordon film.
Born January 14, 1962 — Jemma Redgrave, 58. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who.
Born January 14, 1963 — Steven Soderbergh, 57. Though largely not a SFF person, he’s ventured into our ‘verse on occasion by directing such films as Solaris (which he also wrote), Nightwatch which he was the writer of, Contagion which he directed and The Hunger Games for which he was Second Unit Director. I’m tempted to call Kafka for which he was Director at least genre adjacent…
Born January 14, 1964 — Mark Addy, 56. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost followed by by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Games of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis.
Born January 14, 1990 — Grant Gustin, 30. The actor, known as Barry Allen aka the Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode on A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well the Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.
The two men accused of stealing and reselling more than $500,000 worth of rare books, maps and other artifacts from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh reached a plea deal Monday with prosecutors who agreed to drop most of the charges they faced.
…Gregory Priore, 63, of Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, was the archivist and manager of the library’s William R. Oliver Special Collections Room from 1992 until April 2017.
The room held a collection of rare books, maps and other items worth millions. Priore was accused of stealing the items from the library and selling them to John Schulman, 56, of Squirrel Hill, who owns the Caliban Bookshop in Oakland.
Among the items that were stolen was a 400-year-old Bible printed in London. It was recovered in April 2019 in the Netherlands as part of the criminal investigation.
Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam.
One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its “chest”. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads.
“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”
When Lai was certain of her win on Saturday, she took to Facebook at 8 p.m. to write: ” Hello friends, I am Lai Pinyu, lawmaker of New Taipei City’s 12th District. Please give me your feedback over the next four years.” In her post, Lai included a photo of herself dressed as Sailor Mars from the “Sailor Moon” Japanese manga series, gaining her 30,000 likes, 2,800 comments, and 2,200 shares within 12 hours.
I don’t want to talk about Blood Heir without acknowledging the route this book took to publication. Originally scheduled for release the beginning of 2019, the book was delayed after numerous ARC readers identified significant sensitivity issues with an aspect of the plot and characters. Blood Heir deals in some depth with the concept of indenture, with marginalised characters in the place where the book is set at high risk of being forced to sign work contracts which leave them effectively in slavery. In original ARCs, the story’s depictions of race provoked strong concerns about how the story came across in the context of historic Black slavery in the USA. In response, author Amélie Wen Zhao delayed the book, revisited in the context of her original intent – to explore concepts of indenture with real-world parallels in Asian countries – and has now released the book, as of late November, satisfied that it did so. Having never read the original ARC, I don’t know how much changed before publication, and I should be clear that I’m white and, as a non-American, less likely to pick up cues that would read “chattel slavery” to US audiences – so I’m not going make claims about whether Blood Heir is now “fixed”, other than to note I didn’t pick up anything other than the author’s intended parallels in my own reading. However, from where I stand it feels like Blood Heir’s delayed, revised publication is an example of sensitivity reading going right, albeit late in the process and therefore more loudly and messily than might have occurred if concerns had been raised earlier. People were right to raise concerns. Zhao was right to listen and use those concerns to revisit her intended, ownvoices, message. I hope and suspect the book is stronger for it.
Science fiction writers often have to deal with things on a very large scale. Whether they take readers across vast reaches of space, or into unimaginably far futures, they frequently look at time and the universe through giant telescopes of imagination, enhancing their vision beyond ordinary concerns of here and now.
(This is not to say anything against more intimate kinds of imaginative fiction, in which the everyday world reveals something extraordinary. A microscope can be a useful tool for examining dreams as well.)
A fine example of the kind of tale that paints a portrait of an enormous universe, with a chronology reaching back for eons, appears in the latest issue of Worlds of Tomorrow, from the pen of a new, young writer.
Can you remember
when Larry Niven was a “new, young writer”?
Scientists analysing a meteorite have discovered the oldest material known to exist on Earth.
They found dust grains within the space rock – which fell to Earth in the 1960s – that are as much as 7.5 billion years old.
The oldest of the dust grains were formed in stars that roared to life long before our Solar System was born.
A team of researchers has described the result in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When stars die, particles formed within them are flung out into space. These “pre-solar grains” then get incorporated into new stars, planets, moons and meteorites.
“They’re solid samples of stars, real stardust,” said lead author Philipp Heck, a curator at Chicago’s Field Museum and associate professor at the University of Chicago.
OF THE DAY. In
“I Have A Secret: Another Bite” on Vimeo, Michael Sime
introduces us to a guy who DOES have room for dessert in a restaurant.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse
Wooster, Cliff Ramshaw, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day BGrandrath.]
Countless characters from Stephen King‘s lexicon of horror works have shrunk down to Funko Pop! vinyl form, from The Shining‘s “Here’s Johnny” Jack Torrance to It‘s Pennywise the shape-shifting clown. Now, King himself joins the list of auteurs immortalized in plastic.
Funko unveiled the acclaimed author in toy form on Monday through two new figures. One is a more standard King, dressed in black and holding a book. The other pays homage to two of his literary creations.
…King joins the likes of fellow author-to-Funko figures George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), Dr. Seuss, and Edgar Allen Poe (“The Raven”).
SUM OF ITS PARTS. Adam Roberts thinks “The
Fix-Up” novel’s importance to sff as been underestimated.
…But my suggestion, which, come the Greek kalends, I’ll write up into a proper academic paper, is this: the ‘fix-up’ has had a much larger, perhaps even a shaping, effect on the entire later development of SF than is realised. I don’t just mean those occasional SF novels today that are made up of discrete elements tessellated: Simmons’s Hyperion say, or Jennifer Egan’s Visit From the Goon Squad—it’s also in the way TV shows like Doctor Who or Star Trek assemble mega-texts out of lots of short-story-ish discrete elements, something (as per the MCU) increasingly mimicked by cinema. Only die-hard fans read new SF short stories today, but the form of the short story feeds directly into contemporary SF in several key ways. Speaking for myself, I find these formal possibilities really interesting: the jolting dislocation of it, the quasi-modernist experimentation; textual tessellation but in a pulp, populist idiom. That’s entirely my bag.
This is how Psycho operates—by outlining rules beforehand, it seems to promise to play by them. All of Psycho’s advance press materials were designed to manipulate audiences. The rules that Hitchcock set for watching it acted as extra-cinematic devices that would help further jolt audiences. Psycho breaks every rule it sets up. It doesn’t stick to a single genre (it goes from realistic crime story to psychological thriller to murder mystery). It kills its main character. Its main villain turns out not to exist. The character who takes over the plot is revealed to have been taken over by another force, a long time ago.
(5) WARTIME SERVICE. Rob Hansen has added a photo gallery to
his fanhistory site THEN that shows British fans in uniform from WWII.
Arthur C. Clarke and Terry Jeeves are in the mix: “WWII:
BRITISH FANS IN THE FORCES”.
Are you ready to see Judi Dench as a cat wearing a gangster-sized fur coat?
The new “Cats” trailer released Tuesday delivers such epic Dench moments, more Taylor Swift shimmying as Bombalurina and plenty of new jokes, thanks to the internet.
“Tonight is a magical night where I choose the cat that deserves a new life,” Dench’s Old Deuteronomy ominously intones.
“Judi Dench giving us @JLo in Hustlers,” tweeted Marc Malkin of The Hollywood Reporter, sharing an image of Dench in a full fur (on fur) coat.
(7) MANDALORIAN RECAP. Dean E.S. Richard warns you before
the spoilers begin in his column “Mondays on Mandalore: A New New Hope” at Nerds
of a Feather. Before he gets that far, Richard says —
…Going back to its roots, back in the actual New Hope days, that is what Star Wars is. Even amidst galactic conflict and high stakes, there is silliness and, well, life.
All of this is to say that The Mandalorian is Star Wars. There are tons of moments that make you laugh – even at its most tense. The stakes don’t seem high, at least until the end of the first episode, even for our helmeted protagonist. In my semi-humble opinion, that is where stories are the best – we know the Mandalorian himself will survive, but what will that cost?
Each of these images comes from Adobe Stock. If I broke down the monthly fee for a subscription, we’re talking about my having spent approximately $5 per image. When you consider how much a lot of authors pay for covers, that’s nothing. The fonts are all open source or free to use. Yes, the font work and text placement needs work. These are mock-ups to see if I liked what I was doing. That means there will be changes before the books go live.
Here’s the thing. Over the last couple of years, I’ve discovered a couple of things where book covers are concerned. First, it is important to review your covers every year or two. You need to see if they are still cuing genre and sub-genre properly. In other words, are they in line with what newer books are doing?
With so many action sequences to pack in, an entire system to liberate, and the overall arc with the Axiom to tie up, it’s almost inevitable that the ending of The Forbidden Stars gets a bit rushed. There’s nothing particularly unsatisfying about the events that transpire, but once things kicked off for the finale I found myself looking sceptically at the number of pages I had left to go, and one character in particular gets the short end of the stick when it comes to revealing their ending.
As the name implies, Third Rock Radio is a radio station that plays rock music. The “third rock” thing is a nod to Earth being the third planet from the Sun. The station plays a variety of rock tunes that often have some casual link to science or space. Basically, if a rock song has “Moon,” “Sky,” or “Rocket” in the title, it’s going to get played.
… NASA’s promotion of the station, on the other hand, has obviously been lacking. Even the promo video for the station has a mere 50k views despite being published over four years ago.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 19, 1919 — Alan Young. He was David Filby and James Filby in The Time Machine. He was Stanley Beamish, the original lead in the unaired pilot of the 1967 Mr. Terrific series. It’s not the DCU character as the latter will not be created until 1997. And he was the voice of Scrooge McDuck for over thirty years, first in the Mickey’s Christmas Carol short (1983) and in various other films, series and even video games up to his death. (Died 2016.)
Born November 19, 1924 — William Russell, 94. He played the role of companion Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who, from the show’s first episode in the end until the next to the last of the second season when the Companions change. Yes, I know the “Unearthly Child” was the unused original pilot. He’s continued the role to the present at Big Finish. And yes, he’s in An Adventure in Space and Time.
Born November 19, 1936 — Suzette Haden Elgin. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association and is considered an important figure in the field of SFF constructed languages. Both her Coyote Jones and Ozark Trilogy are most excellent. Wiki lists songs by her that seem to indicate she might’ve been a filker as well. Mike, of course, has a post on her passing and life here. (Died 2015)
Born November 19, 1953 — Robert Beltran, 66. Best known for his role as Commander Chakotay on Voyager. Actually, only known for that role. Like so many Trek actors, he’ll later get involved in Trek video fanfic but Paramount has gotten legalistic so it’s called Renegades and is set in the Confederation, not the Federation.
Born November 19, 1955 — Sam Hamm, 64. He’s best known for the original screenplay (note the emphasis) with Warren Skaaren for Burton’s Batman and a story for Batman Returns that was very much not used. He also wrote the script for Monkeybone. Sources, without any attribution, say he also wrote unused drafts for the Fantastic Four, Planet of the Apes and Watchmen films. And he co-wrote and executive produced the M.A.N.T.I.S.series with Sam Raimi.
Born November 19, 1961 — Meg Ryan, 58. I won’t say she’s been in a lot of SFF films but overall she’s been in some really great ones. There’s Amityville 3-D which we’ll ignore but that was followed by the terrific Innerspace and that segued into Joe Versus the Volcano. City of Angels I’ve not seen but it sounds intriguing. Kate & Leopold is just plain charming. Oh, and she was the voice of the villain Dr. Blight for several seasons on Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Born November 19, 1963 — Terry Farrell, 56. She’s best known for her role as Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine. She too shows up as cast on Renegades that Beltran is listed in. She’s got some other genre roles such as Joanne ‘Joey’ Summerskill in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and Allison Saunders in Deep Core. Interestingly she played the character Cat in the American pilot of Red Dwarf.
So it really looks like UK based Phoenix Conventions (and their parent company KJ Events) may truly be dead. We think. We’d be shocked if they aren’t at this point. Probably. Let me explain.
Yesterday we were forwarded a tweet from twitter user QuickInSilvr which declared that the company was filing for bankruptcy. While we haven’t been able to independently verify that claim, the company has entirely blanked out both their Phoenix Conventions and KJ Events websites. While the Facebookpages are still up, the Phoenix Conventions and KJ Events Twitter accounts have also been deleted.
At the time that Hugo voting had ended, I had read four of them, and voted on that basis. (I had not yet read any Harry Potter and did not feel inclined to read through the series, I would feel different several years later) 2000 was about the first time I started to dip my toes into getting review copies, but it would be many more years before I got my “break” in that regard. I fondly remember getting an ARC of Darwin’s Radio, it was quite the surprise and delight.
Russia’s new Vostochny space centre has lost at least 11bn roubles (£133m; $172m) through theft and top officials have been jailed.
So what went wrong with President Vladimir Putin’s pet project?
Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee (SK) says it is handling 12 more criminal cases linked to theft in this mega-project, which Mr Putin sees as a strategic priority for Russia, because of its huge commercial potential.
The longest jail term handed down so far was 11-and-a-half years for Yuri Khrizman, former head of state construction firm Dalspetsstroy.
Prof Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), told the BBC the Vostochny scandal highlighted the scale of corruption in Mr Putin’s huge state bureaucracy.
“How can you deal with it without declaring war on your own elite? He’s not prepared to do that. This dependency on mega-projects almost invariably creates massive opportunities for embezzlement,” Mr Galeotti said.
Polymaths excel in multiple fields. But what makes a polymath – and can their cross-discipline expertise help tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges?
If it weren’t for an actress and a pianist, GPS and WiFi might not exist.
In the late 1930s and early 40s, Hedy Lamarr was the already the toast of Hollywood, famed for her portrayals of femme fatales. Few of her contemporaries knew that her other great passion was inventing. (She had previously designed more streamlined aeroplanes for a lover, the aviation tycoon Howard Hughes.)
Lamarr met a kindred spirit in George Antheil, however – an avant-garde pianist, composer and novelist who also had an interest in engineering. And when the pair realised that enemy forces were jamming the Allied radio signals, they set about looking for a solution. The result was a method of signal transmission called ‘frequency-hopping spread spectrum’ (patented under Lamarr’s married name, Markey) that is still used in much of today’s wireless technology.
It may seem a surprising origin for ground-breaking technology, but the story of Lamarr and Antheil fits perfectly with a growing understanding of the polymathic mind.
Besides helping to outline the specific traits that allow some people to juggle different fields of expertise so successfully, new research shows that there are many benefits of pursuing multiple interests, including increased life satisfaction, work productivity and creativity.
Most of us may never reach the kind of success of people like Lamarr or Antheil, of course – but the research suggests we could all gain from spending a bit more time outside our chosen specialism.
…As David Epstein has also reported in his recent book Range, influential scientists are much more likely to have diverse interests outside their primary area of research than the average scientist, for instance. Studies have found that Nobel Prize-winning scientists are about 25 times more likely to sing, dance or act than the average scientist. They are also 17 times more likely to create visual art, 12 times more likely to write poetry and four times more likely to be a musician.
I have to admit, if you tell me to go read a book about forensics, I am not going to be excited. I don’t know why, but while that sort of thing may interest others, it does almost nothing for me. So, going into this, I read this book because of the poison, not because of the forensics.
That being said, holy crap was it interesting. The chapters are broken up by poisons, and the author tells readers how the poisons were used, some specific cases of said poisoning/incidents, and how this incident transpired and impacted the evolution of NYC’s forensic medicine, and all of this happened during prohibition.
So, selling points: prohibition, poisonings, forensics.
(19) FIRST CONTACT. [Item by Carl Slaughter.] When dealing with little green men,
sending and receiving signals involves a relatively simple technological
achievement — harnessing radio waves. Making first contact with an extraterrestrial, or
them making first contact with us, initiates what will prove to be a very
challenging conversation. “Language
is all based on culture and requires a common frame of reference. If you told an alien, ‘I’m taking an Uber to buy
some coffee at Starbucks,’ you’d have to explain what Uber is, then explain
what a car is, then explain what the Internet is, what a phone is, an app,
coffee, Starbucks, stores, the monetary system. All stuff that is intuitive to modern humans. Translating the words of an extra terrestrial
civilization is just the first step. Understanding what they’re saying is the more
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ,
John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day Paul Weimer.]
…As the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, I’m constantly critiquing fiction in our online classes or in-person workshops, and I’ve come to realize how important flow is to a story. A story may have an exciting plot, compelling characters, a fascinating world, and a clear style, but without flow, we’ll be struggling to reach the end.
What is flow? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that, when applied to composition or speech, to flow is “To glide along smoothly, like a river.” So a story with flow is one that carries the reader ahead smoothly and effortlessly. That describes the sensation we may feel when reading a story with flow, but what techniques can we use to write stories with flow?
…She loved SF. She loved fandom. But there were a lot of folks in fandom who could make her regret her passion. This isn’t to say there weren’t good people around, trying to help her whenever they could. Kelly-Freas once told her, “It’s a CRIME you’re not working as a pro!” But for most of her professional years she worked as a legal secretary or administrative assistant in various law offices.
(3) SOUL. Disney Pixar just dropped a teaser trailer for Soul,
to be released next June.
“Soul” introduces Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz. “I think Joe is having that crisis that all artists have,” says Powers. “He’s increasingly feeling like his lifelong dream of being a jazz musician is not going to pan out and he’s asking himself ‘Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing?’ Joe personifies those questions.” In the film, just when Joe thinks his dream might be in reach, a single unexpected step sends him to a fantastical place where he’s is forced to think again about what it truly means to have soul. That’s where he meets and ultimately teams up with 22, a soul who doesn’t think life on Earth is all it’s cracked up to be. Jamie Foxx lends his voice to Joe, while Tina Fey voices 22. “The comedy comes naturally,” says Murray. “But the subtle emotion that reveals the truth to the characters is really something special.”
(4) WORTHY OF THEIR HIRE. Ann VanderMeer exhorts people to
“Pay the writer” (and other creatives). Thread starts here.
“You have got a boy mixed of most kindly elements, as perhaps Shakespeare might say. His rapidly and clearly working mind has not in the least spoiled his character,” a school principal wrote at the end of the nineteenth century to the mother of a lanky quiet teenager who would grow up to be the great English astronomer Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (December 28, 1882–November 22, 1944) and who would catapult Albert Einstein into celebrity by confirming his relativity theory in his historic eclipse expedition of May 29, 1919….
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 10, 1919 — National Book Week was first observed in the United States.
November 10, 1966 — Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Manuever” first aired. It was written by Jerry Sohl who also wrote who wrote for The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits. It starred Clint Howard as Balok, Walker Edmiston as the voice of Balok and Ted Cassidy (Lurch) as the voice of the Balok puppet.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 10, 1889 — Claude Rains. Though you’ll likely remember him for another film, he did a lot of genre acting with his first feature role was being that of Dr. Jack Griffin, better known as The Invisible Man. He also was in The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, Scrooge, The Adventures of Robin Hood,The Lost World, and Battle of the Worlds. (Died 1967.)
Born November 10, 1924 — Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space,This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”. (Died 2014.)
Born November 10, 1932 — Roy Scheider. First genre role was as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre. The Jaws films are obviously genre as well. (Died 2008.)
Born November 10, 1943 — Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day that he announced Milt’s unexpected passing, OGH did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
Born November 10, 1946 — Jack Ketchum. Winner of four Bram Stoker Awards, he was made a World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre. Oh, and he wrote the screenplays for a number of his novels, all of which he quite naturally performed in. (Died 2018.)
Born November 10, 1948 — Steven Utley. Best known for his short stories of which he had two series, the first being his Silurian tales (collected in two volumes, The 400-Million-Year Itch and Invisible Kingdoms), and his time travel stories have been collected in Where or When. The Silurian tales Are available on iBooks and Kindle, Where or When isn’t either place. (Died 2013.)
Born November 10, 1955 — Roland Emmerich, 64. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here but he’s very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay so bravo for him! Now back to his genre credits. The Noah’s Ark Principle was in ‘84 by him written and directed by Roland Emmerich as his thesis after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München. Moon 44 followed which likely most of you haven’t seen but now we get to his Hollywood films, to wit Universal Soldier, The High Crusade (yes the Poul Anderson novel), Stargate, Independence Day.. no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at historic event.
Born November 10, 1955 — Clare Higgins, 64. Her genre film appearances include Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and The Golden Compass. She was Miss Cackle on the Worst Witch series, and had a memorable role on Doctor Who as Ohila, the High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn, that started off with the War Doctor and the Eighth Doctor going through the Twelfth Doctor.
Born November 10, 1960 — Neil Gaiman, 59. Summarizing him is nigh unto impossible so I won’t beyond saying that his works include Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, the Sandman series, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. As for film, I think the finest script he did is his “Day of The Dead” one for Babylon 5, not his Doctor Who scripts. The animated Coraline is I think the most faithful work of one of his novels, the Neverwhere series needs to be remade with decent CGI and the less said about Stardust the better. My first encounter with him was reading the BBC trade paper edition of Neverwhere followed by pretty much everything else he did until the last decade or so when I admit I stopped reading him, but I still remember those early novels with great fondness. I even read the Good Omens film script that he and Pratchett wrote.
Born November 10, 1963 — Hugh Bonneville, 56. He’s here because he was Captain Avery in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “The Curse of the Black Spot” and “A Good Man Goes to War”. Which is not to say that he hasn’t done other genre work as he has as he’s got appearances on Da Vinci’s Demons, Bonekickers, Bugs and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Born November 10, 1971 — Holly Black, 48. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer & illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy. Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her.
The boss of robotics company Boston Dynamics has confessed he once nudged his one-year-old daughter over to work out how people balance.
A YouTube video of Marc Raibert’s humanoid robot Atlas remaining upright while being poked with hockey sticks has 34 million views.
He no longer knocked his robots over just to show people they could get themselves back up again, he said.
But when he had done so, it was because he had felt like a “proud parent”.
“In fact, I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old, knocking her over, getting some grief,” he told BBC News, at Web Summit in Lisbon.
“She was teetering and tottering and learning to balance and I just wanted to see what would happen. But we’re still good pals.”
(10) THAT STAR WARS ICE CREAM. Martin Morse
Wooster writes, “I had the Star Wars Breyers ice
cream. Silly me. It combines generic vanilla, generic chocolate and
some sort of crumble in the chocolate. It’s not very good.”
Ideal for Seekers in training, this is the golden snitch drone based on the classic Quidditch ball from the Harry Potter series. Just like its film counterpart, it can hover in place and flies away if you try to catch it via built-in proximity sensors that detect motion from a hand or foot. The heliball can also be controlled using an included remote that lets you set the speed and altitude. Copter charges via included USB cable; remote uses one button cell battery (included). Ages 8 and up.
(13) UP YOU LIGHTEN. There’s also a Yoda
Table Lamp to chase away the dark side….
This is the lamp that illuminates a room with Jedi Master wisdom. Its cold-cast bronze base captures a meticulously detailed sculpture of Yoda—emblematic of his pose displayed in The Empire Strikes Back as he imparted his knowledge of the Force to an impatient and ambitious Luke Skywalker. A textured cloth lampshade enhanced with golden lining displays the classic quote “Do, or do not there is no try” bisected by the Jedi Order logo. Ideal for padawans and Jedi Knights alike, the lamp saves one from the dark side with an included energy efficient bulb.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day
(1) STAR WARS FAN. Craig Miller’s book, Star Wars Memories is now available in paperback
and as an eBook on Amazon.
Craig Miller was the original Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, working on “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. As part of that, he was a publicist, a writer, an editor, and a producer. He wrote press material and articles, created and ran the Official Star Wars Fan Club, oversaw a staff who opened and responded to the seeming tons of fan mail the films received, worked with licensees, created a telephone publicity stunt that accidentally shut down the state of Illinois’ phone system, was the producer on projects ranging from episodes of “Sesame Street” to commercials for Underoos (“underwear that’s fun to wear”), operated R2-D2, and spent weeks hanging out on the set of “The Empire Strikes Back”. “…It’s a book of stories you haven’t heard before; an insider’s look from someone who, himself, is a fan and found the whole experience joyful and exciting. These stories are told in a way that brings you in and makes you feel like you were there.”
(2) HOWLING AGAIN. Jim Freud’s long-running sff-themed radio
show “Hour of the Wolf” on New York station WBAI was one of the casualties when
Pacifica closed the station down, claiming
the non-for-profit could no longer support WBAI and its multimillion-dollar
debt. But a state court ruling has restored power to the people, so to speak: “‘A
victory for free speech’: WBAI is back on air” – the Brooklyn Daily
Eagle has the story.
… Until Nov. 6, Pacifica had only complied with half of the ruling, keeping WBAI staffers on payroll. But after New York State Supreme Court Judge Melissa Crane ruled in favor of WBAI Wednesday, the Brooklyn-based station finally regained control of its own programming….
One of the first programs back on air, White said, was the station’s science fiction talk show, “Hour of the Wolf.” Shortly after the shutdown, the show’s host Jim Freund vowed in an interview with the Eagle that he would dedicate his first show back to fielding questions from listeners about the shutdown.
And that’s exactly what he did, White said. “We have a lot of work to do in dispelling some of the misinformation that’s out there,” he said.
(3) MORE CHIZINE INFORMATION. Some deeper dives into ChiZine’s
finances amplify things learned from the last two days’ revelations.
… A publisher does not get every amount of grant money they vie for. BUT, in a year where you get OAC and Canada Council for the Arts block operating grants you can pull in something close to $60,000. CZP also vied for the OMDC Book Fund, though as far as I know was not successful in that aim – you know, that fund they kept promising I could get paid out of if they acquired it. They later sought additional aid from the OMDC (unsuccessfully as I recall, though others can speak to what happened after I left in 2015). I don’t know that CZP ever got Toronto Arts Council block operating grants. Though I know they were looking to apply at various points. But your revenue has to be up over $100,000/year as a threshold. I don’t know that CZP ever hit that.
I recall a lot of the numbers because, along with others, wrote a lot of those arts council grant and other granting body applications. It was shared work. And multiple grant applications were successful.
CZP also applied for, and on different fronts and in different years received, project-based operating grants for both the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, and the annual SpecFic Colloquium conference. And sought funds over the years for the CZP/Rannu Fund fiction contest (though I could not tell you without more digging into my emails whether that ever got grants).
All of these grants, block operating and project-specific, require as part of ther fulfillment that publishers publicly disclose and acknowledge receipt of funds or face violation of terms, and the CCA, OAC, and TAC may request return of dispersed funds. That’s easy to do with books – you put the acknowledgement on the colophon page, which CZP did. But CZP wasn’t always so great with doing that around the other projects..
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has written about the CZP news from the viewpoint of operating her own small press. She also touches on one of the less obvious motives for CZP writers to stay silent. Thread starts here.
Bracken MacLeod makes the case in a Facebook post that an ethical publisher should allocate sales and place the portion representing author royalties into a separate escrow account that cannot be reached for the operating expenses of their press. He models this on how attorneys are required to handle client funds (by their professional ethical code, and in some jurisdictions, by law).
Lucy A. Snyder is another writer who has pulled a story from a ChiZine project:
The screen history of Stephen King adaptations has for decades couched a peculiar irony: Namely, that of the dozens and dozens of films that have been produced from his work — many of them not-so-great — the author famously detested the most revered, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining.
…Over time, images from Kubrick’s The Shining have so dominated the culture that King’s efforts to redirect the public to the source, including the sequel novel Doctor Sleep, have fallen under its shadow. Director Mike Flanagan’s new adaptation represents near-total capitulation, lifting many of Kubrick’s familiar visual and aural cues to continue the story of Danny Torrance, the child whose psychic sensitivities are referred to as “the shining.”
Flanagan proved a gifted steward of King’s Gerald’s Game, a seemingly unadaptable book he pulled off for Netflix, and he has borrowed from Kubrick’s film with the author’s blessing. By King’s apparent calculation, it’s the finer points that count.
To that end, King and Flanagan have restored the legacy of alcoholism in the Torrance family, which ignited Jack’s madness like gasoline to flame, and has been passed along to a now-middle-aged Dan. In Dan’s case, however, alcohol muffles the traumas of the past and the voices that still echo in his head through his extrasensory perception.
Played by a sad-eyed Ewan McGregor, Dan is a loner who has bused his way to small-town New Hampshire on the modest hope of a steady job, a small apartment and a path to recovery. And he finds it, too, going a full eight years as a sober contributor to society. He even discovers the perfect application of his unique talent, sitting bedside at a hospice center and gently guiding patients into the hereafter.
But from there, Doctor Sleep gets complicated. Around the time the Torrances were battling ghosts in the Overlook Hotel, a hippieish death cult called the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), were traveling across the country, recruiting new members and feasting on the psychic energy (called “the steam”) of people like Danny. “The steam,” passed around and inhaled like pot smoke, gives Rose and company immense power and eternal life, and those with the shining radiate to them like a beacon of light. It’s only a matter of time before they catch up with Dan, but he finds an ally in Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teenager who shines just as brightly.
(5) CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT — ER. Universal
Pictures has dropped a trailer for The Invisible Man, in theaters
What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 8, 1847 — Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you wrote that he other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence Stoker. (Died 1912.)
Born November 8, 1898 — Katharine Mary Briggs. British folklorist and author who wrote A Dictionary of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures , and the four-volume Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, and the Kate Crackernuts novel. Her The Anatomy of Puck: An Examination of Fairy Beliefs among Shakespeare’s Contemporaries and Successors is fascinating read. (Died 1980.)
Born November 8, 1914 — Norman Lloyd, 105. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the Seven Days series. He’s been on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Get Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb filmand The Twilight Zone, and in a fair of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow.
Born November 8, 1932 — Ben Bova, 87. His more than one hundred and twenty books have won six Hugo Awards. He’s a former editor of Analog, along with once being editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out recently in three volumes. What’s your favourite book by him?
Born November 8, 1952 — Alfre Woodard, 67. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles.
Born November 8, 1956 — Richard Curtis, 63. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl. And he directed Blackadder.
Born November 8, 1968 — Parker Posey, 51. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it? She was in a film based on based on Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well.
Born November 8, 1972 — Gretchen Mol, 47. Dr. Agatha Matheson in the Nightflyers series off Martin’s novel. Canceled after a single season. Annie Norris In Life on Mars which also made it but a single season. She’s also in The Thirteenth Floor, a genre crime thriller where she plays two roles, Natasha Molinaro and Jane Fuller.
A British historian famously wrote that work expands to fill available time – but what was he actually saying about inefficiency?
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” British naval historian and author Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote that opening line for an essay in The Economist in 1955, but the concept known as ‘Parkinson’s Law’ still lives on today.
…But what fewer people know is that Parkinson’s original intent was not to take aim at old lady letter-writers or journalists like me, but at a different kind of inefficiency – the bureaucratisation of the British Civil Service. In his original essay he pointed out that although the number of navy ships decreased by two thirds, and personnel by a third, between 1914 and 1928, the number of bureaucrats had still ballooned by almost 6% a year. There were fewer people and less work to manage – but management was still expanding, and Parkinson argued that this was due to factors that were independent of naval operational needs.
Get more subordinates, create more work
One scholar who has taken a serious look at Parkinson’s Law is Stefan Thurner, a professor in Science of Complex Systems at the Medical University of Vienna. Thurner says he became interested in the concept when the faculty of medicine at the University of Vienna split into its own independent university in 2004. Within a couple years, he says, the Medical University of Vienna went from being run by 15 people to 100, while the number of scientists stayed about the same. “I wanted to understand what was going on there, and why my bureaucratic burden did not diminish – on the contrary it increased,” he says.
He happened to read Parkinson’s book around the same time and was inspired to turn it into a mathematical model that could be manipulated and tested, along with co-authors Peter Klimek and Rudolf Hanel. “Parkinson argued that if you have 6% growth rate of any administrative body, then sooner or later any company will die. They will have all their workforce in bureaucracy and none in production.”
…Next for Grattoni’s team is something even more extraordinary and Borg-like; nano-telemedicine. An implant about the size of a grape (below), equipped with Bluetooth technology to consult doctors back on Earth, will rely on a remote control to tell it to store and release medication as needed. Remote doctor appointments will determine how an astronaut’s medicine is adjusted and enable the doctor to control the device by sending a command that makes it increase, decrease, or stop dosage. This unreal device will be tested on the ISS next year.
Savertown USA in Erica L. Satifka’s Stay Crazy doesn’t offer protagonist Em much in the way of pay or happiness, but it’s not as if Em has options. Clear Falls, Pennsylvania is in the heart of the rust belt and Em herself is still dealing with the paranoid schizophrenia that ended her college days; a job at a soulless big box store is the best offer available.
It’s just too bad that this particular Savertown USA was built over a dimensional rift. Thanks to her psychiatric history, Em isn’t inclined to take a voice in her head warning her about the fate of the world at face value. Nor would the people around Em place much faith in her claims if Em did reveal the dire warnings she is receiving. As is so often the case, it’s up to an expendable clerk and whatever allies she can scrounge to face down danger and save the world.
Airships lost out to conventional aircraft after a series of disastrous crashes. But now safer technology could be the key to their return.
Zeppelins fill the skies of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. The giant airships of his parallel universe carry the mail, transport soldiers into battle and explorers to the Arctic. What was once my local post office in Oxford is in Pullman’s fantasy – a zeppelin station where I could catch the evening airship to London.
When I put the books down the reality is rather disappointing. A handful of smaller airships can be found flying proudly across the United States on promotional tours for brands like Goodyear and Carnival Cruise Line. Last year, a blimp demeaned itself by setting two world records, including one for the fastest text on a touch screen mobile phone while water skiing behind a blimp. A few more are employed to fly well-heeled tourists on sight-seeing trips over the German countryside. Another can be found flying over the Amazon. And that’s about it.
The good news is that soon, the real world may finally drift closer to Pullman’s fantasy. In four to five years, all being well, one of the first production models of the enormous Airlander airship dubbed “the flying bum” will be the first airship to fly to the North Pole since 1928. The men and women on board the Airlander are tourists on an $80,000 (£62,165) luxury experience rather than explorers. Tickets are on sale today
The Airlander won’t be alone in the skies either. About the same time, a vast new airship the shape of a blue whale, at 150m the length of an A380 and as high as a 12-storey building should rise up above its assembly plant, out of the heat and humidity of Jingmen, China. Its job: heavy lifting in some of the toughest places on Earth. The manufacturers have some Boeing-sized ambitions for this new age of the airship. They expect there to be about 150 of these airships floating around the world within 10 years.
In the history books, the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937 marked the end of the brief, glorious era of the airship – except it didn’t. The US Navy continued to use blimps for anti-submarine warfare during World War Two. The American Blimp Corporation manufactured airships for advertising. New, bigger, hi-tech airships were built by Zeppelin in Germany. Engineers and pilots have spent whole careers in an industry that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Life of Brian 1979 Debate–Complete” on
YouTube is an episode of Friday Night…and Saturday Morning from 1979
in which John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Mervyn Stockwood,
the Bishop of Southwark, discuss The Life of Brian, which had just been
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Daniel Dern.]
(1) FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND. Vaught Contemporary Ballet once again will perform Dune, The Ballet on November 2 at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, which is outside Baltimore.
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism, and ecology against an interstellar backdrop, allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice – the desire for melange.
Join us as we interpret this classic science fiction story through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.
The Baltimore Sun previewed another performance this summer:
…Katie Vaught of Vaught Contemporary Ballet has choreographed a piece that follows Paul through his many tribulations. It will feature parts of the soundtrack from David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation scored by Toto, as well as tracks from 2013 documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune.” Though it is meant to stand alone as a ballet and to be accessible to anyone, those who have read the novel will understand the plotline clearly and pick up on references to the book.
(2) NEOLOGOS. Slate’s Laura Spinney, in “Tongue
Twisters”, shows why “Invented
languages—or conlangs—have a scientific and cultural impact far beyond Klingon.”
The recent proliferation of conlangs has been driven by the internet, as resources became more accessible and people who were initially ashamed of a nerdy pastime discovered like-minded others and came together in online communities. That in turn meant that producers of sci-fi movies and TV series knew where to turn when they wanted a now obligatory alien-sounding conlang built, and some conlangers—like David Peterson, the inventor of Game of Thrones’ Dothraki—have turned professional. There is another category of conlangers, however, who couple their love of linguistic creativity with serious scientific investigation.
The highly anticipated movie “The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Dec. 20) promises major battles between good guys and bad, but before that the new novel “Resistance Reborn” (Del Rey Books, out Nov. 5) acts as an important bridge between films. It picks up immediately after “Last Jedi.” Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac in the movies) has been tasked to reunite with his Black Squadron, while Leia is aboard the Millennium Falcon trying desperately to reach their allies.
Writing Leia “was an honor and a gift,” says author Rebecca Roanhorse, adding that the late Carrie Fisher‘s heroine “was really my way into the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Her continued leadership and strength in the face of loss and grief was a great inspiration for understanding not only her character but Poe, Finn and Rey, as well.
“I remember the first time I wrote, ‘Leia said’ or ‘Leia laughed.’ I definitely got a bit choked up. That’s when this fantastic journey all became real.”…
While many Expanded Universe novels exist at the edges of the Star Wars galaxy, Resistance Reborn feels like a vital next step in the saga. While the Resistance’s dire position was made patently obvious at the end of The Last Jedi, Roanhorse hammers the point home: the movement is down to its last people, and if they’re found, they’ll be snuffed out completely by the First Order’s stormtroopers. While the odds are certainly against them, the narrative feels like an inherently optimistic one, despite it all. (You know how these rebels react to being told the odds.) It feels particularly pressingly relevant in our world of 2019, a time when mass protests against oppressive governments are raging in the streets of Chile and Hong Kong.
Dear Auntie Deborah: Help! My characters have gone amok and won’t follow the plot of my book! What can I do to whip them into shape?
— A Frustrated Author
Dear Frustrated: The short (but brutal) answer is that your characters behave the way you created them. Their histories, personalities, goals, and motivations are all part of that creation. So if you — like so many of us! — find your characters resisting the demands of the plot or going off on their own adventures, it’s time to take a step back and delve deeper into what’s on the page and what’s in your creative imagination that isn’t explicit but nonetheless exerts a powerful influence over the character’s behavior….
If you binge read or watch something, it will seep into the writing you are producing at the moment, which may or may not be a good thing.
Carpe Glitter by Cat
Rambo was released by Meerkat Press on
What do you do when someone else’s past forces itself on your own life? Sorting through the piles left behind by a grandmother who was both a stage magician and a hoarder, Persephone Aim finds a magical artifact from World War II that has shaped her family history. Faced with her mother’s desperate attempt to take the artifact for herself, Persephone must decide whether to hold onto the past—or use it to reshape her future.
[JH]: “Late Returns” is sort of a soft, sentimental fantasy, and I think that’s probably my favorite in the collection too, that and “You Are Released.”
I do think I think you’re right that there’s a wider, wider range of genres. I was actually surprised at how much Bradbury is in the book. I didn’t realize it until I was writing the introduction and going through the stories. But “By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” feels a little bit like a rip on Bradbury’s classic tale “The Fog Horn,” about a prehistoric monster falling in love with a lighthouse. “Faun” is about men who go to a farmhouse in Maine who slip through a tiny door and enter a Narnia-like world called Palomino, full of orcs and trolls and fauns. They’ve gone their ton to shoot Fauns and to shoot orcs, and bring home ahead, you know, a trophy head for the wall. That story has a little bit of C.S. Lewis and a little bit of Hemingway in it. But a lot of Bradbury, a lot of “Sound of Thunder.”
(7) RIVERS OF LONDON GRAPHIC NOVEL. Titan Comics will
release Rivers of London: Action at a Distance, a 112-page graphic
novel, on November 13. Authors: Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch; Artists: Brian
Williamson, Stefani Renne; Cover artist: Anna Dittmann.
A new story in the bestselling cops-and-wizards series Rivers Of London, from chart-topping author Ben Aaronovitch! Uncover the secret World War II history of Peter Grant’s fan-favorite mentor, the mysterious Nightingale. When a serial killer with strange powers arrives on the streets of London, an old soldier remembers the man who mastered the occult at the height of World War II!
October 30, 1938 — The broadcast of Orson Welles’ radio drama, War of the Worlds, caused a national panic.
October 30, 1974 — Invasion From Inner Earth premiered. The film, also known as Hell Fire and They, starred Paul Bentzen and Debbi Pick. It has an audience rating of 0% at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 30, 1896 — Ruth Gordon. You’ll likely best remember her as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary’s Baby. (Trust me, you don’t need to see Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.) she’s quite excellent as Cecilia Weiss in The Great Houdini, and that pretty much sums up her genre work save Voyage of the Rock Aliens which keeps giving the giggles. Serious giggles. (Died 1985.)
Born October 30, 1923 — William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek, he was Trelane and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He had one-offs in the Six-Million Dollar Man, Wild Wild West and The Next Step Beyond. (Died 2011.)
Born October 30, 1951 — Harry Hamlin. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island.
Born October 30, 1972 — Jessica Hynes, 47. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “ The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and “Drop Dead” episodes.
Born October 30, 1980 — Sarah Carter, 39. She’s known for her recurring role as Alicia Baker in Smallville, and Maggie in Falling Skies. She was on The Flash in a recurring role as Grace Gibbons who was The Cicada.
Born October 30, 1981 — Fiona Dourif, 37. Her longest running SFF role is as Bart Curlish in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. She’s played Nica Pierce in two of the Chucky horror films, and she’s Good Leader Tavis on The Purge, an ongoing horror series.
In his debut feature (made for Roger Corman’s American International Pictures), Peter Bogdanovich brilliantly cast Boris Karloff (who owed Corman two days of shooting from a previous project) as a worn-out horror film icon only a few steps removed from his real life persona. He then split the narrative with a seemingly unrelated story about a clean-cut young man (inspired by real life mass murderer Charles Whitman) who randomly embarks upon a mass shooting spree. Eventually, the dual narratives do intersect, resulting in a profoundly disturbing statement about the nature of idealized horror versus the banality of the real thing. In the decades since, Targets has grown even more prescient and unnerving.
Halloween is just days away — and with “Joker” smashing box-office records, it seems inevitable that throngs of film fans will dress as killer clowns for the festivities that await.
But in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy, anti-government protests have stretched on for four months, the mask of the Joker holds greater weight — and reveals a divide between some protesters who see themselves reflected in him, and others who are horrified at the comparison.
[…] Viewers on social media point out that both Gotham and Hong Kong are home to groups of discontented people who feel abandoned by their government and a rich elite. In the movie, Gotham citizens and police officers fight in a subway station, an eerie echo of such scuffles in Hong Kong’s own stations. At the end of the film, rioters vandalize parts of the city, with what appears to be smoke or gas drifting through the air — similar to the tear gas, graffiti and smashed glass that have become routine in Hong Kong.
[…] Despite their best efforts, however, these Joker fans are not making headway within the protest movement — rather, many more are trying to distance themselves from the film. Posts that draw these comparisons are often heavily downvoted, with comments urging the community not to aspire towards the Joker.
[…] “Please don’t make the Joker into a leader of the resistance,” the post read. “(The movie) is really good. But at this moment, it is dangerous, and the danger lies in the fact that people may interpret it intentionally or unintentionally into the current situation in Hong Kong.”
…Unless you’re specifically looking to write an allegory, you have to actively avoid making your species and characters allegorical or symbols or stand-ins for something. It’s rather patronizing at best and can get offensive at worst. (FYI, we’re not dealing with allegory in this post.)
(14) MILESTONE. Right on schedule…
(15) GETTING READY FOR THE HOLIDAY. Jeff VanderMeer is
crowdsourcing costume ideas.
Now, you’ve probably already dressed as Harry, Ron, and/or Hermione for at least one Halloween celebration, so it’s time to really up your fandom game. As a lifelong Potterhead and Seventeen‘s official HP expert, I am uniquely qualified to help you on this magical Halloween-related journey.
Scientists have pinpointed the homeland of all humans alive today to a region south of the Zambezi River.
The area is now dominated by salt pans, but was once home to an enormous lake, which may have been our ancestral heartland 200,000 years ago.
Our ancestors settled for 70,000 years, until the local climate changed, researchers have proposed.
They began to move on as fertile green corridors opened up, paving the way for future migrations out of Africa.
“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago,” said Prof Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
“What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rich Horton.]
By Daniel Dern: Stephen King’s new novel, The
Institute (561 pages), is a solid contemporary (set in our world, current
timeframe) science fiction novel, of kids with undeveloped psionic powers — TP
(telepathy) and/or TK (telekinetics)… and the (clandestine) organization —
here, “The Institute” — that is kidnapping them. Why? Read the book.
has written about psi kids before — Firestarter (which I liked a lot)
comes, ahem, to mind. (Carrie, too, although I’ve lost track whether there
was ultimately any darker/fantasy source to her abilities.) And he’s written
other sf, like Under the Dome. (Along with way lots of stuff categorized under “horror,” of
course.) And bunches of simply good stuff, like Shawshank Redemption,
and the short-story that first brought me to King, “Quitters, Inc.”
doesn’t, to me, read like “genre sf,” more like contemporary thriller
with well-focused sf elements. If anything, the pacing and something-I-either-don’t-know-the-term-for-or-can’t-pin-down
reminds me of Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novels, in the direct, relatively
spare prose that propels the action and plot along.
you’re a Stephen King fan, I believe you’ll enjoy The Institute. If you somehow
haven’t yet read any Stephen King, this is a good place to start. (Then go get
his Different Seasons novella collection.) If you haven’t found any
Stephen King to your liking yet (and not all of his books grab me), give this
one a chance.
library will have it, although even if they do Reserve Requests, you may have
to wait a bit at this point for your turn to come up.)