Michael J. Walsh, who broadly defines the word “cat” to include extinct avian convention mascots, forwarded this photo of Izzard, the Capclave dodo, with the new Steve Stiles collection. Walsh reminds us:
Steve did many covers for the Capclave program/souvenir featuring dodos and usually something to do with the GoH.
Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
(1) BSFS MAKES GRANT TO 2020 WORLD FANTASY CON. The membership of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society has granted $1000 to the 2020 World Fantasy Convention, Salt Lake City, Utah, which will be held virtually this year.
The grant may be used to defray any of the considerable fixed expenses that are required to hold the annual event, which awards the prestigious World Fantasy Awards to the best Fantasy or Dark Fantasy works published in the previous year.
More information about the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) can be found here.
(2) HORROR IN EVERYDAY LIFE. Shiv Ramdas livetweeted a family crisis he was following by phone. Thread starts here. (Since it already had 69K retweets and almost 300K likes by the time I saw it, you’ve probably already read it!)
The cast of the beloved comedy The Princess Bride will reunite for a one-night-only virtual table read to raise money for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
“A Virtual Princess Bride Reunion” will features original cast members Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane, the film’s director Rob Reiner and “special guests.” In addition to the table read, the reunited cast will partake in a virtual Q&A moderated by Patton Oswalt.
The virtual table read will livestream only once, on September 13th at 6 p.m. CST. Fans of the film can RSVP at Act Blue to watch the livestream. “Anything you donate will be used to ensure that Trump loses Wisconsin, and thereby the White House,” organizers promise; both Elwes and Reiner have been vocal in their criticism of Donald Trump on social media.
…Second, the average writer in the early era worked under a set of very harsh restrictions. There were lots of issues that were taboo, from sex and mating to race and racism; there were morality clauses in contracts that could and would be enforced if the writer stepped too far out of line. Heinlein, for example, wrote coloured characters … but he had to give himself plausible deniability He did this so well in one book – Tunnel in the Sky – that he managed to raise suspicions of miscegenation instead. By modern standards, this is insane as well as stupid. But we’re talking about an era that was worried about Mr. Spock’s ears!
Third, the average writer did not know where technology was going. They made a lot of guesses and got some things right, but they also got a lot of things wrong. Heinlein’s predictions regarding computer development, for example, were absurd. He assumed a lot of easy things would be very hard, if not impossible, and vice versa. Asimov’s predictions were even worse, to the point he has wood-burning stoves co-existing with atomic power plants and FTL drives.
Fourth, the average writer lived in a far more limited world. There was both relatively little awareness of other cultures and a certain sense that the Anglo-American way was the best. It isn’t until fairly recently, thanks to the internet, that we have really become aware of alternatives. They drew on their awareness of the world to shape their future worlds, hence the number of very traditional societies in fantastic worlds….
However, it seems unclear why 20th Century sff writers would be unaware of alternatives that Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Susan B. Anthony already knew about in the 19th Century. In fact, they probably weren’t unaware of them. It’s hard not to simply enjoy the status quo when it works in your favor.
(5) THE RETURN OF HYPER COMICS. A book-length collection of Steve Stiles’ Hyper Comics, in the works when he died earlier this year, was released in August. One of the places it can be ordered is Barnes and Noble.
The last project of legendary underground cartoonist and Hugo Award-winner Steve Stiles, who passed away in 2020, is a September release from Thintwhistle Books, a company formed by Steve’s widow, Elaine Stiles.
Packed with more than 150 pages of Steve’s classic work from Hyper Comics, Heavy Metal, Stardate, and a host of other publications, it’s an essential part of any cartoon collector’s library !
Krupp Comic Works founder Denis Kitchen called Steve “one of the funniest and cleverest goddamn cartoonists on the planet.” Mark Schultz said of Steve’s back-up stories in Xenozoic Tales, “It was a joy to collaborate with him – if he made any adjustments to my scripts they were invariably improvements.” Heavy Metal editor Ted White called Steve’s contributions to the magazine “Phil-Dickian in their SF surrealism, wicked in their observations, and Firesign Theatre-like in their mocking details.”
In The Return of Hyper Comics, you’ll thrill to the adventures of Jim Baxter, Marijuana Detective. You’ll share Steve’s nightmares as he meets Nixon and Trump. You’ll smile along with Mr. Smile when he accidentally kills a girl he is trying to save. “If only I could stop smiling,” he says. You’ll get an advance look at next month’s QAnon conspiracy when Steve reveals, “Joe Stalin Tells Me What to Draw!” And you’ll barf as Steve’s first orgy ends with tainted oysters and a group emergency room visit.
Steve had a particular genius for chronicling life’s humiliating moments, and fortunately for his fans, Steve had enough humiliating moments in his life to fill volumes. He stands up to fellow students after one of them writes a racist insult on the blackboard, and in revenge they finger him as the culprit. A dealer spikes Steve’s coffee with LSD, leaving him on a bicycle in Queens in rush hour. But through it all, Steve faces life’s traumas with self-mocking humor and a core of optimism that nothing manages to quite extinguish.
The Return of Hyper Comics is 150 pages of wicked social satire, bizarre sex, science fiction, violence, drugs, and personal humiliation, all with brilliant art by a master cartoonist. Thintwhistle Books disclaims responsibility for damage resulting from excessive laughter.
Daniel Dae Kim will lead an all-star cast in a recreation of the original “The Adventures of Superman” radio serial during the second installment of DC FanDome, Warner Bros. announced Friday.
Kim is one of three actors who will voice Superman in the one-hour production, which is being produced using original scripts recently found in Warner Bros. archives. The event is being held in support of The Creative Coalition, a Hollywood nonprofit that aims to address entertainment industry issues as well as urgent social issues.
Joining Kim as Superman in the production is Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and current Creative Coalition president Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary’)….
The performance of “The Adventures of Superman” will be available beginning on demand for 24 hours beginning Sept. 12 at 10:00 AM as part of DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse, the second installment of the successful virtual Comic-Con alternative, which debuted in August. The event can be accessed at DCFanDome.com.
(7) NICHOLS MACIOROWSKI DIES. Influential animation visual development and story artist Sue Nichols Maciorowski died on September 1 at the age of 55 reports Animation Magazine.
Sue graduated from California Institute of Arts with a visual animation degree in 1987. There she was part of a team that won an Emmy for work on The Muppet Babies. After graduation, Sue worked for Jim Henson on The Muppet Babies, Marvel production, and taught classes at CalArts. She then started her long career with Disney Studios working on animation films where she was best known for her expertise in character development. A few of her favorite works that she contributed to were Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, and the Princess and the Frog. More information on her career may be found on her website, Mothernichols.com.
Disney tweeted its own tribute. Thread starts here.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 5, 1952 — Tales of Tomorrow’s “Seeing-Eye Surgeon” –
Does Doctor Xenon really exist? I don’t know. For that matter, do we three standing in this room really exist? Who knows? The real and the unreal. Where does one stop and the other begin. Maybe we’re just a figment or product of someone else’s fevered imagination. Someone from another world perhaps. — Doctor Bob Tyrell
On this day in 1952, Tales of Tomorrow first aired “Seeing-Eye Surgeon” which is the only SF credits for co-writers Michael Blair and Ed Dooley. The cast was Bruce Cabot as surgeon Bob Tyrell, Constance Towers as Martha Larson, Edwin Jerome as Doctor Foyle and Joseph Holland as the possibly mythical Doctor Xenon. Towers would later be in episodes of The Outer Limits, The 4400 and Deep Space Nine. You can see it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 5, 1774 – Caspar Friedrich. Leading Romantic painter; known for great landscapes with human presence small. Here is a Frankenstein using CF’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog; here is another using The Sea of Ice; here is another using Cromlech in the Snow. Here is a Dracula using Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon. (Died 1840) [JH]
Born September 5, 1913 – Sheilah Beckett. Illustrated seventy fairy-tale titles for Little Golden Books. First woman illustrator at the Charles E. Cooper studio, N.Y. Commercial work e.g. Necco Wafers, Whitman’s Chocolates, but preferred children’s books and Christmas cards. Lived to be 100. Here is a cover for Rapunzel. Here is an interior for Sleeping Beauty. Here is Jane Werner’s retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Here is an interior from John Fowles’ retelling of Cinderella. Here is a book of Beauty and the Beast stickers. Here is Lowell Baird’s translation of Candide. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born September 5, 1921 — Paul L. Payne. He edited both Jungle Stories (three years in the Forties) and the better known Planet Stories (five years in the same period) but there’s very little on him on the web. ISFDB notes that he wrote one novel for us, The Cructars Are Coming, which is available in an Armchair Fiction print edition along with Frank Belknap Long’s Made to Order novel. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born September 5, 1936 — Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played a series of androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. Both appeared as police women in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They only acted for three years and every appearance but one was with the other. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.) (CE)
Born September 5, 1936 —Joseph A. Smith, 84. Two dozen covers, half a dozen interiors for us; many others. Here is Hercules in his lion’s skin. Here is The Adventures of King Midas (look at the rock!). Here is Stopping for a Spell and here is Year of the Griffin. Here is Witches. Here is Gregor Mendel. Here is Circus Train. [JH]
Born September 5, 1939 — George Lazenby, 81. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which I’m sure I’ve seen if I’ve completely forgotten it now. His turn as Bond was the shortest among the actors in the film franchise and he is the only Bond actor not to appear beyond a single film. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was also a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. (CE)
Born September 5, 1940 — Raquel Welch, 80. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film though she made One Million Years B.C. thatwith her leather bikini got her more notice. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Muppet Show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy. (CE)
Born September 5, 1953 – Paul Stinson, 67. Seventy covers, a few interiors, for us; more for commercial clients. Here is Jesus on Mars. Here is Gunn’s Road to SF vol. 2. Here is the first issue of Beyond. Here is Ice Hunt. Here is Pillars of Salt. [JH]
Born September 5, 1964 — Stephen Greenhorn, 56. Scriptwriter who written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series whichJodie Whittaker and Alex Kingston appeared in. He also wrote the Mind Shadows strip which was featured on the Who website. (CE)
Born September 5, 1964 – Olga Dugina, 56. Teacher, illustrator (sometimes with Andrej Dugin). Here is an image from The Three Oranges; here is another. Here is Dragon Feathers. Here is an interior from The Adventures of Abdi (Brazilian ed’n; text shown is in Portuguese). Here is one from The Brave Little Tailor. [JH]
Born September 5, 1981 – Dina Djabieva, 39. Three images in Star*Line vol. 36 no. 2, cover for vol. 36 no. 3. Here is “Pan”. Here is “Warrior Monk”. Here is “Elysium”. Here is “The Maiden”. She says, “I find myself living between two worlds, the dreaming and the waking. Too often I am not able to distinguish between the two.” [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld on the possibilities of sci-fi (in The Guardian).
You alluded to this a little bit, but one thing that’s so interesting about this particular industry is there are two very large well-capitalized companies and then several other smaller companies producing the core product. Then there’s one middleman. And then there’s zillions of tiny little mom and pops. And as a result, the one middleman was able to functionally shut everything down.
Most responsible retailers in the business saw that this needed to happen because we could not have stuff being shipped that couldn’t be sold. The bills would keep mounting up. The problem simply is that this is a system where it expects that there’s cashflow coming in constantly. Diamond was in a situation where they needed to try to pay off their suppliers for the books that they had already sold, and they knew that there was not going to be any more money coming in at the same time. Diamond did get a credit line with Chase, Steve Geppi has said this is not going to be a problem going forward.
But there are many different kinds of comic shops. There are many that focus on graphic novels, and they’re much more insulated against these problems, because the graphic novels have continued shipping from other other distributors outside the comics industry like Random House. There are stores that have games or toys or something else like that they’re also doing.
Then, of course, let’s say you’re a pure comic shop, that means you probably also have a back issue section and many have a mail order, online stores or eBay stores, and there’s over 10 billion comic books already in existence so not having the new ones for a few weeks, you know, that’s not that big a deal.
But there are some shops, they’re suburban in nature, they tend to be more superhero-centric stores and those are the people that are more concerned about a disruption to the habitual nature of comics reading. My response to that would be, “yeah, but is the comics habit going to break any faster than the professional basketball watching habit will break, or the movie-going habit will break?” I think when you have every alternative also shutting down, you’re less likely to have people respond to this as, “the comics, they’ve left me, they’ve abandoned me.” No, it’s that the comet has struck, and we’re all going to just catch our breath here for a while, and we’re going to try to figure out how to restart this thing.
I’ve used the metaphor of Apollo 13 that they have to bring these systems up one at a time, systems that were never designed to shut down.
When the effect of tourist attractions on local economies comes to mind, what are some of the first places one can think of? Historical sites, perhaps, or cultural events. But what happens when the thing that helps drive a local economy might not exist at all?
This isn’t a brain-teaser or a deep dive into epistemological thinking; instead, it’s a precursor to the way the Loch Ness Monster hosted the Scottish economy. Which, it turns out, is by a lot. A new article by Michele Debczak at Mental Floss delves into the way one of the world’s most famous cryptids has helped shape the local economy in Scotland. Nessie might not be real, but its impact certainly is.
How much of an impact is there on Scotland’s economy? According to a study commissioned by accountant and Loch Ness Monster fan club founder Gary Campbell, the economic boost of Nessie tourism heads into the 8 figures.
(13) RADIO FREE DRACULA. The University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players will be doing a five-part radio play adaptation of Dracula. Hear a member of the company speak about “Dracula: About the Project” at Soudcloud.
A free audio presentation by the Resident Ensemble Players, in partnership with WVUD 91.3 FM.
Much more than just a gothic horror story, DRACULA is a love story, a mystery, and a globe-trotting adventure tale. The REP partners with radio station WVUD for a free, five-episode audio drama of this classic to be presented every Friday night in October.
Beginning in the forbidding mountains of Transylvania, a mysterious night-stalking beast entraps and seduces his way to England in search of new blood. A group of colleagues and companions unearth the horrible secrets of this life-sucking creature as they launch a heart-pounding chase across Europe, only to find themselves in the fight for their lives to save both themselves and the ones they love.
WVUD will broadcast/stream DRACULA in October on Friday nights at 7:00 PM:
Oct. 2, 7:00 PM — Episode 1: Listen, What Sweet Music
Oct. 9, 7:00 PM — Episode 2: The Coming Storm
Oct. 16, 7:00 PM — Episode 3: Of Nature and Supernature
Oct. 23, 7:00 PM — Episode 4: Master and Servant
Oct. 30, 7:00 PM — Episode 5: Chasing Nightfall
Listeners can tune into WVUD’s Friday night broadcasts on 91.3 FM on radio or stream from computer or digital devices at http://www.wvud.org/
The elf who tells Arwen that she “cannot delay” her journey to the Undying Lands was played by Bret McKenzie, who subsequently became famous as half of musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, alongside Jemaine Clement. McKenzie very briefly appeared in Fellowship of the Ring, and his character became known as Figwit among admiring fans–an acronym for “Frodo is great… who is THAT?” Jackson decided to put him in Return of the Ring and give him some dialogue “just for fun for the fans.”
(15) MEDIA TIE-IN. Who knew there was Forbidden Planet merch out there? A buddy of John King Tarpinian’s stopped off at the Walmart in Bakersfield for supplies on his way to the Sequoias found this on the shelves —
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Double King” on YouTube is a 2017 film by Australian animator Felix Colgrave about a murderous monarch that has been viewed 42 million times but has never shown up on File 770! (Although I don’t think there’s a rule that it has to.)
[Thanks to Bill, Jeff Smith, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porte, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day MaineYooper.]
George R. R. Martin, who wrote the book series that was adapted into the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” and two co-investors have bought an abandoned, 18-mile spur railroad line from Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico, with the intent of restoring it to its former glory as a tourist attraction, The Business Insider reported on Monday.
No price was mentioned for the purchase, which also includes 10 antique rail cars, two vintage locomotives, and a station house at Lamy currently leased by Amtrak that is part of its twice daily line from Chicago to Los Angeles.
“There are a lot of opportunities for a new tourist attraction,” Martin told the Albuquerque Journal. “COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into our plan. We had hoped to get things up and running in 2021, but now it won’t be until 2022.”
I’ve caught a train at the Lamy station, after visiting my sister in Santa Fe. It’s miles out of town — despite the city’s iconic railroad name, the Amtrak line doesn’t run through the city.
…It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again. There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life. And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down. But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.
And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.
…We regret to announce that PulpFest is being postponed until August 2021.
Although it is likely that businesses and events in the region where PulpFest is staged will be allowed to resume operations in June, they will have to follow guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
…Given the substantial risks involved and our desire to maintain the health and well-being of our many supporters, the PulpFest organizing committee voted unanimously to postpone this year’s convention until early August 2021.
… On May 24, 1990, the final film in Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s Back to the Future trilogy premiered in theaters. Directly picking up from the cliffhanger of 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and the DeLorean time machine accidentally being struck by lightning, sending him back to the Old West. Part III picks up with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling to 1885 to rescue Doc and return him to the present.
(5) SPACE FORCE REDUX. Netflix dropped a second trailer for Space Force, which they have cleverly called Space Force Trailer 2.
Steve Stiles became a science fiction fan in 1957; he’d been illustrating fanzines from then until his death, earning him the first Rotsler Fan Artist Award in 1998, and a Fan Artist Hugo in 2016. Professionally, he worked in numerous comic book genres since 1973 (horror, super hero, science fiction, humor), including the award-winning Xenozoic Tales and perhaps the first steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle, with author Richard Lupoff.
(7) TODAY’S DAY.
May 25 — Towel Day which is celebrated by fans every year on May 25 as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams. Fans carry a towel with them as described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held May 25, 2001 two weeks after Douglas Adams’ death. [Via Rocketmail.]
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 25, 1977 — Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rodgers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to. Reception by critics and fans alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of The Third Kind. It holds a stellar 96% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
May 25, 1983 — Return of the Jedi, the last of the original trilogy, premiered. Later retitled Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, it came out six years after Star Wars. It is directed not by Lucas this time but by Richard Marquand from a screenplay by Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan who co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark. The principal cast is the same as the first film. Critics were ever so slightly less pleased with this concluding film of the trilogy but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an equally stellar 94% rating as the first film. It would win The Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at L.A. con II beating Right Stuff and WarGames. Box office wise, it sold more tickets for most of its first eight week American run than any other film.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender. Four decades an active fan with her husband Roy. Together they were Secretary-Treasurer of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n in 1950. They were at Aussiecon I the 33rd World Science Fiction Convention (I wasn’t), and Noreascon II the 38th (I was). They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California. They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host. Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983 (Dik Daniels photo), and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin; Mike Resnick collection). (Died 1986) [JH]
Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig. Publishing his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories. Founded the Science Fiction League with HG, 1934; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly. See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb. Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian). The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel. Thirteen SF novels, twenty shorter stories, eight poetry collections (the first being Who Knows One?). Translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian. Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born May 25, 1946 — Frank Oz, 74. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
Born May 25, 1946 — Janet Morris, 74. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy, the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series. And let’s not over overlook her Heroes in Hell series she wrote,most co-authorEd with her husband Chris Morris, some with C J Cherryh and David Drake. (CE)
Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty. Engineer. Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty. Back when FORTRAN wasn’t even Two-tran she fed punch-cards to a Control Data CDC 6400. For ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, Official Editor of the con committee’s APA (Amateur Press Ass’n, a collection of fanzines) The Never-Ending Meeting. At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”. Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11]. Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon in 2001, and Loscon XXXI (2004). Joined me in liking Mission of Gravity. Obituary by OGH here. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born May 25, 1952 — Al Sarrantonio, 68. His horror short stories are brilliant and they‘ve earned him a Stoker for 999: New Tales of Horror and Suspense and a Jackson for Stories: All-New Tales, the latter co-edited with Gaiman. His Masters of Mars series is SF and he’s written a Babylon 5 novel as well, Personal Agendas. (CE)
Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai. Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yojimbo comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The rônin lifeis hard. During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yojimbo exhibit. Sakai has won a Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award. [JH]
Born May 25, 1960 — Eric Brown, 60. Well-deserved winner of two BSFA awards for his short stories, “Hunting the Slarqye” and “The Children of The Winter”. He’s very prolific, averaging a novel a year over the past three decades and countless novellas and short stories. As far as SF goes, I’d start with his Binary System and Bengal Station series, both of which are superb. And I’m going to single out his Sherlock Holmes metaverse novel, The Martian Menace, in which The Great Detective meets and defeats those Invaders. (CE)
Born May 25, 1966 — Vera Nazarian, 54. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tanith Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet. Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay). [JH]
Mikey Heller drew a comic about a cat café. It’s got sjw credentials, sf, everything!
(11) LID OVERFLOW. In The Full Lid 22nd May 2020Alasdair Stuart takes a look “at how now is very much the time for Strange New Worlds and what the Short Treks set on Pike’s Enterprise can teach us about the show’s tone.”
I also take a look at excellent, furious and overlooked movie Assassination Nation and Bog Bodies, a superb crime graphic novel out this week. Signal Boost is big this week but the YA/MG Author spotlight that follows it is much bigger and full of amazing books.
This week Stuart also launched The Full Lid Plus! A monthly supplement covering Disney Plus.
It’s first issue covers what we learn in the first for episodes of The Mandalorian and looks at award winning free-climbing documentary Free Solo. Oh and Will Smith sings.
The Full Lid Plus is published monthly and run off a paid subscription model, Details at the link.
Stuart’s Hugo Voting Packet for 2020 is also available at his website. “It touches on all my non-fiction work, has links to every piece and a consolidated PDF of everything too.”
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company has tried unsuccessfully to launch a rocket over the Pacific Ocean.
The booster was released from under the wing of one of the UK entrepreneur’s old jumbos which had been specially converted for the task.
The rocket should have ignited its engine seconds later but engineers had to terminate the flight.
Virgin Orbit’s goal is to try to capture a share of the emerging market for the launch of small satellites.
It’s not clear at this stage what went wrong but the firm had warned beforehand that the chances of success might be in the region of 50:50.
The history of rocketry shows that maiden outings very often encounter technical problems.
The firm is sure to be back for another attempt pretty soon – depending on the outcome of the post-mission analysis.
(13) FLOCKING OFF. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] I just noticed this monologue from the May 18thLate Night with Seth Meyers. There was no genre-related sketch that night. However!
When Seth Meyers first started broadcasting from home, he apparently (to my eyes, at least) ordered several feet of cheap respectable-looking trade paper and hardcover books from a local used book store. One that caught my eye was Shardik, which has a lot of whitespace on the spine and that weird symbol. The two copies of a book about Thessalonica were the big tip-off to me these were surplus and not garage detritus.
And then there was The Thorn Birds. No one seemed to believe Seth Meyers was a Thorn Birds fan.
Soon Meyers moved out of his garage and into his attic, where he has a plain backdrop…and an end table with a small stack of books. I’ve seen two dust-jacketed books claiming to be The Thorn Birds and one unjacketed copy between them. The Janelle Monae clip has a stack of Thorn Birds, Thorn Birds II: More Thorns, and Thorn Birds III: Something written in script too fine for me to read.
But the best one yet you can see in this clip, in the lower left-hand corner:
“To think that I have all this at my fingertips, whether it’s automated high-volume stock trading or unlimited surveillance footage of my employees, it’s like something out of a science fiction paradise,” said pharmaceutical executive Ron Pollard, who claimed previous generations of police officers, elected officials, and business leaders could never comprehend the world of unlimited possibilities that has been created for them, where they are free to do whatever they want all the time.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, Alasdair Stuart, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from Vanamonde 1378-79)
Beyond the hills are
Mountains; beyond the mountains
Is the sky; beyond –
Shakespeare used Latin in stage directions. It was the thing to do at the time. Exit means one person leaves the stage; exeunt, plural. Manet means one person remains; manent, plural. But those are in the third person. We are in this play. Manemus means we remain.
Mike Resnick (1942-2020) and Steve Stiles (1943-2020) both left in January. The month is named for the Roman god Janus. He had two faces, to look back and forward.
When significant people die, we often hear “Their like will not be seen again”. In truth we don’t know that. How could we?
The more aching a death leaves us, the more its true significance – I propose – includes Grab that torch.
If we feel helpless at an important loss, we can take that as a kind of compliment to the actor who left the stage.
We can conclude Let us do as well in our way as he did (as it happens, Mike and Steve were men) in his way. This can even be among the challenges of diversity.
Mike Resnick at Chicon 7 (2012). Photo by Joel Zakem
A few years ago someone found Mike was the leading award-winner for short fiction among all speculative-fiction authors living or dead. His 5 Hugos (37-time finalist), 1 Nebula (11 nominations) – his novella “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” (1994) won both – 3 Ignotus Awards and 1 Xatafi-Cyberdark (Spain), 2 Prix Ozine Awards and 1 Tour Eiffel (France), 1 Seiun and 1 Hayakawa’s SF Magazine Readers’ Award (Japan), 1 Futura Poll Award (Croatia), 1 Nowa Fantastyka Poll Award (Poland), show he had the gift of reaching people, internationally.
In 2007-2018 he was a judge for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. He won the Skylark in 1995, the Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He was Author Guest of Honor at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention. He was executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, and founded Galaxy’s Edge, now in its seventh year. He edited forty anthologies. His papers are at the University of Southern Florida in Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Among his various collections the titles Once A Fan…. (2002) and ….Always a Fan (2009) are telling. Once has among various lists “My 25 Favorite Fanzines”. In the costume competition we call the Masquerade, he and his wife Carol, who survives him, won major awards at four Worldcons; he judged Masquerades and was Master of Ceremonies. Among his various anthologies are Alternate Worldcons (1994) and Again, Alternate Worldcons (1996). At the 60th Worldcon he led a fanhistory tour. Among things he called outstanding at the 50th Worldcon was the arrival of Harry Warner’s fanhistory A Wealth of Fable in a hardcover edition. He wrote for Challenger, File 770, Lan’s Lantern, Mimosa.
He believed that whether or not you can pay it back, you should pay it forward; he was known for giving a hand to authors younger in their careers, many now calling themselves Mike’s Author Children – besides his daughter Laura. Three of his Hugo finalists were Putting It Together: Turning Sow’s Ear Drafts into Silk Purse Stories (2001), I Have This Nifty Idea … Now What Do I Do With It? (2002), and The Business of Science Fiction (2011).
I’ll mention two moments I was in and one I saw. When The Dying Earth (J. Vance, 1950) was on the Retrospective Hugo ballot for Best Novel at the 59th Worldcon he said “If Kirinyaga [MR, 1998] is a novel, it’s a novel.” Another time, of Second Foundation (I. Asimov, 1953) he said “Having nearly destroyed the Seldon Plan with a Mule, he shouldn’t have saved it with a planet of Mules.” In one of his stints as Masquerade M.C. – he was otherwise unstinting – an entrant shot him with a tachyon gun: he froze, motionless: as Diana Morales sang in A Chorus Line (1975), What he did for love.
Steve Stiles in 1979. Photo by Jeff Schalles.
Steve, one of the best-loved fanartists in recent years, was already a Hugo finalist in 1967-68; then 2003-2008 and 2010-2018, winning at Midamericon II the 74th World Science Fiction Convention (17-21 Aug 16; Midamericon I was the 34th, 2-6 Sep 76; Kansas City, MO). Meanwhile he won fourteen Fan Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards, 2001, 2003-2006, 2010-2012, 2014-2018. He was in fanzines from Cry of the Nameless to Xero, including Vanamonde.
Jophan says, pub your ish; Steve did, sometimes; there were nine years between Sam 14 and 15, thirty-one between Sam 15 and 16. In Mimosa 18 he said the first two issues of Sam had appeared by 1956, when he was thirteen; in Sam 16 he said Sam 1 came in 1960; Sam 18, the latest I know of, is dated 2016. This is Fanzineland, where zines come and go; Science Fiction Five-Yearly – which also had his fanart, sometimes on the cover – was published on time for sixty years.
Also in 1968 he was already well enough known and loved that he was voted the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate, over Ed Cox and Ted Johnstone; his TAFF report Harrison Country, which began to appear in 1968, was completed in 2006, its various chapters collated and published in 2007, including TAFF Terror Tales 3 originally pubbed, as TAFF has sometimes done, to solicit votes in the next year’s contest, Stiles having become in turn the North America administrator: a pastiche of Krazy Kat (1913-1944), reprinted in Locus 56 and Chunga 12, where Randy Byers said (p. 6)
Steve managed not only to capture Herriman’s drawing style, but also the dialect of the characters, the wordplay, the ever-mutating abstract landscape, the self-awareness of the frame, and the strip structure that renders mini-stories within each strip but also builds a larger story between strips … fannish and also stefnal (or at least Dickian [i.e. Philip K.])…. fans were jiants in those days.
Science at its root
Tells us knowledge; are artists,
Voluptuously they look
Each to each at what and how.
Let’s look forward. We have to anyhow. In Mimosa 30 I called an article“Forward to the Basics” saying we couldn’t go back to the basics, because it wasn’t so clear we ever had them, and because anyhow we couldn’t go back. We can look back, and we should; but we can only go forward. In File 770 152 reporting the Yokohama (65th) Worldcon I said I was struck by the Japanese proverb On-ko chi shin, “Study the old to appreciate the new”.
If you feel you might be able to write, will you try it, please? If you find you can, will you, please? If you feel you might be able to draw, will you try it, please? If you find you can, will you, please? In any event will you look round for anyone whose work you think worthy – what do you care what other people think? – and encourage them, support them, help them, please? Forward.
Originally faan was an unhappy form of fan; the extra a, or more of them e.g. faaan, signified excess; enough of this lingered in 1975, when Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz started the FAAn Awards, that the name showed a self-depreciation thought suitable; the FAAn Awards were given 1975-1980, then 1994 to date; since their revival they have been associated with the annual fanziners’ convention Corflu (corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Jophan is the protagonist in The Enchanted Duplicator (Willis & Shaw, 1954; “Once upon a time in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan…. strange longings … from time to time perplexed his mind … which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could satisfy”; duplicator in the sense of a machine for printing fanzines); earlier Bob Tucker used “Joe Fann” in Le Zombie for quips he wished some reader had sent in; “Come on, publish the next [or first!] issue of your fanzine” is an encouragement for all; among many instances, Art Widner used to wear a T-shirt with ”Jophan says, pub your ish”. Stefnal, our old adjective, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction; Rick Sneary’s spelling is evoked by jiant. My poem at the beginning is in unrhymed 5-7-5-syllable lines, like Japanese haiku; at the end, an acrostic (read down the first letters of each line) in unrhymed 5-7-5-7-7-syllable lines, like Japanese tanka.
(1) A MIGHTY LONG LIST. List Challenges presents “1000
Books You May Have Actually Read” — “Based on the number of ratings each book has on Goodreads.
And if you haven’t read them, maybe you can use for a literature bucket list.”
I scored 169. The list has certain biases. If I’d read every book
by Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King, I think I could have doubled my number. On
the other hand, I got credit for a whole bunch of books I read aloud to my
daughter when she was little.
2002 was a historical hinge. Just a moment earlier, the United States had seemed to be enjoying a period of peace; now it was at war. The art of that year offers a time capsule that reflects the millennium’s complex transitions. Reeling from 9/11 but working on projects begun during the Clintonian boom, before the Towers fell, some artists in 2002 were still able to romanticize millenarianism and the future: rather than imagining the specifics of the violence that would descend with the war presidency of George W. Bush, artists such as Sawad Brooks and Sabrina Raaf, for example, revealed a fascination with a speculative tomorrowland that resembled the visions of sci-fi writers such as Isaac Asimov, Iain Banks, and William Gibson. But others, such as Tana Hargest, Sujata Bhatt, Suzanne Lacy, and Nick Cave, forecasted a more difficult future.
Ever since “The Mandalorian” premiered on Disney+ in November, the adorable “Baby Yoda” character has melted hearts and minds around the world. However, despite fervent requests for Baby Yoda dolls, Disney has been rather slow to respond to product demands, reportedly in order to keep Baby Yoda’s reveal in “The Mandalorian” pilot a secret per Jon Favreau’s request.
But the cat was out of the bag after the show’s premiere, and “The Child” quickly became a social media sensation. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that impatient fans have already taken matters into their own hands, with Etsy crafters and sellers creating their own unofficial Baby Yoda toys to capitalize on the demand. And for a while, the bootleg Baby Yoda market seemed to flourish.
Of course, it didn’t take long before Disney discovered this, and began issuing takedown notices, reminding Etsy that it owns the intellectual property rights to all Star Wars characters. And Etsy businesses with popular Baby Yoda products suddenly found their listings deactivated, at the request of Disney, according to The Verge.
(4) LEGO NEWS. In the Washington Post,
Abha Bhattarai says that Lego is trying to market itself to Generation X people
as a stress reliever, thinking that Gen X types “are more likely to drop
$800 on a 7,541-piece Star Wars Millennium Falcon set or $400 for a Harry
Potter Hogwarts Castle.” — “Lego
sets its sights on a growing market: Stressed-out adults”.
says that Lego is trying to appeal to Gen X nostalgia by offering items such as
the Central Perk cafe from “Friends” or a “vintage 1989
Batmobile.” Also next month LEGO Masters will premiere as a
competition show on FOX.
connection to sf: Bhattarai says Lego posted a loss in 1998 but was saved
when they got the license to produce Star Wars products
The sheer ambition of Lego creators never ceases to amaze me. Far from being satisfied with what Lego’s sets provide, these sculptors create incredible things. Like this version of Echo Base from The Empire Strikes Back, which is ready for battle.
Hopefully, this version will have a better fight than the one in the film, however. Clocking in at over 16,000 pieces, this Echo Base, created by YouTuber The Lego Room, is a custom build featuring the base’s hangar, medical chamber, and pretty much every other part you see in the films. It even has a fully motorized gate to keep the snow and the Empire out. Capping it off is an elaborate build of the Millenium Falcon, taking up a lot of hangar space.
If you are a woman who is so bold as to inhabit a vaguely public stage, chances are high that you will be called a lot of things that can’t be printed in a family newspaper. And then some.
It’s a truism that unfortunately appears to transcend industry or geography. Exist in public, and eventually an online mob will nitpick your looks, rate your sexual desirability in relation to your ability to do your job, and probably make threats vague and specific — regardless of whether you’re a female journalist, the founder of an indie game studio or trying to run a small city in the Central Coast region of California.
San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon was fed up when she finally took to Facebook last Monday morning to call out the constant harassment she received.
(7) FIRST TIMER. Twitter user Yubi had never actually seen The Princess Bride and knew very little about it. Until now, when they did a watch through, and livetweeted their reactions. It’s really entertaining seeing them find out where so many common fan phrases and gifts came from. Thread starts here.
More than 20 years later, while they were serving together on a science-fiction panel at a 1988 convention in Florida, Mr. Eisner complimented Mr. Stiles on his art.
“He was talking about it for the rest of his life,” Mrs. Stiles said.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 19, 1967 — Star Trek’s “Arena” episode first aired on NBC. It was written by Gene L. Coon but after the episode aired , it was found to almost identical to one Fredric Brown had published in 1944 in Astounding Science Fiction. Coon then bought the rights to his story and Brown has been retroactively given a story writing credit. Not one but two actors play Gorn (Gary Combs and Bobby Clark), both uncredited, and Ted Cassidy is the Voice of Gorn Captain, also uncredited. This episode, aired in the first season is where the Federation is first mentioned.
January 19, 1990 — The first Tremors film premiered. It was directed by Ron Underwood and produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Brent Maddock, and S. S. Wilson, as written by Maddock, Wilson, and Underwood. It starred Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire. It was the only film of six in total to get a box office release. It did poorly at the box office even though critics thought it well of it and thought it has a Fifties throwback vibe to it. It has an 75% rating at Rotten Tomatoes with an astonishing almost two hundred and forty thousand votes!
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 19, 1930 — Tippi Hedren, 90. Melanie Daniels In Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the shit out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s Harvest, Tales from the Darkside,The Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
Born January 19, 1940 — Mike Reid. He’s a curious case as he’s been in a number of SFF roles, usually uncredited, starting with a First Doctor story, “The War Machines” and including one-offs for The Saint, The Champions and Department S. He is credited as playing Frank Butcher in Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time which you can watch here. (Died 2007.)
Born January 19, 1942 — Michael Crawford, 78. He was the first Phantom of the Opera in Andrew Lloyd Opera’s play. He did thirteen hundred performances in total. He did two other genre plays, Dance of the Vampires and The Wizard of Oz. He did an episode of One Step Beyond as well, though I’m not sure that was genre.
Born January 19, 1948 — Michael J. Jackson, 72. Shows up on Dr. Who in the Fifth Doctor adventure, “The King’s Demons” as Sir Geoffrey. He played Sean Burns in a recurring role on Highlander, and played Richard I in The Legend of Robin Hood series. He was in The Morons from Outer Space as the Second Scientist.
Born January 19, 1954 — Katey Sagal, 66. She voiced Leela on Futurama, the spaceship captain and head of all aviation services on board the Planet Express Ship.
Born January 19, 1957 — Roger Ashton-Griffiths, 63. He’s no doubt best known for his role as Mace Tyrell on Game of Thrones. And yes he was on Doctor Who in a Twelfth Doctor adventure, “The Robots of Sherwood” as Quayle. He’s also had roles in Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic,Tales from the Crypt, Torchwood, Brazil and Young Sherlock Holmes.
Born January 19, 1962 — Paul McCrane, 58. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files.
Born January 19, 1981 — Bitsie Tulloch, 39. She’s best known for her role as Juliette Silverton on Grimm. (I saw the first three seasons I think. It’s rather good.) She played Lois Lane in the Elseworlds event which she reprised during the Crisis on Infinite Earths even a year later.
(12) PIXEL PACKIN’ POWER. [Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.] In the January 15 Financial Times, Tom Faber reviews a
concert at the O2 Brixton Academy in London by Hatsune Miku, a hologram who has
a repertory of 100,000 songs.
Here, on her second European tour, she was performing to a mixed crowd: ‘otaku’; Japanese subculture obsessives dressed in elaborate aqua wigs and microscopic skirts; other excited teens; and a smattering of baffled dads. There was a real four-piece band on stage to support the synthesized vocals, but the players were left mostly in the dark as they tore through the signature J-pop genre crush of pop, metal, techno and trance. The dreams and emotions were turned up to 11 from the first chorus, and for two hours they did not come back down She sang big hits such as the buoyant, melodramatic ‘World is Mine’ and the English-language ‘Miku’ (sample lyric: ‘Blue hair, blue tie, hiding in your WiFi’). The misses outnumbered them, though, with an excess of polite guitar shredding and a particularly bloodless salsa number.
…While the 10-year-old hologram technology used in the show was not particularly impressive, Miku’s star continues to rise; she has just been added to the line-up at Coachella 2020. Her name translates from Japanese as ‘first sound of the future,’ and while she doesn’t convince as a harbinger of the future of pop, she does suggest the future of fandom. After her last song, Miku exploded into a thousand cyan pixels. The house lights came up and the crowd roared. Next to me a man, sweaty and euphoric, screamed, ‘Thank you, Miku!’ into the empty air.
(13) RADIX OFFERS COPIES FOR AWARDS CONSIDERATION. Radix Media is offering review copies
(printed or PDF) to anybody interested in considering their 2019 releases in
the Futures: A Science Fiction Series for awards: “2020
Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards Eligibility”.
The first Dune footage has screened. The preview footage was shown to a small group of industry insiders and has already been hailed as “epic.” Principal photography wrapped not that long ago and Denis Villeneuve is currently in the post-production phase to prepare the long-awaited movie for release at the end of the year. As for the footage that was shown, it was mixed in with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes shots. It does not seem like it was intended for public release, so don’t expect to see it any time soon.
Sci-fi novelist Brian Clement was one of the lucky viewers of the first Dune footage and he has shared his thoughts online for fans. First of all, the footage did not have completed special effects, though Clement describes the cinematography as “beautiful,” while stating, “I’m not exaggerating when I say a lot of people will have goosebumps/tears when they see this movie (I might!). Heck, when they see the footage I saw they will.” The author had to choose his words wisely as not to catch any trouble with Warner Bros.
…A small amount of footage of Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen was seen also seen in the Dune footage, along with a tiny bit of Jason Momoa. Brian Clement went on to tease that the choice of actor for playing Kynes will be a surprise for audiences, while Dave Bautista apparently looks “creepy” in the footage.
How far is Armando Iannucci’s new HBO comedy, “Avenue 5,” from his previous one, “Veep”? About a billion miles, give or take, or the distance from earth to Saturn, where the spaceship of the title is thrown off course, greatly increasing the time its load of unlucky tourists will have to spend on their interplanetary cruise.
Set 40 years in the future aboard a vessel that looks like a cross between the Starship Enterprise and a high-end mall, Iannucci’s new show would seem to be a radical departure from the acrid, of-the-moment political satire of “Veep” and his earlier British series “The Thick of It.” (Several of those shows’ writers, including Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche and Will Smith, have joined him on “Avenue 5.”)
But there are recognizably Iannuccian things about this space-com, which debuts Sunday. Like the politicians and operatives guiding the ship of state in “Veep,” the crew members of the Avenue 5 are an often amoral, small-minded and quarrelsome bunch whose constant sniping provides the bulk of the humor. Leading them is a captain, played by the “Veep” alumnus Hugh Laurie, who, like Vice President Selina Meyer, is not ideally qualified for his post.
SpaceX has conducted a test of the abort manoeuvre it would use if one of its crew-carrying rockets ever developed a problem during flight.
The rehearsal at Kennedy Space Center saw a Falcon-9 vehicle’s ascent into the sky deliberately terminated just 80 seconds after lift-off.
The Dragon astronaut capsule on top fired its escape engines to carry itself clear of the “faulty” booster.
Parachutes brought the vessel to a safe splashdown some 30km off Florida.
No humans were involved in the practice abort; the only occupants of the Dragon ship were a couple of Anthropomorphic Test Devices, or “dummies”.
This was considered to be the last major milestone for California’s SpaceX company before the US space agency (Nasa) certifies the firm to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.
The US Space Force has defended its newly unveiled camouflage uniforms after they were roundly mocked on social media.
The force, officially launched by US President Donald Trump last month, posted a picture of the uniform to its Twitter account.
The uniform in the picture has a woodland camouflage design with badges embroidered on the arm and chest.
Reacting to the uniform, many critics had the same question: “Camo in space?”
[Thanks to Rose Embolism, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Scott
Edelman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, N., Michal Toman,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editors of the day Andrew and Meredith.]
Both The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit are quite Traveller-esque, the first with its small commercial vessel crewed by a diverse assortment of characters struggling to stay afloat in a demanding universe, and the second features the sort of horrifying backstory implied by Traveller’s notorious character generation system.
(2) THE WHY. BBC’s The Why Factor analyzes the
appeal of “Dystopias”.
23 minute audio
Released On: 13 Jan 2020
Available for over a year
Dystopic fiction is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, but why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of stories where ordinary people struggle to survive against an all-powerful state or in a post- apocalyptic world? Is it because they reflect the anxieties we already feel about the world we live in, or because they allow us to escape it.
Shabnam Grewal asks Why is Dystopic fiction so appealing?
BBC Radio 4’s “Good Omens” webpage includes a section about “Terry
Pratchett on Neil Gaiman” which is an extract from the hardback
edition of Good Omens, published by Gollancz. This is probably not
recent, but it’s news to me…
…He also had a very bad hat. It was a grey homburg. He was not a hat person. There was no natural unity between hat and man. That was the first and last time I saw the hat. As if subconsciously aware of the bad hatitude, he used to forget it and leave it behind in restaurants. One day, he never went back for it. I put this in for the serious fans out there: If you search really, really hard, you may find a small restaurant somewhere in London with a dusty grey homburg at the back of a shelf. Who knows what will happen if you try it on?
Details about “Blood Celestial Karaoke Jam” aren’t being released just yet, but what we do know is that this episode will be different from the 1940s-set episode. That episode, which will be the fourth of the final season, reportedly will contain only two song performances and not a full plot built around singing and dancing. Even with that being the case, the noir episode should be highly entertaining for fans as it will offer an alternate version of Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) singing together. The rest of the cast will also be part of that episode but won’t be playing the characters fans are most familiar with in the series given its past setting.
“I can’t tease too much!” Ellis said previously about the episode. “I would say on this episode, we take a trip down memory lane with Lucifer. We tell a story that answers the question a lot of fans have been asking actually.”
When Harlan Ellison died, there were people who were quick to point out what a terrible human being he was. And yes, that was their experience of him. Okay.
Over here, Harlan was my big brother. He saved my life. I knew he had human failings. We all do. Harlan’s were considerable. (So are mine.) So what? His impact on me — and on many — was enormous. And those of us who had benefited from his various kindnesses were saddened by his loss. He was important to us.
But to those who needed to vent their unfulfilled angers — “Have you no decency? At long last, have you no sense of shame?”
In such a circumstance, I would ask, “Why do you want to add to the pain of the close friends and family? What do you gain?”
Or is your own self-righteous need to dredge up your own angers one more time so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?
What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.
What I have learned (the hard way) is that maturity and wisdom are best demonstrated by keeping one’s mouth shut and listening harder. There might still be something to learn that is more important than my own unresolved issues.
Does this have anything to do with any recent events in the SF community?
(6) MORBIUS. Sony Pictures has dropped a teaser
trailer for Morbius. “Teaser”? It’s almost three minutes long!
One of Marvel’s most compelling and conflicted characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero, Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.
UPDATE on 01/13/2020: Carol and Laura would like to very much thank all of Mike’s friends, peers, and donators for their condolences and amazingly generous donations. Carol is just now starting to discover how expensive everything is following Mike’s passing, and it has been quite overwhelming. Your support has helped comfort her through a very hard time.
As you may be aware, Carol does not earn an income herself, and Mike was unable to work for a good slice of this year, due to multiple surgeries and illnesses. Yet she still has funeral arrangements to cover, a mortgage to pay, food to put on the table, and way too many bills to pay off. Every dollar donated helps her set up a new existence without her life partner.
We have changed the fundraiser goal to help meet her current needs, and while we understand you may have donated already (for which we are profoundly grateful), we ask if you could please share the fundraiser on your social media accounts again to help raise awareness. Your well wishes alone, and supportive words, have been so valued. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 13, 1939 — Son Of Frankenstein premiered. It starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and was the third entry in Universal Studios’ Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster. Directed and produced by Rowland V. Lee, Wyllie Cooper wrote the script in which he created the Igor character. The box office was remarkable and Universal Studios ordered The Ghost Of Frankenstein several years later with Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. It has an amazing 91% rating among critics and 71% among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
January 13, 1964 — The Outer Limits aired the sixteenth episode of its first season, a comedy called “Controlled Experiment”. Yes comedy and the only one that they did. Written and directed by Leslie Stevens, it starred Grace Lee Whitney of Trek fame as Carla Duveen and The Martians in a story well worth seeing. You can see it here.
January 13, 1980 — Dr. Franken first aired. Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky and Jeff Lieberman from a script by Jeff Lieberman, it starred Robert Vaughn as Dr. Arno Franken in a modern retelling of this that tale. Robert Perault played the John Doe in Room 841 whom I assume was The Monster. The All Movie Site says no network or sponsor cared enough to purchase this pilot film for a weekly series emerge from it.
January 13, 1989 — Deepstar Six premiered. It was directed by Sean S. Cunningham and produced by him and Patrick Markey from a screenplay by Lewis Abernathy and Geof Miller from the story that Abernathywrote. (I know that’s a lot of credits.) The sprawling cast included included Greg Evigan, Nancy Everhard, Miguel Ferrer, Nia Peeples and Matt McCoy. It was extremely poorly received by critics and audience members alike. Currently it’s got a a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among critics but only seven have been found that expressed an opinion, and it gets just 23% among the many reviewers there gave their opinion.
January 13, 2008 — Fox Television
premiered Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It starred Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer
Glau, it lasted two seasons and thirty one episodes. (It actually had a wrap-up
to it.) It was narrated by Lena Headey who you’ll remember as Ma-Ma in Dredd. At Rotten Tomatoes, critics (77%) and reviewers
(85%) really liked it but it never got better than mediocre ratings.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 13, 1893 — Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him one of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft“. This is while some readers found him excessively morbid — as L. Sprague de Camp said of him, “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available in Kindle editions. (Died 1961.)
Born January 13, 1933 — Ron Goulart, 87. First I must acknowledge that he is very prolific and uses many pseudonyms, to wit Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did the see Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that the I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he’s prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like?
Born January 13, 1938 — William B. Davis, 82. Best remembered I say as the Smoking Man. (need I say which series? I think not.) He’s had a long career in SFF video with roles in The Dead Zone, Mindstorm, Beyond the Stars, Snakehead Terror, Rise of the Damned, Singularity Principle, and my fav title for one of his his works, Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf.
Born January 13, 1938 — Billy Gray, 82. Here’s here for being Bobby Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He’s certainly not here for CPO Fred Twining in The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, the other SFF film he did which rates a 26% by reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. His Wiki page has him retiring from acting in 1977 but he appeared in 1996 as the Majordomo in The Vampyre Wars which was his last acting role.
Born January 13, 1938 — Charlie Brill, 82. His best remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode that repurposed this episode to great effect. He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer Space, The MunstersToday, Sliders, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
Born January 13, 1943 — Richard Moll, 77. Most will best remember him best from Night Court — that’s not genre unless the Magic Judge Harry did was real — but I’ve found that he voiced Harvey Dent aka Two-Face on Batman: The Animated Series which I recognized him from. He had SFF other appearances on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Mork & Mindy, Fantasy Island, Jurassic: Stone Age, Headless Horseman, Scary Movie 2, The Flintstones and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.
Born January 13, 1945 — Joy Chant, 75. Chant is an odd case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of Red Moon and Black Mountain, The Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes. Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely brilliant, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her amazing retellings of the legends. I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone actually read it?
Born January 13, 1960 — Mark Chadbourn, 60. ‘ve read his Age of Misrule series in which the Celtic Old Gods are returning in modern times and they’re not very nice but they make for very entertaining reading. It’s followed by the Dark Age series which is just as well-crafted. His two Hellboy novels are actually worth reading as well.
Born January 13, 1968 — Ken Scholes, 52. His major series, and it’s quite worth reading, The Psalms of Isaak. His short stories, collected so far in three volumes, are also worth your precious reading time. He wrote the superb “ Rock of Ages” for METAtropolis: Green Space.
Born January 13, 1982 — Ruth Wilson, 38. She’s Marisa Coulter in BBC’s His Dark Materials series. She’s in Depp’s The Lone Ranger as Rebecca Reid. (Yes, it’s genre. There’s a wendigo as a story device,) in the horror film I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, she was Lili Saylor. Finally I note she was Sara (Number 313) in the remake of The Prisoner. Having seen and enjoyed the original series, I skipped this happily when it came out.
(10) MORE STEVE STILES. The artwork Steve Stiles did for
the Baltimore Sun in the Eighties and Nineties can be viewed here.
(11) IN THE QUEUE. Is it funny? Well, its at least well-told. Thread starts here.
…Migdal also wanted to create an inclusive erotic novel, one that would be a fun and exciting read for audiences of any orientation. But it took a little while to work out the kinks in his art style, said the author.
“I had to develop my artistic skills to draw naked people that didn’t look like a pile of legos,” Migdal said. “But also drawing images that were representing body positivity and figuring out how to get that on to the page.”
The story follows Ana?s Phalese, a Brooklynite who meets a visitor from another world — Fauna Lokjum, the Liquorice Princess of Candy World — who is on the run from an arranged marriage to a supervillain. The two hop across dimensions and explore their sexualities while trying to save the world from Fauna’s would-be fiance.
(13) BURN A LITTLE. Parts of the western US are
still arguing over how to back down from the old Forest Service policy of
preventing all fires, realizing that small fires helped reduce the fuel for
huge fires. Australia is now looking at the same issue: “Aboriginal
planners say the bush ‘needs to burn'”.
For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of Australia set fire to the land.
Long before Australia was invaded and colonised by Europeans, fire management techniques – known as “cultural burns” – were being practised.
The cool-burning, knee-high blazes were designed to happen continuously and across the landscape.
The fires burn up fuel like kindling and leaf detritus, meaning a natural bushfire has less to devour.
Since Australia’s fire crisis began last year, calls for better reintegration of this technique have grown louder. But it should have happened sooner, argues one Aboriginal knowledge expert.
“The bush needs to burn,” says Shannon Foster.
She’s a knowledge keeper for the D’harawal people – relaying information passed on by her elders – and an Aboriginal Knowledge lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
…While modern-day authorities do carry out hazard reduction burning, focusing on protecting lives and property, Ms Foster says it’s “clearly not working”.
“The current controlled burns destroy everything. It’s a naive way to practise fire management, and it isn’t hearing the Indigenous people who know the land best.
“Whereas cultural burning protects the environment holistically. We’re interested in looking after country, over property and assets.
…”Cool burning replenishes the earth and enhances biodiversity – the ash fertilises and the potassium encourages flowering. It’s a complex cycle based on cultural, spiritual and scientific knowledge.”
They also create a mosaic of ecologies, Ms Foster says, and this can lead to beneficial micro-climates.
(14) BE ALERT. Penguin
is releasing We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Call of Cthulhu as part of its new brand:
Orange you glad we included Penguin Orange? This vivid collection of beloved modern classics is a nod to our old-school, tri-band heritage design, featuring custom illustrations by artist Eric Nyquist that take everything to the next level.
The smells of ordinary life, from traditional pubs to old books, are part of our culture and heritage – and many of them are in danger of being lost.
Imagine an old leather-bound book just pulled out from a wooden shelf. Its yellowed pages release dust as they open. Even before you begin to read the book, the unique smell of it fills your nose.
This familiar scent is not only a simple pleasure for people who like to peruse libraries and bookshops. These smells have a cultural heritage value, and they are at risk of being lost. For every old book that falls apart, is thrown away or kept locked behind a temperature-controlled curatorial door, these scents become harder to experience. It is a problem that is far from unique to books – from perfumeries and pubs to entire cities, the background scents of our lives are changing all the time.
For Cecilia Bembibre, a researcher at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, the smell of old books is important. She is developing different techniques to recover “extinct” scents from the past and to preserve those around today for the future.
It’s a facet of heritage that is often, quite literally, overlooked. “The proposals made by cultural heritage spaces such as galleries, museums, historic houses, are mostly focused on the sight,” says Bembibre. “The engagement they propose tends to be visual. [With] some exceptions, the stimulation of senses, like the objects that can be touched or smelled, is reserved for children.”
…In 2003, Unesco adopted a convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, which includes social practices, oral traditions and performing arts. Where, though, were the scents? For centuries there have been cultural practices where smell plays a vital role, like the Spanish Fiesta of the patios in Cordova or the Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia. In 2018, the skills related to perfumery in Pays de Grasse, France, were included on the intangible heritage list. No scents themselves, however, are listed.
(16) TECHNICAL PROWESS. Sure, the excuse to
post this non-sff film is that it was shot on a phone – but the real reason is
that it’s very sweet.
A film about three generations of Chinese women coming together at Chinese New Year. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro. Directed by Theodore Melfi. Cinematography by Lawrence Sher. Starring Zhou Xun, China’s leading actress.
…Stewart says, in a post-President Trump and post-Brexit world, the United States and the United Kingdom, in particular, distanced themselves from what the United Federation of Planets — Star Trek’s fictional interstellar union of planets that share democratic goals — represented.
“The European Union always made me feel, well, we are heading towards our own Federation of Planets somewhere down the line that will come about. And I am angry, disappointed and embarrassed by our decision to leave the Union,” the English-born actor said in an interview with Weekend Edition Sunday.
Much like Picard, Stewart is uninterested in playing a part — fictional or not — if it doesn’t mesh with his beliefs.
It wasn’t until the producers described the transformed landscape they envisioned for Picard that Stewart got on board. “The Federation” has swung isolationist, and the new Picard is very different.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Way Out” on Vimeo,
Jeon You-jin explains what happens when little girls chase balloons.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Steve Stiles, one of fandom’s all-time great artists, died during the night on January 12, only a few days after he shared on Facebook that he had cancer and a short time to live. It’s a double shock to his wide circle of friends who were still adjusting to the first piece of news.
His awards history barely begins to scratch the surface of how much he meant to fandom over the past fifty-plus years, substantial as it is. He earned the first of his 17 Best Fan Artist Hugo nominations in 1967, winning the award in 2016. He’s won 15 FAAn Awards, presented by fanzine fans at Corflu, since the award was revived in 2001. And Steve was the first winner of the Rotsler Award (1998), a career honor for fan artists.
It was only appropriate that Steve created the iconic cover for Harry Warner’s fanhistory of the Fifties, A Wealth of Fable, for if no fanzine was complete without a Warner letter of comment, no faned felt completely faannish without a Stiles cover or cartoons.
All the while, Steve worked as a professional artist, in virtually every medium, from comic strips to modern abstracts. He attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan partly because so many EC Comics artists had gone there.
His first published comic work appeared in New York’s underground comics pages, The Gothic Blimp Works, in 1968. Scott Edelman, another comics pro, says Steve may be best-known for the post-apocalyptic dinosaur-filled future of Xenozoic Tales, which he drew for eight years, but he also drew for titles such as Death Rattle, Bizarre Sex, and Anarchy Comics from underground publishers like Kitchen Sink and Last Gasp. Steve also did kid-friendly work, such as The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Royal Roy.
During the same period, he worked as a penciller for Marvel’s British publications for five years, then later did pencils and inks for Hamilton Comics, Malibu, Topps, and Star.
In 1980 his collaboration with Dick Lupoff, “The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle and His Incredible Aether Flyer,” was serialized in Heavy Metal magazine and later reprinted as a graphic novel by Fantagraphics (1991).
Around 1999, Steve joined Ted White working on Collectingchannel.com, a dot com sales site. He worked with Ted on the site’s “MicroChannel” devoted to Comics.
In what might have become the crowning achievement of his pro career,
had the project gone through, Steve was picked as the artist for a 1990s
revival of the Li’l Abner comic strip. He told readers of Potrzebie,
Bhob Stewart’s website:
I wasn’t the only one contacted, but I don’t know who the others were. I was given a script for a four-panel sequence involving Joe Btfsplk. There was a ‘bake off’ that was judged by five or six cartoonists, one of whom was Scott Shaw. After I was selected, I was supplied with a big stack of b/w Xeroxes of Li’l Abner for reference… , As for the demise of the project, all this I got secondhand [from the writer], so I don’t know how true it is. Supposedly, with ten days before the contract was due to be signed, Capp’s daughter, Julie, got wind of the project (I don’t know where she was during all this) and talked her mother and uncle into withdrawing permission for the revival.
I was 13 when I first decided to become a cartoonist. My father came to an undeniable conclusion: I had lost my mind. He stuck to that idea with barnacle-like tenacity, ignoring whatever project I was working on, regardless of subject matter. The only response I would invariably get was. ‘If you have to do this kind of stuff, why don’t you do something like Li’l Abner?’ So you can imagine my feelings when, in 1990, I was offered the chance to draw a proposed revival of Li’l Abner.
Steve’s first cartoon for a fanzine appeared in Cry of the Nameless, edited by F.M. and Elinor Busby. A fanzine interlineation he coined (“Death is nature’s way of telling you when to stop”) became a national catchphrase after it was reprinted in Pageant in 1962
Steve’s artistic style was described by Taral (in File 770 #155):
Steve comes from the heart of the EC comic book tradition, with bold lines, striking use of black space, and a sense of drama that could have been lifted straight from German Expressionist film. He also had a surreal sense of humour I could only envy….
One cannot say enough about the menacing likeness of David Langford on the Wrath of Fanglord anthology, or a rain of Atomic Age robots on the cover of Mimosa. More than ink on paper, Steve’s work is evidence of a sharp satiric mind, and a keen appreciation of popular culture.
Steve showed in 2008 that his range as an artist was even greater
than we knew. He had been commissioned (thanks to
the efforts of Michael Dobson and his contacts in the Lutheran Church) to
design the Samaritan Medal for Peace and Humanitarian Achievement, intended to
further the cause of peace, for the Samaritan community
in Israel. It was finally cast. and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s President, accepted
it at a ceremony in February of that year.
The Medal is made of
pure silver, two inches in diameter, with a scene from the parable of the Good
Samaritan on the front, and the sacred Mount Gerizim on the reverse.
Steve’s roots in fandom go back to New
York’s Fanoclasts of the 1960s. With their support he won the Trans-Atlantic
Fan Fund in 1968 and attended Eastercon in the UK. Steve worked sporadically on
his trip report, writing snippets for various fanzines over the decades, until
it was declared finished and a collected edition, Harrison
Country, issued in 2007.
He was Fifties cool. Fifties cool included never minding whatever wounds
life dealt you. He had a varied and interesting career that was the font of a
lot of stories which he told very well – and Steve’s nonchalance about what
happened when he was supposed to be the artist for the revival of L’il Abner,
or in the last decade when he started an annual parody campaign for the Hugo, leaves
you to figure out for yourself how deeply he felt about them.
File 770 ran its first Steve Stiles cover in 2015, which
made me very happy, granting one of my long-time wishes.
And while it shouldn’t have taken this for him to finally break through, in 2016 Steve was the only Best Fan Artist Hugo finalist who was not on the Rabid Puppies slate, making it easy for voters to say hell yeah!
But the next year, 2017, it was Steve’s health that made news instead of art or awards, with the discovery of a cancerous tumor on his right lung. The tumor was successfully removed by surgery.
Unfortunately, cancer returned this year and finally claimed Steve.
However, he has left a vast legacy of art and anecdotes, a great deal of which has been made available online.
Bill Burns of eFanzines hosts SteveStiles.com, originally
created around 2005. On the splash page Steve
Stiles in caricature poses beside a buxom friend promising a site “loaded with
sophistication (as you can see from the broad in the foreground).” He delivers
in six colorful segments – Comics Articles, Computer Art, Fanzine Art, Fanzine
Articles, Professional Art and Links. (It’s astonishing how much material is
The Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday that members of Manhattan’s Community Board 5 are objecting to parts of the plan from Warner Bros. to open a Harry Potter–themed exhibit and store in a landmarked building in the Flatiron District. The studio has proposed opening a roughly 20,000-square-foot store called Wizarding World at 935 Broadway, the former home of upscale furniture brand Restoration Hardware.
Crain’s first reported in September that Warner Bros. had reached a deal with the building’s landlord, Shefa Land Corp., for the store.
Design firm Studio Superette unveiled plans for the store at the hearing Tuesday. The design calls for adding a fiberglass dragon with a clock, two backlit Harry Potter signs and six flagpoles, designed to look like wands, to the building’s facade, the Journal reported.
The changes require approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which refers such requests to community boards for a recommendation before making a decision.
Members of the community board’s landmarks committee said the design ideas represent “inappropriate signage,” according to the Journal, and voted unanimously to recommend against approval.
The full community board will vote on the proposal later this month before sending its recommendation to the city landmarks commission, according to the report.
(2) A SHOCK. Steve Stiles, one of fandom’s all-time most
popular artists, revealed
sad news on Facebook saying, “So the word is: I’ve got a few months, more
I was going to write a rant about how writers should be supportive of each other.
Then I realized …
I’m naive. ….
(5) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen
Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw on Wednesday,
January 15, 7:00 p.m.at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York).
Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim dark urban fantasy series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, The Everything Box, Hollywood Dead, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West.
Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and her game writing has won a German Game Award. You can find her short stories in places like F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out from Nightfire, the new Tor horror imprint in 2021.
January 8, 1958 — Teenage Monster premiered and you can see the trailer here. It was produced and directed by Jacques R. Marquette, and starred Anne Gwynne (who was a scream queen in the Forties but past her prime now) and Stuart Wade. It played as double bill with The Brain from Planet Arous which is a story unto Itself.If you saw it on television, It was called Meteor Monster. We can find reviews of it at the time (not unusual) and It has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. The Fifties is littered with similar films.
January 8, 1967 — It’s About Time aired “To Catch A Thief.” It’s here today because we’ve never heard of this series before. It was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and the music bits from his other television series shooting at the time, Gilligan’s Island. Its cast was Frank Aletter, Jack Mullaney, Imogene Coca, Joe E. Ross, Cliff Norton and Mike Mazurki. It lasted but one season and twenty six episodes, considerably shorter than his other show did. This futuristic spaceman meet cavemen comedy bombed in the ratings after the first few episodes.
January 8, 2006 – The BBC’s Hyperdrive enjoyed its premiere. The series was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, directed by John Henderson and produced by Alex Walsh-Taylor. The cast was Nick Frost, Kevin Eldon, Miranda Hart, Stephen Evans, Dan Antopolski and Petra Massey. BBC ran it for two seasons and twelve episode. It’s a comedy with a decidedly scatological and crude sexual bent.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 8, 1908 — William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who first appeared when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
Born January 8, 1925 — Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire tv career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. And yes you can see him here as Flash Gordon. (Died 1997.)
Born January 8, 1941 — Boris Vallejo, 79. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
Born January 8, 1942 — Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode? He also guest starred in Futurama and had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
Born January 8, 1947 — David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI AgentPhillip Jeffries, which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.)
Born January 8, 1956 — Jack Womack, 64. Ok, I was trying to remember what I’d read by him. I realized it was his excellent Ambient novel when it first came out and that I hadn’t kept up with his later writings. So what do y’all think of his later novels? I know, he stopped witting essentially a generation ago except for his Flying Saucers Are Real! non-fiction release. Non-fiction?
Born January 8, 1977 — Amber Benson, 43. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
Born January 8, 1979 — Sarah Polley, 41. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh, she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The Movie, Existenz, No Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the Dead, Beowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range jokes about studying fantastic beasts in Oz.
…Cogo Guebara rushed over to the motorized police officer and pushed its emergency alert button on seeing the brawl break out in Salt Lake Park, Los Angeles, last month. But instead of offering assistance, the egg-shaped robot, whose official name is HP RoboCop, barked at Guebara to ‘Step out of the way’. To add insult to injury, the high-tech device then rolled away while humming an ‘intergalactic tune’, pausing periodically to say ‘Please keep the park clean.’
The explanation turned out to be disgustingly simple:
Local Police Chief Cosme Lozano says the robots, which cost between $60,000 and $70,000 a year to lease, are still in a trial phase and that their alert buttons have not yet been activated.
It’s one of the more remarkable specimens taken into London’s Natural History Museum. It’s certainly one of the most “fantastic”.
The horn comes from an Erumpent, a fictional beast created in the mind of author JK Rowling.
It’s going to feature in a major new exhibition at the South Kensington institution this spring, in which the extraordinary creatures of the Harry Potter universe are used to shine a light on some of the “magical” animals that exist in the real world.
The NHM is describing the show as its most ambitious to date.
…The exhibition will put 50 specimens from the museum’s world famous collections next to props from the Potter movies. Interactive displays will compare and contrast different animals.
“You’ll recall the Erumpent’s mating dance from Fantastic Beasts. We’ll be making comparisons with the peacock spider, which has its own extraordinary movements that it uses to attract a mate,” explained the NHM executive.
From the robots we know and love, to the robot in your pocket, explore the fascinating future of robots at work, at home and in the blurring boundaries between human and machine.
With new technological developments being made every day, it has never been more important to explore our relationships with robotics.
Explore the influence of robots through four galleries that draw you into a conversation with simple but thought-provoking questions.
Trace our fascination with the science and fiction of robots before delving into an evolving world of industry and work. Consider the role of robots as companions and helpers and explore what the future may hold as we find new ways to tackle social and environmental problems. Would you live in a robot? And can they make us better than nature intended?
Michael Thorn, Fox’s president of entertainment, shared his thoughts on the matter with The Wrap. “Any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” he said.
“I loved ‘Firefly,’ personally, and I watched every episode. I didn’t work on it, but I loved the show. It had come up before, but we had ‘The Orville’ on the air and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air.”
The Orville now airs on Hulu, but [Firefly executive producer Tim Minnear] is allegedly currently tied up with a number of other projects.
Astronomers have discovered a vast structure in our galaxy, made up of many interconnected “nurseries” where stars are born.
The long, thin filament of gas is a whopping 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide.
It lies around 500 light-years from our Sun, which is relatively close by in astronomical distances.
…An international team analysed data from the European Gaia space telescope, which was launched in 2013.
The monolithic structure has been dubbed the Radcliffe Wave, in honour of Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“What we’ve observed is the largest coherent gas structure we know of in the galaxy, organized not in a ring but in a massive, undulating filament,” said co-author Joao Alves, from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Harvard.
…Co-author Prof Alyssa Goodman, from Harvard, commented: “We were completely shocked when we first realised how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D.”
‘Scenes in the Square’ is a new installation at London’s Leicester Square next month that will include eight dynamic statues – which means they will be integrated into the existing landscape of the Square, rather than actually move or anything. Regarded as the home of cinema in Britain, Leicester Square has had a statue of Charlie Chaplin for many years. From February 27th, he will be joined by statues of Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Gene Kelly, Mary Poppins, Batman, Mr Bean, Paddington and Wonder Woman, sculpted by David Field.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day rgl.]
This latest episode of Eating the Fantastic — recorded at Mezcal Mexican restaurant in Owings Mills — quickly turns nostalgic, because guest Steve Stiles and I were the proverbial ships that passed in the night at mid-‘70s Marvel Comics. My first job there was as the associate editor for the company’s line of British reprint books, which was a department he only started working at the following year, once I’d already moved over to the Bullpen to work on the American originals.
Stiles may be best-known for the post-apocalyptic dinosaur-filled future of Xenozoic Tales, which he drew for eight years, but he’s also appeared in titles such as Death Rattle, Bizarre Sex, and Anarchy Comics for underground publishers like Kitchen Sink and Last Gasp. He’s also done kid-friendly work, though, like The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Royal Roy.
And so much more — like the fanzine art which has made him a 17-time nominee for the Hugo Award, with nominations spread over a 50-year period from 1967 to 2018, an award which he won in 2016.
We discussed what it was like to work at Marvel Comics in the mid-’70s, the ironic reason he no longer owns his Silver Age Marvels, the time he thought he’d gotten the gig to draw Dr. Strange (but really hadn’t), what it was like being taught by the great Burne Hogarth at the School of Visual Arts, his first professional art sale (and why it ended up hanging on Hugh Hefner’s wall), how his famed comic strip The Adventures Of Professor Thintwhistle And His Incredible Aether Flier was born, why he didn’t like being art-directed by Marie Severin, which current comics he keeps up with, what Robert Silverberg said to him when he won his first Hugo Award after 14 tries and 49 years, the phrase he most wants carved onto his gravestone, and much more.
‘Endgame’ will be goodbye to several characters, and as UCLA psychology professor Yalda Uhls notes: “Absolutely that can feel like real grief.”
“God, it seems like a thousand years ago,” Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) says in the second trailer for Avengers: Endgame. “I fought my way out of that cave, became Iron Man…”
While it hasn’t quite been a thousand years, the final installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga represents an unprecedented moment in movie history, partly because some of the characters who have been a consistent presence in movie theaters since 2008 might retire, or even die.
And over time, those characters have started to feel like real friends to audiences.
In fantasy stories, like any stories, the stakes matter.
In 2012, writing for the now-defunct fan site SF Signal, Paul Weimer suggested a classification for such tales based on the relative size of what’s at stake, ranging from sagas in which only a city or smaller community is in peril to those where the whole universe hangs in the balance. Wherever a story lands on that scale, one thing remains crucial: The stakes have to feel real.
“Stakes are what the actions or inactions of the protagonist cause to happen, or fail to happen, depending on their success or failure,” Weimer wrote in “Stakes in Fantasy Novels: A Schemata of Classification.” “You can have multiple sets of stakes going on at one time, but you can look at a work of fantasy in terms the largest stakes, and use that to give an overall sense of the scale of the conflict in that book.”
Nollywood screenwriter and director Dimeji Ajibola recently released a 1-minute teaser of his upcoming dystopian movie, Ratnik. Impressed by the visual effects and dystopian locations, local publications waxed lyrical about the film. YNaija!called it “the dystopian action-thriller we deserve in 2019.” Ratnik deserves its early praise; it is an ambitious project and its visual effects are impressive.
For some, a sci-fi Nigerian movie is unheard of, but Ratnik is not the first time a Nollywood sci-fi film will generate this much buzz. Kajola—the last one that did—was an utter disappointment. The debut film of now Nollywood box office king, Niyi Akinmolayan, it was released in 2009 to much fanfare. Akinmolayan was tired of Nollywood filmmakers: “those yeye people that don’t know how to make cool stuff.” Young and naïve, he thought he would change Nollywood forever by making “the greatest Nigerian movie ever. It will be action/sci-fi with lots of effects and we are going to win an Oscar.”
(6) NOT DEAD YET. The Digital Antiquarian studies the
history of Activision in “An Unlikely Savior”.
Activision Blizzard is the largest game publisher in the Western world today, generating a staggering $7.5 billion in revenue every year. Along with the only slightly smaller behemoth Electronic Arts and a few Japanese competitors, Activision for all intents and purposes is the face of gaming as a mainstream, mass-media phenomenon. Even as the gaming intelligentsia looks askance at Activision for their unshakeable fixation on sequels and tried-and-true formulas, the general public just can’t seem to get enough Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga. Likewise, Bobby Kotick, who has sat in the CEO’s chair at Activision for over a quarter of a century now, is as hated by gamers of a certain progressive sensibility as he is loved by the investment community.
But Activision’s story could have — perhaps by all rights should have — gone very differently. When Kotick became CEO, the company was a shambling wreck that hadn’t been consistently profitable in almost a decade. Mismanagement combined with bad luck had driven it to the ragged edge of oblivion. What to a large degree saved Activision and made the world safe for World of Warcraft was, of all things, a defunct maker of text adventures which longtime readers of this ongoing history have gotten to know quite well. The fact that Infocom, the red-headed stepchild a previous Activision CEO had never wanted, is directly responsible for Activision’s continuing existence today is one of the strangest aspects of both companies’ stories….
1) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 2) Metropolis (1927) 3) Nosferatu (1922) 4) The Lost World (1925) 5) Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) 6) Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924) 7) A Trip to the Moon (1902) 8) The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
(8) FULL LID. Alasdair Stuart sends a link to The Full Lid with this introduction:
This week’s Full Lid features a look at the deeply fantastic zombie coming of age comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse. Also this week, there’s a review of the first issue of the excellent new fantasy detective comic FairLady and a look at the first month of The SCP Archives, a new podcast bringing stories from the legendary wiki fiction experiment to life. The spotlight is James Davis Nicoll, there’s a photo of my word buckets and a short film from excellent Irish writer director Chris Brosnahan.
(9) NEW YORK SLICE. A
heartwarming story about George R.R. Martin. The thread begins here.
Geraldyn “Jerrie” M. Cobb, a noted aviation pioneer and fierce advocate for women flying into space, died March 18 at her home in Florida, her family has revealed. She was 88.
Cobb is perhaps most well-known for her participation in what became known as the “Mercury 13,” a group of 13 women who passed preliminary screening processes in 1960 and 1961 to determine their suitability as astronauts under the guidance of Dr. Randolph Lovelace. Cobb scored in the top 2 percent of all who had taken the battery of tests for candidates previously, including both women and men.
However, the privately funded effort was not officially sanctioned by NASA. A Netflix documentary about the experience, released in 2018, offered a clear verdict for why women were excluded from NASA in the space agency’s early days—”good old-fashioned prejudice,” as one of the participants said.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 19, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. His only meaningful genre involvement was being Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M in which he was also the voice on the loudspeaker. He’d play the evil Hussein in Son of Ali Baba, and he was Richard Camalier in Doin’ Time on Planet Earth as well. He’d have one-offs appearances on shows such the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and he had five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
Born April 19, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.)
Born April 19, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 83. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, he in that era worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
Born April 19, 1936 — Tom Purdom, 83. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak to him: ‘How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction? So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions. They’re a lot of work. But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.’ He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories.
Born April 19, 1946 — Tim Curry, 73. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course is not his first genre appearance as he’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. (And yes, I adore RHPS.) And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
Born April 19, 1952 — Mark Rogers. He’s probably best known for writing and illustrating the Adventures of Samurai Cat series. His debut fantasy novel Zorachus was followed by The Nightmare of God sequel. His novella “The Runestone” was adapted as a film of the same name. And his art is collected in Nothing But a Smile: The Pinup Art of Mark Rogers and The Art of Fantasy. (Died 2014.)
Born April 19, 1967 — Steven H Silver, 52. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine four times without winning. Ok, is that a record? He’s a longtime contributing editor to SF Site and has written that site’s news page since its beginning. Over twenty years ago, he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. And he publishes his own fanzine, Argentus.
Born April 19, 1968 — Ashley Judd, 51. Best known genre wise for playing Natalie Prior in the Divergent film franchise. She was also Carly Harris-Thompson in the Tooth Fairy film, and was Ensign Robin Lefler in a few episodes of Next Gen. She played Beverly Paige on several episodes of Twin Peaks as well.
The source code of every Infocom text adventure game has been uploaded to code-sharing repository GitHub, allowing savvy programmers to examine and build upon some of the most beloved works of digital storytelling to date.
There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game. Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games—plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker’s sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron’s The Abyss.
[…] The games were written in the LISP-esque “Zork Implementation Language,” or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on archive.org.
(16) YTTERBIUM. A
fashion update from John Scalzi:
Sure, if you have the same color eyes as the Easter Bunny….
There is the possibility that the undead will win and destroy all life on Westeros, yes. But that is preferable to returning to life as chattel. If humanity has such a problem with extinction, maybe it shouldn’t have made life a living hell for so many.
There’s just one problem. The show that became famous for its willingness to kill off seemingly essential figures has grown less and less likely to do so. Even before Jon Snow came back from the dead, viewers had begun to develop a sense of which characters were essential to the series’ endgame, and thus impossible to kill off. You didn’t need Ramsay Bolton or even Littlefinger to tie up the story’s loose ends, but it’s impossible to imagine Dany or Jon getting axed for shock value. There was no chance the High Sparrow would dethrone Cersei for good or that Arya would fail the Faceless Men’s tests. The show’s core characters had acquired what fans call “plot armor,” which meant that any time the odds seemed truly hopeless, when they were backed against a wall and there seemed to be no way out, we knew the question wasn’t if they’d escape but only how.
Hunkered down in their hives and drunk on smoke, Notre Dame’s smallest official residents — some 180,000 bees — somehow managed to survive the inferno that consumed the cathedral’s ancient wooden roof.
Confounding officials who thought they had perished, the bees clung to life, protecting their queen.
“It’s a big day. I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn,” Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant told The Associated Press on Friday.
“Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,” he explained.
Geant has overseen the bees since 2013, when three hives were installed on the roof of the stone sacristy that joins the south end of the monument. The move was part of a Paris-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers. Hives were also introduced above Paris’ gilded Opera.
(20) FELINE EFFECTS. Epic Cats presents a superpowered
Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John
A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Kip Williams.]
The following 15 books capture the range that makes fantasy fiction so great, from epic high fantasy to alternate reality to urban fantasy to literary fiction that just happens to star a Greek goddess. These books visit other magical worlds, sure, but also draw from West African, Chinese and Greek mythology, as well as the American Civil War, ’80s punk scenes, far-off planets and Edwardian England. Most of these are stand-alone novels, but there are also a few continuations of some of our favorite fantasy series.
4. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Named Paste’s best Young Adult novel of 2018, Dread Nation blends elements of fantasy, horror and alternate history to create something wholly unique and utterly memorable. Set in an alternate world in which the undead rose up at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, the novel picks up years later as the United States is spiraling into horror. Readers meet Jane, a teen studying to be an Attendant who is trained to fight zombies for the wealthy white class. But it isn’t the life she wants. A novel that discusses race, class and so much more, Dread Nation is one of 2018’s best reads. —Eric Smith
…If Tolkien stirred our noblest aspirations, he also created a benign propaganda that mythologized cultural differences until nationalities became species, and denied basic humanity to its antagonists, rendering the defense of the divine right of kings into a Manichean conflict between absolute light and absolute darkness––arguably, in spite of his denials, an allegory for Europe’s agonizing crusade against Hitler. As noted contrarian David Brin observed in an essay coinciding with Jackson’s grandiose adaptation of Lord Of The Rings, the humans and their allies worship at the altar of absolute hereditary rule, and libel the one agent of merit, inclusion and technological progress in Middle Earth. Certainly, the notion that the land might incarnate itself in the form of a devoted ruler is a beautiful conceit, but it’s only the most richly embroidered defense of a myth that’s brought little but tribulation and tragedy, in the real world. If one were to ask the Saudi Crown Prince in a candid moment about the butchery of Jamal Khashoggi only this month, he would no doubt clothe his rationalization by noting that the Washington Post journalist dismembered with bone saws in the Saudi consulate in Turkey was just another orc threatening his divinely ordained kingdom….
(3) ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER. A highlight
from the CW event — “Black Suit Superman
Speaks With Kara In Meta Jail — Elseworlds Crossover Supergirl.”
This post is about some of the sweeping changes that the DC Comics superhero Aquaman (Swift and Powerful Monarch of the Ocean! King of the Seven Seas!) has undergone on his way to this weekend’s blockbuster movie Aquaman. Inevitably, it will elide many details important to ardent fans of the character, and open its author up to charges of not knowing whereof he speaks, of a willful ignorance of the character, of simply echoing stale observations hastily ransacked from the Aquaman Wikipedia page.
The defense humbly (okay, smugly) presents the following evidence.
Exhibit A: That photo atop this post? That’s the author’s collection of aqua-memorabilia. Kindly do not refer to it as a shrine, as it is simply the by-product of what happens when the author’s lifelong obsession with a fictional character intersects with his husband’s insistence that said obsession not take up more space in their tiny apartment than the top of one friggin’ dresser.
The first rule of Mary Poppins is that you must never explain Mary Poppins.
Perhaps the smartest decision in the sequel Mary Poppins Returns is that it’s no more clear than it ever was how, exactly, this nanny floats in. We don’t know where Mary came from, how exactly she has relatives given that she seems to have simply materialized from the sky, or whether she was ever a child herself. Mary Poppins simply is.
It’s hard to bring to life a character with no past and no future except to visit more children, take them on more adventures, and then leave them again. Created in the P.L. Travers children’s books and indelibly committed to film by Julie Andrews in 1964, Mary is special in part because since she’s magic, she is nurture without need. She doesn’t need to be thanked; she doesn’t even need to be remembered. The helping is all.
…And it’s advice I give to myself, as much as to anyone, but especially to younger writers. Writers coming up now. Which is put your?—?put this [points to phone]?—?away. When you’re out in the world, when you’re walking down the street, when you’re on the subway, when you’re riding in the back of a car, when you’re doing all those everyday things that are so tedious, where this [phone] is such a godsend in so many ways. As in that David Foster Wallace graduation speech, when he talks about standing in line at the grocery store. When you’re in those moments where this [phone] is so seductive, and it works! It’s so brilliant at giving you something to do. I mean walking down the street looking at your phone?—?that’s pretty excessive. But in other circumstances where it feels natural, that’s when you need to put this [phone] away. Because using your eyes, to take in your immediate surroundings… Your visual and auditory experience of the world, eavesdropping on conversations, watching people interact, noticing weird shit out the window of a moving car, all those things are so deeply necessary to getting your work done every day. When I’m working on a regular work schedule, which is most of the time, and I’m really engaged in whatever it is I’m working on, there’s a part of my brain that is always alert to mining what can be mined from that immediate everyday experience. I don’t even know I’m doing it, but I’ll see something, like,“That name on that sign is the perfect last name for this character!” Or the thing I just overheard that woman saying, is exactly the line of dialog I need for whatever I’m doing. And if you’re like this [phone in your face], you miss it all.
Debuting at the 50th Anniversary of Bouchercon, Carol Puckett and the 2019 Bouchercon Dallas committee launched the Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction to celebrate this treasured literary form, both the short story and the widely-admired mystery author and reviewer, Bill Crider. Designed to encourage writers from all over the world, these distinguished prizes award stories with fascinating characters and twisty plots, all in the mystery genre.
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $750
Third Prize: $500
Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Linda Landrigan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, will choose the winners from the shortlisted writers.
Once the final four writers have been chosen, all shortlisted authors will be notified on or near October 1.
Bouchercon Dallas Guest of Honor, Hank Phillippi Ryan, will recognize the shortlisted authors and award the top prizes during Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas, Texas. The convention takes place October 31-November 3, 2019.
The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2019. Full guidelines at the link.
(9) MORE ON NINE WORLDS. Robot Archie steered me to another exposition about the fate of Nine Worlds. Avery Delany’s Twitter thread begins here.
(10) STRONG LANGUAGE, HARLAN? Fanac.org returns you to the thrilling days of yesteryear with an audio recording of Harlan Ellison at Pacificon II, the 1964) Worldcon, speaking about “Adaptation of Science Fiction to a Visual Media.” Visually annotated, illustrated with convention photos, and preceded with this little warning —
Pacificon II, the 22nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Oakland, CA in 1964. WARNING – 1) Harlan uses some strong language in this recording. 2)The first few minutes are missing. Harlan gives an engrossing talk (audio, enhanced with images) about writing for television and about how Hollywood works. The talk took place during the filming of the Outer Limits episode, “Demon With a Glass Hand”, and Harlan speaks very frankly (including complaints) about his experience as the writer on the episode. Includes Harlan’s reading of a scene as written, and as changed by management as well as discussion on the casting, the directing and the location. Embedded are photos of Harlan throughout his science fiction career. This audio material was provided by The Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI), and Jerome Scott, Director of Projects for SCIFI in LA.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 20, 1933 — Son Of Kong premiered in theaters.
December 20, 1961 – The film version of Jules Verne’s drama Mysterious Island was released.
December 20, 1974 — Walt Disney’s The Island At The Top Of The World debuted.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 20, 1838 – Edwin Abbott Abbott. Author of the Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, an 1884 novella that has come to be adopted as SF even though it’s really mathematical fiction. Go ahead, argue with me. (Died 1926.)
Born December 20, 1942 — Angel Tompkins, 76. Anyone remember Amazon Women on the Moon? Yeah she was in it. She later shows up in the Knight Rider series and, oh, that Starlost series which Cordwainer Bird swore off before the first episode. There’s an episode of Wild Wild West and Night Gallery as well but she stopped acting twenty years ago.
Born December 20, 1943 – Jacqueline Pearce. Longest and definitely best known role would be as the evil Supreme Commander Servalan/ and Commissioner Sleer on Blake’s 7. She’d show several times in Doctor Who, one on screen in The Two Doctors (Yes, I saw it) and once as a voice only role in Death Comes to Time, a Seventh Doctor story. She played a Mrs. Annabelle Levin in the “Paris, October 1916” episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as well, a series I really liked. She did a bit of time travel in Moondail as Miss Vole / Miss Raven and finally showed up in The Avengers as a character named Miaranne. (Died 2018.)
Born December 20, 1952 – Jenny Agutter, 66. Fist SF role was Jessica 6 in Logan’s Run. Later genre roles include Nurse Alex Price In An American Werewolf in London (great film), Carolyn Page in Dark Tower which is not a Stephen King based film, an uncredited cameo as a burn doctor in one of my all time fav films which is Darkman and finally Councilwoman Hawley in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Born December 20, 1960 – Nalo Hopkinson, 58. First novel I ever read by her was Brown Girl in The Ring, a truly amazing novel. Like all her work, it draws on Afro-Caribbean history and language, and its intertwined traditions of oral and written storytelling. I’d also single out Mojo: Conjure Stories and Falling in Love With Hominids collections as they are both wonderful and challenging reading. Worth seeking out out out is her edited Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction. She was a Guest of Honor at Wiscon thrice. Is that unusual?
Born December 20, 1970 – Nicole de Boer, 48. I first saw her in a Canadian produced series called Beyond Reality where she played multiple roles. Very odd show. You’ll more likely know her as Ezri Dax on i or Sarah Bracknell Bannerman on The Dead Zone as those are her major genre series to date. She’s also shown up in Forever Knight,TekWar, Poltergeist, The Outer Limits, Stargate Atlantis, Haven, Five Days to Midnight, The Fearing Mind, Mission Genesis and Psi Factor. I believe all of these latter shows were filmed in Canada, some of them of Toronto if memory serves me right.
(14) DRUM ROLL, PLEASE. WhatCulture has designated these the 10 Best Comic Books of 2018.
(15) COMICS’ JEWISH INFLUENCERS. Career artist and fan Hugo winner Steve Stiles responded to the Baltimore Jewish Times’ farewell to Stan Lee in this recently-published letter of comment. Steve begins —
As one who enjoyed a five-year stint as a freelance illustrator for Marvel’s British publications, I enjoyed reading Arie Kaplan’s article on Stan Lee (“Stan Lee Gave Comic Books Permission to Be More Jewish, JT online”). I was, however, surprised that one of Marvel’s leading Jewish characters, Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, the strong man of the Fantastic Four, was overlooked….
Only two are available per store, per day, so you have to order one online ahead of time if you want in. Domino’s requires a 24 hour heads-up, so plan your hang-outs accordingly.
It’s too big for
Do you really expect someone to carry this on their bike to you?! No, you gotta go in and pick it up. And since it’s a full 40 inches across (Domino’s had to make new boxes to stand up to the weight!) you might want to go in an SUV.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, not only delivered a bone-chilling psychological thriller, it dissected the underlying racial oppression running through the veins of America, spearheaded conversations of societal fractures, and earned four Oscar nominations. (It would go on to win Peele the Best Original Screenplay award.) So after Peele’s killer success, what does the filmmaker do next?
“For my second feature, I wanted to create a monster mythology,” Peele tells EW. “I wanted to do something that was more firmly in the horror genre but still held on to my love of movies that are twisted but fun.”
Details are very, very vague about Peele’s upcoming film Us. The story is set in the present day and follows Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) as they take their kids to Adelaide’s old childhood beachside home in Northern California for the summer.
(20) GET STARTED BOOING NOW. No need to wait — you know this will end badly The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Harvey’ Remake in the Works at Netflix”. The idea does not sound either oh, so nice, or oh, so smart….
‘Shrek 2’ writers J. David Stem and David N. Weiss have been tapped to write.
One of film’s best-known rabbits is hopping his way back to Hollywood.
A Harvey remake is in the works at Netflix, with J. David Stem and David N. Weiss set to write the screenplay. Fabrica de Cine, which is working with the streamer on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, will produce.
(21) I DREAM OF GENIE. Footage
from the forthcoming Aladdin live-action
movie with Will Smith as the Genie.
Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Cat
Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, Robot Archie,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]