This month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Oh, I remember reading “The Illustrated Man” when I was a kid in school. NPR’s Petra Mayer reports on his legacy.
PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Ray Bradbury is sometimes called the poet of science fiction. His words demand to be read aloud.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MARJORIE LIU: (Reading) He opened the bedroom door. It was like coming into the cold marble room of the mausoleum after the moon has set.
MAYER: That’s author and comics creator Marjorie Liu taking part in a massive online read-a-thon of Bradbury’s classic “Fahrenheit 451,” held to mark his hundredth birthday. This is the moment where Montag, the hero, finds his wife overdosed on sleeping pills.
I Saw it at Ray’s House is a photographic journey through more than 70 images that captures moments of magic and gentle decline in the house of Science Fiction giant, Ray Bradbury (1920-2012). Many of the photos were taken the year after he passed away, as books and objects that defined his seventy-year career were staged and packed for preservation. Some were taken while he still lived and wrote in the house; I had a unique and deeply personal connection to the author, allowing me unique access to the space where he lived for more than half a century. These photographs have become a study of a person who was deeply engaged in many aspects of American culture. They are the last photos of the house as it was when Bradbury occupied it, and together they offer points for reflection on the themes of collection, as well as what a person’s possessions say about who they were and what they valued. The project is a study in how we touch everyone we’re close to–– when we pass on we leave something behind, whether it be physical objects or memories that continue to live with those we cared about.
Seasons of Terror is a graphic anthology that features four stories adapted to comic books by Richard Chizmar. The stories are by Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon. Each story is illustrated by a different artist, Dennis Calero, Ray Fawkes, Francois Vaillancourt and Steve Wands.
(4) DON’T EXPECT TO READ IT. The new issue of The American Scholar has an unpublished Ray Bradbury story, “The Joke” – which you have to be a subscriber to read (so why am I linking to it?)
Although best known for his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury was also a prolific writer of short stories, having published his first while still a teenager. This previously unpublished story likely dates to 1950, the year The Martian Chronicles appeared. Bradbury brought a fertile imagination to bear on his works of fantasy, horror, and science fiction—some of the most popular of the last century. As his close friend and bibliographer Donn Albright remembers, that imagination kept firing even while the writer was asleep. “Ray woke in middle of the night,” Albright recalls, “and would write dreams down, then later go back and ‘finish’ them. It’s the case here and in many of his stories.” Bradbury, however, never quite finished “The Joke.” According to the scholar Jonathan Eller, the writer meant to compose one additional scene, in which the protagonist, a young writer named Charlie, meets his friend Hank at a bar, on the night of his 30th birthday. Bradbury sketched the scene out in three sentences, which we include here in italics. —Ed.
Along the way they reference this video of Harlan Ellison reading.
(6) BRADBURY IN THE PULPS. The latest issue of The Pulpster features coverage of the Ray Bradbury centennial.
…It won’t be a regular edition. Think of it as THE PULPSTER ANNUAL. While not Sears Roebuck catalog thick like an AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL, number 29 of THE PULPSTER will be almost twice as large as last year’s edition, coming in at 84 pages plus covers.
And a lot of great content will be filling those pages!
THE PULPSTER has two major themes this year: the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Ray Bradbury, and the 100th anniversary of the debut of BLACK MASK.
With the publication of Bradbury Beyond Apollo (University of Illinois Press), Jonathan R. Eller has completed his three-volume self-designated “biography of a mind” of the author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and hundreds of published short stories. Eller began with Becoming Ray Bradbury in 2011, followed that up with Ray Bradbury Unbound in 2014, and it has been six long years for this conclusion to reach us. Although the book’s publication date of August 22, 2020, the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, is so appropriate, it is easy to forgive Eller.
The obvious question then is, was it worth the wait? I suppose each reader must answer that for themselves, but it was for me.
… I have a particular affection for this third volume, as it includes the years I knew Bradbury as a colleague and friend from 1977 to the end of his life. Indeed, I come in as a minor character in Bradbury’s story when Eller writes about our work together on a film project (unfulfilled and unsatisfactory for us both) in 1982-83. And my organizing of a series of city-wide events celebrating Bradbury’s 90th birthday in 2010, Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles. But affection is not assessment, and in assessing this volume, I was struck not only by Eller’s compassionate if still objective eye on Bradbury but by just how fine a writer Eller is himself.
(8) LYRICAL BRADBURY TRIBUTE. Today’s roundup concludes with a Filer’s verse left as a comment in 2018.
Now I feelpressure inside the mountain I feel pressure, burning the peers And I feel pressure, hollowing souls And I feel pressure, filing the peer And I hope you remember thee
Oh, should my pixels scroll Then surely I’ll do the same Confined in ticked boxes We got too close to the Baen Calling out Ray hold fast and we will Watch the books burn on and on the martian side Dandelion comes upon the wine
(With pressure from Ed Sheeran)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dennis Howard, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories.]
,,,,But it was Arkady Strugatsky who was the first to understand that if they really want to “break out, break through, ah,” then the last thing they need to do for this is to become normal good science fiction writers.
He formulates the credo of the Strugatsky writers back in 1959: “Our works should be entertaining, not only and not so much in their idea – even if the idea has been sucked by fools ten times before – but in a) the breadth and ease of presentation of scientific material; “Down with Zhulvernovshchina”, we must look for very precise, short, clever formulations designed for a developed student of the tenth grade; b) according to the good language of the author and the diverse language of the heroes; c) by the reasonable courage of introducing into the narrative the assumptions “on the verge of the possible” in the field of nature and technology and by the strictest realism in the actions and behavior of the heroes; d) by a bold, bold and once again bold appeal to any genres that seem acceptable in the course of the story for a better depiction of a particular situation. Not to be afraid of light sentimentality in one place, rude adventurism in another, a little philosophizing in the third, amorous shamelessness in the fourth, etc. Such a mixture of genres should give things an even greater flavor of the extraordinary. Isn’t the extraordinary our main theme? “
Sonya Hess Dorman’s science fiction career lasted about a generation and produced enough short pieces to fill a collection, as a well as a fix-up. I first encountered Dorman via her ?“When I Was Miss Dow”, reprinted in Pamela Sargent’s ground-breaking Women of Wonder (as well as many other anthologies). ?“When I Was Miss Dow” was considered for a Nebula, although it didn’t make the finalist list, and it won a retrospective Tiptree. Odds on the favourite for inclusion in Rediscovery. That is not the call Journey Press made. Journey Press eschews the easy choices.
One wonders, therefore, what my Young People will make of the Dorman Journey did select.
It suggests, among other things, a history of science fiction from its Gothic roots to the present. Items are arranged here chronologically and the labels are keyed to numbers in the exhibition checklist included in A Conversation larger than the Universe. Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic 1762-2017, published by the Grolier Club (and available here).
In the original exhibition, the entries were grouped in four broad periods: from 1762 to 1912 (nos. 1-14); the interwar years (nos. 15-27); the late 1940s through 1980 (nos. 28-49); and from 1981 to the present (nos. 50-70); there are seven chronological headings here, and three additional headings offer new ways of making connections between the works. A very few items displayed at the Grolier Club are not reproduced on this website.
A Japanese company has announced the successful test drive of a flying car.
Sky Drive Inc. conducted the public demonstration on August 25, the company said in a news release, at the Toyota Test Field, one of the largest in Japan and home to the car company’s development base. It was the first public demonstration for a flying car in Japanese history.
The car, named SD-03, manned with a pilot, took off and circled the field for about four minutes.
“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive… with the goal of commercializing such aircraft,” CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in a statement.
(6) IN THE TRASH. Alan Stewart’s report of site selection voting in CoNZealand Progess Report #4, released today,prompted a critical response from Cade. Thread starts here.
Superhero thriller “The New Mutants,” one of the first major movies to open since coronavirus forced theaters to close in March, launched to $7 million over the weekend. Though ticket sales were on the lower end of expectations, the Disney and 20th Century Studios title marks the biggest debut yet for a new release during the pandemic.
Around 60-70% of theaters have reopened across the U.S. and Canada, according to Disney. However, some of the biggest moviegoing markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York, still remain closed. In parts of the country where theaters have resumed business, venues are capping capacity and keeping space between seats to comply with social distancing measures. “The New Mutants” played in 2,412 theaters, making it the widest release in months.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 31, 1979 — Time After Time premiered. (It would lose out to Alien for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon Two.) It was directed by Nicholas Meyer who wrote the screenplay from a story by Karl Alexander and Steve Hayes, and produced by Herb Jaffe. The primary cast was Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen. Reception by critics was unambiguously positive, the box office was good and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 72% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 31, 1908 – William Saroyan. This remarkable Armenian American gave us a short novel Tracy’s Tiger and a handful of short stories. One was in Unknown Worlds! Outside our field his play The Time of Your Life won a Pulitzer Prize, which he refused, saying commerce should not judge the arts; his screenplay for The Human Comedy, rejected as too long, he made into a novel and won an Academy Award for Best Story. In 1991 the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. jointly issued postage stamps honoring him. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born August 31, 1914 — Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.) (CE)
Born August 31, 1927 – Ted Coconis, 93. Illustrates children’s books e.g. Newbery Award winner The Summer of the Swans. For us, here is Camber of Culdi. Here is Labyrinth. Here is A Matter of Time. Here is Dorian Gray. Here is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14. [JH]
Born August 31, 1941 – Larry Schwinger, 79. Six dozen covers, a handful of interiors. Here is The Owl Service. Here is Star Rangers. Here is On Basilisk Station. Here is the Jul 95 Burroughs Bulletin. Here is Kindred. [JH]
Born August 31, 1942 – Alan J. Lewis, 78. Member of the leading apas of his day, FAPA, OMPA, SAPS, he famously in the mid-1960s organized the Fanzine Foundation which shipped a ton of fanzines – really; more than 2,800 pounds – to Bruce Pelz, where they became part of his elephantine collection; this at BP’s death went to Univ. California at Riverside. [JH]
Born August 31, 1949 — Richard Gere, 71. He was Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur, and he was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it for genre video work. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honors, but he also was in live performances of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the Sixties. (CE)
Born August 31, 1968 – Néné Thomas, 52. As it happens she was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at InCon the year I was Fan Guest of Honor; since then, Loscon 29, Windycon 37, MidSouthCon 29, ConQuesT 46. Artbooks Parting the Veil, The Unwinding Path. Here is Aveliad: the Forest done as a 1,000-piece puzzle. Also she makes cross-stitch charts and decorative resin butterflies. [JH]
Born August 31, 1969 — Jonathan LaPaglia, 51. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca. (CE)
Born August 31, 1974 — Marc Webb, 46. Director of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as the forthcoming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He’s also directed over ninety music videos over the past several decades with the first being Blues Traveler’s “Canadian Rose”. (CE)
Born August 31, 1982 — G. Willow Wilson, 38. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as well. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story: should I? (CE)
Born August 31, 1984 – Cassandra Khaw, 36. Her work is horrible – I mean, on purpose. Or we could call it horrific. She knows and includes Southeast Asian images. Hammers on Bone is one of four Re-imagining Lovecraft novellas. Fifty short stories, half a dozen poems, in Apex, Daily SF, Gamut, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny; interviewed in Lightspeed, Mithila Review, Nightmare. Ranks Oor Wombat’s Castle Hangnail above Lukyankenko’s Night Watch and Pratchett’s too. [JH]
Born August 31, 1992 — Holly Earl, 28. English actress who was Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Agnes in Humans. She also played the young Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf in the “Pete, Part One” as well as Lily Arwell in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.“ She was Céline in the “Musketeers Don’t Die Easily” episode of Musketeers, and played Hermia in the ‘18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream film. (CE)
(11) DC IGNORES COMICS SHOPS. Cliff Biggers, owner of Dr. No’s Comics in Marietta, GA told Facebook followers today:
DC’s latest slap in the face to comic shops: in all their promotional information about Batman Day, they don’t mention anything about comic shops or what they intend to do for our market (probably because, as in years past, they don’t intend to do ANYTHING for our market). Short of beating us up and stealing our lunch money, there isn’t much more that DC can do to show their contempt for comic shops that would surprise me any more.
There is a masked crusader on the streets of Santiago, Chile this summer. But rather than fighting criminals, Solidarity Batman delivers hot meals. Months of lockdown have caused hardship in Chile, where unemployment has reached a record 12 percent. Recently, an unidentified man has been donning a full Batman suit, plus a surgical mask for coronavirus protection, and travelling through the capital city sharing sympathy and plates of food. Almost anybody can be like him, the everyday superhero says. ‘Look around you, see if you can dedicate a little time, a little food, a little shelter, a word sometimes of encouragement to those who need it.
Parents! Pesky narrative roadblocks when writing books centred on young people. Common, garden-variety parents want to make sure their offspring are healthy and happy, which is a problem for writers who want to send young protagonists off into danger. Authors can, of course, dispatch parents to a location too distant for them to interfere or simply kill them off—both very popular choices—but there is another alternative: Simply have the parents themselves (or their equivalent) be part of the problem….
Graf ZeppelinHindenburg: Large Section of Aluminum Framework. 28″ long section of the strut or framework used to construct the famous dirigible Hindenburg, destroyed in a catastrophic & dramatic explosion on May 6, 1937, while attempting to dock at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The scene was captured on film and broadcast live via radio. The reason for the explosion remains elusive and controversial, even to this day. It is thought that a spark of static electricity might have ignited the flammable outer skin. Various relics from the event come on the market from time to time, but none are as sought-after as sections of the strut work. This example is covered in deep emerald and black carbon deposits. It is accompanied by a July 14, 2020 Letter of Provenance that indicates a workman in the clean-up crew, Harry Manyc, was permitted to take home a large section of the “ribbing” as a souvenir, from which pieces, like this, were parceled out over the years.
The author Ian Fleming created the fictional super-spy, James Bond, in the 1950s. Fleming, a former journalist and stockbroker, had served in British naval intelligence during the Second World War. Using interviews with Fleming and his friends from the BBC archive, Alex Last explores how elements of James Bond were drawn from Ian Fleming’s own adventurous life.
The Godzilla Museum located in Japan is now open. The Attraction features tons of Godzilla memorabilia, interactive sections and a themed menu. Most notably, the upcoming giant true-to-size statue that allows you to zipline into Godzilla’s mouth to perform a mission.
…Shron needed the perfect basement because, for nearly 30 years, he had dreamed of building a life-size replica of a 1970s Canadian VIA Rail railway carriage inside his house, the exact train that took him from Toronto to Montreal to visit his grandmother when he was a little boy.
Step inside Shron’s basement today and you will be greeted by a 200lb blue-and-yellow train door. As you pass through it, an MP3 player will hiss the sounds of air circulation accompanied by the squeaking of gangway connections. Inside the carriage there are rows of vintage reclinable red-and-orange-striped seats, luggage racks, a real VIA garbage can removed from a scrapped train and a metal sign instructing passengers that smoking is indeed permitted. What Shron couldn’t find on the scrap heap, he made. He printed out orange litter bags, custom-printed napkins and engraved wine glasses.
“The great thing was it ended up looking exactly as I’d envisioned it,” the 45-year-old says of his basement train, which took him four-and-a-half years to build and cost $10,000 (the scrapped carriage alone cost $5,000). “I fell in love with VIA trains from the age of two – I became madly obsessed, it’s all I would talk about, all I wanted.” Shron recreated the train that he took to visit family to tap into “that very warm, comfortable, positive energy” he felt as a child. “I get a little bit of that every time I go down to the train.”
Shron’s basement is an unusual thing, but it is perhaps a little more common than you’d expect. A number of people have created their own “worlds” underneath their homes. In late May, the listing for a Maryland mansion went viral after a Twitter user discovered a fake town inside the basement. The basement features cobbled streets, 15 shopfronts, fake flowers and real vintage cars. But even this isn’t unusual. More than a decade ago, a YouTube video documented the basement of John Scapes, an Illinois man who had built an 1890s street under his home.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Moar.]
Alas, no one was paying attention to Youtube’s ContentID copyright bot yesterday until after it shut down a couple officially sponsored livestreams from San Diego Comic-con. The first to get the boot was a Star Trek panel, and then a couple hours later Cartoon Network’s panel was also cut off.
Here’s why this is newsworthy: Both of these panels were blocked by Youtube the networks were streaming content that belonged to the networks.
The panel included the cast and producers of Discovery doing a read-through of the first act of the season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” The “enhanced” read-through included sound effects, effects shots, and storyboard images meant to bolster the actors as they delivered lines from their living rooms and home offices.
Even if the presentation didn’t look like a real episode of Discovery to the home viewer, it apparently sounded close enough: after the Star Trek Universe virtual panel began viewers began to lose access to the stream. In place of the video, YouTube displayed a content ID warning reading: “Video unavailable: This video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”
After being blacked out for about 20 minutes, the panel was restored, and the recording of the virtual panel has no gaps in playback.
The Digital Reader reminded everyone:
This is not the first time that livestreams have been blocked when they were legally using content; I am reminded of the Worldcon awards dinner livestream that was shut down because someone played a Doctor Who clip. The video had been provided by the BBC (the show had won an award that year) but apparently no one told Ustream’s bot.
…Now in its sixth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.
We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share….
… This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.
…Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.
(3) FAN RESOURCES. Congratulations to Fanac.org for reaching new milestones in preserving fanhistory.
FANAC by the Numbers. Numbers can be misleading, but they do give us some idea of the progress we are making in documenting our fan history. As of today, we have 11,526 fanzine issues consisting of more than 179,423 pages. This is up from the 10,000 fanzine issues and 150,000 pages reported in our April update. Our YouTube channel is now at 621 subscribers, and 90,356 views, up from last time’s 500 and 75,000. Fancyclopedia 3 has exceeded 32,000 items.
(4) TIED UP AT THE DOCK. Next year’s JoCo Cruise, technically a Jonathan Coulton fan cruise but really a week-long ocean cruise of all sorts of nerdery, science fiction fandom, and boardgaming, has been postponed a year to March 5-12, 2022. John Scalzi, a regular participant, also wrote a post about the announcement.
“Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents, and especially students,” Kahle implored. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.”
Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books….
(6) GEEK PARTNERSHIP SOCIETY FUNDRAISER. At least four Minneapolis-St. Paul conventions call the Geek Partnership Society’s office space home, and a host of other groups use it, too (listed below). The facility may not be able to afford to stay open, and after three weeks the GPS GoFundMe has raised only $13,010 of its $40,000 goal.
Geek Partnership Society may not be able to honor the terms of its lease and could face permanent closure if funds cannot be raised by end of July, 2020.
Please act now to support our facility, our community programs, and the resources we strive to provide to all geeks in the Twin Cities.
So, what happened?
-Clubs and individuals canceled their rentals of GPS’s venue spaces as people complied with sheltering orders and tried to maintain social distance.
-GPS Charity Auction events that we rely on for income were canceled as local conventions were canceled or postponed.
-Some of our large annual contributors are also having financial difficulties. because their conventions were postponed/cancelled for 2020.
What needs to happen now?
We need your help to keep GPS running through the end of the year. This will provide the time needed to plan a more flexible revenue model going into 2021. Our goal is to raise $40,000.
The history of the horror genre is routinely told via the careers of male directors such as James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas‘ just-published book 1000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018, takes a very different approach, showcasing the contributions of women directors and actors as well as those who have toiled, often unsung, in other capacities. “When we think of women in horror, we default to Janet Leigh or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, those really iconic images from horror films,” says Heller-Nicholas, who has previously written books on Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45. “We think of terror as being embodied through women’s bodies — screaming and running. I really wanted to explode that a little bit and say the person at the editing deck might be a woman, the person in the director’s chair might be a woman, the cinematographer might be a woman. If we move outside of the ‘single male genius’ who else is working on this stuff? And it turns out there’s actually some pretty amazing people, and some of them are women. There’s a lot more going on that women embody in horror than screaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. It’s hard work!”
Heller-Nicholas was inspired to have 1895 be the chronological starting point for her collection of mini-biographies after seeing a film from that year titled The Execution of Mary Stuart. “It’s a very very early example of special effects,” says the writer. “It’s Mary going up to the guillotine and having her head chopped off and her head being picked up, that’s the end of the film. I was first drawn to this because Mary is played by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ I was fascinated by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ Seemingly it’s a woman, but she’s defined through her relationship to a man. But I did some digging around and apparently it was actually played by a man. There was something about it, a little it of playfulness and the idea that gender and identity is slippery even in 1895.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 24, 1952 — Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial premiered. This was a fifteen-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the Blackhawk comic book, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by DC Comics. The latter company would re-use the name in several versions of the group. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet (as Spencer Bennet) Fred F. Sears and produced by Sam Katzman. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. It starred Kirk Alyn, Carol Forman and John Crawford. Despite being very well received, the Blackhawk serial was the last film serial shown on air flights.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas. Published work amounts to over 100,000 pages, translated into a hundred languages, inspiring two hundred motion pictures. Born on Haiti (as it now is); father, a general and the son of a marquis; grandmother, a black slave; Dumas, the name he used, was hers. His Nutcracker, a version of Hoffmann’s, is the basis of Tchaikovsky’s. The Wolf-Leader, an early werewolf novel; The Marriages of Father Olifus, just (2017) re-translated as The Man Who Married a Mermaid; The Count of Monte Cristo, a root of The Stars My Destination. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born July 24, 1878 – Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany. Chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland. Fifty Tales of Pegana with its own history, geography, gods. Ten dozen unlikely tales told by Joseph Jorkins to anyone buying him a whiskey at their club. Clute and Langford say D’s prose has muscular delicacy. In Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise Blaine and D’Invilliers recite D’s poetry. Translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish. (Died 1957) [JH]
Born July 24, 1895 — Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called TheGreek Myths, Seven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction than really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born July 24, 1916 – John D. MacDonald. While the score of books (I warned you about these puns) featuring salvage consultant Travis McGee and his friend Meyer are favorites of many, JDM is here for three SF novels, five dozen shorter stories, he wrote until the end. Wine of the Dreamers has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish; its title if not already meaning something else might name fan activity or SF – or if not unfair to nondrinkers. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born July 24, 1936 — Phyllis Douglas. She also appeared in two episodes of the Trek series in “The Galileo Seven” and “The Way to Eden” and in a two-parter of Batman (“The Joker’s Last Laugh“ and “The Joker’s Epitaph”) where she was Josie. She was in an uncredited role in Atlantis: The Lost Continent, and her very first role was at age two in Gone with The Wind. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 84. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film. (CE)
Born July 24, 1945 – Gordon Eklund, 75. Some are fans, some are pros, some are both; GE won a Nebula co-authoring with Greg Benford, another: they have written two novels (including If the Stars Are Gods, expanded from the novelette), half a dozen shorter stories, together. Three decades after Stars GE won a FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Award as Best Fanwriter. Twenty novels, six dozen shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, including two early Star Trek novels, of which one has a Dyson sphere. Recent collection, Stalking the Sun. [JH]
Born July 24, 1946 – Tom Barber, 74. Three dozen covers for books and magazines, a dozen interiors. Here is the May 79 Galileo. Here is The Men in the Jungle (in German as The Brotherhood of Pain). Here is the Mar 76 Amazing; here is the Mar 19; the magazine itself is well-named. [JH]
Born July 24, 1950 – Bob Fowke, 70. Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors. Here is The Golden Apples of the Sun. Here is Connoisseur’s SF. Here is King Creature, Come. Here is La flamme des cités perdues; not all who wander are lost, but here is The Lost Star. [JH]
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 69. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. (CE)
Born July 24, 1959 – Zdrvaka Evtimova, 61. Author and translator. Nine short stories for us in or translated into English, much more outside our field. Besides Bulgaria and Anglophonia, published in France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam – two dozen countries. Six Bulgarian awards. Member of the Bulgarian Writers’ Union and the UK Writers’ League. See her here (Contemporary Bulgarian Writers; in English, with a photo, book covers and excerpts, links to online stories in English). [JH]
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 56. Comics artist and writer. She’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. (CE)
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 39. An impressive run in genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. (CE)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side shows that somebody needs a manual for first contact. (Fist contact?)
And ever is heard a discouraging word — Dilbert shows it’s tough to be a beginning writer.
Are we having fun with the lockdown yet? Some of you may live, like me, in a region where our pal COVID-19 seems to be under control—or you may be trapped in some dire realm where it is not. Yet, for even those of us who are momentarily spared, respite may prove temporary—it’s always best to stay safe and plan for the possibility of continued isolation. That suggests that it would be prudent to add to your personal Mount Tsundoku, preferably with tomes weighty enough to keep one occupied through weeks of isolation and tedium. Omnibuses could be the very thing! Below are five examples…
Watching the numbers tick up on Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter is a remarkable way to pass the time. The fantasy author initially set out to raise $250,000 (£198,500) to release a 10th anniversary, leather-bound edition of his doorstopper novel, The Way of Kings. In less than 10 minutes, it became the most-funded publishing project of all time when it topped $1m. With 15 days still to go, he’s raised more than $5.6m. All this for a book that was just one of 13 Sanderson wrote before he’d even landed a publishing deal.
Most writers have novels that never see the light of day. But 13? That’s serious dedication. The books were written over a decade while Sanderson was working as a night clerk at a hotel – a job chosen specifically because as long as he stayed awake, his bosses didn’t mind if he wrote between midnight and 5am. But publishers kept telling him that his epic fantasies were too long, that he should try being darker or “more like George RR Martin” (it was the late 90s, and A Song of Ice and Fire was topping bestseller charts). His attempts to write grittier books were terrible, he says, so he became “kind of depressed”….
(14) PRESSED OWN AND OVERFLOWING. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid 24th July 2020opens with a tour of duty with Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion. TheSin Du Jour author has turned in his first epic fantasy novel and it’s fiercely intelligent, uniquely perceptive and exactly what the genre needs.
After that, I take a look at the Marchtrilogy of graphic novels. Covering the life of Rep. John Lewis, they’re engrossing, pragmatic, inspiring and horrific. They’re also by some distance some of the best graphic storytelling I’ve ever read.
Our interstitials this week feature the men of The Witcher doing things. Well, attempting things. Well, in the case of baking, being present while it notionally occurs…
This week’s playout is a unique and wonderful version of The Cure’s The Lovecats by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Enjoy! I did.
The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. It’s free, and you can find both sign up links and an archive of the last six months at the link above.
(15) KING REVIEWS BEUKES. [Item by Rob Thornton] In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King has great things to say about Lauren Beukes’ post-apocalyptic novel “Afterland,” which is described by King as “science fiction” at one point and a “neo-noir” at another. Everybody gets into the naming game: “Stephen King on Lauren Beukes’s ‘Splendid’ New Thriller”.
…The flap copy on my advance edition declares that “Afterland” is a “high-concept feminist thriller that Lauren Beukes fans have been waiting for.” It is a thriller, I grant you that, and feminist in the sense that most of the men have been erased by a flu virus that develops into prostate cancer, but Beukes is too wise and story-oriented to wham away at ideas that have been thoroughly explored, sometimes at tedious length, on cable news and social media. She lets her tale do the talking, and the results are quite splendid.
This is your basic neo-noir, coast-to-coast chase novel, and Beukes, who is from South Africa, sees America with the fresh eyes of an outsider. …
When Warner Brothers pulled Christopher Nolan’s $200-million thriller, Tenet, from its release schedule earlier this week, industry analysts expected a domino effect, and Disney announced this afternoon that the first 17 dominos have fallen.
The Mouse House’s live-action remake of Mulan, the last big-budget Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for August, is now “unset,” on the company’s release schedule.
And the studio has pushed back or cancelled the release of another 16 Disney and Fox films, in a ripple-effect that will affect movie releases for years.
One Searchlight film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, is still scheduled for summer, though pushed back two weeks to August 28. But such other Fox films as Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie remake Death on the Nile, and the supernatural thriller film The Empty Man have been delayed to later in the fall, while Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which was to have opened in October, has been postponed indefinitely.
Other films, including Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, and the supernatural horror film Antlers have been moved to 2021.
And in perhaps the most telling shift, three Star Wars pictures and four Avatar sequels, originally scheduled to alternate as Christmas releases starting next year, have all been moved back a full year, meaning the pandemic will affect film releases through Christmas of 2028.
Harvard scientists find that the same cell types that cause goosebumps are responsible for controlling hair growth
If you’ve ever wondered why we get goosebumps, you’re in good company — so did Charles Darwin, who mused about them in his writings on evolution. Goosebumps might protect animals with thick fur from the cold, but we humans don’t seem to benefit from the reaction much — so why has it been preserved during evolution all this time?
In a new study, Harvard University scientists have discovered the reason: the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair. Underneath the skin, the muscle that contracts to create goosebumps is necessary to bridge the sympathetic nerve’s connection to hair follicle stem cells. The sympathetic nerve reacts to cold by contracting the muscle and causing goosebumps in the short term, and by driving hair follicle stem cell activation and new hair growth over the long term.
Published in the journal Cell, these findings in mice give researchers a better understanding of how different cell types interact to link stem cell activity with changes in the outside environment.
A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.
“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.
“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.
[Thanks to Nina Shepardson, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Josh Hesse, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Cally Soukup, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) NEW BOB SHAW EBOOK. Rob Jackson and David Langford’s new Ansible Press edition The Full Glass Bushel by Bob Shaw is now available as a free download in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.) The official release date is June 30 but Langford gave File 770 permission to jump the gun.
Bob Shaw’s column “The Glass Bushel” in the legendary fanzine Hyphen has never until now been collected in full. Thirteen of these columns – selected by Bob himself – were brought together as the printed booklet The Best of the Bushel (1979) edited by Rob Jackson, introduced by Walt Willis and illustrated by Jim Barker – who has recreated his cover illustration for this ebook. A different though partly overlapping selection of fourteen columns appeared as 14 Bob the Bushel (1995) edited by Bruce Pelz.
The Full Glass Bushel includes the entire text of The Best of the Bushel and adds the remaining seventeen “Bushel” instalments from Hyphen, plus six non-Bushel pieces that Bob Shaw also published in Hyphen and two further columns from Science Fiction Review, where “The Glass Bushel” was briefly revived in 1984. All in all, it’s a huge feast of wit, wisdom and autobiography by one of our greatest fanwriters.
This collection complements The Serious Scientific Talks, issued as a TAFF ebook in November 2019. A third and even larger ebook of Bob Shaw’s other fanzine writings is in preparation, tentatively titled Slow Pint Glass.
…New cover art and layout by Jim Barker, plus selected interior art by Jim from The Best of the Bushel. Edited by Rob Jackson (who has contributed a new introduction) and David Langford. 81,000 words.
Langford adds, “The page mentions a third Bob Shaw ebook still under construction, which currently contains nearly 80 articles — more than 120,000 words.”
(2) SLF SEEKS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for people to read applications for their grants. More information on Facebook. There’s a $25 honorarium for serving.
The Speculative Literature Foundation needs jurors to read applications for the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants, and the AC Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. Please note: we’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.
Jurors will probably read 25-50 applications, which includes a writing sample of no more than 5,000 words. Jurors will have about six weeks to read applications, select finalists, and choose a winner or winners for the grants, as can be seen in more detail below… If interested, please send a brief note to Malon Edwards at email@example.com with the subject line: JUROR. Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.
‘Afterland,’ by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland, July 28)
After the “Manfall” pandemic wipes out most of the men on the planet, Cole disguises her son — one of the last males on Earth — as a girl and tries to get him to safety before the government can snatch him. Their cross-country journey is treacherous, as they evade not only the Department of Men but also Cole’s sister, Billie, who is determined to separate mother and son. Beukes’s imagined world — complete with bootleg sperm and faux baby bumps — is a thrilling setting for an examination of maternal love.
Full list is probably paywalled. No other real genre cites, but #2 is Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s memoir, and deep in the list is a discussion of popular superstitions like the “devil” of the New Jersey Barrens.
Daveed Diggs: Congratulations on jumping into “Altered Carbon.” Are you a sci-fi head? Because I am, and you do an awful lot of sci-fi stuff.
Anthony Mackie: I’m not a big sci-fi person. I grew up on “Star Wars,” but I never got into anything futuristic. When I was in high school, there was this movie called “Starship Troopers.”
Mackie: In New Orleans we had huge cockroaches. “Starship Troopers” freaked me out. I can’t do it, man. My imagination is too vivid. But “Altered Carbon” was great. If you look at the “Avengers” movies, I’ve never been the lead, or had to do that much action. It became a painstaking weekly hustle to finish that show.
(5) AS YOU WISH. “Watch the Celebrity-Filled Fan-Film Version of The Princess Bride”. Tagline: “A-list actors worked secretly in quarantine to create a rough-hewn, homemade version of the classic film and raise $1 million for charity. Vanity Fair has the exclusive look at three clips from the series, which will start showing this Monday on Quibi.”
… Jeffrey Katzenberg loved the concept and was moved by the charitable effort, so Quibi made a $1 million donation to World Central Kitchen, which equates to approximately 100,000 meals, in order to distribute the handmade project.
The creators hope the footage can also provide some laughter to viewers in a time of hardship. Their scrappy version of The Princess Bride leans into its continuity lapses, utilizes absurd household props and back-of-the-closet costumes, and deploys multiple castings of the same roles to show that in a true fantasy, anyone can play anything.
Before we go any further, just watch some. It’ll be easier to explain after that.
That’s Josh Gad playing the little boy with a cold who is reluctantly told the swashbuckling story by his grandfather. If you’re wondering what the director of the original movie, Rob Reiner, thinks of this riff on his work—that’s him playing the grandfather in this sequence.
[Film Historian Bruce] Crawford: When they made the first Jurassic Park (1993), originally the full-body shots of the dinosaurs were to be realized through a form of stop-motion animation called go-motion, to be done by Phil Tippett. And even though they ended up using CGI instead, Tippett stayed on as one of the lead technicians, and many people on the crew, including Dennis Murren at Industrial Light & Magic — not to mention director Steven Spielberg — are huge admirers of Ray’s. Many of them cite movies like One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Valley of Gwangi (1969) as the most inspirational dinosaur films ever made. That shows in the film. For example, the scene where the T. rex attacks the Gallimimus was modeled specifically after a key moment in The Valley of Gwangi.
Also, remember when the T. rex eats the lawyer? Well, the lawyer survived in the book. But in the movie, the T. rex bites him from the head down and lifts him up in his mouth — very much like that scene in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), where the Rhedosaurus is rampaging around the city and snatches up a police officer. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in monster movie history, and Ray recognized that moment in Jurassic Park as an homage to his work. He was really touched by that.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 29, 1979 — Moonraker premiered. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert, and produced by Albert R. Broccoli. Screenplay was by Christopher Wood off the Moonraker novel by Ian Fleming. It was the fourth Bond film to star Roger Moore. Supporting cast was Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel and Corinne Cléry. Broccoli had originally intended to make For Your Eyes Only, but chose Moonraker because of the popularity of Star Wars. Some critics really liked it, some really hated it. (Connery thought it was crap.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 43% rating. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 29, 1900 – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Author, aviator, illustrator, journalist. His novella The Little Prince (1943) won the Retrospective Hugo and has been translated into 300 languages. He was a viscount, a pioneer of international postal flight, a pilot in and out of war with 13,000 flying hours; his complicated heroic life and his works outside SF are worth study, as is LP which may be even more than it seems. Prix Femina; Prix des Ambassadeurs; Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française; inscribed in the Panthéon, Paris; Officer of the Legion of Honor; Croix de Guerre with Palm; U.S. Nat’l Book Award. (Died 1944, maybe) [JH]
Born June 29, 1919 —Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And. of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born June 29, 1935 – Richard Harter, F.N. In his words, “a collector who prizes his mint copy of Dick and Jane meet Robby Robot, a club fan who is … also a diamond fan and a spade fan, a fanzine fan whose multitudinous publications, if not always award winning, certainly ought to be, and a convention fan noted for attending conventions that no one else attended.” Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; a service honor); six entries in the history section of the NESFA Website. Proposed the NESFA Hymnal. Upon retirement, moved back to South Dakota, from which he remained active. Always a Marine. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born June 29, 1940 – Joe Sanders, 80. Reviewer for Algol, Delap’s, Fantasy Review, Int’l Ass’n for Fantasy in the Arts Newsletter, Locus, NY Review of SF, SF Book Review, SF Chronicle, SF Commentary, Starling, Starship. Wrote Roger Zelazny, a Primary & Secondary Bibliography (1980: who’ll do a 2nd ed’n?); E.E. “Doc” Smith; Science Fiction Fandom; The “Sandman” Papers; The Heritage of Heinlein (with T. Clareson). Clareson Award after C died. Professor emeritus, Lakeland Community College, Ohio. [JH]
Born June 29, 1950 – Michael Whelan, 70. Seven artbooks, from Wonderworks (edited by Kelly & Polly Freas) through Beyond Science Fiction with this exhibit. Fifteen Hugos. Fourteen Chesleys, recently for “In a World of Her Own”, which was made the Beyond cover. Spectrum Award; SF Hall of Fame; 370 book and magazine covers, plus interiors. Many times Guest of Honor including 56th and 65th Worldcons. Among the very best. [JH]
Born June 29, 1956 – David Mattingly, 64. Hundreds of book and magazine covers for us, two thousand in all, plus interiors; Chesley for the Amazing Sep 91 cover; two Magazine & Bookseller Best Cover of the Year awards. Here is the Aug 81 Asimov’s. Here is A Rising Thunder. Guest of Honor at Boskone 25, Con*Stellation XX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t), Lunacon 49, Bubonicon 36 & 38, Canvention 38, Loscon 42. [JH]
Born June 29, 1957 – Fred Duarte, Jr. Chaired Fandom Ass’n of Central Texas; member of NESFA. Chaired ArmadilloCon 9-10, 14, 17, Fan Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 33. Co-chaired Westercon 49. Chaired World Fantasy Con in 2000, 2006. Chaired Smofcon 13. Copperhead Award. OGH’s appreciation is here. (Died 2015) [JH]
(9) JUST NEEDS SOME BIPLANES PILOTED BY MICE. Mlex asks, “Does this count as genre? I was thinking: King-Kong-esque.”
Astronomers say big cool patches on a “supergiant” star close to Earth were behind its surprise dimming last year.
Red giant stars like Betelgeuse frequently undergo changes in brightness, but the drop to 40% of its normal value between October 2019 and April 2020 surprised astronomers.
Researchers now say this was caused by gigantic cool areas similar to the sunspots seen on our own parent star.
There had been speculation that Betelgeuse was about to go supernova.
But the star instead began to recover and by May 2020 it was back at its original brightness.
Betelgeuse, which is about 500 light-years from Earth, is reaching the end of its life. But it’s not known precisely when it will explode; it could take as long as hundreds of thousands of years or even a million years.
When the giant star does run out of fuel, however, it will first collapse and then rebound in a spectacular explosion. There is no risk to Earth, but Betelgeuse will brighten enormously for a few weeks or months.
(11) ROWLING REITERATES. Incredibly, J.K. Rowling was back for another round on Twitter this weekend. Thread starts here:
(12) PUPPY ACTS OUT. P. Alexander, publisher of Cirsova, a 2017 Hugo nominee courtesy of the Rabid Puppies slate, today proclaimed “SFWA is a Terrorist Organization” [Internet Archive copy] due to its statement in support of Black Lives Matter.
…And it is for this reason that Cirsova Publishing has officially adopted the policy of recognizing the SFWA as a terrorist organization.
We strongly recommend any authors with good conscience leave this malign organization.
We strongly recommend any authors considering membership to avoid it.
While we will not make it a policy to ask, Cirsova Publishing will no longer consider submissions from new authors with SFWA credentials in the bio materials that they send us until the organization takes a real stand against racism and disavows and ceases supporting domestic terrorist groups.
…The cape appeared in 1978’s Superman: The Movie, 1980’s Superman II, and possibly 1983’s Superman III. According to Julien’s Auctions, the trademark red cape was used to film Reeve while he was mounted on a wire harness, for both blue screen and front projection work, to make it appear as though he was flying. Slits in the fabric accommodated the wires. There are also pockets at the bottom of the cape so rods could be inserted to make it seem as though it were flapping in the air.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Last Airbender Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why boiling down hours of anime into a 90-minute movie doesn’t work.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Normally, most people vote for Worldcon site selection on site. Normally, people have the opportunity to hear from the site selection bids in person. But we do not live in normal times, and with all site selection moving to remote this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic CoNZealand arranged a special early question-and-answer panel for the 2022 Worldcon bids about a month before the convention. What follows is a summary of the bid presentations, questions, and answers—while I have tried to stay true to what was said, I do not promise transcription-level accuracy….
Here are a few of the questions and responses:
…Q: Chicon 7 had numerous access issues. How have you fixed them?
Chicago: The hotel took the non-ADA accessible areas out of circulation and put new, accessible function rooms in. The big accessibility chokepoint is getting into the exhibit hall, and we’ll have to work this out. But everything else should be ADA-compliant. Also at least with the Hyatt we know what the likely problem points are and can plan for them. If you had specific pain points at Chicon 7, let us know.
Q: What is the availability of assistance for mobility access, including renting mobies?
Jeddah: A lot of the rooms have workarounds but they’re not officially recognized are fully accessible (about 10% are officially recognized as such). Already working with a few companies for chairs on-site but not sure if they’ll be available to be taken offsite.
Chicago: Will have rental options for mobies, wheelchairs, etc. Guessing that there will be a pre-rental period and then we’ll have extras on site.
Q: What online virtual content do you intend to include?
Chicago: Haven’t totally decided yet, but we expect to have a pretty strong virtual component. In 2012 we had coprogramming with Dragon*Con, so we’re used to doing that kind of virtual thing. So it’s on our radar but we don’t have specifics yet.
Jeddah: Want to broadcast everything live for all the members, with at least audio streaming and hopefully video streaming. Our platform for live interpretation incorporates a live feed for sessions in both languages. Everything will be recorded for all members and stay up for as long as the server does. We also plan on having live feeds for all public spaces (e.g. the art show and dealer’s room) so online attendees can interact with in-person attendees….
Much more at the link.
(2) SPACE COMMAND. There will be a Space Command Convention on the Mr Sci-Fi YouTube channel this Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. Marc Scott Zicree says, “We will have live events all day, including interviews, and the premier of Ripple Effect, Space Command’s special episode, written and filmed during the COVID-19 Pandemic!”
(3) HORROR IN THREE PARTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A History of Horror With Mark Gatiss on YouTube is a three-part series on the history of horror films Gatiss did for the BBC in 2010. In the first episode, he looks at silent films and sees such rarities as Lon Chaney Sr.’s makeup kit and the shrine of mementoes kept by Boris Karloff’s daughter. (Did you know Karloff is the only person not a president who has been on three US stamps?)
(4) THE FIFTIES. I discovered that a game I play, Baseball Mogul, has a blog – and it’s latest post is about “The Thanos Button”.
…Clicking this button randomly disintegrates half of the players in the database. It also eliminates half of everyone on earth, with corresponding adjustments to the population level of each team’s fan base.
At the beginning of Avengers: Endgame, the camera flies over an empty Citi Field, showing us that major league baseball is just one of the casualties of Thanos’ “snap”. If the baseball season can be cancelled for a virus that has killed 100,000 Americans, then surely it would be stopped by a super-villian killing more than 160 million Americans.
Well, arguments have been made on both sides. But what we do know is that, financially, Major League Baseball would be fine. Eliminating 50% of all major league players would cause team payrolls to drop by 50% — but demand for tickets would only drop by about 30%. At least in the short term, Major League Baseball would actually be more profitable….
Fox has released a statement on casting for non-white characters on “The Simpsons.”
“Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the network said Friday.
The move comes as several television shows have pulled episodes featuring blackface from their streaming platforms, and amid a nation dealing with controversial depictions of race on TV and film.
On “The Simpsons,” Hank Azaria has been the voice of the black cartoon character Carlton Carlson. He also was known for voicing Apu, a character which has long been criticized for portraying a racist depiction of an Indian person. Azaria announced in 2017 he would no longer voice the character.
[Peter] Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens drew heavily from J.R.R. Tolkien’s rich source material to fashion a living, breathing world, complete with its own history. This also created a lot of confusion for moviegoers who had never read the books, or delved too deeply into Tolkien’s accompanying tales, such as The Silmarillion. Here’s 10 references in the Lord Of The Rings movies that only fans of the books truly understood.
Arachnophobes were horrified by the reveal of Shelob in Return Of The King, and for good reason! She’s an eight-legged nightmare who did more to demonize spiders than any other film since Arachnophobia.
What the film didn’t touch upon was her origin story. Far from just a fat, grotesque spider, Shelob is actually a child of Ungoliant, a fearsome arachnid who allied herself with Melkor during the First Age, before the two became bitter enemies. Ungoliant is briefly mentioned by Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
…Mr. Glaser joined forces with the editor Clay Felker in 1968 to found New York magazine, where he was president and design director until 1977, imposing a visual format that still largely survives. With his friend Jerome Snyder, the art director of Scientific American, he wrote a budget-dining column, “The Underground Gourmet,” for The New York Herald Tribune and, later, New York magazine. The column spawned a guidebook of the same name in 1966 and “The Underground Gourmet Cookbook” in 1975.
Mr. Glaser started his own design firm, Milton Glaser Inc., in 1974. A year later he left Push Pin, just as he was being given his own show at the Museum of Modern Art.
“At a certain point we were accepted, and once that happens, everything becomes less interesting,” he said in an interview for “Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History,” an exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1989.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1953 — “In Hoka Signo Vinces” was published. A Hoka novella, it was written by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson, it was published by Other Worlds Science Stories which ran from 1949 to 1957. It’s currently available in Hoka! Hoka! Hoka!, a Baen Books anthology which also includes the first Hoka story, “The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch”.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 27, 1850 – Lafcadio Hearn. Greek-Irish author who became a naturalized Japanese citizen and professor at Waseda U., first living in France, Ohio, Louisiana, the West Indies. Ten dozen short stories for us; collections of legends and ghost tales; translated Flaubert, Gautier, Maupassant, Zola; LH’s Kwaidan was made into the Kobayashi film; a dozen-and-a-half posthumous collections, recently by Princeton and U. Chicago. (Died 1904) [JH]
Born June 27, 1908 – Henry Kiemle, Jr. Much work for Westerns; fifty interiors for us. Here is “Elixir” (James Blish). Here is “The Shadow-Gods” (Vaseleos Garson). Here is “The Life Detour” (David Keller). You can read more about HK here. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born June 27, 1927 – Tibor Csernus. Hungarian painter living in Paris after 1964. Among much other work ten dozen covers for us, a few interiors. Here is The Players of Null-A. Here is Bug Jack Barron (under French title). Here is We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Here is Genocides. Kossuth Prize. Knight of the Order of Arts & Letters. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born June 27, 1948 – Esther Rochon, 72.Grand Prix de la science fiction et du fantastique québecois four times. Governor-General First Prize at age 16. A score of novels, three dozen shorter stories. Co-founded Imagine; two covers for it, here is one. Has not neglected fanzines, e.g. you can see her in Lofgeornost. [JH]
Born June 27, 1952 – Mary Rosenblum. Author and cheesemaker. Mystery fiction too under another name. Five novels; five dozen shorter stories in Analog, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Translated into French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish. Compton Crook and Sidewise Awards. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born June 27, 1978 – Bernard Quiriny, 42. Author, critic, Professor of Public Law at U. Burgundy, literature column for Chronic’art. One novel so far, five dozen shorter stories. Recurring character Pierre Gould is “eccentric…. poet, dandy, book-lover, just a bit of a misanthrope”. Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, Prix du Style, Prix Victor Rossel, Prix Robert Duterme. [JH]
Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.” Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available digitally. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 61. Australian author who’s the author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it. He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Apple Books has nothing for him, Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles. (CE)
Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 48. You’ll certain recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage ain’t genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing. (CE)
Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 45. Spider-Man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one serious weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film. (CE)
Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 33. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of Men, S. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarize), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF). (CE)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home has an elevator gag that reminds me of Attack the Block.
(11) TO BOLDLY GO BLEEP. Twitter’s Swear Trek is a prolific GIF creator of – you guessed it!
How’s this for a commitment to high fantasy realism: Amazon is reportedly seeking visually distinctive actors — or, in its casting agency’s own words, “funny looking” people — who’re believed to be potential candidates for its Lord of the Rings prequel series in New Zealand.
Yahoo! Entertainment reports that BGT Actors Models & Talent — the same Auckland-based agency that helped cast extras for Peter Jackson’s LOTR film trilogy — has put out an open call for “funny looking” New Zealanders who have out-of-the-ordinary facial features and body types.
(13) SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK?“Nasa Astronaut Drops Mirror Into Space During Spacewalk”. Though I suppose the bad luck doesn’t start to run until the mirror is broken – hits something, re-enters the atmosphere, or hangs around until the heat death of the universe (which we know is going to be really bad luck).
An astronaut has dropped a small mirror into space by accident, Nasa has said.
Commander Chris Cassidy lost control of the mirror while leaving the International Space Station for a spacewalk to work on batteries, and it floated away at about a foot per second, the space agency said.
The object is now just one part of the vast amount of space junk that is in orbit around the Earth.
Cassidy had been conducting an otherwise uneventful spacewalk with Bob Behnken, who arrived at the space station on board a SpaceX craft last month.
Mission Control said the mirror somehow became detached from Cassidy’s spacesuit. The lost item posed no risk to the astronauts, spacewalk or the station, Nasa said.
(14) WON’T STAND FOR IT. A petty inconsistency is the hobgoblin of internet comedy.
NASA has released open-source instructions for a 3D-printed necklace designed to help you stop touching your face. We’ve heard time and time again that we shouldn’t touch our mush with our fingers to limit our chances of contracting COVID-19. However, it’s not always easy to avoid that reflex.
To remind you to keep your mitts at bay, three engineers at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab created Pulse. The necklace has a proximity sensor with a 12-inch range and a coin vibration motor, which activates when you move your hand towards your head. The closer your fingers are, the more intense the vibrations get….
(16) MUPPETS. The Muppets visited The Late Late Show with James Corden:
Although James Corden, Reggie Watts and The Muppets can’t be together in a studio, the group comes together on video chat to sing The Beatles classic “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Sing along with Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Swedish Chef, Animal, Gonzo and so many more.
… Given the choice to feature a crime plot, it is curious how The Great Muppet Caper does not decide to pastiche the many different types of crime films. The film is more interested in emulating splashy, Golden Age of Hollywood musicals. Which is fine. It is also partially a love story, partially a tale of mistaken identity, partially a satire of the high-fashion world. When it does refocus the burglaries that Kermit and Co. are trying to solve, it does not resemble a detective story as much as a journalistic investigation. See, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, and the Great Gonzo are all reporters who fail to break a story about a jewel heist that happens during the opening number, right behind them. Fired from their newspaper, they set off for London, to try to interview the woman, Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg), who has been robbed. While across the pond, they end up on the trail of serial thieves, the ringleader of whom is Lady Holiday’s deadbeat brother Nicky (Charles Grodin, hooray!). But truthfully, most of the movie is about Kermit falling in love with Miss Piggy, an aspiring fashion model who impersonates her boss, Lady Holiday, because she wants to impress Kermit.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
…Over the past week, some fans said that they had decided to simply walk away from the world that spans seven books, eight movies and an ever-expanding franchise. Others said that they were trying to separate the artist from the art, to remain in the fandom while denouncing someone who was once considered to be royalty.
“J.K. Rowling gave us Harry Potter; she gave us this world,” said Renae McBrian, a young adult author who volunteers for the fan site MuggleNet. “But we created the fandom, and we created the magic and community in that fandom. That is ours to keep.”
The essay was particularly gutting for transgender and nonbinary fans, many of whom found solace in the world of “Harry Potter” and used to see the series as a way to escape anxiety.
Born in Chicago in 1942, Mike Resnick always wanted to be a writer. During his prolific career he wrote over 40 science fiction novels, 150 stories, 10 story collections, and edited more than 30 anthologies. Mike’s list of awards and recognitions is lengthy as well; they include 5 Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and more than 30 other awards. He was the Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, the 70th Worldcon.
Mike met his soul mate Carol, married at 19, then spent nearly 58 years side by side. In fact, when it came to his writing, Mike once said that “Nothing goes out without Carol (my wife) seeing it, editing it, and making suggestions.”
Please enjoy perusing this unique estate featuring otherworldly art, sci-fi collectibles, books and a peek into Mike & Carol Resnick’s wonderful world.
It’s been more than three months since I met with Michael Dirda to record the last — though it would be more accurate to instead call it the most recent — face-to-face episode of Eating the Fantastic. Since then, I also shared two episodes recorded remotely — with Sarah Pinsker and Justina Ireland — each with its own special reason for allowing me to step beyond this podcast’s meatspace culinary mandate.
But because it still seems unsafe out there for a guest to meet with me within the walls of the restaurant, you and I are now about to sequester together, just as we did four episodes ago, when we sheltered in place, and two episodes back, when we practiced social distancing.
Thirty questions remained from my original call to listeners and previous guests of the show, and this time I managed to get through all of them.
I answered questions about whether my early days in fandom and early writing success helped my career, which anthology I’d like to edit if given the chance, what different choices I wish I’d made over my lifetime, what I predict for the future of food, how the pandemic has affected my writing, if anything I’ve written has ever scared me, whether writer’s block is a reality or a myth, which single comic book I’d want to own if I could only have one, how often I’m surprised by something a guest says, the life lessons I learned from Harlan Ellison, and much more.
(6) CLARION ALUMS ARE ZOOMING. You are invited to register for the 2020 Clarion Summer Conversations. The first two are —
Join the Clarion Foundation for conversations with writers from the Clarion alumni community about writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
This week, our guests are Eileen Gunn, Ted Chiang, Lilliam Rivera, and Sam J. Miller, moderated by Kim Stanley Robinson.
(7) FIRST CONTACT. Yesterday, Bill reminded us that the premiere of Forbidden Planet at a 1956 SF convention. The attached photo is from the local news coverage of that event – and includes Bob Madle, whose hundredth birthday we celebrated earlier this month.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.
June 1965 – Fifty-five years ago this month, Arthur C. Clarke’s Prelude to Mars was published by Harcourt, Brace & World. A hardcover edition of 497 pages, it would’ve cost you $4.95. You got two novels, Prelude to Space and Sands of Mars, plus a novelette, “Second Dawn.” You also got a lot of stories, sixteen in total, many of them from his Tales from The White Hart series.
June 1973 — This month in 1973, Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was first published. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would beat it out for the Hugo for Best Novel at Discon II. It was given a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. It’s the life of Lazarus Long told in exhaustive detail. Critics including Theodore Sturgeon loved it, and John Leonard writing for the NYT called it “great entertainment”.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ being available on iBooks. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m please to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born June 14, 1917 – Maeve Gilmore. British author, painter, pianist, sculptor, notable to us for helping her husband Mervyn Peake, generally and with Titus. After Titus Groan and Gormenghast MP’s health was declining; she halted her own career to give him a hand; he barely finished Titus Alone, published without its final polish. Notes for a fourth book largely illegible. After his death she wrote a memoir A World Away and worked on the notes, then she too was gone. For MP’s birth-centennial in 2011 his children and grandchildren published one of several versions as Titus Awakes. Michael Moorcock said it “successfully echoes the music of the originals, if not the eloquent precision of Peake’s baroque style”. (Died 1983) [JH]
Born June 14, 1917 – Arthur Lidov. Illustrator, inventor, muralist, sculptor. Did the first cover for The Martian Chronicles. Had already done representational work; here is a 1942 mural Railroading in the Post Office of Chillicothe, Illinois. Here is his work in a 1950 television ad. Also real things in a way that might be called fantastic; here and here are paintings for “How Food Becomes Fuel” in the 7 Dec 62 Life. He still did SF; here is his illustration for “The Cathedral of Mars” (by W. Sambrot; Saturday Evening Post, 24 Jun 61). Here is a 1982 painting Alpha Universe. (Died 1990) [JH]
Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances including several on Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born June 14, 1923 – Lloyd Rognan. After discharge from World War II (Purple Heart in the Normandy landing; served on The Stars and Stripes) and freelancing in Paris he worked for Hamling’s Greenleaf Publications, thus Imagination and Imaginative Tales; a score of covers, a dozen interiors. Here is a biography, with a 1956 cover. Here is a cover from 1957. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 81. English writer best known for children’s fantasy novels. Her best-known novel is Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop. (CE)
Born June 14, 1948 – Laurence Yep. Twenty novels, thirty shorter stories for us; forty more novels; picture books; plays. Ph.D. in English. Newbery Medal; Boston Globe – Horn Book Award for Fiction; Woodson, Phoenix Awards; Wilder Medal (as it then was; career contribution to American children’s literature). Golden Mountain (Chinese immigrants’ name for America, particularly San Francisco) Chronicles, though not ours, valuably tell that story from 1849. “I was too American to fit into Chinatown, and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else.” Married his editor and wrote books with her. Note that dragons, which he writes about, although fantasy in China are quite different there and in the West. Memoir, The Lost Garden. [JH]
Born June 14, 1949 – Harry Turtledove. Ninety novels, a hundred eighty shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, under his own and other names, and with co-authors. Famous for alternative history; three Sidewise Awards. Best-Novella Hugo for “Down in the Bottomlands”. Toastmaster at Chicon VI the 58th Worldcon. Forry Award. Guest of Honor at – among others – Loscon 23, Deepsouthcon 34, Rivercon 23, Windycon XXII and XXXII, Westercon 55, Eastercon 53 (U.K. nat’l con). Perfectly innocent Ph.D. in Byzantine history which he then used for more fiction. Once while I was moderating “Twenty Questions for Turtledove” audience questions ran out so I made up some; afterward I said “You should thank me”; he said “Certainly; why?” and I said “I didn’t ask Why did Byzantium fall?” [JH]
Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 62. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in his honor. (CE)
Born June 14, 1972 – Adrian Tchaikovsky. Born Czajkowski, living in England. Instead of spelling his namelike any reasonable Pole he agreed to Tchaikovsky for the convenience of English-language readers; then when his books were going to Poland he was stuck with it (“this tale of Frankish ignorance”). Clarke and British Fantasy awards. Honorary Doctorate of the Arts. Nine novels in Shadows of the Apt series, two in Children of Time, three in Echoes of the Fall, five more; eighty shorter stories. Amateur entomologist. [JH]
Sci-fi films have weapons of all sorts and many of them might seem to be impractical or unrealistic but they still continue to fascinate us….
The absolute worst is —
1. Bat-Shark Repellent- Batman: The Movie (1966)
Adam West’s Batman gave a lighthearted avatar to the caped crusader, giving viewers some priceless ‘so bad that it’s good moments’. In 1966’s Batman: The Movie, Batman is escaping from an ocean while Robin pilots the Bat-Plane above. Robin drops a ladder for Batman to climb but right then, a shark charges at the dark knight.
In a calm and composed tone, Batman asks his accomplice to throw him a can of Bat-Shark Repellent. This random item has no match in terms of lameness and creativity.
(11) BAEN PUBLISHES JANISSARIES SEQUEL. The fourth book in Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries series has been completed posthumously. Baen has a three-part dialog between the writers who finished t.
David Weber and Phillip Pournelle discuss Mamelukes, by Jerry Pournelle. When the late, great Dr. Jerry Pournelle passed away, he left behind the nearly completed manuscript for science fiction novel Mamelukes. Now Pournelle’s son, Phillip Pournelle, and Honor Harrington series creator David Weber have completed the book. This is an entry in Jerry Pournelle’s legendary Janissaries series;
Part III: The third segment is only in podcast form at this writing:
For seven years a certain boy wizard went to a certain Wizard School and conquered evil. This, however, is not his story. This is the story of the Puffs… who just happened to be there too. A tale for anyone who has never been destined to save the world.
After more than two months at home, Lisa Fagundes really misses her work managing the science fiction book collection of the San Francisco Public Library. She feels like she’s in withdrawal, longing to see new books, touch them, smell them. “It’s like a disease,” she says, laughing.
But recently, she’s been learning how to combat a different disease: COVID-19. While libraries are closed, Fagundes is one of dozens of librarians in San Francisco training to become contact tracers, workers who call people who have been exposed to the coronavirus and ask them to self-quarantine so they don’t spread it further.
Librarians are an obvious choice for the job, says Fagundes, who normally works at the information desk of the San Francisco Main Library. They’re curious, they’re tech savvy, and they’re really good at getting people they barely know to open up.
“Because a lot of times patrons come up to you and they’re like, ‘Uh, I’m looking for a book –’ and they don’t really know what they’re looking for or they don’t know how to describe it,” Fagundes says.
Or they’re teens afraid to admit out loud that they’re looking for books about sex or queer identity. Fagundes is used to coaxing it out of them in an unflappable, non-judgmental way. Similar skills are needed for contact tracing, which involves asking people about their health status and personal history.
“Talking about sensitive subjects is a natural thing for librarians,” she says. “It’s a lot of open ended questions, trying to get people to feel that you’re listening to them and not trying to take advantage or put your own viewpoint on their story.”
Fagundes is part of the first team of contact tracers trained through a new virtual academy based at the University of California – San Francisco. The state awarded the university an $8.7 million contract in May to expand the academy and train 20,000 new contact tracers throughout California by July — one of the largest such efforts in the country.
A couple arrested over the Gatwick Airport drone chaos that halted flights have received £200,000 in compensation.
Armed police stormed the home of Paul and Elaine Gait in December 2018, and held them for 36 hours after drones caused the airport to close repeatedly.
The couple were released without charge, and sued Sussex Police for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.
On Sunday, their legal team announced the force had agreed to an out-of-court settlement package.
Sussex Police confirmed it has paid the couple the £55,000 owed in damages, and law firm Howard Kennedy said it has billed the force an additional £145,000 in legal costs.
Flights were cancelled in droves over a three-day period, as police investigated multiple reported drone sightings.
No-one has ever been charged, and police have said that some reported drone sightings may have been Sussex Police’s own craft.
Twelve armed officers swooped on Mr and Mrs Gait’s home, even though they did not possess any drones and had been at work during the reported sightings.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “More Creative Writing And Tips From Stephen King” on YouTube is a 2016 compilation by Nicola Monaghan of writing advice Stephen King has given in lectures at the University of Massachusetts.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Bill, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Anna Nimmhaus.]
…A relative handful of science fiction/fantasy/horror conventions are considered “professional” and it is expected that people who work in publishing will travel cross-country or even internationally to make an appearance. In the mystery and romance genres, a greater percentage of conventions are “professional” and relatively fewer are run by and for fans. Regardless of whether the convention is fannish or professional, published writers are essentially zoo animals to be gawked at for the weekend. You can tell the writers from the other attendees because they are always clutching a drink in their hands like it was only accidentally given to them for free.
The conference, by way of contrast, has different roots. Literary conferences are often organized like other academic conferences—the focus is on writers who work in academe and the concerns of pedagogy and craft, though the keynote speakers are almost inevitably prominent writers who don’t need to grade term papers for a living. Panels at conferences are only occasionally roundtable discussions; more often the panelists read from essays, bits of memoir about the struggles of trying to either publish or teach their dumb-ass students, or their critical work. There are also lots of poets who constantly declare their identity as poets: “Oh, I don’t know how to organize my receipts to get reimbursed by my department! I’m a poet.” “I can’t be expected to know which button to press in this hotel elevator, I’m a poet!” In the sales room, university presses and university-backed literary journals that demand writers pay to submit and that have an organic audience somewhere in the low teens predominate, while at conventions you can buy ratty old magazines, leather corsets, and insipid badges with phrases such as “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” on them. So clearly, attending either kind of gathering is a fate worse than death.
AR: It was Gerry Anderson’s birthday a couple of days ago (he’d have been 91) so given that we’ve both watched Thunderbird Six recently -and have a shared enthusiasm for his shows – I thought it would be fun to talk about the film, as well as the puppet series more generally. Perhaps we could start by covering our introductions to the worlds of GA? I know you go back at least as far as Stingray, the series which preceded Thunderbirds – was that the first exposure to Supermarionation for you, or are we looking at the even earlier shows like Fireball XL-5, Supercar and so on? Any really early memories of the shows or even the merchandise surrounding them?
SB: As it happens I was born on the day Anderson’s first show was first broadcast, The Adventures of Twizzle. An omen! But the first show I remember properly was Fireball, which was launched when I was nearly 5. Supercar was around but as repeats, I guess. Fireball was the one. It wasn’t the stories that struck me I think as much as the background world. The fantastic huge ship, and it looked huge thanks to good effects work, luxurious inside – Professor Matic lived on it, and how I envied him! And this was no fantasy, we were given one-century-ahead dates, 2062 and so on. Authentic SF, and I was lost forever.
…NBC’s The Blacklist will close out its seventh season with a twist: After production on the drama was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show turned to animation to help complete the season finale.
The hybrid episode is set to air May 15 and will serve as the season finale for The Blacklist (it has already been renewed for 2020-21).
The episode, titled “The Kazanjian Brothers,” was midway through filming in New York when production stopped in mid-March due to the pandemic. The show’s producers looked for outside-the-box ways to complete the installment and settled on graphic novel-style animation (as shown above) to be incorporated with scenes that had already been filmed.
Actors recorded dialogue from their homes for the animated scenes, and all animation and editing was done remotely. As The Hollywood Reporter has reported, production on a number of animated series has continued largely uninterrupted during the pandemic as studios and producers have adapted to working remotely.
(4) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Lorie Shaull explains — “I assure you we’re not open,” a reference to the movie Clerks, and “You’re Still here? It’s over. Go home. Go,” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, seen on the Uptown Theatre marquee in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
DC Comics is battling a tire company that is using the SWAMPTHING mark in association with its monster tires.
Transamerica Tire, Co widely distributes its “Swampthing” tires which figure some “monster” treads that allow added traction thru sand, gravel, dirt, mud or…swamps.
…In July 2019, Transamerica filed a trademark registration to protect the name SWAMPTHING for its tires. But there is a big green guy who has something to say about that.
(6) SECOND FIFTH. Craig Miller prefers the “Revenge of the Sixth” as a reference, and in honor of the date he’s shared a couple more things he’s remembered since his book Star Wars Memories was released.
…But I’d completely forgotten that I’d also gotten a character’s name changed. A document in my files reminded me….
Since writer Hanna Flint’s grandmother died from Covid-19 complications, she has found solace in superheroes. Here she explains why the films are great for processing tough emotions.
…After my parents called me that Friday night to tell me the news, I cried myself to sleep. But the next morning, I woke up with the strongest urge to escape into the fantastical world of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Steve Rogers, Thor and the rest of these Marvel heroes – so I camped out on my sofa and binge-watched MCU movies for the remainder of the Easter Weekend.
I’ve spent more than a decade being invested in this film franchise, so it’s no wonder that it’s become the cinematic equivalent of an emotional support dog for me in my time of need. There’s a familiarity that I have with these heroic characters and their fist-pumping adventures that must cause a release of serotonin in my brain, because with each film I watched anew, I felt the thrum of grief lessen, allowing in moments of joy that lifted my spirit.
…Alongside the gags, the series has also deepened as time has gone on, with the MCU opening itself up to a broader range of stories and sensibilities. No longer is the focus only on white male heroes and villains – instead there is a diverse range of characters for a wider audience to connect with. Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man films, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, are all brilliant examples of Marvel Studios allowing the filmmakers’ voices to shine, while still staying true to the unifying structure and webbed narrative of the franchise. Ragnarok is probably the most distinctive individual Marvel offering so far – Waititi’s deadpan, self-referential humour keeps things especially grounded and accessible, despite the out-of-this-world setting. The Kiwi filmmaker flips your expectations of certain characters – as when Korg, a member of the rock alien Kronan race, turns out to be far more mild-mannered and intellectual than his previously-seen peers – but also uses comedy to make space for a deeper cultural commentary on issues like refugees, slavery and the white-washing of history.
Police in southern Alberta are being investigated after a restaurant worker in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume who was carrying a plastic gun was forced to the ground and ended up with a bloody nose.
…The Lethbridge Police Service said officers were called to the restaurant Monday morning for reports of a person in a stormtrooper costume carrying a firearm. A news release Tuesday said when officers arrived, the person dropped the weapon but didn’t initially comply with directions to get down on the ground.
Whalen disputes the account that his employee didn’t obey police commands. When officers arrived, she immediately dropped the weapon and put her hands up, he said.
But Whalen said that the stormtrooper helmet makes it hard to hear and to be heard. It also makes it difficult to move, let alone to kneel or get down on your stomach. Whalen said this may have caused a delay in the employee getting on the ground.
“It’s not the easiest thing to kneel down in. You can’t even sit down in it. It takes 20 minutes to put on.”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 6, 1956 — Dimension X’s “Knock” aired. It was based on Fredric Brown’s story of the same name, first published in the December 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. It was the first of three adaptations of his story, with the latter ones being X Minus One and Sci Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theatre. This version was adapted was by Ernest Kinroy. Fred Wiehe and Edward King were the directors. Norman Rose was heard as both announcer and narrator. The entire script can be summed up as “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Frederic Brown is the running for two Retro Hugos this year, one for Best Novelette for “Arena” and another for Best Short Story for “And the Gods Laughed“. You can hear “Knock” here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 6, 1914 — Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it – you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success. But for the Federal Theatre Project he did a 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That it was known as the Voodoo Macbeth might give you an idea of what he did with it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And, of course, he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 74. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice.” I know that I’ve read something of her fiction but I’ll be damned if I remember what it was. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection.
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. (Died 2012.)
Born May 6, — Carlos Lauchu, 59. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series.
Born May 6, 1969 — Annalee Newitz, 51. They are the winner of 2019 Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”.
…So what do you see, when you look at a work of Minimalist art? You’ll see simple patterns, geometric shapes, hard edges, primary colours and monochromatic palettes. The so-called “Black Paintings” by the above mentioned Frank Stella consist of concentric stripes painted on raw canvas in the black wall paint that Stella uses in his day job as a house painter. Canadian artist Agnes Martin paints grids and stripes in pastel watercolours. Meanwhile, Dan Flavin eschews paint altogether and instead creates artworks from tubes of neon lights arranged in various geometric patterns.
Facebook has announced who will sit on an independent board, set up to have ultimate say over what controversial content should be taken down.
Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt will co-chair the panel with three others.
The panel said they will judge some of the “hardest cases out there.”
One expert said it was a bold experiment, but others were more cynical about how much difference they would make.
In a blog announcing the oversight board, Facebook said it “represented a new model of content moderation”
Initially consisting of 16 members, there are plans to expand numbers to 40. It will begin hearing cases later this year.
At first this will just be deliberating on content that individuals feel has been wrongfully removed but, in following months, it will also look at appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content.
…In April, an anonymous Twitter account, Bookcase Credibility, emerged to keep an eye on the trend and quickly accumulated more than 30,000 followers. Its tagline is “What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you,” and it offers arch commentary on the rapidly solidifying tropes of the genre as well as genuine respect for a well-executed specimen. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki appears before “a standard credibility wallpaper presentation in the unthreatening homely style.” The migrants’ rights activist Minnie Rahman’s Encyclopaedia Britannica collection “is a lazy hand wafted at convention.” And the British politician Liam Fox’s “bold grab at credibility is somewhat undermined by the hardback copy of The Da Vinci Code.”
…As expected from a nation with one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the Portuguese rallied behind the Bookshelf Championship. All of a sudden, book-related opinions were all over social media. “He’s stacking books horizontally to fit more,” a Twitter user said of his preferred contestant, journalist Nuno Rogeiro, whose all-embracing bookshelf featured books wedged into every available cranny. Some contemplated the definition of a bookshelf: Should a shelf full of binders be disqualified, or was it a “spectacular variation” on the theme? Others called for the “immediate resignation” of the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, on the grounds that his video conference set-up featured zero books. It didn’t take long for the debate to make it, in an apt twist, onto the evening news. Ricardo Araújo Pereira, one of Portugal’s top comedians, submitted his formal entry by taking a conference call from a deserted university library, where he sat flanked by tidy bookshelves in perfect social isolation. Twitter deemed his entry “extremely strong.”
I’m hearing that Tom Cruise and Elon Musk’s Space X are working on a project with NASA that would be the first narrative feature film – an action adventure – to be shot in outer space. It’s not a Mission: Impossible film and no studio is in the mix at this stage but look for more news as I get it. But this is real, albeit in the early stages of liftoff.
Mission: Impossible Fallout took a break, literally when he broke his ankle in a leap from one rooftop to the other and he also hung from a helicopter; he hung from the side of a jet plane during takeoff in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, and in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol he scaled the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyscraper, and executed stunts 123 floors up. He is meticulous in preparing these stunts he does, which are frightening just to watch.
There has never been a leading man (Jackie Chan might dispute this) who puts himself at risk as often as does Cruise, in the name of the most realistic action sequences possible. If he is successful shooting a project in Musk’s space ship, he will be alone in the Hollywood record books. Stay tuned.
… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed by tweet that “NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.”
At 57, the actor is a good deal older than the run-of-the-mill astronaut (if there is such a thing) though a number “spaceflight participants” (the official NASA and Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — designation for non-astronauts) have flown before.
Cruise is demonstrably in excellent shape, and evidently fearless when it comes to doing his own stunts. That’s fortunate, as up to this point, Space X has launched only unmanned missions of its Dragon 2 craft, which is designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Its first launch with a human crew is scheduled for later this month.
“It’s our 30th anniversary. We had some really great stuff planned to celebrate with you guys, and then the pandemic hit,” Hoag said. “It would be great to have a virtual pizza party with you guys, our fans […] We want to get together, hang out with you, and eat some pizza. I personally will probably be having a martini while I’m doing it.”
As of this writing, there aren’t any additional details about the Zoom event, but the TMNT Movie 1990 Facebook page says that it will post more information for online attendees in the days ahead….
…Giving yourself a temporary tongue tattoo from a sticky fruit roll-up is an inexplicable joy. Why is it so fun to have a blue outline of a character on your tongue? Who knows, but it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting. Star Wars-themed Fruit Roll-Ups with The Mandalorian tongue tattoos are expected to come out this fall, which means you can take your Baby Yoda obsession even further that you thought.
The Fruit Roll-Ups by General Mills are expected to be released this September, according to Nerdist. The package features two Mandalorian-themed tattoos: one of Baby Yoda with a frog in his mouth and the other of the Mandalorian’s helmet.
Derek Künsken’s series, The Quantum Evolution, so far consisting of two novels (The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden) is a brilliant space opera that probes the depths of a future human nature engineered to produce new subspecies. And they are wild, at times repulsive, at times capable of incredible breakthroughs in knowledge or massive deception and theft, at times mired in twisted love of false gods.I’ve rarely been so intellectually engaged by the idea of a quantum evolution of humankind and so drawn to a set of fascinating characters as they fight and con their way across various star systems.
… But in the central Chubu region, these insects — sometimes called “murder hornets” — are known for more than their aggression and excruciating sting. They are seen as a pleasant snack and an invigorating ingredient in drinks….
(22) STEPHEN KING ON THE LATE SHOW. The legendary master of horror covers a lot of ground in this talk with Stephen Colbert, including how he would fare in quarantine with his most feared characters, some things he learned about pandemics when doing research for “The Stand,” and the many reasons he recommends reading The Lord of the Rings.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Susan de Guardiola, Olav Rokne, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
There’s also a post devoted to ”the Villain”, whatever writers worry about when starting a new story, or even when they’re in the middle and things aren’t coming together – the Villain gets a caricature, too.
These are the topics Gelick’s panelists have addressed so far:
In order to answer the question ‘Do you need to write every day?’ and the perhaps even more poignant: ‘If you don’t write every day can you call yourself a writer at all?’ we’ll take a close look at each of the twelve writing superheroes’ writing process below.
YOON: Honestly, the planning is the most fun. Actually writing is kind of a chore because it goes on foreeeeeeever, and then revisions become fun again. Kind of like a sandwich? I like twisty chess plots, which are hard to pull off, so that aspect of Raven Stratagem was particularly satisfying.
(3) CATCHING UP TO SCIENCE FICTION. In the Washington Post, Gene Park looks at efforts by Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) and other video game developers to create the Metaverse, predicted by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash. Park thinks Roblox and Minecraft are on course “to create a shared, virtual space that’s persistently online and active, even without people logging in” and notes that it’s significant that Reporters Without Borders asked Minecraft to host a database of 12 million publicly censored documents. “Silicon Valley is racing to build the next version of the Internet. Fortnite might get there first.”
Conversation around a more tangible, actualized Internet seems only more pointed in light of our current shelter-in-place reality in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the past month, office culture has coalesced around video chat platforms like Zoom, while personal cultural milestones like weddings and graduations are being conducted in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Metaverse not only seems realistic — it would probably be pretty useful right about now.
Grady Hendrix’s new novel stars a group of determined women who confront a supernatural threat in their community — and while vampires aren’t real (as far as we know), Hendrix says The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires has its roots in his own real life.
“Getting some blood on the page is the only way I know how to write, so all my books are really personal,” he tells me in an email interview. “This one’s set in the neighborhood where I grew up, around the time I graduated from high school, and it’s the first time I’ve had to run a book past my family before publication because so many of our stories wound up in it. Fortunately I’ve fictionalized everything pretty heavily so no one had too many problems.”
…The way you depict the women at the center of the book is clearly affectionate, but in places I felt like it was edging a little into mockery … was that your intent? Tell me how you approached building these characters and their world.
I feel bad it seemed to edge into mockery — I take these ladies very seriously. They’re the women I grew up around, and I wanted to write about how I went from knowing them as a kid, when they seemed like a bunch of lightweight nobodies, to how I got to know them as adults, when I learned that they had dealt with all the ugly, difficult stuff so the rest of us wouldn’t have to. The choices these women had to make were hard, and they were never offered the easy option. Southern ladies are not cute and cuddly. They are tough, strong women who will mess you up. On the other hand, I grew up in Charleston and that world can sometimes seem over-the-top, where the condition of your yard or whether you served your guests on paper or china plates were referendums on the state of your soul. It seems silly in retrospect, but at the time it felt deadly serious. But, you know, in 30 years a lot of the things that feel like life or death to me now are going to feel like punchlines. Time tends to turn almost everything into comedy.
…King has previously used the novella — that stepchild of literary forms, somehow at once both too much and not enough — for stories that skirt the edge of horror without sinking into it, such as “The Body,” the inspiration for the classic 1980s film “Stand by Me,” in which a group of boys on a camping trip are transformed less by their discovery of a corpse in the woods than by their first taste of autonomy. “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” the first story in the new collection, is a prime specimen in this category. It’s 2007, and Craig, on the cusp of adolescence, has a part-time job helping out wealthy, elderly Mr. Harrigan, a formal but kindly man who introduces him to “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and treats him to a scratch-off lottery ticket for his birthday and holidays. When one of those tickets wins a $3,000 jackpot, Craig shows his appreciation by buying Mr. Harrigan a first-model iPhone, the same one he just got for Christmas.
Initially skeptical, Mr. Harrigan is speedily seduced, just like the rest of us. “Are these numbers in real time?” he asks in wonder as Craig demonstrates the Stocks app. (In a line that perfectly characterizes the attachment, King writes that he caresses the phone “the way you might pat a small sleeping animal.”) But even as he grows dependent on the device, he recognizes its dangers: “It’s like a broken water main, one spewing information instead of water.” At Mr. Harrigan’s funeral, only a few months later, Craig tucks the man’s phone into the pocket of his suit jacket, a totem to accompany him into the afterlife. The uncanny events that ensue could be explained — possibly — by a technological glitch. But they are triggered by a human longing that anyone who has lost a loved one can understand: the desire to hear the departed person’s voice again, one of the many dubious consolations that technology now offers.
(6) THE DOMINOS ARE FALLING. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a lot to say about how bad the immediate future looks for the traditional publishing industry in “Business Musings: The Trainwreck”.
I’m sure you’ve all gotten the question lately: How are you going to survive as a writer with the crisis in the publishing industry? Every news outlet —well, at least every news outlet that reports news other than the latest virus statistics—has done at least one story on the decimation of the publishing industry.
And let me be honest here: The traditional publishing industry is in grave danger. Not of the kind of disruption it saw in 2009 with the Kindle and ebook reading, but of actual mergers, closures, consolidations, and complete lack of payment to all of its suppliers.
Brick-and-mortar bookstores are shut down, deemed non-essential. Just like libraries, also non-essential. Unlike libraries, which have pivoted to ebooks in a startling and amazing way, many bookstores have no online capability at all.
Not that it matters, since most bookstores are closed, and not shipping books to their customers. To make matters worse, the books that are being delivered will remain in their boxes, only to be returned for full price credit when this crisis is over. That was a policy established to help bookstores in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the policy never got changed afterwards.
When bookstores do reopen, they’ll need to send the books back, because they will have the same gap in their cash flow that the rest of us will have—or maybe worse. Many independent bookstores will not survive this crisis, because bookselling has always been a marginal business.
The excerpt stops here, however, Rusch is only just getting started on her list of all the industry’s troubles!
(7) DYNARSKI OBIT. Actor Gene Dynarski has died at the age of 86. The Hollywood Reporter’s review of his career mentions many genre roles.
Gene Dynarski, a character actor who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Duel and Close Encounters of the Third Kind … has died. He was 86.
Dynarski died Feb. 27 in a rehabilitation center in Studio City, playwright Ernest Kearney announced.
The Brooklyn native also worked twice on the original Star Trek, as the miner Ben Childress on the 1966 episode “Mudd’s Women” and as Krodak, who represents a city up for Federation membership, on the 1969 installment “The Mark of Gideon.”
Dynarski was seen as Benedict, one of Egghead’s (Vincent Price) henchmen, on Batman in 1966, and on a 2000 episode of The X-Files, his character fell victim to a monstrous bat creature.
His résumé also included Earthquake (1974)…, among other TV series.
In the 1971 telefilm Duel, Dynarski was a trucker confronted in a roadside café by Dennis Weaver, who thinks he’s the murderous big-rig driver on his tail, and in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), he played the supervisor who sends out Richard Dreyfuss to investigate those mysterious blackouts.
Dynarski also portrayed Josef Stalin in the 1996 videogame Command & Conquer: Red Alert...
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Baptized April 26, 1564 — William Shakespeare.World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers was baptized today. (Died 1616.)
Born April 26, 1914 — H. L. Gold. Best known for launching Galaxy Science Fiction in 1950, soon followed by its companion fantasy magazine, Beyond Fantasy Fiction which lasted but a few years. He was not a prolific writer having but two novels, None but Lucifer with L. Sprague de Camp and A Matter of Form, plus a generous number of short stories. None but Lucifer didn’t see printing in novel form until 2002. H. L. Gold Resurrected: Selected Science Fiction Stories of H. L. Gold appears to be his only collection avail from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1996.)
Born April 26, 1916 — Vic Perrin. Best remembered for being the Control Voice in the original version of The Outer Limits. He also, genre wise, was the Adventures of Superman, Mission: Impossible, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Twilight Zone, Buck Rogers in Twenty-Fifth Century and in three episodes of Star Trek including being the voice of Nomad. (Died 1989.)
Born April 26, 1922 — A. E. van Vogt. Ok, I admit it’s been so long since I read him that I don’t clearly remember what I liked by him though I know I read Slan and The Weapon Makers. I am fascinated by the wiki page that noted Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? (Died 2000.)
Born April 26, 1943 — Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. He co-wrote the murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at 42nd World Science Fiction Convention which was hosted by many members of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and which he and his wife were very much involved in. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies, he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. His film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties would be revised and expanded several times. (Died 2016.)
Born April 26, 1955 — Brad W. Foster, 65. A prolific cartoonist and fanzine cover artist, he won an amazing eight Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist! From 1987 to 1991. He was a regular contributing illustrator to the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. In 2008 he began producing illustrations for the newsletter Ansible, creating a full color version for the on-line edition, and a different black-and-white version for the print edition.
Born April 26, 1961 — Joan Chen, 59. You’ll remember her from Twin Peaks universeas Jocelyn ‘Josie’ Packard, and probably less so as Ilsa Hayden in the first Judge Dredd film. I certainly don’t and I’ve watched that film multiple times She was Madame Ong in Avatar. No, not that film, this is a Singaporean sf film from twenty years back. And she was the very first customer on the quite short-lived Nightmare Cafe series.
(10) RADICAL READING ORDER. In the midst of her series of reviews about Kage Baker’s Company series, “Start with the Empress of Mars!” advises the Little Red Reviewer’s Andrea Johnson.
If you’ve been seeing my posts and thinking to yourself “jeez, when is she gonna shut up about this Company series, I don’t even know where to freakin’ start with these damn books”, you can start with The Empress of Mars!
ok, so I KNOW all the suggested reading orders put Empress of Mars near the end of the series, but you should read it near the beginning!!!
– It functions perfectly as a stand alone. Never read a Kage Baker before? start with Empress of Mars!
– omg it is HILARIOUS, like Anvil of the World hilarious. the bad translator scene? I was laughing so hard I drooled on myself.
– If you recognize some characters from elsewhere in the series, that’s ok, and if you don’t, that’s ok too. the book isn’t about those people anyway.
(11) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker appertained their own chow when they met virtually to record the Eating the Fantastic podcast’s one hundred twentieth episode.
Since restaurants began closing down and social distancing became the sensible thing to do for my health, the health of potential podcast guests, and the health of the herd, listeners have been suggesting I consider recording episodes of Eating the Fantastic remotely … and I’ve resisted. Because my purpose here is to share the magical, intimate, relaxed conversations which occur best when people are chatting face-to-face over a table filled with food. That’s why last episode, I ended up letting you ask me the questions.
But then it occurred to me — there’s one person on the planet — and only one — with whom I was willing to record remotely. And that person is Sarah Pinsker, my guest on Episode 1 of this podcast four years and two months ago. I intended to catch up with her in meatspace anyway all these years later, but suddenly it felt right for us to chat in cyberspace.
The reason I felt that way is due to her wonderful debut novel, A Song for A New Day, which was published in September 2019. It’s set in a near future where due to a terrorist attack and an accompanying pandemic, all mass gatherings are banned — no concerts, no sporting events, no ways for people to come together the way people have done since the beginning of time — and we’re instead only allowed to meet in VR. So meeting up with Sarah remotely made artistic and poetic sense — because it would almost be as if we were living in the world of her novel.
Since that first episode, Sarah’s short story collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea was published in March of last year by Small Beer Press. It includes many award-nominated and award-winning stories, including her Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” and her Nebula Award winner “Our Lady of the Open Road.” The collection as a whole was recently awarded the Philip K. Dick Award.
Her novel A Song for a New Day is currently a finalist for this year’s Nebula Award. She’s also a Hugo Award finalist for Best Novelette for “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye,” published last year in Uncanny Magazine.
We discussed how relieved she was her pandemic novel A Song for a New Day was published in 2019 rather than 2020, why she originally wrote that book in a song format (and why that had to change), how she loves being surprised by her own characters, why neither of us can bear listening to music while we write, the extremely scientific, color-coded process she came up with for organizing her first short story collection, how one of her favorite fictional tropes led to the creation of the original story she wrote specifically for that collection, why the thing that most interests her is the way people cope with what’s put in front of them rather than why those things happen, the reason she prefers leaving interpretations to readers rather than providing answers, her terrible habit when reading collections and anthologies, how she’s coping with the surreal feeling of living in the world of her novel, and much more.
(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. [Item by David Doering.] Do cosplays and comic cons violate the law in New York State? I was reading a piece on protests, which led me to see this obscure New York State law forbidding wearing masks:
4.?Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place; ?except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities;
I wonder how may concoms read up on whether their city has has “promulgated regulations” regarding “a masquerade party”? Or think to ask permission of the police? And what does this law mean if there are no “promulgated regulations”? Does that make it illegal to “congregate in a public place” at all?
BTW: The history of this provision extends all the way back to 1845 (!!) when it was enacted to prevent protesters from using masks to hide their identities.
(13) BRAND O’LANDO. [Item by rcade.] Twitter is aflutter over Land O Lakes removing the Indian maiden from the packaging. The chatter wouldn’t be skiffy fodder but for a rebranding suggestion that keeps churning up:
…It’s an outgrowth of the desire to make a space epic with sci-fi elements based in scientific truth. “Mass Effect has always been grounded by a basis in reality,” says the Mass Effect: Andromeda Creative Director Mac Walters, and nothing in Andromeda exemplifies this more than its spaceship design.
Take the Nexus, for example, a kilometers-long space station engineered to serve as civilization’s base of operation among the unexplored planets. In the game’s lore, the monstrous ship’s kilometers-long design is inspired by “the Citadel,” and ancient alien relic of mysterious origin around which the series’ initial trilogy pivots. But despite its extraordinary inspiration, the ship itself has some surprisingly practical details. Designed to travel half-built, the Nexus is constructed over the course of the game, during which its carefully designed and realistic framework is exposed.
… Allen Park, which was facing the possibility of being purchased and turned into new development, will soon be a public park.
…Dr. George Allen and Ruth Larsen Allen purchased the property in 1931 and used a good chunk of the space for their exotic bird collection. Allen Park received the nickname “Hobbitville” because the small houses and log cabins found on the land looked like homes for hobbits.
In addition, it’s filled with signs featuring strange sayings painted on them. It’s considered one of the more unique places in the city. It had come under threat in recent years, though. At least one developer was seeking to purchase the land for future development….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, David Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The pair talked love, hate, fanfiction, feelings, quarantine tips, lemon cake, human flesh, dogs, robot babies, and, of course, Sanctuary Moon….
What really happened on episode 231 of Sanctuary Moon? MB: It was clearly a dream. ART: You’re wrong. MB: So when the Mech Pilot was attacked by his evil duplicate who tried to hit him with a giant hammer and then disappeared, you think that was supposed to be real? ART: It was an artistic choice.
No, the first rule of fanfiction is not “we don’t talk about fanfiction.” Many writers happily discuss reading and writing fic—as evidenced by N.K. Jemisin, the three-time Hugo Award-winning novelist, describing how she still writes and reads it herself. The first rule of fanfiction is “you do not try and get the original creator to read your fanfiction.” How quickly we forget our Internet history.
… In explaining how these things are, Jemisin is not discouraging fans from making their own fanworks centered around her creations. She just cannot be personally involved, and it’s a serious breach of fandom etiquette to ask.
It was a pleasant spring morning, so I took my delayed walk today. It was good to stretch the legs and breathe the freshest air I’ve inhaled since moving here many years ago. I was out for two hours, enjoying open space – and the absence of Nero Wolfe. I saw other people walking and jogging, mostly keeping the required distance. It’s going to take some time for me to get used to the lack of noise. The buzz of conversation and the traffic ruckus just aren’t there. It’s not bad – just different.
I wasn’t in the office when Wolfe got down from the plant rooms at 11, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was at his desk, reading a thick book about Huey P. Long. He acknowledged my arrival and resumed reading. That was fine with me. I let him know I would be in the basement for a while and departed.
We keep a small file cabinet down there, which contains files related to unsolved cases. I’ve never written one up, but yes, there were occasions when the great Nero Wolfe didn’t get the bad guy. Or at least, couldn’t prove the issue. I’ll admit, his batting average was much better than Ty Cobb’s, but still, it did happen. And it rankled me at least as much as it did him. I’m the one who gathers the clues. I can’t help thinking, on some of them, that if I’d gotten one more piece of something, it might have made all the difference….
(Heading explained: It was from Bruce Pelz I first heard of Nero Wolfe.)
In the pandemic economy, face masks are like bars of gold. Hoarders are hoarding them. Governors are bartering for them. Hospital workers desperately need them. New Yorkers, ordered by Governor Cuomo last week to cover their faces in public, are repurposing bandannas and boxer shorts. In Rosie the Riveter fashion, Americans with crafting skills—among them quilters, Broadway seamstresses, sportswear manufacturers, origami artists, and grandmothers—have sprung into action. But one group has special mask-making powers: cosplayers, the superfans who specialize in making and wearing costumes. Never has the ability to whip up a Spider-Man mask or a Stormtrooper helmet been so useful.
“Cosplayers have big hearts,” Monica Paprocki, a thirty-five-year-old accountant in Chicago, said. Paprocki, who runs the fandom site Geeks A Gogo, started cosplaying in 2014 and taught herself how to sew by watching YouTube videos. She dressed as Princess Jasmine at Wizard World Chicago in 2019, the year after her Phoenix Monster costume, from the board game Rising Sun, won the Golden Needle Award at a gaming convention in Indianapolis. “It had articulated wings that I controlled with a remote control,” she said. This June, she was going to dress as Buzz Lightyear at the Origins Game Fair, in Ohio, but it had been postponed until October. When she saw a Facebook group requesting homemade medical supplies, she recruited fellow-cosplayers. “Before everything closed down, I had a stash of cotton fabric and materials here in my house,” she said. “I work my regular nine-to-five job in accounting. Right after that, I start sewing.”
(6) BESTSELLERS TALK AMONG THEMSELVES. Via Shelf Awareness comes word that Stephen King and John Grisham will hold a free online conversation discussing their new books on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 PM Eastern.
…A whimsical experiment in bartering kickstarted that evolution in 2010: A few years after the viral “one red paperclip” experiment—a Craigslister traded a single red paperclip for a series of increasingly valuable items until he managed to trade up for a house—a Magic player named Jonathan Medina embarked on a similar quest. Medina would trade from one random $4 pack of booster cards and keep trading up until he acquired one of the game’s legendary Power Nine cards— phenomenally rare cards widely considered very, very good. A pavement-pounding card trader, Medina blogged his experience in a widely read series of articles called “Pack to Power.” He would spend no money and, using just his wits, research, and networking skills, maneuver his $4 pack of cards into Magic wealth.
After opening his pack, Medina, in his words, began “hitting the streets to flip my cardboard.” By the time he’d traded with fellow players at gaming conventions and stores a total of 98 times, he had assembled an impressive binder stacked with valuable cards. It was at Gen Con, on a Saturday four months later, when Medina, groggy from playing Magic until five in the morning the previous night, handed over his binder in exchange for the $359.99 Mox Pearl card—a Power Nine.
“At the time, people were still trading based on nonmonetary metrics,” Medina says. “So when people read the small stories of the trades and looked at the math, they realized that they could be getting more out of their cards. This collective rise in awareness led to an interest in the financial side of the game.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 24, 1955 — The X Minus One radio program aired on NBC for the first time. Written by Ray Bradbury, “And The Moon Be Still As Bright” is the tale of Mars expedition which finds the Martians extinct due to chickenpox brought to them by previous expeditions. The crew save one decide to destroy all Martian artefacts. Ernest Kinoy wrote the script from the story by Bradbury, and the cast included John Larkin and Nelson Olmstead. The show would run from now until January 8, 1958 with many of coming from well-known SF authors including Anderson, Pohl, Asimov, Blish, Leiber, Heinlein and Simak to name just a few. You can hear this episode here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 24, 1930 — Richard Donner, 90. He’s credited in directing Superman which Is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him for Scrooged, The Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb.
Born April 24, 1936 — Jill Ireland. For her short life, she chalked up in an amazing number of genre show roles. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery, My Favorite Martian, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.)
Born April 24, 1946 — Donald D’Ammassa, 74. Considered to be one of the best and fairest long-form reviewers ever. His Encyclopedia of Science Fiction covered some five hundred writers and as can two newer volumes, Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction and Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction are equally exhaustive. I can’t comment on his fiction as I’ve only ever encountered him as a reviewer.
Born April 24, 1947 — Michael Butterworth, 73. Author of, with Michael Moorcock naturally, two Time of the Hawklords novels, Time of the Hawklords and Queens of Deliria. He also wrote a number of Space 1999 Year 2 novels, too numerous to list here. He also edited Corridor magazine from 1971 to 1974. He also wrote a number of short fiction pieces including one whose title amuses me for reasons I’m not sure, “Circularisation of Condensed Conventional Straight-Line Word-Image Structures“.
Born April 24, 1950 — Michael Patrick Hearn, 70. Academic who has some of the best annotated works I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. I wholeheartedly recommend both The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Christmas Carol, not to overlook Victorian Fairy Tales which is simply the best collection of those tales.
Born April 24, 1953 — Gregory Luce, 67. Editor and publisher of both the Science Fiction Gems and the Horror Gems anthology series, plus such other anthologies as Citadel of the Star Lords / Voyage to Eternity and Old Spacemen Never Die! / Return to Earth. For a delightful look at him and these works, go here. Warning: really cute canine involved!
Born April 24, 1955 — Wendy S. Delmater, 65. She was nominated at Sasquan for a Best Semiprozine Hugo for editing the exemplary Abyss & Apex webzine. It’s particularly strong in the areas of speculative poetry and small press genre reviews. She herself has written a lot of genre centered essays, plus a handful of genre stories and poems.
Born April 24, 1983 — Madeline Ashby, 37. California-born Canadian resident writer whose Company Town novel created an entire city in an oil rig. Interestingly In 2013, she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer but recused herself on the grounds that her pro career started with her ‘09 publication of a short story in Nature, so her eligibility period had expired in ‘11. And her Machine Dynasties series is simply brilliant, and resonates with the later Murderbot series.
Experts created this visualisation showing the Giant Red Nebula and its smaller blue neighbour, which lie in a satellite-galaxy of the Milky Way.
(12) IN ONE SITTING. “The chairs of Blake’s 7” is a vast collage of furniture and show highlights assembled by the author of the Watching Blake’s 7 blog:
…So, here is a compilation all the identifiable seating seen in Blake’s 7. In addition, I have thrown in a handful of tables, desks, lamps and other things that showcase how bloomin’ stylish Blake’s 7 was, and how the BBC props store contained a wealth of magnificent design artefacts.
First on the list —
Folding chair Fred Scott, for Hille International 1960’s Seen in ‘Animals’
Let’s start with one of the most beautiful moments in Blake’s 7, and a reminder of the sheer effort to get the series broadcast on time and on budget. Sure, Avon slips at the end of this shot, and there’s no time for a retake, but let’s not forget the attitude in which he knocks the chair over. I’m delighted to report that Fred Scott designed something robust enough to withstand the dirtiest ‘Dirty Harry’ kicking seen on screen up to that point. Chair vandalism, or quality control? You decide.
A well-meaning cleaner who took the opportunity to give a locked-down library a thorough clean re-shelved all of its books – in size order.
Staff at Newmarket Library, Suffolk, discovered the sloping tomes after the building underwent a deep clean.
James Powell, of Suffolk Libraries, said staff “saw the funny side” but it would take a “bit of time” to correct.
“It looks like libraries will be closed for a while so we’ll have plenty of time to sort the books out”, he said.
“The cleaner is lovely and does a great job in the library. It was an honest mistake and just one of those things so we would never want her to feel bad about it,” he added.
(14) RIGHTFUL PREY. Let Atlas Obscura show you the elusive “Fremont Troll”.
AN 18-FT. tall troll made of cement clutches an old VW car underneath an overpass in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The car is an actual Volkswagen Beetle encased in concrete, which used to be red and bear a California license plate.
The Troll was constructed in 1990 after winning a Fremont Arts Council competition for designs to improve the freeway underpass, which then was a dumping ground….
… On Saturday, the carcass of a 40-foot grey whale washed up on the shore of the Sand Lake Recreation Area north of Pacific City. For longtime Oregonians, news of a dead whale appearing on a local beach should ring a few alarm bells…
… In case you don’t know the story, in November 1970, a sperm whale of roughly the same size washed up on the beach in Florence, Ore. Local officials considered several methods of disposing the body, like dragging it out to sea. Ultimately, they went with the most exciting option available—blowin’ it up real good.
It was a bit of a disaster. The dynamite blew chunks of whale flesh 800 feet in the air, raining viscera down on bystanders and destroying a car in the adjacent parking lot.
Which gives everyone on the internet an excuse to repost one of the most viral videos of all time:
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “No Maps For These Territories: A William Gibson Docufilm” on YouTube is a 2000 documentary, directed by Mark Neale, of conversations held with Gibson during his book tour for All Tomorrow’s Parties. It includes interviews with Bruce Sterling and Jack Womack and Gibson remembering that when he read “Burning Chrome,” one of the first cyberpunk stories, at Denvention II in 1981, he had an audience of four.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, N., Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
The Maurice Sendak Foundation has granted $100,000 to the New York Foundation for the Arts for an emergency relief grant program “to support children’s picture book artists and writers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.” They will provide grants of up to $2,500 a person, and hope to raise at least another $150,000 in the initial phase.
A large group of comic book creators are banding together to help support comic book retailers whose business have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Using the Twitter hashtag #Creators4Comics, more than 120 creators will be auctioning comic books, artwork and one-of-a-kind experiences. The auctions will run from Wednesday through Monday and will benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which is accepting applications from comic book shops and bookstores for emergency relief.
The effort was organized by the comic book writers Sam Humphries and Brian Michael Bendis, along with Kami Garcia, Gwenda Bond and Phil Jimenez. Humphries will be auctioning “How to Break Into Comics by Making Your Own Comics,” which are video-chat sessions with aspiring writers. “It mirrors my own comic book secret origin story,” he said in an email. More information can be found at the Creators 4 Comics website….
An Attending Membership is for people who will engage in the live, interactive Virtual Convention. There are a number of different types of Attending Memberships. Attending Memberships are all inclusive. You do not have to pay anything more for access to any of our online activity.
You will receive all our publications. This also comes with the right to nominate and vote in the Hugo Awards in 2020. You can also vote in Site Selection for the 2022 Worldcon.
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We will trust that if you become waged by the convention, that you will upgrade to a Full Attending.
This morning, Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) announced that he has teamed up with co-star Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) on a new podcast called The Delta Flyers. The new pod promises inside stories as the pair plan to rewatch every episode of Voyager, with the first episode arriving in early May.
“I’m happy to report that the judging has been handled mostly virtually to date,” SDCC’s Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer told Newsarama. “Things are in flux as you can imagine but our hope is to be able to have a list of Eisner winners for 2020.”
Longtime awards administrator Jackie Estrada is working with this year’s judges Martha Cornog, Jamie Coville, Michael Dooley, Alex Grecian, Simon Jimenez, and Laura O’Meara.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has remained in print since it was first published in April 1897. A bestseller in its day, it has gone on to spawn countless derivatives and become one of the most indelible pop-cultural touchstones in recent history. Obviously. But, upon its first release, it was seriously outsold by another novel, a supernatural tale of possession and revenge called The Beetle, which fell out of print after 1960. And let me tell you, it’s something else.
Written by Richard Marsh, the author of extremely successful commercial short fiction during this era, The Beetle is actually rather like Dracula in form and plot. In addition to its being an epistolary novel, it is similarly about a seductive, inhuman, shape-shifting monster who arrives in England from the East, entrances a citizen into becoming its slave, and wages an attack on London society. And civilization’s only hope against this invader is a motley group of middle-class individuals (including one forward-thinking young woman and one expert on the supernatural), who must figure out what the creature actually is and ascertain why it has arrived to England, before finally destroying it….
… There is a forthcoming anthology of rebuttals to The Cold Equations. I expect many essayists to add elements that are not present in the original story to reach their own preferred conclusions. Rather than address the story as written, they will probably add in a factor that is not otherwise evident as a lever to be used against the main purpose of the story.
Rather than discussing the merits and criticism of the story, I’m first going to travel to Texas, rhetorically.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick implied that he was willing to die to ensure the survival of his children and grandchildren. He went on to suggest that lots of grandparents would make the same choice. The context of his comments was the “choice” between maintaining our self-quarantine that is significantly damaging our economy or resuming normal social habits at the demonstrable risk of killing off a substantial number of our elderly.
…We are not currently at the point where we need to be deciding who lives and who dies. We are most certainly not at the point where we need to risk the lives of senior citizens by prematurely restarting the economy.
That being said, we do have to make choices; sometimes hard choices….
…The fact is that we all have to make choices based on what we hope is the best of information. We are all learning now about the importance of certain types of medical and personal protective equipment. We are learning that we had manufacturing and import capacity to cover the usual needs of society, but not enough to cover our needs during a pandemic. We are learning that we had stockpiles sufficient to cover a few significant regional calamities, but such stockpiles were entirely insufficient for a larger catastrophe.
…Will the critics of The Cold Equations pause in their rush to suggest alternative conclusions to acknowledge the practical limitations, however ham-handedly presented, that were in play?
There’s something a bit uncanny about Apsara Engine, the new comics collection by Bishakh Som. The world of comics is all about genre — superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, horror — and most of the time it’s pretty easy to match any book to its proper slot. Even highbrow graphic novels tend to categorize themselves through the style of art they employ and the types of stories they tell. Not this book, though. Its images and concepts seem to come from a place all their own. Som’s imagination is science-fictiony, without being particularly technological, mythic without being particularly traditional, and humanistic without cherishing any particular assumptions about where we, as a species, are headed.
You might classify these comics as “literary,” but Som’s approach to storytelling is as uncanny as her style and themes. Even the book’s structure keeps the reader off-balance. Som intersperses tales of future civilizations and half-human hybrid beasts with vignettes of run-of-the-mill contemporary life, so the reader never knows if something odd is about to happen.
You might classify these comics as “literary,” but Som’s approach to storytelling is as uncanny as her style and themes.
…Som’s artistic style breaks boundaries, too. She’ll employ traditional comic-book techniques for page layouts and character designs, then toss them aside with the turn of a page. A character who’s drawn iconically, with just a few efficient lines defining her features, will become lushly realistic at a pivotal moment. A story drawn in the usual square panels will suddenly burst forth into a series of flowing, uncontained two-page spreads.
Such moments of explosive transition provide the book’s heartbeat. It’s a mesmerizing arrythmia. The deceptiveness of what we think of as “ordinary life” is a running motif, one Som explores through unexpected juxtapositions. In “Come Back to Me,” a pretty young woman engages in an utterly mundane inner monologue while walking on the beach. Her reminiscences about the time she cheated on her boyfriend, which appear above and below the drawings, continue to unspool implacably even as she’s pulled into the ocean by a mermaid….
In 1970, Binns established Space Age Books, with the help of his friends Lee Harding and Paul Stevens. It soon established a reputation as the best source of science fiction, fantasy and counter-culture literature in Melbourne, and probably Australia.
Space Age became the hub of a growing science fiction community and Binns became associated with leading authors, editors and publishers, as well the growing number of fans, in Australia and internationally.
As a result, Binns and Space Age were integral to the hosting of World Science Fiction Conventions in Melbourne in 1975 and 1985.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 18, 1938 — Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published by National Allied Publications even though the cover said June. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. This was actually an anthology, and contained eleven features with the Superman feature being the first thirteen inside pages. Five years ago, a pristine copy of this comic sold for a record $3,207,852 on an eBay auction. It was one of two hundred thousand that were printed.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 18, 1884 — Frank R. Paul. An employee of editor Hugo Gernsback, he largely defined the look of both cover art and interior illustrations in the pulps of the Twenties from Amazing Stories at first and later for Planet Stories, Superworld Comics and Science Fiction. He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s own novel, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660. You can see his cover for Amazing Stories, August 1927 issue , illustrating The War of the Worldshere. (Died 1963.)
Born April 18, 1922 — Nigel Kneale. Writer of novels and scripts merging horror and SF, he’s best remembered for the creation of the character Professor Bernard Quatermass. Though he was a prolific British producer and writer, he had only one Hollywood movie script, Halloween III: Season of the Witch. (Died 2006.)
Born April 18, 1945 — Karen Wynn Fonstad. She designed several atlases of fictional worlds including The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Atlas of Pern and The Atlas of the Dragonlance World. (Died 2005.)
Born April 18, 1946 — Janet Kagan. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit of short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Baen Books and is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2008.)
Born April 18, 1952 — Martin Hoare. I’m not going to attempt to restate what Mike stares much better in his obituary here. (Died 2019.)
Born April 18, 1965 — Stephen Player, 55. He’s deep into Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh but that’s just a mere wee taste of he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money.
Born April 18, 1969 — Keith R. A. DeCandido, 51. I found him with working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, Andromeda, Farscape, Firefly, Aliens, Star Trek In its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Spider-Man, X-Men, Hercules, Thor, Sleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. Has he ever written a novel that was a media tie-in?
Born April 18, 1971 — David Tennant, 49. Eleventh Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly. He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.
Born April 18, 1973 — Cora Buhlert, 47. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and she’s also a finalist for the Best Fan Writer Hugo this year.
It’s been a wild month for comic book fans everywhere. Since the COVID-19 crisis fully took hold we’ve been getting used to new ways of living, working, and accessing our favorite art, even SDCC has been canceled! It was only a few weeks ago that Diamond–the comic book industry’s only physical distributor–would stop distributing single issues to comic shops. Since then, there have been plenty of rumors, failed plans, and new ideas. But now DC Comics has announced they will be selling comics directly to shops via two new distributors.
It’s great news for comics fans but also has massive implications for the future of the industry as a whole. We’re here to break down why.
… The fact that DC Comics is breaking with the exclusive deal Diamond has had with them for decades means that they are introducing two new distributors into the market for the first time in 20 years. It could essentially break the monopoly that Diamond has had on the industry. Possibly freeing up the proverbial trade routes that have long been under the control of one massive company….
…In a previous column, I wrote about the unprecedented library closures around the country in the wake of the pandemic. The value of public libraries is rarely questioned in times of crisis—think of the New Orleans Public Library after Hurricane Katrina, or the Ferguson Municipal Public Library during the unrest there. But this crisis—more specifically, the social distancing required to address this crisis—strikes at the very foundation on which the modern public library rests. And as the days go by, I find myself increasingly concerned about how libraries come back from these closures.
For one, I suspect that Covid-19 will change some people’s perspective on what can and should be shared. I fear many people will begin to overthink materials handling and the circulation of physical library collections, including books. It’s a reasonable assumption that people will emerge from this public health crisis with a heightened sense of risk related to germ exposure. How many of our patrons—particularly those with means—will begin to question the safety of borrowing books and other items from the library?
In terms of our buildings, open access for everyone has long been a celebrated library value. Public libraries have evolved, survived, and have even managed to thrive through a digital transformation by reconfiguring our spaces to be more social, more functional, and by offering more programs and classes. Can we maintain that in an age of social distancing? Will libraries need to supply gloves for shared keyboards? Will parents and caregivers still want to bring their children to a “Baby and Me” program? Will seniors still find respite in a library community?
…This time, though, the launch will be markedly different from any other in the history of the space agency. Unlike Mercury, Gemini, Apollo or the space shuttle era, the rocket will be owned and operated not by NASA, but by a private company — SpaceX, the hard-charging commercial space company founded by Elon Musk.
(18) KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews says that last Saturday a giant music festival was held “featuring emo titans American Football, chiptune pioneers Anamanaguchi and electropop pioneer Baths,” but social distancing protocols were followed because this was a virtual festival that took place inside Minecraft. “Thousands gathered Saturday for a music festival. Don’t worry: It was in Minecraft.”
… Interested parties could “attend” in a few different ways. Some watched on the video game streaming site Twitch. To really get into the action, though, you needed to log into Minecraft, plug in the proper server info and, voilà!, you’d pop to life in a hallway and then explore the venue through your first-person viewpoint.
Purchasing a VIP pass (with real money) allowed access to special cordoned-off parts of the venue and the chance to chat with the artists on the gamer hangout app Discord. Meanwhile, the nearly 100,000 unique viewers on Twitch were encouraged to donate money to disaster recovery org Good360, which ended up with roughly $8,000 in proceeds.
What does an outdoor cat do all day? According to new research, it could be taking a heavy toll on local wildlife.
A tracking study of more than 900 house cats shows when they kill small birds and mammals, their impact is concentrated in a small area, having a bigger effect than wild predators do….
“Even though it seems like their cat isn’t killing that many, it really starts to add up,” said Roland Kays, a scientist at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. (Full disclosure: Kays isn’t a cat or dog person but a “ferret person.”)
Kays and colleagues collected GPS data from cats in six countries and found most cats aren’t venturing very far from home.
“These cats are moving around their own backyard and a couple of their neighbors’ backyards, but most of them are not ranging very much further,” Kays said. “So initially I thought: ‘Oh, this is good news. They’re not going out into the nature preserves.’ “
Then Kays factored in how much cats kill in that small area. Some cats in the study were bringing home up to 11 dead birds, rodents or lizards a month, which doesn’t include what they ate or didn’t bring home to their owners.
“It actually ends up being a really intense rate of predation on any unfortunate prey species that’s going to live near that cat’s house,” he said.
Deep in the Pacific Ocean, six-foot-long Humboldt squid are known for being aggressive, cannibalistic and, according to new research, good communicators.
Known as “red devils,” the squid can rapidly change the color of their skin, making different patterns to communicate, something other squid species are known to do.
But Humboldt squid live in almost total darkness more than 1,000 feet below the surface, so their patterns aren’t very visible. Instead, according to a new study, they create backlighting for the patterns by making their bodies glow, like the screen of an e-reader.
“Right now, what blows my mind is there’s probably squid talking to each other in the deep ocean and they’re probably sharing all sorts of cool information,” said Ben Burford, a graduate student at Stanford University.
Humboldt squid crowd together in large, fast-moving groups to feed on small fish and other prey.
“When you watch them it looks like frenzy,” Burford said. “But if you pay close attention, they’re not touching each other. They’re not bumping into each other.”
Stephen King jumped into the live stream game on Friday afternoon. The Master of Horror flipped on the camera to read the first chapter from his new book If It Bleeds. As previously reported, the book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight — and is available for Constant Readers on April 21st.
Wearing a Loser/Lover shirt from It: Chapter One, which is just all kinds of charming, King read from the first novel Mr. Harrigans Phone. The story continues the author’s mistrust of technology in the vein of Cell, and should make us all think twice about our respective smart phones. So, think about that as you watch King from your couch.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Bella Michaels, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]