As part of the Raw Science Film Festival 2020, The Expanse was named winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media.
Selecting for the Clarke Center Prize in Speculative Media was a difficult choice—it has been an amazing year for speculative arts across genres and media—but The Expanse continues to portray a vision of humankind’s future in the solar system that is diverse and inspirational, while exploring issues of inequality and ethics through their storytelling. Congratulations to the showrunners, producers, writers, cast, and crew for their extraordinary accomplishment!
Raw Science Film Festival (RSFF) is an annual event that takes place in Los Angeles, California and brings together people across science, technology, entertainment and media from across the world to showcase best in class film and media from around the globe. The event was initially made possible through the support of the National Academy of Sciences and The Science and Entertainment Exchange.
The mission of RSFF is to humanize science and bring fact-based experts to the forefront of popular culture by celebrating the best science storytelling in the world. The top festival winners are awarded theatrical Oscar qualifying runs. The goal is to create a world class film festival for science media on par with Cannes or Sundance, and to extend the festival globally. The festival was created by Raw Science Inc. founder Keri Kukral.
Earlier this year I was putting together an anthology project to be called And the Hugo Goes To …. The idea was to collect all my stories that were nominated for the Hugo Award. Now, I have had a lot of nominations in my career, and have won three times. Putting them all together would make up a fairly healthy volume.
…Except that fact that one of the books to be published again was The John Varley Reader, which contained most of the stories. It made no sense to put that book and the new one in print. So the Hugo book was dead.
But not quite. I still had fun writing the intros, and I would hate to see them go into the trunk, never to be seen. So I am going to experiment.
…I am going to go the Doctorow route. You can read all the intros at the link right HERE.
Then, should you decide they are worth something, you can go to that little yellow button on the Welcome box at the home page, the one that says DONATE. You can’t miss it. That will take you to PayPal, where you can decide what you want to pay. I don’t know what to suggest. $5? $10? $2? More, less? It’s entirely up to you.
And should you want to read them for free, or if you don’t think they are worth anything, that’s cool, too. We can get along eating dog food for another year.
Here’s a small taste of
what Varley put on the table –
…But I gave it a shot. I wrote a four-page story, pecking it out painstakingly on a borrowed typewriter. I can’t recall anything at all about that story. I sent it off to Mr. H.L. Gold, the editor of Galaxy, my favorite magazine at that time. He sent it back with a form rejection slip, and he had written at the bottom: “Nice try, but not quite.”
You think I was disappointed? Not a bit! Those five words, from a man who lived in New York City and edited the finest magazine in the world, just had me walking on air. I’d have framed that rejection slip and hung it on the wall if I could have afforded a frame….
Space-based science fiction places a lot of attention on the transportation of goods.
Whether it’s a Lissepian captain hauling self-sealing stem bolts from Deep Space 9 or the crew of Firefly delivering cattle to the colony of Jiangyin, we are often presented with depictions of how goods are moved from one location to another.
This focus is probably a reflection of the modern neoliberal consensus that globalized trade is a good and necessary thing, and is a trend in science fiction that is worth questioning.
The large-scale movement of goods only makes sense if there is a strong economic incentive; if it is cheaper to build something in one location rather than another, if the skills to build something are only available in one location, or if the resources are only available in one location. When you see the depiction of merchant space ships travelling on regular runs between two locations, it implies that there are entire planets where it is cheaper to build something, and markets looking to buy those things.
Is inter-jurisdictional trade really that scalable?
(3) ABEBOOKS QUIZ. Answer appears at the end of the Scroll.
The science fiction writer Liu Cixin, author of “The Three-Body Problem,” a richly layered Chinese novel that describes first contact with extraterrestrial life forms, foresees the transforming effect of artificial intelligence.
“I don’t believe that in 2050 strong artificial intelligence that surpasses human beings will appear, but AI will have developed enough to compete with humans for jobs,” Mr. Liu says in a written statement to the Monitor, translated from Chinese by staff writer Ann Scott Tyson.
“This will have two possible profound implications for society,” he says. “One is that the jobless public and AI will be in a long-standing conflict, causing long-term social turmoil and instability. The second is that humans will have smoothed out the relationship with AI and established a leisurely life in which people reduce their working hours or even don’t need to work. The latter, however, will require major changes in the current political and economic distribution system of mankind.” …
“This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper.”
Then again, what does T.S. Eliot know? As far as the movies go, the possibilities for destroying our planet or civilizations are downright infinite. Certainly, in light of several recent predictions claiming that the end of the world is ‘nigh (most of which have passed, mind you), the apocalypse has naturally been on a lot of peoples’ minds.
And so it goes: What’s prevalent in society’s consciousness is subsequently reflected in our pop culture. This means a surge of movies dealing with a world-ending event. Dramatic or funny; action-packed and exciting or slow and deliberate; real life or supernatural—there’s an apocalypse story for everyone….
6. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Inspired by the classic 1962 French short film La Jetée, 12 Monkeys went on to become the rare financial success in the notoriously disaster-prone career of former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. Bruce Willis plays a mentally unstable convict from an apocalyptic future who is sent back in time to halt the release of a deadly virus that will kill billions. Featuring great performances from Willis and a decidedly un-glamorized Brad Pitt, 12 Monkeys bears that rare distinction of containing all the creative visuals and quirks that make Gilliam films great without the incoherent, scatter-brained plotting that often proves to be their downfall.
(6) WITCHER WATCHER. In the Washington
Post, Sonia Rao previews the Netflix series The Witcher,
including news about Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, on whose novels the
series is based, and how the series “is like turning on a self-aware B
you toss a coin to ‘The Witcher’?”
Perhaps you would remain stone-faced, a reaction typical of the Witcher himself, given that Cavill plays him as a brooding hunk wandering the Continent — which, yes, is what this magical, medieval society calls its continent. Or maybe you would be inclined to give “The Witcher” a chance. It’s been advertised as Netflix’s very own “Game of Thrones” but has also proved to be an entertaining fantasy series in its own right. That’s not to say it’s good, per se, but that it’s so bizarre, it’s hard to look away.
CAT. In “Kneading
Into the Comfort of Cozy Cat Mysteries”, on Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth
explains the rules of cozy mysteries with cats in them, including that you
can’t put a cat on the cover unless the cat is a character and you can’t kill a
cat in a cozy cat mystery.
…Within the wider world of the cozy, there is the cat cozy. These specifically were pioneered by Lilian Jackson Braun, who launched the “Cat Who” series in the mid-1960s, took a couple of decades off, then returned in the 1980s after she retired and continued writing them regularly almost until she died in 2011. She was joined in the 1990s by Rita Mae Brown—whom you may know as the author of the classic lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle—who began “cowriting” her Mrs. Murphy series with her own cat, Sneaky Pie Brown. The cat mystery became a thing unto itself, a world within the broader universe of cozy mysteries.
(8) IF YOU GIVE THE GAME AFOOT IT’LL TAKE A MILE. In “The Year in
Sherlock Holmes” on CrimeReads, Lyndsay Faye summarizes
2019’s Sherlockian developments, including two new Sherlock Holmes
conventions, the end of Elementary, and the postponement of the next
Robert Downey Jr. Holmes movie until at least 2021.
…CBS’s highly regarded procedural Elementary wrapped up its seventh season this year, and it’s with a heavy heart that I take up my proverbial pen to say goodbye to Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu’s Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. An unflinching look at sobriety and addiction—as well as unapologetically progressive casting regarding both race and gender—helped to bring the Great Detective and the Good Doctor to a new generation of enthusiasts. Kinder than BBC’s Sherlock (and in some ways more respectful of the original material—there, I said it, and I’m not taking it back either), Elementary not only stood on its own two feet as a modern crime drama, but contained scores of delightful Easter eggs for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 4, 1982 — Doctor Who first aired “Castrovalva, Part 1”, the first full episode of the Fifth Doctor as played by Peter Davison. He would play the Fifth Doctor for three series which were twenty stories in totality. As a Baker preceded him in the role, a Baker would follow him in playing the role.
January 4, 2002 — Impostor premiered in limited release. in California. Produced by a large group including Gary Sinise, best know for CSI: NY, with a screenplay by Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger and David Twohy off the Dick’s “Impostor” story which was first published in Astounding SF magazine in June, 1953. The 11th Worldcon held in Philadelphia didn’t do a Hugo for Best Short Story, so there’s no telling how it might’ve done that year. The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 41% from reviewers.
January 4, 2011 — Monster Mutt was released on DVD. It’s making these notes because of The Baby discussion we’ve been having. Monster Mutt, the very large dog with that name, is not CGI but is yes a puppet requiring five people to control its movements. Critics actually liked the puppet and the film as well, even though it has a rather weak 40% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 4, 1890 — Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book in the early Thirties by publishing original material instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.)
Born January 4, 1927 — Barbara Rush, 93. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone.
Born January 4, 1930 — Ruth Kyle. OGH has her touching story here. Warning: it has Isaac Asimov behaving badly at a Con material. Just kidding. Maybe. (Died 2011.)
Born January 4, 1946 — Ramsey Campbell, 74. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb.
Born January 4, 1958 — Matt Frewer, 62. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well-crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh, do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like.
Born January 4, 1960 — Michael Stipe, 60. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could are genre adjacent. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed!
Born January 4, 1985 — Lenora Crichlow, 35. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She played also Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012. And she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” of Black Mirror.
Born January 4, 2000 — Addy Miller, 20. She is on the Birthday List for being Sarah in Plan 9. Really? They remade that movie? Why? And yes, she played A Walker in that other show. My fav role by her is because of the title, it was a short called Ghost Trek: Goomba Body Snatchers Mortuary Lockdown, in which she was Scary Carrie Carmichael. And yes, you can watch it here.
However, only three seasons had been sold to Syfy and there are eight novels in the series with a ninth on the way. Not long after Season 3 started to air, Syfy announced it had not purchased the rights for future seasons because of restrictive distribution arrangements, and on May 11, 2018, it was officially canceled.
However, by now the show had built up a considerable following and fans protested the cancellation.
Such a display of displeasure from fans isn’t entirely unusual. When “Star Trek: The Original Series” was canceled in 1968 after just two seasons, a letter-writing campaign orchestrated by fans – Bjo and John Trimble in particular – kept the show on the air for an additional season. And while one more season might not seem like a substantial victory, it set a precedent for many subsequent campaigns to keep shows on the air. Some were successful, like “Star Trek” and “Quantum Leap,” but sadly, others weren’t, like “Firefly” and “Almost Human” – both were canceled by Fox after just one season, and both were high-quality sci-fi shows with massive potential that had amassed a loyal fan base in a short amount of time….
…Although his work usually involved creating a fanciful future, it sometimes ended up depicting the actual future. A 2012 exhibition of his artwork in Manhattan included a painting from decades earlier that showed people using hand-held information devices; they could easily pass as modern-day smartphone users. In 1969 he envisioned a personal transportation system called a unipod that used gyroscope technology — what is now used in devices like the Segway personal transporter.
Special fibers that change color when they are under strain have helped scientists come up with some simple rules that can predict how a knot will perform in the real world.
There’s a whole field of mathematics that studies knots, to explore abstract properties of idealized curves. “But that’s not what you care about if you are, for example, a sailor or a climber and you need to tie something which holds,” says Vishal Patil, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose new findings appear in the journal Science.
People have used knots since ancient times, notes Patil, and thousands of knots have been invented. Yet scientists struggle to explain why knots do what they do. Most of what’s known about them comes from long experience, rather than any theoretical understanding.
For example, take the granny knot and the reef knot — two simple knots that look very similar but behave very differently.
“It’s quite easy to see this, if you just take a shoelace or a bit of string and you tie it. If you pull on the reef knot, it tends to hold. And if you pull on the granny knot, it tends to slip quite easily,” says Patil. “The fact that they behave so differently suggests that there must be some story there, something you can say mathematically and physically about them.”
Space travel is not always high-tech. When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, seamstresses made their spacesuits at a company famous for stitching latex into Playtex bras.
During the Space Shuttle era, a group of 18 women were in charge of all soft goods – the fabrics for machine and hand sewing the spaceplane’s thermal blankets. These women became known as the Sew Sisters.
Presenter, artist and former Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott meets some of these ‘sew sisters’ from past and present missions and celebrates their contributions,,,.
Here’s a quiz question: what do using road navigation systems, keeping time consistent around the world and having accurate stock exchange data have in common? The answer is that they all depend on working satellites. But an increasing amount of debris polluting space is now posing a risk to all those services. So one Japanese firm, Astroscale, has been working on ways to clean up space junk. Its founder and chief executive Nobu Okada explains.
…Having been let go by Working Wildlife (which specializes in providing exotic species for entertainment productions), he was dropped off in March at a financially struggling nonprofit sanctuary near Angeles National Forest, just outside of Los Angeles. The facility shut down in August, and Eli and more than 40 other chimps, many of whom arrived from research labs, have since been under the on-site care of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We are currently in discussion with a high-quality facility that may provide a permanent home for Eli,” says Kirsten Macintyre, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
The 9-year-old chimpanzee’s transition out of the business, as typically occurs when the species reaches adolescence, is part of a larger trend away from using real wild creatures to “act” onscreen. (While chimps, orangutans and elephants are being phased out, it’s still mostly business as usual for species like big cats and bears.)
… Eli — who appeared in commercials (Microsoft), music videos (One Direction) and the occasional TV show (TBS’ Angie Tribeca) — saw his own output curbed by the effort, with a Geico ad pulled and scenes from a season of MasterChef Junior cut. PETA primate expert Debbie Metzler is proud of the result. “A decade ago, there were at least a dozen chimpanzees working,” she says. “Now there are zero.”
Researchers in an ultracold environment get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction
Call it a serendipity dividend. A big one.
Kang-Kuen Ni set out to do something that had never been done before. The Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and of Physics and a pioneer of ultracold chemistry had built a new apparatus that could achieve the lowest temperature chemical reactions of any currently available technology. Then she and her team successfully forced two ultracold molecules to meet and react, breaking and forming the coldest bonds in the history of molecular couplings.
While they were doing that, something totally unanticipated and important also happened.
In such intense cold — 500 nanokelvin, or just a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero — the molecules slowed to such sluggish speeds that Ni and her team saw something no one has ever seen before: the moment when two molecules meet to form two new molecules. In essence, they captured a chemical reaction in its most critical and elusive act.
“Because [the molecules] are so cold,” Ni said, “now we kind of have a bottleneck effect.”
Chemical reactions are responsible for literally everything: from making soap, pharmaceuticals, and energy to cooking, digesting, and breathing. Understanding how they work at a fundamental level could help researchers design reactions the world has never seen. Maybe, for example, novel molecular couplings could enable more-efficient energy production, new materials like mold-proof walls, or even better building blocks for quantum computers. The world offers an almost infinite number of potential combinations to test.
…Ni’s ultracold temperatures force reactions to a comparatively numbed speed. When she and her team reacted two potassium rubidium molecules — chosen for their pliability —the ultracold temperatures forced the molecules to linger in the intermediate stage for mere millionths of a second. So-called microseconds may seem short, but that’s millions of times longer than ever achieved, and enough time for Ni and her team to investigate the phase when bonds break and form — in essence, how one molecule turns into another.
Standing amid his life’s work inside a cavernous warehouse in San Fernando, John Zabrucky is eager to show off what he calls his most famous “machine.”
But first, he must scuttle past a spaceship command deck, rows of computer consoles, radar scanners, shelves packed with sophisticated high-tech gadgetry — and even an alien autopsy, before arriving at the futuristic device.
“We did this for the original ‘Incredible Hulk,’ the TV series, back in the late ’70s,” said Zabrucky, the founder and president of Modern Props.
Since then, the device has been seen in more than 100 hundred feature films and TV shows, including “Austin Powers” and multiple episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Giving it a once-over, Zabrucky adds with a sparkle of pride, “You can see how well it’s made.” The apparatus has turned up in so many shows that a fan created a YouTube video devoted to its many appearances, dubbing it “the most important device in the universe.”
Zabrucky’s magnum opus, with its pair of giant elongated glass tubes that glow variously in yellow, red and orange, operated by a cutting-edge control board with dials, buttons and a joy stick, looks as if it would be right at home inside the CERN particle collider lab in Switzerland….
(20) ABEBOOKS QUIZ ANSWER.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, John
King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) WELCOME WAGON. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal responded
to the Romance
Writers of America meltdown by tweeting, “As president of SFWA, please
accept my invitation to consider our organization if you feel your work has a
kinship with SFF, even a tenuous tie.” Thread starts here.
This Cele Lalli discovery, just 24 years old, garnered three Galactic Stars this year.
He narrowly beats out Harry Harrison (and Harrison might have been on top, but he came out with clunkers as well as masterpieces this year).
And bless the Journey staff for recognizing newzines in
this category —
Starspinkle gave up the ghost last month, though it has a lookalike sequel, Ratatosk. They were/are both nice little gossip biweeklies.
(3) CLASSIC IRISH FANWRITING. The Willis
Papers by Walt Willis is the latest free download produced by David
Langford in hopes of inspiring donations to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.
A collection covering the first decade (and a bit) of Walt Willis’s fanzine writing, from his 1948 debut in Slant to 1959, edited by George W. Field and published by Ted Johnstone in August 1961. As well as twenty-two classic Willis articles, there are Prefaces by both editor and publisher, while Vin¢ Clarke and John Berry provide not entirely serious tributes to the great man.
The text of The Willis Papers was long ago transcribed into HTML by Judy Bemis for Fanac.org, and this Ansible Editions ebook is gratefully based on that version. The cover photograph of Walt Willis at the 1957 London Worldcon was taken by Peter West. (From the Ethel Lindsay photo archive, courtesy of Rob Hansen.) Ebook released on 25 December 2019. 31,500 words.
Walt Willis was born in October 1919, and his centenary in 2019 has been little remarked in science fiction fandom.
…Publishers inside and outside China say the release of American books has come to a virtual standstill, cutting them off from a big market of voracious readers.
“American writers and scholars are very important in every sector,” said Sophie Lin, an editor at a private publishing company in Beijing. “It has had a tremendous impact on us and on the industry.” After new titles failed to gain approval, she said, her company stopped editing and translating about a dozen pending books to cut costs.
The Chinese book world is cautiously optimistic that the partial trade truce reached this month between Beijing and Washington will break the logjam, according to book editors and others in the publishing industry who spoke to The New York Times.
… Still, publishing industry insiders describe a near freeze of regulatory approvals, one that could make the publishing industry reluctant to buy the rights to sell American books in China.
“Chinese publishers will definitely change their focus,” said Andy Liu, an editor at a Beijing publishing company, adding that the United States was one of China’s most frequent and profitable sources of books.
“Publishing American books is now a risky business,” he said. “It’s shaking the very premise of trying to introduce foreign books” as a business.
While China is known for its censorship, it is also a huge market for books, including international ones. It has become the world’s second-largest publishing market after the United States, according to the International Publishers Association, as an increasingly educated and affluent country looks for something engrossing to curl up with.
This time around, you get to take a seat at the table with Bob Proehl, who published his first novel in in 2016. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is about the star of a cult sci-fi TV show and her nine-year-old son making a cross-country road trip with many stops at comic book conventions along the way, and was named a Booklist best book of the year.
His latest novel, The Nobody People, about the emergence of super-powered beings who’ve been living among us, came out earlier this year…
We slipped away to Sabatino’s Italian restaurant …where we chatted over orders of veal parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana. (I’ll leave it to you to guess which of us was the carnivore, though I suspect that if you’re a regular listener, you’ll already know.)
We discussed how it really all began for him with poetry, the way giving a non-comics reader Watchmen for their first comic is like giving a non-novel reader Ulysses as their first novel, why discovering Sandman was a lifesaver, the reason the Flying Burrito Brothers 1968 debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin matters so much to him, why he had a case of Imposter Syndrome over his first book and how he survived it, the reasons he’s so offended by The Big Bang Theory, what he meant when he said “I actually like boring books,” his love for The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Men, whether it’s hard to get a beer in New York at six o’clock in the morning, why he wasn’t disappointed in the Lost finale, and much more.
…Of course the tweet is simply just that a tweet, and doesn’t mean anything will come it. However, Chu is a hot name in the industry after directing the 2018 hit Crazy Rich Asians, he would be a fantastic choice to develop a Rose Tico series. Chu is currently working on the film adaptation of In The Heights based on the hit broadway musical, and will return to direct China Rich Girlfriend.
You also mentioned that your time at New Worlds was an exciting one as it provided you with the possibility to read the manuscripts of Ballard’s stories even before they were printed. What’s interesting to me is that, while writers like Aldiss or Moorcock, who loved SF and fantasy genre and helped revitalize it (although Aldiss later disowned his participation in the new wave “movement”), Ballard seemed to quickly abandon the genre (except, maybe, for Hello America).
I think it took Ballard a long time to “abandon” the genre, if he can be said to have done that, and that the process began much earlier than people admit. From the beginning his relationship to science fiction was modified by his personality, his needs as a writer, and his many cultural influences outside SF. So from the outset of his career he was working his way towards the idiopathic manner we associate with short stories like “The Terminal Beach” and novels like The Drought and The Atrocity Exhibition. It was not so much an “abandonment” as a steady evolutionary process. This happens with writers. They develop.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Stephen R., we take a look at the time that Clark Kent had to help Kurt Vonnegut finish a novel!
The story appeared in 1974’s Superman #274 by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Vince Colletta, where Clark Kent and Kurt Vonnegut are both on a talk show together…
The “Wade Halibut” name is a reference to Vonnegut’s famous fictional writer, Kilgore Trout, who appeared in many of Vonnegut’s classic works, like Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five…
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 27, 1904 –J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan premiered in London.
December 27, 1951 — Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere premiered on film screens. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace A. Grissel with a script by Royal G. Cole, Sherman I. Lowe and Joseph F. Poland. Judd Holdren, in what was only his second starring screen role, plays Captain Video, the leader of a group of crime-fighters known as the Video Rangers. This fifteen-part movie serial is unusual as it’s based off a tv series, Captain Video and His Video Rangers. Like most similar series, critical reviews are scant and there is no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It was popular enough that it aired repeatedly until the early Sixties. There’s a few episodes up on YouTube – here’s one.
December 27, 1995 — Timemaster premiered on this date. It was directed by James Glickenhaus and starred his son Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, Pat Morita and Duncan Regehr. It also features Michelle Williams in one of her first film roles, something she now calls one of the worst experiences of her acting career. The film got universally negative, if not actively hostile, reviews and has a 0% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 27, 1888 — Thea von Harbou. She penned the novel Metropolis based upon her uncredited screenplay of that film for husband Fritz Lang. She also collaborated with him on other projects, none of which save her 1922 Phantom screenplay appear to be genre. (Died 1954.)
Born December 27, 1917 — Ken Slater. In 1947, while serving in the British Army, he started Operation Fantast, a network of fans which had eight hundred members around the world by the early Fifties though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was a major importer of American SFF books and magazines into the U.K. – an undertaking which he continued, after it ceased to exist, through his company Fantast up to the time of his passing. He was a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958. (Died 2008.)
Born December 27, 1938 — Jean Hale, 81. If you’ve watched Sixties genre television, you’ve likely seen her as she showed up on My Favorite Martian, In Like Flint (at least genre adjacent), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Brother the Angel, Wild Wild West, Batman and Tarzan.
Born December 27, 1948 — Gerard Depardieu, 71. He’s in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet which we all agree (I think we agree) is genre. He plays Obélix in the French film Asterix & Obélix and Asterix at the Olympic Games: Mission Cleopatra and is Cardinal Mazarin in La Femme Musketeer.
Born December 27, 1951 — Robbie Bourget, 68. She started out as an Ottawa area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She was a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years (she was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon) before she moved to London in the late Nineties.
Born December 27, 1951 — Charles Band, 68. ExploItation film maker who’s here because some of his source material is SFF in origin. Arena was scripted off the Fredric Brown “Arena” short story which first ran in the June 1944 Astounding, and From Beyond which was based on H P Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, first published in June 1934 issue of The Fantasy Fan.
Born December 27, 1960 — Maryam d’Abo, 59. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got piss poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role in it.
Born December 27, 1969 — Sarah Jane Vowell, 50. She’s a author, journalist, essayist, historian, podcaster, social commentator and actress. Impressive, but she gets Birthday Honors for being the voice of Violet Parr in the Incredibles franchise. I say franchise as I’ve no doubt that a third film is already bring scripted.
Born December 27, 1977 — Sinead Keenan, 42. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story “The End of Time” as Addams, but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
Born December 27, 1987 — Lily Cole, 32. Been awhile since I found a Who performer and so let’s have another now. She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
Born December 27, 1995 — Timothée Chalamet, 24. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre role has been as Zac in One & Two but I’m strongly intrigued that he’s set to play Paul Atreides In Director Denis Villeneuve forthcoming Dune. Villeneuve is doing it as a set of films instead of just one film which will either work well or terribly go wrong.
This week, Richard sits down with duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who write science fiction together under the name James SA Corey. Their bestselling space-opera series, The Expanse, which started in 2012 and is due to end in 2021, is set in the middle of the 24th century, when humanity has colonised the solar system. Human society is now beyond race and gender, and is instead divided on a planetary level: those living on Earth, on Mars and on various asteroids, moons and space stations called Belters.
The eighth book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, is the latest, while the fourth season of the award-winning TV adaptation [is] on Amazon Prime on 13 December.
And Claire, Richard and Sian discuss the 20 books up for the 2019 Costa awards shortlists.
Vinyl album sales hit yet another record week in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.
In the week ending Dec. 19, the data tracking firm reports 973,000 vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. — marking the single biggest week for vinyl album sales since the company began electronically tracking music sales in 1991.
…Another incident happened that same day at the Magic Kingdom, the world’s busiest theme park.
It started innocently when a 36-year-old Disney employee who portrays Minnie Mouse posed for pictures with a man and his wife from Minnesota in the park’s circus-themed meet-and-greet area.
Afterward, Minnie Mouse gave the man a hug. Then without saying a word, he groped her chest three times, according to the sheriff’s incident report.
The employee alerted her supervisors. On Dec. 6, she identified pictures of the 61-year-old man from Brewster, Minn.
She decided against pressing charges.
It wasn’t the first time the man had done something wrong at Disney World on his trip.
The man also had “an inappropriate interaction with a cast member” Dec. 5 at the Magic Kingdom, according to the sheriff’s office incident report that didn’t provide any additional details on what happened. Disney declined to elaborate.
(15) RAPPED GIFT.Bad Lip Reading dropped a bizarre “A Bad Lip Reading of The Last Jedi”
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy,
Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat
Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit
belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
(1) INTERSTELLAR TBR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In response to comet Borisov streaking
through the solar system, the Guardian invited Alastair Reynolds to talk
about his favorite books about interstellar objects. Alongside some obvious
choices, he gives shout-outs to some lesser known gems. It’s a nice little
article: “Space invaders: the best books about interstellar
… A significant triumph in recent astronomy has been the detection of gravitational waves, finally achieved by an international consortium using immensely precise (and huge) laser interferometers. But the work to reach this discovery began a century ago, and encompasses a huge cast of heroes and dreamers – and its share of failure. InBlack Hole Blues astrophysicist Janna Levin has written the definitive account of this grand quest, and it’s as insightful about the human protagonists in this story as it is about the mind-bending physics of black holes and warped spacetime….
If you’re an author, be aware of the limitations in what BookScan captures. A good publisher or agent will know BookScan numbers are useful for analyzing overall sales trends but do not reflect total sales. Be sure to point out your correct sales numbers when approaching publishers and agents.
You can also try pointing out any important sales not captured by BookScan, such as with e-books. If you’ve hit a Kindle Bestseller list, definitely mention that because it won’t be reflected in BookScan. If you’ve likewise sold a large number of books at conventions and other appearances, mention that.
And if you’re an author where BookScan captures a much lower percentage of your print sales than the 45 to 50% mentioned above, point that out. The BookScan numbers for one of the ChiZine authors represented only 20% of their total print sales in the USA. If I was this author I’d mention that to any publisher or agent I worked with. Otherwise people may assume your sales are extremely low when they aren’t.
…I am currently safe and surrounded by friends every day. Suffice to say that I am devastated beyond words; even typing all of this feels trite and artificial. I don’t think there’s a person in this community in the last five years who doesn’t know how intensely I loved him or how instrumental he was in my life, in my work, and in my happiness. 2019 has been truly one of the worst in my life, as I unfortunately separated from him in the beginning of the year, a choice I knew was necessary but yet still regret and have regretted for a long time. Love is fucking awful like that, and there is no person on this Earth I have ever loved so completely and painfully as Baize.
…Baize’s mother started a fundraiser to pay for the astronomical costs of not just the funeral, but sending his body back home to Los Angeles for the funeral. It is most important that if you decide to help out, you start here. If you are not able, a simple boost on social media is very much appreciated.
… In 2003, the Broadcast Film Critics Association took a step in that direction, creating the category “best digital acting performance” for its Critics Choice Awards. Gollum won the inaugural award, for his part in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” Serkis accepted the award, along with New Zealand’s Weta Digital team, which animated the character. Among nominees, Gollum beat out Yoda for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and Dobby from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But the category was a bit controversial, and didn’t return the following year — or in any future Critics Choice Awards after that.
The MTV Movie Awards also went tongue-in-cheek with its Lifetime Achievement award for a period of time, handing out the prize to characters such as Chewbacca, John Shaft, Godzilla and Jason Voorhees — but that was in the telecast’s early, 1990s life.
On The Expanse, every choice has weight. Sometimes literally. Early in the show’s compelling fourth season, a character decides to leave her spaceship home and go planetside. It’s a decision her crewmates have made multiple times before, but in Naomi Nagata’s (Dominique Tipper) case, there are special circumstances. As a Belter, Naomi was born and raised in low-gravity environments, which means that her body hasn’t built up the necessary muscle mass to endure planetary gravity. The series hasn’t lost its sense of scope since it left the SyFy channel for Amazon Prime. If anything, it’s broadened its horizons, taking in new worlds and the political strife of multiple systems. Yet a small but meaningful amount of tension is generated out of wondering if a person can walk across level ground without collapsing.
Naomi’s struggles, and the attention paid to those struggles, is emblematic of what makes The Expanse so effective. The show’s canny use of consequences ensures that its wilder sci-fi concepts exist in a context that grounds them without diminishing their impact….
Narrators: Clare Corbett, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman, Shaheen Khan, Kristin Atherton, Patience Tomlinson
Run time: 11 hours and 39 minutes
John Marrs’ The Passengers, which follows strangers from the near-future who are locked in their self-driving cars by a murderous hacker, might be your new favorite thriller. As read by a quintet of narrators—all British, for you American listeners looking for your next pond-hopping aural hit—and scored by tempered sound effects, this novel reads as a multi-dimensional nightmare. Do we need another reason to mistrust both technology and the government? Obviously not. Do we still plan to obsessively listen? Of course! If you’re the type of reader who enjoys a truly harrowing story, Marrs’ chilling book is for you.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 9, 1960 — The Twilight Zone First aired “The Trouble with Templeton”. Written by Ernest Jack Neuman (1921 – 1998) who was an Edgar and Peabody award-winning writer and producer, it had an amazing cast as well including Brian Aherne as Booth Templeton, Pippa Scott as Laura Templeton and Sydney Pollack as Arthur Willis. The Twilight Museum has an great essay on this episode here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 9, 1848 — Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. Yes, he’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition but he’s widely accepted by all about having done these stories justice. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
Born December 9, 1900 — Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who’s now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird Tales. She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki notes that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith we’re several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. (Died 1976.)
Born December 9, 1902 — Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and a minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. (Died 1985.)
Born December 9, 1911 — Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
Born December 9, 1916 — Jerome M. Beatty Jr. His best-read fiction is the Matthew and Maria Looney books, a SF series for children. They were a brother and sister who live on the Moon, part of an alien civilization resident there. ISFDB lists seven novels in total across two series, one for each child. Nothing of his books including The Tunnel to Yesterday, a time travel novel, is available digitally, nor does it appear that anything is in print currently. (Died 2002.)
Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 85. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie.
Born December 9, 1937 – Fandom. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says “Fandom’s Thursday meetings in London begin, 1937 – then weekly in a teashop, now in a pub on the first Thursday of the month.”
Born December 9, 1952 — Nicki Lynch, 68. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA. Nth Degree has a neat conversation with her and her husband about Mimosahere.
Born December 9, 1952 — Michael Dorn, 67. Best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in the Trek franchise. Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else.
Born December 9, 1953 — John Malkovich, 66. I was pondering if I was going to include him then decided that Being John Malkovich which won him a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor was enough for me to include him. What a strange role that is! He also shows up in the dreadful Jonah Hex film and played Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in the Crossbones series which is at genre adjacent. He also appeared in Mutant Chronicles, though, and there was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well.
Born December 9, 1970 — Kevin Hearne, 49. I’ve really, really enjoyed the Iron Druid Chronicles. Though I’ll confess that I’ve not yet read the spin-off series, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries.
…In the original film, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz, and the late Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler investigated a spirit in the New York Public Library, where they found a similar tower in one of the basement corridors. “Symmetrical book stacking!” Ray exclaimed, like a kid opening a birthday present. “Just like the Philadelphia Mass Turbulence of 1947!”
“You’re right,” Peter replied, drolly. “No human being would stack books like this.”
In that original scene, we hear a haunting, three-note piano trill on Elmer Bernstein’s score as the three men proceed deeper into the library. Those same three notes play in the Afterlife trailer when Mr. Grooberson examines a real-life ghost trap….
… Droll, chilled out, and scarily articulate, Gibson talked about the future on television. (“It doesn’t matter how fast your modem is if you’re being shelled by ethnic separatists,” he told the BBC.) He appeared on the cover of Wired, did some corporate consulting, and met David Bowie and Debbie Harry. For a time, U2, which had based its album “Zooropa” in part on Gibson’s work, planned to scroll the entirety of “Neuromancer” on a screen above the stage during its Zoo TV tour. The plan never came to fruition, but Gibson got to know the band; the Edge showed him how to telnet. During this period, Gibson was often credited with having “predicted” the Internet. He pointed out that his noir vision of online life had little in common with the early Web. Still, he had captured a feeling—a sense of post-everything information-driven transformation—that, by the nineties, seemed to be everywhere.
As the Internet became more accessible, Gibson discovered that he wasn’t terribly interested in spending time online himself. He was fascinated, though, by the people who did. They seemed to grow hungrier for the Web the more of it they consumed. It wasn’t just the Internet; his friends seemed to be paying more attention to media in general. When new television shows premièred, they actually cared. One of them showed him an episode of “Cops,” the pioneering reality series in which camera crews sprinted alongside police officers as they apprehended suspects. Policing, as performance, could be monetized. He could feel the world’s F.Q. drifting upward….
(12) HOLODECK QUALITY
EXPERIENCE. Olav Rokne says, “Anytime
I see an article about Douglas Trumbull in the news, I’m going to read it
because the guy created the most important visuals of my childhood. I still
think the best Enterprise is the one from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
— “‘Star Trek’ special effects expert gives talk in
… MAGI projects regular and 3D images at a rate of 120 frames per second. The standard rate at modern theaters is 24 frames per second.
Trumbull has been working on the MAGI technology for years at his home studio, where he has constructed a prototype of the MAGI Pods he hopes to one day install at public venues and movie theaters across the globe. These pods are fully enclosed, small-theater experiences featuring a hemispherical screen and cutting edge projection and sound technology.
“It’s so much like a holodeck, you wouldn’t believe it if you actually saw what we have,” Trumbull said. “In this hemispherical screen, with laser projection, and an extremely wide field of view and my frame rate, it’s like a window onto reality. It’s as close to a holodeck as we are going to get, and we could do it tomorrow, right now.”…
(13) PROPOSED INTERVENTION. A spammer is offering to help Paul Weimer fix everything wrong with File 770. Which apparently is a lot — (click for larger image)
Some of my titles are too long? (Said in the same tone as Rick in Casablanca
when he looks up from his dossier and asks, “Are my eyes really blue?”)
Meanwhile Paul wonders, why him?
There actually have been days when this blog has been run by a non-male person (like when I was hospitalized, or needed a couple days away). Did the spammers not notice, or just treat the sudden, short-lived improvement as a statistical outlier? 🙂
(14) LEARNING ABOUT FACIAL RECOGNITION. Don’t be put off by
the Harvard Gazette’s headline: “Who’s That Girl?”
Our ability to recognize faces is a complex interplay of environment, neurobiology, and contextual cues. Now a study from Harvard Medical School suggests that country-to-country variations in sociocultural dynamics — notably the degree of gender equality in each — can yield marked differences in men’s and women’s ability to recognize famous faces.
The findings, published Nov. 29 in Scientific Reports, reveal that men living in countries with high gender equality — Scandinavian and certain Northern European nations — accurately identify the faces of female celebrities nearly as well as women. Men living in countries with lower gender equality, such as India or Pakistan, fare worse than both their Scandinavian peers and women in their own country on the same task. U.S. males, the study found, fall somewhere in between, a finding that aligns closely with America’s mid-range score on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index.
The results are based on scores from web-based facial recognition tests of nearly 3,000 participants from the U.S. and eight other countries, and suggest that sociocultural factors can shape the ability to discern individual characteristics over broad categories. They suggest that men living in countries with low gender equality are prone to cognitive “lumping” that obscures individual differences when it comes to recognizing female faces.
Walmart Canada is apologizing after several adult-themed “ugly” Christmas sweaters — including one involving Santa and drugs — were posted for sale on its website.
…One sweater shows a bug-eyed Saint Nick and three lines of a white substance that is heavily implied to be cocaine, along with the phrase “let it snow.”
…Another featured an upside-down snowman with its carrot nose and jingle bells suggestive of genitals while another showed Santa roasting his “chestnuts” over a holiday ornamented fireplace.
(18) ON THE AVENUE. HBO dropped a new trailer for Avenue
5 with Hugh Laurie:
(19) A GRAND IDEA. Rich Horton is happy with SFWA’s latest
choice for Grand Master – however, he would be even happier if an exception
could be made to allow the addition of one more woman writer, as he
explained to his Facebook followers.
Lois McMaster Bujuld has just been named the latest SFWA Grand Master, an honor she surely deserves. She is the seventh. The first was Andre Norton, in 1984.
However, in 1983 SFWA wanted to name C. L. Moore Grand Master. Alas, she had Alzheimer’s disease, and her family declined the award in her name, stating that she would find this too confusing. (Some have suggested that her second husband’s dislike of SF contributed to this, but I don’t know that we KNOW this, and, especially after the recent revelations about John M. Ford’s case, I don’t want to make such assumptions without knowing more about it.)
Moore was an entirely deserving recipient, and in fact the list of Grand Masters seems incomplete without her. And an idea occurred to me — would it be possible for SFWA to, even at this late date, posthumously award C. L. Moore the Grand Master title?…
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Michael Tolan, Contrarius, and John
King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
International Class 016: Series of fiction works, namely, novels and books.
In International Class 016, the mark was first used by the applicant or the applicant’s related company or licensee or predecessor in interest at least as early as 11/13/1998, and first used in commerce at least as early as 03/03/1999, and is now in use in such commerce. The applicant is submitting one(or more) specimen(s) showing the mark as used in commerce on or in connection with any item in the class of listed goods/services, consisting of a(n) amazon.com website showing books in series being sold, book catalog showing series of books with mark, personal website showing series of books with mark..
The mark consists of standard characters, without claim to any particular font style, size, or color.
Will the mark be granted? What use will the author make of it?
Last year Faleena Hopkins triggered
she claimed exclusive rights to
“cocky” for romance titles. Hopkins sent notices to multiple authors telling
them to change the titles of their books and asked Amazon to take down all
other cocky-titled romance books (not just series).
The Authors Guild got involved in the litigation and Hopkins withdrew
her trademark claim. The Guild’s settlement announcement also said:
…The Trademark Office clarified that the owner of a trademark in a book series title cannot use that trademark against single book titles. Since single titles cannot serve as trademarks, they also cannot infringe series title trademarks. So, if another author or a publisher ever tries to stop you from using a single book title because of their series trademark, you can tell them to take a hike. Only series titles can infringe another series title.
(2) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Nicholas Whyte does an epic roundup
7: the third series” at his From The Heart of Europe blog. In
addition to his commentary and links to episodes on YouTube, he also keeps
track of such trivia as appearances by actors who also had roles in Doctor
Who, and includes clips of some of the betterlines of dialog. such as –
Avon: That one’s Cally. I’ll introduce her more formally when she wakes up. This one is Vila. I should really introduce him now; he’s at his best when he’s unconscious.
(3) FIND THE BEST SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank posted its annual roundup “Outstanding High Fantasy of 2018” with 39 stories that were that were finalists for major
SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or
recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and
pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and
High fantasy stories make up 11% of SF/F awards finalists with 11 stories out of 101 total award-nominated stories from the 2018 Best SF/F. However, the only winner was “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” for the magazine-specific Uncanny Magazine Favorite Fiction Reader Poll award.
As for RSR, we recommended 20 stories (4 award worthy), were neutral on 16 stories, and only recommended against 3 stories (view by RSR rating).
(4) ROCINANTE LIFTS OFF 12/13. Amazon has dropped the
trailer for the next season of The Expanse:
Season 4 of The Expanse, its first as a global Amazon Original, begins a new chapter for the series with the crew of the Rocinante on a mission from the U.N. to explore new worlds beyond the Ring Gate. Humanity has been given access to thousands of Earth-like planets which has created a land rush and furthered tensions between the opposing nations of Earth, Mars and the Belt. Ilus is the first of these planets, one rich with natural resources but also marked by the ruins of a long dead alien civilization. While Earthers, Martians and Belters maneuver to colonize Ilus and its natural resources, these early explorers don’t understand this new world and are unaware of the larger dangers that await them.
…On the television the genre pickings have still not been many. I am still enjoying most of Doctor Who, and Jessica’s excellent reports on that series’ progress need no further comment from me, but my latest find this month has been another popular series for children. I am quite surprised how much I have enjoyed its undemanding entertainment, as Gerry Anderson’s Stingray has been shown on ITV. Be warned though – it’s a puppet series! Nevertheless, its enthusiasm and energy, combined with great music in a wonderful title sequence has made this unexpected fun. I understand that it has been entirely filmed in colour, although like the majority of the 14 million British households with a television, we’re forced to watch it in good old black-and-white.
(6) GIVING THANKS FOR THE WEIRD.[Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.]The November 24
episode of The Simpsons was a Thanksgiving version of Treehouse of
Horror, and all three segments were sf or fantasy. The first episode
recreated the original Thanksgiving, with cast members playing the Pilgrims,
the Indians, and the turkeys. The second episode had a personal assistant
AI like Siri or Alexa, and the AI version of Marge did a better job of
preparing Thanksgiving dinner than Marge did. But the best segment was when
a space ark fled Earth because of climate change, and Bart Simpson finds a can
of cranberry sauce and decides to replicate it, skipping all the warnings about
how you shouldn’t replicate organic objects. Of course, Bart ignores the
warnings, and the cranberry sauce comes to life and becomes very hungry.
Frozen 2 raked in $350 million (nearly £272m) in its opening weekend worldwide, beating forecasts and the box office debut of the original film.
The sequel made about £15m in the UK and Ireland and $127m (£98.9m) in the US and Canada, which are not counted towards the worldwide figures.
The 2013 original took $93m (£72.28m) during its first five days in theatres, according to Reuters.
It ended up making a whopping $1.27bn in total.
Disney say the sequel has set a new record for the biggest opening weekend for an animation.
That’s owing to the fact they consider this year’s remake of the Lion King, which made $269m on its opening weekend, to be a live action film.
But some feel the digital 3D film is more of a photo-realistic animation
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 26, 1977 — Space Academy aired “My Favorite Marcia”. The YA series stars Commander Isaac Gampu as played by Jonathan Harris. And the Big Bad in this episode is Robby the Robot with a different head. And a black paint job.
November 26, 1986 – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home premiered. Featuring the all still living main cast of the original series, it was financially quite successful, liked by critics and fans alike. It currently has an 81% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among viewers. It placed second to Aliens for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Conspiracy ‘87.
November 26, 1997 — Alien Resurrection premiered. The final instalment in the Alien film franchise, it starred Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder. It was the last Alien film for Weaver as she was not in Alien vs. Predator. It did well at the box office and holds a 39% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 26, 1897 — Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
Born November 26, 1910 — Cyril Cusack. Fireman Captain Beatty on the classic version of Fahrenheit 451. He’s Mr. Charrington, the shopkeeper in Nineteen Eighty-four, and several roles on Tales of the Unexpected round out his genre acting. (Died 1993.)
Born November 26, 1919 — Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, he won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards, and his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Worlds ofIf, andSuper Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies –and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
Born November 26, 1939 — Tina Turner, 80. She gets noted here for being the oh-so-over-the-top Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but let’s not forget her as The Acid Queen in Tommy as well and for appearing as The Mayor in The Last Action Hero which is at least genre adjacent.
Born November 26, 1945 — Daniel Davis, 74. I’m singling him out for Birthday Honors for being his two appearances as Professor Moriarty on Next Gen. He has one-offs on MacGyver, Gotham and Elementary. He played a Judge in The Prestige film. He also voiced several characters on the animated Men in Black series.
Born November 26, 1961 — Steve Macdonald, 58. A fan and longtime pro filker ever since he first went to a filk con in 1992. In 2001, he went on a “WorlDream” tour, attending every filk con in the world held that year. He’s now resident where he moved to marry fellow filker Kerstin (Katy) Droge.
Born November 26, 1966 — Kristin Bauer van Straten, 53. Best known for being Pamela Swynford De Beaufort on True Blood, and as sorceress Maleficent on Once Upon a Time. She was also the voice of Killer Frost in the most excellent Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay film.
Born November 26, 1988 — Tamsin Egerton, 31. She was the young Morgaine, and I do mean young, in The Mists of Avalon series. She goes on to be Kate Dickens in the Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale series, Miranda Helhoughton in the Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking film and Guinevere in the Camelot series. Oh, and she’s Nancy Spungen in an episode of Psychobitches which is least genre adjacent if not genre.
Born November 26, 1988 — Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 31. He played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on the Game of Thrones for five seasons. That’s it for his genre acting, but he co-founded Icelandic Mountain Vodka whose primary product is a seven-time distilled Icelandic vodka. Surely something Filers can appreciate!
(10) RE-FINDING NEMO. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’m
behind in doing a Windsor McKay/Little Nemo post, but this is a close-out item
and probably going fast, so:
For you $45 plus shipping – $7.95, via USPS (you can spend more
for faster), down from the original $124.99
My point: If you are a McKay/Nemo fan, and think you might
be interested, now is the time, before they’re gone (or gone at this price). (Needless
to say, I ordered mine before sending this item to OGH.)
The book is 16″x21″ — the same size as the original
McKay strips, back when the “Sunday Funnies” were humongous… and
Nemo (and many others) got an entire of these pages. There are, as an item or
comment a few weeks/months back noted, two volumes of McKay’s Nemo that are
themselves full-sized. They ain’t cheap. (I own the first one, felt that was
enough that I didn’t follow up and get the second… I do, to be fair, have enough
smaller-sized Nemo volumes.
From the listing:
By Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Vess, P. Craig Russell, David Mack et al. Contemporary artists pay tribute to this beloved and imaginative Sunday page. They have created 118 entirely new Little Nemo pages, all full Sunday page size! Contributors also include Paul Pope, J.H. Williams III, Carla Speed McNeil, Peter Bagge, Dean Haspiel, Farel Dalrymple, Marc Hempel, Nate Powell, Jeremy Bastian, Jim Rugg, Ron Wimberly, Scott Morse, David Petersen, J.G. Jones, Mike Allred, Dean Motter, Yuko Shimizu, Roger Langridge, Craig Thompson, and Mark Buckingham, among many others.
(11) YOUNG CREATORS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Lynda Barry. Barry, who teaches interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), says that she’s going to use her Macarthur Fellowship to study four-year-olds who see writing and drawing as one thing to determine when kids see writing and drawing as separate activities and then give up drawing. One result, she says, may be to find ways to teach adults who don’t think they can draw to start making art again. “How MacArthur ‘genius’ Lynda Barry is exploring brain creativity with true artists: Preschoolers”.
… “Most people stop drawing when they reach the age of 8 or so, because they couldn’t draw a nose or hands,” said Barry, 63. “The beautiful thing is that their drawing style is intact from that time. Those people, if you can get them past being freaked out, have the most interesting lines — and have a faster trajectory to making really original comics than people who have been drawing for a long, long time.”
…No discussion of authors of Pohl’s vintage would be complete without mentioning their shorter works.1972’s collection The Gold at the Starbow’s End contains five of Pohl’s finest, two of which are standouts.
The first standout is the title novella, in which a small crew of astronauts are dispatched on a slow voyage to Alpha Centauri. They have been assured that a world awaits them; this is a lie. There is no world and they have not been told of the true goals of their project. The project is a success. If only the geniuses who created the program had asked themselves what the consequences of success might be…
The other standout is 1972’s The Merchant of Venus. The discovery of alien relics on Venus has spurred colonization of that hostile world. Maintaining a human presence on Venus is fearfully expensive. It’s not subsidized by the home world; colonists must pay for their keep. This is a challenge for Audee Walthers, who is facing impending organ failure and doesn’t have the dosh to pay the doctor….
The launch of Disney+ show The Mandalorian, and the introduction of baby Yoda, has brought upon us the latest round of Star Wars obsession, with plenty of product tie-ins to aid the fandom. Last month, Le Creuset introduced a line of Star Wars-branded cookware, including a C-3P0 Dutch oven and a porg pie bird. But if you’re torn between wanting to use a Star Wars casserole dish and needing to braise ribs quickly, a new line of Star Wars Instant Pots is here….
In what has to be one of the more bizarre plagiarism stories in recent memory, Qatar Airways accused Singapore’s Changi Airport Group of plagiarizing not a paper, an idea or a proposal, but an airport.
The accusation was made by Akbar Al Baker, who is the CEO of both Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport. In a recent press conference, he claimed that Singapore’s Changi Airport was a plagiarism of a planned expansion of Hamad International Aiport in Doha, Qatar.
Will Smith and Tom Hanks have made their careers by playing likable characters. Some of these characters are hyperintelligent and some profoundly dumb. Some inspire laughter and others tears. But the characters they play are always easy to like. They have a quality about them that makes you feel like, given the chance, you’d get along with them.
So, why does this matter? It matters because people like rooting for a likable person. People want the good guy to get the girl. They want the honorable person to rise to the top. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always deal out its cards fairly. Bad guys win all the time. As a result, people want to escape into a fiction governed by poetic justice, where the bad guys run up against the shit they deserve and the good guys get to sit back and have a cold one.
no need to limit yourself, Hurtgen’s second suggestion is —
Make your characters unlikable…
(16) RED SHIFT. In “We Made Star Wars R-Rated,” YouTube’s
Corridor Crew takes some scenes from the second trilogy and adds the gore
and splatter that Lucasfilms forgot to include….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, James
Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Eric Wong, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge,
Chip Hitchcock, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit
goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The newest tariffs to be imposed by the Trump administration, against the European Union and amounting to $7.5 billion on a range of goods, will include books, the Bookseller reported.
…Last year, the Bookseller wrote, U.K. publishers exported printed books worth £128 million ($158 million) in invoiced value to North America.
The new tariffs follow the World Trade Organization’s decision on Wednesday that the U.S. could tax $7.5 billion of E.U. goods to recoup damages after the WTO had determined in May that the E.U. illegally subsidized Airbus. The tariffs cover all kinds of goods, which the New York Times described as, in part, “a gourmet shopping list, with the administration planning to place a 25% tax on imports of Parmesan cheese, mussels, coffee, single malt whiskeys and other agricultural goods from Europe.” Oddly the tariff on airplanes will be only 10%.
The Times noted that the WTO is considering a parallel case brought by the E.U. against the U.S. for subsidizing Boeing, for which the E.U. has a list of $20 billion of U.S. products it might impose tariffs on. That case should be decided early next year.
…James Bow is a Canadian fantasy writer whose small-press fantasy novel The Night Girl features a cover-art collage that includes a Creative Commons-licensed image of the CN Tower. Bow was getting ready for his book launch when the CN Tower’s management company wrote to him to insist that he not publish the book with the cover, on the grounds that people who encountered his novel might mistakenly believe that it was commercially affiliated with the CN Tower.
The Canadian Parliament has actually taken up the question of whether the owners of buildings can control the reproduction of their likenesses: Section 32.2(1) of the Copyright Act states that “It is not an infringement of copyright… for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work…an architectural work, provided the copy is not in the nature of an architectural drawing or plan.”
In other words, you can’t stop people from reproducing the likeness of your building.
The CN Tower’s management clearly knew about this, so their threat to Bow invoked trademark law, advancing the bizarre theory that any commercial reproduction of the Tower’s likeness is intrinsically deceptive, since anyone who sees such a reproduction would automatically assume that the CN Tower endorsed the product that bore the reproduction (that is, people who encountered Bow’s book would immediately leap to the conclusion that the CN Tower had launched a line of fantasy novels).
But arguably the most anticipated Trek happening of 2019 involved the announcement of a new series—Star Trek: Picard. Slated to debut in early 2020, the show picks up with the beloved captain retired to his vineyards before life intervenes. So naturally, in honor of the series and Picard’s true passion, we now have Star Trek Wines, a collaboration between CBS Consumer Products and Wines That Rock.
Obviously, Ars had to sample these wines—for you, our readers, because we’re selfless like that. We recently ordered a bottle each of the two featured wines, even snagging the last of the sold-out limited edition Collector’s Pack. From there, we put out some cheeses and charcuterie, and the Los Angeles-based Ars Technica contingent set about putting our palates to work.
Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth is a big novel full of big ideas, big characters and big sorrows. It is a tale of spies and philosophies and wit, of factions vying for control of the truth — or the public’s opinion of the truth. It’s an adventure, global in scope and epic in shape, but it’s also a story about being unsettled in one’s life, about living with consequences, of what happens to us when we are estranged from ourselves. I was fascinated, occasionally contemptuous as the story had me siding with one character over another, and always curious to know more about the world and what would happen and always in awe of Pullman. This book feels like a response to the darkness in our time as Lord of the Rings feels like a response to the darkness in J. R. R. Tolkien’s. (Though Pullman might find that comparison paltry.)
Yes, the story is big. But The Secret Commonwealth’s greatest strength is the care it takes to center the story in the individual; the importance it grants to what’s in our heroes’ hearts….
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 5, 1990 — Super Forcedebuted. Intended it was designed to be a companion series to Superboy, it ran for two seasons. It featured G. Gordon Liddy as villain and had Timothy Leary and former porn stars Traci Lords and Ginger Lynn as guest stars.
October 5, 2002 — In Japan, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed aired “False Peace”, the first episode of this anime. It ran for five years and fifty episodes. The series spawned three compilations films and was adapted into a manga as well as light novels. A sequel series, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny followed in 2004. It later was released in an English dubbed version.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 5, 1902 — Larry Fine. Yes, he’s known as a member of the comedy act The Three Stooges. And they did a lot of genre films including Have Rocket – Will Travel, a 1959 film in which the Stooges, including him, are janitors working at a space center who accidentally blast off to Venus. (Died 1975.)
Born October 5, 1905 — John Hoyt. He was cast as Dr. Philip Boyce in the original pilot episode of Star Trek (“The Cage”) and he appeared twice during the second season of The Twilight Zone in the episodes “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “The Lateness of the Hour”. He would also be the KAOS agent Conrad Bunny in the Get Smart episode “Our Man in Toyland”, and show up as General Beeker in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s episode “Hail to the Chief,” (Died 1991.)
Born October 5, 1919 — Donald Pleasence. He was Doctor Samuel Loomis in the Halloween franchise and the President in Escape from New York. He also had a plethora of parts in other genre properties, a few of which include the main role in the movie Fantastic Voyage which was novelized by Isaac Asimov, roles in episodes of the The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Ray Bradbury Theater, a part in George Lucas’ first foray into filmmaking, THX 1138, John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness, and the role of Merlin in the TV movie Guinivere. My favourite film title for a work he was in? Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie in which he played the dual roles of Victor Frankenstein and Old Baron Frankenstein. (Died 1995.)
Born October 5, 1930 — Skip Homeier. He appeared on Trek twice, once as Melakon in “Patterns of Force”, and as Dr. Sevrin in “The Way to Eden”. I’ll single out two other genre roles, the first being his Dr. Clinton role in The Outer Limits episode “Expanding Human”; the other being of his last roles which was a one-liner in The Wild Wild West Revisited as a senior Secret Service official. (Died 2017.)
Born October 5, 1949 — Peter Ackroyd, 70. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoorwhich tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein. I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not but he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work.
Born October 5, 1952 — Karen Allen, 67. She’s best known for being Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a role she reprised for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. She also co-starred in Starman and Scrooged. She shows on Alfred Hitchcock Presents as Jackie in “The Creeper” episode.
Born October 5, 1952 — Clive Barker, 67. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art which isnot to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art. There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his his ideas. My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
Born October 5, 1959 — Rich Horton, 60. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year both now longer being published, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy which is ongoing since 2009. He has been a reviewer for Locus for over a decade.
Born October 5, 1975 — Marshall Lancaster, 44. He‘s best known for playing DC Chris Skelton in the superb BBC time-travel police series, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. He played Buzzer in “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”, both Eleventh Doctor stories.
Born October 5, 1975 — Kate Winslet, 44. A longer and deeper genre record than I thought starting with being Prince Sarah in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court before playing Ophelia in Branagh’s Hamlet a few years later. She shows next as Clementine Kruczynski in the superb Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and was Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in the equally superb Finding Neverland. She’s Jeanine Matthewsin Divergent and Insurgent, and is slated to be Ronal in the forthcoming Avatar 2. She’s the voice of Miss Fillyjonk in the English dub of the Swedish Moominvalley series. Finally I’d like to note she narrated the audiobook version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
In fact, I find myself wondering if it isn’t suspicious that Borisov is so remarkably unremarkable. How likely is it that one of the objects spotted tumbling in from deepest space would be arriving more or less where we’d expect it, with more or less the composition we would expect of a natural object? Isn’t that exactly how some inquisitive galactic civilization would cloak a probe, so as not to attract undue attention from locals? Perhaps the reason we’re suddenly seeing what seem to be mere space-rocks, comets, whatever, is not thanks to tech improvements on our side, but is because something is carefully looking us over.
(10) THE UNCONSIDERED SLIGHT. Nerdist
observes that Disney is giving Avengers: Endgame a big “for your consideration”
push in 13 different categories, including Best Picture and Best Director,
while surprisingly skipping fan favorites:
The biggest shock here is that they aren’t putting forward any of the cast for acting nods. Audiences were sure that Robert Downey Jr. and possibly Chris Evans would be in the running for Best Actor at next year’s competition. From this line-up, it’s clear that Disney is more focused on technical awards.
The Harley Quinn animated series DC promised way back in 2017 finally has a premiere date for DC Universe — as the character said in the show’s trailer, “Unlike that Deadpool cartoon, it’s actually coming out.” Harley Quinn will land on DC’s streaming service on November 29th, the comic book giant has announced at New York Comic Con. The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco will voice the newly single “criminal Queenpin,” who’s out to make it on her own in Gotham City.
(12) LUNCH AT MR. FOX. Scott Edelman lunches in Dublin with
Cheryl Morgan in Episode 106 of the Eating
the Fantastic podcast.
This time around, you’re invited to lunch with Cheryl Morgan, who’s a four-time Hugo Award-winning science fiction critic and publisher — first as the editor of Emerald City, which won for Best Fanzine in 2004, followed by another for Best Fan Writer in 2009. She has also been the non-fiction editor of Clarkesworld magazine, for which she won her third and fourth Hugo Awards in 2010 and 2011. She is a director of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions Inc., and a founder of the short-lived Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation. She is a co-chair of Out Stories Bristol and lectures regularly on both trans history and science fiction and fantasy literature. She’s also a Director of The Diversity Trust for whom she run trans awareness courses. She’s the owner of Wizard’s Tower Press.
More than 200 years ago, scholars glued the remains of an ancient papyrus scroll onto cardboard to preserve it. But the scroll, a history of Plato’s Academy, also had writing on the back. Now scholars have deployed imaging technology to read what’s been concealed.
This scroll came from a library in Herculaneum, near Mount Vesuvius. And it was caught in the famous eruption of that volcano nearly 2,000 years ago — the same eruption that buried the city of Pompeii.
The scroll doesn’t look like much now. It’s blackened and in tatters. In fact, it looks like what you’d find at the bottom of your barbecue.
But the same processes that charred the scroll and the rest of that library also preserved it, according to papyrus scholar Graziano Ranocchia from the Italian National Research Council.
…Ranocchia said the huge spectrum range allowed them to penetrate the layers of the papyrus. “So with a huge penetration capacity, this is why we are able to read what our predecessors weren’t able to read through conventional multispectral imaging or infrared photography.”
What they found are bits of text that Philodemus wanted to insert into his book, such as quotes from other sources he was considering using in the history. Classicist Kilian Fleischer from the University of Würzburg, who is putting together a new edition of Philodemus’ history using these images, says it provides a unique view of an ancient philosopher’s writing process.
“We have here more or less the only case where we can really see how an ancient author worked and composed his book,” Fleischer says.
But earlier in September, it would have been a “province in the People’s Republic of China”.
For questions of fact, many search engines, digital assistants and phones all point to one place: Wikipedia. And Wikipedia had suddenly changed.
The edit was reversed, but soon made again. And again. It became an editorial tug of war that – as far as the encyclopedia was concerned – caused the state of Taiwan to constantly blink in and out of existence over the course of a single day.
“This year is a very crazy year,” sighed Jamie Lin, a board member of Wikimedia Taiwan.
“A lot of Taiwanese Wikipedians have been attacked.”
The roughly one thousand people who still used pagers in Japan might have shed a tear this week when they were finally discontinued. Wait, you may say… pagers are still a thing?
Even though you won’t find them in Japan any more, pagers are still used elsewhere. And they’re not the only “outdated” item still being employed around the world.
(16) DRESS FOR EXCESS. Isaac Arthur’s latest is on “Spacesuits & Extreme Environment
There’s many dangerous places on Earth, and everywhere off Earth is downright lethal, from the emptiness of space to the airless and radiation soaked Moon to the smoldering inferno of Venus, humanity can’t visit them without protection. We’ll see what options for spacesuits are under works and what options might emerge for even better ones in the distant future.
… The bozos take their beef outside, into the streets. One regular clown (James Corden) threatens to shove his size 38 shoe up Joker’s rear end. Another (Cedric the Entertainer) tells the evil clowns: “Are you a scary clown or just a scared clown?”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
…Instead I ask why fantasy and sci-fi writers seem so much more intimately connected to their fans than writers of other genres do.
“Science fiction, for much of its history – and this goes back to before I was born – was not considered reputable,” says Martin. “It was seen as cheap gutter entertainment. I was a bright kid, but even I had teachers say to me, ‘Why do you read that science-fiction stuff? Why don’t you read real literature?’ You got that kind of snobbism.
“So the early science-fiction fans, in the 1930s and 1940s and early 1950s, felt that very much, and they gathered together, and it was sort of an ‘us against the world’ thing. ‘We know this is great stuff, and you on the outside might make fun of us, and mock us, but we’ll band together.’ And the writers started coming to the conventions, and many writers came out of fandom; they started out as fans.”
Where does he think that patronising attitude to genre fiction comes from? “You can go back to the literary quarrel between Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson, ” he says, “and that’s really where you see a split between high literature and popular literature. Before that it was just literature.
…“But essentially, in the opinion of most university lecturers for 100 years, James won that argument, and literature had to be about something serious and real life, and if it was about pirates or space travel or dragons or monsters then it was something for children.” He laughs. “That’s all changed. Now science fiction, far from being this little persecuted genre that it was in the 1950s, has conquered the world.”
…Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, who is supervising the show’s development, told German fansite Deutsche Tolkien that the estate has refused to allow the series to be set during any period other than the Second Age of Middle-earth. This means Amazon’s adaptation will not cross over at all with events from the Third Age, which were dramatised in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy and sees hobbit Frodo Baggins destroy the One Ring.
Spanning 3,441 years, the Second Age begins after the banishment of the dark lord Morgoth and ends with the first demise of Sauron, Morgoth’s servant and the primary villain in The Lord of the Rings, at the hands of an alliance of elves and men.
Shippey said that Amazon “has a relatively free hand” to add details since Tolkien did not flesh out every detail of the Second Age in his appendices or Unfinished Tales, a collection of stories published posthumously in 1980. But Shippey called it “a bit of a minefield – you have to tread very carefully”, saying that “the Tolkien estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenórean expedition, is returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenóreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same…
Robert Jackson Bennett has a wicked sense of humor. His 2013 novel American Elsewhere trained a satirical eye on small-town America even as it straddled the boundaries of science fiction and horror. Yet with his latest work, a novella called Vigilance, the Austin-based author and two-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award tackles one of the most deadly serious — and sadly relevant — topics of all: mass shootings. As in American Elsewhere, there’s both science fiction and horror in Vigilance. There’s also that wicked Bennett sense of humor. He spares no disturbing absurdity or twinge of cognitive dissonance in his examination of gun mania and the new normal of everyday massacres in America.
Make no mistake: For all its satire of government, entertainment, society, and violence, Vigilance is a sobering read. It takes place just a few years in our future, in a United States that’s simultaneously unrecognizable and chillingly familiar. Texas is in flames. The governor of Iowa is an open white supremacist. Warfare has become almost entirely remote, done with robots and drones, so that the bloodlust and sense of martial duty fostered in people by American society — as well as the noble, heroic ideal of the valiant solder — has nowhere to be vented or expressed. And the younger, more liberal generation has almost entirely fled the United States for other nations with stricter gun control, leaving the older, more gun-favoring population behind.
What that population has done is blood-curdling. John McDean is a producer for a popular television show called Vigilance, in which mass shootings are broadcast for public consumption to those who wish “to witness violence and fear, but always from safe refuge.” His target demographic is the American pistol-owner. As McDean coldly, cruelly calculates, “Pistols are for killing people. Pistols are for urban environments. Pistols are for defense.” They are the perfect choice of what McDean calls his Ideal Person, “isolated within a huge suburban house, wary and suspicious of the outside world, listening to the beautiful woman on the television warn them of horrors and depravity in the lands beyond the borders, of corruption creeping into our cities.”
In June this year, 1964, my family and I took a three week vacation to the island nation of Japan. Though I have been many times before, this was the first time I felt changed as a person after coming home. Perhaps it was the fact that I was finally old enough to appreciate the world around me; or perhaps it was because we’d chosen to stay in a new place: Hiroshima was still under construction, but I could tell it was going to become a beautiful city, despite the air of tragedy. Regardless, I saw Japan in a new light, and it has brought me to see the world in a new light as well.
It was 35 years ago today that Dr. B. Banzai, while conducting a supersonic test of his remarkable Jet Car, breached the dimensional barrier with his experimental Oscillation Overthruster and made contact with the 8th dimension. Congratulations to Dr. Banzai, as well as to the filmmaking team that documented this extraordinary event.
August 10, 2004 — Donald Duck received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 10, 1896 — John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. Only A Short Dictionary of Furniture, one of his non-fiction efforts, is available digitally. (Died 1981.)
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in genre films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and a very few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows and several novels more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes as ISFDB documents four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World. Kidneys anyone? Or tripe anyone? (Died 1978.)
Born August 10, 1931 — Alexis A. Gilliland, 88. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read.
Born August 10, 1939 — Kate O’Mara. Her films included two Hammer Horror films, The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein. She also appeared on Doctor Who as The Rani during the Era of The Seventh Doctor in a recurring role. She reposted that role in the charity special, Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time. (Died 2014.)
Born August 10, 1952 — David C. Smith, 67. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard, most notably the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on iBooks but not on Kindle.
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 64. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 54. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on StarHyke, a six episode SF comic series shot in ‘05 you can see on Amazon Prime.
(8) HELP PICK THE EXPANSE TOYS. Bonnie McDaniel alerts
Filers to Amazon’s page where you can vote on toys
and dolls to be included with their upcoming box set of The Expanse. “Needless to say, I
voted for the swearing Avasarala doll.”
Some of you wanted a statue of Madam Secretary; others wanted this to be much more “playful.” We’re going to start with the idea of a highly decorated doll. We’ll dress her in her red tunic and include all the proper accessories. We’ll put her in a whimsical toy box for display. And, most importantly, she’ll come with attitude. Press her back and hear her favorite adult-rated sayings. Approx. 12” high.
(9) TUNE INTO SFF. BBC Radio 4’s Stillicide is a futuristic mini-series. Each episode is only 15 minutes and
will be on i-player for a month.
Cynan Jones’ electrifying series set in the very near future – a future a little, but not quite like our own.
Water is commodified and the Water Train that feeds the city is increasingly at risk of sabotage. And now icebergs are set to be towed to a huge ice dock outside the capital city – a huge megalopolis that is draining the country of its resources.
Against this, a lone marksman stands out in the field. His job is to protect the Water Train…
From one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, Stillicide is a moving story of love and loss and the will to survive, and a powerful glimpse of the tangible future.
…Never mind them. Rangers 3-5 were the real lunar probes, even including giant balsawood pimples on the end, which housed seismometers that could survive impact with the Moon. It was more important than ever that we know what the lunar surface was like now that President Kennedy had announced that we would, as a nation, put a man on the Moon and bring him safely back to Earth before the decade was out.
Easier said than done. Ranger 3, launched in January 1962, missed the Moon. Moreover, it sailed past while facing the wrong way. The probe took no useful pictures, and a failure of the onboard computer prevented the acquisition of sky science data….
WATCHERS. On the National Public Radio website, Annalisa Quinn reviews
a new novel, The Turn of the Key (Ruth Ware), that
updates Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw for the
current digital and surveillance age. (“We’re
All Haunted In ‘The Turn Of The Key'”)
In Henry James’s ambiguous, paranoid novella The Turn of the Screw (1898), a governess is left in charge of two children in an isolated Essex country house. Over time, she becomes convinced the children are communing with the ghosts of former servants, who appear to them, at first at a distance and then ever closer, threatening to lead them to damnation. By the end, a child is dead, but we still don’t know: Were the ghosts real, or were they in the governess’s head?
With The Turn of the Key, Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10) offers a clever and elegant update to James’s story, one with less ambiguity but its own eerie potency. Rowan Caine accepts a nannying job at a gorgeous house in the Scottish Highlands, wired with a smart home app called, horribly, “Happy,” that lets its owners surveil every room in the house from afar, control the lights, heat, and locks — and even talk through speakers in the walls.
…On a couple of occasions, we had face time with Epstein, who seemed, to me, an eccentric and possibly brilliant financier with weird ideas about economics–but hell, he was paying all the bills, so we were polite. One of our observations about his entourage was they consisted mostly of attractive young women in their twenties or early thirties, at most, brought over from his private island near St. John, where it seemed they staffed his house. We had been dangled the possibility of being taken out to that island to see the sights, but most of us did not get that opportunity.
The women, by my instincts, were of a uniform and somewhat inaccessible temper, and I got the impression that Epstein was their lord and master, and they did not range far in their daily lives. But they were all adults.
At one point during the conference, with Epstein in the room, some imp of perverse in me made an analogy (I cannot remember my exact point, or the reason for the analogy) to Dracula coming down out of his castle to ravage the young women of the village. That put an end — though not abruptly — to our face time with Epstein, and the conference ended on schedule. We had a great time with Marvin and his wife, Gloria, loved the islands and towns, and never heard from Epstein or his people again. No further conferences were arranged, at least with me involved….
Few things are as debated at the moment in America as Immigration, and while there are a myriad of opinions about how we should handle it, I don’t think anyone expected Superman to jump into the fray. That’s exactly what DC did though when Superman got a Twitter account, and the hero didn’t waste any time establishing who he is and what he’s always been about. DC shared a video featuring a classic Superman PSA from 1960 titled Lend A Friendly Hand, which put a spotlight on two children looking down on another child because he is a refugee, and Superman breaks down what’s wrong with their thinking.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Meow Wolf–Awakening Creativity for the Masses” on Vimeo is
an interview with Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek where he talks about Meow Wolf’s
nethods of creating art and how they can inspire creativity ine everyone who
experiences a Meow Wolf production.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cliff Ramshaw, Martin
Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James
Bacon, James Davis Nicoll, Bonnie McDaniel, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
The announcement was made during the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday. Season 4 of the series is set to debut on Dec. 13.
“The Expanse” aired its first three seasons on Syfy, with the cable networking having cancelled the series back in 2019. Shortly after it was cancelled, it was reported that Amazon was in talks to continue the series, which is produced and fully financed by Alcon Television Group.
(2) SF AUTHOR’S PREDICTION FULFILLED. A writer for Britain’s Private Eye rediscovered Norman Spinrad’s Agent of Chaos (1967) with its prescient comments about another political leader named Boris Johnson.
(3) SIX WILL GET YOU ONE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At The Atlantic, contributing writer Dr. Yascha Mounk (Johns
Hopkins University associate professor and German Marshall Fund
senior fellow) has his own ideas on “How Not to Run a Panel” (tagline: “Panel discussions can
be very boring, but they don’t have to be if you follow these six rules.”).
I could write a whole book about the panels that have gone wrong in particularly strange or hilarious fashion: the one where the moderator fell asleep. The one where the opening statements lasted longer than the time allotted for the whole event. The one, high up on the 10th floor, when the acrobatic window washer stole the show.
These exotic horrors notwithstanding, I disagree with Leo Tolstoy: Every unhappy panel is unhappy in some of the same ways.
Mind you, he’s talking about academic panels (his
field is political science), but one wonders how much his advice crosses over
to convention panels. He elaborates on each of his six points:
1. Don’t have more than four people onstage. 2. Keep introductions to a minimum. 3. Ax the opening statements. 4. Guide the conversation. 5. Cut off the cranks.* 6. Pick panelists who have something to say to one another.
* NB: He’s talking about cranks in the audience. He
doesn’t seem to consider cranks on the panel.
The outcome of the deletion discussion was ‘no consensus’ i.e. notability wasn’t decided one way or another. This was mainly because of the brigade of trolls who descended on the discussion at Williamson’s request.
While the Wikipedia is keeping the article, the record of the
debate preserves these additional facts:
I note that the subject of this article, Michael Z. Williamson, has edited Wikipedia as Mzmadmike. He has been banned from Wikipedia as a result of a community discussion that concluded that Williamson has disrupted Wikipedia through his edits as a Wikipedia user and through comments on social media, which (according to the community discussion) have included canvassing, legal threats (admin-only diff) and harassment of Wikipedians. This has no bearing on the outcome of this deletion discussion, because having an article is not an indication of merit (as a person, author or otherwise), but only of what Wikipedia calls “notability“, i.e., being covered in some detail by reliable sources. But it bears mentioning here as a context of what may be necessary future administrative actions to protect the article and Wikipedia from further disruption.
Some relatives, friends and archivists find the sales unseemly, citing the astronaut’s aversion to cashing in on his celebrity and flying career and the loss of historical objects to the public.
“I seriously doubt Neil would approve of selling off his artifacts and memorabilia,” said James R. Hansen, his biographer. “He never did any of that in his lifetime.”
(6) ERB-DOM ANNUAL GATHERING. Burroughs fans will hold DUM-DUM 2019 in Willcox, AZ from
(7) IN THE LID. Alasdair Stuart’s
latest, newly BFS Award-nominated “The Full Lid for 26th July 2019″ includes
a look at the first three episodes of The Space Race. An epic dramatized
account of the birth and evolution of crewed spaceflight it starts in the
future, takes in Gagarin, Armstrong and the rest of the past and throws light
on some surprising elements of the story.
As does the deeply eccentric Apollo 11 anniversary
coverage. Says Stuart, “I was especially impressed with the choices made by a
BBC movie about the flight and the little moments of humanity we glimpse
outside the history books in Channel 4’s programming.”
He also salutes “the monarch of the kitchen warriors,
the king of the B movie and the crown prince of charming villainy, the one, the
only Rutger Hauer. Rest well, sir.”
“Paul writes: My wife, Samantha, and her grandmother Gigi have a disagreement about whether a creature’s tail is part of his butt. Gigi says that because poop can get stuck in a butt, it is part of the butt. Sam argues that a tail only starts at the butt. Are tails butts? (Specifically a dragon’s tail, which is what sparked this argument.)
JOHN HODGMAN SAYS: “What a surprise twist at the end! Before we walked through this wardrobe into fantasy land, I was confident in my ruling: tails are NOT butts, as they have specific balance and display functions. And also let’s face it: Poop can get on anything. But as I am no expert on dragon anatomy, I turned to the actual George R.R. Martin, whose number I actually have, who reports: ‘Poop can also get stuck to a dragon’s leg, but that does not make it part of the butt. Dragon poop is hot, by the way. Fire hazard.'”
Morse Wooster sent the link with a postscript: “How many points do I get for
finding George R.R. Martin’s opinions on ‘dragon poop?’”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. (Died 1943.)
Born July 28, 1926 — T. G. L. Cockcroft. Mike has his obituary here. Not surprisingly none of his works are currently in-print.
Born July 28, 1928 — Angélica Gorodischer, 91. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got by translated by Ursula Le Guin into English.
Born July 28, 1931 — Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here. I will note that he was a published author having “On Conquered Earth” in If, December 1967 as edited by Frederik Pohl. I don’t think it’s been republished since. (Died 2012.)
Born July 28, 1941 — Bill Crider. Though primarily a writer of horror fiction, he did write three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard, The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in theCharlaine Harris Meta-verse. (Died 2018.)
Born July 28, 1966 — Larry Dixon, 53. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental Adventures, Epic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. Dixon and Lackey are the 2020 Worldcon’s Author Guests of Honour.
Born July 28, 1968 — Rachel Blakely, 51. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.
Born July 28, 1969 — Tim Lebbon, 50. For my money his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably.
…Survey a theater of moviegoers and they all might tell you a different interpretation of what “Southland Tales” is actually about. The short versionis that a nuclear explosion has gone off in Texas, thrusting the United States into World War III. Taking place in 2008 Los Angeles at the end of the world, the film consequently delves into the post-Iraq War militarization of the country, the rise of the surveillance state and, naturally, rifts on the space-time continuum.
The movie, which would go on to become a critical and commercial failure,contains a who’s who of character actors, as well as once- and soon-to-be notable stars. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a porn star who simultaneously has a hit single (“Teen Horniness is Not a Crime”) and accurately foretells the imminent apocalypse in a screenplay she’s written. Amy Poehler delivers a slam poetry performance in her last seconds on Earth before she is gunned down by a racist cop played by Jon Lovitz. Justin Timberlake, in a confounding, drugged-out dream sequence, lip-syncs the Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.”
To steer his often messy but engaging opus — and eventual cult classic — director Richard Kelly needed a truly magnetic force. Enter Johnson.
(13) BRYAN FULLER. [Item by Carl Slaughter.]According to Midnight’s Edge and Nerdrotic,
Bryan Fuller pitched the Picard series concept to CBS as one of 5
possible series. Fuller also approached Jeri Ryan and Brent Spiner about
starring in it. Fuller has yet to get any credit it for the Picard
(14) ONE VOTER’S DECISION. Rich Horton rolls out his “Hugo
Ballot Thoughts, Short Fiction, 2019” on Strange at Ecbatan. Which
actually begins with his argument against having AO3 up in the Best
Related Works category. But he soon veers back to the topic, such as these
comments about Best Novella:
Of these only Artificial Condition was on my nomination ballot, but I didn’t get to The Black God’s Drums until later, and it would have been on my ballot. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach struck me as impressively ambitious – probably the most ambitious of the nominees – but I think the ending is a mess. Still a story worth reading. The Tea Master and the Detective is nice work, not quite brilliant. And, I say with guilt, I haven’t read Beneath the Sugar Sky, which I suspect will be very fine work.
CHANCE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Author, crafter, and
freelance journalist Bonnie Burton has a knack for spotting odd news—her CNET article “NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts honored
in… a butter sculpture” in this case. (Tagline: “Astronauts Neil
Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins look just as legendary carved
in butter at the Ohio State Fair.”)
You can see the entire butter sculpture unveiling
ceremony posted by The Columbus Dispatch on YouTube.
(16) EN FUEGO. Space is getting
hotter…but not that much (AP: “New Mexico chile plant selected to be
grown in space”). The first fruiting plant to be grown on the
International Space Station will be the Española Improved hot pepper.
However, it’s said to max out at a relatively modest 2,000 Scoville units, well
less than the typical Jalapeño much less really hot hot peppers.
A hybrid version of a New Mexico chile plant has been selected to be grown in space as part of a NASA experiment.
The chile, from Española, New Mexico, is tentatively scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station for testing in March 2020, the Albuquerque Journalreports .
A NASA group testing how to produce food beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and the chile plant was created with input from Jacob Torres — an Española native and NASA researcher.
Torres said the point of sending the chiles into space is to demonstrate how NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat – which recreates environmental needs for plant growth like CO2, humidity and lighting – works not only for leafy greens, but for fruiting crops, as well.
(17) TRAILER BREAKDOWN. New Rockstars answers questions
you didn’t even know you had about the newest Star Trek: Picard trailer.
Star Trek Picard Trailer from Comic Con teases the return of Data, Seven of Nine, the Borgs, and more nods to The Next Generation and Voyager! Where will this new Picard series on CBS All Access take Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) after the events of Star Trek Nemesis and First Contact? Erik Voss gets an assist from friend and Trekkie Marina Mastros, who breaks down this Star Trek trailer shot by shot for all the Easter Eggs you may have overlooked! What is the secret identity of the new mystery woman, Dahj? Why are the Romulans experimenting with Borg technology? Has Data really returned, or is it his alternate version, B-4?
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Xtifr.]
Under the publisher’s new digital terms of sale for libraries, “library systems” will be now be allowed to purchase a single—that is, one—perpetual access e-book during the first eight weeks of publication for each new Macmillan release, at half price ($30). Additional copies will then be available at full price (generally $60 for new releases) after the eight-week window has passed. All other terms remain the same: e-book licenses will continue to be metered for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first, on a one copy/one user model. A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed to PW that the single perpetual access copy will be available only for new release titles in the first eight weeks after publication—the option to buy a single perpetual access copy expires after that eight week window, and the offer is not available for backlist titles.
The American Library Association (ALA) denounces the new library ebook lending model announced today by Macmillan Publishers. Under the new model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in ebook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.
“Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library ebook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all,” said ALA President Wanda Brown. “Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for patrons most dependent on libraries.
“When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in ebook format, it’s the library – not the publisher – that feels the heat. It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs.
“Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable,” said Brown. “ALA urges Macmillan to cancel the embargo.”
The new Macmillan ebook lending model is an expansion of an existing policy that went into effect in July 2018, when the company, without warning, issued a four-month embargo applying solely to titles from the company’s Tor imprint. At the time ALA stated that the delay would hurt readers, authors and libraries.
Since last fall, Hachette Book Group (HBG) and Penguin Random House (PRH) have eliminated “perpetual access” for libraries and replaced it with a two-year access model. Simon & Schuster changed from a one-year to two-year access model. While re-evaluating their business models, none of these firms implemented an embargo—deciding that equitable access to information through libraries is also in their business interest. HarperCollins continues with its 26-loan model. Macmillan now stands alone in its embargo policy among the largest (Big 5) publishers….
But all of this money-spending is making us hungry. And what do you do when you’re hungry? That’s right: you eat. You eat ramen, and just like Godzilla, you look so unbelievably adorable when you do it that it makes your face explode and you cry tears of unyielding madness.
I’ve seen an argument online that a distinction voters are struggling with regarding AO3 is that they believe it is not noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text (all the fan fiction).
I’d argue that the most noteworthy thing about AO3, /r/Fantasy, and other online fan forums, is that they are venues for users to come together and discuss the speculative fiction they love, run by volunteers. To me, the Hugo Awards and WorldCon itself are about bringing fans together around the work we all love. Ultimately, that’s about the purest reason to vote for a Hugo as any I can think of.
Jay and Silent Bob, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet and more stopped by the Getty Images Portrait Studio delivered by Pizza Hut.
(7) WHEN E.T.
COMES TO STAY. Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur episode 196 discusses
Alien Invasions have been a staple of science fiction for years, with motherships and UFOs assaulting Earth, but how realistic is such a thing? We’ll take a look at what might motivate an attack, how it might happen, what alternatives might make more sense, and what might prevent extraterrestrials from trying.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 27, 1940 — Bugs Bunny made his cartoon debut.
July 27, 1994 — Test Tube Teens From The Year 2000 went direct to video.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.)
Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.)
Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 80. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format.
Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 71. She’s a New Zealand-born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
Born July 27, 1949 — Robert Rankin, 70. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell, even the name is absolutely great.
Born July 27, 1950 — Simon Jones, 69. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil and 12 Monkeys as well.
Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 51. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. Her work on Diana Wynne Jones, Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition, is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy.
Born July 27, 1973 — Cassandra Clare, 46. I read at least the first three or four volumes of her Mortal Instruments series which I see means I’ve almost completed it. Damn good series. Anyone read her Magnus Bane series?
…As urban legend has it, Google cofounder Sergey Brin once instructed office architects that “no one should be more than 200 feet away from food.” And so they rarely are. On any given day, the 1,300 “microkitchens” located within Google’s 70 or so offices around the world, from Pittsburgh to Istanbul, brim with dried seaweed, turkey jerky, kombucha, and other eclectic treats that rotate according to season, popularity with employees, local tastes, and food trends.
Google takes its snacking very seriously. That’s why it has a dedicated team overseeing it and a chef named Matt Colgan at the helm at many of its western campuses, where he (along with menu architects, wellness managers, and nutrition specialists at Google Food) has quietly emerged as one of the most powerful gatekeepers in the packaged-food world.
“When you’re feeding this many people,” says Colgan, culinary director for Google’s food operations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colorado, “you encounter every diet imaginable, every request.” You also get bombarded by sales reps at food companies, who are hungering after snackers—and these snackers in particular. They see Google employees, the drivers of Silicon Valley tech innovation, as having the clout, and appetite, to set snack trends.
When Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White lingered during the first U.S. spacewalk in 1965, enjoying the scenery, Mr. Kraft commandeered the communications system and ordered him, “Get back in!” the ship.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” White said, before heading back into the cockpit.
The incident was indicative of the culture that Mr. Kraft set.
“It was, ‘I, the flight director, am in charge. Not you the astronaut, and not the head of NASA. You come to me,’?” said author Michael Cassutt, who writes about the space program. “Much of the NASA culture as we envision it really derives from Chris Kraft.”
(13) BEHIND THE PAYWALL. An article in the July 20 Financial Times
by David Cheal tells how musicians are inspired by space and space travel.
“In 2015 the British band Public Service Broadcasting released an album that celebrated the golden era of space travel. The Race for Space knitted together propulsive, often funky music with spoken-word clips (Kennedy: ‘We go to the moon because it is hard’) to recapture the sheer excitement of Sputnik, the Moon landing–and also tragedies such as the deaths of three Apollo 1 astronauts in 1967. The music was refreshing because it eschewed the notion that spsce has to be electronic, using a range of often acoustic instruments. In 2018 the Northern Irish composer and artist Hannah Peel released Mary Casio; Journey to Casiopeia, which follows the dream of a fictional stargazer to travel from her home in Barnsley to the constellation of Cassiopeia. Peel’s music combines synthesizers with brass.
But one band have gone further and faster than any other in their exploration of the possibilities of space and music: Muse. The British trio’s interstellar adventures show how far space-themed pop music has travelled since the early days of Joe Meek: bass and synths that thrum and pulse like gravitational waves, guitars that shriek and howl like the geysers of Enceladus, wailing, otherworldly voices that sing of “Space Dementia,’ ‘Starlight’ and, most epically of all, a ‘Supermassive Black Hole.'”
(14) WHERE ARE YOU IN TIME? Doc Brown drove a DeLorean to
his future – now your past! Today they’d like to sell you a watch whose look is
inspired by the car — “DeLorean,
the Eternal Design”.
The new documentary about Cambridge Analytica uses thoughtful narration and compelling visuals to create a dystopian horror movie for our times.
If you’d rather not think about how your life is locked in a dystopian web of your own data, don’t watch the new Netflix documentary The Great Hack.
But if you want to see, really see, the way data tracking, harvesting, and targeting takes the strands of information we generate and ties them around us until we are being suffocated by governments and companies, don’t miss the film, which premieres today on the streaming platform and in theaters. […]
(16) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Where do you land
in this grid of Writing Style Alignments?
Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, teams of avid knitters danced Thursday to the deafening sounds of drums beating and guitars slashing at the first-ever Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in eastern Finland.
With stage names such as Woolfumes, Bunny Bandit and 9? Needles, the participants shared a simple goal: to showcase their knitting skills while dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible.
Finland is the promised land of heavy metal music. There are 50 heavy metal bands per 100 000 Finnish citizens, which is astonishingly many and actually more than anywhere else in the whole world. The number of needlework enthusiasts is equally high, as according to even the most modest estimates there are hundreds of thousands of people in Finland who are immersed various kinds of needlework crafts, knitting included. What combines them both is the great joy of creativity. When playing guitar as well as knitting stitches it is all about the pleasure of creating something cool with your hands. And – it’s all about the attitude!
(19) DOUBLE DOWN. Gemini Man Official Trailer 2 has
Who will save you from yourself? From visionary director Ang Lee, watch the official trailer for Gemini Man, starring Will Smith. In theatres October 11. Gemini Man (#GeminiMan) is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith (#WillSmith) as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Kendall, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter,
SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]