Narrator Sura Siu will be a fresh voice for many listeners, and her wonderfully subdued narration proves perfect for portraying Klara, the all-too-observant “AF” (artificial friend) purchased by a mother for her ailing child. Assigned to look after Josie, Klara slowly discovers she is being groomed to be the failing child’s replacement. Siu conveys a range of contrasting voices, and in this challenging assignment, she proves herself a performer of rare grace, subtlety, and virtuosity whose haunting portrayal of Ishiguro’s more than human main character will linger in listeners’ minds for days.
Hear from Sura Siu herself on the making of Klara And The Sun:
Xe Sands narrates with a quiet tension that suits the slow creep of this sci-fi domestic thriller. Evelyn is an accomplished scientist in the field of cloning human adults, although her victories feel bittersweet. Her husband, Nathan, is having an affair, but not with just anyone—Nathan has used Evelyn’s own research techniques to create a domestic and illegal clone of Evelyn herself. Sands delivers all the slowly building suspense with her smooth first-person narration as the author executes plot twists that make for a satisfying, if disturbing, story.
by Michael Mammay | Read by R.C. Bray
[Harper Audio | 10 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
Narrator R.C. Bray’s commanding voice perfectly suits this story of a disgraced colonel and a CEO’s missing daughter. Carl Butler hoped to live out his days on an ignored planet but agrees to take on what should be a simple case: finding a missing daughter. The story’s twists and turns build intrigue as Bray keeps the plot thundering forward. Both fans of the series and newcomers will fall under Bray’s spell as he delivers this relatively self-contained, well-plotted sci-fi adventure.
D (A TALE OF TWO WORLDS)
by Michel Faber | Read by Isabel Adomakah Young
[Harper Audio | 6.75 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
Isabel Adomakah Young shines as narrator in D, in which she portrays an orphan who journeys into a pocket universe (with a magical sphinx) to hunt down the fiend who’s absconded with the letter “d.” Young’s narration strikes a remarkable balance between a soothing lyricism and a playfulness that piques interest. She brings an earnestness that will have listeners rooting for the main character and a whimsy that brings to life a range of magical creatures. Listeners will appreciate the voice-acting chops it takes to effectively rea’ a manuscript that ‘osen’t inclu’e the letter __.
by Tananarive Due | Read by Tananarive Due, Robin Miles, Janina Edwards
This collection of 15 short stories by award-winning author Tananarive Due, first published in 2015 and given a fresh recording, spans several genres, including the supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and futurism. The author herself narrates several and is joined for the rest by practiced narrators Robin Miles and Janina Edwards, reading alternating stories. Three of the stories are set in the haunted fictional town of Gracetown, Florida, while three others are part of an apocalyptic trilogy featuring a raging virus.
A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS
by H.G. Parry | Read by Andrew Kingston
[Hachette Audio | 21 hrs.] Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
An alternate history of the eighteenth century weaves together the story of the slave rebellion in Haiti, the French Revolution, and the abolitionist movement in England—all wrapped in an undercurrent of magic. Andrew Kingston assumes subtle accents for each setting, and shows the rapport and friendships among many of the characters, enhancing the ways that events are intertwined. Parry makes the magic seem natural and an integral part of each political climate as he sets the stage for a sequel.
“Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks Spring 2021” was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience.
… We had not intended to announce anything yet, to be sure. Development is a long and uncertain process. Thousands of shows are pitched, hundreds of pilots are written, dozens of pilots are filmed, but only a very few of them ever get greenlit to series. There is a reason that Hollywood insiders call it “development hell.” And what’s the point of announcing projects that might never make it to air? That’s why HBO — like most other networks and streamers — prefers to keep these things quiet.
Even so, even so… you cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket, so we all keep playing.
…My career in television started in 1985 when I adapted Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” for THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It was the first script of mine ever to be filmed (starring Richard Kiley and Jenny Agutter and a stuntman whose nose got cut off during the swordfight). Roger was a friend, a mentor, and one of the greatest science fiction writers who ever lived. He died in 1995, but his work will live for so long as people read SF and fantasy. It was an honor to be able to bring one of his stories to television. And now I am hoping we will be able to do it again.
I pitched ROADMARKS to HBO last year — along with four other SF and fantasy works (by various other writers) that I thought had the makings of great shows. They all had (and have) lots of potential, but ROADMARKS was the one they responded to….
…The big idea of Transgressions of Power is that a human being, in the moment of action, may not know what the significance of their choices might be; they might not be in a position of power that allows for drastic change; but their choices and actions matter.
(3) FRY’S CLOSING. [Item by Betsy Hanes Perry.] Fry’s was where, in Northern California, you went to look for components; later it branched out into computers (of course!), computer components, large appliances. It used to stock snacks as a loss-leader to get geeks to come in for casual shopping.
…If you’re not familiar: Every Fry’s store has a theme and elaborate decorations to go along with it. In the Bay Area, the San Jose store “pays tribute to the first astronomers, the Mayans, with settings from Chichen Itza,” complete with a massive temple at the entrance, palm trees between shelves and hidden speakers that play the sounds of birds chirping through the parking lot. Fremont is the “1893 World’s Fair,” where a Tesla coil at the center of the store fires off every hour. Sunnyvale is “the history of Silicon Valley” and the Palo Alto store was “Wild West.” (Sadly, the Palo Alto store rode into the sunset earlier this year.)
[Editor’s postscript.] The Fry’s in Burbank near where I used to live had an explicitly Fifties sci-fi alien invasion theme. It was awesome.
…FOSTER: We met at a reading. I didn’t really get a proper meet with Tony. So we’re sitting across from each other, and he launches in, and we start the reading. And I was just petrified. [Laughs.] I was kind of too scared to talk to him after that.
He did another movie, and I started the film without him. I still kept that kind of hold-your-breath feeling about the character just from that first reading. Jonathan wanted to use this technique that Hitchcock talked about, where you have the actors use the camera as the other person. And I think there was something really interesting about that for the film, but that also meant that Tony and I couldn’t see each other. For a lot of the close-ups, we were looking into a camera lens and the other person was just a voice in the background. And—remember?—they had to lock you into the glass prison cell. So he would do a whole day inside the prison cell, and they wouldn’t let him out. We’d just do his side. And then the next day, we’d do my side.
HOPKINS: Also, they discovered before we started filming that there would be a problem if there were bars on the prison cell for left and right eyelines. So the designer—it was Kristi Zea—came up with a Perspex thing, which makes it even more frightening, because he’s like a tarantula in a bottle. No visual borderline between the two. It was more terrifying, because it’s a dangerous creature in a bottle who can do anything. He could break the glass….
Pretty much on a daily basis, I get asked on social media whether there will ever be a sequel to [insert one of my books/series here]. To reduce the amount of typing that I have to do each time this is asked, I now present The Canonical Sequel FAQ, which will tell you — at a glance! — whether you can expect a sequel to whatever book it is that you are hoping to have a sequel to. This will be updated from time to time.
… One of Lewis’ key terran fictional places is “Edgestow,” the home of Bragdon Wood, Bracton College, and the literary centre of the events in That Hideous Strength. In my reading about Lewis and Arthurian literature, I happened upon Margaret Hannay’s piece, which included a map of “The Country Around Edgestow” by artist Tim Kirk.…
…Doctor Who Magazine’s Emily Cook has organised most of the watchalongs so far, and announced that they would be coming to an end this month. She tweeted the news by saying, “Everything has its time, and everything ends… I’ll be announcing the final Tweetalong later this afternoon!”
She later followed up with a tweet that read, “Believe it or not, we’ve been doing Doctor Who Lockdown for almost a year now! This may be the last Tweetalong, but we’re going to end with a SPECTACULAR watch party.
“And here comes our final Tweetalong… A TRIPLE BILL! Sunday 28th February 6pm (GMT), UTOPIA 7pm (GMT), THE SOUND OF DRUMS 8pm (GMT), LAST OF THE TIME LORDS. Watch with fans around the world. Join in with the hashtag #YANA”
If you haven’t participated in the event before, the idea is that fans from all over the world re-watch classic episodes at exactly the same time, tweeting their reactions and comments along the way.
(8) CATCH AND SELL ‘EM ALL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 17 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses the rise in value of rare Pokemon cards.
Today, a Chansey (Pokemon card) could be worth around $3,000. That’s a great deal less than the rare holographic Blastoise which sold at auction last month for $360,000, roughly the price of a brand-new Ferrari. In 2021, their 25th year of existence, Pokemon cards are enjoying a resurgence in popularity almost matching their late-1990s heyday.
This is partly down to the pandemic, which has left many stuck at home with extra disposable income, to take up a new hobby that combines investment with a waft of nostalgia. Streaming platforms YouTube and Twitch have cultivated communities of Pokemon card traders such as Leonhart, who quit his job as a lawyer to open card packs full-time on YouTube (the sealed packs contain a random selection of cards which could be precious or worthless), and streaming star Logan Paul, who says he has spent $2m on his card addiction.
Octavia Butler seemed almost to belong to the future. She was the first Black woman to receive the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Those are the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing. She was the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur genius grant. She was prolific and prophetic from the 1970s until her death in 2006. Here’s Laine Kaplan-Levenson from NPR’s history show Throughline.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
OCTAVIA BUTLER: I don’t recall ever having wanted desperately to be a Black woman science fiction writer. I wanted to be a writer.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 24, 1952 — On this day in 1952, Aladdin And His Lamp premiered. It was directed by Lew Landers, and starred Johnny Sands and Patricia Medina. Filming was finished in less than a week. It was originally produced for a television audience, then Allied Artists picked up the film and added additional footage for a theatrical release. You can see this short film here. It is not one of the three Aladdin And His Lamp filmsthat are rated at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 24, 1786 – Wilhelm Grimm. With older brother Jacob (1785-1863) assembled and published the collection known to us as Grimms’ Fairy Tales (1812). Loved music; good story-teller; animated, jovial fellow. The Grimms weren’t the authors, so I can’t call them seminal, but they sure were vital. (Died 1859) [JH]
Born February 24, 1909 — August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like). Let’s not overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.) (CE)
Born February 24, 1921 – Richard Powers. Frank R. Paul Award. SF Hall of Fame. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Six hundred sixty covers, seventy interiors. Artbooks Spacetimewarp Paintings; The Art of Richard Powers. Our great pioneer of illustration that was not representation. You can see it start here with a 1950 cover (his first?) for Pebble in the Sky. By 1956 he did this for To Live Forever. By 1963 he was here for Budrys’ Inferno. Here is the Sep 78 Analog. Here is the Program Book for Chicon V the 49th Worldcon, 1991 – where he was Guest of Honor; before that, LoneStarCon I the 3rd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Not one Chesley, not one Hugo. Did we appreciate him? Do we now? (Died 1996) [JH]
Born February 24, 1933 — Verlyn Flieger, 88. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World, A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories. (CE)
Born February 24, 1941 – Sam Lundwall, age 80. Author, critic, translator, editor, publisher; television producer; cartoonist; photographer; singer. Organized Scancon 76 (Stockholm); Guest of Honor at Eurocon 9 (Zagreb), 21 (Dortmund). Translated his 1969 book on SF from Swedish into English as SF, What It’s All About (1971). SF, an Illustrated History (1978). Penguin World Omnibus of SF (1986) with Brian Aldiss. More nonfiction in Swedish about SF. A score of novels (four available in English), seven shorter stories (four). Reporter for Locus. Long thought by many the personification of SF in Sweden, idiosyncrasies (how not?) and all. [JH]
Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos, 74. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt In Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the nearly entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. He was made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka. ( CE)
Born February 24, 1951 — Helen Shaver, 70. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror. She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a super series indeed. (CE)
Born February 24, 1966 — Billy Zane, 55. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom. ( CE)
Born February 24, 1968 — Martin Day, 53. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seventh Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers. (CE)
Born February 24, 1975 – Socorro Acioli, age 46. A score of books; Head of the Saint is available in English. Author, teacher, translator. “I collect bookmarks and coffee makers. I like old photos, old houses, and things that no longer exist. In the same measure [na mesma medida], I love technology.” [JH]
Born February 24, 1979 – C.J. Harper, age 42. Two novels for us, also “funny books for teens under the name Candy Harper…. attended six different schools, but that honestly had very little to do with an early interest in explosives”; she’s been “a bookseller, a teacher and the person who puts those little stickers on apples”; has read Vanity Fair, Gone With the Wind, Of Mice and Men, David Copperfield. [JH]
Born February 24, 1991 – Daryl Qilin Yam, age 30. One novel; co-editor of SingPoWriMo (i.e. Singapore). Studied at Univ. Warwick, Univ. Tôkyô. Stageplay producer at non-profit collective Take Off Productions. On the board of directors of literary charity Sing Lit Station. “I am first and foremost a writer of fiction and poetry … photography … is a field in which I remain an amateur. But … we live in a world that loves images…. I have a fondness for the backs of people (facial expressions are too didactic for my taste), and I like to frame my subjects in situations where highlights and shadows are nicely balanced.” [JH]
(12) PRESERVING WORLDS. Here’s a new Diamond Bay Press podcast on the classic online gaming environments and virtual worlds that have become virtual ghost towns. It’s based on a new video documentary series called Preserving Worlds, which is available for free on the streaming service called Means.tv.
A conversation between Lex Berman and Derek Murphy.
Derek Murphy is the co-director, with Mitchel Zemil, of the Preserving Worlds series, and the documentary film Sarasota, Half in Dream.
Recorded with Zencastr from Cambridge and Brighton, MA on 18th February, 2021.
what if the ghost of a player of a dead game, was telling us what it was all like?
… A lot of the thrill these days has been at Marvel, as some of their comics are reaching unparalleled new levels of excellence. For instance, the work of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee on both Amazing Spider-Man and the “Dr. Strange” strip in Strange Tales has been outstanding. Peter Parker has graduated high school and enrolled at Empire State University in Spider-Man. Pete seems to be shedding his nature as a nebbish since he joined college, making new friends while having new (and more sophisticated) problems. The three-part “Master Planner” saga which ended in ASM #33 was a storyline nonpareil, a thrill a minute journey with a spectacular denouement. (I’m including the payoff below, but please try to find all these issues if you can, because the leadup is just as spectacular).
(14) ANOTHERGOOD QUESTION. Alexandra Erin wonders something —
(15) JPL’S TRICKSTERS. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] Remember that on the last Rover they would not allow JPL to put a JPL plaque on it so they used Morse Code on the wheels that spelled out JPL. Holes that were “designed” to drain sand as it moved about.
The huge parachute used by NASA’s Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team.
Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission’s headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was “super fun,” he said Tuesday.
Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday….
(17) THE DIRTY DOZEN PLUS THREE. 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a highly scientific list of the fifteen “Worst Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made”. Well, at least highly-less-pulled-out-of-somebody’s-butt-than-usual for a listicle.
…To determine the worst sci-fi movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Rotten Tomatoes. We created an index based on the average critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the average audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and the average user rating from IMDb. We only considered feature films with at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews, 10 Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user reviews…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: ‘Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Earthblood’” Fandom Games says you play a werewolf fighting evil corporation Endron, “which doesn’t even pretend not to be Enron with a D” but is so dumb on security that it has ventilator shafts with doggy doors so werewolves can pass through them.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Mlex, John King Tarpinian, Betsy Hanes Perry, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Gadi Evron, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) WOMEN AUTHORS REDISCOVERED. One of the books Danielle Trussoni reviews for the New York Times in “Grisly Slabs of Gothic Horror” is the Lisa Morton / Leslie Klinger collection Weird Women:
In the introduction to WEIRD WOMEN: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers 1852-1923 (Pegasus, 384 pp., $25.95), the editors Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger write that horror often seems to be a “genre bereft of female writers.” Here they set out to correct that misperception, highlighting stories by women writers whose work has fallen into obscurity.
One of my favorite stories in this excellent collection is by the British novelist Marie Corelli (1855-1924). A popular author in her day, she regularly outsold her contemporaries Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle, yet her work has all but disappeared from print. Her story, “The Lady With the Carnations,” is a compact masterpiece in which a woman is drawn to a portrait in the Louvre and begins to encounter the subject of the painting — a lady with carnations — first at the opera and again in Brittany. She concludes that the woman is an illusion, but whether she is real or a figment of her mind doesn’t matter: The narrator carries the scent of carnations with her like a curse.
The pandemic arrived early for Emily Powell, owner of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. The state had one of the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US in February. As she watched more cases pop up across the country, “I felt an increasing sense of panic and crisis,” she said. On March 15, she abruptly closed her stores in the middle of the day. She immediately shrank her staff from 500 to 60 who were “just helping us turn the lights off and put out-of-office messages on the website.” Almost overnight, she shifted her business entirely to online orders.
She’s since been able to bring back around 150 employees, and thanks to a flood of online sales, a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal Small Business Administration, and partial reopenings of her stores, she’s made it this far.
Still, Powell’s and other independent bookstores across the country face an uncertain and undoubtedly difficult future: Government assistance has dried up, foot traffic is still low,…
(3) 2023 WESTERCON BID RESOURCES. The Tempe in 2023 Westercon bid’s website and Facebook page are live.
DC Comics’ long-awaited The Other History of the DC Universe from Oscar-winning writer John Ridley is set to debut next month. io9 spoke with Ridley recently about what it’s been like figuring out how to give fresh voices to an expansive cast characters who, while well-known in certain circles, have been historically marginalized both on the page and in the real world.
In the first issue of Ridley’s The Other History, you’re shown the birth of the modern age of superheroism from the perspective of a young Jefferson Pierce, the man fated to become a world-famous athlete, a teacher, and eventually, the hero Black Lightning. Unlike the Black Lightning we’ve been introduced to in DC’s various other continuities where he frequently works alongside legacy heroes, The Other History’s Jefferson is initially a much younger, angrier man with the firm belief that the world’s superheroes aren’t doing enough to help those in marginalized, overlooked communities like his own. Though Jefferson’s feelings about heroes seem harsh, they’re relatable and give you a sense of his own traumatic history featuring the death of his father and then a lifelong pursuit to be the best, strongest version of himself….
In honor of the late Mythbusters host Grant Imahara, a foundation has been established to empower young people to get involved in science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics.
The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation will provide mentorships, grants, and scholarships to students — regardless of socioeconomic status, race or gender — who demonstrate interest in those areas.
“There are many students, like my son Grant, who need the balance of the technical and the creative, and this is what STEAM is all about,” said Carolyn Imahara, Grant’s mother and Foundation co-founder. “I’m so proud of my son’s career, but I’m equally proud of the work he did mentoring students. He would be thrilled that we plan to continue this, plus much more, through The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation.”
The interplanetary trader River of Stars has been lucky…so far. It works low-profit routes, has little cash to spend on repairs, and neglects maintenance. Eventually maintenance arrears catch up with the craft when a critical pump is disabled by asteroid debris. This setback might not be fatal for a competent crew. Unfortunately for the River of Stars, Captain Hand has assembled one of the least competent crews since the Méduse set off for Africa. This is all that is needed to turn calamity into catastrophe.
Appalling judgment: Captain Hand.
(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
From the Profiles in History Icons & Legends of Hollywood auction catalog John King Tarpinian learned that the helmet worn by Michael Ansara in the Harlan Ellison-scripted Outer Limits episode “The Soldier” was also worn by Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy.
(9) RANDI OBIT. Famed skeptic, magician James Randi, died October 20. The AP profiled his career:
James Randi, a magician who later challenged spoon benders, mind readers and faith healers with such voracity that he became regarded as the country’s foremost skeptic, has died, his foundation announced. He was 92.
The James Randi Educational Foundation confirmed the death, saying simply that its founder succumbed to “age-related causes” on Tuesday.
Entertainer, genius, debunker, atheist ? Randi was them all. He began gaining attention not long after dropping out of high school to join the carnival. As the Amazing Randi, he escaped from a locked coffin submerged in water and from a straitjacket as he dangled over Niagara Falls.
Magical as his feats seemed, Randi concluded his shows around the globe with a simple statement, insisting no otherworldly powers were at play.
“Everything you have seen here is tricks,” he would say. “There is nothing supernatural involved.”…
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
October 25, 1989 — Thirty-one years ago the first part of Doctor Who’s “The Curse of Fenric” aired on BBC. This Seventh Doctor story involved ancient Viking curses, the Ultimata code breaker and vampires from the far future coming together during WW II. Ian Briggs wrote this story. He also wrote the ‘Dragonfire” story which introduced Sophie Aldred as Ace, the main companion to the Seventh Doctor. Briggs would later novelize both stories for the Target Books franchise.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 25, 1881 – Pablo Picasso. The symmetric and invertible year (try it) could hardly be more appropriate to this revolutionary artist. He made this (The Old Guitarist) and this (The Ladies of Avignon). Here he is on Gravity’s Angels (back cover Three Dancers, front cover Three Musicians). Here he is on The Cyberiad. (Died 1973) [JH]
Born October 25, 1909 — Whit Bissell. You most likely know him as Station Manager Lurry on “The Trouble With Tribbles”, but his major contribution to the SFF genre was being in all thirty episodes of The Time Tunnel as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk. He also did one-offs on The Invaders, I Dream of Jeannie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Science Fiction Theater, The Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits. And yes, in the Time Machine film. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. He shows up in a number of genre films, some well-known such as Legend and Willow, some not so well known such as the Thirties Alice in Wonderland where he was the White Pawn and Bride of Frankenstein. It’s worth noting that he’s in Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings as Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born October 25, 1932 – Kanamori Tôru, 88. Here is Captain Future and the Seven Space Stones. Here is The Emerald Elephant Gambit. Here is Run, the Spearmaker. Here is David Bull’s page about Kanamori-sensei’s Star Trek art. [JH]
Born October 25, 1939 – Fred Marcellino. Yale man. Five dozen covers, half a dozen interiors for us; much else. Began as an abstract-expressionist; record jackets for Capitol, Decca, PolyGram; fifteen years a mainstream book-jacket designer at 40 jackets a year; then children’s books. Here is The Handmaid’s Tale. Here is The Bonfire of the Vanities. Here is World’s End. Here is Dragondrums. His Puss in Boots won a Caldecott Honor. Here is The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Wrote and illustrated I, Crocodile. (Died 2001) [JH]
Born October 25, 1971 — Elif Safak, 49. Turkish writer not currently under arrest though considered an opponent of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. She’s got two genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben) and10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. Note: no diacritic marks as WordPress won’t do them properly. (CE)
Born October 25, 1940 – Janet Fox. Author of prose and poetry, founder and sometimes editor of Scavenger’s Newsletter growing from the Small Press & Writers Organization of which she’d been secretary-treasurer. Wrote all the Scorpio novels but the first, under a house name. Ninety shorter stories, as many poems. Taught English and foreign languages at Osage City High School. Collections A Witch’s Dozen; Not in Kansas (though she was born and died there). (Died 2009) [JH]
Born October 25, 1955 — Gale Anne Hurd, 65. Her first genre work was as Corman’s production manager on Battle beyond the Stars.(A decent 42% among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) From there, we’ve such films as Æon Flux, the Terminator franchise, Aliens, Alien Nation, Tremors, Hulk and two of the Punisher films to name just some of her genre work. (CE)
Born October 25, 1960 – June Brigman, 60. Five covers (with husband Roy Richardson), half a dozen interiors. Co-created preteen superheroes Power Pack; some work for DC Comics, more for Marvel. Illustrated and colored Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Drew Brenda Starr 1995-2011; now drawing Mary Worth. Inkpot Award. Here is Trapped in Time. Here is Power Pack Grow Up!Here is a 2016 birthday poster from Tampa Bay Comic-Con. Here is a Wonder Woman monochrome. Here are Mr. Boometrix (at left) and Jerry O’Leary. Here is Lonesome Dove. [JH]
Born October 25, 1963 — John Gregory Betancourt, 57. Writer best known most likely for his work In Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star Trek, Hercules, Robert Silverberg’s Time Tours, Dr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Adventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. (CE)
Born October 25, 1982 – Victoria Francés, 38. Wider known since the XII Saló del Manga, Barcelona (2006). Favole Trilogy (see Integral Favole, 2011), Misty Circus (2 vols. so far), Dark Sanctuary (book + CD with a band of that name). Eleven covers for Shadow Kingdom (in German), two for Realms of Fantasy. Here is Clark’s Saving Solace. Here is one of VF’s vampires. This is from a YouTube of VF drawing one. [JH]
Born October 25, 1989 — Mia Wasikowska, 31. She’s Alice in Tim Burton’s creepy Alice in Wonderland and equally creepy Alice Through the Looking Glass. Rotten Tomatoes gave the first a 53% rating and the second a 29% rating. And no, I’ve no desire to see either. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Garfield finds an amusing new setup for a familiar magical joke.
Are there going to be trick-or-treaters? If we postulate there will be, Real Life Adventures has the right idea about a scary costume.
(13) HEAR JAMES AND DUE DIALOG. The virtual LA Times Festival of Books will present “Marlon James, Author of ‘Black Leopard Red Wolf,’ Winner of the Inaugural Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, in Conversation with Tananarive Due” on October 28 at 9:00 p.m. Pacific. Register free here.
See the novelist Marlon James discuss his novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” a work of science fiction, with Tananarive Due, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an expert in Black horror and Afrofuturism, as part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books — now in its 25th year. Mr. James is also the author of 2014’s “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which won the Man Booker prize.
(14) POPOL VUH. On Monday, October 26, at 4:30 p.m. PT, LA Review of Books’s Editor in Chief Boris Dralyuk will join Greenlight Bookstore and Ilan Stavans to discuss the latest project from the publisher of Restless Books and acclaimed Latin American author and scholar: Popol Vuh: A Retelling. Learn more and register for the free online event here
Publisher of Restless Books and acclaimed Latin American author and scholar Ilan Stavans presents his latest project, Popol Vuh: A Retelling, an inspired and urgent prose retelling of the Maya myth of creation. Cosmic in scope and yet intimately human, the Popol Vuh offers invaluable insight into the Maya way of life before being decimated by colonization—their code of ethics, their views on death and the afterlife, and their devotion to passion, courage, and the natural world. Popol Vuh: A Retelling is a one-of-a-kind prose rendition of this sacred text that is as seminal as the Bible and the Qur’an, the Ramayana and the Odyssey. Stavans brings a fresh creative energy to the Popol Vuh, giving a new generation of readers the opportunity to connect with this timeless story and with the plight of the indigenous people of the Americas. Boris Dralyuk, Executive Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and award-winning literary translator, joins Stavans at this special virtual book reading and talk, with an audience Q&A to follow!
…Taking inspiration from the Narnia room her Nana Elizabeth had created for her as a young girl, Sophia created a magical reading tent using a double duvet cover.
‘The keys I glued wings on, put fishing wire on and hung to the ceiling with command hooks, and same with the floating candles.
‘I revamped her blinds by glueing wallpaper to them with bookbinding glue, and I did the same for the wardrobe doors.
To keep her room clutter-free, Sophia created a miniature Prison of Azkaban where her daughter could keep all of her plush toys.
(17) BOUND FOR BENNU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature went to press just as NASA’s OSIRIS REx probe took two years to get to asteroid Bennu, arriving at the end of 2018. Since then it has been mapping the 500 metre-wide asteroid. It had been hoped that the asteroid’s surface would be smooth but instead they found it covered in boulders that make a brief touch-and-go landing dangerous. Nonetheless, as this week’s Nature; went to press OSIRIS REx went in to collect a sample.
The interest in Bennu is that it formed between 100 million and a billion years ago when it broke away – presumably due to an impact from another asteroid – from its parent body. That parent body seems to have been geologically active as Bennu seems to have veins of carbonate which suggests that at one time hot water was percolating through carbonaceous material.
The aim is for OSIRIS REx to collect 60 grams of material from the surface and return them to Earth. This will be NASA’s first sample return but not the first ever asteroid sample return. Japan’s JAXA space agency previously sent Hayabusa-2 to asteroid Ryugu.
The OSIRIS REx mission’s other goal is to gain as much information as to the nature of the asteroid and its rocks so as to devise a way to possibly deflect it. The asteroid orbits uncomfortably close to the Earth. There is a small chance (fortunately only small) that Bennu could strike the Earth sometime in the 22nd century.
Researchers at Leiden University have 3D printed the smallest boat in the world: a 30-micrometer copy of Benchy the tug boat, a well-known 3D printer test object. This boat is so small, it could float down the interior of a human hair.
… The most interesting thing is how they were able to print the little boat’s cockpit, an open space that requires lots of geometric trickery to build.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by JJ.] From the catalog of “not really helpful, just wanted to prove I could do it.”
Special video to celebrate 5 years on YouTube! Join the Party, Pizza on us. Making Pizza is an art and love, making Pizza with Lego it is fun and satisfaction.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]
FIYAH Literary Magazine’s inaugural Ignyte Awards were presented in an online ceremony on October 17 brilliantly hosted by Jesse of Bowties & Books.
The Ignyte Awards seek to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscapes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror by recognizing incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre. There were 1,431 valid votes cast to decide the winners.
Best Novel – Adult – for novel-length (40k+ words) works intended for the adult audience:
Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Best Novel – YA – for novel-length (40k+ words) works intended for the young adult audience:
We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal
Best in MG – for works intended for the middle-grade audience:
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia
Best Novella – for speculative works ranging from 17,500-39,999 words:
This is How You Lose the Time War – Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar
Best Novelette – for speculative works ranging from 7,500-17,499 words:
Emergency Skin – N K Jemisin for the Amazon Forward Collection
Best Short Story – for speculative works ranging from 2,000-7,499 words:
A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy – Rebecca Roanhorse for Mythic Dream
Speculative Poetry –
A Conversation Between the Embalmed Heads of Lampião and Maria Bonita on Public Display at the Baiano State Forensic Institute, Circa Mid-20th Century – Woody Dismukes for Strange Horizons
Critics Award – for reviews and analysis of the field of speculative literature:
Alex Brown – Tor.com
Best Fiction Podcast – for excellence in audio performance and production for speculative fiction:
LeVar Burton Reads – LeVar Burton
Best Artist – for contributions in visual speculative storytelling:
Grace P. Fong
Best Comics Team – for comics, graphic novels, and sequential storytelling:
These Savage Shores – Ram V, Sumit Kumar, Vitorio Astone, Aditya Bidikar, & Tim Daniel
Best Anthology/Collected Works –
New Suns – Nisi Shawl
Best in Creative Nonfiction – for works related to the field of speculative fiction:
Black Horror Rising – Tananarive Due
The Ember Award – for unsung contributions to the genre:
Community Award – for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre:
Strange Horizons – Gautam Bhatia, Vajra Chandrasekera, Joyce Chng, Kate Cowan, Tahlia Day, William Ellwood, Rebecca Evans, Ciro Faienza, Lila Garrott, Dan Hartland, Amanda Jean, Lulu Kadhim, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Catherine Krahe, Anaea Lay, Dante Luiz, Heather McDougal, AJ Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin, Clark Seanor, Romie Stott, Aishwarya Subramanian, Fred G. Yost, and the SH copyediting team and first readers
(1) KEEPING THE PLUS IN DISNEY+. Disney+ will premiere Mulan on its platform – at an extra charge to subscribers reports Variety.
In another major blow to movie theaters, Disney announced Mulan will forgo its planned theatrical release. Instead, the live-action remake is premiering on Disney Plus on Sept. 4 for a premium rental price.
The company believes that the release of the action epic will help drive subscribers while serving as a valuable test case to determine how much of their hard-earned cash customers are willing to part with in order to watch a movie that was originally intended to debut exclusively in cinemas.
Unlike the rest of the content available on Disney Plus, “Mulan” won’t be available directly to subscribers. Consumers in the U.S. and other territories will have to pay $29.99 to rent the movie on top of the streaming service’s monthly subscription fee of $6.99. In markets where Disney Plus isn’t available, “Mulan” will play in cinemas.
(2) SEE AURORA AWARDS CEREMONY. The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association will hold the Aurora Awards ceremony online this year on Saturday, August 15 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern via the When Words CollideYouTube channel. The livestream will be open to everyone.
(3) LEADER OF THE PACK. HBO Max dropped a trailer for Raised by Wolves. Arrives September 3.
Mother was programmed to protect everyone after Earth had been destroyed. When the big bad wolf shows up, she is the one we must trust.
Lauren Beukes’ new Afterland takes place in a world that exists not long after our own — a very near future in which a terrible virus has wiped out almost all the men in the world, leaving a scant few million, mostly held in government research facilities.
As the book opens, we meet Cole, who’s on the run after breaking her preteen son out of one of those facilities with the help of her sister, Billie (who has her own motives). Their journey will take them across a drastically different — but still recognizable — country, bouncing from utopian communes to religious sects to Miami sex clubs.
“I wanted to interrogate the preconceptions that a world of women would be a kinder or gentler place,” Beukes tells me over email, “especially if it was only a couple of years out from our current reality and the existing power structures, inequality and social ills. Because of course, women are full human beings and just as capable of being power hungry, selfish, violent, corrupt as much as we are of being kind, compassionate and nurturing as men are of all those things too….”
Why do you think the idea of wiping out all the men is so compelling? This isn’t the first no-men post-apocalyptic story I’ve read, but I don’t think I’ve seen any where women get wiped out.
I’ll be the first to cop to a world without men hardly being an original idea, from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1915 somewhat-prim women’s utopia, Herland, on up through Joanna Russ’ The Female Man in 1975 and, more recently, the hugely popular comics series Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, which gets a subtle nod in Afterland.
It’s an appealing idea because it allows us to explore how women could be without the centuries of oppression and misogyny (including the internalized kind), without the constant threat of violence and rape. It’s the joy of imagining a world where we could be safe walking at night (without having to be a man-killing vampire, as in the wonderful Iranian film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.)
The reverse has been explored in a much more limited away, including in a recent movie about a woman-killing plague with a father and his sole surviving daughter, and in Stephen and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties, which puts all the women in the world into a coma.
I don’t think it’s as popular a conceit, because of the power structures. We live under patriarchy. And the horrific reality is that women are “wiped out” every day, usually by intimate partner violence. In South Africa, we have a devastatingly high rate of gender-based violence, including against gay and trans men and women. According to my friend Dr. Nechama Brodie, who wrote the recent Femicide in South Africa, four women a day are killed here by their partners or ex-partners. The most recent international stats I could find were from the Global Study on Homicide, which found that one-third of women killed in 2017 were victims of domestic violence.
… But I’m going to do what the Hugo Awards committee was afraid to do and stop giving Martin airtime. Because I’m here to document a completely different phenomenon – one that has only been generating chatter once the immediate shocking aftermath of the Hugos’ disrespect to its own nominees had passed.
It began as murmurs in chat rooms, posts on social media platforms, questions posed on industry Slacks and Discords: say, where was the New Zealand representation at the Hugo Awards ceremony? The New Zealand presenters? What of the karakia, the acknowledgement of mana whenua? Aside from a few jokes, a ramble about our gorgeous country, an admittedly brilliant segment on the artists who crafted the physical Hugo trophies, and a stuffed kiwi on a desk, there was no New Zealand content.
Those who attended the WorldCon held in Helsinki, Finland in 2017 commented on the stark contrast. That ceremony, organised in part by the Turku Science Fiction Society, presented Finland’s Atorox Award alongside its international counterparts. So … what about our local awards ceremony?
Neighbours! Fine people, right up to the moment when they are overcome by xenophobia and assemble in a large mob (shouty), all too well supplied with torches (lit) and implements (agricultural). Of course, not all people are prone to hateful prejudice and fear against outsiders. Some might go the other way, lavishing unwanted adoration and attention on unusual people. It’s awkward either way, which is reason enough for some folks to carefully conceal their true nature. Such as these five…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 5, 1850 – Guy de Maupassant. Fifty short stories for us, translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish; three hundred in all, six novels, travel, poetry. Second novel Bel Ami had thirty-seven printings in four months. A father, many think, of the short story. Managed to write both realistically and fantastically. (Died 1893) [JH]
Born August 5, 1891 — Donald Kerr. Happy Hapgood in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars which might be one of the earliest such films. His only other genre appearances were in the Abbott and Costello films such as Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man in uncredited roles. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born August 5, 1929 — Don Matheson. Best-remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 5, 1935 — Wanda Ventham, 85. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Doctor Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast Terror, Project U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV including Danger Man, The Saint, The Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on Sherlock where she played his mother. (CE)
Born August 5, 1943 – Kathleen Sky, 77. Five novels, eight shorter stories, translated into French and German. The Business of Being a Writer with Stephen Goldin. I realize I haven’t read “One Ordinary Day, with Box”, but since it came well after an all-time great Shirley Jackson story (“Had it for lunch”; he didn’t, of course, which is the point), it must – [JH]
Born August 5, 1947 – Élisabeth Vonarburg, Ph.D.,, 73. A score of novels, fifty shorter stories. Editor of Solaris 1983-1986, contributor thereafter; also to Carfax, Foundation, NY Review of SF, Torus (hello, Lloyd Penney). Ten Prix Aurora. Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, Prix du Conseil Quebecois de la Femme en Litterature, Utopiales Prix Extraordinaire. Guest of Honor at WisCon 25, three-time Guest of Honour at Boréal (2004, 2007-2008), Guest of Honour at Anticipation the 67th Worldcon. [JH]
Born August 5, 1948 – Larry Elmore, 72. First professional illustrator at TSR (producers of Dungeons & Dragons). Did Dragonlance. Also Magic: the Gathering. Also Traveller and Sovereign Stone. Novel (with brother Robert), Runes of Autumn. Artbooks Reflections of Myth (2 vols.) and Twenty Years of Art and Elmore: New Beginnings. Two hundred covers, twelve dozen interiors. Here is the Mar 85 Amazing. Here is Chicks in Chainmail. Here is 1632. Here is Missing Pieces 5. [JH]
Born August 5, 1956 — Ian R. MacLeod, 64. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there’s a number of novels I’m intrigued by including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. Anything else y’all would recommend I read? (CE)
Born August 5, 1966 — James Gunn, 54. Director, producer and screenwriter who first film as director was Slither. Very silly film. He’s responsible for both Guardians of The Galaxy films, plus the forthcoming one. He executive produced both of the recent Avengers films, and he’s directing and writing the next Suicide Squad film. (CE)
Born August 5, 1968 – Carina Axelsson, 52. Fashion model and author. After modeling in New York and Paris went to art school, wrote and illustrated children’s picture book Nigel of Hyde Park, a frizzy-haired dragon (then fashion-detective Model Under Cover, then Royal Rebel; naturally World-Wide Web logs = blogs brought about video blogs = vlogs). Three favorite books Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca, so she may really be a both-ist. Website here. [JH]
Born August 5, 1972 — Paolo Bacigalupi, 48. I remember the book group I was part of having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways. (CE)
Born August 5, 1988 – Manuel Sumberac, 32. (The S should have a caron over it, a punctuation mark like a little v, indicating a sound like English sh.) Thirty covers, many interiors. Here is The Nowhere Emporium. Here is Tuesdays at the Castle. Also animation. Also Steampunk City, an alphabetical journey: see the letters O and P. Here is an interior from Steampunk Poe; here is another. Website here. [JH]
Civil Rights leader Patricia Stephens Due adored scary stories, which baffled her family since she had experienced so many real terrors. While crusading against Jim Crow laws and segregation in the 1960s, she’d been threatened, dragged away, and arrested, and her eyesight had been permanently damaged when police threw a tear gas canister directly into her face.
Still, she loved tales of killers, monsters, and restless spirits, and purchased her daughter, the future novelist and scholar Tananarive Due, her first Stephen King book. “My dad thought it was kind of weird, but now I’ve come to think that she liked horror because she was a civil rights activist,” says Due. “There was something about horror—that thrill and anxiety when you’re watching something on a screen that isn’t real—that I believe was therapeutic to her, and helped her slough off some of that fear and anger.”
Turning wild spaces into farmland and cities has created more opportunities for animal diseases to cross into humans, scientists have warned.
Our transformation of the natural landscape drives out many wild animals, but favours species more likely to carry diseases, a study suggests.
The work adds to growing evidence that exploitation of nature fuels pandemics.
Scientists estimate that three out of every four new emerging infectious diseases come from animals.
The study shows that, worldwide, we have shaped the landscape in a way that has favoured species that are more likely to carry infectious diseases.
And when we convert natural habitats to farms, pastures and urban spaces, we inadvertently increase the probability of pathogens crossing from animals to humans.
“Our findings show that the animals that remain in more human-dominated environments are those that are more likely to carry infectious diseases that can make people sick,” said Rory Gibb of University College London (UCL).
Whether it’s Kevin Bacon unexpectedly getting an arrow through the throat while lying in bed in Friday the 13th, Ted Danson’s waterlogged walking corpse in Creepshow, or a zombie getting the top of its head sliced off by a helicopter blade in Dawn of the Dead, Tom Savini is responsible for some of horror cinema’s greatest moments. Yet not everybody realises that a lot of this iconic gore was inspired by the special effects guru’s traumatic time serving as a field photographer in Vietnam.
“I saw some pretty horrible stuff,” the horror legend, now 73, tells me soberly. “I guess Vietnam was a real lesson in anatomy.” While serving with the US military, Savini learnt details such as the way blood turns brown as it dries or how our bodies lose control of the muscles when we die. “This is the reason why my work looks so visceral and authentic,” he adds. “I am the only special effects man to have seen the real thing!”
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have described the rumbles, heat and jolts of returning from space in the Crew Dragon spacecraft on Sunday.
Behnken vividly described the clouds rushing by the window and jolts that were like being “hit in the back of the chair with a baseball bat”.
But Hurley and Behnken said the spacecraft performed just as expected.
They splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, ending the first commercial crewed mission to the space station.
“As we descended through the atmosphere, I personally was surprised at just how quickly events all transpired. It seemed like just a couple of minutes later, after the [de-orbit] burns were complete, we could look out the windows and see the clouds rushing by,” he said at a news conference broadcast from Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“Once we descended a little bit into the atmosphere, Dragon really came alive. It started to fire thrusters and keep us pointed in the appropriate direction. The atmosphere starts to make noise – you can hear that rumble outside the vehicle. And as the vehicle tries to control, you feel a little bit of that shimmy in your body.
“We could feel those small rolls and pitches and yaws – all those little motions were things we picked up on inside the vehicle.”
Satellite observations have found a raft of new Emperor penguin breeding sites in the Antarctic.
The locations were identified from the way the birds’ poo, or guano, had stained large patches of sea-ice.
The discovery lifts the global Emperor population by 5-10%, to perhaps as many as 278,500 breeding pairs.
It’s a welcome development given that this iconic species is likely to come under severe pressure this century as the White Continent warms.
The Emperors’ whole life cycle is centred around the availability of sea-ice, and if this is diminished in the decades ahead – as the climate models project – then the animals’ numbers will be hit hard.
One forecast suggested the global population could crash by a half or more under certain conditions come 2100.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Down And Out Kidney” on Vimeo is a cartoon by Dan and Jason about why you should worry about too much uric acid in the body (and yes, it’s entertaining!)
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, Mlex, Martin Morse Wooster, Madame Hardy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) STILL OVERCOMING. Tananarive Due expresses decades of experience in “Can We Live?” in Vanity Fair. Tagline: “The daughter of civil rights activists on the question that’s haunted her for decades.”
… . I was only a little older than Bryant, and sitting in my junior high school cafeteria, when I wrote a poem inspired by police brutality called “I Want to Live.”
I was 14, and neighborhoods in my home city of Miami were burning.
The memory returns, raw and visceral, as I watch footage from the uprisings in Minneapolis and nationwide protesting Floyd’s killing….
… When I was finished, I had tears in my eyes, but the despair in my chest felt soothed. I showed the poem to my mother, and she told me how lucky I was to have writing as an outlet for my emotions. “The people setting those fires feel hopeless,” she said. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was four, but that was the first time I understood that writing might save my life.
Now a new generation is discovering just how devalued their lives are in U.S. society, risking a pandemic and possible police violence to protest in the name of a better society. In their cities they are facing their own baptisms by fire.
But it comes with a cost. After my mother was teargassed at a peaceful march in Tallahassee in 1960, she wore dark glasses even indoors for the rest of her life, complaining about lingering sensitivity to light. “I went to jail so you won’t have to,” she once told me.
If only it were that simple. If only one generation’s sacrifices could have fixed it all….
…The suit asks the Court to enjoin IA’s mass scanning, public display, and distribution of entire literary works, which it offers to the public at large through global-facing businesses coined “Open Library” and “National Emergency Library,” accessible at both openlibrary.org and archive.org. IA has brazenly reproduced some 1.3 million bootleg scans of print books, including recent works, commercial fiction and non-fiction, thrillers, and children’s books.
The plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House—publish many of the world’s preeminent authors, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Newbery Medal, Man Booker Prize, Caldecott Medal and Nobel Prize.
Despite the self-serving library branding of its operations, IA’s conduct bears little resemblance to the trusted role that thousands of American libraries play within their communities and as participants in the lawful copyright marketplace. IA scans books from cover to cover, posts complete digital files to its website, and solicits users to access them for free by signing up for Internet Archive Accounts. The sheer scale of IA’s infringement described in the complaint—and its stated objective to enlarge its illegal trove with abandon—appear to make it one of the largest known book pirate sites in the world. IA publicly reports millions of dollars in revenue each year, including financial schemes that support its infringement design….
The press release follows with more details about the AAP’s side of the argument.
A court in England has ruled in favor of Watership Down Enterprises, the estate and family of author Richard Adams, in an action brought against producer Martin Rosen, who wrote and directed a 1978 animated film based on the classic novel, Variety reported.
The judgment ordered Rosen and companies controlled by him to pay the estate court costs and an initial payment for damages totaling approximately $95,000 within 28 days for infringing copyright, agreeing to “unauthorized license deals and denying royalty payments,” Variety wrote, adding that additional damages will be assessed at a future hearing.
The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court also terminated the original contract in which motion picture rights for Watership Down were originally granted to Rosen in 1976. In addition, IPEC granted an injunction preventing Rosen and his companies from continuing to license rights to Watership Down, and directed them to give further disclosures of their activities and to destroy infringing materials.
It’s an open secret among Star Trek fans that the Picard character changes. Between the television show, the movies, and now the show that bears his name, Picard changes from peacemaking collaborative leader to warrior to now something more like a Sherlock Holmes of the 24th century. Instead of a noble hero leading a team, the Picard of the new series, along with the audience at home, is trying to answer some questions, including “What the heck is happening here and what is the next move?”
He doesn’t always make the right one.
Seeing those mistakes, in seeing Picard as a human, allows us to grapple with our own humanity. It’s a different side of Picard from what we saw in the series; instead of perfection, we see a man trying to stay in the game at an age that many would go off to the retirement home. Let’s learn from it, with minimal minor spoilers….
…It [augmented reality] could also be the ultimate tool for a con man. How many times have you run into someone familiar, but you can’t quite place where you know them from? They seem to know you and, not wanting to offend them, you keep talking, hoping it will come to you. What if you’ve never actually seen this person before in your life? What if they’re a hustler, reading everything about you from text floating in the air next to your head, projected in their vision by glasses, or even contact lenses? All that real-time information to establish trust, the primary currency of any con.
(8) ROBERT J. SAWYER. He’s has a successful day drawing attention to his new novel The Oppenheimer Alternative.
… And I didn’t want to tell an alternate history. That is, I didn’t want to say, well, sure, you can gainsay me until this page—the point of divergence—but after that, anything goes. Rather, I decided to tell a secret history: a series of plausible events that were, in themselves, authentic big-ideas hard SF, and have them occur in the lacunae in the public record. I wanted no one to be able to say, “Okay, that was fun, but of course it never happened.”
He appeared on Michael Shinabery’s show on KRSY-AM in Alamogordo, New Mexico, yesterday for han hour-long chat [MP3].
The show starts at the 1-minute mark with Benny Goodman’s “The Glory of Love,” which figures in my novel; the outro is the great Tom Lehrer singing his atomic-bomb song, “We’ll All Go Together When We Go.”
And he was on CTV Calgary:
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 3, 1950 — Dimension X’s “The Embassy” was broadcast. Written by Donald A. Wollheim, this story was first published in Astounding Science Fiction in the March 1942 issue. (Aussiecon One would later give him a Special Hugo for The Fan Who Has Done Everything.) It was adapted by George Lefferts. The cast was Daniel Ocko, Bryna Raeburn and Norman Rose. You can listen to it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 3, 1905 — Norman A. Daniels. Creator of the Black Bat, a pulp character who debuted the same time as Batman which led to lawsuits over similarities to the latter, and wrote for such series as The Phantom Detective, Doc Savage and The Shadow. He also created the Crimson Mask. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born June 3, 1905 — Malcolm Reiss. It’s uncertain if he ever published any genre fiction but he’s an important figure in the history of our community as he edited in the Thirties through the Fifties, Jungle Stories, Planet Stories, Tops in Science Fiction and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books. Fletcher Pratt, Ross Rocklynne, Leigh Brackett and Fredric Brown are but a few of the writers published in those magazines. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born June 3, 1929 – Brian Lewis. Ninety covers for New Worlds (here’s one), Science Fantasy (here’s one), Science Fiction Adventures (here’s one), for a few books; sometimes realistic, sometimes surrealistic; fifty interiors; also comics. (Died 1978) [JH]
Born June 3, 1946 — Penelope Wilton, 74. She played the recurring role of Harriet Jones in Doctor Who wherethey actually developed a story for the character. She was also played Homily in The Borrowers, Barbara in Shaun of the Dead, The Queen in Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Beatrix Potter, The White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass and Gertrude in in Hamlet at the Menier Chocolate Factory. (CE)
Born June 3, 1949 — Michael McQuay. He wrote two novels in Asimov’s Robot City series, Suspicion and Isaac Asimov’s Robot City (with Michael P. Kube-McDowell) and Richter 10 with Arthur C. Clarke. The Mathew Swain sequence neatly blends SF and noir detective tropes – very good popcorn reading. His novelization of Escape from New York is superb. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born June 3, 1950 – Owen Laurion. Long active in the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Federation (“N3F”). Edited The Nat’l Fantasy Fan and later Tightbeam. Kaymar Award. “The Way It Was” in M. Bastraw ed., Fifty Extremely SF* Stories (none over 50 words). [JH]
Born June 3, 1950 — Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg credits the line “E.T. phone home” line to her. (She’s Eliot’s school nurse in the film.) She also wrote the screenplays for The Indian in the Cupboard and BFG with the latter being dedicated in her memory. And she wrote the “Kick the Can” segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born June 3, 1958 — Suzie Plakson, 62. She played four characters on Trek series: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man” (Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise). She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly. (CE)
Born June 3, 1964 — James Purefoy, 56. His most recent genre performance was in the recurring role of Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive role was I think as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him. (CE)
Born June 3, 1966 – Kate Forsyth. Thirty fantasy novels, a dozen shorter stories; collections of fairy tales, of her own poetry; sold a million books. Bitter Greens interweaves Rapunzel with the 17th- century Frenchwoman who first told the tale, won American Library Association award for historical fiction; doctoral exegesis The Rebirth of Rapunzel won the Atheling Award for criticism. Five Aurealis Awards. Her Website is here. [JH]
Born June 3, 1973 – Patrick Rothfuss.The Wise Man’s Fear a N.Y. Times Best-Seller. Half a dozen shorter stories. Games, e.g. Acquisitions, Inc. (Penny Arcade). Charity, Worldbuilders. Translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Something’s interfering with TV reception at The Far Side. (A reprint from back when they had antennae.)
Bizarro shows it’s hard to escape those family traits.
In partnership with Den of Geek, we are proud to announce the launch of TorCon, an all-new virtual convention that brings all the fun of panels directly to the fans. From Thursday, June 11th through Sunday, June 14th, Tor and Tor.com Publishing are presenting eight panels featuring over twenty of your favorite authors across different platforms, in conversation with each other—and with you!
Join authors including Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Christopher Paolini, Brandon Sanderson, V. E. Schwab, and many more for four days of pure geekery, exclusive content, sneak peeks, and more…all from the comfort of your own home!
(13) SIGNPOSTS. James Davis Nicoll reaches into his reviews archive for choice titles by black authors. Thread starts here.
(14) INTERSECTION OF SFF AND RELIGION. Since Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light was discussed here recently, Filers may be interested in Victor Gijsbers’ comments on the book. Thread starts here.
“A man dressed as a medieval knight and carrying a 3-foot-long sword created some concern at a aprk in the U.K., bringing police armed with guns. Lennon Thomas, 20, was confronted by police in Cardiff and ordered to put the weapon down, before he explained that he was simply trying out a costume he uses for his hobby of fantasy roleplaying. Thomas apologized for a ‘lapse in judgment,’ conceding, ‘Perhaps it was a little stupid of me to bring the sword, as from a distance it does look realistic.’ He added, ‘Life is a lot more fun when you don’t care how weird you are.'”
New genetic research from around one of the ancient world’s most important trading hubs offers fresh insights into the movement and interactions of inhabitants of different areas of Western Asia between two major events in human history: the origins of agriculture and the rise of some of the world’s first cities.
The evidence reveals that a high level of mobility led to the spread of ideas and material culture as well as intermingling of peoples in the period before the rise of cities, not the other way around, as previously thought. The findings add to our understanding of exactly how the shift to urbanism took place.
The researchers, made up of an international team of scientists including Harvard Professor Christina Warinner, looked at DNA data from 110 skeletal remains in West Asia from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, 3,000 to 7,500 years ago. The remains came from archaeological sites in the Anatolia (present-day Turkey); the Northern Levant, which includes countries on the Mediterranean coast such as Israel and Jordan; and countries in the Southern Caucasus, which include present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Based on their analysis, the scientists describe two events, one around 8,500 years ago and the other 4,000 years ago, that point to long-term genetic mixing and gradual population movements in the region.
“Within this geographic scope, you have a number of distinct populations, distinct ideological groups that are interacting quite a lot, and it hasn’t really been clear to what degree people are actually moving or if this is simply just a high-contact area from trade,” said Warinner, assistant professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Sally Starling Seaver Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. “Rather than this period being characterized by dramatic migrations or conquest, what we see is the slow mixing of different populations, the slow mixing of ideas, and it’s percolating out of this melting pot that we see the rise of urbanism — the rise of cities.”
[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Scott Edelman, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]
(1) WOKE 100. Essence has named two well-known sff
authors to its 2019 Woke 100.
This year’s list includes women who exemplify the true meaning of being change agents and power players. Working in areas from social justice to politics to entertainment, they inspire not only us here but also others around the world….
American Book Award winner Due is a leading voice in American Black speculative fiction. The author, professor and filmmaker teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA….
One of the best fantasy writers in the world is a Black woman. The three-time Hugo Award winner is the author of ten novels, and her latest How Long ’til Black Future Month?, which has been hailed as “marvelous and wide-ranging” by the Los Angeles Times.
Benioff and Weiss were supposed to usher in the post-Skywalker era of the Star Wars brand with a 2022 new-start story that would stake out a new frontier for the era-defining cinema brand created by George Lucas. The Emmy-winning pair cited their historic deal with Netflix. They said their enthusiasm for Star Wars remains boundless but, regrettably, their schedule is full.
…“There are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both Star Wars and our Netflix projects,” the GoT pair said in a statement to Deadline. “So we are regretfully stepping away.”
Showrunner Goldman has been emailing the cast and crew of the project to tell them that the pilot is dead, we hear. The development has not been confirmed by HBO.
The prequel, created by the Kingsman scribe and George R. R. Martin, takes place thousands of years before the wars, romances and dragons of the Emilia Clarke- and Kit Harington-led GoT, which wrapped up its blockbuster eight-season run in May. Weaving in issues of race, power, intrigue and White Walkers, the Goldman-run prequel was given the pilot green light back in June 2018.
HBO hastened to publicize one of the surviving projects:
House Of The Dragon, a Game of Thrones prequel is coming to HBO.
The series is co-created by George RR Martin and Ryan Condal. Miguel Sapochnik will partner with Condal as showrunner and will direct the pilot and additional episodes. Condal will be writing the series.
(4) THROWING, ER, PASSING THE TORCH. Norman Spinrad’s peppery “On Books” column in the current issue of Asimov’s opines about Astounding, by Alec Nevala-Lee, and Nebula Awards Showcase 2018, edited by Jane Yolen, and Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson. [Note: Link has been updated to Pastebin, following Asimov’s removal of the column, with a statement to follow.]
Spinrad finds much to admire about the historianship of Nevala-Lee, but his positive critique is followed by the author’s own ideas about “how it really was.”
…Nevala-Lee’s Astounding reads somewhat strangely to someone like me, who was involved with the main characters toward the ends of their literary stories and the beginning of mine, and probably would to anyone involved with the fannish history of science fiction, let alone readers of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. Which is to say, to an insider one way or another. Nevala-Lee, at least to judge by what he has written, is not.
This has its strengths and its weaknesses. His research is admirably academically exhaustive, except when it comes to Hubbard—a notorious bullshit artist and outright liar—and on such a level is about as definitive as a full complex history of science fiction history up until the 1960s can get.
The strength of this is that Nevala-Lee writes all this from a certain emotional and neutral distance, as one might write a similar history of the nineteenth-century American union movement or the early twentieth-century history of the Hollywood film industry if these events occurred before you were born. The book would be entirely from the record. Nevala-Lee therefore has no personal axes to grind and sticks to the facts….
Then, Spinrad deconstructs the latest SFWA Nebula Awards anthology, doubting the benefit of excerpting novels and novellas, finding fault with many of the winners and runners-up represented in the book, and above all, expressing profoundly unhappy feelings about the condition of the genre:
So what does Nebula Awards Showcase 2018 tell us about the state of what the membership of SFWA is writing, and what is the state of their art in the present and likely into the future?
It tells us that fantasy has long since come to dominate SF. It tells us that many or perhaps even a majority of these SF writers do not have the education or indeed the inclination to learn the difference between science fiction and fantasy and to dish the result out to a populace that has more than enough confusion about the difference between reality and magic already.
(5) INDISTINGUISHABLE. Having encountered Spinrad’s column and Mark Lawrence’s recent post “The magic of science” on the same day, I wished for a panel discussion between the two writers — that would be highly interesting,
I’ve blogged several times on the dead and over-beaten horse of science vs magic. Today, rather than point out yet again that these two things are in fact the same, I’m going to point out an important difference.
This is not to contradict my earlier thoughts. Magic truly is science – but it’s generally presented in a manner that means it is radically different to the kind of science we encounter in the real world.
This difference has political echoes and doubtless would have political consequences if we were to encounter the most commonly imagined forms of “magic”.
In short, magic is typically presented in much the same way that superheroes are. To use magic you need to be specially gifted.
…A graduate student named Charley Kline sat at an ITT Teletype terminal and sent the first digital data transmission to Bill Duvall, a scientist who was sitting at another computer at the Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI International) on the other side of California. It was the beginning of ARPANET, the small network of academic computers that was the precursor to the internet.
October 29, 2012 — In Canada, Primeval: New World first aired. A spin-off of Primeval, it starred Niall Matter (Zane Donovan on Eureka) and Sara Canning. It was canceled after the first season of thirteen episodes.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 29, 1926 — Margaret Sheridan. She’s best remembered as Nikki Nicholson in The Thing from Another World. It was her first acting role and she’d be done acting a little over a decade later in the early Sixties. (Died 1982.)
Born October 29, 1928 — Jack Donner. He’s no doubt best known for his role of Romulan Subcommander Tal in the Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident”. He would later return as a Vulcan priest in the “Kir’Shara” and “Home” episodes on Enterprise. He’d also show up in other genre shows including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission Impossible (eleven episodes which is the most by any guest star) and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Died 2019.)
Born October 29, 1928 — Benjamin F. Chapman, Jr. He play the Gill-man in the land takes in Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ricou Browning did the water takes. His only other genre appearance was in Jungle Moon Men, a Johnny Weissmuller film. (Died 2008.)
Born October 29, 1935 — ?Sheila Finch, 84. She’s best known for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists which are quite excellent. The Golden Gryphon collection The Guild of Xenolinguists is well worth seeking out.
Born October 29, 1938 — Ralph Bakshi, 81. Started as low level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a talking cat. Genre wise, I’d say War Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series! Then there’s Cool World…
Born October 29, 1941 — Hal W. Hall, 78. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
Born October 29, 1947 — Richard Dreyfuss, 72. Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And The Player in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Not to mention the voice of Mister Centipede in James and the Giant Peach.
Born October 29, 1971 — Winona Ryder, 48. Beetlejuice of course but also Edward Scissorhands and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not to mention Alien Resurrection and Star Trek. Which brings me to Being John Malkovich which might be the coolest genre film of all time.
Born October 29, 1979 — Andrew Lee Potts, 40. He is best known as Connor Temple on Primeval and the spinoff Primeval: New World. He was also Tim Larson in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a British crime drama series. Yes, it’s that Stan Lee.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Off the Mark shows why computer dating is out of the question for these fantastic beings.
Grant Snider’s Incidental Comic for Halloween. (Apologies for a duplication of one panel – WordPress insists on showing pairs of tweets when they are internal to the thread.)
Featuring a one-of-a-kind selection of rare original Joe Quesada drawings assembled from the personal collection of award-winning artist and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada.
Before becoming Marvel’s Editor-in Chief in 2000 and the company’s Chief Creative Officer in 2010, Joe Quesada made his mark as one of the most accomplished artists working in the comics medium. His groundbreaking work on series like Marvel’s X-FACTOR, DC’s THE RAY, Valiant’s NINJAK, and his own creation, ASH led to critical acclaim and an offer from Marvel to co-found the MARVEL KNIGHTS imprint. That line was an immediate success thanks to Quesada’s standout work on DAREDEVIL (with writer Kevin Smith) and later projects like WOLVERINE: ORIGIN and DAREDEVIL: FATHER (which he also wrote), cementing his reputation as one of the most important illustrators of his generation. Drawn from the pages of the career retrospective book, THE MARVEL ART OF JOE QUESADA, this exhibit features key pieces from all of those series as well as a number unique media inspired images created by Quesada during his tenure as Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer.
Avengers: Endgamewriters confirm The Electric State movie is still happening. It’s no easy task following up a hit as big as this summer’s Avengers: Endgame, but it appears that the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is more than willing to try.
AMC Theatres has tweeted out an image from a panel confirming The Electric State will be the next project from the blockbuster duo. The film is based on an art book by Swedish author/illustrator Simon Stålenhag, which utilized a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2017 to get it off the ground. Previous reports have stated that Markus and McFeely would be working to adapt the project, with IT director Andy Muschietti on board to direct.
His most interesting tidbit on Winds came in an update on his long-running series of Dunk & Egg short stories that take place within the world of Westeros. When asked if we may see more of the titular characters soon, Martin offered something of a tentative publication schedule for the next few Westeros titles.
“But first I have this book The Winds of Winter,” he said. “I have to finish that, and then I can write another Dunk and Egg story, and then I write A Dream of Spring, and then I write another Dunk and Egg story. At some point in there, I have to write the second part of Fire and Blood, so I have my work cut out for me.”
… Perhaps you have stopped reading right here and are clicking around somewhere else looking for videos of baby animals in the hopes of purging this image from your mind’s eye. No one could blame you. This is grade-A sickening stuff….
(14) STOLEN ROBOT CLOTHES RETURNED.
Gabrielle Russon, in “NBA
player Robin Lopez unknowingly bought stolen Disney World items, records
show” in the Orlando Sentinel,
says that police are investigating rare Disney items acquired by Milwaukee
Bucks player Robin Lopez, including Buzzy, an animatronic robot that was part
of the Cranium Command exhibit retired from Epcot in 2007. Police say
Lopez is a victim or a crime ring operated by former Disney employee Patrick
Spikes, who they charge with an accomplice routinely stole retired Disney
exhibits and then sold them through intermediaries to high-dollar Disney
Milwaukee Bucks player Robin Lopez confirmed Tuesday he gave back the clothes from Buzzy, a Disney World animatronic that authorities said had been stolen before they were sent to the company’s archives in California….
(15) FRESH BITES. A trailer for BBC’s Dracula, which
also will stream on BBC’s iPlayer.
From the makers of Sherlock, Claes Bang stars as Dracula in this brand new mini-series inspired by Bram Stoker’s classic novel.
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
During today’s The Orville panel at San Diego Comic-Con, show creator and star Seth MacFarlane made big news, announcing the show is hopping from the Fox Broadcasting Network to the Hulu streaming service.
Note: These novellas don’t get much push from me beyond a few blog and chat-space posts, so getting the word out is pretty much up to their readers. Amazon always gets plenty of reviews, so appropriate mentions and reviews out-and-about elsewhere on the Net extend the reach more. Do please pass the word, if you are so moved.
(4) ANOTHER REVOLUTION. Journey Planet 45 – The Matrix dropped yesterday, assembled by guest editor John Coxon with Chris Garcia and James
Bacon. The stunning cover is by Meg Frank. Download the issue here.
Twenty years ago, The Wachowski sisters brought a groundbreaking film to fruition that not only bent the rules in regard to production but became the most memorable film of 1999 far eclipsing easily forgotten movies or disastrous disappointments.
The contributors to this issue ask many questions, discuss a variety of angles and consider the work now with ample time for reflection and digestion.
Contributors include, Emma Harris, Warren Frey, España Sheriff, Jenn Scott, Dave Lane, Ulrika O’Brien, Peppard Saltine, Helena MacCallum, Pete ‘Cardinal’ Cox, Bill Howard and CiteUnScene AI.
Art contributors include España, Chris, OzynO, Dark Ronin, Helianmagnou, Dark Tox1c, Frederikz, L0lock and ShaqueNova.
The Matrix spawned sequels, comics, animation and a considerable amount of books, thinking about concepts it set out.
Join us as you realize that 20 years have slipped by, and remind yourself of how you felt and what you thought about this fantastic film.
Audible tells The Verge that the captions are “small amounts of machine-generated text are displayed progressively a few lines at a time while audio is playing, and listeners cannot read at their own pace or flip through pages as in a print book or eBook.” Audible wouldn’t say which books would get the feature, only that “titles that can be transcribed at a sufficiently high confidence rate” will be included. It’s planning to release the feature in early September “to roll out with the 2019 school year.”
Penguin Random House, one of the world’s five biggest publishers, told The Verge that “we have reached out to Audible to express our strong copyright concerns with their recently announced Captions program, which is not authorized by our business terms,” and that it expects the company to exclude its titles from the captions feature.
(6) FRED PATTEN NEWS. Together with Stan Lee and
other notables, Fred Patten was commemorated by San Diego Comic-Con’s in
memoriam list, shown last night during the Eisner Awards ceremony. Fanbase
Press tweeted photos:
Sherrill Patten, his sister, says Fred’s final two books
are available to order.
has just published Fred’s last furry fiction anthology, the Coyotl Awards
Books now shows the cover of Furry Tales – A Review of Essential
Anthropomorphic Fiction in their online FALL catalog. Copies can be
Tales featuring anthropomorphic animals have been around as long as there have been storytellers to spin them, from Aesop’s Fables to Reynard the Fox to Alice in Wonderland. The genre really took off following the explosion of furry fandom in the 21st century, with talking animals featuring in everything from science fiction to fantasy to LGBTQ coming-out stories.
In his lifetime, Fred Patten (1940–2018)—one of the founders of furry fandom and a scholar of anthropomorphic animal literature—authored hundreds of book reviews that comprise a comprehensive critical survey of the genre. This selected compilation provides an overview from 1784 through the 2010s, covering such popular novels as Watership Down and Redwall, along with forgotten gems like The Stray Lamb and Where the Blue Begins, and science fiction works like Sundiver and Decision at Doona.
(7) REMEMBRANCE. Now online is Dublin 2019’s In Memoriam list, which shows the names of sff people who have died
since the last Worldcon.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 20, 1924 — Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017)
Born July 20, 1930 — Sally Ann Howes, 89. She is best known for the role of Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was in Brigadoon as Fiona McLaren at New York City Center Light Opera Company, and in Camelot as Guenevere at St. Louis Municipal Opera. She was even in The Hound of the Baskervilles as Laura Frankland which has a certain Starship Captain as George Stapleton.
Born July 20, 1931 — Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Died 2014.)
Born July 20, 1938 — Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, 81. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers aside Patrick Macnee as a John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Now she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh and she showed up recently in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctoras Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode.
Born July 20, 1949 — Guy H. Lillian III, 70. Letterhack and fanzine publisher notable for having been twice nominated for a Hugo Award as best fan writer and rather amazingly having been nominated twelve straight times without winning for the Hugo for best fanzine for his Challenger zine. As a well-fan of Green Lantern, Lillian’s name was tuckerized for the title’s 1968 debut character Guy Gardner.
Born July 20, 1959 — Martha Soukup, 60. The 1994 short film Override, directed by Danny Glover, was based on her short story “Over the Long Haul”. It was his directorial debut. She has two collections, Collections Rosemary’s Brain: And Other Tales of Wonder and The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, both published in the Nineties. She won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”. “The Story So Far” by her is available as the download sample on iBooks in Schimel’s Things Invisible to See anthology if you’d liked to see how she is as a writer.
Born July 20, 1977 — Penny Vital, better known as Penny Drake, 42. Uncredited role as Old Town Girl in Sin City, Sox in Zombie Strippers (which also stars Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson), Astrid in Star Chicks, Sabula in Monarch of the Moon and Annette DeFour in Dreamkiller which I think is genre.
(10) CAKE RE-ENACTMENT. Yessir, don’t we all love gray
frosting? Other than that, impressive!
(11) HARD SCIENCE. The latest issue of IEEE Spectrum — Project Moon Base – contains fifteen
excellent articles about getting to the moon, building a base there, long-term
stays on the moon, and a bit of history. Greg Hullender says, “Highly
recommended to anyone interested in lunar exploration, particularly anyone
thinking of writing a story set in a future moonbase.”
IEEE Spectrum: You invented a completely new technology for landing on the moon. It seems to combine a maglev train, a railgun, and a hyperloop. Can you briefly describe how that works and how you came up with it?
Kim Stanley Robinson: I got the idea from a lunatic friend of mine. It’s basically the reverse of the magnetic launch rails that have been postulated for getting off the moon ever since the 1930s: These take advantage of the moon’s light gravity and its lack of atmosphere, which allow a spaceship to be accelerated to a very high speed while still on the surface, after which the ship could just zoom off the moon going sideways, because there is no atmosphere to burn up in on the way out. If you just reverse that process, apparently you can land a spaceship on the moon according to the same principle.
It blew my mind. I asked about the tolerance for error; how precise would you have to be for the system to work? My friend shrugged and said it would be a few centimeters. This while going about 8,000 miles an hour (12,900 kilometers per hour)! But without an atmosphere, a landing can be very precise; there won’t be any winds or turbulence, no friction. It was so fantastic a notion that I knew I had to use it.
(12) COLLECTIBLE. Montegrappa prices this beautiful
fountain pen at 6,750 Euros.
Moon Landing L.E.
A giant leap for mankind
In 1969 Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins captivated the world. Supported by a cast of thousands, their supreme achievement continues to set the bar for how big boyhood dreams can be. Developed in close coordination with NASA, a marvel of engineering in miniature transforms the act of writing. Allow your ideas to go where no-one has gone before. The Eagle has landed!
When Buzz Aldrin embarked 50 years ago on his historic voyage to the moon aboard Apollo 11, he packed a tiny, credit-card-sized book, “The Autobiography of Robert Hutchings Goddard, Father of the Space Age.”
Goddard, who was a physics professor at Worcester’s Clark University, launched the first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn in 1926 and is generally considered the father of modern rocketry.
For Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon, there was also a personal connection.
Goddard had taught Edwin Aldrin Sr., Buzz’s father. Buzz never met Goddard but cherished his father’s connection with the professor, said Fordyce Williams, a coordinator of archives and special collections at Clark, where the book is on display.
The cast of HBO’s recently concluded Game of Thrones took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con Friday night to reflect on their time on the long-running fantasy series, and revealed a few secrets about their characters.
warning followed that opening paragraph. Tons of spoilers followed the warning.
So, you have now been warned
twice. (Or is it thrice?)
(15) UNDER COVER. ScreenRant profiles “The Most Popular Actor You’ve Never
Doug Jones is a highly respected and acclaimed actor who has appeared in over 150 acting jobs to his name to this day. However, chances are you never realized who Doug Jones was unless you’re a hardcore cinephile. That’s because many of Jones’ roles require him to be covered in extensive makeup and costumes that hide his natural visage. Jones is the man behind such iconic characters as the Lead Gentleman in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best episode, “Hush”, the monster in The Shape of Water, Saru in Star Trek Discovery and Abe in Hellboy, the latter of which took seven hours in makeup everyday just to bring the character to life. Jones got his start not by acting, but as a mime for his University’s mascot.
(16) FAN MAIL FROM A FLOUNDER. The surprising thing
about Richard Paolinelli is not that he wants to be insulting, but that he only
repeats insults someone else thought up first. Which probably informs potential
readers what to expect from his fiction.
There will be no manholes in Berkeley, California. City workers will drop into “maintenance holes” instead.
Nothing will be manmade in the liberal city but “human-made.” And students at the University of California, Berkeley, will join “collegiate Greek system residences” rather than fraternities and sororities.
Berkeley leaders voted unanimously this week to replace about 40 gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms — an effort to be more inclusive that’s drawing both praise and scorn….
(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in to Jeopardy!
on Friday and witnessed this:
Category: African-American Authors.
Answer: In the “African Immortals” series by Tananarive Due, vampire-like beings from this Horn of Africa country prey on the living.
Incorrect questions: “What is Somalia?” and “What is Cape Horn?”
Correct question: “What is Ethiopia?”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat
Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michaeline Duskova, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) HORROR FAN. Tananarive Due was interviewed in the Washington
Post in a story by Elahe Izadi about
how people terrified by horror movies psychologically prepare themselves for
seeing a quality horror film like A Quiet
Place or Us. Due is the executive
producer of Horror Noire and teaches
a course at UCLA on Get Out. “Horror
is a must-see genre again. What’s a scaredy-cat to do?”
Due loved horror as a child, when watching it was a fun way to be scared within a safe context; with age, it became a therapeutic method to deal with heavier anxieties. It’s a lesson she gleaned from her mother, the late civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, who was a horror fan; the genre served as an outlet for the racial trauma she endured.
“Headlines scare me. True crime stories scare me. .?.?. Real, human monstrosity is not fun for me to watch,” Due says. “When those people are supernatural or when there’s a fantasy element, when there’s a monster, now I’m ready to watch because the monster in a horror movie can be a stand-in for real-life monstrosity that lets me engage with it from a distance, but also leech out that trauma and expel it in a way that can feel fun.”
(2) WE LOST. New featurette from Marvel Studios’ Avengers Endgame, in theaters in one month.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Arisen” by Louisa Hall, author of the novels Speak
“Once upon a time,” Jim said, “in a country called Acirema—”
“Acirema,” I said. “How imaginative, it’s—”
“Do you want me to tell this story or not?” Jim said. His tone was suddenly harsh.
Yes, it’s true that there are no true stories. Human beings are story-making creatures, but no story can possibly be better that an edited, digested, spin-doctored version of events in we might still call the real world. The real story makers, the ones who give us our professed fictions, know that well and take full advantage of the techniques and the conveniences of their craft, the better to point us toward thoughts we would not come to so easily otherwise.
Total cost of the shoot, including cast and crew (I’m not taking any salary myself) will be $15,000.
Time is of the essence — we’d like to shoot as soon as possible — and it would mean so much for all of us to be able to make this happen.
(5) WHEN YOU OUTGROW THE
GOLDEN AGE OF SF. John Scalzi gave this example of how his perspective has
changed over time:
He brought back my memory of Harlan Ellison standing in the lobby after a 1977 Star Wars pre-screening, verbally assailing the movie he had just seen. However, the main thrust of Harlan’s complaints were that the story, a throwback to the serials, didn’t represent state-of-the-art science fiction. Likewise, he when he wrote about the movie in Harlan Ellison’s Watching he continued the same theme – that it was superficial, “the human heart is never touched.”
It sounds simple, but it’s not. Sometimes it helps to glance through all the edits, then just close the file. Come back the next day, if you can. Then consider, why did the editor make this suggestion? Don’t dismiss anything, and don’t hold anything too sacred to be changed.
Rule #2: Only make changes you like
It sounds simple, but it’s not. If the editor’s version is smoother, or more correct, or whatever, but you don’t like it, then don’t do it. You’ll be the one answering to readers if it reads funny, but that’s your call. It’s your story. It’s your art. You’re the one who knows what you meant.
(7) GAHAN WILSON. The GoFundMe for Gahan
Wilson has received contributions from 1,180 people amounting to $55,547 of
its $100,000 goal after 23 days. The most recent update said:
Gahan was interviewed today for a newspaper piece that will probably go out nationwide. The people on the reporting team were very sweet and sensitive to Gahan.
Gahan was on his game…speaking about his life and other things.
(8) PUGMIRE OBIT. The horror writer W.H. “Wilum” Pugmire died today, aged 67. The major influence upon his writing was H P Lovecraft, of course, and S T Joshi described him in 2010 as “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.” Scott Edelman tweeted the photo below – Pugmire’s on the right.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 26, 1850 — Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
Born March 26, 1931 — Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. (Died 2015.)
Born March 26, 1942 — Erica Jong, 77. Witches, which was has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths, is still worth your time nearly forty years later. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it soul does more like a romance novel to me. And Sappho’s Leap which they also list just seems soft core lesbian porn with a slight genre twist.
Born March 26, 1950 — K. W. Jeter, 69. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel to The Time Machine , is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
Born March 26, 1953 — Christopher Fowler, 65. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
Born March 26, 1960 — Brenda Strong, 59. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
Born March 26, 1966 — Michael Imperioli, 53. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
Born March 26, 1985 — Keira Knightley, 34. To my surprise and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé (Decoy Queen). Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann though I’ll be damned if I remember her role. (She’s in several more of these films. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.) we saw Herve we saw as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note I must note is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy!
(10) TO SET THE RECORD
STRAIGHT. We got a pair of big things wrong in Andrew Porter’s birthday
listing the other day.
“Science Fiction Chronicle which he founded in May 1980…”
The first issue appeared Labor Day weekend, 1979, at the
Louisville NASFiC, cover dated October 1979.
“Algol now known as Starship lasted less than five years…”
Algol started in
1963; the last issue of Algol/Starship,
#44, appeared in 1984.
(12) VOICES DISSENT. Anime News Network speculates about the
potential for litigation in its story “Kameha
Con Responds to Recent Guest Cancellations”. Several guests bailed
after the con added Vic Mignogna to its lineup. An unnamed lawyer consulted by ANN says they may be in violation of
their contracts if they don’t attend.
The staff of the upcoming Kameha Con in Irving, Texas issued a statement via Facebook and Twitter on Monday regarding recent guest cancellations due to the addition of voice actorVic Mignogna as a guest. Mignogna was added to the convention’s guest roster on March 22 following a previous cancellation by con staff on February 2. Since the announcement, five voice actors have announced they will no longer attend the convention along with multiple panelists.
…“The Right Stuff” tells the true story of the seven military pilots who were selected for the NASA project to launch the first ever manned spaceflight. In a similar way, Carol, an Air Force test pilot, ends up soaring farther than she could have ever expected when she travels into space and becomes a member of the Kree and, later, one of Earth’s superheroes.
In “Us,” that same VHS tape is much easier to miss, and is used in a possibly more ironic and darker context. You can find “The Right Stuff” among the VHS tapes that flank the TV displaying the Hands Across America commercial in the opening scene.
(14) LIVE THEATER. Marjorie Prime, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominee, set in a future
of “beneficial AI,” will be staged in Norwich, CT the next two weekends.
The special feature of the first two performances — March 29 and 31 – will be post-performance
discussions led by sff writers Carlos Hernandez and Paul Di Filippo.
Additional performances Saturday April 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday April 7 at 3 pm
Tickets are $10 in advance or seniors; $12 at door Cash or Check only—no credit cards
Open Seating—limited to 70 attendees
House Opens at 7 pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30 pm Sunday
United Congregational Church Hall 87 Broadway, Norwich CT. (Note: This address brings you to the church’s main door—do NOT enter there. Make first right on Willow Street, right turn into lower level of covered parking deck. A few stairs here. Level entrance and handicapped permit parking available at 11-39 Chestnut Street)
Friday March 29, 7:30 pm
Featuring. . . .a talkback led by Carlos Hernandez. Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). By day, Carlos is a mild-manned reporter associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast. Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.
Sunday March 31, 3 pm
Featuring. . .a talkback led by Paul Di Filippo, who has been publishing professionally for over 40 years. He has continued to reside in Providence throughout his career, with over 200 stories published and many novels. Beginning with The Steampunk Trilogy: (1995), which remains his most widely known title, this shorter material has been assembled in twenty substantial collections. Di Filippo also reviews widely, online and in print.
Ahead of its time when it was released 20 years ago, The Matrix is a monument to Generation X self-pity that is out of step with today, writes Nicholas Barber.
The Matrix was way ahead of its time. The Wachowskis’ tech-noir mind-bender came out in 1999 – 20 years ago – which meant that it reinvented big-screen superhero action a year before X-Men was released and showcased Hong Kong-style ‘wire-fu’ fight choreography a year before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its ‘bullet-time’ effects have been copied by blockbusters ever since, and its thoughts about virtual reality and artificial intelligence have been mimicked just as often. Despite all this, though, in some crucial respects The Matrix has dated so badly that it now seems to be a relic. It is a film that, like the human race in the Wachowskis’ story, is trapped forever in the 1990s.
…It’s a fantastic premise, but it does have its flaws. Twenty years on, it’s embarrassing to see a white male saviour with two sidekicks – one black, one female – whose primary task is to assure him how gifted he is. The female sidekick, Trinity, even falls in love with him for no reason except, I suppose, that he looks like Keanu Reeves. And, in general, Anderson/Neo is one of those uninspiring heroes who do next to nothing to earn their hero status. He becomes an unbeatable martial artist not by training for years, but by being plugged into a teaching program for a few hours. And he becomes omnipotent in the Matrix not because he is particularly brave, noble or clever, but because, as Morpheus says, he is willing “to believe”.
The largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains could soon be built in Virginia and, depending on whom you ask, it would be either a dangerous eyesore that will destroy the area’s rural character or a win-win, boosting the local economy and the environment. The solar panels would be spread across 10 square miles — 1.8 million panels soaking up the sun’s rays.
The project is planned for Spotsylvania County, about 60 miles south of Washington, D.C. Amid the county’s Civil War battlefields, farms and timberland, a fight is raging over the future of energy in Virginia, and in the Eastern U.S.
The heart of the solar resistance is in a gated community called Fawn Lake, built around a golf course and man-made lake.
“I mean we live at a resort, essentially,” says Dave Walsh, one of the many Fawn Lake residents organizing against the planned solar farm. One corner of the massive project would butt up against the back of the gated community. Walsh says he supports solar, in theory, but not here.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) MANGA AT THE MUSEUM. The
British Museum will host an exhibit on “Manga”
from May 23-August 26.
Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide in the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan.
Manga is a visual narrative art form that has become a multimedia global phenomenon, telling stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds.
Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.
Japanese manga artists find inspiration for their work in daily life, the world around them, and also in the ancient past. Many people are familiar with modern manga, but the art form – with its expressive lines and images – is much older than you might think. …Here is a brief history of Japanese manga in 12 works.
“Patrick isn’t playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard this time, he’s done with Starfleet in this show. That’s about the only thing I do know about the show,” he said.
(3) VERDICT COMING FOR
OPPORTUNITY. NASA has received only silence
from Opportunity since contact was lost during a global dust storm on the red
planet last June. The agency may soon decide to move on. The New York Times has the story — “‘This
Could Be the End’ for NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover”.
…The designers of the spacecraft expected that dust settling out of the Martian air would pile up on the solar panels, and the rovers would soon fail from lack of power. But unexpectedly, gusts of Martian winds have repeatedly provided helpful “cleaning events” that wiped the panels clean and boosted power back up.
In 2009, Spirit became ensnared in a sand trap and stopped communicating in March 2010, unable to survive the Martian winter.
Opportunity continued trundling across the Martian landscape for more than 28 miles. Instead of just 90 Martian days, Opportunity lasted 5,111, if the days are counted up until it sent its last transmission. (A Martin day is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.)
This time, the dust may have been too thick to be blown away or something else broke on the rover. John L. Callas, the project manager, conceded that hopes were fading. “We’re now in January getting close to the end of the historic dust cleaning season,” he said.
Cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in his essay “Black to the Future,”and its meaning has expanded to encompass alternative visions of the future influenced by astral jazz, African-American sci-fi, psychedelic hip-hop, rock, rhythm and blues, and more. This reading is co-sponsored with PEN/Faulkner Foundation as part of its Literary Conversations series and The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Poetry and Literature Center.
The reading at the Folger will be preceded by a moderated
conversation with all three writers at the Library of Congress. This event
is free and will take place at 4 p.m. Register here.
(5) FANTASTIC WOMEN. As part of the celebration of Women’s History Month, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the National Museum of Women in the Arts will present “Fantastic Women” on March 10 in Washington, DC.
Join us in celebrating the work of Lesley Nneka Arimah, Kelly Link, and Carmen Maria Machado, women writers who all use elements of the fantastic in their work, often in ways that allow them to explore crucial themes (power, sexuality, identity, the body) without the constraints imposed by strict realism. These authors play with the boundaries of time and space through short stories and novels, and use their writing to push back against the traditional boundaries of women’s fiction.
…An eye-opening moment for Kloos came when he attended another science fiction workshop: the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, held each year at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. (Disclaimer — I was an attendee in 2014). The week-long boot camp is engineered to impart science fiction writers with a baseline of astronomy and physics knowledge, with the idea that more scientifically accurate works will in turn help provide readers with better science. “That gave me a lot of ideas that I wanted to put into this series,” he says, “and basically created the solar system from scratch.”
The workshop “taught me all the things I did wrong with Frontlines, which was luckily not a whole lot,” Kloos says, “but there are some whoppers in there, like a colony around a star that does not support a habitable zone.”
(7) BLEAK ENOUGH FOR YOU? Behind a paywall at the Financial Times, John Lanchester argues
that Brave New Worlds did a better
job than 1984 in predicting the
One particular area of Huxley’s prescience concerned the importance of data. He saw the information revolution coming–in the form of gigantic card-indexes, but he got the gist. It is amusing to see how many features of Facebook, in particular, are anticipated by Brave New World. Facebook’s mission statement ‘to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’ sounds a lot like the new world’s motto ‘Community, Identity, Stability.’ The world in which we ‘haven’t any use for old things’ dovetails with Mark Zuckerberg’s view that ‘young people are just smarter.’ The meeting room whose name is Only Good News–can you guess whether that belongs to Huxley’s world controller, or Sheryl Sandberg? The complete ban on the sight of breast feeding is common to the novel and to the website. The public nature of relationship status, the idea that everything should be shared, and the idea that ‘everyone belongs to everyone else’ are also common themes of the novel and the company–and above all, the idea, perfectly put by Zuckerberg and perfectly exemplifying Huxley’s main theme, that ‘privacy is an outdated norm.’
(8) HAMIT. Francis
Hamit, a longtime contributor here, has a new Patreon
He says, “There is s lot of free stuff in the Public area. Some of it is
even science fiction. Feedback is welcome and the minimum sign-up is
$2.25 a month for those who want to support my efforts.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Andy Vajna, the Hollywood producer who died earlier this week, have appeared in a just-released video from the set of the latest movie in the “Terminator” franchise, which shot in Hungary last year.
The behind-the-scenes promotional video, posted online by the Hungarian National Film Fund, sees Schwarzenegger and the movie’s director, Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), sing the praises of Budapest as a location, and Vajna complimenting the “Terminator” franchise. It ends with Schwarzenegger saying, “I’ll be back.”
It was Vajna’s last set visit to one of the international productions filming in Hungary, where he served as the government commissioner for the film industry. With partner Mario Kassar, Vajna founded the indie powerhouse Carolco, which produced blockbusters including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the first three “Rambo” films and “Basic Instinct.” He died Sunday in Budapest after a long illness. He was 74.
(10) AN ANCIENT EASTERCON.
Rob Hansen has added a section about “Bullcon
– the 1963 Eastercon” to his British fanhistory website THEN “featuring
the usual cornucopia of old photos:”
BULLCON the 1963 UK National Science Fiction Convention – the fifth to be run under the aupices of the B.S.F.A. – took place over the weekend of 12th April – 15th April, 1963. It was held at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough (see it today here), as it would also be the following year. Guest of Honour was Bruce Montgomery aka Edmund Crispin. In SKYRACK, Ron Bennett reported that: “this was the best attended British Convention to date, with over 130 avid fans gathering to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the British Science Fiction Association.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 26, 1928 – Roger Vadim. Director of Barbarella which was based on the comic series of the same name by Jean-Claude Forest. Need I note that it starred Jane Fonda in the title role? (Died 2000.)
Born January 26, 1928 – Philip Jose Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered BodiesGo, The Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well. (Died 2009.)
Born January 26, 1943 – Judy-Lynn Del Rey. Editor at Ballantine Books after first starting at Galaxy Magazine. Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
Born January 26, 1949 – Jonathan Carroll, 70. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
Born January 26, 1979 – Yoon Ha Lee, 40. Best known for his Machineries of Empire space opera novels and his short fiction. Ninefox Gambit, his first novel, received the 2017 Locus Award for Best First Novel. His newest novel, Dragon Pearl, riffs off the fox spirit mythology.
Do you have a writing routine? More or less. I get up, walk my cat (or more accurately, she walks me), maybe work on one of the languages I’m trying to learn (French, German, Welsh, Korean, and Japanese), brew myself a cup of tea, then set up in my study. For a long project like a novel, I usually write in Scrivener, although for a shorter project or to mix things up I sometimes write longhand with fountain pen. When I’m working in Scrivener, it gives me a running wordcount. So every 100 words that I write, I go to my bullet journal and write out the phrase, “100 words down, 1,900 words to f***ing go!” “200 words down, 1,800 words to f***ing go!” It’s kind of aggro but it keeps me going? I generally aim for 2,000 words in a writing day. More than that and my brain seizes up.
(13) ST:D RECAP. Let Camestros
Felapton fill you in on the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery: “Discovery:
Discovery decides to play it safe with an episode that’s so The Next Generation that it needs Commander Riker to direct it.
The mystery of the red signals leads Discovery to the Beta quadrant via a quick use of the spore drive. There they discover a colony of humans from pre-warp Earth. Meanwhile in orbit, the collapse of a planetary ring of radioactive rocks (just go along with it) imperils not just the lost colony of humans but the away team (Pike, Michael and crew member of the week).
It’s nice enough. There’s a theme of faith versus science with Pike sort of taking one side and Michael the other.
“I think this is very uplifting. We’re all still in this room. There’s still books, people are still reading them,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin and much more, during the breakfast keynote on the second day of Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, N.Mex.
“Part of the uptick of books is that’s one of the places people go when they feel under both political and psychological pressure,” Atwood continued. “It is actually quite helpful to know that other people have been through similar things before, and have come out of them.”
Atwood was in conversation with Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus and the upcoming The Starless Sea, and during a wide-ranging, illuminating and often funny discussion, topics ranged from forthcoming novels to blurring genre lines, early book-signing experiences, and past and present reactions to The Handmaid’s Tale.
On the subject of her new novel, The Testaments—the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale coming from Nan Talese/Doubleday on September 10—Atwood joked that her publisher would kill her if she said too much, but she did say that it is set 16 years after the events of the previous book and features three narrators. Beyond that, her publisher “would be very cross” with her.
When asked what led her to return to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale more than 30 years later, Atwood replied that there have “always been a lot of questions asked” about the book, like what happens next and what happens to the main character after the end of the novel. She said that she never answered those questions, because she didn’t know. Writing The Testaments, Atwood explained, was “an exploration of the answers” to those many questions
More than a decade ago, Jay Asher’s young adult novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” a dark story about a bullied teenager who kills herself, became an unexpected best-seller. Teachers and librarians around the country embraced the novel as a timely and groundbreaking treatment of bullying and teenage suicide, and the novel went on to sell several million copies. A popular Netflix adaptation set off controversy over its depiction of the causes of suicide, but still drew hordes of new readers to the book, and has been renewed for a third season.
Then, last year, Mr. Asher’s career imploded when he was accused of sexual misconduct, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announced that he had violated the professional organization’s anti-harassment policy. The repercussions were swift: His literary agency dropped him, speaking engagements and book signings evaporated, and some bookstores removed his novels from their shelves.
Now Mr. Asher, who denied the allegations, has filed a lawsuit against the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the group’s executive director, Lin Oliver, claiming that Ms. Oliver and the organization made false and defamatory statements about him that torpedoed his career, and caused financial harm and intentional emotional distress.
(16) ONE SMALL STEP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Checkers? Long since mastered. Chess? Mere child’s play. Go?
Can’t you make me work a little?
In London last month, a team from Alphabet’s UK-based artificial intelligence research unit DeepMind quietly laid a new marker in the contest between humans and computers. On Thursday it revealed the achievement in a three-hour YouTube stream, in which aliens and robots fought to the death.
DeepMind’s broadcast showed its artificial intelligence bot, AlphaStar, defeating a professional player at the complex real-time strategy videogame StarCraft II. Humanity’s champion, 25-year-old Grzegorz Komincz of Poland, lost 5-0. The machine-learning-powered software appeared to have discovered strategies unknown to the pros who compete for millions of dollars in prizes offered each year in one of e-sports’ most lucrative games. “It was different from any StarCraft that I have played,” said Komincz, known professionally as MaNa.
[…] Mark Riedl, an associate professor at Georgia Tech, found Thursday’s news exciting but not jaw-dropping. “We were pretty much to a point where it was just a matter of time,” he says. “In a way, beating humans at games has gotten boring.”
The Vision and Scarlet Witch, one of the first series that Marvel Studios will be making for Disney’s streaming service Disney+, has landed a writer and showrunner.
Jac Schaeffer, one of the scribes behind Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel movie, has been tapped to run point on the series that will focus on the two characters that are integral members of the Avengers. She will pen the pilot and executive produce, say sources.
Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen are expected to star in the series, reprising the roles they originated on the big screen.
…As The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico is set to premiere, my guess is that audience response to the series’ fitfully immigration-heavy perspective will fall into two camps.
First: “Keep your politics out of my teen-friendly supernatural soaps!” This group of detractors will be frustrated that a series about aliens set in the American Southwest in 2019 would attempt to connect that extreme circumstance to what is actually happening at the border in 2019. Leaving aside that those people may not like or understand science fiction on a very fundamental level, they won’t like Roswell, New Mexico anyway.
Second: “If this is your skid, steer into it!” This’ll be from those who want Roswell, New Mexico to do more with the immigration metaphor or, rather, to approach it better. It’s the thing that makes Roswell, New Mexico relevant as a brand reinvention, so there’s very little purpose in soft-selling it.
It is always an awkward situation when a movie or TV show spells something wrong in the credits. This can be problematic if an actor’s name is spelled wrong, but as for Star Trek, the word “script” was spelled incorrectly for 13 episodes of season 1.
When giving the crew member George A. Rutter his title, the credits credit him as a “Scpipt” Supervisor. This mistake was eventually fixed on the show, but in the ‘60s, it likely would have cost a lot of money to redo the credits to fix one spelling error.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]