(1) HWA YIELDS TO SAFETY CONCERNS. This year’s StokerCon will be virtual: “StokerCon™ 2021 Special Announcement”. The virtual event will keep the announced May 20 to 23 dates. Next-year’s in-person event will take place in Denver at the same hotel they intended to use in 2021.
The Horror Writers Association has made the difficult decision to shift StokerCon™ 2021 from an in-person event to a virtual platform during its originally scheduled May 20 to 23 dates. With the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of viral variants, and the broad range of travel obstacles around the world, we have deemed this to be the safest, most responsible way to hold the event.
As might be expected with an event of this size, switching to a virtual footing poses many challenges, but Con co-chairs, James Chambers and Brian Matthews; HWA President, John Palisano; Vice President, Meghan Arcuri; Administrator, Brad Hodson; and the officers and trustees of the HWA Board have made significant progress in executing this change. Our hope is to preserve the spirit of StokerCon™ and create an event that will resemble as closely as possible our usual programming—panels, presentations, interviews, author readings, ceremonies, and the Bram Stoker Awards® presentation. At this time our plans include the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, Librarians’ Day, Horror University, and the Final Frame Film Competition. And while we won’t be able to gather in the same place, all attendees of this virtual StokerCon™ will receive—or, outside the U.S., have the option to receive—a printed copy of the beautiful souvenir book created and edited by Josh Viola and HEX Publishing….
(2) BOSKONE’S INTERVIEW SERIES. Boskone 58, to be held February 12-14 has been running a series of interview posts.
…If you were planning a holiday or vacation and could visit any location, whether in the real world or fictional worlds, where would you go? Why?
I love portal fantasies. I always dreamed of the doors in other peoples’ writing and of walking through those doors into enchanted lands. Then I wrote my own. I now want to visit the house in Borderlanders and travel to strange places. I seldom want to visit anywhere I’ve written about, for I know all the downsides of all the places, but doors that lead to hidden seas or to rooms lined with liquid glass? That’s different.
…Hour of the Wolf premiered in early 1971, somewhere between January and early March. I was to engineer the majority of her programs. Adler came up with the title,taken from the 1967 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name starring Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow. Initially there was no consistent opening music theme until early 1972, when we saw the environmentally-aware science fiction movie Silent Running. The best thing in the film (IMO) was the fabulous soundtrack by Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame. There is a grand scene in the movie in which we see small robots caring for and watering the last trees in existence; the camera then pans out to an exterior perspective showing us that this is one of many ships set up as environmental domes. The name of this music is “The Space Fleet,” and once we found a copy in a bin in a 69-cent store, it became the official theme music of the show….
…In 1973, Margot and I both passed the entrance qualifications for the Clarion West Science Fiction Writers Workshop — an intense six-week seminar that featured a different teacher each week that was a veritable Who’s Who of progressive writing in the era. I could not afford to go to Seattle for that long, much less the entrance fee, plane fare, and room and board. Furthermore, Margot told me if I could not go, I would take over Hour of the Wolf in her absence. And that’s what happened. When Margot came back, she was offered a 7-9 AM slot twice a week, which fit her schedule better, and it was agreed that I would stay over after Hour of the Wolf and engineer her show as well….
… Every single time we start talking about who the next Doctor should be, people invariably start suggesting names so absurd and unlikely that you have to wonder if they’ve recently returned from a parallel universe, where appearing in a popular British sci-fi series is the pinnacle of creative and financial achievement.
Tilda Swinton? Richard Ayoade? Idris Elba? If people seriously think these sort of names are realistic, they haven’t been paying attention to the way the show is made, or its demands. It’s like watching the judges on The Masked Singer confidently predicting that Brad Pitt has decided to dress up as a talking clock and sing ballads on ITV primetime – while technically possible, not a suggestion that anyone could really take seriously….
(5) PRO TIPS. Lou J. Berger drew on his 15 years of experience for this writing advice on Facebook.
… The second bit of advice is to write for yourself, first and foremost. If you are changing your manuscript because you know exactly how each of your critique partners will judge it, see the above advice about finding a new group. The value of a strong critique group will ALWAYS be better than writing in a vacuum. Unless there’s toxicity. Then get the hell out, immediately.
Writing for yourself means that you write something you want to read. And when you read it through other people’s eyes, you are catering to another person’s will. We’ve been through enough in our lives, bending to the will of others. Don’t let your prose get sullied by that same desperate need to conform. It is in the writing of your HEART that you will find release, and the passions that stir you, in the quiet hallways of your own mind, deserve the treatment that only you, and you alone, can give them. Write your HEART and let the others be damned. If there’s one thing in this godforsaken world that you can lay claim to, it is your innermost, private thoughts, and they shall always be yours, the true essence of what makes you unique….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 7, 1992 — The Ray Bradbury Theater aired “The Utterly Perfect Murder” episode. Based on a short story by Bradbury, it concerns the long anticipated revenge of a boy tormented in his childhood who now thinks he has plotted the utterly perfect murder. It’s directed by Stuart Margolian, and stars Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and David Turri. You can watch it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 7, 1478 – Sir Thomas More. Recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Renowned among us for Utopia, which would be just fine if we read it carefully enough to realize that, as Lafferty had a fictional TM repeat in Past Master, it’s a satire. (Died 1535) [JH]
Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens. Many of us know “A Christmas Carol”, with ghosts; he wrote fourscore more fantastic stories, among much else he is still famous for; some say he believed the end of Mr. Krook in Bleak House was possible, others call it fantasy. I can’t let CD’s greatness go without saying, but it’s mostly outside our field. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born February 7, 1883 – John Taine. A dozen novels, three shorter stories. Under another name he earned a Ph.D., taught math at Cal Tech, wrote Men of Mathematics which he wanted to entitle The Lives of Mathematicians, and several others, The Queen of the Sciences, The Handmaiden of the Sciences, The Development of Mathematics, Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science, of substantial literary ability in this subject which is far easier to do than to write prose about. (Died 1960) [JH]
February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He played the lead roles in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do so although other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born February 7, 1913 – Henry Hasse. His superb “He Who Shrank” is in the superb Healy-McComas anthology Adventures in Time and Space. Since this is File 770, I’ll note HH is named co-author of Ray Bradbury’s “Pendulum”, Sep 41 Super Science Stories, which I understand is RB’s first publication in a prozine. A story “The Pendulum” appeared in the Fall 39 Futuria Fantasia, RB’s fanzine. The Kent State Univ. Collected Stories of RB vol. 1 lists both: do you know how they differ? I can’t get at these sources just now. But we digress. One novel; twoscore more shorter stories, two with RB, two with Emil Petaja, two with Albert de Pina. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born February 7, 1921 – John Baltadonis. Today is the hundredth birth-anniversary of this fannish giant (he was in fact 6’2″ [1.9 m] tall). See the note about him yesterday, No. 6 in the Pixel Scroll. Don’t neglect his fanart; we did during his life, he never had enough Best Fanartist nominations even to reach the Hugo ballot. [JH]
February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant, 72. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (CE)
February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 71. Michael Toman in a letter to our OGH asked we note her Birthday as he has a “A Good Word for one of his favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and ““The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. (CE)
February 7, 1952 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.) (CE)
February 7, 1955 — Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World. Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voice Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.) (CE)
February 7, 1960 — James Spader, 61. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No, I did not enjoy that film, nor the Ultron character. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter. (CE)
Born February 7, 1990 – Jessica Khoury, age 30. Seven novels. “Read as much as you can, in as many genres as you can. Read insatiably. Read ingredients on your food. Read warning labels on heavy machinery. Read the newspaper, read magazines, read manga”. [JH]
Last week, reported The Hollywood Reporter, a near-mint copy of the Batman No. 1 comic, published in 1940, “sold as part of Heritage Auction’s comics and comic art events. … The final price was $2,220,000, which included the buyer’s premium fee.” Just in case you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay your monthly health insurance premium or children’s college tuition, that number, to repeat, was $2,220,000—a record for “the most expensive Batman comic ever sold.”
Does that mean that other comic books have sold for more? Well, according to Helen Stoilas in The Art Newspaper, “The rare 1940 issue, which marks the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, is the second most-expensive comic book ever sold. Even before the live sale opened on Thursday [Jan. 14], the start of Heritage’s four-day Comics and Comic Art event, online pre-bidding for the comic book had shot up to $1.9 million. Its sale of $2.22 million, to a U.S. bidder on the auction house’s online HA Live platform, knocked out the previous Batman record holder, a copy of 1939’s Detective Comics #27, which introduced the character to the world and sold for $1.5 million at Heritage this past November.”
(10) THROWBACK TEAM. “Justice Society: World War II” on YouTube is a trailer for a new WB cartoon about the original matchup of DC superheroes.
It’s a world of corsets, stays and chemises. Of weskits, bum rolls, breeches and hoop panniers. For actors, wearing period costume has long meant literally stepping into the past: lacing soft modern flesh into antique shapes and learning how to use the toilet without peeling off multiple layers.
“Bridgerton,” Shonda Rhimes’s racially diverse Netflix series set in 1813 England, has suddenly ignited new interest in Regency fashions. But a global community of hobbyists has been designing, making and wearing clothing from the 19th century and earlier for many years. Long a private obsession fueled by films like “The Leopard” and “Pride and Prejudice,” social media has widened the conversation, with fans of all ages and backgrounds worldwide now trading notes on how best to trim a sleeve or adjust a straw bonnet.
Pre-pandemic, they gathered in Los Angeles at Costume College, an annual conference, at Venice’s Carnival and the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles. Some lucky Europeans, like Filippa Trozelli, find themselves invited to wear their historical clothing to private parties at ancient local estates….
A USS Enterprise and Deep Space Nine themed cat tree: it’s what every Star Trek loving feline owner’s home has been missing. And now thanks to Etsy seller CE360designs, you can finally fill that void with a custom Star Trek Enterprise 1701D and DS9 Wood Cat Tower. You know they say good things come in small packages, but I imagine this box being on the larger side.
According to the sales copy, “The bottom is a wormhole but can be a Borg ship.”
A laser-light sensor that can identify bacteria in a wound may sound far-fetched, but it’s already becoming a reality, thanks in part to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The technology is going to Mars for the first time on Perseverance, which will touch down on the Red Planet in February, but it’s already detecting trace contaminants in pharmaceutical manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and other important operations on Earth.
That’s not the only technology headed to Mars that’s already paying dividends on the ground. Here on Earth, these innovations are also improving circuit board manufacturing and even led to a special drill bit design for geologists….
Researchers at the University of Maryland have turned ordinary sheets of wood into transparent material that is nearly as clear as glass, but stronger and with better insulating properties. It could become an energy efficient building material in the future.
Wood is made of two basic ingredients: cellulose, which are tiny fibres, and lignin, which bonds those fibres together to give it strength.
Tear a paper towel in half and look closely along the edge. You will see the little cellulose fibres sticking up. Lignin is a glue-like material that bonds the fibres together, a little like the plastic resin in fibreglass or carbon fibre. The lignin also contains molecules called chromophores, which give the wood its brown colour and prevent light from passing through.
Early attempts to make transparent wood involved removing the lignin, but this involved hazardous chemicals, high temperatures and a lot of time, making the product expensive and somewhat brittle. The new technique is so cheap and easy it could literally be done in a backyard….
In each episode, we perform a reading and discussion of his works with a special guest. Avram Davidson (1923–1993) was a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and crime fiction. Davidson was born in Yonkers, NY and and served in the Navy during World War II. His life work includes 19 novels and over 200 short stories, all of which have been widely recognized for their wit and originality. Davidson’s works have won awards in three genres: an Edgar Award for mystery, a Hugo Award for science fiction, and three World Fantasy Awards.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Professor Layton” on Honest Game Trailers, Fandom Games says that while Professor Layton is “the world’s worst Sherlock Holmes cosplayer” the game’s many quizzes should appeal to fans of “anime, Agatha Christie, and people who enjoy the puzzle section in the newspaper.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, Will R., Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
We’re working hard to figure out the best path forward for our Worldcon next year and we need to hear from you! Please take this brief 2-question poll which seeks your preference between shifting DC III to December 15-19, 2021, with a high probability to be an in-person Worldcon, or keeping with our existing August 25-29, 2021, which would be mostly virtual with the potential for limited in-person activities.
(2) STOKERCON CONTINGENCY PLAN. For now, the Horror Writers Association is planning on StokerCon 2021 being an in-person event next May in Denver – but what if that changes?
…As of now, we intend to hold the convention as scheduled. At the same time, we are working on contingency plans should that not be possible. We are discussing the issue on an ongoing basis with The Curtis, who are sensitive to the situation and the needs and concerns of our attendees.
If for some reason we cannot hold the convention as planned, any change will be announced more than sixty days before May 20th so that those who wish to change their plans may still obtain a refund for their registration fee and change or cancel hotel reservations and alter travel plans. We recommend those planning long distance travel who wish to purchase airfare or other tickets in advance look into refundable options and travel insurance.
If for some reason we cannot hold StokerCon™ 2021 in person, we will look into the possibility of a virtual convention and have begun investigating options. This contingency is too far into the future to make concrete plans, though we will work to ensure a complete and enjoyable convention….
[GLITCHY PANCAKES] Why don’t we start out and talk about your most recent venture Erewhon Books. This is really interesting because what i was personally curious about is after so many years working as an editor what made you want to take the leap and like hang out your own shingle and go into like the full scale publishing?
[LIZ GORINSKY] So yeah it was a tour of basically my entire adult career before that I did one internship in the industry which is DC Comics and then a long time at Tor, and it was great but I guess it was a combination — Publishing is intensely cyclical we had a three season schedule so just imagine doing the same thing three times a year for 15 years and like even if it’s doing a thing like working on books that you love, it is, you know, kind of repetitive in some ways. And i think it was also, you know, many great things were going on but I think that like around the time that i was working there there was like I guess a drive towards becoming a little bit more professional and a little bit more corporate and, I think, ultimately to the benefit of the company, but I felt like sort of cowboy territory when I started that we were just like a bunch of science fiction weirdos, and they still are to be sure, but there was also kind of a like let’s fit a little bit more into the greater Macmillan culture. So I was basically at the point where I could consider kind of working independently for a little while. So i was attempting to leave and go freelance and try to do some freelance editing for a while to focus on some other things that I was interested in exploring, just not do the same thing over and over again for a little while. Then some folks found me and they said would you like to start a new speculative fiction company that will be funded and you can do whatever you want, basically. I spent a little while wrestling with imposter syndrome about that and then, basically, like, you know, enough people said some variations on how can you not do that that. I kind of figured that i had to do that and that’s where we started…
(4) CONDENSED CREAM OF CONZEALAND. Morgan Hazelwood has completed a series of reports on some of the panels at CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon.
Here’s the list of panels I managed to squeeze in:
Cultures and Their Myths
What’s In A Name? Characters in Fiction
Stranger in a Strange Head: Imposter Syndrome
Spirits Abroad and At Home
Fairy Tale Contract Law
Writing SFF From The Margins
What Fanfiction Can Teach Genre Writers
Writing For Young Adults
and last, but certainly not least!
In Space No One Can See You Hide The Evidence: Crimes in Space
(5) THICK AS A BRICK: David Langford has added his vast compilation of a decade’s worth of Ansible (2011-2020) to the TAFF ebooks library. It’s a free download, however, if you feel moved to donate to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund that would be a good thing.
Issues 282 to 401 of the infamous Hugo-winning SF/fan newsletter. First published from January 2021 to December 2020 and archived online here. Compiled into an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 3 December 2020, with cover logo (compressed second-series version) by Dan Steffan and artwork by Atom. 429,000 words.
(6) LETTERS FROM VONNEGUT. In “Satirist to the Galaxy” in The American Scholar, Anne Matthews reviews Love, Kurt, a collection of 226 letters Kurt Vonnegut wrote during World War II to the woman he would marry, which give new insights into Vonnegut’s views about war.
…At SS gunpoint, Vonnegut dug Dresden’s dead from the rubble, an extreme tutorial in entropy and decay for the Cornell biochemistry major. He was only 22, raised in a prosperous German-speaking family proud of its Old World ties. The funeral pyres of Dresden became the core of his moral vision and the engine of his later literary fame, but the price of witnessing was nearly unbearable, and everyone who tried to love him paid it, too.
Two women kept him sane. His big sister Alice was his muse, a spiritual twin. His future wife, Jane Cox, a friend since kindergarten days, also a would-be writer, became his literary umpire. “One peculiar feature of our relationship is that you are the one person in this world to whom I like to write,” he told her in 1943. “If ever I do write anything of length—good or bad—it will be written with you in mind. … And let’s have seven children xxxxxxx.” Two weeks after V-J Day, they married and raised, yes, seven children, three of their own plus four young nephews, orphaned after their father’s commuter train fell into Newark Bay two days before Alice died of cancer….
Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.
The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples…
(8) TRAILER TIME. Wetware will be released December 11.
WETWARE is set in a near future where there are tough and tedious jobs no one wants to do – and people down on their luck who volunteer for genetic modifications to make them right for this work — in slaughterhouses, infectious disease wards, landfill and other hard jobs. With business booming, programmers at Galapagos Wetware up the stakes by producing high-end prototypes, Jack (Bret Lada) and Kay, for more sensitive jobs like space travel, deep cover espionage or boots on the ground for climate or resource conflicts.Galapagos genetic programmer Hal Briggs (Cameron Scoggins) improvises as he goes on what qualities to include or delete in his gene splicing for Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment. Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. As Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes, he makes a provocative discovery that changes everything.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 3, 1965 — Fifty five years ago this evening, The Wild Wild West’s “The Night of the Human Trigger” was first aired on CBS. It starred Robert Conrad as Jim West and Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon with Burgess Meredith as the guest star this episode. He’s a mad scientist named Professor Orkney Cadwallader that’s using nitroglycerin to set off the earthquakes of horrendous size. The episode uses a number of genre tropes including Chekhov’s gun, mad scientist, deus ex machina and soft glass. You can legally see it here, though oddly enough it’s not up on the CBS All Access app.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 3, 1922 – Donald H. Tuck. From his home in Tasmania with help from fans round the world he built a great card index, published A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Special Committee Award, Chicon III the 20th Worldcon), then The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Best Nonfiction Book, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon – Australia’s first Hugo). Guest of Honor at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon, though he could not attend. Big Heart, our highest service award. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born December 3, 1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, age 83. A score of novels, three dozen shorter stories for us; much other work in historical fiction and nonfiction. Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award. Nat’l League of American Penwomen Novel of the Year award, Irish-American Heritage Committee (she then still lived in the U.S.) Woman of the Year award. Two Bisto awards, Reading Ass’n of Ireland award. A horsewoman; missed the U.S. Olympics team in dressage by .05 per cent. [JH]
Born December 3, 1949 – Malcolm Edwards, age 71. Fanzine, Quicksilver. Edited Foundation, Interzone, Vector. A hundred fifty essays, letters, reviews there and in The Alien Critic, NY Rev of SF, SF Commentary, SF Monthly, Bleiler’s SF Writers, Speculation. Guest of Honour at Loncon 3 the 72nd Worldcon. Chair of SF at Gollancz (retired 2019), edited its SF Masterworks. Not his fault that Peter Weston knowing no better wrote earlier as “Malcolm Edwards”, which we eventually sorted out. [JH]
Born December 3, 1953 – Doug Beason, Ph.D., age 67. Eight novels with Kevin Anderson, one with Ben Bova, two more, a score of shorter stories, for us; five novels, two nonfiction books, on next-door topics. Science columns in Analog and SF Age. Retired Air Force colonel. Fellow of Amer. Physical Society. Nat’l Defense Univ. President’s Strategic Vision award. [JH]
Born December 3, 1955 — Stephen Culp, 65. His first genre appearance was in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday followed by being in the much different James and the Giant Peach. His next role is as Commander Martin Madden in the extended version of Star Trek: Nemesis, before showing up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Congressman Wenham. He also had a recurring role on Enterprise as Major Hayes. (CE)
Born December 3, 1958 — Terri Windling, 62. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood. She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Manhere. (CE)
Born December 3, 1959 – Shawn Lamb, age 61. From her Allon Books, a dozen novels for us; also historical fiction; television screenwriting. Family Review Center Editors’ Choice and Gold Award for The Great Battle. [JH]
Born December 3, 1960 — Daryl Hannah, 60. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing. (CE)
Born December 3, 1965 — Andrew Stanton, 55. Director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor, all at Pixar. His work there includes co-writing A Bug’s Life (as co-director), Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding Dory, WALL-E (Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Anticipation) and over at Disney, he directed John Carter. He also co-wrote all four Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc. (CE)
Born December 3, 1968 — Brendan Fraser, 52. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark Town, Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Titans series that now airs on HBO. (CE)
Born December 3, 1981 – Alyson Noël, age 39. Sixteen novels, two shorter stories for us; half a dozen more novels; nine NY Times Best-Sellers, eight million copies in print. Has been a flight attendant and a T-shirt painter; has kept pet turtles and tarantulas. Learned to read with Horton Hatches the Egg; favorite maybe The Catcher in the Rye. Motto, Don’t believe everything you think. [JH
Born December 3, 1985 — Amanda Seyfried, 35. She plays Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds her playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
As Lise Andreasen translates this Politikencartoon:
In late November, a mysterious 9-foot obelisk appeared in Utah, sparking world-wide awe as many made a pilgrimage to see it in San Juan County.
The Utah obelisk was illegally installed without cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.
On Black Friday, it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, leaving a triangular divot in the ground.
On Wednesday morning, a similar monument appeared at the top of Atascadero’s Pine Mountain, and sparked similar patronage. Dozens of local hikers made the trek to the top of Pine Mountain to view the object. (The object has since been removed)
The three-sided obelisk appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and 18 inches wide. The object was welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside. The top of the monument did not show any weld marks, and it appears to be hollow at the top, and possibly bottom.
Unlike its Utah sibling, the Atascadero obelisk was not installed into the ground (however it was attached with rebar), and could be knocked over with a firm push. The Atascadero News estimates it weighs about 200 pounds.
In a move that some may have suspected was on the horizon while most will consider it quite the shock, Warner Bros. has announced plans for its entire 2021 roster to debut simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform and in theaters.
Per a press release shared on Thursday, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group CEO Ann Sarnoff is calling this approach a “unique one-year plan,” which points to the possibility of it indeed being a single-time rollout strategy inspired solely by the difficulties facing theaters across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances,” Sarnoff said.
This cute roll of washi tape is die-cut to highlight the shape of its bookshelf print.
Washi tape is a Japanese craft masking tape that comes in many colors and patterns and has tons of creative uses. Use it to add whimsical, creative accents to scrapbooks and cards, or stick it on your wall calendars and personal planners to mark important dates. The tape is removable, which means that you can easily stick it on, unpeel it, and move it to a different spot—this is especially convenient when marking ever-changing schedules. It can be cut with scissors to create a clean edge or torn by hand to create a more textured look.
(15) MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Projections from Hingston & Olsen Publishing is an original anthology edited by Rebecca Romney in which the 12 stories are individual pamphlets in a collectible box.
They also have an “Advent calendar” of short stories that includes Sofia Samatar but I don’t know how many of these stories are sf or fantasy.
For the past five years, the Short Story Advent Calendar has lit up libraries and living rooms around the world with shimmering smorgasbords of bite-sized literary fiction. But all good things must come to an end. So grab the emergency schnapps from the back of the liquor cabinet, and join us for one last holiday hurrah.
You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers around.
The two largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages, and it’s happening just in time for Christmas.
So, there are some things to look forward to in the final month of 2020.
On the night of December 21, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear so closely aligned in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This close approach is called a conjunction.
“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” said Rice University astronomer and professor of physics and astronomy Patrick Hartigan in a statement.
“You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”
…Unless they are kept indoors, the behavior of house cats is not much different from that of wild cats. Though the cat may regard more than one house as home, the house is the base where it feeds, sleeps and gives birth. There are clear territorial boundaries, larger for male cats than for females, which will be defended against other cats when necessary. The brains of house cats have diminished in size compared with their wild counterparts, but that does not make house cats less intelligent or adaptable. Since it is the part of the brain that includes the fight-or-flight response that has shrunk, house cats have become able to tolerate situations that would be stressful in the wild, such as encountering humans and unrelated cats….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mad Max: Fury Road Behind The Scenes Documentary” on YouTube is a 2017 film, directed by Cory Watson, originally titled Going Mad: The Battle Of Fury Road, which is a behind the scenes look at the 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road. The documentary reveals this film had an extremely long gestation, as George Miller originally had the idea for the film in the late 1990s, Production was shut down in 2002 in Namibia because the US dollar tanked in the wake of 9/11, wiping out a quarter of the film’s budget, and halted a second time in Australia in 2010 because of floods shortly before shooting which turned the desert set into a lush flowery landscape. The documentary includes interviews with stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and many behind-the scenes looks at the mixture of feminism, car crashes, and gratuitous consumption of fossil fuels that led to six Oscars in 2016.
My favorite behind the scenes bit: dozens of bald-headed extras preparing for their day of being weirdoes by singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
[Thanks to Lise Andeasen, Michael Toman, JJ, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) JUMP ON THE TRUCK. In the Washington Post, Robert Zubrin and Homer Hickam have an opinion piece where they say that SpaceX Dragon’s success should make the preferred launch vehicle for a return to the Moon and NASA should shelve the Orion rocket as too unwieldy. “Send the SpaceX Dragon to the moon”.
In March 2019, Vice President Pence challenged NASA to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 “by any means necessary.” This was a potential breakthrough, because after nearly 50 years of drift, the White House was finally giving NASA’s human spaceflight program a concrete goal with a clear timeline and forceful support — a necessity for any progress and the restoration of the agency’s can-do spirit. The purpose for the mission itself is a blend of economic, scientific and world leadership goals designed to make the investment worthwhile to all Americans.
NASA’s response to Pence’s challenge was to proceed with what it already had in the pipeline: the Orion crewed spacecraft and the massive shuttle-derived Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift expendable booster rocket. SLS has been in slow-walk development since 2006, with more than $18 billion spent, but it is still years away from launch. Considering this track record, we unhappily doubt the SLS/Orion combination will meet the vice president’s challenge.
But now we have an alternative. The contract that resulted in the Dragon crewed spacecraft was issued by NASA in 2014. Six years and $3 billion later, it has flown astronauts into orbit. What SpaceX did was show that a well-led entrepreneurial team can achieve results that were previously thought to require the efforts of superpowers, and in a small fraction of the time and cost, and even — as demonstrated by its reusable Falcon launch vehicles — do things deemed impossible altogether. This is a revolution….
Hey there. I know you’re having a rough time right now, and I’m sorry to say you earned it. I wish I had known about your behavior sooner; I wish I had known that you weren’t just making rank jokes among friends, as we all do once in a while, but engaged in serious abuses of your power, engaged in harming people.
I am, needless to say, very very disappointed in you.
I’m saddened for the people you have hurt, and I’m really disappointed that you have turned out not to be the person I thought you were. Even more, I’m wondering if you even have the self-awareness to realize how much you have harmed not just the people you harassed or gaslit or backstabbed, but also the communities you were a part of. How much you have damaged the people who care about you and who have tried to be your friends, as well….
(4) STOKERCON UK. The StokerCon UK committee has announced a new set of dates for the Horror Writers Association event which has been chased around the calendar by the coronavirus. The post is here.
…Secondly, we are grateful to the majority of you who, since our previous announcement, have allowed us to get on with trying to save the convention—or at least a version of it—by rescheduling it.
To that end, we are pleased to let you know that, at the moment, we have agreed tentative dates for the event with the two convention hotels of 28-31 January 2021. With events and advice changing so quickly, the hotels have agreed to follow UK Government advice and are prepared to reassess or postpone the event once again nearer the time, depending on the spread and hopeful containment of the virus.
… We now know where we are. We’re in that prolonged change. It’s a transition, and we’ve finally hit it. All of 2020 will be a year of half-measures, making do, and getting through.
Frankly, I find knowing where we are calming. I now know how to proceed day to day. I don’t like it, but I don’t have to like it.
I, you, all of us just have to survive it.
The knowledge of where we’re at, though, took me out of survival mode. I’m no longer obsessively reading the news every day, trying to figure out where we are. I’m donning my mask when I go out. I make that daily calculation—is it worth the risk to my health (and Dean’s health) to do whatever it is I am planning to do?
I can calculate risk now. And, more importantly, Dean and I are agreed. We consult if we’re going to do something outside of our usual schedule, based on the level of risk.
We are more or less staying home, but we did anyway, since we work here. That sense of ease, that feeling of no longer being on the knife’s edge, has made it easier to focus, although not always easier to work.
I’m one of the few people I know who has made the mental transition out of survival mode. (If one of us gets sick, I know I’ll head right back into it.) Now that I know how we’re going to be living day to day, I’m willing to live day to day. I don’t need to be ever vigilante for another tow truck, coming at us out of the dark.
Because I’ve made this transition, I can see other folks who haven’t. In my various social media feeds, I’m watching writers talk about their process or their lack of one. Writers, discussing how their work has changed or just plain stopped. Writers, who can’t face any of their usual projects, and who are feeling lost and don’t exactly know why.
Everyone knows the changes in their writing habits come from the pandemic, but most don’t understand what to do. And many people are worried that the changes to their writing methods are permanent.
Are those changes permanent? It depends on the change. They seem to fall into two categories…
… We are in a new place. Like any new place, it will take time to learn all its ins and outs. We have to explore it and understand it—and survive the transition into it.
If you’re dealing with actual life and death issues, from someone being very ill in your life to a major loss of income or career, then give yourself time to recover. Take the pressure off your writing. There’s enough pressure in your life….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY,
June 24, 1982 — Blade Runner premiered. It was directed by Ridley Scott, and was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. It starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos and Sean Young. It was based very loosely on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It would win the Best Dramatic Presentation at ConStellation, beating out The Wrath of Khan, E.T., The Dark Crystal and The Road Warrior. Critics were puzzled by it and t generated little street buzz nearly thirty years ago. It would vastly raise its stature over the years, now being considered one of the Best SF works ever done. It’s worth Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th-anniversary digitally remastered version; this is the only version over which Scott retained full artistic control.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 24, 1842 – Ambrose Bierce. Four hundred short pieces, sixty poems. A pioneer in realistic fiction; a great fantasist; a biting satirist. When William Dean Howells said AB was among our three greatest writers, AB said “I am sure Mr. Howells is the other two.” Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish. (Died 1914, maybe) [JH]
Born June 24, 1915 – Sir Frederick Hoyle. Coined the expression “Big Bang”, rejected the theory. Radar research in World War II with more personnel than the Manhattan Project. Mayhew Prize, Balzan Prize, Crafoord Prize. Founded the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy and resigned from it. A dozen SF novels, two dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors; translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish. (Died 2001) [JH]
Born June 24, 1937 – Charles Brown. Founded Locus (with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf) as a fanzine; it grew, changed, and “semiprozine” was invented to describe it; 29 Hugos by the time of his death. You could disagree with him; on panels with him I opposed his “mainstream literature is about the past, science fiction is about the present, nobody can write about the future”; no one has outdone him. Writers & Illustrators of the Future Award for lifetime achievement. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born June 24, 1947 — Peter Weller, 73. Yes it’s his Birthday today too. Robocop obviously with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s Leviathan which you I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Is it of the Naked Lunch genre? Well, Screamers based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety” certainly is. Even if the reviews sucked. And Star Trek Into Darkness certainlyqualifies. Hey he showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise! (CE)
Born June 24, 1948 – Kris Neri, age 72.Two novels for us; four more, sixty shorter stories. After living in San Francisco, and Southern California, moved to Sedona (Arizona); now at home in Silver City (New Mexico). Teaches writing through the U. Cal. L.A. Extension School. Says her Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty magical mysteries feature “a questionable psychic who teams up with a modern goddess/FBI agent”. Website here. [JH]
Born June 24, 1950 — Mercedes Lackey, 70. There’s a line on the Wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the Valdemar universe. I like her Bedlam’s Bard series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Gunn and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edghill. The SERRAted Edge series, Elves with race cars, is kinda fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these. Lackey and Dixon are GoHs of this year’s Worldcon, CoNZealand. (CE)
Born June 24, 1950 — Nancy Allen, 70. Officer Anne Lewis in the Robocop franchise. (I like all three films.) Her first genre role was not in Carrie as Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as a unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite The Philadelphia Experiment as Allison Hayes and I see her in Poltergeist III as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise?). She’s in the direct-to-video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return as Rachel Colby. (Oh, that sounds awful.) And she was in an Outer Limits episode, “Valerie 23”, as Rachel Rose. (CE)
Born June 24, 1961 — Iain Glen, 59. Scots actor who played as Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, he’s also well known for his roles as Dr. Alexander Isaacs/Tyrant in the Resident Evil franchise; and he played the role of Father Octavian, leader of a sect of clerics who were on a mission against the Weeping Angels in “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone”, all Eleventh Doctor stories. (CE)
Born June 24, 1970 – Nicolas Fructus, age 50. Recently, comics and storyboard art for animated films and video games. Worked with Moebius, Philippe Druillet; founded Delcourt publishing house. Here is a cover for Bifrost. Here is one for Kij Johnson’s novella “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe”. Here is A Year in the Air. [JH]
Born June 24, 1982 — Lotte Verbeek, 38. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on Agent Carter. She got interesting genre history including being Geillis Duncan on the Outlander series, Helena in The Last Witch Hunter, Aisha in the dystopian political thriller Division 19 film and a deliberately undefined role in the now-concluded cross-world Counterpart series. (CE)
Born June 24, 1988 – Kasey Lansdale, age 32. Country music singer-songwriter who has been writing in our field with her father Joe Lansdale; six short stories with him, two alone; edited two anthologies, recently Impossible Monsters. “Tremble” with JL was in Pop the Clutch from Dark Moon last year. Website here. [JH]
Born June 24, 1994 — Nicole Muñoz, 26. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the Defiance series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in Fantastic Four. Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same same. (CE)
The U.S. Postal Service will issue commemorative Forever stamps celebrating Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday. The Postal Service and Warner Bros. Consumer Products are excited to dedicate these stamps at a virtual ceremony on July 27, the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny’s official screen debut.
Bugs has always been known for his impeccable impersonations and his masterful masquerades, so the soon-to-be-revealed 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps each showcase a costumed Bugs Bunny in some of his most memorable getups.
I remember the first time I encountered an attractive fat woman in a fantasy novel. My heart flipped a little as I read about a woman was for-real fat. She wasn’t your usual fictional overweight woman, either: there was no zaftig or curvy or voluptuous to be found near the Scientist’s Daughter in Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But she was definitely attractive. The narrator describes her as follows:
“A white scarf swirled around the collar of her chic pink suit. From the fullness of her earlobes dangled square gold earrings, glinting with every step she took. Actually, she moved quite lightly for her weight. She may have strapped herself into a girdle or other paraphernalia for maximum visual effect, but that didn’t alter the fact that her wiggle was tight and cute. In fact, it turned me on. She was my kind of chubby.”
… Society generally views the science fiction genre as one of leisure. You read it because you have time, not because you want to learn something. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While all writers are charged with the task of creating a more empathetic society, science fiction writers have the additional burden of telling us what happens next.
Some of our best thinkers, and certainly our most comprehensive hopers, have been sci-fi writers. N.K. Jemisin has given us black female demigods who, despite their powers, still somehow suffer at the hands of an oppressive society. Octavia Butler has given us shapeshifters, time travelers, and voyagers who all had to react and survive under patriarchy and racism. Ursula K. Le Guin was creating entire non-binary societies … in the 1960s.
(12) IT’S IN THE OH! E. D. Ursula Vernon coins a word:
Segway is ending production of its original two-wheeler, which was popular with city tour guides and some police forces – but not the public.
Launched in 2001, the much-hyped self-balancing vehicle promised to revolutionise personal transport.
The Segway, invented by US engineer Dean Kamen, debuted with much fanfare, but struggled to make a profit.
Accidents didn’t help with the Segway’s popularity, and the company was bought by Chinese rival Ninebot in 2015.
Made at a factory in New Hampshire, in the US, production of the Segway Personal Transporter will end on 15 July.
Announcing the news, Segway president Judy Cai said: “Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle.”
However, in the vehicle’s almost two decade-long history it has also been the subject of mockery and high-profile collisions as well as a tragic death.
(14) THE PASSENGER PIGEON OF VIDEO STORES. Atlas Obscura leads readers to something that’s the last of its kind: “Bend Blockbuster Video”.
In early summer of 2018, there were two Blockbusters left in Alaska and one in Oregon. The Alaska stores finally closed that summer, leaving the Bend store as the last one standing. National media attention soon followed and the Bend Blockbuster became a tourist site as well. And after the last Blockbuster Video in Australia closed in 2019, the Bend store became the only one left in the world.
[Thanks to Microtherion, JJ, John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) THE CITY WITH TWO NAMES TWICE. N. K. Jemisin will join W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN series United Shades of America (and her cousin) on June 16 for a discussion of sci-fi, Afrofuturism, and her most recent novel The City We Became. The event is hosted by the New York Public Library. Hyperallergic has the story: “A POC-Centered Vision of NYC From NK Jemisin, Celebrated Sci-Fi Author”.
…Next Tuesday (June 16), Jemisin will join comedian W. Kamau Bell for a discussion of sci-fi, Afrofuturism, and her most recent novel, The City We Became, presented by the New York Public Library. The novel, which brings her unique brand of speculative fiction a little closer to earth, is set in a version of New York City where the future is threatened by an ancient evil that seeks to divide and destroy its community by capitalizing on its differences (sound familiar?). The City We Became imagines cities as living, sentient organisms that take shape as individual human avatars. New York and its five boroughs are embodied as mainly Black and brown folks (Staten Island and the nefarious Enemy that threatens the city are not insignificantly imagined as white women).
At a moment when New York City is slowly beginning to reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously considering numerous pieces of legislation that could combat pervasive police brutality against Black people, Jemisin’s POC-centered speculations about the future of this city feel especially timely.
(3) THE HEART OF YOUR WEEKEND. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will host several of the “Hugo Finalists for Best Novella and Best Novelette 2020” on its June 13 program, including Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Sarah Pinsker, Siobhan Carroll, and Amal El-Mohtar. Facilitating the discussions will be Vincent Docherty and Karen Castelletti.
The episode will also feature a Sara Felix Tiara Giveaway and “Tammy Coxen’s Mixology Show Corner.”
(4) STOKERCON UK: STRIKE TWO. StokerCon UK has postponed again, having decided its new August dates are no longer tenable. New dates forthcoming.
As per previous communications, like all of you we have been closely monitoring the NHS and UK Government guidelines as they have evolved over the past weeks and months, and the situation with regard to COVID-19 is still extremely changeable.
We have done everything we can to try to continue with StokerCon UK in August but, unfortunately, this is still a fast-changing situation and, with the worldwide situation and the current government guidelines as they stand now, we are left with no choice but to postpone the convention once again as we feel it would be irresponsible to push ahead and put anyone’s health at risk, apart from the obvious issues with social distancing, travel etc. Safety has to be the paramount concern for all involved.
We will advise new dates in the next week, as we’re currently finalising details of this with the hotels and will advise plans moving forward for everyone who has already signed-up to attend. We understand how disappointing this will be to many of you, and share that disappointment, but we want to make sure our members are safe, and postponing will be the best way to try and achieve that.
(5) THE SUN GIVES ABUSER PAGE ONE. Right after J.K. Rowling published an essay defending her views on gender and sex, in which she revealed she is the survivor of domestic abuse in her first marriage, UK tabloid The Sun tracked down her former husband for a front-page interview. The Guardian covered the response: “JK Rowling: UK domestic abuse adviser writes to Sun editor”.
The government’s lead adviser on domestic abuse has written to the editor of the Sun to condemn the newspaper’s decision to publish a front page interview with JK Rowling’s first husband, under the headline: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry.”
In the letter seen by the Guardian, Nicole Jacobs, the independent domestic abuse commissioner, said it was “unacceptable that the Sun has chosen to repeat and magnify the voice of someone who openly admits to violence against a partner”.
Jacobs joined a chorus of voices speaking out against the newspaper, which described the remarks by Rowling’s ex as a “sick taunt” against the Harry Potter creator.
“The media can play a vital role in shining a light on this issue and bringing it out of the shadows, but articles such as this one instead feed the shame that so many survivors will feel every day, minimising their experiences and allowing perpetrators to continue to abuse without fear of consequence,” Jacobs wrote to Victoria Newton, who was appointed the Sun’s editor in February.
(6) WRITERS OFFERED INSURANCE PROGRAM. The Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership, a coalition of 10 organizations that includes SFWA, has partnered with Lighthouse Insurance Group Solutions to “provide its members with a choice of health insurance options, including ACA-compliant major medical, Medicare/supplements, short-term policies, vision, dental, critical care, supplemental coverage, as well as small group/Health Reimbursement Arrangements.”
The Authors Guild noted in a recent press release that the coalition also includes the American Booksellers Association, American Society for Indexing, Book Industry Study Group, Graphic Artists Guild, Independent Book Publishers Association, Novelists Inc., and Western Writers of America.
No, I hear you: Now doesn’t seem the ideal moment to Netflix-and-chill with an animated series about the last vestiges of humanity struggling to survive.
I mean, imagine the pitch meeting:
“Cities lie in ruin.
“The surface of the earth is overgrown with plant life — and with overgrown animals: mutated beasts, 300 feet tall, that stomp across the land hunting for prey.
“Which is to say: for humans, who, now firmly at the bottom of the food chain, have retreated to vast underground burrows to protect themselves.”
It all sounds … pretty bleak, I get that. Depressing, even. Like if you mashed up The Walking Dead with the popular anime series Attack on Titan, in which gruesome giants gobble up humanity’s last survivors like so many chocolate-covered cherries.
And I haven’t even mentioned the violent gangs of mutant, human-sized animals who’ve staked out their own territories, making the Earth’s surface a deadly place for the few humans who still live there.
Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, which returns for a second season Friday, June 12, manages to be anything but bleak and depressing. It’s bright and sunny, colorful and funny, and … then, there are those tunes.
(8) O’NEIL OBIT. Comic book writer Denny O’Neil died June 11 at the age of 81. Games Radar’s tribute is here.
…O’Neil was best known for his work on Batman, which included writing Batman, Detective Comics, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, as well as editing DC’s Batman titles from 1986 to 2000. He, editor Julius Schwartz, and artist Neal Adams are credited for guiding the Dark Knight back to his darker roots after a period of campiness brought on by the success of the 1960s Batman TV series….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 12, 1956 — X Minus One’s “If You Was A Moklin” was aired for the first time. Written by Murray Leinster (published in Galaxy, September 1951) who would win a number of Hugos in his career (L.A. Con III awarded him a Retro Hugo Novelette for “First Contact”, published in Astounding May 1945; NY Con II would give him Best Novelette for “Exploration Team”, published in Astounding March 1956; and he’s up this year for a Retro Hugo Novella for “Trog”, published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944.) This story is about a planet that has a strange imitative trait it shows in producing its offspring. Or so it seems. Adapted as usual by Ernest Kinoy. The cast was Joe Julian, Patricia Weil, Karl Weber and Ralph Camargo. You can listen to hear it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 12, 1856 – Georges Le Faure. Among a dozen popular swashbuckling novels, War Under Water against Germany; The Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist (with Henry de Graffigny, 4 vols.; tr. in 2 vols. 2009) with an explosive that could destroy the world, a Space-ship faster than light, visits to other planets, aliens. Verne was first but not alone. (Died 1953) [JH]
Born June 12, 1914 – Frank Kelly. Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories, from this pioneer. “Light Bender” was in the June 1931 Wonder Stories – he was 15! Later a speechwriter for Harry Truman; vice-president, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. “My Interplanetary Teens” in the June 1947 Atlantic. Fiction outside our field in The New Yorker and Esquire. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 12, 1914 — William Lundigan. Col. Edward McCauley in the Fifties serial Men into Space which lasted for thirty-eight episodes. He really didn’t do any other SF acting other than showIng up once on Science Fiction Theater. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1927 — Henry Slesar. He had but one genre novel,Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but starting in the Fifties and for nearly a half century, he would write one hundred sixty short stories of a genre nature, with his first short story, “The Brat” being published in Imaginative Tales in September 1955. He also wrote scripts for television — CBS Radio Mystery Theater (which, yes, did SF), Tales Of The Unexpected, the revival version of the Twilight Zone, Batman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and genre adjacent, lots of scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1940 — Mary A. Turzillo, 80. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was released. Her first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born June 12, 1945 — James Stevens-Arce, 75. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says that “James Stevens-Arce, is perhaps the first Puerto Rican to publish sf, and the most prolific.“ He has but one novel, Soulsaver which won thePremio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, and a double handful of short stories which do appear to have made to the digital realm.(CE)
Born June 12, 1946 – Sue Anderson. Fannish musicals with Mark Keller, performed at 1970s Boskones: Rivets, Rivets Redux, Mik Ado about Nothing (note Gilbert & Sullivan allusion), The Decomposers. George Flynn, Anne McCaffrey, Elliot Shorter are gone, but Chip Hitchcock was in some or all and I’m counting on him to explain what really happened. Three short stories (one posthumously in Dark Horizons 50), and this cover with Stevan Arnold for Vertex. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born June 12, 1948 – Etienne Sándorfi. Hungarian hyperrealist painter. It was said that he painted like an assassin; also that, working at night, he went to bed each day later than the day before, puzzling his daughters. Ten interiors for Omni. The Wayback Machine has this interview; see some of his paintings here (Madeleine), here (nature morte organes). (Died 2007) [JH]
Born June 12, 1948 — Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1955 — Stephen Pagel, 65. Editor with Nicola Griffith of the genre anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, and Bending the Landscape: Horror. (CE)
Born June 12, 1963 – Franz Miklis. Austrian artist active for decades in fanart (see here and here) and otherwise (see here and here). His Website is here. [JH]
Born June 12, 1970 – Claudia Gray. A score of novels, some in the Star Wars universe; a few shorter stories; translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese. Her Website is here (“Bianca, Tess, Nadia, Skye, Marguerite, and Noemi aren’t that much like me. For example, they all have better hair”; also “Read as much as you can…. Read the stuff you love. Read the stuff you never thought you’d love”). [JH]
The Mouse Factory“The Mystery of Mickey’s Ears Revealed” Illustration by Ward Kimball Original Art (Walt Disney, c. 1970s). Walt Disney like to say, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Mickey’s trademark ears have been a source of conversation since the famous mouse was born in 1928. Created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, Mickey is characterized as a cheerful and mischievous “little guy” with ears that move strangely. In the early 1970s, Disney Legend Inductee and one of “Walt’s Nine Old Men”, Ward Kimball (1914 – 2002) attempted to clear up the matter and explain the mystery of Mickey’s ears on the television show, The Mouse Factory. In this lot is a rare illustration by Kimball showing Mickey in front and side views with an explanation on how his ears move independently as he moves his head.
(12) BE SEATED. In “Episode 29: Omphalistic Hugosity” of Two Chairs Talking (no relation to Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson), former Aussiecon chairs David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss talk about the shorter fiction nominees for the 2020 Hugo Awards, and then take the Hugo Time Machine back to 1962, when Stranger in a Strange Land won Best Novel.
Loma Homes translated the magic of “Harry Potter” into an epic new rental just 30 minutes away from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
The Wizard’s Way villa has eight themed bedrooms with 10 beds, five bathrooms, and dozens of book and movie Easter eggs that fans of the franchise will love.
(14) AVATAR. [Item by Cliff.] This video demonstrates a digital avatar created by the company founded by an ex-colleague of mine.
This demo showcases a cutting edge end-to-end virtual assistant prototy[e developed by Pinscreen. The entire Avatar runs on the cloud and is streamed directly onto a web browser. This demo highlights a real-time facial AI-synthesis technology based on paGAN II, cutting edge NLP, voice recognition, and speech synthesis. None of the conversation is scripted.
(15) MURDER(BOT) SHE WROTE. Camestros Felapton has many kind (but non-spoilery) words to say about Martha Wells’ new novel: “Murderbot: Network Effect”.
I sort of gave up reviewing Murderbot a few novellas ago. There is a sense that actually the plot really doesn’t matter and the simplest explanation of an instalment is that its a Murderbot story and the reader either knows the formula or doesn’t and if they don’t then see earlier reviews. However, that belies how much I enjoy each and every one of Martha Wells’s brilliant episodes of Murderbot’s continuing adventures.
The essence of the formula is the juxtaposition of this incredibly vulnerable highly competent killing machine. Murderbot has been shot and blasted and zapped but the struggles with their own sense of self and connections with other people pulls you in….
Bose-Einstein condensates, sometimes called the fifth state of matter, are gaseous clouds of atoms that stop behaving like individual atoms and start to behave like a collective. BECs, as they’re often called, were first predicted by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose over 95 years ago, but they were first observed in the lab by scientists just 25 years ago. The general idea when making a BEC is to inject atoms (in the case of CAL, rubidium and potassium) into an ultra-cold chamber to slow them down. A magnetic trap is then created in the chamber with an electrified coil, which is used along with lasers and other tools to move the atoms into a dense cloud. At this point the atoms “kind of blur into one another,” says David Aveline, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the lead author of the new study.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Creative Writing Advice From Neil Gaiman” on YouTube is a 2015 compiilation by Nicola Monaghan of excerpts from speeches Gaiman has given on writing.
[Thanks to Cliff, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
The series is from Murderbot’s perspective, who doesn’t care much about the wider galaxy (outside of its favorite media), but I assume there’s a lot of worldbuilding you have to juggle. We learn a bit about regions of space like the Corporation Rim, but would you tell me a little more about the state of the larger galaxy?
The Corporation Rim does control a lot of territory, but there are a lot of independent worlds and places outside it and also a lot of unexplored space, basically. In my head, what I see is that there was a whole society—pre-Corporation Rim—that went out and explored and colonized and developed terraformed worlds and all these different places. The Corporation Rim then grew and took over a large section of that. There was a disruption when that happened and so a lot of the pre-Corporation Rim colonies were either destroyed or have been lost. There are a lot of unknown territories out there. I like to do that in my books, I don’t like to define rigidly what the world is, or what the boundaries of the world are. When I’m reading books where that’s done I feel like that limits the reader’s imagination.
I’m kind of a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I don’t plan out a lot ahead of time. I also like to explore the world along with the reader, so I don’t talk about how the world works in general, partly because I want to get the reader concentrated in the plot, but also because I don’t want to set up things so that, later, when I come up with a different idea for the next book, I have to contradict myself or come up with a way around it. I’m just exploring the world. I tend to develop a lot of stuff I need for each story in particular, and then for the next story I realize, “Oh, well, there’s places to go from there. I need to explore this idea.” So I’m kind of making it up as I go along, though I do have ideas about how the world came to be and what caused the society to develop this way, but I don’t usually get into those, because it’s not important for the story that’s being told in that moment (but it might be important later).
Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank, who sent the item, says “I spot checked them, and at least some of them are unimpeachable—i.e. they link to the author’s own web site—but for others I’m unsure whether the sites hosting them really have permission from the copyright owners to do so. It might be a public service to call attention to the site so anyone who cares can track the links and authors.”
This week on The Full Lid, I take a look at the state of the Star Wars universe and find it richer, more interesting and wider than it often seems to be. I also strap in for the magnificent pulpy roller coaster of Netflix’s Into the Night and review Carlos Hernandez’s fantastic Sal and Gabi Fix The Universe. This week’s interstitial pieces are isolation fight scenes, proving that every now and then these violent delights have hilarious ends.
The Full Lid publishes weekly at 5 p.m. GMT on Fridays. Signup is free and the last six months are archived here.
…The Clone Wars finished and Rise of Skywalker arrived on Disney Plus this week with the exact combination of joy for the former and ‘oh… hi…’ for the latter you’d expect. Rise is far more the traditional Star Wars movie than Rian Johnson’s defiantly, flamboyantly good space noir predecessor. In some ways — nearly all of them in the last twenty minutes — that’s good. In other ways — in all of which Kelly Marie Tran is reduced to an extra — that borders on unforgivable. It’s Star Wars playing Hotel California and honestly it coasts on the charm of the conceit. Despite that, the emotional beats were solid – I laughed and cried in all the intended spots. It’s a good time, for most. But Star Wars, now more than ever, is bigger than the Skywalker Saga….
…I must admit that not every science fiction author adopts this buoyant stance. Some of them have taken a contrary point of view, in fact, positing that there are some circumstances that will defeat humans, no matter how smart and persevering they are. Circumstances like alien worlds that cannot be terraformed into human-friendly resort planets. Here are five worlds that steadfastly resist meddling…
(6) VIRTUALLY AMAZING. Steve Davidson’s “AmazingCon UpDates” adds details about his event to be hosted on Zoom from June 12 thru June 14, 2020. Registration required—free or make a donation as you choose. Details at the link.
Over forty authors will present readings from their current and up-coming works, including several soon-to-be-released novels. His current lineup of “Guest Stars” is —
Mike Alexander Anderson, Adam-Troy Castro, Marie Bilodeau, Ricky L Brown, James Cambias, Patty Carvacho, Noah Chinn, Jack Clemons, Carolyn Clink, David L Clink, Dave Creek, Jennifer Crow, Julie Czerneda, Steve Davidson, Vincent Di Fate, Steve Fahnestalk, Sally McBride, Jen Frankel, JM Frey, JF Garrard, David Gerrold, Sean Grigsby, Jerri Hardesty, Chip Houser, G. Scott Huggins, Elizabeth Hirst, Rebecca Inch-Partridge, MD Jackson, Paula Johanson, H Kauderer, Daniel M Kimmel, Kathy Kitts, Judy Mccrosky, Jack McDevitt, Ron Miller, Petrea Mitchell, MJ Moores, Will Murray, Ira Nayman, Wendy Nikel, Julie Novakova, Paul Levinson, Loyd Penney, Brad Preslar, Dan Ritter, David Ritter, Rhea Rose, Amber Royer, Russ Scarola, Veronica Scott, Alex Shvartsman, Steven H Silver, Dan Simon, Rosemary Claire Smith, Bud Sparhawk, Hugh Spencer, Richard Dean Starr, Allen Steele, SP Somtow, Kimberly Unger, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Leslie Wicke, Erin Wilcox, Matt Wolfendon, Kermit Woodall, Brianna Wu, Frank Wu
Hello, Peter Ludlow here, CEO of InGen, the company behind the wildly successful dinosaur-themed amusement park, Jurassic Park. As you’re all aware, after an unprecedented storm hit the park, we lost power and the velociraptors escaped their enclosure and killed hundreds of park visitors, prompting a two-month shutdown of the park. Well, I’m pleased to announce that, even though the velociraptors are still on the loose, we will be opening Jurassic Park back up to the public!
(8) THE MOUSE HOUSE. Because it’s not like these guys aren’t thinking about it. In the Washington Post, Steven Zeitchik reports that while Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the Shanghai DIsney Resort will reopen soon, he can not make a similar commitment for American parks, in part because it’s not clear that people would want to come to Disney World or Disneyland, even if attendance is limited to 25 percent of capacity, while the coronavirus rages. “Disney is about to reopen its Shanghai theme park. It could be a lot longer before that happens in the U.S.”
…Disney parks are so crucial to California’s economy that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called Disney “a nation-state,” to some controversy, when he exempted it from closure requirements at the start of the pandemic.
Theme parks are also vital to Disney’s bottom line. The parks division (it also includes hotels and cruise ships) generated $6.76 billion in profit for Disney last year, three times what its film studio did.
After initially postponing BookExpo and BookCon 2020 from their original May 27–31 dates to July 22–26, conference organizer Reedpop subsequently canceled both events. Today, Reedpop has announced the events will be replaced by new virtual events taking place this month: BookExpo Online, from May 26-29, and BookCon Online, May 30 and 31.
All programming for both BookExpo Online and BookConline 2020 will be presented on the BookExpo Facebook pages and BookCon Facebook page and, will be free and open to the public. Organizers said an additional day will be added in July, with programming focused on booksellers.
(10) PERSISTENCE OF VISION. Stokercon UK is soldiering on with plans for its new dates – Thursday through Sunday, August 6-9 (subject to further restrictions) in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The Horror Writers Association’s annual conference, with luck being held for the first to be held outside of North America, has even added a Special Guest: author and screenwriter M.R. (Mike) Carey.
Mike Carey…initially worked mainly in the medium of comic books. After writing for several UK and American indie publishers, he got his big break when he was commissioned by DC Comics’ Vertigo division to write Lucifer. Spinning off from Neil Gaiman’s ground-breaking Sandman series, Lucifer told the story of the devil’s exploits after resigning from Hell to run a piano bar in Los Angeles: Mike wrote the book for the whole of its initial seven-year run, during which he was nominated for four Eisner awards and won the Ninth Art and UK National Comics awards. More recently he has written Barbarella, Highest House and The Dollhouse Family, which will be released in September of this year as a hardcover collection.
Mike’s first foray into prose fiction came with the Felix Castor novels, supernatural crime thrillers whose exorcist protagonist consorts with demons, zombies and ghosts in an alternate London. These were followed by two collaborations with his wife Linda and their daughter Louise, The City of Silk and Steel and The House of War and Witness. Subsequently, under the transparent pseudonym of M.R.Carey, he wrote The Girl With All the Gifts and its prequel The Boy On the Bridge. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of The Girl With All the Gifts, for which – at the age of 59! – he received a British Screenwriting award for best newcomer.
The Book of Koli is the start of a new post-apocalyptic trilogy, with the remaining books to be published in September 2020 and April 2021.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 8, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Mars is Heaven“ first aired on radio stations. It’s based on the Bradbury story of that name which was originally published in 1948 in Planet Stories. It later appears as the sixth chapter of The Martian Chronicles, retitled “The Third Expedition.” The premise is that this expedition discovers on Mars a small town spookily akin to that which they left behind on Earth. The people in the town believe it is 1926. Crew members soon discover there are old friends and deceased relatives there. The cast includes Wendell Holmes, Peter Kapell, Bill Zuckert, Bill Lipton, Margaret Curlen, Bill Griffis, Ken Williams, Ethel Everett and Edwin Jerome. You can hear it here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 8, 1928 — John Bennett. His very long involvement in genre fiction started with The Curse of the Werewolf in the early Sixties and ended forty years later with a role on the Minority Report series. Being a Brit, naturally he appeared on Doctor Who in the prime role of Li H’sen Chang as part of a Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He had roles in Blake’s 7,Watership Down, Tales of The Unexpected, The Plague Dogs, Dark Myth, Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Dr. Sigmund Freud!), Merlin of The Crystal Cave and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. (Died 2005.)
Born May 8, 1938 — Jean Giraud. Better known to y’all as Moebius. He contributed storyboards and concept designs to myriad science fiction and fantasy films including Alien, The Fifth Element, The Abyss and the original Tron film. He also collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for an unproduced adaptation of Dune. Oh, I would’ve loved to have seen that! And no, I’m not forgetting his work on both Heavy Metal and Marvel Comics but I’ll let you detail those endeavors. And let’s not forget his Michael Moorcock comics. (Died 2012.)
Born May 8, 1940 — Peter Benchley. He’s known for writing Jaws and he co-wrote the film script with Carl Gottlieb. His novel Beast is genre and was adapted into a film as was White Shark which has absolutely nothing to do with sharks. Another novel, The Island, was also turned into a film and it’s at least genre adjacent. (Died 2006.)
Born May 8, 1947 — Susan Casper. Editor and author, married to Gardner Dozois until her death. She published over thirty short stories and essays, including collaborations with Dozois and Jack M. Dann, starting off with “Spring-Fingered Jack”. Her fiction is first collected in Slow Dancing through Time which includes one collaboration with Dozois and one with Jack M Dann. Rainbow: The Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper which was edited just after her death by her husband is as its title states a complete collection of her short fiction. She was co-editor with him of the Ripper! and Jack the Ripper anthologies She was a much-loved figure at cons. (Died 2017.)
Born May 8, 1954 — Stephen Furst. The saddest part of doing these Birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. He died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon Storm, Path of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. (Died 2017.)
Born May 8, 1955 — Della Van Hise, 65. Author was a prolific Trek fanwriter who later published an official Trek novel, Killing Time which in its first printing implied a sexual relationship between Spock and Kirk. Later printings didn’t include this passage. It’s available on all the usual digital suspects.
Born May 8, 1967 — John Hicklenton. British illustrator also known as John Deadstock. He worked on 2000 AD characters like Judge Dredd (especially the Heavy Metal Dredd series) and Nemesis the Warlock during the Eighties and Nineties. He also dipped into the Warhammer universe with “Cycles of Chaos” (with writer Andy Jones) in Warhammer Monthly No. 9.
Born May 8, 1981 — Stephen Amell, 39. He’s known for portraying Oliver Queen / Green Arrow In Arrowverse. Ok, I have a confession. I can either read or watch series like these. I did watch the first few season of the Arrow and Flash series. How the Hell does anybody keep up with these and set aside a reasonable amount of time to do any reading? Seriously, the amount of genre on tv has exploded. I’m watching Midsomer Murders, Discovery, Young Justice and Doom Patrol which is quite enough thank you.
I’ve just finished The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks. With the world in such a difficult place right now, it’s been very nice to escape into a completely different universe of spaceships and new planets. I’ve also been reading Angela Carter’s book of fairy tales The Bloody Chamber, which is exquisitely dark and beautifully written.
My first playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest edition in the long-running tactical JRPG saga, involved what, it seems to be agreed, is the most boring route of this complicated branching story. I started off following my gut instincts in the game’s initial choices, and quickly realised I was on the most complicated moral pathway. Trying to keep myself as unspoiled as possible while also figuring out how to avoid locking myself into 40 hours of lawful evil misery, when faced with an (admittedly extremely signposted) choice to that effect, I took a deep breath and broke away from the character who asked me. When you do so, the game switches into a narrative that takes you away from the tried-and-tested Fire Emblem strategy of being the silent strategist to a protagonist Lord and into something else….
(16) HOW’S YOUR BIRD? Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum has had to cancel Lilac day, but it still has people taking care of nature; Gardener Brendan Keegan reports on “Life in the Landscape: Great Horned Owls”. Lots of photographs, with detailed explanations.
In November 2018, arborist Ben Kirby and I mounted a half dozen artificial nests throughout the Arboretum landscape. Made from old tree planting baskets and landscape fabric and filled with twigs and wood shavings, the nests were created with a goal to increase nest availability for great horned owls. Incapable of building their own nests, this species typically utilizes nests constructed by other large birds or relies on natural cavities in large trees.
After a season of vacancies, we were lucky when a mating pair of owls moved into one of our artificial nests in late January 2020. Due to the location, we were able to observe and collect data on the entire nesting process while remaining on the ground, a rare opportunity. Since the Arboretum is a Chapter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch program, our submitted data will help ornithologists better understand great horned owl breeding behavior and population trends.
The photos below chronicle this season’s nesting process, from egg laying in early February to fledging in late April. Since posting photos of active owl nests on social media typically results in increased human disturbance (which can endanger the female and her young), these photos were purposefully withheld until the young had already fledged. The photos were taken from over 150 feet away, with care to limit the time and frequency of each visit in order to minimize disruption.
(17) EGYPTIAN NEWS. In the Washington Post, Sudarsan Raghavan and Steve Hendrix say that the Egyptian show “El Nehaya” or “The End” is that nation’s first big-budget sf television show, but it has proven controversial because it foresees that in 2120 (when the drama set) the state of Israel is destroyed and Jews have fled the Middle East.“An Egyptian television drama depicts Israel’s destruction. Israel isn’t happy.”
“This goes back to a narrative from before the peace treaty and everything we’ve done with the Egyptians,” said Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt. “This sees that Israel will be annihilated. It is very disturbing.”
Zoom has agreed to do more to prevent hackers from disrupting video conferencing sessions and to protect users’ data, according to a deal announced on Thursday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed incredible growth for Zoom. Daily use of the remote-meeting service ballooned to 300 million from about 10 million in a matter of months. As more people logged on, Zoom’s security and privacy flaws became evident.
Hackers began disrupting online school classes, government meetings, cocktail hours and other events in a trend that became known as Zoombombing.
Federal law enforcement and state investigators across the country started paying attention.
“Our lives have inexorably changed over the past two months, and while Zoom has provided an invaluable service, it unacceptably did so without critical security protections,” James said in a statement released by her office. “This agreement puts protections in place so that Zoom users have control over their privacy and security, and so that workplaces, schools, religious institutions, and consumers don’t have to worry while participating in a video call.”
Zoom has pledged to take more steps to block hackers from gaining access to chat sessions and user accounts. It must now run a “vulnerability management program” to identify and avert breaches into livestreaming conversations on the video platform, New York regulators wrote in the deal.
Astronomers have a new candidate in their search for the nearest black hole to Earth.
It’s about 1,000 light-years away, or roughly 9.5 thousand, million, million km, in the Constellation Telescopium.
That might not sound very close, but on the scale of the Universe, it’s actually right next door.
Scientists discovered the black hole from the way it interacts with two stars – one that orbits the hole, and the other that orbits this inner pair.
Normally, black holes are discovered from the way they interact violently with an accreting disc of gas and dust. As they shred this material, copious X-rays are emitted. It’s this high-energy signal that telescopes detect, not the black hole itself.
So this is an unusual case, in that it’s the motions of the stars, together known as HR 6819, that have given the game away.
“This is what you might call a ‘dark black hole’; it’s truly black in that sense,” said Dietrich Baade, emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) organisation in Garching, Germany.
“We think this may be the first such case where a black hole has been found this way. And not only that – it’s also the most nearby of all black holes, including the accreting ones,” he told BBC News
(21) FRANK HERBERT RELIC. “Frank Herbert–NBC Interview” on YouTube is an interview done by NBC’s Bryant Gumbel in 1982, probably for the Today Show, where Herbert talks about David Lynch’s Dune movie being released in December 1983, a year before it actually appeared.
Traveling with Arrival’s time-fluid, squid-like creatures might be a little logistically complicated, but at least Amy Adams’ linguist character has already figured out the nuts and bolts of communicating with them. They are obviously very wise and highly evolved, and they travel around in their sleek ships encouraging the inhabitants of other planets to be better communicators. That is definitely a cause we’d be willing to ditch Earth to support.
Netflix’s out-of-this-world workplace comedy Space Force hasn’t even launched yet, but now the silly show that accidentally mirrored real developments in the government has already gotten something wrong from its real-life source material. Or, at least, that’s what the real head of the U.S. Space Force says. And “head” is the operative word here, because U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Jay Raymond’s primary note for Steve Carell, who plays his doppelganger Mark R. Naird, is that he isn’t bald enough.
Raymond spoke during a Space Foundation webinar, according to Space.com, and addressed the comedic riff on his entire military branch by pointing out that while he is very bald, Carell is boasting a silvery head of hair.
“The one piece of advice I’d give to Steve Carell is to get a haircut,” Raymond said. “He’s looking a little too shaggy if he wants to play the Space Force chief.”…
(24) FOR THE STAY-AT-HOME CROWD. I never knew Tadao Tomomatsu did a Louis Armstrong impression. Here’s his rendition of “What a Wonderful World.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The Horror Writers Association‘s StokerCon 2021 will be held May 20-23, 2021 at the Curtis Hotel in Denver CO. The convention’s guests of honor were revealed at the end of last night’s Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.
Maurice Broaddus: Maurice’s body of work goes back over twenty years, with multiple short story publications, several novellas, two anthologies, and five novels, including his Knights of Breton Court series. His anthology, Dark Faith, co-edited with Jerry Gordon, was a finalist for the 2010 Bram Stoker Award. He worked for twenty years as an environmental toxicologist and was formerly the executive director of Cities of Refuge Ministries. Maurice currently teaches middle school and has a middle school detective novel series, The Usual Suspects. His website is http://mauricebroaddus.com/.
Joe R. Lansdalehas won ten Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, the Spur Award for Best Historical Western, and an Edgar Award. He has received the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association. His works include novels, short stories, screenplays, and television scripts. His novella, Bubba Ho Tep, was made into a movie and became a cult classic, while his Hap and Leonard novels became a successful television series. His website is http://www.joerlansdale.com/.
Seanan McGuire is a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning writer, who also received the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer by the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention. A prolific writer, she has published novels under her name as well as under her pseudonym, Mira Grant. The latter includes the political thriller/zombie series Newsflesh. In 2013, Seanan received a record five Hugo Award nominations, two under her Grant pseudonym and three under her own name. Her website is http://www.seananmcguire.com/.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a the author of the novels Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things, Untamed Shore, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). She is a columnist for the Washington Post. Her website is https://www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/.
Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. She is the author of four novels and 150 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, past President of the Horror Writers Association, and a world-class Halloween expert. Her website is https://lisamorton.com/zine/.
Steve Rasnic Tem: A Colorado native, Steve is, according to fellow guest of honor Joe Lansdale, “a school of writing unto himself.” Steve is a past winner of the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards (incl. 2014’s Blood Kin for novel). His short fiction work is legendary, with over 450 short stories published in a 40+ year career. You’ll find some of his best in Figures Unseen: Selected Stories. His latest is The Night Doctor and Other Tales. His website is http://stevetem.com/.
(1) IMAGINARY PAPERS. The second issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination from the Center for Science and the Imagination, features writing from SF author Indrapramit Das and ecologist Jessie Rack. Here is a direct link. Also, you can also use this link to subscribe for future issues.
(2) MORE BRAM STOKER PLANS. The Horror Writers Association will stream the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony on HWA’s YouTube channel on April 18. Prior to the Awards, see some of the nominees read from their works.
Here’s the schedule so far (times are PST): BLOCK 1 (5 p.m.): Gemma Amor (First Novel) reading from Dear Laura Eric J. Guignard (First Novel) reading from Doorways to the Deadeye
BLOCK 2 (5:15 p.m.): Peter Adam Salomon (Young Adult Novel) reading from Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds Kate Jonez (Fiction Collection) reading from Lady Bits
BLOCK 3 (5:30 p.m.): Greg Chapman (Short Fiction) reading from “The Book of Last Words” Gwendolyn Kiste (Short Fiction) reading from “The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” John Kachuba (Nonfiction) reading from Shapeshifters: A History
BLOCK 4 (5:45 p.m.): Eric J. Guignard (Anthology) reading from Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror Colleen Doran (Graphic Novel) reading from Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples
(3) DATLOW ON YOUTUBE. Dacre Stoker interviews Ellen Datlow, Editor of Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, which made it on to the HWA Final Ballot for the 2020 Stoker Awards. Video hosted on the Horror Writers Association YouTube channel.
Other Stoker finalists interviewed on the HWA YouTube channel include Including Kaaron Warren, Greg Chapman, Caitlin Starling, John Langan, Kelly Robinson, and Tim Waggoner.
The website for StokerCon™ 2021 Denver is up and running! Click here to check it out.
(4) BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. Cora Buhlert says, “The local paper [Weser Kurier] did a profile about me, because I’m a Hugo finalist and those are thin on the ground in Germany, let alone in my area (Simone Heller and Marko Kloos are both from other parts of Germany).” It’s in German — “Wie eine Seckenhauserin den wichtigsten Science-Fiction-Preis abräumen könnte”. Here’s an excerpt rendered in English by Google Translate:
…She is also one of the authors of the international blog Galactic Journey, which has also been nominated for the Hugo Award this year.
The clocks tick a little differently on the platform, strictly speaking 55 years before our time. Galactic Journey picks up on the events of the time – also with reference to the home of the authors. Cora Buhlert mentions, for example, that Werder Bremen just became German soccer champion in 1965. Science fiction does not always have to be geared towards the future: “Time travel has always been part of it,” says Buhlert.
Cora adds, “The other local paper (I live in the overlap area of the coverage of two newspapers) is also going to do an interview.”
This elicited a comment from Rick Hellewell (a name I recognize from Jerry Pournelle’s blog) about a very interesting tool he’s put online, which is free to use. He explained:
If you want to look at the sales ranking, and see the ranking of all the Zon categories (you can have up to 10), try out my BKLNK site. This link https://www.bklnk.com/categories5.php will allow you get the info by using the ASIN or ISBN-10 numbers.
I built the BKLNK site for UBLs that can have Affiliate links for the proper Zon store automatically, then added the CATFIND (category finder) to see all the categories assigned to my books. Although the Zon allows you to have up to 10 categories (by special requires), you can’t see all 10 categories on the book’s product page. The CATFIND tool lets you see all categories (and sales rank) assigned to a book.
I’m in the middle of adding a new feature (called ‘Catalize’) that will grab the categories used by the top 25 books in a genre. I see that as a great marketing tool for indie publishers, as the authors can see the best categories they might use for their books. (You can look at any book with each tool.) The new ‘Catalize’ tool will be available by the end of the week.
Anyway, the entire site is free to use, and might be helpful to other authors. I built it for my own needs, but it has become useful for others.
Just as a test I plugged in the ID number for a Terry Pratchett novel – and that search returned all kinds of interesting information.
After initially postponing BookExpo and BookCon 2020 from their original May 27–31 dates to July 22-26, Reedpop has canceled both events. The cancellation is the latest in a string of them affecting the biggest conferences and fairs in the book business worldwide, including the London Book Fair, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (which is planning a virtual fair beginning May 4), and the ALA annual meeting and conference.
(7) AUSTRALIAN SFF AND FANHISTORY. Past Aussie Worldcon chairs David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss have been doing the Two Chairs Talking podcast for almost a year now. In Episode 24, Perry and David, and special guests W. H. Chong and Paul Carr, talk about what it was that drew them into reading science fiction and fantasy in the first place: “Kings of Infinite Space”.
Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson builds intricate future societies in many of his books, exploring how we might emerge from the depravities of our current era to create a better future for our species. But in his upcoming novel, The Ministry for the Future, Robinson isn’t visiting a half-sunk New York City a hundred years from now (New York 2140), tracking Martian terraforming over a century (the Mars trilogy) or following artists as they build sculptures on 24th century Mercury (2312). Instead, The Ministry for the Future follows more immediate possible futures, as humanity is confronted with a global warming mass extinction event.
“In The Ministry for the Future I tried to describe the next thirty years going as well as I could believe it might happen, given where we are now,” Robinson told Newsweek. “That made it one of the blackest utopias ever written, I suppose, because it seems inevitable that we are in for an era of comprehensive and chaotic change.”
(9) PIP BAKER OBIT. Doctor Who writer Pip Baker (1928-2020) has died at the age of 91. Doctor Who News paid tribute:
Pip Baker, along with his wife and writing partner Jane, was one of the best-known writers from the mid 80’s era of Doctor Who, writing eleven episodes for the series. Together they created the Rani, a female Time Lord scientist who was brought to life so vividly by the late Kate O’Mara, as well a creating the companion Mel.
Pip and Jane Baker began writing together in the 1960s working on the films The Painted Smile, The Break, The Night of the Big Heat and Captain Nemo and the Underwater City. On Television, they worked on the children’s thriller Circus as well as episodes of Z-Cars and Space 1999….
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 15, 1944 — The Monster Maker (originally titled The Devil’s Apprentice) premiered. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced from a script written by Sigmund Neufeld, Lawrence Williams, Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney. It starred J. Carrol Naish, Talla Birell, Wanda McKay and Ralph Morgan. It was largely ignored by critics at the time and it currently holds an extremely low three percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. You can see it here.
April 15, 1960 — Teenage Zombies premiered. It was written and directed by Jerry Warren and starring Katherine Victor, Don Sullivan, Chuck Niles, and Warren’s then-wife and the film production manager Brianne Murphy. Warren wrote the screenplay under his pen name Jacques Lecoutier. It was on a double bill with The Incredible Petrified World. Interestingly enough, although the film’s credits include a 1957 copyright statement for G.B.M. Productions, the film was never registered for copyright, so it’s in the public domain. And that means you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 15, 1922 — Michael Ansara. Commander Kang in Trek’s “The Day of The Dove” as well as a lot of other genre work including a recurring role as Kane on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, multiple roles on I Dream of Jeannie andmyriad voicings of Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze in the Batman series. (Died 2013.)
Born April 15, 1933 — Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had one-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.)
Born April 15, 1937 — Thomas F. Sutton. Comic book artist who’s best known for his contributions to Marvel Comics and Warren Publishing’s line of black-and-white horror magazines. He’s particularly known as the first artist of the Vampirella series. He illustrated “Vampirella of Draculona”, the first story of which was written by Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2002.)
Born April 15, 1941 — Mal Dean. UK illustrator who, as Clute at EoSF notes, died tragically young of cancer. As Clute goes on, he is “best known for the work he did for New Worlds in the late 1960s and early 1970s; it was especially associated with the Jerry Cornelius stories by Michael Moorcock and others.” (Died 1974.)
Born April 15, 1949 — Sharan Newman, 71. Author of the most excellent Guinevere trilogy (Guinevere, Chessboard Queen and Guinevere Evermore), a superb reinterpretation of the Arthurian saga. They’re available at the usual digital suspects as is her superb Catherine LeVendeur medieval mystery series. Alas her SF short stories are not.
Born April 15, 1974 — Jim C. Hines, 46. [Entry by Paul Weimer.] Writer, and blogger. Jim C. Hines’ first published novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Jim went on to write the Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s also the author of the Magic ex Libris books, my personal favorite, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who happens to have the same pet fire-spider lifted from the Goblin novels as his best friend. He’s currently writing his first foray into science fiction novels, the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Jim’s novels usually have the fun and humor dials set on medium to high. Jim is also an active blogger on a variety of topics and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
Born April 15, 1990 — Emma Watson, 30. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise which lasted an entire decade. She was Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux.
Born April 15, 1997 — Maisie Williams, 23. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, during the time of Twelfth Doctor. She is set to star as Wolfsbane in the forthcoming Marvel film New Mutants, due for release sometime this year provided the Plague doesn’t further delay it.
(13) FREE FROM AUDIBLE. Free stories for kids of all ages. Audible Stories is a free website where kids of all ages can listen to hundreds of Audible audio titles across six different languages—English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. From classics to Harry Potter and other YA.
For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Right now, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.
All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
Explore the collection, select a title and start listening.
A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.
The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.
The company behind the breakthrough, Carbios, said it was aiming for industrial-scale recycling within five years. It has partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L’Oréal to accelerate development. Independent experts called the new enzyme a major advance.
Billions of tonnes of plastic waste have polluted the planet, from the Arctic to the deepest ocean trench, and pose a particular risk to sea life. Campaigners say reducing the use of plastic is key, but the company said the strong, lightweight material was very useful and that true recycling was part of the solution.
Harry Potter-branded buses normally used to take fans to film studio tours are being offered as free transport for staff working in the NHS.
The buses will take them between three sites in Hertfordshire, and will have on-board social distancing rules.
Warner Bros and coach company Golden Tours have had to cancel all trips to the Leavesden studios where much of the Harry Potter filming took place.
The NHS said the move was a “wizard idea”.
“Our workforce has been depleted due to sickness or self-isolation and so it’s really important that those staff who are well, but have transport issues, can come back,” Paul da Gama, from the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, said.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has secretly bought her childhood home in Gloucestershire.
Renovation work is now taking place on Church Cottage in Tutshill, close to the banks of the River Severn.
The author lived there between the ages of nine and 18 and in 2011 bought the cottage through a property company in her married name.
She paid about £400,000 for the house, which is said to have inspired key elements of the young wizard’s story.
Land Registry records show in September 2011, Edinburgh-based Caernarfon Lettings Ltd, which lists the author’s husband Neil Murray as a director, bought Church Cottage.
The property was sold by BBC producer Julian Mercer, who himself had bought it off the Rowling family in 1995.
(18) ASTRAL METEOROLOGY. The BBC’s weather department reports that “The planets line up”. (“When the Moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter collides with Mars, then pieces of the planets will fly off into the stars…”)
You might get the chance to see something special in the sky in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Around pre-dawn or dawn, if you look towards the Moon from your garden or window, you may notice three other bright dots. These dots are actually Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.
Jupiter will be the brightest of the planets, as it shines 14 times brighter than Saturn or Mars. However the three planets will line up together just above the Moon and you should be able to see them all, even with the naked eye. While Jupiter will be the brightest, you may notice Mars with an orange glow and Saturn with a golden tinge. If you’ve got a telescope or even binoculars, you’ll be able to see the difference in the planets more clearly.
(19) LASHING OUT. On yesterday’s Daily Show (or as they’re calling it right now the Daily Social Distancing Show), host Trevor Noah listed a bunch of things Trump has promised to deliver, then said, “At this point Trump owes more pages than George R.R. Martin.” He continued on the Martin theme for the next several sentences. Hey, it’s not fair to build up a head of steam talking about Trump and then vent it on GRRM! (Begins around 9:25.)
[Thanks to Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
StokerCon UK announced today they
are attempting to pospone the event to later in the year due to the rapidly
evolving travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Horror Writers Association’s annual event,
where the Bram Stoker Awards are presented, was scheduled to be held in Scarborough,
U.K. from April 16-19. Here is their statement:
AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT FROM STOKERCON UK ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
As per our last communication, like all of you we have been closely monitoring the NHS and UK Government guidelines as they have evolved over the past week. As we are all seeing, the situation with regard to COVID-19 changes on an hourly basis.
We have done everything we can to try to continue with StokerCon UK but, unfortunately, this is a fast-changing situation and, even though the UK still has one of the lowest rates of infection in the world, with other countries closing or restricting their borders and, understandably, an increasing number of cancellations, we are left with no choice but to radically reappraise the situation as it now stands.
We are now actively exploring all options to postpone the convention until later in the year and putting together the best plan for everyone who has already signed-up to attend. We understand how disappointing this will be to many of you, but even though the UK Government has not banned gatherings such as ours yet, it is most probably only a matter of time until they do, and we will be seeking advice on the implications for our convention members. The situation is unprecedented and for an event like ours, there is no simple answer.
As a result, this could have huge financial impact upon the convention—one, that at this stage we are not even certain we can survive without the agreement and co-operation of both the hotels involved—but we also want to assure you that the safety and well-being of all our attendees, guests and staff has to be our primary concern at all times.
For those who have booked flights to the UK, you should contact the airline, your insurance provider or your credit card supplier for a refund. For those travelling by train who have already bought tickets, LNER is offering refunds directly online by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling 03457 225 333. They just ask that you apply for your refund before April 30, 2020.
With the convention just a month away, we have already invested much of the money received in membership fees with third-party services. As you can imagine, this is going to take some time to sort out, and we will make further announcements when we have more news.
In the meantime, the advice remains as per the Public Health England website: Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Wash hands frequently and use a hand-sanitiser or antiseptic hand-wipes and observe basic hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then throwing it away and washing your hands. If you have a fever or a new and persistent cough, then self-isolate for at least 14 days and if your condition persists or gets worse, then call 111 in the UK or your local health emergency numbers in other countries. Together we can reduce the spread.
Stay safe out there, look after the elderly and infirm and, if we are able to reach agreements with our suppliers, then we hope to see you at a possibly scaled-down StokerCon UK event later this year. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the situation evolves.
(1) BUTTIGIEG INTERVIEWS SIR PAT. “Recently unemployed”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Due to public
health concerns over the coronavirus, they cancelled their studio audience. Sir
Patrick Stewart was a guest on the show.
Sir Patrick talks about Mayor Pete’s huge “Star Trek” fandom, civil disobedience, Sir Ian McKellen performing the multiple marriage ceremonies he had to his wife, and he surprises Mayor Pete with one of his original scripts from “Star Trek.”
They also did a sketch about “a Star Trek trivia game show for the
ages called ‘Who’s the Captain Now?’” hosted by LeVar Burton.
(2) HELIOSPHERE CANCELLED. Heliosphere, which was to have
been held April 3-5 in Tarrytown, NY has
been called off. The committee has not yet decides whether to try and hold
it later this year.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, HELIOsphere 2020 will not be running as scheduled for April 3-5. At this time, we don’t know whether we will be postponing or simply cancelling for this year. We will keep you posted as we work out the details with the hotel.
(3) STOKERCON STATUS. The Horror Writers Association’s annual StokerCon is scheduled
to be held in the U.K. next month. HWA President John Palisano gave
this update to Facebook readers today:
At this time, more than two-thirds of attendees are based in the U.K., you should all be aware that the political situation has been changing by the hour. Only in the last 24 hours has travel in Europe (with the exception of the U.K.) been generally banned. The U.K. may take a similar step, or the U.S. may prohibit travel to and from there. So it’s a very real possibility that in the next few days, the decision of whether to hold the Con may be taken out of our hands. We don’t want to cancel the event unnecessarily, because that could cause severe financial hardship to many of our attendees and volunteers. On the other hand, we want to be respectful of individual decisions about whether or not to travel. We ask for you to be patient for a few more days while we try to sort out various options, including streaming the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.
Meanwhile, our Librarians Day event, scheduled for May 7th of this year in Chicago, is still a go at this point. The organizers are also carefully watching this pandemic and are working on contingencies should the issues stretch that far into the future. They will have an announcement tomorrow.
Know that heading my first StokerCon as President of the HWA carries no small weight, and that my main priority is and will remain our members’ safety and well-being as we navigate these treacherous and unmapped waters.
UP IN THE AIR. Fans inquiring about the status of Minicon 55, planned
for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, have been told there’s a committee
meeting this weekend and an announcement one way or the other may follow.
Those events include major science fiction, fantasy, and gaming conventions, as well as adjacent events like conferences. We’ve compiled a list of major and regional events that have been postponed, canceled, or which are as of now still running.
Culture connoisseurs, rejoice: The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before.
For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or apair of bootie shorts.
And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting.
When I searched “science fiction” lots more photogenic things came
up – from lunch boxes to C3PO – but I was intrigued by this 1951 Astounding advertising
(7) SCIENCE IN THE HOUSE. That’s candidate Brianna Wu’s
Media has focused on the dangers of Coronavirus. Brianna Wu speaks with Geneticist Frank Wu about the possible treatments and vaccines being developed by the biotech industry
WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE LIKE IF EVERYONE WERE LIKE YOU? I used to play a game and ask people what the world would be like if everyone were like you. Here are some features of my world. 1. Restaurants would be filled with constant people traffic as everyone went to wash their hands after touching the menu and after touching cash. 2. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, hotel TV remotes, and ATM interfaces would all be redesigned for elbows. 3. There’d be no shoes in the house and people would bow instead of shaking hands. 4. Everyone would be at home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights happily writing, making music, reading, or playing Nintendo. 5. No one would get a cold more than once every ten years. 6. Extroverts and free-spirited folks would be miserable.
Exercise is good. You may not be able to get to the gym — I’m currently avoiding it, myself — but you will be happier and healthier if you are doing something. For me, that’s walking, because I’m lucky enough to live in a great area for it. I also have a standing desk that I got from Ikea years back. Your mileage may (literally) vary, but at least stretch when you can and be mindful of your back.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 13, 1927 — Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 13, 1911 — L. Ron Hubbard. Ok I’ll admit that I tried reading Battlefield Earth and really didn’t like it. Some of his early pulp fiction is actually quite good. So what do y’all think of him as a genre writer? (Died 1986.)
Born March 13, 1928 — Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
Born March 13, 1932 — Richard Lawrence Purtill. He’s here because EoSF list him as the author of Murdercon, a1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.)
Born March 13, 1938 — David McKail, 82. He was Sergeant Kyle in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He also was Sir Henry Roscoe in Beatrix: The Early Life of Beatrix Potter, and was in the adaptation of Iain Banks’ The Crow Road which I know is neither genre or genre adjacent but it had Peter Capaldi in it.
Born March 13, 1950 — William H. Macy Jr., 70. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, The Night of the Headless Horseman, Jurassic Park III, Sahara and The Tale of Despereaux.
Born March 13, 1956 — Dana Delany, 63. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman.
Born March 13, 1966 — Alastair Reynolds, 54. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City was fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to get any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series.
Born March 13, 1967 — Lou Anders, 53. Hugo-winning Editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net, Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now.
Born March 13, 1968 — Jen Gunnels, 52. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays.
(12) KGB TO STREAM. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading
series with Daniel Braum and Robert Levy has been converted to a livestream.
Hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel invite everyone to see it here on
YouTube on March 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
We will, for the first time in our history, be live-streaming readings from both of our authors on YouTube. We hope you will join us for this historic event.
UPDATE March 13, 2020: For the safety and well-being of our readers and guests, we have decided to cancel this month’s in-person Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy.
Instead, we will be hosting a YouTube Live event with both authors, who will be reading their work. Anyone with YouTube access can watch.
… Of course, there’ve been calls for CBS to move ahead with such a spinoff for the past couple of years. EP Alex Kurtzman has addressed the possibility in the past, refusing to rule it out and commenting that they’re trying to find ways to bring these characters back. True, they did all appear in a few episodes of the Short Treks anthology series, but this didn’t fully satiate our appetite to see more of Pike and his crew.
As Discovery itself addressed, Pike is fated to meet a tragic end. As detailed in an episode of TOS, he’s eventually left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after rescuing Starfleet cadets from a delta ray radiation leak. Our intel says that this spinoff show will build up to that fate, properly filling the gap between TOS‘ pilot, “The Cage,” and his return in “The Menagerie.”
The big news, previously rumored, is that Amazing and its stablemate Fantastic are to change hands. The April Science Fiction Times just arrived, with the big headline “ ‘AMAZING STORIES’ AND ‘FANTASTIC’ SOLD TO SOL COHEN.” Cohen is the publisher of Galaxy, If, and Worlds of Tomorrow, but will resign at the end of next month to take up his new occupation.
Why is this happening? Probably because circulation, which had been increasing, started to decline again in 1962 (when I started reviewing it!). The SF Times article adds, tendentiously and questionably, that “the magazine showed what appeared to be a lack of interest by its editors.” Read their further comment and draw your own conclusions on that point.
At least when their authors avoid offering a thesis, novels acquire peculiar value in deranged times. They allow us to see cracks in our political and social foundations from another perspective, and as a result, open paths to conversation and thought that might otherwise remain closed. Lots of genres can unsettle us, but one peculiarity of science fiction is that its authors have the freedom to create worlds.
At the genre’s most stereotypical, this license to invent lends itself to both ham-fisted allegories and didacticism. But if the author happens to be coming from the “right” direction, so to speak, and has some real talent, it’s relatively easy to take an imaginative leap into their world. Reaching beyond one’s own tribe may present a challenge, however. It is difficult to read David Drake, Iain Banks, China Miéville, Robert Heinlein, or John Varley without observing how they view human nature, what they think family means, or the political order they endorse—and a lot more besides.
Critics often complain that such novels fail precisely because they think the author is stacking the deck in favor of their pet ideas. It’s easy for partisans to forgive this because such novels entertain while also fortifying our opinions against a hostile world. And it’s not surprising that sci-fi readership so often divides along partisan lines.
The Work of Sympathy
It is harder to name many great works of science fiction that offer a definitive point of view, while also presenting us with unresolvable tensions and latent anxieties that no attentive reader can quite escape. Neal Stephenson’s best work probably qualifies. Arguably Frank Herbert’s Dune or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos also do this. We need the sympathy and broadening of horizons that such novels can cultivate more than ever, and for the present moment, the most compelling book of this kind remains Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.
Disney has promised to continue making films and TV shows with “an increased commitment” to diversity in its output, according to its boss Bob Chapek.
“We want to represent our audience,” he said at a meeting for the company’s shareholders this week.
“We want to tell stories that our audience wants to hear, that reflects their lives.”
He was responding to a question about LGBT characters in their films and pride events at theme parks.
There will be a transgender character in a future Marvel film, and upcoming superhero movie The Eternals will introduce Marvel’s first openly gay lead character to cinema screens.
…At the shareholder’s meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked a question by Catholic campaigner Caroline Farrow, who represents conservative group Citizen Go.
As part of her question, she asked: “Is it perhaps time to reconsider what you can do to make Disney more family friendly, to make it safe for people around the world, not just one particular minority?”
She also claimed a petition which asks Disney not to hold gay pride events in its parks was signed by “almost 700,000 people”
Researcher Annabel Dorrestein set up a thermal imaging camera to study flying foxes, or bats, at night on Australia’s Christmas Island.
But when she returned one morning to collect the camera, she discovered it had been stolen – almost certainly by the island’s famous robber crabs.
[Thanks to Dann, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Andrew Liptak, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]