By Daniel Dern: Since I have been buying
my comic books at The Outer Limits in Waltham for the past 30+ years, rather
than at New England Comics, I was not exposed to NEC’s newsletter mascot, the
Tick, nor the ensuing comic books, nor the 1994-1997 animated TV series,
although we did watch the 2001-2002 live action, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Miller’s Crossing, When Harry Met Sally, A
Series of Unfortunate Events — the TV series and the movie), etc.,
starring Patrick Warburton as the loveable big blue goof.
(Disclaimer: I remember watching it, but only
vaguely remember the episodes, although browsing web articles is jogging my
In 2017, Amazon rebooted The Tick as a 25-minute series. It’s arguably grittier than the previous live-action (although, of course, I’d have to rewatch that to verify)… but it’s also got a lot of heart and humanity. And great characters. And speaking to the nature of comic books and superheroes, as large-font subtext, as it were.
Season 2 went up about a week ago, and while I
didn’t quite binge it, I did prioritize it over some other things, like (some)
reading. (At 10 25-minute episodes, that wasn’t that big a commit.)
Enjoyable. Some surprises. Like Expanse book #8, Tiamat’s Wrath, it both starts and wraps up a hornets’ nest of
plotlines (including some from the previous season), and positions us (and the
various characters) for what looks like should be one heck of a Season 3
(assuming there is one, hope hope).
(1) John Hodgman (who some may remember from The Daily Show), who’s been on various other movies and TV shows I mostly haven’t seen (hmmm, including 1 episode of BattlestarGarlictica Galactica) (and Amazon’s Red Oaks, which we did see), has a role throughout this season.
(2) The producers/writers have clear [ROT-13] gur 1978 FHCREZNA zbivr n srj gvzrf, cre gjb ovgf/fprarf. (I don’t think this is a spoiler, but just in case…)
Ever since its opening in the mid-1990s, the Denver International Airport (DIA) has spawned countless conspiracy theories as to its dark and sinister nature. Now, there’s a gargoyle inside the terminal to confirm it’s all true.
Yesterday, to celebrate its 24th birthday, DIA gave all of the air travelers who wander its halls a gift: a Chatty Gargoyle.[…]
This is part of a larger campaign by the Denver Airport, dubbed #TheDenFiles, that gleefully invites any and all talk of mysterious goings-on in the catacombs that lie beneath. Or in some cases — right in plain sight.
(2) CHATTY SHATTY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Have you ever had a set of refrigerator
poetry magnets? If so you may be ready for Shatoetry which is free on the Apple iOS App
Store as this is being typed. William Shatner recorded individual words, which
you can put together in any order. Each word has three levels of emphasis
available, and you can also add pauses of three different lengths. When you’re
ready, click a button and you will create a video with a selectable still-frame
Shatner background and audio of Shat “reading” your “poem.” Once you click, you
can send the video by email or post it on any of several social media sites.
The basic app doesn’t have a huge selection of words
available, but there are in-app purchases available for more bundles of words
and those are also free as this is being typed. If you want the
app, be sure to grab the extra word bundles before they start charging for them
again—there’s no telling how long these free offers will last.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense fiction series is “Mpendulo:
The Answer,” by the South African film writer-director Nosipho
I know I’m right, but the class seems unhappy with my reasoning. How could these people create other humans with the sole purpose of killing them later for their organs? We all know people walking around with 3D-printed organs inside of them. We can’t conceive of one person letting themselves be sliced open and their organs given to another, let alone a whole government being party to it.
Well, I can conceive of things that the rest of them can’t. But I wouldn’t dare let them know that.
It was the strangest thing. I was having breakfast (3 PM, but breakfast time for me), I started to get up out of my chair, slipped, and while I was in no pain I couldn’t get up. After about 15 minutes Carol called an ambulance, they drove me 5 miles to the local hospital.
I was feeling no pain, but all the medics seemed concerned. They knocked me out, and when I woke up in the emergency room I had half a dozen catheters attached to me, draining what seemed like gallons of fluids out of me. When I’d seen the doctor for my regular check-up a month earlier I weighed 255, about 30 more than usual. When I arrived at the hospital I was 256. And three days later, after draining all these fluids, I was 208 — which I am tonight, a month after this whole thing began.
Anyway, I did 9 days in the emergency room and 10 days in rehab. Been home for a few days, feeling pretty good, but sleeping about 12-15 hours a day while I get my strength back…which means I am not quite keeping up with the writing and editing (tho I’m getting closer), and I’m probably not keeping up with e-mails. I thank those of you who sent your best wishes, and if I didn’t reply it really wasn’t bad manners.
Almost certainly gonna miss Writers of the Future in 4 or 5 weeks, but we should make Midwestcon and DragonCon, where you can see the new improved skinny (well, skinnier) me.
(5) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Cedar Sanderson shares how pros evaluate opportunities to contribute work to an anthology in “Relationships and Anthologies” at Mad Genius Club.
Warning Flag #2: No transparency about payment or royalties. Not all anthologies will pay up front. Some will pay up front but no royalties, and some will only pay royalties. You should know what to expect going into it. You should not be told ‘we’ll pay royalties after our costs are met’ unless you are also given some idea of what those costs are, and an accounting (and no, anthologies that are proudly using public domain art for covers should not be costing much to produce). Yes, I realize this isn’t ‘how the publishing business works’ which is bullshit, and the inherent corruption it opens up by playing along will only end when the authors stop allowing themselves to be milked without feed. I’ve taken part in ‘paid up front’ and one ‘paid plus royalties’ anthology, and they left me feeling happy and like I’d do it again. My friends who were told ‘we’ll pay you when we meet our costs’ are still waiting, years later. They’ll never see money.
(6) DOC WEIR AWARD. Attention Eastercon members! Ytterbium’s Progress Report 3 has this note:
The Doc Weir Award
Regular Eastercon attendees will know that the members of the convention annually vote on who should receive the Doc Weir Award for making a significant but largely unsung contribution to fandom. Sadly, many of the earlier winners were so unsung that fans today know little or nothing about them or their fannish activities. To remind people of their contributions, a brief biography of the winners is being compiled. It will be available online but if you would like to request a printed copy then please email email@example.com before Sunday, March 17th.
Bill Burns of eFanzines has more info on the Doc Weir Award, and a list of all winners from 1963 to 2018 here.
When you were tasked with creating “Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham,” was the original idea that it be a “backdoor prequel,” or was that something you decided to reverse engineer into a companion piece to Spider-Verse?
Miguel Jiron: From the beginning, we were like, we would love for this classic cartoon to open up our movie like how they used to do back in the day. And pretty early on we were like, if it’s going to screen in front of the movie, it would be cool to see Ham’s last moments in his world before he comes to the [Spider-Verse]. So pretty early on we brainstormed something we thought would be a perfect way to connect to the film and see them together.
(8) WORKS FOR ME. This
was Sarah Gailey’s latest appeal for readers to sign up for their newsletter:
(9) SIGNED, YOUR CREDENTIAL. Tabitha King made a serious point, but the not-so-serious reply was clever:
…Kramer was wheeled into his first appearance hearing with his breathing tank. He claimed he hasn’t been allowed to talk to his lawyer and said he wasn’t sure what was going on.
At the hearing, the judge granted Kramer a $22,200 bond; however, even if he posts bond, he’ll remain behind bars because he’s also being held on a probation violation. As part of the probation violation, he’ll appear in court on March 22 at 8:30 a.m.
… He was under monitored house arrest since late 2013 when he was convicted of child molestation.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told FOX 5 News when house arrest ended in December of last year Kramer was put on probation.
One of the conditions was no contact with children.
“He’s being held without bond because there’s a probation warrant. That’s why he’s being held without bond,” said Porter.
Porter said Kramer is facing a misdemeanor charge of a sexual offender photographing a minor without consent.
The DA told FOX 5 News he’s moving forward with revocation of probation for Kramer which could mean a lengthy stay behind bars.
“We need to go back and revoke his first offender and incarcerate him. He faces up to 60 years in prison,” said Porter.
(11) ASIMOV OBIT. Janet Jeppson Asimov (1926-2019) died February
25. The SF Encyclopedia has her full genre biography.
The New York Times obituary notes —
A psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, she was the beloved widow of Isaac Asimov, as well as the former director of training at the William Alanson White Institute, author of around two dozen books, and a former syndicated science columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 1, 1933 – King Kong has its world premiere in New York.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 2, 1904 — Theodor Seuss Geisel. Ahhh, Dr. Seuss. I confess that the only books I’ve read by him are How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Green Eggs and Ham, an exercise that took maybe fifteen minutes. Did you know that Horton Hears a Who! was animatedat a running time of a half hour? Who thought it was a good idea to make a two-hour live film of The Grinch? (Died 1991.)
Born March 2, 1939 – jan howard finder. No, I’m not going to be do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer, and of course fan. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco (1993 Worldcon) was only one of at least eight cons that he was fan guest of honor at. Finder has even been tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
Born March 2, 1943 — Peter Straub, 76. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Roomwon Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok you know I’m impressed by Awards, but fuck this is impressed!
Born March 2, 1949 — Gates McFadden, 70. Best known obviously for playing Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the four films spawned out of the series. More interestingly for me is she was involved in the production of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal as Henson’s choreographer which is her second profession under the name of Cheryl McFadden.
Born March 2, 1960 — Peter F. Hamilton, 59. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn Trilogy when it came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) What else have y’all read by him?
Born March 2, 1966 — Ann Leckie, 53. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award, Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Shit man. Her sequels Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy did not win awards but are no less impressive.
Born March 2, 1968 — Daniel Craig, 51. Obviously Bond in the present-day series of films which I like a lot, but also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as Alex West, Lord Asriel In the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, in SF horror film The Invasion as Ben Driscoll, in the very weird Cowboys & Aliens as Jake Lonergan, voicing Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine / Red Rackham in The Adventures of Tintin and an uncredited appearence as Stormtrooper FN-1824 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Born March 2, 1981 — Bryce Dallas Howard, 38. Started her genre career in How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a Surprised Who. I’d like to stay it got better but her next two roles were in The Village as Ivy Elizabeth Walker and in Lady in the Water as Story. She finally scored a good role in Spider-Man 3 as Gwen Stacy before landing roles in The Twilight Saga franchise as Victoria and in the Jurassic World franchise as Claire Dearing.
The party may have been How to Train Your Dragon-themed, but Jennifer Garner is now learning how not to embarrass your child!
[…] In honor of [her son’s birthday] bash, Garner, 46, dressed up as Astrid from the animated film, wearing blue and orange face paint, a fur shawl, arm sleeves, a pointy, leather skirt with leggings underneath, and fur boots.
But as she went to present her son with a chocolate cake featuring the dragon Toothless’ eyes around the edges, Garner found out the hard way that her son was already becoming embarrassed.
“Well, guess what. It turns out 7 is the age my kid stops thinking it’s cool when I dress up for the party,” she captioned the happy photo.
(16) YARNSPINNER. The Raksura Colony Tree
Project, a collective
art/craft project will be displayed at WorldCon 77. Cora Buhlert says, “I
already got out my crochet hooks and searched my yarn stash and it’s probably
of interest to other Filers as well.”
If you’re coming to Dublin to join in the fun and are interested in creating things with needle and thread, this is your chance to be an active part in a community art project.
Martha Wells’ “Books of the Raksura”-Series was nominated for a Best Series Hugo in 2018. One of the things that drew me into the series was the world-building – a colony living in a giant mountain tree that’s studded with platforms all around that are used by the inhabitants for all kinds of different things – hunting, gardening, fishing, outlooks for the guards … a whole ecosystem – so how might that actually look like? I made a start, just to try things out…
(17) TRAPPED IN ASPIC. Andrew
Porter copied this to his list: “Where do you get your weird ideas from (Cover
I’m going to tell you a story. This is about being nominated for the Nebula Awards , and accusations, and fury. I’m going to tell it slow and in much detail as I can, because I want to, and because context is important. I have seen much slinging of words but no context.
When I started writing this, it was 8PM. I had intended to use the writing of this piece as a piece of string, to re-order my own thoughts and try to figure out what the hell I’m doing here . But in the writing of this I’ve gone from trying to figure out this madness to just being jaded. My inboxes are inundated with legions, my notifications toss up numbers like a slot machine, and I am absolutely done with explaining myself to random asshats on Twitter who demand answers under fake names and profile pictures.
So I’m going to chronicle this.
And at the end of it you may judge whether I have acted with the best information available to me, or not.
Tesla has announced it will start selling a version of its Model 3 in the US at a price of $35,000 (£26,400), finally delivering on a promise it made more than two years ago.
To help lower the price the firm plans to close showrooms and is switching to an online-only sales model.
The electric car company announced the Model 3 car in 2016 as an alternative to its luxury offerings.
However, as recently as September, the average selling price exceeded $50,000.
Closing physical stores will allow the firm to cut costs by about 5%, savings it is using to reduce prices across its line-up of vehicles, chief executive Elon Musk said.
…In a blog post, Tesla said a test drive was not needed because you can return a car within seven days, or after driving 1,000 miles, and get a full refund.
“Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free,” the blog said.
(20) UP, UP, AND AWAY. Video of countdown, launch, and 1st-stage recovery at NPR: “SpaceX Launches Capsule Bound For International Space Station”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “I’m sure it’s happened before, but this is the first launch I remember where voice doing the countdown was female. Step by step….”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on schedule at 2:49 a.m. Saturday.
It’s a test flight without crew aboard, designed to demonstrate the potential for carrying astronauts into orbit on a commercial spacecraft.
A crowd cheered as the rocket blasted off in a ball of fire and smoke and flash of light early Saturday, within minutes reaching speeds upwards of 4,000 mph as it gained altitude.
The rocket and capsule separated about 11 minutes after launch. Crew Dragon will go on to autonomously dock with the International Space Station at about 6 a.m. ET Sunday. Plans call for it to remain docked with the station for five days. On March 8, it will undock and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. ET.
…For the latest test, another mannequin will be on board. This one is named Ripley, for the heroine in the Alien movies, and it will have all kinds of sensors to see how a real human would experience the trip. “We measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment,” Koenigsmann says. “We want to make sure that everything is perfect.”
It’s official, the DCEU is dead, with Warner Bros’ chief Kevin Tsujihara confirming the studio has moved away from the idea of a connected universe for its DC superhero properties – otherwise known as the DC Extended Universe.
“The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago,” Tsujihara told The LA Times. “You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.”
And who’s responsible for the death of the interconnected DCEU? Wonder Woman.
“What Patty Jenkins did on Wonder Woman illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman. But Aquaman is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.”
(22) TICKING AWAY. Amazon Prime Video launches The Tick Season 2 on April 5.
Tick and Arthur have freed the City from The Terror — now they must defend it from new villains and old enemies. That is if they can convince AEGIS, the government agency in charge of superhero regulation, that they deserve the job. But now that the City is ‘safe enough to protect’ Tick and Arthur begin to see they’ve got competition…
So far, HBO‘s posters have left basically everything to the imagination, and all we really know is that it’s about to be super cold in Westeros. Like, now would be the time for everyone to break out their Canada Goose jackets. But HBO just dropped all these posters of your faves on the Iron Throne, so we have to wonder if this means the underdogs actually have a shot at winning it all.
(24) THIS IS THE CITY. The second trailer for Pokémon Detective Pikachu dropped a few days ago —
The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Nancy Collins, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy,
John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew
(1) ADAPTINGL’ENGLE. “Realizing A Wrinkle in Time” behind-the-scenes featurette. Opens in theatres on March 9.
From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.
Memberships will be on sale soon! If you’d like to find out more about the venue, dates and Guest of Honour, please click the link below to our website.
Kit Cox is known to most as the author of the Union-verse novels but this move to the written word came after many years of working in illustration, concept design and fine art.
A regular cartoonist for national papers; as well as a prolific illustrator in many RPGs, magazines and periodicals, Kit is one of the many creative names who goes silently hand in hand with more public figures. Always happy to place pencil to paper and try new things, Kit’s love of horror movies led him to the film industry working on many concepts for screen monsters and makeup designs; aided by a long academic study of casualty simulation and anatomy for that added realism.
(3) HAYDEN PLANETARIUM. Upcoming programs at New York’s Hayden Planetarium include —
Using millisecond X-ray pulsars (MSPs) for galaxy-spanning navigation raises more than a few questions, especially when we try to predict what an artificial pulsar navigation system might look like to outside observers. If we are willing to posit for a moment a Kardashev II-level civilization moving between stars at relativistic velocities, then we would make as one of our predictions that such a system would be suitable for navigation at such speeds. In following the predictive model of Vidal’s paper, we would then check through our voluminous pulsar data to see how such a prediction fares. The answer, in other words, is in our datasets, and demands analyzing the viability of pulsar navigation at high fractions of c.
To my knowledge, no one has yet done this, making Vidal’s paper a spur to such research. The key here is to make predictions to see which can be falsified. But a quick recap for those just coming in on the discussion. What Vidal (Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) offers is an examination of millisecond X-ray pulsars as navigational aids, of the sort we’re already beginning to exploit through experiments via NASA, Chinese efforts and studies at the European Space Agency.
(5) AN UNASSUMING AWARD. Mark Hepworth calls the judges of the Subjective Chaos (Kind of) Awards, “A group of book bloggers with an entirely trophy-free award but looks kinda fun anyway. I particularly like the ‘blurring the boundaries’ award.”
The writer of Bethan May Booksintroduces these sff awards with the admission, “Not really an award. There is no prize. Or a ceremony. I will be drinking though.”
Once upon a time, there was a book blogger, struggling to work out instagram and keep up with threads on twitter.
‘Just like me’ you may be thinking, ‘Who is Chuck Wendig anyway?’ right?
One day this hapless book blogger found herself invited to take part in an adventure of alarmingly increasing proportion.
The Wise Sage from The Middle Shelf declared ‘Come! Join us on our quest to discover the Best Books Released in 2017! There will be nominating, there will be shortlists, there will be endless twitter notifications the likes of which you’ve never seen before. But there will also be companionship, reknown, and most importantly; new books to read!’
And so our brave book blogger ventured forth into this new, daring fellowship. What perils await them as they forge through C’s categories? Will they conquer the towering mountains of books? And will their bonds prove strong enough to reach an agreement in the end?
These are The Subjective Chaos (Kind Of) Awards*
Do you dare follow the adventure?
Follow the link to their shortlist – your Mount TBR may grow!
The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will premiere in 2019.
Amazon Studios has handed out a renewal to The Tick for a second season.
The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will begin production in 2018 and is set to bow in 2019 exclusively on Prime Video in over 200 countries. The Tick is based on the acclaimed comic about an accountant who realizes his city is owned by a global supervillain long thought to be dead. He falls in with a strange blue superhero as he uncovers the conspiracy.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 18, 1644 — John Winthrop documented the first known unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in North America.
January 18, 2008 – Cloverfield premiered. An Easter egg in the movie is a picture of the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in a side view mirror of a car.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY POOH-FLINGER
Born January 18, 1882 — A.A. Milne
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Mike Kennedy observes that automation has taken over another job in Speedbump.
…When I got there, arriving a bit early for the event, I went into the green room and I was alone.
Except for Neil Gaiman.
Neil Fucking Gaiman. Good Omens! Sandman! The Ocean at the End of the Lane! Stardust and Coraline and American Gods and Neverwhere and…
(C’mon. Dark poet, elegantly mussed hair, you know him, you love him.)
And I stood there for a moment, utterly frozen. He was, if I recall, looking at his phone.
And I said: “I can go.”
Because I thought, I should leave him alone! I don’t belong here. THIS IS RARE AIR AND I DO NOT DESERVE TO BREATHE IT.
And then he Tasered me and called security.
He smiled warmly and invited me in and was friendly and delightful and made me feel like I belonged. The other authors welcomed me too and it was awesome, even if I (even now!) still feel like a stowaway on that boat.
As writers we so often have the feeling like we are a Scooby-Doo monster about to be unmasked. I don’t think you ever really lose that.
BUT — and here is a vital part of the lesson — you can help diminish that feeling in other writers by making them feel welcome and a part of the tribe.
Recognize other writers feel like impostors too — and you can combat the feeling in yourself by helping them combat it when you welcome them. In this, community blooms.
You’ll never lose it. But you can help others feel like they belong. And when community grows you feel less alone
One entity that has not stopped aging, and whose aging I have whinged upon quite frequently, is Fantasy and Science Fiction, a magazine now in its 14th year and third editor. Editor Avram Davidson has given me a decent issue this time around, for which I am grateful. See if you enjoy the February 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction as much as I did…
… Counter Security, by James White
Ah, now this is what I read sf for. This largely autobiographical piece features a young, underemployed night watchman in a British department store who must solve the mystery of (what appears to be) a spiteful, peppermint chewing, floor-spitting, Black-hating skulker before the staff quit en masse from worry and fear. I finished this novelette in one sitting on the beach at Waimea as the sun rose, and I’m not sure a more perfect half hour was ever spent. Five stars.
The researchers caught the molecular machinery binding to DNA, unzipping it and reading the information in the genetic code.
(13) FIRST SCAN. Neither snow, nor ice, nor gloom of night will keep these satellites from their appointed rounds — “ICEYE’s ‘suitcase space radar’ returns first image”. Works through clouds and at night, and is cheap enough that they could put up large numbers of satellites, allowing the same area to be photographed several times a day.
Finnish start-up ICEYE has released a “first light” image from its novel radar satellite, which was launched to orbit last Friday.
The picture depicts a region of Alaska incorporating Noatak National Preserve.
ICEYE is taking a radical new approach to satellite radar, shrinking the size of what have traditionally been big, power-hungry spacecraft into a volume similar to that of a suitcase.
The Helsinki-based firm plans to launch a large network of these platforms.
This will enable multiple radar images a day to be acquired over the same location on Earth – a service that has not previously been available.
Bringing people up-close to the source of their food is admirably rational, but that rotten fish seemed anything but. And as I ate my way down to and across capital city Reykjavik, eating more rotten, sour and dung-smoked foods, it occurred to me that Icelandic food culture was not only odd, but possibly unique. Though eating cheaper and often less-obviously appetizing parts of animals and plants is common, every other national cuisine I’d tried took pride in how good they were able to make their calf stomach (Bulgarian shkembe), sheep’s brain (Moroccan mokh mchermel) or cows’ tails (Jamaican oxtail stew). But Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.
Nope, the most freakish physical attribute of the historical fantasy protagonist isn’t their catlike vertical leap or ability to absorb multiple blows to the head without CTE. It’s their immunity to death by diarrhoea. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly okay with trading historicity for a compelling story. It’s just that… well, if you specialise in killing off vast numbers of named characters, I’m surprised none of them have ever suddenly died of a communicable disease, throwing a spanner into the works of whatever elaborately engineered plan the rest of their faction had come up with. I know, it’s not as dramatic as a stabbing. But it’s also a rich, mostly-untapped source of dramatic irony: you can be the best in every aspect it’s possible for a person to control—the perfect warrior, the cleverest sage—and still get undone in the most unglamorous, most human of ways.
When a Reddit user asked if Winklevoss has read two other science fiction novels, “Cryptonomicon” or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, Winklevoss responded he’s checked those off of his list too.
(17) SUIT UP. Marvel says you’re invited to the Wedding of the Century – X-Men Gold.
(18) TOMB RAIDER. MGM has released Tomb Raider – Official Trailer #2.
Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Tomb Raider is the story that will set a young and resolute Lara Croft on a path toward becoming a global hero. The film stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) in the lead role, under the direction of Roar Uthaug (The Wave), with Oscar-winner Graham King (The Departed) producing under his GK Films banner. The film¹s production begins on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the wildly popular videogame franchise from Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Will R. and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
I almost didn’t make it to Worldcon 75. My taxi was 15 minutes late picking me up from home, and then encountered serious traffic en route to Zaventem airport. I was far too late to check my bag and brought it through security, where I almost came unstuck because of the Official Hugo Glue, which Dave McCarty had given me at Smofcon in December and I now needed to give back to him. (In fact we did not need it, as the artist who created the bases had engraved the winners’ plaques and attached them to the bases herself.) Five different security officials inspected the Official Hugo Glue Gun (which fortunately in Dutch is not a gun but a “lijmapparaat”, glue machine) before I was allowed to go on my way. The captain of my plane then scolded me, entirely fairly, for bringing “hand luggage” which was, in his words, “way too big”. But he did not throw me off, and I arrived in Helsinki.
Whyte includes a clear photo of the Hugo base by itself:
(2) ALL’S WELL. Yesterday’s Scroll quoted Renay’s tweets about the dismaying condition of Lady Business’ Hugo when it arrived. She told File 770 the problems were quickly resolved:
It turns out it was melted glue from where the felt was attached to the base (it’s hot here in Arkansas!). It’s been cleaned off with no problems and we’re looking into the proper type of glue to reattach the felt so disaster averted!! The bolt and washer were missing, too, but we’re going to pick a replacement up tomorrow. Nicholas Whyte from the Hugo team was super responsive. I’m also impressed everything arrived so fast. Those Worldcon 75 volunteers are ON IT.
Thank you very much. I have a speech here but I actually can’t see it. I can think of no higher honor than having a welcome like this to this community. This… we all work so hard on other worlds, on creating them, on reading them, and discussing them, and while we do so we’re also working equally hard on this world and making it the best world we possibly can. I have a list with me of people to thank, but I can’t read it. These tears are three quarters joy, but one quarter pain. This speech wasn’t supposed to be about invisible disability, but I’m afraid it really has to be now. I have been living with invisible disability for many years and… and there are very cruel people in the world for which reason I have been for more than ten years not public about this, and I’m terrified to be at this point, but at this point I have to. I also know that there are many many more kind and warm and wonderful people in this world who are part of the team and being excellent people, so, if anyone out there is living with disability or loves someone who has, please never let that make you give up doing what you want or working towards making life more good or making the world a more fabulous place.
(4) CONREPORT. Cora Buhlert shares her Worldcon experience in a short video, Cora’s Adventures at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki. Includes a shot of one of the File 770 meetups.
The 2017 Hugo Awards were announced on Friday, so it’s time for the requisite whining/celebration that peppers the steak of our blogging diet (that’s how food works, right?) Um, anyway, despite my formal participation in the awards process roughly coinciding with the Sad/Rabid Puppy era/debacle, this marks the fourth year wherein I’ve contributed to the results. This year’s awards were less directly impacted by those meddlesome puppies, but I feel like we’re still suffering through an indirect backlash and overcorrection. This isn’t exactly new, so let’s just get on with it. (For those who really want to geek out and see how instant-runoff voting works, the detailed final and nominating ballots are available.)
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin takes the rocket for Best Novel, making Jemisin just the third author to have back-to-back wins in this category (joining the ranks of Orson Scott Card and Lois McMaster Bujold). She’s a good author, but damn, these books are not for me. Both were at the bottom of my ballot and while I can see why her novel won last year, this one is a little more baffling. It appears to have been a close race though, with All the Birds in the Sky only narrowly missing the win. I regret not putting it higher on my ballot, as it’s the only non-series finalist, and that’s something that’s becoming more and more of an issue… My preferred Ninefox Gambit came in third in the voting, which wound up being a theme for my first ranked works this year….
(6) PHOTO FINISH. Amal El-Mohtar coincidentally provides another clear photo of the Hugo base.
(8) WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE READING. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has sicced the panel on “By the Waters of Babylon”. (Wow – I first read that in a junior high school textbook, when I was a Young People myself!)
(9) ROWELL REUNITES RUNAWAYS. Marvel is bringing back Nico, Karolina, Molly, Chase, Old Lace and even Gert.
This fall, best-selling YA writer Rainbow Rowell (Carry On, Eleanor and Park), superstar artist Kris Anka (All-New X-Men, Star-Lord) and Eisner-winning colorist Matt Wilson (The Mighty Thor, Black Widow)team up to bring the universe’s pluckiest team of super heroes back to where they belong: in the pages of a Marvel comic book.
“As a Runaways fan, it’s been such a thrill for me to see these characters together again,” said writer Rainbow Rowell. “I can’t wait to let everyone else into the party.”
“For years I batted other editors and creators back from the Runaways,” said Executive Editor Nick Lowe. “I was the last Editor to edit them and they are precious to me, so I didn’t want just ANYBODY to bring them back. So when my new favorite writer (Rainbow’s Eleanor & Park slayed me in the best way) said they were her favorites, I knew I had half of the lightning I needed. Kris [Anka] was the other missing link for the PERFECT RUNAWAYS creative team and I’m so excited to share them with the world!”
(10) NO CAPTAIN SULU. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, talks about an unproduced Trek series:
Star Trek and Deep Space Nine writer Marc Scott Zicree shares the entire Captain Sulu Star Trek pilot he and Emmy winner Michael Reaves wrote, and shares the untold story of why you never got to see that series — despite its Hugo and Nebula Award nominations!
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
August 18, 1947 – Hewlett-Packard Co. is incorporated, nine years after William Hewlett and David Packard sold their first oscillators from a garage in Palo Alto, where they had set up shop with $538 in capital. Moving from oscillators, the first of which they sold to Disney for the movie Fantasia, the Stanford graduates built one of the world’s largest electronics companies
August 18, 2001 — Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies premieres in Japan.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born August 18, 1925 – Brian Aldiss
COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian approves of the monkey business on Brevity.
(13) INFRINGEMENT SUIT. In January the Arthur C. Clarke estate, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster joined with the estates of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac to sue Frederik Colting, Melissa Medina, and their publishing firm, Moppet Books, charging copyright infringement. They charged that KinderGuides seek “to capitalize on the [classic] Novels’ enduring fame and popularity,” describing the titles as “a transparent attempt to recast their unauthorized derivatives as ‘study guides’ intended for the elementary school set.”
Following a summary judgment ruling last month, a federal judge this week signed off on a permanent injunction immediately barring Moppet Books from distributing in the U.S. any versions of its KinderGuides series held to be infringing, until the works on which they are based enter the public domain. In addition, Moppet Books also agreed to destroy all current copies of the infringing works “in its possession or under its control” within 10 days.
Don’t expect the shredders to fire up quite yet, however. While the ban on distribution is effective immediately, the injunction includes an automatic stay on the destruction of existing stock, pending the “final outcome” of the appeal process.
…On July 28, Judge Jed Rakoff issued a summary judgment for the plaintiffs, rejecting Moppet Books’ claims that the works, created by founders Frederik Colting and Melissa Medina for the company’s KinderGuides series, were protected by fair use. The ruling came just days after oral arguments were presented in the case, and without an accompanying memorandum by Rakoff explaining his decision, which the judge said would come “in due course.”
(14) WHAT’S THAT, ROCKY? The New York Times, in “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth”, reports that new fossil discoveries show prehistoric “squirrels” glided through forests at least 160 million years ago.
In a study published on Wednesday, a team of paleontologists added some particularly fascinating new creatures to the Mesozoic Menagerie. These mammals did not lurk in the shadows of dinosaurs.
Instead, they glided far overhead, avoiding predatory dinosaurs on the ground — essentially flying squirrels of the Jurassic Period, from an extinct branch of mammals that probably still laid eggs.
(15) BRADBURY DRAMATIZED. Broadway World says a one-man Bradbury play will be part of a stage festival in New York next month.
Bill Oberst Jr. brings his award-winning solo performance, “Ray Bradbury‘s Pillar Of Fire,” one of Bradbury’s darkest tales, to Theatre Row on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 6:00pm. The NYC debut is part of the United Solo Theatre Festival.
“Ray Bradbury has something to say to us at this exact moment in time;” said Oberst, “that we are citizens of the cosmos first, that the way we imagine our future determines our future, and that the most dangerous minds are those which cannot imagine themselves to be wrong.”
Oberst’s one-act adaptation uses Ray Bradbury‘s poetic prose to tell the story of William Lantry, a 400-year-old corpse who rises from the grave in the year 2349 to find himself the last dead man on Earth. Filled with hatred for a future world where superstition, gothic literature and human burials are all banned, Lantry decides to create an army of the dead. Bradbury later called the novella “a rehearsal for Fahrenheit 451.” He also famously said, “I don’t predict the future, I try to prevent it.”
(16) OLD HOME WEEK. Andrew Porter used to live in part of the historic Henry Siegel mansion, whose story was chronicled in the Daytonian in Manhattan blog yesterday.
…This is where I first published ALGOL, DEGLER! and then S.F. WEEKLY. It’s where I lived while I worked on the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3. I had numerous fan gatherings there, and have photos of Ted White and Arnie Katz in my room. This block of East 82nd Street is also the direct approach to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose fabled entrance stairs are visible directly down at the end of the block.
He wrote a long, fascinating comment there, including this genre tidbit –
In later years, part of the basement housed a toy store accessed by a stairway from the bookstore above. The proprietor told me that some of the toy soldiers he sold came from the collection of Donald A. Wollheim, a well-known collector and once publisher of DAW Books. And one of the buyers was George R.R. Martin, whose “Game of Thrones” (HBO) is so popular.
…For many years there was also a bookstore. In early 2017, Crawford Doyle Booksellers, which claimed to be there for 21 years, closed. However, there’d been a bookstore there since at least the late 1950s. I know, because as a teenager, I had a job delivering Womrath Library rental books to posh apartments around the area.
Given John Scalzi’s track record, high profile, and vocal fan base, it seems likely that The CollapsingEmpire will be given a fair amount of consideration on many 2018 Hugo nominators’ lists.
Based on how fun this book is at times, that consideration is probably warranted. The novel is set in an interstellar empire tied together by limited faster-than-light traderoutes known as ‘the Flow.’ This empire — The Interdependency — has lasted for millennia because of the economic dependence of its member worlds to each other. The key protagonists are the new Empress of the Interdependency, and the son of a scientist on a distant world whose father has spent decades discovering that the flow is going to collapse. The overaching plot — which has some parallels to Asimov’s Foundation— is expertly constructed and well-paced. Although the characters all seemed to speak with a similar voice, their motivations were clear, and the conflicts felt natural.
“We’re doing a lot of coordination, a lot of preparation,” says Deane Lyon, a manager at the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages about 80 percent of the state’s electric grid. “It’s probably the most work this company has done to prepare for a three-hour event in our history.”
Solar power already comes with up and downs, in the form of clouds.
“So this was a particularly cloudy day,” says Jan Klube of Enphase, pulling up a graph showing the solar output from one California home. The Petaluma-based company monitors rooftop solar systems around the country day in and day out.
To show how a single cloud can make a difference, he points to the afternoon hours, when the output dips by about a third. “You see the big drop, so there’s a cloud coming and going,” he explains. “That’s why you see the zigzag.”
If your solar panels are in the path of totality during the eclipse, “it will go all the way to zero,” he says.
California isn’t squarely in the path, but the moon’s partial shadow will obscure 90 percent of the sun in the north, down to nearly 60 percent in the south. That’s more than enough to cause some anxiety for the people who have to keep California’s lights on.
With the help of elementary school students, University of Missouri biology professor Candi Galen is putting out microphones near beehives, in gardens and in a pumpkin patch to record buzzing activity.
“I don’t think it is really known the cues that bees use or don’t use when they are foraging that tell them to jump ship and go back their hives or stay put,” Galen says. “Bees depend upon the environment to regulate their temperature, and that may suggest that if indeed it does cool off a few degrees as the eclipse progresses, then they would get less active because they would be at a lower temperature physiologically.”
Researchers are also working with nearby cattle ranchers and even fishermen to monitor fish activity, Reinbott says.
Critics, however, pounced on the news. They fear editing DNA in human embryos is unsafe, unnecessary and could open the door to “designer babies” and possibly someday to genetically enhanced people who are considered superior by society.
As the debate raged last week, I asked Mitalipov if I could visit his lab to see the next round of his experiments. He wants to confirm his initial results and determine whether the method can be used to repair other mutations.
He agreed to a visit, and on Monday, I became the first journalist to see these scientists cross a line that, until recently, had been taboo.
Chip Hitchcock adds a historical note: “Readers of antique SF may remember Heinlein’s elaborate description of deductive sorting of ova in Beyond This Horizon; another infodump bites the dust.”
The Defenders hits Netflix today, and with it comes a look at Marvel’s upcoming show The Punisher. Frank Castle was introduced in season 2 of Daredevil. He’s played by Jon Bernthal, who will reprise his role as the gun-toting Army vet out for revenge.
Various rips of the trailer are popping up all over YouTube…
(22) SAY HELLO. Amazon Prime video will stream The Tick on August 25.
From creator Ben Edlund comes the hero you’ve been waiting for. In a world where heroes and villains have existed for decades, a mild-mannered accountant named Arthur has his life turned upside down when he runs into a mysterious blue superhero, The Tick, who insists that Arthur become the brains to his brawn in a crime-fighting duo. Will Arthur resist the call of Destiny or join the fight?
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Karl-Johan Norén, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
From creator Ben Edlund comes the hero you’ve been waiting for. In a world where heroes and villains have existed for decades, a mild-mannered accountant named Arthur has his life turned upside down when he runs into a mysterious blue superhero, The Tick, who insists that Arthur become the brains to his brawn in a crime-fighting duo. Will Arthur resist the call of Destiny or join the fight?