I’ve now had time to review the recent allegations made about Baen’s Bar, both specific and general.
And I can say with confidence that not a one of them is justified. What I saw was a vibrant, international community of readers who enjoyed engaging with each other for civilized discourse about everything from slush to scampi, from swords to shamans. I’ve gone through hundreds of posts, though admittedly not all of the hundreds of thousands of posts that were made over the decades long history of the Bar.
Were there posts that I disagreed with? Yes, some quite strongly. But that’s point of free speech. Were there posts which taken out of the context of the discussion they were in could be misconstrued? Yes. I did not see illegal speech even in the most heated discussions. And I did see long-time users step in to calm discussions down—which is what happens in healthy forums….
Weisskopf lays down the rules of conduct – which are the same the Bar has subscribed to all along.
There are traditional rules of the Bar decreed by the God Emperor Himself, Jim Baen of Sainted Memory, the most important of which after “no illegal posts,” are “no hitting” and “don’t be a butthead.”
A later paragraph about what topics are likely to be discussed in the forums includes this line about Tom Kratman —
Kratman is going to be discussing the past, present, and future of war, everywhere, involving everyone—and he has to abide by these rules, too.
He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.
The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high. The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given. No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party….
Weisskopf’s statement closes with this peroration:
But let me put this very clearly: if you are seeking to plan imminent violence, from whatever political direction or none at all, that won’t fly. Equally, if the mere existence of an opinion that differs from yours means that you want that opinion eradicated from the Bar: that won’t fly either.
Despite the warnings, that the kind of thing Kratman uses the Bar for remains within bounds tells readers that the real limits on conduct are set right where you’d predict – the same place they always were.
The only thing that would have come as a surprise is if the status quo had not been fully restored. And there are no surprises to report.
[Thanks to George Phillies and Michael J. Lowrey for the story. Art by Alexis Gilliland.]
The story’s protagonist, Mull, has found himself living in a once spectacular tesseract house—an architect’s grandiose solution to L.A.’s housing crisis—which has collapsed yet is still habitable. The structure keeps shifting and Mull struggles to find his way around. A corridor he used one day may have vanished the next. When did you first imagine this building? Do you see it as a three-dimensional space in your mind’s eye? Do you know it better than Mull? Or as well as Mull?
The idea of a tesseract as building comes from Robert Heinlein’s famous 1941 short story, “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (an influence my story wears on the sleeve of its title). It was one of my favorite stories growing up, and, for a lot of readers my age, it might be as responsible for the introduction of the idea of a tesseract as Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s also an L.A. story, and Heinlein was a resident when he wrote it. The house in the story is across the street from his own address, if I’m remembering right.
That people in Los Angeles live outside right now, in tents and under overpasses, is such a cruel and overwhelming reality that it may be atrocious to make reference to it in passing (though it probably isn’t better to leave it unmentioned at all, which is what happens constantly). I’ll try saying simply that I sometimes find it easiest to let certain realities express themselves in my thinking when I give them a surreal or allegorical expression.
(2) MORE COMMENTS ON BAEN’S BAR AND DISINVITING WEISSKOPF. Here are three recent posts that go beyond rehashing others’ opinions.
LawDog: “Freedom of Speech by LawDog”, a guest post on According to Hoyt, is a non-lawyer’s defense of Baen’s Bar hosting the sort of comments called out in Jason Sanford’s article.
…This, however, isn’t where the deplatformers come from (I’m looking at you folks taking a thunder run at Baen’s Bar in particular), they’ve decided that “Incitement to Violence” isn’t Free Speech, as they clutch their pearls.
Lawdog briefs a Supreme Court case, then proceeds —
“How,” I hear you ask, “Does this pertain to Baen’s Bar?”
Simple. If someone has been yacking about doing violence unto the Fed.gov for ten or fifteen years … it’s pretty safe to say that lawlessness is not “imminent”, and thus fails the Brandenburg test. That speech, distasteful though you may find it, is protected Free Speech.
And what is speech protected from? Protected from suppression by the government. So the government can’t prevent Baen’s Bar from hosting, for example, Tom Kratman’s advice about a Trumpian militia.
However, the pertinent question is do fans want to honor a figure in the sff field that hosts this speech? Lawdog’s cite does not bridge that divide.
Ben Sheffield takes a 360-dgree look at the topic in “Baenposting” at Coagulopath.
… That’s the main issue under consideration: are these “threats” on Baen’s Bar any more substantial or interesting than symbolic posturing, like a Twitter leftist with a guillotine avatar saying “eat the rich”? I don’t think they are.
So the expose has problems, and avenues of counterattack. But the reaction from the forum’s defenders has largely been to shoot themselves in the foot.
Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf had a hard row to hoe. If she deletes the mentioned posts and bans the offenders, her users will perceive this as a craven surrender to a bully’s demands. But if she ignores the expose, it will be spun as a further endorsement of violence.
She tried to have it both ways, temporarily closing the forum pending an investigation while refusing to condemn the violent threats. “We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.” She might have hoped that the scandal would blow over in a week, and she could reopen the Bar without doing anything. This approach blew up in her face, and caused her to lose her Guest of Honor spot at the 2021 Worldcon.
As I’ve said, you can’t win with forums. In chess, zugzwang is when you’re forced to make a bad move, because there’s no other way. Jason Sanford put her in zugzwang on February 15. There was no way she could have responded without suffering reputational damage, either from the SF community at large or from her own fans.
The smart thing to do, of course, would have been to never allow posts like that on Baen’s Bar to begin with.
But moderation is tricky, particularly with regards to powerful, respected users who are also personal friends. Forums founded on an ethos of “everything goes!” are generally moderated as little as possible, and this establishes precedent that’s hard to break. Like a roof with a hole in it, “everything goes” only seems fine until it starts raining. Moderation is almost always necessary, regardless of your friends’ feelings.
I’ve seen some attempted defenses of Baen’s Bar, and they’re not impressive….
Linda Bushyager, who in the Seventies edited the fannish newzine of record (Karass) before passing the torch to File 770, told Facebook readers that Toni Weisskopf didn’t deserve this outcome:
… I went to Discon’s website to read what they had to say about their decision. Basically the committee said because some users of Baen Books discussion had said violent or nasty or non PC or whatever comments, Toni, as the main editor at Baen would be disinvited. Note, Toni never made those comments, but I guess did not criticize them or ban them. However after complaints Toni did close down the “offensive” forum.
So it’s like you rent a room in your house to someone (a stranger) who turns out to be a robber, or Nazi, or racist, or whatever — well now let’s ban you too for whatever they said or did. Or maybe I belong to some club or organization or political party and someone else in this group said abhorrent stuff and I didn’t immediately withdraw from that group, so ban me from whatever honor you were going to give me, even if I disagree with those spoken views. Etc. There are many examples one could imagine. Am I responsible for everything not only my relatives and friends may say or do, but for acquaintances and people I work with or casually ride an elevator with? Where is the line?
Guilt by association.
All in all a sad day for Science Fiction fandom, as I see it — especially where in years past we were known for being tolerant to people who were different and who may have had different views. And when we found fans who had abhorrent ideas or said awful things, we tried to understand where they were coming from and tried to be tolerant and sympathetic where possible in an effort to understand and change minds, not just rebuke bad behavior thoughtlessly….
(3) COMIC-CON@HOME AGAIN. Comic-Con International has cancelled this spring’s WonderCon, and once more will run both it and the San Diego Comic-Con as virtual events: “Statement Regarding Comic-Con 2021”
As you may be aware, due to concern for public health and safety, San Diego Comic Convention had to cancel both of its in-person events in 2020 and recently announced that our spring 2021 show, WonderCon in Anaheim, will also be canceled. In its place, WonderCon@Home will once again be held as a free online event on March 26 and 27, 2021.
It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.
Despite a decline in the number of new Covid-19 cases and the increasing rate of vaccinations, we cannot be certain there will be no threat come October. Last year, a major surge of the disease began just as the workshop would have been taking place. The new variants of the virus represent a wild card. No one is more disappointed with this outcome than we are, but we will not take risks with the safety of our students, instructors, and staff.
(5) TACKLING THE GENDER DIVIDE IN WANDAVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at the DailyDot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor on Twitter) examines how differing standards for male and female magic users in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are indicative of existing prejudices about men and women. It’s an illuminating article about how often in comics (and superhero movies) a woman’s superpower is undercut by her own helplessness. “What ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ say about magical gender roles”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
…While Wanda Maximoff’s role is all about emotional upheaval and uncontrolled outbursts of power, her male counterpart (and future co-star) Doctor Strange develops his magic through rigorous academic training….
(6) FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Queer Sci Fi opened its annual Flash Contest today, and will be accepting entries through April 30. Full details at the link. (Via Locus Online.)
Every year, QSF holds a flash fiction contest to create an amazing new anthology of queer speculative fiction stories. We ask authors to do the nearly-impossible – to submit a sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror LGBTIQA story that has no more than 300 words.
The theme for 2021 is “Ink”…
We’ll be accepting works from across the queer spectrum, and would love to see more entries including lesbian, trans, bi, intersex and ace protagonists, as well as gay men. We also welcome diversity in ability (physical and mental) and in race. We had our most diverse set of entries yet in 2020 – let’s keep up the trend!
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 1, 1997 –On this day in 1997, the Crime Traveller series premiered on BBC. It was produced by Carnival Films for the BBC. The premise being of time travel for the purpose of solving crimes. It was created by Anthony Horowitz, and starred Michael and Chloë Annett. It would last but eight episodes being caught in the change of guard in the BBC Head of Drama position. You can watch the first episode here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 1, 1885 — Lionel Atwill. He had the lead roles in Thirties horror films Doctor X, The Vampire Bat, Murders in the Zoo and Mystery of the Wax Museum but his most-remembered role was the one-armed Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein which Kenneth Mars parodied in Young Frankenstein. He would appear in four subsequent Universal Frankenstein films. (Died 1946.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1915 – Wyman Guin. One novel, eight shorter stories. Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. Some have praised his focus on the human implications of enduring the future, but I’ve always loved “Volpla”. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born March 1, 1918 — Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Turkey. Other genre appearances were Quatermass II, Danger Man, The Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1923 — Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg Terror, The Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1946 — Lana Wood, 75. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the later are five stars. (CE)
Born March 1, 1950 — David Pringle, 71. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation during the Eighties which In turned spawned Interzone during that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone. With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. (CE)
Born March 1, 1952 — Steve Barnes, 69. I remember him best from the Dream Park series with Larry Niven but the Insh’Allah series is quite stellar as is the Heorot series that he did with Niven. His only award to date is an Endeavour Award for Lion’s Blood. (CE)
Born March 1, 1954 — Ron Howard, 67. Director of Cocoon and Willow. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And opinions are I believe are definitely divided on Solo: A Star Wars Story. As a producer only, he’s responsible for Cowboys & Aliens and The Dark Tower. (CE)
Born March 1, 1954 – Maureen Garrett, age 67. Known as a fanartist – she did the Nine of Wands in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see the whole deck here [PDF]; after BP’s introduction the suits are Cups, Pentacles, Swords, Wands, then the Trumps; yes, that’s the model for her card, named elsewhere in these birthday notes), contributed to Rune, moderated “What Is an Artist’s Life Really Like?” at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon – she was also Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm. [JH]
Born March 1, 1955 – Tracy Barrett, Ph.D., age 66. Six novels for us, two dozen all told. The Song of Orpheus, seventeen Greek myths we’re little acquainted with, has been called nonfiction, but I dunno. Anna of Byzantium is her novel of Anna Comnena (1083-1153; wrote The Alexiad, hello Joe Major). Taught at Vanderbilt thirty years. Likes Dickens’ Bleak House (as do I), “anything by Jane Austen, James Thurber, George Eliot.” [JH]
Born March 1, 1962 – Dave Weingart, age 59. Variously active fan, celebrated as a filker. InterfilkGuest at Consonance 2001. Official Filk Waif at FilKONtario 12. Music Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2010. Featured Filker at 8Pi-con. Filklore Award. [JH]
Born March 1, 1968 – Dorian Vallejo, age 53. Five dozen covers, a few interiors. Here is the Jul 91 Asimov’s. Here is The California Voodoo Game. Here is Lone Star. Here is Smoke and Mirrors. Jack Gaughan Award. Son of Boris, which some say irks him; his Website has “Born into an artistic family” and nothing of us; but like any artist he gets to do what he thinks best. [JH]
Born March 1, 1987 – Maxmilian Meinzold, age 34. Thirty covers, a few interiors. Here is The Silmarillion (in German). Here is The King of Camelot (in German; tr. of The Once and Future King). Here is The Hidden Oracle. Here is Zealand (spelled Seeland in German; subtitle, “hitch-hiking to the Strudel Throat”; yes, in English it’s too bad there’s an r). [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
In today’s episode of Spaceman Spiff at Calvin and Hobbes, Spiff finds a huge monster camouflaged as a mountain range.
…. And that brings us to another theme of the series, and this book in particular (right in the title, Transgressions of Power). For, you see, Della and Tagaret do want to break down those adamantine boundaries of Caste. They see, even if darkly and imperfectly (and Wade does a great job in making them fallible and human in it) that the caste system is really the root of the problems of the crumbling civilization and if there is any hope for the Varin, from the Grobal on down, it will take crossing those boundaries…in making transgressions, if you will. In keeping with that, not only do we see Tagaret and Della’s efforts, but we get an emphasis on a dreaded and whispered thing that can happen to the Grobal—to “Fall” down to another caste. This is shown as a dangerous and one possibility for Adon to escape the pressures on him, and while it is a societal safety valve, it is treated as a fate almost worse than death. It is also a Chehkov’s Gun that the author effectively fires in the conclusion, as well….
(11) THE EVOLUTION OF MARIO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 24 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the success of Nintendo character Mario.
Nintendo’s influential designer Shigeru Miyamoto came up with the blueprint for Mario when he was developing 1981’s Donkey Kong, in which a hero called Jumpman dodges obstacles to reach the top of a construction site where a gorilla is holding his girlfriend hostage. Mario’s characteristics were determined by technical limitations and accidents: his red and blue overalls were selected to contrast with a black background while his large nose and moustache were an effort to infuse personality into a character comprised of a handful of pixels. According tto company lore, his name was inspired by Mario Segale, the irate landlord of Nintendo of America’s warehouse.
Mario was first cast as a carpenter, then as a plumber for Mario Bros., which featured him and his twin brother Luigi fighting off monsters which oozed up from the sewers of New York. Soon a polish formula was established, with nefarious king Bowser, hapless Princess Peach and a cast of surrounding characters drawn in broad brushstrokes. Powers included mushrooms that made Mario grow or shrink, or items that turned him into a bee, a ghost, a flying squirrel, and, in the new release Super Mario 3d World, a cat. Mario appeared in educational games, a low-budget cartoon and an execrable 1993 live-action film–though an upcoming animated movie, co-produced by the studio behind the Minions films, might be better.
Daniel Greenberg, a member of MSCHF, claims there’s a serious side to Spot’s Rampage though. “Anytime you see a TikTok or a dance it’s like, ‘Oh God, Spot is so happy,’” Greenberg says. “But if we actually talk candidly about what it’s going to be used for in the real world, you could say it’s police, you could say it’s military.”
Needless to say, Boston Dynamics isn’t very happy. The company tweeted on Friday: “We condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation. Our mission is to create and deliver surprisingly capable robots that inspire, delight and positively impact society.”
Perry adds that it is a particular concern because the company is trying to sell its robots. “It’s not just a moral point, it’s also a commercial point for us,” he says.
Because the robot periodically checks in with Boston Dynamics servers, it would theoretically be possible to disable the Spot that MSCHF is using. “We’re wrestling with that,” Perry adds. The MSCHF crew claim to have a workaround ready just in case.
(14) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has made videos of the 1989 Worldcon Masquerade available on YouTube.
Norascon 3, the 47th Worldcon, was held in Boston, MA. In this recording, costumers make their appearance on the big stage, and showcase the physical results of their imaginations and their skills. The costumers range from Novices to Journeymen to Masters, and the themes from silly and playful to very serious. Note: Some sections have been muted due to copyright laws. There’s more to come in part 2.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Darrah Chavey, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The committee of Discon III approached me this week to discuss the allegations about Baen’s Bar that were posted at Patreon. Baen is conducting a thorough investigation, which we feel we cannot rush, and has taken down the Bar while we conduct the investigation.
I do understand the immediate appeal of Discon III wishing to act quickly to respond to their community. Today they informed me of their official decision to remove me as their Editor Guest of Honor.
While I strongly disagree with the committee’s decision, I will regretfully accede to their wishes.
These excerpts for the Scroll are primarily by authors who condemned the decision (except for the final one).
So Toni Weisskopf has been formally disinvited by WorldCon and DisCon. Can’t say it was a surprise. I will however remind people of the personal policy I adopted years ago and reiterated in the case of ConCarolina and John Ringo. I will not attend a con which has disinvited a guest. You are always free to invite —or not—anyone you like. Any con which disinvites someone after the invitation has been issued and accepted, especially when they do so under pressure, however, does not deserve to be trusted by future guests.
He said more in the comments on his post, including —
…So Toni Weisskopf activated the most proactive, realistic option available to her: she closed the Bar, thereby ending any possibility that it might do further ostensible injury.
36 hours later, however, she was disinvited without any additional cause.
You will note, however, that no one asserted that she did not respond quickly enough. In fact, in disinviting her, there were no further/new discoveries added to those put forth in Mr. Sanford’s essay.
So what had changed? If the concom believes that 36 hours is enough time for her to resolve the matter completely, I once again point out that
a) any business person operating in the real world would *know* that is not enough time to conduct anything like a thorough review
b) in order to ensure that what Mr. Sanford reported could not expand or remain as a potential threat, SHE CLOSED THE WHOLE BAR DOWN.
If she had meant to stonewall, or not actually investigate the matter, she would not have taken the step of closing the Bar.
Do I repeat myself in this post? Assuredly so . . . because these are salient points which are being repeatedly, perhaps purposively, overlooked.
For anyone familiar with the musical Hamilton, cue “The Room Where It Happened” as we ponder “so what changed in 36 hours?”
…Then several years later, after the old controversy I caused had died off and most of us barbaric outsiders had said screw cheesy WorldCon and moved on with our lives, some of you still felt guilty for how you’d treated Toni, so you extended an olive branch. You offered her the Guest of Honor spot at your little convention. How nice. How fucking magnanimous.
Toni, being a far better human being than any of you could ever aspire to be, thought the offer over. She knew there was risks. She knew that she’d take heat from people on the right (and she has). Morons on my side of the political would call her a sell-out, quisling, traitor, boot licker, so on and so forth, and they did. She got attacked by the useless grifters on both sides, looking for hate clicks. But unlike you, Toni ignores the baying mob and always does what she thinks is the right thing to do. She looked at your peace offering, and said fine, If you want to try and mend fences, okay, I’ll take the heat, I’ll be your guest of honor. She was the bigger person.
She talked to me about her decision. I told her I understood, I wouldn’t do it, but I respected her call, but that she’d surely get yelled at by the idiots on both sides. She already knew, but she thought it was the right thing to do anyway. Because unlike you, Toni actually has a moral compass. Your moral compass is a windsock. Her one mistake in all this was assuming that any of you old time Smofs would have a spine….
A very large number of people today are reaching for rhetorical flourishes to complain about what happened. RS Benedict made this connection. (If you don’t recognize Isabel Fall’s name, run a search here. Also let it be noted that Weisskopf has been removed as GoH, not banned from attending.)
Mike VanHelder, an experienced conrunner, tried to understand the decision from a convention running perspective. As part of that he wrote this How It Should Have Ended scenario, in addition to other insights. Thread starts here.
…When we really, truly admire someone, whether they’re an Avenger or Anthony Fauci, there’s a tendency to mimic their personality, even their morality. Media theorists call these bonds “parasocial relationships”; parents of kids with one too many Star Wars posters (probably) call it “over the top.” But the people in it, the ones who write fic and spend days making cosplay before the next convention, call it part of their identity, the fabric of who they are.
Until it’s not. Earlier this week, actress Gina Carano lost her job playing Cara Dune on The Mandalorian. The former MMA fighter had been facing criticism for months for her anti-science views on mask-wearing, mocking transgender-sensitive pronouns, and tweets about voter fraud. Then, on Wednesday, after she shared an Instagram story that suggested having differing political views was akin to being Jewish during the Holocaust, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano began to trend on Twitter. That night, Lucasfilm issued the following statement: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Carano’s comments are harmful for a lot of reasons, but they seem to carry an additional weight for fans. Cara Dune was a hero, someone who fought for people, a tough, competent female warrior in a genre often dominated by men. Fans looked up to Cara, and by extension Carano, but the actor’s comments on social media left one of those things harder to do….
Viewers of WandaVision crashed Disney+ on Friday morning as the latest installment dropped on the streaming service.
There was a brief 10-minute outage in the early hours of Friday as episode seven of the Marvel Cinematic Universe-based series was made available, PEOPLE reports.
Fans expressed their frustration on social media after experiencing issues as they signed on in droves to catch the latest installment of Wanda and Vision’s Westview adventures.
(4) RECOVERED. Claire O’Dell has released a second edition of her award-winning River of Souls trilogy with new covers and updated text: River of Souls Series. The author blogged about the books here.
…Once Tor returned the rights to me, I decided to release a second edition, with new covers and updated text. I commissioned new artwork from the amazing Jessica Shirley. I badgered my long-suffering spouse into designing new covers. And I spent several months editing and proofreading the manuscripts. The e-books are now available at my on-line bookstore (here), individually or as a bundle, and will appear at all the usual vendor sites later this week….
…There are at least two kinds of Dyson Sphere. The first—the one Dyson intended—is made up of a myriad of independently orbiting objects. While this presents an interesting traffic control challenge, the Dyson Swarm has the advantage that not only can it be built incrementally over a very long period, but the components are gravitationally coupled to the star in question.
The second option is a solid shell with the star in the middle….
Retrieved by the Union from certain extinction on the ice-encrusted world Myan, Kaya is somewhat less than entirely grateful. After all, the reason Myan was freezing in the first place was Project Saion, the Union’s vast energy-gathering structure blocking Myan from its star, Saion. While the Union did belatedly notice the Myan natives and rescue them, this didn’t come to pass until 997 out of every 1000 of Kaya’s species had perished in the cold. Still, the Union is very, very powerful, while the handful of Myans are not. There is nothing Kaya can do to save her home world. At least, that’s what the Union believes…
The 69-year-old Lynnwood-based author and first-class raconteur still has a lot to say. He’s published four novels since aortic dissection surgery left him with a titanium heart valve six years ago and has plans for more. But he’s just not sure he wants to deal with the business of fiction publishing anymore after having a hard time finding a buyer for “The Unfinished Land,” eventually published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint John Joseph Adams Books.
“If I had written it and no one wanted to publish it, what would I do right at that point?” Bear said. “I considered just retiring. And I think I’m still making that decision at this point.”
Catalano reacts: “It’s end-of-days when Greg Bear can’t find a publisher. Ack.”
… Alex Kingston is releasing a brand new River Song novel, taking the popular companion on a brand new adventure.
The book, entitled The Ruby’s Curse, promises to tell a thrilling story set in New York in 1939, featuring both River Song and her alter-ego Melody Malone. It is Alex Kingston’s first foray into writing Doctor Who fiction, following in the footsteps of Tom Baker, whose story Scratchman follows the escapades of the Fourth Doctor….
“Having absolutely no idea of the journey I would be taking with River Song when I first uttered those words, “Hello Sweetie,” I cannot begin to express how excited I am to be able to continue not only River, but Melody’s adventures on the written page,” she says.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, A Canticle for Leibowitz, a fix-up of three short stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, written by Walter M. Miller, Jr. wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It was published by J. B. Lippincott. Other nominees that year were The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison and Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon. Surprisingly this is the only award this novel won.
…In 1975, NASA introduced the worm, a sleek sequence of winding red letters, and the logo quickly became a tangible symbol of a boundless space age that lay ahead.
“We did get what we set out to accomplish,” Mr. Blackburn said. “Anybody we showed it to immediately said, ‘Oh I know what that is. I know them. They’re really great. They’re right on the leading edge of everything.’”
But in 1992, a few years after the Challenger explosion, NASA dropped the worm and revived the meatball in a decision that was said to be intended to improve company morale.
Mr. Blackburn and other designers lamented the choice. “They said, ‘This is a crime. You cannot do this,’” he said. “‘This is a national treasure and you’re throwing it in the trash bin.”
“His design sensibility was offended by what happened,” his daughter said. “He thought the meatball was clumsy and sloppy and not representative of the future.”…
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 19, 1923 – Alan Hunter. Fan and pro artist; founded the Fantasy Art Society (U.K.); fifty covers, three hundred fifty interiors, for Banana Wings, Dream, Fantasy Tales, Matrix, Nebula, New Worlds, SF Chronicle, Vector, the Millennium Philcon Program Book (59th Worldcon), the LoneStarCon 3 Program Book (71st Worldcon). Artist Guest at Fantasycon 1981. Here is the Spring 53 Nebula. Here is an interior from the Mar 53 New Worlds. Here is an interior from Dream. Here is the Oct 86 SF Chronicle. Here is Vector 112. Here is Banana Wings 38. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born February 19, 1937 — Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born February 19, 1963 — Laurell K. Hamilton, 58. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but several novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest rather longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. (CE)
Born February 19, 1946 – Rosemary Ullyot, age 75. Early member of the Ontario SF Club. Fanzine Kevas & Trillium with Alicia Austin and Maureen Bournes. “Kumquat May” column in Energumen. Twice finalist for Best Fanwriter. [JH]
Born February 19, 1957 – Jim Rittenhouse, age 64. Founded Point of Divergence, alternative-history apa. Guest of Honor at DucKon 12, Windycon 32. Judge of the Sidewise Award. Has read As I Lay Dying, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, Adam Bede, Lolita, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “Why do I like fountain pens? The smoothness and ease of writing, the clarity and solidity of the line, the profound coloring and the strong saturation of the ink.” [JH]
Born February 19, 1964 — Jonathan Lethem, 57. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. (CE)
Born February 19, 1966 — Claude Lalumière, 55. I met him once here in Portland at a used book store in the the SFF section, and his wife wrote reviews for Green Man once upon a year. Author, book reviewer and editor who has edited numerous anthologies including two volumes of the excellent Tesseracts series. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of Worship, The Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. (CE)
Born February 19, 1968 — Benicio del Toro, 53. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. (CE)
Born February 19, 1970 – Victor Ehikhamenor, age 51. Writer, visual artist including photography and sculpture. Exhibited in the first Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (57th Biennale, 2017). Here is I Am Ogiso, the King of Heaven. Here is The Unknowable (enamel & steel), Norval Foundation, Cape Town. Here is Hypnotic Lover. Here is Wealth of Nations, Nat’l Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. Website. [JH]
Born February 19, 1973 – Nikki Alfar, age 49. A score of short stories. Three Palanca Awards. Manila Critics’ Circle Nat’l Book Award. Co-editor, Philippine Speculative Fiction. Interviewed in Fantasy. [JH]
Born February 19, 1984 – Marissa Meyer, age 37. Re-told Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White in the Lunar Chronicles; the first, Cinder, MM’s début, was a NY Times Best-Seller; later Fairest, a prequel. Heartless has the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Half a dozen more novels, a dozen shorter stories. Introduction to Yolen’s How to Fracture a Fairy Tale. Has confessed to writing (under another name) twoscore pieces of Sailor Moon fanfiction. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio is always bizarre – this time it’s even funny.
The Flying McCoys reveals that Superman buys outfits off the rack! (When they’re in stock.)
(12) HE’LL BE REMEMBERED. Milton Davis reports the GoFundMe was successful and that the headstone and monument for Charles R. Saunders’ grave have arrived. The grave of famous fantasy writer Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends raised money for it.
(13) REPURPOSED AND FUNNY. [Item by rcade.] The paranormal fantasy novelist Richard Kadrey has been reading some obscure science fiction paperbacks from the golden age of the lurid cover. Authors include Supernova Jackson, Cliff Zoom and Brawny Magnum.
The titles of Kadrey’s novels in his Sandman Slim series would be right at home on a shelf with these classics. They include Kill The Dead, Aloha from Hell, Ballistic Kiss and King Bullet, which comes out in August.
He’s also the founder with cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling of the Dead Media Project, which sought to save obsolete and forgotten forms of media. But it died.
…It makes sense on paper for a new show about Superman to fast forward through the stuff that’s been done to death in order to find some new way into the man, the myth, the legend. Why not make him a harried dad juggling apocalyptic threats with teenage boys, one of whom might have the same kind of powers as he does? The CW’s dads are already supernaturally hot, so hey, might as well lean into the brand. (Hoechlin, like Tom Welling before him, does not at all have a Christopher Reeve level of charisma to bring to the role — but to be fair, who does?)
But for all the logical storylines and character journeys that “Superman and Lois” includes, it nonetheless lacks the spark to make any of it very interesting. Despite solid efforts from Tulloch, Garfin, and especially Elsass to bring life to their stiff scenes, these Kents feel more stuck than striking
[Thanks to Michael Toman, rcade, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris R.]
DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, announced today in an “Update on Editor Guest of Honor” that Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf has been removed as one of the convention’s GoHs.
They published the following statement in explanation:
DisCon III condemns the violent and hostile content found within Baen Books’ forums. We also cannot condone the fact such content was enabled and allowed to ferment for so long. We want to make it clear abusive behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at DisCon III. Such behavior goes entirely against our already established policies concerning inclusivity and creating a welcoming environment for our members, which can be found here: https://discon3.org/about/inclusion/.
We knew simply saying those words with no actions to back them up would be unacceptable. Too often, we have seen individuals and organizations say they are on the right side of issues yet do nothing to act on those words. We knew we had to take a hard look at our own position and take action based on our established policies.
As a result, after discussion with her, we have notified Toni Weisskopf we are removing her as a Guest of Honor for DisCon III.
We know this decision was not as quick as some of you would have wanted, and we understand your frustration. Our committee’s leadership was always in full agreement that there was a fundamental difference between the values Worldcon strives to uphold and the values allowed to be espoused on the forums-in-question.
In the entire eighty-plus year history of our community, no Worldcon has ever removed someone as a Guest of Honor. To remove a Guest of Honor was an unprecedented decision that needed discussion, consideration, and consensus. Those mechanisms sometimes do not move as fast as some would want, and we thank the community for its patience.
We also want to let everyone know that we are not planning on adding additional individuals to our Guest of Honor list.
We wish to thank you all for taking the time and energy to send us your feedback. Many of you have strong opinions on this issue, and we want everyone to know all your voices were heard and considered when rendering our decision. We will always welcome your feedback, questions, suggestions, and concerns, and we will continue to listen, reflect and act to ensure our members feel welcome at DisCon III.
…In the interest of full disclosure, I’m technically a Baen author. I have a story in a couple of Baen anthologies and another in an upcoming one. I also was the main decider in the choice to give Toni Weisskopf a Kate Wilhelm Solstice award in 2016 in acknowledgment of how much she has shaped the field. I have never been on their discussion boards, as far as I can remember….
She covers a half dozen subtopics before concluding —
…Online harassment is used by a number of folks to silence other people and it includes tactics like SWATting, contacting one’s employer, doxxing, and worse. Jason Sanford is experiencing some of this right now, to the point where he’s had to take his Twitter and Patreon private, but he’s not the first, nor will he be the last. It is shitty and invasive, and it’s something that can constantly ambush you.
Moreover, stochastic terrorism is a thing, and it’s one that some of the “my wishing you were dead wasn’t really a death threat because I didn’t say I’d do it personally” yahoos are hoping for. That hope that someone will be hurt as a result of their rhetoric flickers dimly in the depths of their creepy little souls, even when they claim otherwise, because here in America, it’s a possibility every time they stir up an audience to think of their opponents as NPCs rather than people. And it’s something that is particularly hard on the vulnerable. If you’re a white male experiencing harassment, know that if you were a woman of color, you’d be getting it a hundred times worse, whether you acknowledge that or not.
So… I don’t know what will happen with Baen’s discussion boards. I hope that they’ll do what sometimes happens as a result of these challenges: emerge as something better and more useful, something that creates more community ties than eroding them. Because it’s a time and place when we need more kind, brave words and less hateful, thoughtless rhetoric, and I feel any efforts to establish that is where true heroism lies. Thank you for issuing the challenge, Jason. I hope people rise to meet it.
Sheree Renée Thomas, who is set to co-host the 2021 Hugo ceremony, gives extended commentary about the implications for the Worldcon in a 16-tweet thread. Thread starts here.
Malka Older, the other 2021 Hugo co-host, aired her views in a thread that starts here.
Leona Wisoker does an overview of the Jason Sanford and Eric Flint essays and where they fit into the immediate present day in “Baen’s Bar Fight”.
… The boundaries of free speech and individual liberty in the wild world of genre fiction is, as I’ve said already, not a new battle. However, right here, right now, today, we’re dealing with a new twist on the old situation: the critical flash point of people spreading and believing dangerous lies for years. This started before Trump came into office. Before Obama’s first inauguration. Over the last ten years, the rise of groups like the channers, Gamergate, Reddit, Parler, Fox News, OANN, and QAnon has boosted those lies into explosive territory.
We’re no longer simply talking about malcontents complaining in a chat room. We’re now dealing with a series of connected, systemically based incidents that are driving credulous people into increasingly violent actions, in groups that are steadily expanding in size. We’re talking about bad faith actors — some in government and law enforcement — who are in it for the money and power, who have and will continue to use that misguided passion to their own benefit, and who don’t care who gets hurt along the way. To wave away the bitter speeches and threats of randos in internet forums is to entirely ignore the escalating situation that led to the Capitol insurrection in the first place….
…And here we return to two central questions that have been at the heart of genre fiction’s long-running culture war, just who is this community and what, if anything are its standards?
We have here a situation where the genre fiction “communty” consists of several disparate actual groups of people. These people have mutually exclusive definitions of the ideal present notwithstanding what they may want to see in fiction about the future, the past or other worlds. The attempts of mass conventions like DisCon III to serve these vastly disparate communities means it’s ultimately impossible to serve any.
Now I’m honestly quite shocked that there is going to be an in-person WorldCon this year. Between international travel restrictions and the clear and present danger of mass gatherings, it really feels like a live convention in 2021 is unsafe quite regardless of who the editor guest of honour is. With this said, while I do believe that Sandford turning over this particular rock exposed the peril lying under the surface of science fiction I don’t think de-platforming Weiskopf is going to make the convention any less dangerous for anyone unwilling to tow the American conservative line. Frankly, Toni Weiskopf isn’t the problem, she’s merely a symptom of it. Baen, and its stable of Trumpist malcontents is in fact only a symptom of the systemic problem that is the faulty assumption at the core of the SFF communities that there is some overarching and totalizing community for all to contribute to.
3) Lastly her statement was formulated so that it both showed a willingness to seriously engage the accusations, but without ceding ANY authority or agency over her rights and freedoms as the owner of a business. She did not stonewall the dertractors, did not counterattack, and did not cave, none of which are good strategies NO MATTER what politics are involved. That is smart business. And her tone was so measured and reasonable and *civil* that anyone who takes offense at it is essentially identifying their real motivation: to use this complaint as a weapon in the service of their deeper motive–cripple or kill Baen.
My assessment: she handled this as well as anyone could, and far, far better than most do.
…I went into Gailey’s new novel, The Echo Wife, with a big expectation for yet another immersive, wonderfully detailed, fictional setting. I was not catered to. There isn’t any real world-building in The Echo Wife because, well, there’s no world to build. It already exists. It’s our own. The book takes place, more or less, in the here and now, and even the rich concept behind its science-fictional premise — namely cloning — keeps a fuzzy distance. Once I got over my initial bout of pouting, though, I gave myself over to Gailey’s latest exercise in character-driven speculation. And I was happy I did…
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 18, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Constantine premiered. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as blonder haired John Constantine. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy four percent. Huh.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 18, 1894 – Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Ph.D. First woman to receive Yale’s Porter Prize (for her dissertation), Cross Medal (as a distinguished alumna). First woman President of Phi Beta Kappa. Crawshay Prize (for Newton Demands the Muse). Voyages to the Moon reviewed by Willy Ley. Pilgrim Award. Festschrift in her memory, Zephyr & Boreas (works of Le Guin). More here. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born February 18, 1904 – Rafael DeSoto. A score of covers, a dozen interiors for us; also Westerns, thrillers, adventure. See R. Lesser ed., Pulp Art; D. Saunders, The Art of Rafael DeSoto. Here is the Feb 39 Eerie Mysteries. Here is the Apr 43 Argosy. Here is the Nov 50 Fantastic Novels. Yes, descended from Hernando de Soto. This site says it will be available again soon. (Died 1992) [JH]
Born February 18, 1908 — Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1919 — Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and He had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1929 — Len Deighton, 92. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.(CE)
Born February 18, 1930 — Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations which are gathered in a superb two volume collection, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1931 – Toni Morrison. A score of novels – Beloved (Pulitzer Prize) and God Help the Child are ours – poetry, two plays (one about Desdemona), libretto for Margaret Garner, nonfiction. Jefferson Lecture. PEN/Bellow Award (PEN is Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists). Medal of Freedom. Nobel Prize. Oprah Winfrey: “I say with certainty there would have been no Oprah’s Book Club if this woman had not chosen to share her love of words with the world.” Today is TM’s 90th birth-anniversary; see this from the Toni Morrison Society. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born February 18, 1933 – Ray Capella. A score of short stories for us; twoscore covers, five dozen interiors. Here is Star Quest 4. Here is the Oct 75 Amra. Here is the Nov 81 Fantasy Newsletter. Here is the Apr 01 Alien Worlds. Here is an illustration for John Carter of Mars. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born February 18, 1936 – Jean Auel, age 85. The Clan of the Cave Bear, five more; 45 million copies sold. Studied how to make an ice cave, build fire, tan leather, knap stones, with Jim Riggs. “The Real Fahrenheit 451” in Omni (with Bradbury, Clarke, Ellison). Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France). [JH]
Born February 18, 1943 – Jill Bauman, age 78. One short story, a score of poems, a hundred thirty covers, ninety interiors for us; many others. An appreciation in Wrzos’ Hannes Bok. Here is Melancholy Elephants. Here is the Apr 89 F&SF. Here is the Aug 92 Amazing. Here is Thumbprints. Guest Artist at the 1994 World Fantasy Convention, Philcon 1999, Chattacon XXVI. Website. [JH]
Born February 18, 1968 — Molly Ringwald, 53. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there. (CE)
Born February 18, 1979 – Shannon Dittemore, age 42. Four novels. Blogs for Go Teen Writers. Website says “Coffee Fangirl”. Has read The Importance of Being Earnest, Great Expectations, The Screwtape Letters, Les Misèrables, two by Shakespeare, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and four by Jane Austen including Pride & Prejudice in the German translation by Karin von Schwab (1892-1940; alas, Stolz & Vorurteil doesn’t alliterate). [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Off the Markpeers over a vampire’s shoulder as he gets shocking news about his online meal order.
Randall Munroe got a hold of Perseverance’s schedule.
(8) OVERCOMING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Entrepreneur interviews physicist & author Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein about her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred and about sexism and racism in science. They also ask her about her interest in science fiction and about speaking at conventions, even if their fact checkers did allow the proofreaders to get away with calling them “Khans.” (Khen Moore would have been so proud.) “This Theoretical Physicist Boldly Goes Where Few Black Women Have Gone Before” at Entrepreneur.
… Professor Prescod-Weinstein, an important theme running through your book is the sexism and racism inherent in science. Crucially, you take time to namecheck those who — like you —did make it through, such as Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore, Dr. Edward A. Bouchet, Dr. Elmer Imes, Professor Arlie Oswald Petters, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Marcelle Soares-Santos. It is only through seeing people like oneself that one can imagine being up there too, right? Yes, that’s valuable when you have the opportunity. But I also know that sometimes we don’t get examples like us. As far as I know, none of those people are queer, for example. It’s important then to be the person who is like yourself. I know that sounds silly, but I encourage students to get people to take pictures of themselves doing physics, so that they can see that they are indeed what a physicist looks like….
Sometimes a gem can be hiding in plain sight—or within hearing distance. A few weeks ago I turned on Turner Classic Movies (my go-to channel) and watched part of Alexander Korda’s 1942 production The Jungle Book, starring Sabu. I hadn’t seen it in a while and it’s very entertaining. But when Mowgli encountered the giant snake Kaa, I listened carefully to the voice and realized it belonged to Mel Blanc. It had never occurred to me before; he’s speaking in a very low register so it isn’t immediately apparent. Then I thought of him performing his parody of a popular radio commercial in a Warner Bros. cartoon, saying, “Beee-Ohhh” and I was certain….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.
When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.
The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.
That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.
It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.
Most sincerely, Toni Weisskopf Publisher
Jason Sanford tweeted an update thread responding to Weisskopf’s statement and contesting some of her claims. Thread starts here.
DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon at which Toni Weisskopf will be a guest of honor, answered calls for a statement with this tweet:
… It was lots of pearl clutching over regular people not toeing their arbitrary political lines, misquotes, errors, quotes taken out of context, and some flat out lies.
However, he declined to challenge any specific quotes cited by Sanford:
…I’m not going to talk about the moronic loser or go through all the nonsense in his ridiculous hit piece. Other people are going through it now and carefully cataloging his bullshit. In typical leftist fashion he’s already pretending to be the victim and claiming he’s getting death threats. Maybe he can get in touch with Anita Sarkesian and Arthur Chu for tips.
Correia urged readers to believe what is happening is a “coordinated attack,” that Sanford’s article is being used as the basis for complaints made to Baen’s internet service providers, and Baen’s Bar was temporarily taken down to “protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.”
…However, this was clearly part of a coordinated attack in order to materially harm our business, because immediately after the hit piece was released complaints were filed with the various internet companies Baen uses for services to pressure them into kicking us off the internet. This hit piece was presented as “evidence”. Without going into details the companies then contacted Baen about these “serious allegations” so last night Baen temporarily took down the Bar forum to protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.
…However, lying hit pieces from lefty activists aren’t anything new. We’re used to those. The real issue here is the complaints to the internet companies so they’ll deplatform anyone who doesn’t fall in line. The woke left saw what Big Tech did to Parler and they learned from it. This is a new weapon in their arsenal to beat America over the head with. The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.
Correia then assured readers that Baen’s Bar did not deserve this attention.
…The Bar isn’t a hotbed of extremism. It’s not a hotbed of anything. It’s an old forum that was mostly kept around because of tradition. It was created at the dawn of internet forums. I haven’t used it in years (I had already built up my online presence elsewhere when I started writing for them). But that isn’t the point. Anything that can be a target, will eventually be a target. They’re coming for your business next.
And naturally it took the MHI commentariat all of an hour to test the theory that Baen’s capitulated, reject that in favor of it being a coordinated attack by The Left (complete with the problematic content really being false-flag posts by Seekrit Leftist Infiltrators), assert that this is really about smashing Baen into nonexistence by denying them distribution, denounce such coordinated attacks as despicable lefty tactics, and finally call for a coordinated attack on Sanford’s Patreon account.
… But there is no way in hell that the Barflies, as they are affectionately known, are advocating for political violence. Opinions are expressed, especially in the politics forum, and tempers are running high on both sides of our current political divide, so there’s a certain degree of venting. And there are a surprising number of historians, who can be relied upon to summon up historical examples to back their points. And there are heaps of independent thinkers, who aren’t going to hew to any particular party’s line and can be trusted to step upon any sore political toes in the vicinity. And there are quite a lot of veterans, who know what violence is REALLY like — unlike the vast majority of people who are currently hyperventilating about it in this country — which means the LAST THING they would want would be to instigate violence that is anything except defensive.
… Baen Books is frequently characterized as a “right wing publisher.” That’s as stupid as the notion that the Barflies are plotting a violent coup….
To refresh readers’ memories, immediately after the January 6 insurrection Baen author Tom Kratman made an extended comment on the next move in his Baen’s Bar author forum which began:
So where do Trump and the nation go from here?
He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.
The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high. The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given. No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party.
It ought to be made clear that, “I can start the civil war with a stamp of my foot. I’ve refrained, so far, but you cannot count on that restraint under all circumstances. And if I am infiltrated, you are even more so.”…
Today Kratman also left a comment on Correia’s post which begins —
Jon Del Arroz, who has a Patton moment every time he sees there’s some attention he’s not getting (“An entire world at war, and I’m left out of it? God will not permit this to happen!”), also rushed to comment on Correia’s post. His efforts to horn in were recognized for what they were and Correia verbally flattened him. These excerpts are just one part.
Finally, here are other examples of the harassment being directed at Jason Sanford on Twitter. He has received more in direct messages there and on Facebook.
And with respect to the “helicopter ride” political murder meme:
It’s been brought to my attention by some helpful folks that speech not everyone agrees with, and that may have become unlawful speech, has occurred on Baen’s Bar. In order to fully investigate those serious allegations, and any violations of the Bar “no hitting” rule, we will be taking a break from the Bar as of noon February 16th, and encourage all our readers to enjoy their lawful conversations elsewhere for the time being.—Toni Weisskopf, Publisher
Sanford’s report of the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar has been met with retaliation in social media. He tweeted, “Instead of anyone dealing with my report on the Baen Books forum by, you know, simply banning advocacy of political violence there, I’m now getting death threats and harassment.”
When asked by a user how long Baen’s Bar will be on break, Weisskopf replied, “As brief as is possible. But no, not sure yet how brief that brief will be.”
(1) ROBOT IS 100. The Czech Consulate of Los Angeles invites fans to the Robot is 100! Webinar on Thursday, February 4 at 12:00 PM Pacific exploring the influence of Karel Capek’s play “R.U.R.” on other forms of art, and the future of robotics. Register here.
[Note: WordPress does not support the proper character for the author’s last name, so the Latin C has been used. And a screenshot of the program description is used to work around the same problem.]
Enjoy an audio created by the BBC Sounds: “The Robots are Us.” This BBC Radio Documentary features Jesse Brown O’Dell, PhD. graduate from the UCLA Department of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures.
(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites everyone to settle in for bagels and a schmear with comics retailer Joel Pollack in Episode 137 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Joel Pollack has been a part of comics fandom even longer than I have — he attended one of Phil Seuling’s 4th of July Comic Art Conventions two years before I did — in 1968 — and founded Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, Maryland in 1986. That flagship store has expanded to other locations in Washington, D.C., College Park, MD, and Vienna VA, and I thought it would be fun to chat about the world of comics and comics fandom of the past half century, and how comics retailing has changed over the past three and a half decades.
We discussed what the pandemic has done to the comics shop business, the comic his mother bought him which changed his life, the card game which led to him getting his first piece of original art, how his run-in with a young Howard Chaykin convinced him he wasn’t cut out to be a professional comics artist, what opening day was like at the first of his Big Planet comic book stores, the biggest sales event he’s seen during his 35-year retailing career, what inspired Bernie Wrightson to draw a freaky issue of Swamp Thing, how he fights back against the Comic Book Guy cliche to makes his shops welcoming places, our joint distaste of slabbing, why he doesn’t like doing appraisals, and much more.
(3) INTERZONE UPDATE. [Item by PhilRM.] This week’s PS Publishing newsletter provides some more information on their take-over of Interzone (first mentioned in the 1/8/2021 Pixel Scroll) from Andy Cox and TTA Press (and note that Strahan’s post referenced there didn’t make the latter clear: not only is Ian Whates taking over as editor, but Interzone will be published by PS Publishing). Interzone will now appear on a quarterly schedule, and only in digital format. The first issue will appear in August, and will be free to current subscribers.
And heh, we’re kind of jazzed up a little right now where electronic reading matter is concerned . . . and it’s all thanks to our taking on board INTERZONE, which we’ll be running in digital format only, kicking off in August. Ian has already earmarked some 60/70 thousand words for the debut, and the special festive issue in December (always assuming we have a festive season, that is). So watch out as further details emerge and IZ takes its justified place in the pantheon of Science Fiction and Fantasy in digital format only.
All queries/comments regarding the TTA Press Interzone should be directed to either Andy Cox or Roy Gray direct at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. In the meantime, by way of a goodwill gesture, the first electronic PS IZ (August 2021) will be sent free of charge to all previous subscribers. Subsequent issues will be sent quarterly on receipt of an email to be found in the magazine. Watch out for more information
(4) UP PERISCOPE ON SUBSTACK. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne tweeted a list of recommended newsletters. Thread starts here. I’m only familiar with the ones by sff writers and they’re good, so I expect you’ll find more gold in the rest of his list. Here are a few examples:
(5) STOCK MARKET NEWS. Cory Doctorow makes the information comprehensible with his own comments. Read it complete at Threadreader.
(6) DIANA PHO ON DVCON. DVCon 2021 is a free convention for marginalized writers happening online January 30-31.
DVcon, a product of #DVpit, is a free, two-day virtual writers conference for self-identifying marginalized book creators. The mission of DVcon is to educate and connect authors & illustrators who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the book publishing industry. Featuring a diverse faculty as well as #DVpit alum, DVcon will offer informative workshops, fun micro-content, and our additional focus will be on community-building and forging connections.
Editor Diana Pho is part of the Money Talks panel from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern on January 30.
Money Talks. 2:00pm-3:00pm
Let’s face it: publishing doesn’t always pay. Between low advances, payment installments stretched out for years, and the uncertainty of royalties, authors and illustrators might need to get creative about making ends meet. Our panel will discuss different and unexpected ways that authors and illustrators can make money and still stay on the publishing track. It will also help explain some basics about how payments occur in publishing and how to hustle with your writing. Sponsored by the Authors Guild
Featuring: Rebecca Kuss, Thao Le, Diana Pho, Holly Root, Jennifer Ung, Rebekah Weatherspoon
(7) AMBITIOUS ANIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 25 Financial Times, Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki look at whether Japanese anime producers can compete globally against Disney and Netflix.
For many industry executives, the stage is now set for Japanese animation to truly go global. A newly invigorated Sony is competing with Netflix and global giants to uncover the untapped trove of lucrative anime content. ‘We were forced to accelerate efforts on all three fronts of digitalization, global expansion and streaming services. It became now or never,’ said George Wada, senior vice-president at Production IG, the company behind the anime hits Ghost In The Shell and Attack On Titan, ‘We are on the brink of whether Japanese animation becomes big or goes minor.’…
…The list of the world’s 25 most valuable franchises are topped by two Japanese giants–Pokemon and Hello Kitty with respective all-time sales of $92bn and $80bn–and include nine other Japanese names.But behind that success, say analysts, has been a tendency to under-exploit the anime gold mine and heavily criticized labour practices that are hidden behind the most popular titles.
Frank Frazetta (1928–2010) may someday hang his paintings in the Guggenheim Museum (hey, whoever thought that Norman Rockwell would have a major exhibition in Frank Lloyd Wright’s temple of Modern?). False equivalency aside, anything is possible in the current what-is-art world (what’s more, Frazetta already has his own museum). Frazetta is to fantasy what Max Ernst is to surrealism (which is fantasy on another psychic and perceptual plane)….
Frazetta transformed the fantasy genre. What can you point to as his most emblematic work?
There was a gradual building, including comic book covers in the early ’50s, which influenced George Lucas and Star Wars. Then Frank’s early 1960s illustrations for Edgar Rice Burroughs books, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. And Frank had a good run, painting big studio, humorous caricature-based movie posters in the mid-’60s. Most illustrators would consider movie poster work as a dream come true. But Frank walked away from them for what he felt was more uniquely his own, with his Sword & Sorcery heroic fantasy art. A shortlist of pieces that I cite as rocking the public’s collective consciousness would include “The Barbarian,” which first ran as the cover to the Conan the Adventurer paperback in 1966. Also “Death Dealer,” which first appeared on an early-’70s paperback but inspired American Artist magazine to break their own traditions to produce a special issue devoted to illustration, including coverage of Frazetta and covered with the Death Dealer. “Dark Kingdom” is another, which most people recall as running on a multi-million–selling Molly Hatchet album cover….
Check out this item in the forthcoming Focus Magazine. It gives hugely well deserved recognition to well known local SF/Fantasy authors Piper Mejia, Lee Murray, Jean Gilbert and the many other genre authors around NZ who have helped with their efforts in teaching and mentoring and publishing young students.
…Two years ago, Nick Smith, a Pasadena library technician, curated a “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction & Southern California” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History. His observation: While the creators of science fiction are rightly lauded, the history of the sci-fi fandom here is also worth acknowledgment.
“I think that’s part of why this has been home to a lot of science fiction,” says Smith, who is the former president of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Founded in 1934, it’s the oldest such fan group in the world, with a teenage Ray Bradbury one of its early members.
California appealed to science-fiction writers in the same way it appealed to anyone, Smith says. There were jobs to be had here, the promise of a better life and more opportunity or acceptance for people who might be discriminated against in other parts of the nation.
“Hollywood and television also contributed,” he says. “They provided a steady extra income for some of the writers.”
(11) DARROLL PARDOE OBIT. UK fanzine fan Darroll Pardoe (1943-2021) died January 28 at the age of 77 from COVID-19. Pardoe joined the Birmingham (UK) Science Fiction Group in 1965. He took over Les Spinge from Ken Cheslin and Dave Hale in 1966 and published it until 1979. He also was noted for editing the newzine Checkpoint for a year in the Seventies, and an issue of the British Science Fiction Association’s Vector.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Pardoe, co-founder of the British Fantasy Society.
(12) CHRISTOPHER LITTLE OBIT. The agent who handled Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Christopher Little, died January 7. The New York Times obituary is here.
Christopher Little, who as a struggling literary agent took a chance on a scrappy submission about tween-age wizards — even though he once disdained children’s fiction as a money-loser — and built it into the most successful literary empire in history on the strength of its lead character, Harry Potter, died on Jan. 7 at his home in London. He was 79.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was an unpublished, unemployed single mother in Edinburgh in 1995 when she sent Mr. Little the first three chapters of her first book after finding his name in a directory of literary agents. Knowing nothing about the business, she picked him because his name made him sound like a character from a children’s book.
Mr. Little submitted the manuscript for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to 12 publishers. He received 12 rejections in response, before selling it for £2,500, or about $3,400 (the equivalent of about $5,800 today). It was a meager amount, but his genius was in the details: He sold only the rights to publish it in Britain and the Commonwealth, and he asked for high royalties….
Mr. Little did more than launch Ms. Rowling’s career. He was the architect of the entertainment powerhouse that grew up around Harry Potter, helping line up everything from Legos to amusement parks.
Ms. Rowling was the first author to earn more than $1 billion off her work, and it’s no surprise that her agent did well too: By some estimates Mr. Little made over $60 million from the Harry Potter franchise. He never claimed credit for her success, but he was ever-present in the background, appearing alongside his client at book launches and movie premieres, enjoying those brief moments in the limelight….
(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 29, 1964 — Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb premiered. Starring a stellar cast of Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, James Earl Jones and Slim Pickens, it was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.
It was not the original title as Kubrick considered Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranusas well as Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying, and the much shorter Wonderful Bomb.
The film is somewhat based on Peter George’s political thriller Red Alert novel. (Originally called Two Hours To Doom.) Curiously Dr. Strangelove did not appear in the book. This novel’s available on at usual digital suspects. And George’s novelization of the film is on all digital sources. If you purchase it, it has an expanded section on Strangelove’s early career.
It would not surprisingly win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Loncon II in London in 1965 with The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao being the only other film on the final ballot.
The film was a box office success. Critics were universal in their belief that it was one of the best films ever done with Ebert saying it was “arguably the best political satire of the century”. At Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a ninety four percent rating with over two hundred thousand audience reviewers casting a vote.
A sequel was planned by Kurbrick with Gilliam directing though he was never told this by Kurbrick and only discovered this after Kurbrick died and he later said “I never knew about that until after he died but I would have loved to.”
Born January 29, 1835 – Susan Coolidge. Known for What Katy Did and two sequels. Edited Diary and Letters of Frances Burney. Louisa May Alcott edited Coolidge’s collection New-Year’s Bargain, which is ours; three dozen books all told; short stories, poems. Alice Dalgliesh edited a posthumous Coolidge coll’n Toinette and the Elves. (Died 1905) [JH]
Born January 29, 1860 – Anton Chekhov. (Note that kh in the usual Roman-alphabet spelling of his name represents a single consonant in Russian: the pronunciation is near to “che-hoff”). A dozen stories have fantastic elements making them particularly for us; stories, plays, generally, for everyone. You can see Nabokov’s discussion of “The Lady with the Little Dog” here. (Died 1904) [JH]
Born January 29, 1907 – John Clymer. Illustrator of the American West (worked in U.S. and Canada); Prix de West, Rungius Medal, Royal Canadian Acad. of Arts. Also Argosy, Marine Corps Gazette, Saturday Evening Post (eighty covers), Woman’s Day, Chrysler, White Horse whisky; some for us. Clymer Museum in Ellensburg, Washington. Here is the Aug-Sep 37 Romance; it and more about him here. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 29, 1918 — Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born January 29, 1932 — Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born January 29, 1938 — Ralph Bakshi, 83. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat, which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat. Genre wise, I’d say War Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and given a title with the last word Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you-know-what film. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series! Then there’s Cool World… (CE)
Born January 29, 1942 – Rosemary Wells, age 79. Five novels for us, counting Voyage to the Bunny Planet and two sequels; ten dozen all told. Illustrator too. Daughter of a ballerina and a playwright, who “praised what I did well and didn’t care much about what I didn’t do well…. I drew uncannily for a youngster…. hunted rats with a bow and arrows…. fierce and devoted Brooklyn Dodger fan.” [JH]
Born January 29, 1945 — Tom Selleck, 76. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF. He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. (CE)
Born January 29, 1958 – Nic Farey, age 63. Irreverent and valuable (sorry, Nic, but it’s true) fanziner. Two first-rate fanzines, Beam with Ulrika O’Brien, This Here solo (I omit the TH ellipsis mark lest you think I’m eliding, but it’s there); both have won FAAn (Fannish Activity Achievement) Awards. Chaired fanziners’ convention Corflu (named for mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable) 19, co-chaired Corflu 31. Likes association football. [JH]
Born January 29, 1970 — Heather Graham, 51. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that same year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks. (CE)
Born January 29, 1985 – Giovanna Fletcher, age 36. Among writing, singing, acting, blogging and vlogging (I am not making this up), two novels for us with husband Tom Fletcher. Sang “Moon River” with him. Won Series 20 of I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here. Nine other books, some nonfiction. Website. [JH]
Born January 29, 1988 — Catrin Stewart, 33. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax with the three known as the Paternoster Gang who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back. (CE)
There are lots of professors of Film Studies or equivalent, and plenty of them have turned their attention to SF. But a hasty google does not reveal the exact title “Professor of Science Fiction Film Studies” at any other institutions. Could this be the world’s first? And science fiction’s first? Further research may be needed.
Though I myself am capable of droning on for hours and hours about SF films, the job requires “Ph.D in film studies or a related field,” which lets me out. Also, they probably don’t want to hire someone with the “ink-and-paper SF is better” prejudice.
Thanks to Fred Scharmen and Bill Leininger for bringing this to my attention.
(16) SOUTHERN FANDOM STORIES. Fanac.org has announced another FanHistory Zoom session (in addition to the second Ted White segment already reported in the Scroll). RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link.
February 20, 2021, 7PM EST (4PM PST, 12:00 AM London, 11AM Sunday in Sydney) – An Anecdotal History of Southern US Fandom, with Toni Weisskopf, Janice Gelb and Guy Lillian III. Get a perspective on Southern Fandom from the inside. Topics expected to include history and impact of conventions and Worldcons, clubs and fanzines, and bigger than life individuals.
Michaela Goade, illustrator of We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, reflected on the experience of winning the 2021 Caldecott Medal; she is the first BIPOC woman and the first Indigenous artist to receive the award. “I felt a bit like a deer in the headlights and did not know what to say!,” Goade told PW.
Joe Biden was three weeks from taking office as a freshman U.S. senator when the moon rock that is now newly on display in the White House was collected by astronauts on the lunar surface.
Six terms in Congress, two terms as the Vice President of the United States and one presidential inauguration later, Biden and the lunar sample 76015,143 will now share the Oval Office.
The Biden Administration requested an Apollo-recovered moon rock for display as “a symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current moon to Mars exploration approach,” according to NASA. The 0.7-pound (333-gram) rock, held by a metal clamp and encased in glass, sits on the bottom shelf of a recessed bookcase beside a painted portrait of Ben Franklin and adjacent to the Resolute desk.
(19) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter’s ears perked up when they had a Star Trek-related item on tonight’s Jeopardy! A contestant missed it.
Answer: George Herbert’s poetic query “Is there there in truth no” this? became the title of the “Star Trek” episode with the Medusans.
Explanation: Why does Saturn appear so big? It doesn’t — what is pictured are foreground clouds on Earth crossing in front of the Moon. The Moon shows a slight crescent phase with most of its surface visible by reflected Earthlight known as ashen glow. The Sun directly illuminates the brightly lit lunar crescent from the bottom, which means that the Sun must be below the horizon and so the image was taken before sunrise. This double take-inducing picture was captured on 2019 December 24, two days before the Moon slid in front of the Sun to create a solar eclipse. In the foreground, lights from small Guatemalan towns are visible behind the huge volcano Pacaya.
Debris will premiere on Monday, March 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, NBC announced during its first TCA panel on Tuesday. In addition to teasing the upcoming series and unveiling the premiere date, the Debris team also talked parallels to Fringe.
“There’s always going to be my DNA in the show,” [J.H.] Wyman, who serves as executive producer and showrunner said. “But it’s definitely its own thing.”
Like Fringe, Debris follows government officials as they investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind. Riann Steele will star as MI6’s Finola Jones and Jonathan Tucker as the CIA’s Bryan Beneventi.
While the series will feature different stories driven by the odd effects of the alien leftovers, Debris will see the relationship between the two leads develop and gain complexity as the show continues.
(22) BREAK TIME. “30 Minutes of Relaxing Visuals From Studio Ghibli” on YouTube is a compilation of short clips about nature from Studio Ghibli films prepared by HBO Max.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Bill Higgins, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, PhilRM, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis: It was my mother’s bookstore. All the years she worked at Sears across the street she could go there and get her beloved vintage mysteries at a price she could afford. After she retired I would drive her there and buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present.
She has been gone more than five years, but I could still go there, find books from some of her favorite authors, and feel like she was still near me.
Now that’s gone forever and I can’t seem to stop crying.
(2) WRITER INDEPENDENCE DAY. Cat Rambo is teaching two online courses on the Fourth of July. Registration and cost information at the links.
The next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.
The question isn’t how to tell a good idea from a bad one; it’s how to learn to turn any idea into a story. Come with a story idea, no matter how vague. We’ll discuss multiple ways of plotting a story based on its unique inspiration, as well as engaging in class exercises designed to hone your plotting skills. Learn how to build a roadmap for your story that will help you complete it in a class that combines discussion, lecture, and in-class writing exercises.
Next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
Learn how to create interesting, rounded characters that your readers can identify with, whether hero or villain. We’ll cover how to write convincing interesting dialogue as well as how to flesh out a character so they come alive and help you move the story along. A combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises will help you apply new technique immediately to your own stories.
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is offering plenty more classes in the weeks to come. Here are two examples.
Values are not universal across all cultures, and thus what a satisfying story looks like is not limited to one model either. This course examines East Asian storytelling forms and themes, including the four-act kish?tenketsu structure, which is not based on conflict, tension, and resolution. The course will use case studies from books, films, and other mediums, and in-class exercises and games to demonstrate that elements that we consider staples of European/Western storytelling, such as the Hero’s Journey story structure, the empowerment arc, and individual heroism, are not universal across all cultures. Students will complete the course with tools to analyze the European/Western forms and themes in the stories they have written as well as templates from East Asian storytelling to explore and apply to their work.
Are you a novelist with a fascinating world? Have you thought about turning your novel into an RPG? In this class, gaming industry veteran will walk you through the ins and outs of adapting your novel to fit a gaming world. This class is customized for authors who have published at least one original novel or novella. It is not designed for adaptations of someone else’s work.
(3) MURDOCH MYSTERIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] We are on the home stretch of, via Acorn.tv, watching the Murdoch Mysteries , and, sans spoilers, I thought I’d drop a brief note on one of the episodes we saw earlier this week, Season 13 Episode 11, “Staring Blindly into the Future”
In addition to the use of (then) new scientific techniques to solve crimes — fingerprinting, blood typing, ultraviolet to reveal bloodstains, surveillance cameras — and various legitimized/finessed tech, like a prototype hyperloop, a (larger) roomba, and more — another of the sf/fan-adjacent aspects of the show is the use of historical figures (e.g., Mark Twain, played by William Shatner).
This episode features a dozen — most of whom (all but 3, IIRC) have appeared on previous episodes throughout the season:
Svetlana Tsiolkofsky (a fictional daughter of rocketry’s Konstantin T.)
Alexander Graham Bell
Albert Einstein (previous name-dropped but not shown)
 From the CBC URL: “Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.”
… I have some friends who have fucked up in how they’ve been treating women.
… I’m angry at my friends right now. I’m sad for my friends right now. I’m even more angry about and sad for the women who they have made feel unsafe, and who they have harassed, or groomed, or otherwise harmed, because it is unacceptable. I want to be a friend to my friends and I also want to chuck them off the side of the fucking boat and be done with them. I want to think there’s a way back for some of them, for the same reason there was a way back for me when I’ve fucked up before. That’s on them, and right now I don’t know how much, if any, of my personal time and credibility I want to put into helping them. I’m frustrated and I’m tired that we keep having to do this, and I’m ashamed that some of the reason we keep having to do this rests on me. I understand and accept why I need to write this piece and I also fucking resent having to, and that resentment rests solely on my friends, and me….
(6) GAMING FIGURES ACCUSED. The New York Times covered last weekend’s outpouring: “Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment”. Tagline: “After more than 70 allegations surfaced on Twitter this weekend, gaming companies and streamers responded with action. Some say it’s the beginning of real change in the industry.”
More than 70 people in the gaming industry, most of them women, have come forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault since Friday. They have shared their stories in statements posted to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and the blogging platform TwitLonger.
The outpouring of stories from competitive gamers and streamers, who broadcast their gameplay on platforms like Twitch for money, led to the resignation of the C.E.O. of a prominent talent management company for streamers and a moment of reflection for an industry that has often contended with sexism, bullying and allegations of abuse.
Already, the response has been a far cry from Gamergate in 2014, when women faced threats of death and sexual assault for critiquing the industry’s male-dominated, sexist culture. Now, some are optimistic that real change could come.
Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide tweeted about an unnamed “top” player of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. (The streamers did not provide their legal names to The New York Times. In years past, women gamers who have spoken out against the industry using their legal names have been subjected to further harassment, hacking and doxxing.)
In interviews with The Times, when asked to describe their experiences with Lono, the streamers asked a reporter to refer to their public statements on Twitter, TwitLonger and Twitch.
Lono responded to their Twitter accusations in a YouTube video posted on Saturday. “There is no excuse for my behavior. There is no way to gloss over it. The things I did were unacceptable,” he said in the video. “Being inappropriate with these people robbed them of their sense of safety and security and it broke trust, and I am deeply sorry.” (He declined to speak to a reporter from The Times on Monday, and would not share his last name.)
…Based on the highly-conditioned, controlled, and warped population in Huxley’s 1932 novel, this society is a tragic one in need of resistance. So why not John? And, as the new posters for the series declare, “everybody happy now.” The grammar might be a little strange but the sentiment is clear: this dystopia thinks emotional problems have been solved thanks to some handy pharmaceuticals.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 25, 1903 – George Orwell. His other work is admirable but he compels our attention with Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Naturally people on both the Left and the Right have claimed them and attacked them. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Thai. (Died 1950) [JH]
Born June 25, 1935 – Charles Sheffield. Physicist and SF author. “Georgia on My Mind” won both the Hugo and the Nebula. Thirty novels, a hundred shorter stories, some with co-authors. Translated into Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish. Toastmaster at BucConeer the 56th Worldcon. Pro Guest of Honor at Lunacon 44 the year I was Fan Guest of Honor. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 25, 1944 – Rick Gellman, age 76. Art Shows and Dealers’ Rooms at various conventions. Helped start a Gordy Dickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for sending writers to Clarion. Founded the Minnesota Munchie Movement. [JH]
Born June 25, 1958 – Pat Sayre McCoy, age 62. She chaired WindyCon 33 and 34; ran the Green Room at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon; contributed an essay to the wrestling with “SF conventions and Gender Equity” in Journey Planet 13, as did Our Gracious Host. [JH]
Born June 25, 1963 – Yann Martel, age 57. Famous for The Life of Pi, second of three SF novels (besides writing Beatrice and Virgil, which is not about those two historical persons, nor a book-length treatment of The Divine Comedy, but – well, read it for yourself). A theatrical adaptation of Pi with puppets (no, not hand puppets) was a great success and was scheduled to open in London this month, naturally postponed. [JH]
Born June 25, 1980 – Amanda Arista, age 40. Third novel about Merci Lenard, who always gets her story but doesn’t always get the truth she wants, just released in January. Three novels about an urban panther. AA herself likes bowling, croquet, and the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Creative Writing Program in which she once studied and now teaches. [JH]
(9) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto,” a story about big data, emerging life forms, and a plea for coexistence by Regina Kanyu Wang.
It was a public hearing held online. Billions of people crowded into the meeting room, in suits, in pajamas, on treadmills, on sofas, in groups in front of large screens suspended above busy streets, alone at home with VR headsets on. The host called for silence and their words were translated into myriad languages, in both sound and text. The audience held its collective breath and waited for the special guest to show. A face appeared, vague in detail, like billions of faces merged into one. The face began to talk, in an equally vague voice, in thousands of languages at the same time, alien but also familiar to everyone…
On Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Regina in conversation with Athena Aktipis, a psychology researcher who studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. Registration required.
(10) TONI WEISSKOPF Q&A. Author Robert E. Hampson interviewed Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf for his Wake Forest University class.
One of the most sought after Star Wars collectibles has sold for $93,750 at auction.
Bidding on the Rocket-Firing Boba Fett started at $30,000 but had already exceeded the $60,000 lower estimate before the auction began thanks to several absentee bids. The final sale price includes the buyer’s premium.
The unpainted promotional item, made of blue plastic, is a prototype that utilized an L-Slot design named after the shape of the backpack mechanism to allow the rocket to fire. It was created by toymaker Kenner to promote the second film in the franchise, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the few prototypes known to exist. The launcher design was amended to a J-Slot mechanism and eventually replaced by a non-firing version. None of the firing toys were ever made available to the general public.
This item is the latest to be available on the market. A similar item sold at auction through Hakes in July 2019 for $112,926. Another, one that had been painted and had a J-Slot design in the backpack, sold for $185,850 in November 2019. Both prices include the buyer’s premium.
HeroX, the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program. NASA is preparing to return to the Moon by 2024 and needs to develop a new way for astronauts to urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. The crowdsourcing challenge calls on the global community of innovators to provide innovative design concepts for fully capable, low mass toilets that can be used both in space and on the moon.
Competitive toilet designs will align with NASA’s overall goals of reduced mass and volume, lower power consumption, and easy maintenance. Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers. This effort is all part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.
HeroX says this is the payoff:
This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category. The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.
Nasa is to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.
The story of Mary Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.
Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.
“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognise the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr Bridenstine said in a statement.
“Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped Nasa succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” Mr Bridenstine added.
“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”
Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.
As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren’t among those clusters.
“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”
For the clusters that have popped up, Lautenbach says the state has been using contact tracing to learn more about how they’re contributing to the spread of the virus. For instance, it found that 14 cases were associated with a party of 100 to 150 people in early June. Subsequently, 15 more cases were associated with the original 14.
“So that one event spread to 29 people and 31 related employers,” Lautenbach says. “Our challenge is to continue to trace as it moves through families, as it moves through workplaces and as it moves through social events as well.”
But protests just aren’t spreading the disease in the same way, Lautenbach says.
“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Lautenbach says. “And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that’s a pretty massive spread.”
And much of that spread, Lautenbach says, is affecting young people.
“We have seen almost a near flip in the cases that we’re experiencing,” Lautenbach says. “So in April of this year, we were really struggling with long-term-care outbreaks. And so about 3 out of 4 people were over the age of 30 and really pretty heavily skewed to 60-plus. And by contrast, in June, we’re seeing that now 2 out of 3 people that have contracted this disease are under 29.”
Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.
But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.
And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.
Wow, after months of having to eat at home every night, we here in Koontzland were excited when our favorite restaurants began to do business again this past week. We went with Ms. Elsa on opening day. The patio tables were ten or twelve feet apart, the waiters wore masks and gloves, the busboys wore full-face plastic shields, and the mood-music guitarist kept alternating between “Eve of Destruction” and “Saint James Infirmary.” It was sooooo romantic!
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]