By Cat Eldridge: On this day in 1939, the Superman
comic strip appeared for readers for the very first time. Let me
tell about it as it’s a fascinating story. It began on this date, and a
separate Sunday strip was added on November 5, 1939. Both of the strips ran
continuously without an interruption until May 1966. In 1941, the McClure
Syndicate which controlled its distribution had placed the strip in hundreds of
newspapers. The Syndicate says that some three hundred papers with twenty
million readers had access to the strip at its peak.
Setting aside the numbers,
let’s turn to who created it. Joe Shuster was the initial artist but within a
few years, he had turned over those duties to his bullpen including Paul Cassidy,
Leo Neowik and Jerry
Siegel who were among the first and Bill Finger would be the last to do
it before it ceased in the Sixties.
Siegel wrote them before
he was drafted in 1943. Whitney Ellsworth, who had begun working on the strip
in 1941, did them for four years. Jack Schiff began his writing on the strip in
1942 and worked on the strip off and on until 1962. Alvin Schwartz first
started writing on it in 1944, and he continued on the strip more or less until
1958. Finger and Sebel finished off writing it in the last several years.
The strip had a number of
firsts including the telephone booth costume change, the appearance
of a bald Lex Luthor, and the appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Superman: The Complete
Comic Strips 1939-1966 is an
unofficial name for the strips now in exquisite hardcover collections published
by The Library of American Comics.
There have been many famous babies throughout history: The Lindbergh Baby. The Gerber Baby. Baby Jessica. Rosemary’s Baby. But has there ever been a baby as universally loved and fawned over as Baby Yoda?
For all the joy that Baby Yoda brings us, he can also be confusing. And not because of the obvious questions, like whether Baby Yoda is the real Yoda. Obviously he’s not. The Mandalorian—the Disney+ original series that’s given us our favorite non-English-speaking Star Wars character since BB-8—is set between Return of the Jedi (when the O.G. Yoda dies) and The Force Awakens.
It’s arguable that Baby Yoda could be the illegitimate love-child of Yoda and Yaddle, the lady Yoda from The Phantom Menace, and there’s been some scholarly speculation on that topic, including an investigative report with the refreshingly blunt title, “Did Yoda F**k?”
But whether the Yoda is Baby Yoda’s true daddy isn’t what fascinates us every time we tune into The Mandalorian. What keeps us coming back for more is trying to figure out what in the actual hell Baby Yoda is supposed to be….
(2) WRITE IF YOU GET WORK. Cat Rambo tweeted highlights
from the online class “The Freelancer’s Toolkit” with James L. Sutter for the
Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Thread starts here.
… “What has happened to me — A testimony of a Uyghur woman” recounts the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Muslim minority in western China that has faced relentless crackdowns from authorities in Beijing.The manga — as all comic-style works are known in Japan — describes Tursun’s imprisonment and torture by the Chinese government, the death of one of her young children while in custody, and the jailing of her husband for 16 years.
Amazon announced on Friday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool increased by one hundred thousand dollars in November 2019, to $26.1 million, from $26 million in October 2019.
At the same time the per-page rate royalty jumped to d $0.004925, from $0.0046763 in October.
(5) HIGH MAGIC. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer, in “Microreview: The Last Sun, by K.D. Edwards, reviews “an intriguing Urban Fantasy that uses genderqueer characters and the story of Atlantis to tell an intriguing magic-infused story.”
In a world very much like ours but where Atlantis existed, and existed into the modern era until the survivors of its fall emigrated to a new home in the New World, a scion of a fallen House is wrapped up in mystery and intrigue, as rivalries, schemes and long set plans collide with that scion’s destiny and coming into his true power.
Rune Sun is the last of his kind. House Sun, his tarot card named noble family, has long since fallen and he is the only survivor. A sword fighter and a sorcerer, he lives doing odd jobs here and there, a down on his luck existence especially given the wealth and power of his peers, and of his life, long ago. It is doing one of those odd jobs, against another noble House, that Sun gets hooked into an intrigue that extends across New Atlantis. That hook, too and just might provide an opportunity for Rune to prove and show his capability and true abilities. If it doesn’t wreck his homeland or get him killed first, that is.
(6) FOR BETTER OR WORSE. ScreenRant, in “DCEU:
5 Best Rivalries (& 5 That Make No Sense)”, says “the characters
in these movies and their conflicts are also not so black-and-white. Some of
them are good, but others are not.” Here’s part of their list:
6 Makes No Sense: Wonder Woman & Ares
Another pointless final battle in the DCEU includes the one in Wonder Woman. Not only did we expect another character to be Ares, but we also focused on a different conflict, which was Diana’s belief that Ares was causing wars and the reality that people weren’t just all good.
This is why the final battle feels so odd to most viewers. It is just a CGI mess with explosions that are meant to excite those who were expecting such action. But what could have been more logical would be for Diana to finally come to the realization that she was wrong and naive.
Welcome to the final issue of Compelling Science Fiction!
The last 3 years have been a fun ride. I wrote a blog post about some of the highlights from my perspective, but here I’ll just say: It was a privilege working with so many wonderful authors, and I hope people enjoy these stories for many years to come. I’ll be leaving every issue up online indefinitely.
As for this issue, I’m happy to say that we’re finishing strong — here are our final five fantastic stories that you can read right now…
Stech wanted hard sf, as he thought of it, but to communicate that
he came up with a less-fraught alternative term:
“Plausible science fiction,” in this context, means “science fiction that tries not to disrupt suspension of disbelief for people that have knowledge of science and engineering.” This can mean not blatantly contradicting our current knowledge of the universe, and it can also mean not blatantly ignoring how humans generally behave. It also means internal self-consistency.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 15, 1978 — Superman: The Movie premiered. It would win a Hugo at Seacon ’79 with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio program and Watership coming in second and third respectively. Likewise Rotten Tomatoes has 94% of their reviewers giving Superman a positive review. That it was boffo at the box office and a critical favorite is hardly surprising either.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson, 96. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept.
Born December 15, 1948 — Cassandra Harris. She was in For Your Eyes Only as the Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Pierce Brosnan, her third husband, met producer Albert R. Broccoli while she was shooting her scenes and was cast in four Bond films as a result. Her genre resume is short otherwise, an appearance on Space: 1999, and a likewise one-off on Shadows, a YA scary show. (Died 1991.)
Born December 15, 1949 — Don Johnson, 70. Though Miami Vice is where most will know him from, he has impressive genre creds including the lead in the Ellison-derived A Boy and Dog, voicing Wazir’s Son in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Office Andy Brady in the Revenge of the Stepford Wives film and another Sheriff, Earl McGraw, in the From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.
Born December 15, 1954 — Alex Cox, 65. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. No, what interests me is that he’s listed as directing a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
Born December 15, 1963 — Helen Slater, 56. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series. Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe though the DCU streaming app is my sole entertainment budget other than an Audible subscription. Her other genre appearances include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and Agent X.
Born December 15, 1970 — Michael Shanks, 49. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow!
(10) MILES TO GO. Marvel Comics presents “Rapid-Fire
Questions with Saladin Ahmed.”
Writer for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Saladin Ahmed, answers the hard-hitting questions about Kamala and Miles.
(11) OVERWHELMED BY RELATIVISM. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon
bid prompts Steve Davidson to ask a basket of questions in “The
Future for WSFS” at Amazing Stories.
As WSFS – empowered by its ever-shifting fannish membership – moves towards the greater realization of the initial word in its name – World – it will be increasingly called to task over issues and concerns that it has heretofore not had to grapple with. No longer can Fannish politics enjoy wide separation from real world politics. One of those questions will surely be How do we assess the fitness of a country to host a Worldcon?
That single question is replete with detail and nuance. Previously, we’ve applauded governmental support of Worldcons; Finland was underwritten by the Finnish government; New Zealand’s Prime Minister recently endorsed an upcoming convention. On the other hand Chengdou would be taking place in a city that has been designated as a center for science fiction by the Chinese Government and is undoubtedly receiving both financial and material support from the same.
When a government’s support and endorsement is limited to just a bit of funding and some promotional support, we’re unlikely to question its motives (of course they love fans), but at what point do we begin to question those motives? At what point does our desire for such impact other aspects of our community, and how much influence are we prepared to accept? (Remember that Scientology attempted to use promotional and financial support to co-opt as Worldcon and its awards.)…
(12) SOMETHING MISSING. Rob Latham identifies snubs and
surprises in a review of Gary K. Wolfe’s Sixties novel anthology for Library of
America in “An
Uneven Showcase of 1960s SF” at LA Review of Books.
…The shortcomings of this set derive, in large part, from constraints not wholly of the editor’s making. Probably because the press wanted to extend its coverage as much as possible, a decision was made to exclude writers who had been featured in the earlier 1950s volumes, meaning that talents who continued to produce compelling work into the subsequent decade — Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, James Blish, Frederik Pohl — were programmatically passed over. At the same time, major authors whose work has come to define the 1960s, but who were already spotlighted in single-author collections, were barred as well: hence, this set does not include Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) or Ubik (1969), Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), or Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) or Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). And the goal of gathering as many texts as possible into two manageable volumes meant that exceptionally long books could not be chosen, which ruled out the novel often voted by fans as the best ever written in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Finally, the goal of “balanc[ing] the halves of the decade” — as Wolfe puts it in his introduction — has produced a first volume that is significantly inferior, aesthetically, to the second, since (for reasons I explain below)…
Ask the Cats cast members why they wanted to be a part of the movie, and the answers all circle back to, well, memories—of the original musical.
Corden, 41, a Tony and Emmy winner perhaps best known for belting out music with celebrities on the hugely popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments on his Late Late Show on CBS, recalls seeing the production with his parents as a 13-year-old in London in the early 1990s. “I remember thinking, Man, this is a spectacle,” he says. “I knew the movie would be great fun.” Wilson, who attended theater school in her native Australia, was visiting London in the early 2000s and caught a performance from the cheap seats. “I had to watch it with little binoculars,” she recalls, “and I was still blown away.”
For Dench, 85, the film served as a Cats homecoming. Back in 1981, she was slated to be part of the original production but had to pull out because of an injury. “We were concentrating every minute of every day on behaving like cats and trying to translate that into a way of moving,” she says. “But I snapped my Achilles tendon during one of the rehearsals, and as anyone knows, that can take a while to heal.” She was “very pleased” to be invited to join the movie production.
The novel is called Thin Air partly because this refers to how the ‘terraform eco-magic’ has failed to generated atmospheric conditions beyond ‘four percent Earth sea level standard’. Why this pessimism? Can you also tell a little about the ‘lamina’ and about the role of nanotech in developing Mars?
There is a central conceit that I keep – not consciously, I swear! – returning to in my work. It takes different metaphorical guises, but at root it’s always the same sense of something grand and worthwhile being abandoned by vicious and stupid men in favour of short-term profit and tribal hegemony. You see it in the regressive politics of the Protectorate in the Kovacs novels, the way both the Yhelteth Empire and the – so-called – Free Cities fail their duty as civilisations in A Land Fit for Heroes. So also with Thin Air – the landscape is littered with the markers of a retreat from the grand scheme of terraforming and building a home for humanity on Mars, in favour of an ultra-profitable corporate stasis and an ongoing lie of highly emotive intangibles sold to the general populace in lieu of actual progress. Take a look around you – remind you of anything?
(15) FOUND FOOTAGE. In the “news to me” department – a 2010
episode of Pawn Stars featured a clump of silver rupees recovered from a
shipwreck found off the coast of Sri Lanka by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson
in 1961. The discovery became the basis for the book The Treasure of the Great Reef. Clarke’s name is mentioned several times
in episode’s “Taj Mahal sunken treasure” segment, which starts around
1:10 of this video:
(16) THE PERILS OF BLABBING. YouTuber TheOdd1sOut’s
review of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” was #1 on the trending tab.
Apparently because its anecdotes revolve around why Jim Henson’s daughter was
peeved at an earlier review and the nondisclosure agreement he had to sign before
screenings of the new series.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, N., and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
Part 1 — Supergirl: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One” (December 8, 2019)
Part 2 — Batwoman: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” (December 9, 2019)
Part 3 — The Flash: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three” (December 10, 2019)
Part 4 — Arrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (January 14, 2020)
Part 5 — DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (January 14, 2020)
to mention a fair amount of preliminary/build-up over the current season, in Flash
and Arrow and presumably (I haven’t been watching it or Arrow), Supergirl.
particularly cool thing that the showrunners have done is that the events start
in the shows in “real time” — that is, the Flash episode premiering
on December 9, 2019 is taking place on “show calendar time” of December
CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS: THEY’RE ESTABLISHED THINGS. “Cross-over events”
combine two of comic books — and, somewhat more recently (I think)
where characters from one title/”universe”/publisher visit another’s
— sometimes within the same publishing company, sometimes cross-publisher,
like when Marvel’s Punisher came to Riverdale in 1994, or DC/Marvel’s AMALGAM
these are within an existing title, sometimes a separate title, e.g. Batman and
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries.
some overlap with the notion of team-ups (and “Vs”s), like Superman
and Batman, Flash and Green Lantern, JLA/Avengers, etc., and also with
“cameos” — guest appearances, like Don Rickles in two issues of Jimmy
Olsen during the 1970’s (part of Jack Kirby’s great Fourth World/New Gods
run). See “15
Unlikely Comic Book Crossovers (That Actually Happened)” at Newsarama.
Dynamite Comics has lots of great cross-over comics. ‘Nuff said!)
for more crossover listings and info, feel free — after you are done with this
scroll — hop over to
typically refers to a big plot with lots of action, sub-plot, interaction,
reveals, and whatnot. Some events are strictly within a title or (main)
character, e.g., “Death of Superman,” Spider-Man Clone Conspiracy.
Others span lots of titles, characters, and even times and universes/realities,
e.g. Marvel’s Civil War and House of M, and, well, DC’s various
TV DOES CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS, TOO. TV, increasingly, is doing this.
Back in 1967, the Batman and Green Hornet TV shows had a
cross-over episode (“A Piece of the Action”). A decade before that, I
Love Lucy had a “Lucy and Superman” “Lucy
and Superman” episode.
Flavorwire (“10 Great TV Crossover Episodes”) I just learned
the St, Elsewhere cross-overs included a visit to Cheers
(“…Turns out that Norm is Dr. Auschlander’s former accountant and Carla
gave birth to her last child in the St. Elsewhere hospital…”). Homicide:
Life on the Streets crossed over with Law & Order.
DC DOES CRISES. For DC Comics, “Crises” and other events often do
“housecleaning” — condensing multiple “universes,” in
particular, multiple versions of characters. That’s what DC did in their first
Crisis, Crisis on Infinite Earths by
Marv Wolfman and George Perez, in the mid-1980’s. (I believe I still have all my
original copies of the mini-series and the tie-in issues.)
did this, too, in one of their (over)big events.) This doesn’t, IMHO, always
work well; it feels to me like we go from clear, well-delineated parallel
realities with the opportunity for world-hopping visits to one world with often-arbitrary
who’s left’s and/or multiples, e.g., ya got both Peter Parker AND Miles
Morales. (Yes, I know, that’s Marvel, not DC.)
problem is, the simplification never lasts long. But that’s another article/rant.
INFINITE CAMEOS? NOT A CRISIS. DC-on-WB began to give us an inkling/sowed the seeds early on in
this Flash series, with the Gideon computer room periodically showing
Early Edition-class “future headlines” of Flash dying in the Crisis.
then, warming my fan heart, a season or so later IIRC, an episode opening with
the simple caption, “Earth-2” (or something like that).
we’ve been teased with multi-verse cross-overs and changing Gideon headlines
and Monitor pop-up appearances for well over a year now.
per this year’s Arrowverse cross-over event is battling the Anti-Monitor
and (hopefully) preventing the collapse/death/whatever of the multiverse (the
“infinite Earths”), the really fun part is the lengths the showrunners
and network have gone to bring in/back characters from past episodes and other
shows, and the actors who have played them, or had other roles.
example, Black Lightning, whose eponymous WB series was not necessarily part of
“the Arrowverse” (although, given we’ve got a multiverse, that’s
easily finessed, I assume).
as with last year’s intro of Batwoman, we are getting an, ahem, harbinger of
upcoming shows, with Stargirl. (Harbinger is an established Crisis character,
hence my “ahem.”)
notably, Kevin Conroy, best known as the voice of Batman in the animated Batman
Beyond (and other animated shows), showing up as Bruce Wayne. Lots of people
are excited about this.
Routh will have two roles: as Legend’s Ray Palmer/The Atom, and also as
(one of the) Clark Kent/Superman’s (men).
other CK/S is being played by one of the Smallville alums: Tom Welling.
Burt Ward, who played Robin to Adam West’s Batman, playing… “Burt Ward
MY CROSS-OVER/CAMEO SUGGESTIONS AND HOPES THAT I DOUBT WILL BE
already an impressive list and effort.
y’know, particularly given the multiverse aspects of this event, why stop
there? Here’s my suggestions, which, granted, it’s likely too late to be done,
for a few more, perhaps done as a quick-cut montage or two (using the same
logic that let the pirates in the Pirates of Penzance movie overflow
into a production of HMS Pinafore):
Batman Legoverse. I consider the Batman LEGO movie the best Batman movie
to date, and tied with Into the Spider-Verse for best superhero/comic
Not provably connected to the DC multiverse, but it’s on the same TV network,
which should be equivalent in terms of connectivity.
Penn & Teller’s Fool Us: Masters of Illusion. The first because it
would be great to see P&T do some super magic, the second because it’s
hosted by Dean Cain (who was Superman in The Adventures of Lois and Clark,
and Supergirl’s dad in the current Supergirl show).
o Burden of Truth. Since the protagonist is played by Kristen Kreuk, who was Lana Lang on Smallville.
o Nancy Drew (for detecting) and Katy Keene (can work with Black Lightning’s spy/tailor/costumer Gambi)
o And if they could shim in from DC’s own streamingverse, the Titans (Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing, Donna Troy/Wonder Girl, Garth/Aqualad, Gar Logan/Beast Boy, Kory/Starfire, Hawk’n’Dove, Jason Todd/Robin, Conner/Superboy, Rachel/Raven, Rose & Jericho, Krypto), and The Doom Patrol.
o Lorelei and Rory Gilmore
o The Buffy and Scooby-Doo gangs.
o And oh yeah, that’s right — the good guys from Gotham.
TO KNOW MORE BEFORE (OR AFTER) THE FUN STARTS? There is, unsurprisingly, no
shortage of (other) articles and videos for this fast-approaching TV cross-over
event, ranging from “helpful stuff to know from comics history and these
shows” to character and plot analyses of the trailers and other publicity.
Here’s a few:
(1) GALAXY QUEST. See the trailer for Never Surrender: A
Galaxy Quest Documentary, which will be distributed through Fathom Events.
By all accounts, it was a movie that beat all odds: Surviving a set fire, the loss of a powerful director, and a studio that didn’t understand what it had, “Galaxy Quest” turned into a pop-culture phenomenon that would “never give up, never surrender.” As the cult classic nears its 20th anniversary – premiering on December 25, 1999 – “Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary” explores how the science-fiction comedy became an enduring fan favorite, a movie that helped launch the sci-fi- and fantasy-driven movie and TV industry that dominates global entertainment today.
The University of Wyoming could lose the papers of a longtime “Superman” comic book editor after his son took offense to comments by Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
The Casper Star-Tribune reports Hank Weisinger contacted the university’s American Heritage Center Tuesday demanding the return of the collected papers of Mort Weisinger.
The elder Weisinger spent three decades as the story editor of the “Superman” series published by DC Comics Inc.
Hank Weisinger says his action was prompted by comments the Wyoming Republican representative made Monday placing blame for Turkey’s Oct. 9 invasion of Syria on presidential impeachment proceedings by Democrats.
Weisinger says he does not want his father’s papers at a university represented by a member of Congress he perceives as opposing Superman’s values of “truth, justice and the American way.”
Collection contains materials relating to Weisinger’s work as a writer and editor from 1928-1978. Collection includes correspondence (1932-1978) mostly regarding his work as a writer and editor for “This Week” and other magazines and with companies who were included in “1001 Valuable Things”; the galleys and manuscripts for “The Contest,” “The Complete Alibi Handbook” and “1001 Valuable Things”; the manuscript for an unpublished novel about a U.S. President (ca. 1975); legal agreements between Weisinger and “This Week” and Bantam Books (1954-1978); and photographs of Weisinger, the Weisinger family and various celebrities.
The classic graphic novel Watchmen – an explicit, realistic take on what the world might be like if people actually put on costumes and masks to fight crime — tackled many social and political issues: American imperialism. Nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union. The corruption of a President Nixon who stayed in office for five terms.
But there’s one subject the book — hailed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the last century – didn’t really approach.
So it makes a certain kind of sense that, when superstar TV producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) decided to build an HBO series around a modern continuation of the 1980s-era novel – okay, comic book — racial tension would be the first thing he tackled.
The result is a visually stunning, energetically complex series that digs into the hottest social issue of our time. But it’s done in a way that may leave viewers unsure exactly what Lindelof is saying about it all.
Comic Book Libraries is a Hero Nation initiative that seeks to improve youth literacy by providing high-interest reading material to classrooms throughout our community.
We currently have educators at five different schools throughout our community hosting Comic Book Libraries and checking books out to eager students.
Graphic novels and comic books are excellent resources that help engage students with literature and art. From phenomenal fantasy adventures, to riveting retellings of historical events, there’s a graphic novel for everyone!
On whether it’s difficult to have millions of people waiting for The Winds of Winter, the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire
Yes, especially because a certain portion of them are really impatient and snarky about it. You know, you can get one person who posts 150 messages in three days, all of which is “Where is Winds of Winter?” If any of you go home and post on your Twitter account, “Hey I was just at the Chicago Public Library Sandburg Award dinner and George R.R. Martin was there,” you know by the third message someone will say, well, “What the hell is he doing there? Where is Winds of Winter?” So at this point, it is what it is. And, you know, I should probably leave right now and go back [to] writing Winds of Winter.
It’s very important me to finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I want to finish it. I still have two more books to do, and I want to finish it strong. So people look at it and say, you know, this entire thing is an important work, not a half-finished or broken work. I know some of the more cynical people out there don’t believe that, but it is true.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 19, 1979 — Meteor premiered. Starring Natalie Wood, Sean Connery, and Karl Malden, it was inspired by the 1967 Project Icarus from MIT. The film was a box office failure and received a 12% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
October 19, 2010 — The BBC’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The First Men In The Moon was first aired. Written by Mark Gatiss, it also stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 19, 1903 — Tor Johnson. He acted in a lot of really bad films starting with Bride of the Monster andThe Unearthly with the next being Plan 9 from Outer Space followed by The Beast of Yucca Flats and finishing with The Night of The Ghouls. Three of these are directed by Ed Wood. He appears on in genre tv just once as Naboro in the “Inferno in Space” episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. (Died 1971.)
Born October 19, 1909 — Robert Beatty. He’s best known for being in 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen. He played General Cutler in “The Tenth Planet”, a First Doctor story, and was General Halstead in The Martian Chronicles. He was in Superman III and Superman IV, respectively playing a tanker captain and the U.S. President. (Died 1992.)
Born October 19, 1921 — George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human Duplicators, Beyond Atlantis and The Great Space Adventure. (Died 2002.)
Born October 19, 1940 — Michael Gambon, 79. He’s best known for playing Dumbledore in the final six Potter films after the death of Richard Harris who had previously played the role. He also shows up in the 2010 Christmas Special of Doctor Who, “A Christmas Carol”, an Eleventh Doctor story, playing Kazran/Elliot Sardick.
Born October 19, 1945 — John Lithgow, 74. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The Movie, Harry and the Hendersons, Shrek, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series!
Born October 19, 1946 — ?Philip Pullman, 73. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North.
Born October 19, 1969 — Vanessa Marshall, 50. Voice actress who’s Hera Syndulla on Star Wars: Rebels, a series I’ve been enjoying immensely. She’s gave voice to myriad characters from Poison Ivy to Black Widow.
Born October 19, 1990 — ?Ciara Renée, 29. She was Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl in Legends of Tomorrow in the Arrowverse which means she showed up on Arrow and The Flash as well.
(8) SOMETIMES IN SPITE OF POPULAR DEMAND. Trae Dorn of Nerd & Tie discusses why reporting issue-focused
fan news is a hazardous occupation. Thread starts here.
The European spacecraft that aims to take the closest ever pictures of the Sun is built and ready for launch.
The Solar Orbiter, or SolO, probe will put itself inside the orbit of Planet Mercury to train its telescopes on the surface of our star.
Other instruments will sense the constant outflow of particles and their embedded magnetic fields.
Scientists hope the detailed observations can help them understand better what drives the Sun’s activity.
This goes up and down on an 11-year cycle. It’s sure to be a fascinating endeavour but it’s one that has direct relevance to everyone on Earth.
The energetic outbursts from our star have the ability to damage satellites, harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even knock power grids offline.
“We’re doing this not just for the sake of increasing our knowledge but also for being able to take precautions, for example by putting satellites in safe mode when we know big solar storms are coming or letting astronauts not leave the space station on these days,” said Daniel Müller, the European Space Agency (Esa) project scientist on SolO.
(11) DAWN OF FANDOM. John L. Coker III, President of First
Fandom, introduced members to David Ritter’s First Fandom Experience project
late last year:
…David is seeking material for an ambitious project: the First Fandom Experience (FFE). The purpose of the FFE is to “honor, preserve and bring to life the experience of the first fans – the pioneering fans who were instrumental in defining, driving, growing and supporting science fiction and fantasy in the 1930s and beyond.”
David’s primary initial focus for FFE will be to “publish fan-created content from the SF and fantasy fields dating from the 1930s, in facsimile form, from the rarest to the most prominent fanzines of the period. FFE will also seek to find and republish other related ephemera of the period, especially content relating to the fan club activities and conventions held through the 1930s. In addition, FFE will publish new content authored by current fans and historians reflecting on their experience and knowledge of the genres in the 1930s.”
Two recent posts from Ritter’s First Fandom Experience site
“They’re Grand, But… “ is the story of a late-night adventure in 1938, and its
consequences, scanned from Sam Moskowitz’ fanzine.
In some ways, early science fiction fandom was like a family. Think Leave It To Beaver meets Jersey Shore. The love and hate in the complex web of relationships often played out both in person and in fanzines. A shining example: a 1938 late-night road trip worthy of Scorsese’s After Hours.
In February 1938, Samuel A. Moskowitz penned a saccharin homage to his brothers and occasional sister in the fan community. “They’re Grand” appeared in The Science Fiction Fan (v2n6).
“Dessert of the Day: The Science Fiction Special” documents an eofannish obsession with ice cream, with a recipe by Frederik Pohl in the The International Observer (v2n7, January 1937), later refined by Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel in The Science Fiction Bugle, May 1937. (Scans of both items at the link.)
(12) NO TIPS, PLEASE. “LEONARDO
Bipedal Robot With Thrusters” on YouTube is a robot developed at Caltech
with a really good sense of balance.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick
(1) A CENTURY OF TITLES FROM OUR CENTURY. The Guardian says
it’s time for another clickworthy list! “The
100 best books of the 21st century” includes both fiction and nonfiction
– I count about 16 sff works on it, with Jemisin, Gaiman, and Pullman among the
Dazzling debut novels, searing polemics, the history of humanity and trailblazing memoirs … Read our pick of the best books since 2000
Writer-director James Gray is nothing if not bold. He dared to tackle a non-cynical romantic triangle in Two Lovers and a return to “high adventure” in The Lost City of Z. Neither film found the audience it deserved. With Ad Astra he has ventured into outer space, fully aware of the pitfalls: being compared to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or, more recently, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. He needn’t have worried.
In fashioning an intelligent space drama for grownups he found inspiration and a through-line in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and its modern-day equivalent, Apocalypse Now. He also found theperfect actor to serve as his space traveler. The part fits Brad Pitt like a glove, and he delivers one of his finest, most nuanced performances.
When asked what motivates her to keep editing anthologies, Datlow’s genuine love of reading and sharing shines through. “I love being the person who sometimes initiates the process of the creation of a brilliant new story (by soliciting new stories by writers whose work I love) and I love rediscovering/pushing stories that I think are amazing. I want everyone to discover stories they will love and admire as much as I do. I also enjoy working with all my authors.”
(4) A POURNELLE REDISCOVERY. Paperback Warrior, a blog that reviews old thrillers, mysteries, westerns, etc. just reviewed Red Heroin, a 1969 spy thriller that also happened to be Jerry Pournelle’s debut novel, written under the pen name Wade Curtis.
“Red Heroin” is a thinking-man’s espionage novel rather than a high-speed action killfest, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The sequel “Red Dragon” (unrelated to Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lector novel) came out in 1970, and I will definitely check it out.
(5) WARMING UP FOR THE ABDICATION. On Facebook, Walter Jon
Williams shares what he thinks would be a much better story line for the
Downton Abbey movie. The idea may explain why they haven’t already
lined him up to do a media tie-In novel…
Cities across the world on Saturday marked Batman Day by flashing the Bat Signal across buildings and into the night sky, a nod to the Caped Crusader on his 80th birthday.
Fans of the DC Comics superhero spotted his famous distress call at 8 p.m. local time in Melbourne, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Berlin, Rome and London, among other major cities.
Here’s what it looked like:
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 21, 1937 — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit published.
September 21, 1996 — The Dark Skies series premiered as part of the NBC lineup. A “what if aliens were manipulating all of History” premise didn’t help it last past twenty episodes.
September 21, 2012 — The character of Judge Dredd returned with Dredd. Karl Urban played Dredd and Olivia Thirlby played Judge Anderson. To date, it’s not broken even. The Stallone Judge Dredd barely broke even
September 21, 2015 — Fox Television debuted their Minority Report series based off of the Philip K. Dick work. It lasted a scant ten episodes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 21, 1866 — H. G. Wells. I really don’t need to tell y’all that he’s called the “father of science fiction” along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback. I’m not sure how much of his fiction beyond The War of the Worlds the reading world beyond fandom remembers these days. (Died 1946.)
Born September 21, 1895 — Norman Louis Knight. His most-remembered work is A Torrent of Faces, a novel co-written with James Blish and reprinted in the Ace Science Fiction Specials line. His only other writing is a handful of short fiction. Not surprisingly his short fiction isn’t available at iBooks or Kindle but neither A Torrent of Faces. (Died 1972.)
Born September 21, 1912 — Chuck Jones. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies creator (think Bugs Bunny). His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996. (Died 2002.)
Born September 21, 1935 — Henry Gibson. I’m going confess upfront that I remember best him as a cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. In regards to his genre work, he showed up on the My Favorite Martian series as Homer P. Gibson, he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an uncredited dancer, in Bewitched twice, once as Napoleon Bonaparte, once as Tim O’ Shanter, he was the voice of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as Dr. Eugene Nortz, and even in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the “Profit and Lace” episode to be exact in which he was Nilva, a ferengi. (Died 2009.)
Born September 21, 1947 — Nick Castle, 72. He co-wrote with John Carpenter the scripts for Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., and he’s the director of The Last Starfighter. He also wrote the Hook script. He was Michael Myers in both 1978 Halloween and the later remake of that film, plus the forthcoming Halloween Kills. He also was the pianist in Escape from New York.
Born September 21, 1947 — Stephen King, 72. I once saw him leaning up against a wall in Bangor outside his favorite breakfast spot nose deep in a paperback novel. That’s how his native city treated him. Favorite by him? I’m not fond of his novels but I love his novellas and shorter fiction, so Different Seasons, Four past Midnight and Skeleton Crew are my picks.
Born September 21, 1950 — Bill Murray, 69. Scrooged is my favorite film by him by a long shot followed by the first Ghostbusters film. I’m also fond of his voicing of Clive the Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Born September 21, 1983 — Cassandra Rose Clarke, 36. I strongly recommend The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a serial fiction story she coauthored with Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It’s quite brilliant. And The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award, is equally brilliant.
Born September 21, 1990 — Allison Scagliotti, 29. One of the primary cast of Warehouse 13, a show that I really, really loved. Her first genre role was as Jayna, one of the Wonder Twins, on the Smallville series. And she showed in a crossover episode of Eureka, “Crossing Over”. Her current gig is as Camille Engelson on Stitchers which to my surprise is getting ratings.
The first Naruto runner has been spotted Naruto running towards Area 51 during a live news report.
… But just as he closed his news segment on KTNV, he was upstaged by the perfectly timed runner, which is a hilarious reference to the original event’s satirical description which said, ‘if we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.’
About 75 people arrived early Friday at a gate at the once-secret Area 51 military base in Nevada — at the time appointed by an internet hoaxster to “storm” the facility to see space aliens — and one person was arrested, authorities said.
The “Storm Area 51” invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site, and a more than two-hour drive from Las Vegas.
Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee estimated late Thursday that about 1,500 people had gathered at the festival sites and said more than 150 people also made the rugged trip several additional miles on bone-rattling dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the gates.
Ever been to Stonehenge? Machu Picchu? Across time, people have marked the changes of seasons—sometimes in dramatic ways! Here are five amazing ancient sites aligned with the solstices and equinoxes.
Did you know that the equinoxes and solstices happens at the same moment around the world? Even though we all have different time zones, this is an astronoimical event, based on our planet’s orbit around the Sun and tilt on its axis.
Our ancestors lived amidst nature more than most of us do today. They observed the universe, marveling in its rhythms. They used the Sun and the Moon as a sort of calendar, tracking the Sun’s path across the sky. Here are some examples of the ancient sites and monuments that aligned with the solstice and equinox.
Our ancestors built the first observatories to track the sun’s progress…
Remember October 2001? If you’re around my age, this was the time when the new Superman refused to wear a cape and existed in a Dawson’s Creek-esque TV series called Smallville, which originally aired on a network called The WB. (Annoying frog mascot with a top hat.) But now, Tom Welling, the actor who played Superman/Clark Kent on Smallville is back in the Superman tights he avoided on Smallville for so long.
According to Deadline, Welling will reprise his role as Superman in a crossover event for the CW’s popular “Arrowverse” TV shows. This follows a similar return of fellow-Superman actor, Brandon Routh, who is also set to return as Superman on the CW. If you’re not following these shows (and really, you can’t be blamed if you’re not, they’re very confusing) the CW is apparently doing everything it can to get olds like me interested in tuning in again. Tom Welling played Clark Kent/Superman for a staggering 10 seasons on Smallville before the show finally ended in 2011.
Nasa has finished assembling the main structural components for its largest rocket since the Apollo-era Saturn V.
Engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans connected the last of five sections that make up the core of the Space Launch System (SLS).
The rocket will be used to send an uncrewed Orion craft to the Moon, in a flight expected to launch in 2021.
This will pave the way for crewed missions, with a landing in 2024.
The last piece of the SLS’ 64m (212ft) -tall core stage was the complicated engine section. This will serve as the attachment point for the four powerful RS-25 engines, which are capable of producing two million pounds of thrust (9 meganewtons).
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Maestro” on Vimeo, Illogic
has hedgehogs, turtles, and birds, singing an aria conducted by a squirrel. (That’s
what it says–“Directed by Illogic”.)
[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ,
Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, StephenfromOttawa,
John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, Greg Hullender, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) MILO BANNED FROM FURRY CON. Midwest Furfest denied Milo Yiannopoulos from
attending their event this December. “Hate
is not welcome at Midwest FurFest. We are dedicated to providing a safe,
harassment-free convention experience for all, regardless of age, race, gender,
gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical
appearance, or personal beliefs,” organizers wrote.
Yiannopoulos announced he was attending the convention on his Telegram messaging channel—one of the only social platforms that still welcomes him after he was banned for life from Twitter. The right-wing persona non grata wrote that he has adopted a snow leopard “fursona,” and shared a picture of his ticket purchase to the convention to be held in December outside Chicago.
The fur community is not a monolith, however. A group called “Furry Raiders,” whose leader dresses up as a fox with a red paw-print armband, spoke out in support of Milo, posting a picture with what appears to be his “fursona.”
More history about the Furry Raiders is available on Wikifur.
In the Early Gamers category, Snail Sprint and The Mind were both Nominated, and Drop It and Megaland were both Recommended. Catch the Moon, designed by Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez, was named the 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner.
For Casual Games, Shadows: Amsterdam and Space Base were Nominated, and Just One and Gizmos were Recommended. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for this category is The Quacks of Quedlinburg, designed by Wolfgang Warsch.
The Strategy Games category saw Architects of the West Kingdom and Heroes of Land, Air, and Sea earn Nominated, and Coimbra and Cryptid were Recommended by the Committee. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for Strategy Games is Chronicles of Crime, designed by David Cicurel.
In Complex Games, Betrayal Legacy and Brass: Birmingham were both Nominated and Teotihuacan: City of Gods and Gùg?ng were both recommended. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for Complex Games is Root, designed by Cole Wehrle.
…A counterfeit, in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, was something else altogether: it was an obvious distortion mocking the original; in a Christian cosmology, a counterfeit was Lucifer’s mockery of God’s creation. The closest concept to it that we have today are the inhabitants of DC Comics’ “bizarro” universe. Not only was a counterfeit a mockery; it was understood to be an uncanny, grotesque mockery. Some conquistadors who arrived in the New World believed that they had found a counterfeit hemisphere, where the largest city’s centre was not a basilica but a step pyramid where priests performed a human sacrifice every forty minutes. The armadillo was a strong piece of evidence for this theory: it was obviously a counterfeit turtle.
Because they are uncanny, grotesque and jarring, there is much power in the counterfeit. The orcs, Tolkien’s counterfeit elves, trolls, Tolkien’s counterfeit ents—they strike fear into their opponents’ hearts simply by being, by mocking and denigrating creation itself. They constitute an ontological attack on the cosmic order simply by having existed. That they might triumph over real elves and real ents is not just a bad tactical situation; it is a sign that the cosmic order, itself, is in retreat.
The global death cult we are fighting understands that. And, consequently, it is not just trolling us at the level of conversation but at the level of existence….
In many of the posts, she suggests a drink that the logo could adorn, from a Caramel Carl Frappuccino for the old man from Up to a Blue Genie Mocha Frappuccino (that one you should be able to figure out). She also includes multiple characters in most posts, so make sure you swipe through and don’t miss any of them.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 16, 1963 — The Outer Limits first aired. The first episode was “The Galaxy Being” which was written by Leslie Stevens and starred Lee Philips, Jacqueline Scott and Cliff Robertson.
September 16, 1977 — Logan’s Run as the program began its first and only season. The series starred Gregory Harrison as Logan 5, and Heather Menzies as Jessica 6.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. And his interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.)
Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She was in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1932 — Karen Anderson. Wife and sometimes co-author of Poul Anderson, and mother-in-law of writer Greg Bear. She wrote fiction herself, and also with her husband and others. The King of Ys series is co-authoured with Poul. Lee Gold holds that she’s the first person to use the term filk music in print. (Died 2018.)
Born September 16, 1927 — Peter Falk. His best-remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the Story. He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 67. Tuttle won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute”, which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include Catwitch, The Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Loverscollection.
Born September 16, 1954 — Ralph Eugene Vaughan, 65. Author of the Sherlock Holmes in the Cthulhu Mythos Adventures. Really, I’m not kidding. He started off with Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Ancient Gods before writing (at least to date) four more. And then he wrote two Holmesian steampunk novels in a series called The Steampunk Adventures of Folkestone & Hand as well, the first being Shadows Against the Empire: An Interplanetary Steampunk.
Born September 16, 1960 — Kurt Busiek, 59. Writer whose work includes the Marvels limited series, his own outstanding Astro City series, and a very long run on The Avengers. He also worked at Dark Horse where he did Conan #1–28 and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #1–8.
Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 59. The Hellboy stories of course are definitely worth reading. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What If story, and the B.P.R.D. stories are quite too.
DC Comics’ revival of the Legion of Superheroes kicked off last month with the first appearance of the new Legion in Superman #14, sending the future heroes back in time to witness the creation of the United Planets at the core of their 31st Century superhero team. That idea comes courtesy of Jonathan “Superboy” Kent, and the Legion arrives with a proposition for Superman’s teenage son. Following the conclusion of the Rogol Zaar storyline, Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis embark on the next phase of their Superman title, continuing to lean into the cosmic aspect of the character by bringing in the Legion. Joined by inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado, colorist Alex Sinclair, and letterer Dave Sharpe, Bendis and Reis give the new Legion an enthusiastic welcome while reinforcing the intergalactic prominence of Superman and his family, which only increases over the next millennium.
Scientists have reconstructed the tumultuous history of a lost continent hidden underneath Southern Europe, which has been formally named “Greater Adria” in a new study.
This ancient landmass broke free from the supercontinent Gondwana more than 200 million years ago and roamed for another 100 million years before it gradually plunged underneath the Northern Mediterranean basin.
… Greater Adria was about the size of Greenland when it slammed into Europe during the mid-Cretaceous period. At that time, most of the continent was covered by a shallow sea that supported a thriving ecosystem built around tropical reefs.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporatedreally got weird with guest stars and cameos, but one of their most perplexing gets was notoriously idiosyncratic sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison in the first-season episode “The Shrieking Madness.” The whole thing is a Lovecraft riff, and Ellison voices himself. The animators de-aged him to his 1970s appearance and made him an instructor at fictional Darrow University. When one of his students poses as mythical Elder God from beyond space and time Char Gar Gothakon, the gang leans on Ellison’s vast experience to expose the fraudulent tentacled beast.
(15) RESCUED FROM IRON MAN’S SCRAPHEAP. Via a tweet at MCU
Direct, Marvel released a never-before shown alternate ending to Iron
Man where Nick Fury talks about “radioactive bug bites” and
“mutants” years before Spider-Man and the X-Men
rejoined the Marvel Creative Universe.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Lenore Jean Jones,Mike Kennedy, Mark Hepworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Jim Reynolds, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) WORLDCON PHOTOS. Simon Bubb, part of Dublin 2019’s staff
photography team, has posted albums of his photos from the Worldcon at
Facebook. Beautiful photos. So many
good memories for those who participated.
(2) DINO SQUIRREL REVIVAL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s episode of Stranger than Sci-Fi on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 was the penultimate episode. Next week is the final in the series and is on telekinesis.
The latest episode, “Jurassic Park” (available
for a month), looked at de-extinction. Crichton not only read up on the
science, he was so taken with one paper that hypothesized possibly near-future
DNA technology that he went to visit the researchers. And the rest is
The programme pointed to the limits of de-extinction
but did say that we could digitize DNA of current endangered species and bring them
back if we had to.
Astro-physicist Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science and sci-fi.
Starting with the latest books and films, they discover real life science that sounds too strange to be true – from babies grown in bags, via black hole Jacuzzis, to flowers that behave like our ears.
In this episode, they tackle the question everyone wants to know the answer to – can we bring the dinosaurs back to life? They talk to the journalist Britt Wray about the surprising origin story for the book Jurassic Park. Then they dive into the world of de-extinction research and find out why there is a group of scientists who focus all their time on reviving extinct species.
They ask if we might soon see woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian steppe once again. What are the potential pitfalls of resurrecting the dead?
I’m going to give you the Hollywood elevator pitch in order to secure your attention: This is a Japanese steampunk novel for fans of Blade Runner. Do I have your attention now? Good. Because we’re going to flash back in time to 2009, when Haikasoru popped into the world.
…Unfortunately, Haikasoru didn’t quite catch the imagination of the public in the United States. Its biggest hit was probably All You Need is Kill, adapted into the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow, but otherwise it sadly went on being ignored by most of the speculative fiction fans, while ironically producing the stuff fans say they hunger for.
…But the first incarnation of the imprint has one last, lyrical swan song before it drifts to sleep: Automatic Eve, a mosaic novel.
I like mosaic novels thanks to having read Clifford D. Simak’s City as a teenager. Some people despise them, the break with non-linearity, the short episodes building up to something more, frustrate certain readers. But even if you don’t exactly fancy that format, Rokuro Inui’s Automatic Eve, translated by Matt Treyvaud, works well. Characters, situations and plot points reoccur during the course of the book, so that you are left with a feeling of coherence rather than of stories thinly strung together, which can be the issue that turns readers away from mosaic novels in the first place – and sometimes earns them the pejorative term of “fix-ups.”
Much of the wonder of the book derives from its setting and mechanics. In a steampunk Japan where artisans can produce automatons that perfectly mimic humans and animals, an intricate web of deceit and secrets has been laid down. At the center of this web sits the beautiful, mysterious Eve and her father, an inventor with ties to both the shogunate and the ruling imperial house, which are locked in a battle for power.
(5) CORRECTION. The participants James Davis Nicoll is recruiting participants for the next phase of Young People Read Old SFF must have been born after 1990. The post still says “1980,” however, he later corrected this in the comments. Uh, never mind!
A FAN DOES TO A $40K CAR. [Item by Dale Arnold.] Baltimore area fan Miriam Winder Kelly recently bought a brand new
Tesla Model 3 for over $40,000.00 and immediately put bumper stickers for
her favorite causes on it. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, The Red Cross
and Middle Earth? The BSFS bumper sticker is quite old and apparently she
saved several from 20 years ago so she could always have one on her car.
By the way the bumper sticker was designed by a committee chaired by the late costuming fan Bobby Gear. (wife of the late multiple Worldcon Masquerade MC Marty Gear) Bobby said when she delivered the design, “I am never helping design anything with a committee again!”
(7) LOOMIS OBIT. Game publisher Rick
Loomis of Flying Buffalo Incorporated died August 24, his birthday, after battling
cancer. He was 73. A “Help Gaming Legend Rick Loomis” for his
medical expenses had been started just recently.
Rick was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association and served as its President several times when they needed him. He started Flying Buffalo Games back in 1970 and was one of the first people to ever run a Play-by Mail game on a dedicated computer. He has traveled the world to promote role-playing and card games and over the years Rick has befriended hundreds (thousands!) of people at conventions from his Flying Buffalo Games booth and company. He published Tunnels & Trolls, the Nuclear War Card Game, Grimtooth’s Traps and so much more…
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
August 25, 1851 — George Parsons Lathrop. Noted for co-authoring In the Deep of Time novella with Thomas A. Edison which ran in English Illustrated Magazine on the third of March 1897. (Died 1898.)
August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.)
August 25, 1913 — Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released Pogo in six stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1960. They’re planning to do all of his strips eventually. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on Dumbo, Pinocchio and Fantasia? (Died 1973.)
August 25, 1930 — Sean Connery, 89. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly.
August 25, 1940 — Marilyn Niven, 79. She was a Boston-area fan who lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons. In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
August 25, 1947 — Michael Kaluta, 72. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988.
August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 64. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most.
August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird.
August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 49. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading.
In “When We First Met,” we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Riccardo N., we look into the first time that Clark Kent’s apartment was given the address of 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D.
Obviously, in the early days, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were not really all that considered about world-building. No one in comics really was. Batman’s set-up was different from issue to issue early on (my favorite is where Bruce Wayne just kept his Batman costume in a chest at the foot of his bed). So when they say Superman is in his apartment, there really was no thought into it beyond “Superman is in his apartment”…
During his first-ever visit to Philadelphia at Keystone Comic Con, Tom Holland teased his third live-action Spider-Man film, teasing that it’s already been pitched and will be “something very special and something very different” from what we saw inHomecoming and Far From Home, while having a deep personal connection to the actor’s own life. Moreover, he gave an enthusiastic “of course!” when asked if Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a long-term romantic shot with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
“Uh, it’s been a crazy week,” he said, echoing his statement at D23 Expo yesterday. “The news came as a bit of a shock, but we’ve made five great movies … you guys have made it so special for me and it’s not the end of me playing Spider-Man. There’s definitely more to come … I’m just really excited for everything … It’s only gonna get bigger and better … It’s pretty crazy.”
(12) COINING A WORD. John M. Jordan, in “The Czech Play
That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’” on the MIT Press website reminds us that, although we might
know that Karel Capek coined the term “robot” most people don’t know
the plot of Capek’s play R.U.R. or know that robota is Czech for
“forced labor.” The post is an excerpt from Jordan’s MIT Press
The contrast between robots as mechanical slaves and potentially rebellious destroyers of their human makers echoes Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and helps set the tone for later Western characterizations of robots as slaves straining against their lot, ready to burst out of control. The duality echoes throughout the twentieth century: Terminator, HAL 9000, Blade Runner’s replicants.
The character Helena in “R.U.R.” is sympathetic, wanting the robots to have freedom. Radius is the robot that understands his station and chafes at the idiocy of his makers, having acted out his frustrations by smashing statues.
In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.
This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.
Day responded to a complaint in comments:
It’s not a democracy. And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.
Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.
And in another comment he said:
I was told a lot of things that didn’t come to pass too. So I am not going to accept being held accountable for things that were entirely contingent upon other’s responsibilities.
If you want a refund, we’ll give you one. You have that option. But I’m not going to waste my time or the backers’ resources on projects that should not have been done in the first place. We all meant well, but the foundation was not solid.
We are going to be in the red on this no matter what due to the need to produce 18 comics. So I want to make sure at least some of them will sell well enough to give us a shot at breaking even on it.
…So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.
We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.
The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three….
Of all the things I love about being a girl, I love doing nail art the most. But I’m also a scientist, and scientists aren’t usually associated with perfectly manicured nails. Nail art became my way of debunking some common stereotypes, including those that associate scientists with being cold or unapproachable.
I got into nail art four years ago after a friend of mine bought a beginner nail art kit. It contained one metal plate with various nail-sized designs etched on the surface – animals, flowers, food – along with nail polish, a scraper and a silicone stamper.
…At the time, I was working as a research scientist studying Alzheimer’s disease at Cornell University, where I was looking for ways to get lay people interested in science. On Instagram, I found some science communicators using drawings or video to explain concepts like how stem cells help heal wounds.
Then I had an epiphany! None of these science communicators were using nail art as a platform. And none of the nail artists I followed were doing scientific designs.
I had been blogging about science for a while, but I wanted to try something new. So on October 10, 2018, I started an Instagram account (@nailsciart) where I’d use nail art to reach a very specific demographic: teenage girls. I wanted to show them the fun side of science through an art form many of them could find appealing — and that it’s possible to have polished nails and work on cool science.
[Thanks to Simon Bubb, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Dale Arnold, Eric Wong, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
BravoLimaPoppa, Danny SIchel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike
Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day Xtifr.]
…Instead I ask why fantasy and sci-fi writers seem so much more intimately connected to their fans than writers of other genres do.
“Science fiction, for much of its history – and this goes back to before I was born – was not considered reputable,” says Martin. “It was seen as cheap gutter entertainment. I was a bright kid, but even I had teachers say to me, ‘Why do you read that science-fiction stuff? Why don’t you read real literature?’ You got that kind of snobbism.
“So the early science-fiction fans, in the 1930s and 1940s and early 1950s, felt that very much, and they gathered together, and it was sort of an ‘us against the world’ thing. ‘We know this is great stuff, and you on the outside might make fun of us, and mock us, but we’ll band together.’ And the writers started coming to the conventions, and many writers came out of fandom; they started out as fans.”
Where does he think that patronising attitude to genre fiction comes from? “You can go back to the literary quarrel between Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson, ” he says, “and that’s really where you see a split between high literature and popular literature. Before that it was just literature.
…“But essentially, in the opinion of most university lecturers for 100 years, James won that argument, and literature had to be about something serious and real life, and if it was about pirates or space travel or dragons or monsters then it was something for children.” He laughs. “That’s all changed. Now science fiction, far from being this little persecuted genre that it was in the 1950s, has conquered the world.”
…Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, who is supervising the show’s development, told German fansite Deutsche Tolkien that the estate has refused to allow the series to be set during any period other than the Second Age of Middle-earth. This means Amazon’s adaptation will not cross over at all with events from the Third Age, which were dramatised in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy and sees hobbit Frodo Baggins destroy the One Ring.
Spanning 3,441 years, the Second Age begins after the banishment of the dark lord Morgoth and ends with the first demise of Sauron, Morgoth’s servant and the primary villain in The Lord of the Rings, at the hands of an alliance of elves and men.
Shippey said that Amazon “has a relatively free hand” to add details since Tolkien did not flesh out every detail of the Second Age in his appendices or Unfinished Tales, a collection of stories published posthumously in 1980. But Shippey called it “a bit of a minefield – you have to tread very carefully”, saying that “the Tolkien estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenórean expedition, is returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenóreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same…
Robert Jackson Bennett has a wicked sense of humor. His 2013 novel American Elsewhere trained a satirical eye on small-town America even as it straddled the boundaries of science fiction and horror. Yet with his latest work, a novella called Vigilance, the Austin-based author and two-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award tackles one of the most deadly serious — and sadly relevant — topics of all: mass shootings. As in American Elsewhere, there’s both science fiction and horror in Vigilance. There’s also that wicked Bennett sense of humor. He spares no disturbing absurdity or twinge of cognitive dissonance in his examination of gun mania and the new normal of everyday massacres in America.
Make no mistake: For all its satire of government, entertainment, society, and violence, Vigilance is a sobering read. It takes place just a few years in our future, in a United States that’s simultaneously unrecognizable and chillingly familiar. Texas is in flames. The governor of Iowa is an open white supremacist. Warfare has become almost entirely remote, done with robots and drones, so that the bloodlust and sense of martial duty fostered in people by American society — as well as the noble, heroic ideal of the valiant solder — has nowhere to be vented or expressed. And the younger, more liberal generation has almost entirely fled the United States for other nations with stricter gun control, leaving the older, more gun-favoring population behind.
What that population has done is blood-curdling. John McDean is a producer for a popular television show called Vigilance, in which mass shootings are broadcast for public consumption to those who wish “to witness violence and fear, but always from safe refuge.” His target demographic is the American pistol-owner. As McDean coldly, cruelly calculates, “Pistols are for killing people. Pistols are for urban environments. Pistols are for defense.” They are the perfect choice of what McDean calls his Ideal Person, “isolated within a huge suburban house, wary and suspicious of the outside world, listening to the beautiful woman on the television warn them of horrors and depravity in the lands beyond the borders, of corruption creeping into our cities.”
In June this year, 1964, my family and I took a three week vacation to the island nation of Japan. Though I have been many times before, this was the first time I felt changed as a person after coming home. Perhaps it was the fact that I was finally old enough to appreciate the world around me; or perhaps it was because we’d chosen to stay in a new place: Hiroshima was still under construction, but I could tell it was going to become a beautiful city, despite the air of tragedy. Regardless, I saw Japan in a new light, and it has brought me to see the world in a new light as well.
It was 35 years ago today that Dr. B. Banzai, while conducting a supersonic test of his remarkable Jet Car, breached the dimensional barrier with his experimental Oscillation Overthruster and made contact with the 8th dimension. Congratulations to Dr. Banzai, as well as to the filmmaking team that documented this extraordinary event.
August 10, 2004 — Donald Duck received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 10, 1896 — John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. Only A Short Dictionary of Furniture, one of his non-fiction efforts, is available digitally. (Died 1981.)
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in genre films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and a very few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows and several novels more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes as ISFDB documents four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World. Kidneys anyone? Or tripe anyone? (Died 1978.)
Born August 10, 1931 — Alexis A. Gilliland, 88. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read.
Born August 10, 1939 — Kate O’Mara. Her films included two Hammer Horror films, The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. She also appeared on Doctor Who as The Rani during the Era of The Seventh Doctor in a recurring role. She reposted that role in the charity special, Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time. (Died 2014.)
Born August 10, 1952 — David C. Smith, 67. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard, most notably the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on iBooks but not on Kindle.
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 64. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 54. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on StarHyke, a six episode SF comic series shot in ‘05 you can see on Amazon Prime.
(8) HELP PICK THE EXPANSE TOYS. Bonnie McDaniel alerts
Filers to Amazon’s page where you can vote on toys
and dolls to be included with their upcoming box set of The Expanse. “Needless to say, I
voted for the swearing Avasarala doll.”
Some of you wanted a statue of Madam Secretary; others wanted this to be much more “playful.” We’re going to start with the idea of a highly decorated doll. We’ll dress her in her red tunic and include all the proper accessories. We’ll put her in a whimsical toy box for display. And, most importantly, she’ll come with attitude. Press her back and hear her favorite adult-rated sayings. Approx. 12” high.
(9) TUNE INTO SFF. BBC Radio 4’s Stillicide is a futuristic mini-series. Each episode is only 15 minutes and
will be on i-player for a month.
Cynan Jones’ electrifying series set in the very near future – a future a little, but not quite like our own.
Water is commodified and the Water Train that feeds the city is increasingly at risk of sabotage. And now icebergs are set to be towed to a huge ice dock outside the capital city – a huge megalopolis that is draining the country of its resources.
Against this, a lone marksman stands out in the field. His job is to protect the Water Train…
From one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, Stillicide is a moving story of love and loss and the will to survive, and a powerful glimpse of the tangible future.
…Never mind them. Rangers 3-5 were the real lunar probes, even including giant balsawood pimples on the end, which housed seismometers that could survive impact with the Moon. It was more important than ever that we know what the lunar surface was like now that President Kennedy had announced that we would, as a nation, put a man on the Moon and bring him safely back to Earth before the decade was out.
Easier said than done. Ranger 3, launched in January 1962, missed the Moon. Moreover, it sailed past while facing the wrong way. The probe took no useful pictures, and a failure of the onboard computer prevented the acquisition of sky science data….
WATCHERS. On the National Public Radio website, Annalisa Quinn reviews
a new novel, The Turn of the Key (Ruth Ware), that
updates Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw for the
current digital and surveillance age. (“We’re
All Haunted In ‘The Turn Of The Key'”)
In Henry James’s ambiguous, paranoid novella The Turn of the Screw (1898), a governess is left in charge of two children in an isolated Essex country house. Over time, she becomes convinced the children are communing with the ghosts of former servants, who appear to them, at first at a distance and then ever closer, threatening to lead them to damnation. By the end, a child is dead, but we still don’t know: Were the ghosts real, or were they in the governess’s head?
With The Turn of the Key, Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10) offers a clever and elegant update to James’s story, one with less ambiguity but its own eerie potency. Rowan Caine accepts a nannying job at a gorgeous house in the Scottish Highlands, wired with a smart home app called, horribly, “Happy,” that lets its owners surveil every room in the house from afar, control the lights, heat, and locks — and even talk through speakers in the walls.
…On a couple of occasions, we had face time with Epstein, who seemed, to me, an eccentric and possibly brilliant financier with weird ideas about economics–but hell, he was paying all the bills, so we were polite. One of our observations about his entourage was they consisted mostly of attractive young women in their twenties or early thirties, at most, brought over from his private island near St. John, where it seemed they staffed his house. We had been dangled the possibility of being taken out to that island to see the sights, but most of us did not get that opportunity.
The women, by my instincts, were of a uniform and somewhat inaccessible temper, and I got the impression that Epstein was their lord and master, and they did not range far in their daily lives. But they were all adults.
At one point during the conference, with Epstein in the room, some imp of perverse in me made an analogy (I cannot remember my exact point, or the reason for the analogy) to Dracula coming down out of his castle to ravage the young women of the village. That put an end — though not abruptly — to our face time with Epstein, and the conference ended on schedule. We had a great time with Marvin and his wife, Gloria, loved the islands and towns, and never heard from Epstein or his people again. No further conferences were arranged, at least with me involved….
Few things are as debated at the moment in America as Immigration, and while there are a myriad of opinions about how we should handle it, I don’t think anyone expected Superman to jump into the fray. That’s exactly what DC did though when Superman got a Twitter account, and the hero didn’t waste any time establishing who he is and what he’s always been about. DC shared a video featuring a classic Superman PSA from 1960 titled Lend A Friendly Hand, which put a spotlight on two children looking down on another child because he is a refugee, and Superman breaks down what’s wrong with their thinking.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Meow Wolf–Awakening Creativity for the Masses” on Vimeo is
an interview with Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek where he talks about Meow Wolf’s
nethods of creating art and how they can inspire creativity ine everyone who
experiences a Meow Wolf production.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cliff Ramshaw, Martin
Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James
Bacon, James Davis Nicoll, Bonnie McDaniel, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
When the ship in which they are traveling is captured by Carpagamon island raiders, Temple sorcerer Penric and his resident demon Desdemona find their life complicated by two young orphans, Lencia and Seuka Corva, far from home and searching for their missing father. Pen and Des will need all their combined talents of mind and magic to unravel the mysteries of the sisters and escape from the pirate stronghold.
This novella follows about a year after the events of “The Prisoner of Limnos”.
E-publication before the end of the month, I’m pretty sure; this week or next, maybe. I still have some last polishing and fretting to do on the text file, and then there is the vexing question of a map.
(2) GAINING INSIGHT. Jonathan LaForce advises writers
looking to base their stories on lived experience “How
to Talk with Veterans” at Mad Genius Club.
Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies. In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that road.
This project started because I was wrong. My initial premise was that speculative fiction relegated women “of a certain age” to very specific roles: the crone, the wise woman, the meddling mother, the friendly innkeep. This seemed such an obvious truth that it was barely even worth stating. We’ve seen these women all our lives, in fairy tales and epic fantasy, and of course in Terry Pratchett’s wonderful parodies of old women in all of their cliched roles.
However, when pressed, I discovered that there was one place where we do not see these women: in science fiction novels. Old women are a rarity in science fiction and when they do exist, they inhabit a very different space. We don’t have innkeeps, we have immortals. We don’t have crazy cat ladies, we have body snatchers. There’s a distinct lack of old ladies who love solving cozy mysteries, but we do have a greater than-normal number of politicians.
“I was born with the devil in me.” So said H.H. Holmes, one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Holmes began construction of his so-called hotel as Chicago was gearing up for the 1893 World’s Fair. Far from your normal bed and breakfast, the building included soundproofed rooms, maze-like hallways and, in the basement, a crematorium and acid vats. Although the number of people he killed there is unknown, it was more than enough to give the building a different name—“The Murder Castle.”
…But perhaps the oddest Moon-related cultural experience was one that happened on the occasion of the launch of Apollo 17, in December 1972, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. It was a Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s ship, the S.S. Statendam, and anyone with the money for a ticket could mingle with NBC newsman Hugh Downs, science fiction legends Isaac Asimov and Ben Bova, novelist Katherine Anne Porter, and yes, Norman Mailer himself. This curious collection of luminaries also organized events and panels as part of the ship’s entertainment. The cruise lasted almost as long as the Apollo 17 mission itself: nine days, starting with a seaborne view of Apollo 17’s launch from seven miles off Cape Kennedy….
(6) DECALCOMANIA. The family that cosplays
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 7, 1907 — Robert Heinlein. So what do you like by him? I’m very fond of The Moon is A Harsh Mistress. And I like Starship Troopers despite the baggage around it. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is on my occasional re-read list as I find a fun read in a way that Friday isn’t. Time Enough for Love is, errr, self-indulgent in the extreme. Fun though. (Died 1988.)
Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. After a four year run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his fist roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
Born July 7, 1931 — David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The Belgariad, The Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. They’ve written but one non-sriracha novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
Born July 7, 1948 — Kathy Reichs, 71. Author of the Temperance Brennan series which might be genre adjacent, she’s also the author of Virals, a YA series about a group of a young adults with minor super powers.
Born July 7, 1959 — Billy Campbell, 60. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. BTW, IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and Amazon has it for a mere twenty-five bucks!
Born July 7, 1968 — Jeff VanderMeer, 51. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not. I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.
Born July 7, 1969 — Cree Summer, 50. Voice performer in myriad series such as as Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s playing a number of the cast in the current Young Justice series including Madame Xanadu and Aquagirl.
Born July 7, 1987 — V. E. Schwab, 32. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range is there when an important discovery is made about the dark side of the moon.
Soon in Dublin the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards will be revealed, including the winners of the Retro Hugo Awards for science fiction published in 1943. This year unfortunately there is no voters packet for the Retro Hugos. However most of the publications in which the finalists appeared are available on the Internet Archive, where they can be read online or downloaded by Hugo Award voters. See below for links to where the various works can be found. Voting closes at midnight on 31July, so get reading.
(10) NOW IN BLACK AND WHITE. Missed out on this when it
first came around in 2015 – a takeoff on “Batman v Superman” courtesy of a “Vulture Remix” of
two 1940s serials.
These days, superhero movies are all about bombast — take, for example, the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” But there was a simpler time, when superheroes looked terrible and were more charming than scary. We imagine what a Batman/Superman matchup would’ve looked like in the era of the first serial films about the characters from way back in the middle of the century.
Revoked White House credentials, the mysterious death of a journalist and a conspiracy to profit from the separation of migrant families at the border. This looks like a job for … Lois Lane, the Daily Planet reporter.
The character, who, like Superman and Clark Kent, first appeared in 1939, is starring in a 12-issue comic book series that begins on Wednesday. The story, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Mike Perkins, focuses on Lois Lane as she tries to find out more about the death of Mariska Voronova, a journalist who had been critical of the Kremlin.
(12) NOTES FROM SPIKECON. David Doering sent a couple of
short news items from the NASFiC/Westercon:
Joy Day’s fabulous ASFA award, a vibrant spherical interpretation of a Black Hole, got lost enroute to Layton in the Black Hole of the USPS…
While I hoped for one or more of our locals who were nominated to win, but those that did were very worthy.
Sadly, not one winner was in attendance. We need to elevate the appreciation of art. Cover art and illustrations are often the cause of us picking up a book or magazine in the first place.
I still associate Lord of the Rings with the gum drop tree cover art from 1965…
this morning, Dave was able to check another box on his fannish bucket list:
I earned the dubious honor tonight of having our room party shutdown for being too noisy. Who knew that LTUE and World Fantasy crowd could be so boistrous?
(13) ALSO SEEN AT SPIKECON. Tanglwyst de Holloway was encouraged by John Hertz to share this photo, as it was the first time John had seen it done:
His latest, “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell,” is another piece of evidence in the anti-Matrix case: a staggering feat of imagination, intelligence and stamina. For long stretches, at least. Between those long stretches, there are sections that, while never uninteresting, are somewhat less successful. To expect any different, especially in a work of this length, would be to hold it to an impossible standard. Somewhere in this 900-page book is a 600-page book. One that has the same story, but weighs less. Without those 300 pages, though, it wouldn’t be Neal Stephenson. It’s not possible to separate the essential from the decorative. Nor would we want that, even if it were. Not only do his fans not mind the extra — it’s what we came for.
“Unlike some of my hard science fiction books, such as ‘Seveneves’—where I sweated the details of orbits, rocket engines, etc.—‘Fall’ is meant to be read as more of a fable,” Stephenson explains. “I’m not making any pretense in the book that the neuroscience and computer science are plausible. My approach was to take a particular way of thinking around brains and the uploading of human consciousness into digital form, and just say, ‘Suppose this is all true; let’s run with it and see where it takes us on a pure storytelling level.’”
Enchanted Designs Limited miners digging at Alberta’s Bearpaw Formation for rainbow-shaded ammolite gemstones, which are created by the fossilized shells of extinct marine mollusks called ammonites, discovered the nearly complete remains of the “T-rex of the Seas” in soft black-shale mudstone. The impressive specimen measured in at between 20 and 23 feet long.
(16) PITCH MEETINGS. Beware spoilers in ScreenRant’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home Pitch Meeting.”
Marvel Studios wrapped up Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame — except wait no, they squeezed another Spider-Man movie in there before closing the curtains. Spider-Man: Far From Home is Tom Holland’s second “solo” outing as Peter Parker, and the character is still heavily influenced by the recently departed Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Far From Home raises a lot of questions. Like what exactly is Mysterio’s long-term plan? What’s going on with all the other living Avengers? How does Spider-Man get his Peter Tingle back? Why are the mid-credits and post-credits scenes the most memorable parts of this film? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to Spider-Man: Far From Home! It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience!
[Thanks to JJ, Cat
Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Nicholas Whyte, Tanglwyst de Holloway, Alan Baumler,
Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Carl
Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) MCFARLAND ANNIVERSARY SALE. The late Fred Patten’s Furry Tales (finished
in summer 2018) is available for preorder from McFarland
Fans will also be interested to discover that McFarland
Books is celebrating their 40th
anniversary by offering all their books at a 25% discount through June 30. Use
the code —
We’re turning 40, and we’re celebrating with a special fortieth anniversary sale! Through June 30, get a 25% discount on ALL books when you use the code ANN2019. Thank you for supporting our first 40 years—we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you.
Right, now I get it. A horror series that you can only watch in total darkness. Well, not total darkness, because electric lights exist now, remember.
So it is a horror series that you can watch in the brightest surroundings imaginable? Yes, but only if the sun has set outside.
I still don’t see the point. I don’t expect you to. This is cutting edge. Spielberg After Dark has untapped a brand-new way of watching TV. This might only be the start.
How so? Well, if the technology exists to prevent you from watching something until a certain time of day, think of the potential. Maybe the next big show after Spielberg After Dark will be Spielberg First Thing in the Morning.
Or Spielberg on a Thursday Lunchtime. Why not go even further? Why not have a show that can’t be watched until you’re at a specific location? Spielberg in Gloucestershire, maybe.
…And considering how expensive it is, it must be a massive benefit just to survive. And yet, not only has it survived, it’s taken over the planet. And still we cannot discern any survival advantage that consciousness gives us. It seems to cost a ton with literally no benefit.
(aside: this is the reason we regularly see Science Fiction with advanced non-conscious aliens. It seems intuitively obvious that a non-conscious species would have a huge advantage over a conscious one, and contact with one would lead to our quick extinction. This is also how the Harrises fell into the “the answer must be that consciousness is a fundamental property of physics” trap.)
By coincidence, at about this same time Scott Alexander posted his review of “The Secret of Our Success”. A truly fantastic book which argues, in short, that our species survives and thrives due not to our individual intellect and reasoning ability (which isn’t even up to the job of keeping us from starving to death in a friendly environment overflowing with natural resources and food), but due to the creation and transmission of cultural knowledge. Read Scott’s review at the very least, and pick up the book if you can, you won’t regret it.
Wherein it occurred to me – perhaps consciousness it necessary for culture….
The city of Anaheim has approved a handful of building permits for projects such as a bathroom overhaul, a retail outlet, a microbrewery, a character meet-and-greet area, plus improvements to behind-the-scenes buildings
The construction permits assess the value of the work so far at more than $14 million.
One of the permits, approved Wednesday, allows for a 2,071-square-foot merchandise outlet, with three attached canopies. In comparison, the average home in the Western U.S. is 1,800 square feet, according to census data.
(6) REFROZEN. Check out the official
trailer for Frozen 2, and see the film in theaters November 22.
Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough.
…In The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (Arrow Books, 2011), Sophie Kingshill describes folk tales as a way of personifying the forces of nature, a way of helping people understand the world and giving them some control over their surroundings and circumstances.
Are crime thrillers our new folklore?
It’s my belief that today’s readers want the same things from a story as their ancestors did, long before the invention of the written word. Huddled around a fire in a dark cave, our forebears must have thrilled to tales of light and dark, of good and evil, of life and death. Such things lie beyond the safe circle of the firelight. Who knows what dwells out there, in the dark? Humans are capricious. We enjoy being afraid when the threat is only in our imaginations…
…Ray Bradbury wanted to be portrayed as his all-time favorite character from the canon of American literature: Captain Ahab from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. By the way, Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s adaptation of Melville’s novel on the silver screen, featuring Gregory Peck cast as Ahab. Ray thought he could do a better job.
If the harpoon doesn’t look exactly true to form, it’s because my stylist, Shari Geffen, and I had less than a day to come up with all of the props we would need to make Ray up like Ahab. But Shari was a genius. She made a reasonable facsimile of a harpoon out of found material and got the rest of the props and costume from, I think, Western Costume, a rental company catering to the movie and television industries in Hollywood. Lisa-Ann Pedrianna, our makeup artist, painted a collodion scar wickedly down the side of Ray’s face and attached the beard.
Being part whale himself, with his prothesis fashioned from the jaw of another sperm whale, to replace the leg that Moby Dick chomped off, and mythically sanctified by fire when a lightning bolt struck his face (rumored to run down the length of his body), Ahab was nuts.
…The whalebone peg leg required Ray to endure having his ankle cinched up behind his back and tied with a rope around his waist. No Photoshop in those days. He stood that way for several hours! Then, to show off to his wife, he hopped into a cab?—?literally, of course?—?and rode home that way. The cabbie returned the costume and the peg leg the next day.
(10) HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP. Nerdrotic says these are the
questions that match its answers: “Star
Trek Discovery’s Kurtzman Out? Picard Testing Poorly?”
Rumors keep coming in from behind the scenes at CBS’ Star Trek Discovery and Star Trek Picard. We have heard Netflix rejected Picard and now we hear the test screenings are being received poorly. Star Trek Discovery season 3 may be in question and on top of all of this my insider tells me CBS is done with Alex Kurtzman.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 12, 1987 — Predator was released on this day.
June 12, 2012 — Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope was released
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 12, 1924 — Frank Kelly. All of his short fiction was written in the Thirties for Astounding Science Fiction and Wonder Stories. The stories remained uncollected until they were published as Starship Invincible: Science Fiction Stories of the 30s. He continues to be remembered in Fandom and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996. Starship Invincible is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.)
Born June 12, 1930 — Jim Nabors. Fum on The Lost Saucer, a mid-Sixties series that lasted sixteen episodes about two friendly time-travelling androids from the year 2369 named Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) who land their UFO on Earth. (Died 2017.)
Born June 12, 1940 — Mary Turzillo, 79. Best known for her short stories of which she has written over forty. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her story “Mars is No Place for Children”. She has written several books of criticism under the name Mary T. Brizzi including the Reader’s Guide to Philip José Farmer and the Reader’s Guide to Anne McCaffrey. There’s an Analog interview with her here.
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.)
Born June 12, 1953 — Tess Gerritsen, 66. ISFDB lists her as genre so I’ll include her even though I’m ambivalent on her being so. They’ve got one novel from the Jane Rizzoli series, The Mephisto Club, and three stand-alone novels (Gravity, Playing with Fire and The Bone Garden). All save Gravity couldbe considered conventional thrillers devoid of genre elements.
Born June 12, 1964 — Dave Stone, 55. Writer of media tie-ins including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories, and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing, plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction.
Born June 12, 1968 — Marcel Theroux, 51. Author of The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: A Paper Chase, and his Strange Bodies novel won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His Far North is a sf novel set in the Siberian taiga. Yes, that’s a novel I want to read.
Born June 12, 1970 — Claudia Gray, 49. She’s best known for her Evernight series, but has several more series as well, including the Spellcaster series and the Constellation Trilogy. In addition, she’s written a number of Star Wars novels — Star Wars: Lost Stars, Star Wars: Bloodline, Leia, Princess of Alderaan and Star Wars: Master and Aprentice.
The release of these X-Wing and R2D2-inspired snacks is perfectly timed with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. The Force is far-reaching with these! Get an intergalatic sugar rush before you set out for the day or satisfy your sweet tooth as you’re heading home. Do or doughnut, there is no try.
(15) THE COW JUMPED. This is nothing like one of Van Vogt’s
“wheels within wheels” stories, although it does involve a wheel that went to
orbit, as Gastro Obscura reminds readers in “SpaceX
…In 2010, the rocket venture formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced a “secret payload” aboard the maiden flight of their Dragon spacecraft. Fearing the secret cheese would distract press from the actual point of the mission, Musk refrained from revealing anything about it until the project was completed.
The Dragon’s mission marked the first time a space capsule developed by a private company was launched into orbit and successfully returned to Earth. In a feat previously accomplished by only six government space agencies, the cone-shaped capsule reentered the atmosphere and emerged from its Pacific Ocean splashdown intact. Only then did Musk reveal that a wheel of Le Brouère had hitched a ride, circling Earth twice on its journey.
Chris Rose says, “I wish I could find somewhere to buy it, but if
someone’s near Hawthorne CA I’d love to get a report. Maybe Scott Edelman can
eat the sciffy?”
(16) DEADLY CREDENTIALS. Assassin’s
Kittens – the fluffy hazard of the Assassin’s Creed! (From 2014.)
Before I start, though, I have some general comments. There are too many categories and/or too many finalists in each category. And having a Retro Hugo ballot in a given year makes this totally ludicrous.
The Hugo voting method works best (or perhaps works only at all) when the voter ranks every finalist in a given category. Currently this means that a voter needs to read six novels, six novellas, six novelettes, and six short stories to vote on just the fiction categories. Oh, wait, there are also six series. Actually, that category alone is impossible for most voters–certainly impossible in the time between when the finalists are announced and when the ballots are due.
…The firm’s plan for Parkorman, a space located six miles north of Istanbul’s bustling city center, is a series of several different zones that come together in creating an experience that would otherwise not be possible in traditional, densely packed spaces. First, at the park’s entrance, is the Plaza. Here, visitors can easily gather, sit, or lie down on the lawn, much like a traditional park. From there the environment opens to a segment dubbed ‘The Loop,’ where visitors can enjoy a series of swings and hammocks situated above the park floor. ‘The Chords,’ another area on the grounds, invites people to wander through a footpath that twists around tree trunks, giving the park a signature look unique from any other public park in the world. “The initial idea with ‘The Chords’ was to make it possible to experience nature in ways we don’t typically have,” says Dror Benshetrit, head of the firm that bears his name. “The elevated pathway creates a new interaction with trees at different latitudes.”
Fraser also remembers really loving Abrams’s script, which imagined a world in which Krypton didn’t explode. Instead, young Kal-El is sent to Earth by his father, Jor-El, to avoid a raging civil war on his homeworld. Once he grows up into Superman, his adopted planet is then visited by a group of war-mongering Kryptonians — led by his cousin Ty-Zor — who kills the would-be champion. But the Man of Steel bounces back to life and plans take the fight to Krypton in a potential sequel. Given the radical changes in store, Warner Bros. tried to keep Flyby details from leaking to the public. “The script was printed on crimson paper with black ink so it couldn’t be photocopied,” Fraser remembers. “I was allowed to sit in an office and read it for an hour. It was like a covert operation.”
Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell based the musical on her own concept album of the same name, which reinterprets the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, about the son of Apollo, who falls in love with Eurydice and must journey to the underworld to save her. Mitchell wrote the music, lyrics and book herself, reimagining the ancient Greek tale, set in the US during the Great Depression.
‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ will open at the Manchester Opera House on February 20, 2020, and will run for 12 weeks, before transferring to London’s West End. Provided it goes well, presumably it will then be brought to the US. Tickets to the Manchester shows are already on sale.
The YouTube video introduces the
number in these words:
GREAT SCOTT! Turn your flux capacitor on and get ready for 1.21 gigawatts of excitement… Back To The Future – Musical is gonna change musical history at the Manchester Opera House for 12 weeks only from 20 February 2020. From Back To the Future’s original creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and the combined eight-time Grammy Award-winning pairing of Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard will send you on an electrifying ride through time with an all-new score alongside the movie’s iconic hits, including The Power of Love, Johnny B Goode, Earth Angel and Back in Time!
[Thanks to Chris Rose, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ,
John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern,
Michael Toman, Brian Z, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]