By Steve Vertlieb: I grew up with television in the 1950s. The little box sitting in my living room, brightly lit from within, became a lifelong companion. During those most impressionable years, I came to recognize a variety of character actors and actresses who, in my private adolescent world, became trusted friends. Their faces were comforting affirmations of my youthful belief in the ultimate goodness of mankind. Among the most reassuring of these, both then and now, belonged to Jack Klugman. While he later established a delightful persona as Oscar Madison (opposite Tony Randall) in television’s adaptation of The Odd Couple, I will always regard Jack Klugman as one of the most vulnerable, deeply honest, and passionate actors in television history. He was “everyman” … a poor, simple “Joe,” trying to lift himself out of the gutter and become a “Mentsch.”
Klugman, along with Burgess Meredith, was particularly cherished by Rod Serling, who utilized their talents in four separate episodes each of his classic Twilight Zone series on CBS. Two of those episodes in particular affected me deeply during my formative years. In “A Passage For Trumpet,” Klugman played Joey Crown, a sad, lonely man with an affinity for his horn. In a world filled with strangers, his trumpet seemed his only friend … an instrument of beauty that alone elevated his soul. In a later episode of the classic series, Klugman was an inconsequential gambler (Max Phillips) whose sole meaning and value in life seemed the future of his only son, wounded in Vietnam. He sacrifices his own shabby life in order to save his boy … a selfless act “In Praise of Pip.”
In 1957, Jack Klugman co-starred with, perhaps, the most startling ensemble of young actors ever assembled in a single motion picture. Alongside Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb, Martin Balsam, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Ed Begley, Robert Webber, and George Voskovic as “Juror No. 5” in Sidney Lumet’s landmark courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men, Klugman delivered an impassioned performance as a loner struggling to voice his humanity in a sea of cynicism. He was always the common man, the quiet, dignified soul yearning to find expression in a world that often had no time for him.
His powerful guest starring role in the CBS dramatic series The Defenders in 1964 (“The Blacklist”) won him a well deserved Emmy Award. Klugman could always be counted on to deliver a strong, moralistic performance as he did opposite Jack Lemmon, as Jim Hungerford, in Blake Edwards’ tragic study of alcoholism, The Days of Wine and Roses (1962). He created the role of Ethel Merman’s friend and companion in the original production of Gypsy on Broadway (later re-created by Karl Malden in the motion picture version opposite Rosalind Russell). He delivered comforting support to Frank Sinatra in a strong performance as a loyal police officer in The Detective.
I was running the film department at WTAF TV 29 in Philadelphia during the late Seventies and early Eighties, and had become friendly with Dan Silverman, the head of publicity at Universal, who would take my brother and I on private walking tours of the studio’s back lot. On one such occasion, we visited the set of the popular Quincy series during filming and had a lovely meeting with the superb Jack Klugman whose heart melted upon learning that we had come from his favorite city, Philadelphia. I’d always wanted to meet him, and so this opportunity was quite literally a dream come true.
I’d been warned that the actor could be somewhat temperamental, and so I made sure that he knew right from the start that I had journeyed to Hollywood from The City of Brotherly Love. He was very warm, and threw his arms around me immediately.
After chatting for a few moments, Jack asked if my brother Erwin and I might like to return to the set after lunch to watch them film an episode of the weekly NBC series. “Would you boys like to come back after lunch, and watch us shoot,” he asked. I watched him walk over to his director. Pointing to us, he said “These gentlemen are going to come back after lunch and watch us “shoot.” “They’re from Philadelphia … Ya know … PHILADELPHIA!” He was very cute.
Jack Klugman remains one of my favorite actors, both on the small and large screens. His charm and self effacing humor when I met him on the set of Quincy is a memory that I’ll cherish always … as I will his profound body of work both in film and television.
(1) 45 PROOF. [Item by Rich Lynch.] A couple of years ago, in SFPA, I ran an essay titled “Of Beer and the Beltway” which was reprinted in the current (25th) issue of My Back Pages.
In it, I mentioned that a local craft brewery, 7 Locks, was producing a Rye Pale Ale they had named “Surrender Dorothy”, the name a riff on The Wizard of Oz but also a homage to a stunt that happened at a Washington Beltway railroad bridge overpass back in the 1970s. Here’s what the beer’s logo looks like: Surrender Dorothy RyePA – 7 Locks Brewing
In that same issue of MBP, I noted that there had recently been modern day pranksters at work who had updated the “Surrender Dorothy” Beltway bridge stunt by spray-painting that same bridge with “Surrender Donald”. And now 7 Locks has produced a limited-run Rye PA with that same name: Surrender Donald 6-packs | 7 Locks Brewing Online Shop
I didn’t find out about it until today, when it was described in a short news item in The Washington Post. And since it was a limited run, it’s unfortunately no longer available. I see they have beer glasses with that logo listed, so I may try to get one of them. But damn! Wish I’d known about it before today!
(3) VIRTUAL CAPRICON. Capricon 41 begins two weeks from today. It’s usually in Chicago, but will be held this year in virtual space.
We have some really amazing program lined up for you, with awesome panelists from all over the world. Check out the full schedule at https://guide.capricon.org/. This is a mostly final schedule, but note that there may still be a few changes to times and panelists to come
Don’t Forget to Register! Everyone must register to access the virtual convention space. Register here.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a fierce advocate of fair wages and a former presidential candidate who lost the Democratic nomination to now-President Biden. And thanks to his practical clothing choices he is also now the center of a seemingly endless flood of altered pictures that dominated some corners of the internet in the hours after Mr. Biden’s socially distanced inauguration on Wednesday.
Searchlight Pictures has updated its 2021 release calendar, dating Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” for December 3. The date puts del Toro’s latest in the thick of the 2021-2022 awards season. Searchlight appears to be following the same release plan it gave del Toro’s last movie, “The Shape of Water,” which started its U.S. theatrical rollout on the first weekend of December. “The Shape of Water” debuted at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Golden Lion, and it seems likely “Nightmare Alley” will show up on the fall film festival circuit.
Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is adapted by the filmmaker, and film critic Kim Morgan, from the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The ensemble cast includes Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, and David Strathairn…
(6) CASE IN POINT. The Hugo Book Club blog is going through all the Hugo-shortlisted dramatic presentations in order to see how the art of SFF cinema has evolved over time. The third post in the series is: “Hugo Cinema Club: 1960 Gets In The Zone”.
In 1960, for example, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling seems to have been mostly unaware of the award until some two weeks later when a delegation of California-based fans who had just returned from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania visited the CBS offices to hand him a three-pound chrome rocketship on September 22.
The fans — including Bjo and John Trimble, Rick Sneary and Forrest J Ackerman — were greeted warmly by the television legend, who had also earned his fourth Emmy that summer….
(7) DISTAFF SUPERHEROES. The Women of Marvel podcast announced a special celebrating Marvel’s heroes will debut in April. Women Of Marvel #1 will spotlight iconic characters from the X-Men to the Avengers in a collection of tales by an all-female lineup from throughout the entertainment industry.
Kicking things off will be comics legend Louise Simonson with a must-read introduction. Simonson will be followed by some of the hottest rising stars in the graphic novel industry. Nadia Shammas punches the glass ceiling with an action-packed She-Hulk adventure, Elsa Sjunneson grits her way to the front line with a tale about Captain Peggy Carter, Sophie Campbell goes feral with a bone-grinding Marrow story, video game and comics writer Anne Toole gets gritty in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and Natasha Alterici of Heathen fame charges sword-first into the Marvel Universe with a revelatory tale about Rogue and Mystique. With astonishing art from new and established artists Kei Zama (Transformers, Death’s Head), Eleonora Carlini (Power Rangers, Batgirl), Skylar Patridge (Resonant, Relics of Youth), Joanna Estep (Fantastic Four, Fraggle Rock) and more, readers are sure to come away powered up and ready to slay.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2006 — Fifteen years ago at L.A.con IV, Serenity wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Serenity was the film that finished off the story that started in the much beloved by fans Firefly series that aired briefly on FOX. Other finalists that year were Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It currently holds a phenomenal ninety-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 21, 1858 – Anna Dodd. Short stories, novels, essays and other nonfiction e.g. criticism for The Art Journal, In and Out of Three Normandy Inns, Talleyrand. Fluent in French and Italian. Some say Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward was inspired by AD’s novel for us The Republic of the Future, subtitled Socialism a Reality, but it’s no joyous forecast. (Died 1929) [JH]
Born January 21, 1921 – Charles Eric Maine. A score of novels, as many shorter stories. Here is a cover for his fanzine The Satellite – not to be confused with this. Many applaud his Mind of Mr Soames. Also detective fiction, engineering, radio, television, film. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born January 21, 1923 – Judith Merril. Four novels, thirty shorter stories; book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; half a dozen collections e.g. The Best of JM and posthumous Homecalling; a dozen annual Year’s Best SF (“a practically flawless anthologist” – Anthony Boucher). Introduced and commented on Canadian broadcasts of Doctor Who. Co-founded Milford Writers’ Conference. Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection named for her. SF Hall of Fame. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born January 21, 1925 — Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination Space, The Invaders, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born January 21, 1929 – Arthur Jean Cox. Two novels, a score of shorter stories. Active in his local club – a six-year string of perfect attendance at weekly meetings, eight terms as an officer – and cons e.g. Pacificon I the 4th Worldcon. Essays, letters, reviews in Amazing, Astounding, Fantasy Times, F & SF, Riverside Quarterly, SF Chronicle, SF Review. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born January 21, 1938 — Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 presumably as himself if I trust IMDb as it doesn’t list a character for him. He does have genre character roles having been in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born January 21, 1939 — Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 82. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occult detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently. (CE)
Born January 21, 1947 – Cherith Baldry, age 74. Sixty novels, seventy shorter stories, for us, some under different names; a dozen other books; plays; essays, letters, reviews in Banana Wings, Focus, Vector. [JH]
Born January 21, 1956 — Geena Davis, 65. Best remembered genre wise I’d say for being in Beetlejuice but she also appeared in Earth Girls Are Easy and Transylvania 6-5000. She’s done some one-offs on series including Knight Rider, Fantasy Island and The Exorcist. Yes, they turned The Exorcist into a series. (CE)
Born January 21, 1956 — Diana Pavlac Glyer, 65. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings. (CE)
Born January 21, 1972 –Tracy Falbe, age 49. Ten novels. Has read Dracula, Empire of the Summer Moon, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Paradise Lost, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. “I want to create someone you want to root for and then give him some disappointing traits. I might infuriate a reader…. I’ll at least know that I provoked emotion.” [JH]
Today, Marvel Entertainment—that’s the whole company, covering the movies, the comics, and the games—posted a curious teaser that simply had the name Heroes Reborn and “whatever happened to Earth’s mightiest heroes?” underneath. We don’t know specifically what that means, but there is one obvious implication, and based on the… oh, let’s say mixed reaction that the post is getting on Twitter, a lot of Marvel fans are coming to the same conclusion….
(12) X-MEN. X-Men Legends #1 hits stand on February 17. The series “will dive into the rich history of the X-Men to tie up loose ends, resolve long-standing plot danglers, and reveal shocking truths that will change the past and future of the X-Men!” Take a first look at the interior artwork here.
X-Men history will be revisited and revealed when X-MEN LEGENDS #1 debuts next month. This first-of-its-kind series will feature the return of the franchise’s most influential creators—including Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont, and more— in all-new, in-continuity stories set during their groundbreaking runs. Starting things off will be Fabian Nicieza with a two-part tale that finally reveals the truth behind one of the most talked-about mutant mysteries: Adam-X and his startling connection to the Summers bloodline!
Introduced during Nicieza’s explosive work on the X-Men in their nineties heyday, the beginnings of this storyline can be traced back to 1993’s X-Men #23. Since then, X-Men fans have endlessly speculated, theorized, and debated what became known as the “third Summers brother” mystery. Now, all will be answered as one the most infamous comic book plot danglers of all time is resolved!
(13) BIG SHOT. [Item by JJ.] Arnold Schwarzenegger posted video of himself receiving his first dose of coronavirus vaccine at the Dodger Stadium mass vaccination site. He celebrated the moment by slipping in a line from his film — “Come with me if you want to live!”
(15) HE MUST BE GOING. Larry Correia says Facebook “banned me from my own group because of what I MIGHT say.” Correia has been temporarily banned from FB from time to time, but I’ve never before heard of a ban where a person can still post on his own wall, which is where Correia announced he’ll be curtailing his FB presence. Not actually ending it: “There’s a few groups I use here that I can’t get the equivalent resource anywhere else yet.” All that he told his FB followers has been turned into a post for Monster Hunter Nation: “A Farewell to Facebook” [Internet Archive link].
Jon Del Arroz in a new YouTube video said he is amused by this turn of affairs, because he claims Correia had long ago kicked him out of his group.
…The post is kind of making the rounds that Larry Correia was banned from his own Facebook group after a couple of years. I’m kind of laughing about this, I’m not, going to lie, because Larry Correia actually ordered that I would be banned from his Facebook group a couple years ago for my quote wrong think or wrong meaning as it were this always happens with the libertarian crowd…
Truthfulness is not JDA’s strong suit, however, he’s banned here, so why not from Larry’s FB group, too?
“We just present examples to the algorithm and tell it, ‘This is an elephant, this is not an elephant,'” Dr Olga Isupova, from the University of Bath, said.
“By doing this, we can train the machine to recognise small details that we wouldn’t be able to pick up with the naked eye.”
The scientists looked first at South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park.
“It has a high density of elephants,” University of Oxford conservation scientist Dr Isla Duporge said.
“And it has areas of thickets and of open savannah.
“So it’s a great place to test our approach.
“While this is a proof of concept, it’s ready to go.
“And conservation organisations are already interested in using this to replace surveys using aircraft.”
Conservationists will have to pay for access to commercial satellites and the images they capture.
But this approach could vastly improve the monitoring of threatened elephant populations in habitats that span international borders, where it can be difficult to obtain permission for aircraft surveys.
Based on his knowledge of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, Harvard’s Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson knew just how HBO’s Game of Thrones would play out. Jon Snow, the illegitimate son, was a Richard III type, who would win the crown (and our hearts, in a love-to-hate-him kind of way). But Daenerys Targaryen, as a kind of Henry VII, would defeat him in battle and win it back, restoring peace and order. Turns out he was wrong about all of that.
But as Wilson kept watching, he began to appreciate the other ways Game of Thrones is similar to Shakespeare—like the way that both Shakespeare and George R.R. Martin’s stories translate the history of the Wars of the Roses into other popular genres….
(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed another stumper on tonight’s Jeopardy!
Final Jeopardy: British Writers
Answer: When Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926, this British fellow writer tried to find her with the help of a spiritual medium.
Wrong questions: Who is George Orwell? and Who is George Bernard Shaw?
Correct question (only 1 contestant got it right): Who is Arthur Conan Doyle?
(19) A MISSION. Pierre Pettinger, the well-known costumer who along with his wife Sandy received the International Costumers Guild’s 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award, published a new space opera in October, The Road From Antioch.
The pilgrim ship Antioch is destroyed just short of the New Vatican. Someone is stealing critical shipments in the Chemosh Empire. Two worlds of the Laanyr Clan Heer have been attacked. Small vessels are buzzing the Rivnyera World Ships.
Who is behind these incidents? Terrorists? Rebels? The mysterious Cherek? Or someone else entirely? The nations of the Orion Arm must join forces and find the culprits. The investigation ranges from the space around the planet Ans to the fields of Inohr Dan Nool to the supposedly primitive planet of Cordwainer. Join an Admiral, a Catholic Sister, a Knight Militant, an Ensign, a Great Mind, an Inspector and a Herdmaster as they seek out the perpetrators of these odd occurrences.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Tammy Coxen, Pierre Pettinger, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…The phisher, or phishers, employ clever tactics like transposing letters in official-looking email addresses (like “penguinrandornhouse.com” instead of “penguinrandomhouse.com“) and masking the addresses so they only show when the recipient hits “Reply”. They know how publishing works and appear to have access to inside information, utilizing not just public sources like acquisition announcements in trade publications, but details that are harder to uncover: writers’ email addresses, their relationships with agents and editors, delivery and deadline dates, even details of the manuscripts themselves.
And they are ramping up their operations. According to the Times, the scam began appearing “at least” three years ago, but in the past year “the volume of these emails has exploded in the United States.”
So what’s the endgame? Publishing people are stumped. Manuscripts by high-profile authors have been targeted, but also less obviously commercial works: debut novels by unknowns, short story collections, experimental fiction. The manuscripts don’t wind up on the black market, as far as anyone can tell, and don’t seem to be published online. There have been no ransom demands or other attempts at monetization.
[From a New York Times article:] “One of the leading theories in the publishing world, which is rife with speculation over the thefts, is that they are the work of someone in the literary scouting community. Scouts arrange for the sale of book rights to international publishers as well as to film and television producers, and what their clients pay for is early access to information — so an unedited manuscript, for example, would have value to them.”
Rebecca Luker, the actress and singer who in a lauded three-decade career on the New York stage embodied the essence of the Broadway musical ingénue in hit revivals of “Show Boat,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 59. … she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
…Just five years after college, she was on the Broadway stage, assuming the lead female role in “The Phantom of the Opera”— Christine, the chorus girl who is the object of the phantom’s affections.
“Phantom” was her Broadway debut; she began as the understudy to the original star, Sarah Brightman; became an alternate; and took over as Christine in 1989. She remained with the show until 1991.
Ms. Luker moved on immediately to another Broadway show: She played a ghost, the little orphan girl’s dead Aunt Lily, in “The Secret Garden.”
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 23, 1963 — On this night in 1963, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. This was a Christmas-themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. The script which was written by Rod Serling would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. Serling ended the original broadcast with the words, “And a Merry Christmas, to each and all”, but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 23, 1896 — Máiréad Ní Ghráda. She’s the author of Manannán, a 1940 novel which is regarded as the first such science fiction work in Irish. Several years previously, she translated Peter Pan into Irish, Tír na Deo, the first time it had been so done. (Died 1971.) (CE)
Born December 23, 1927 – Chuch Harris. (“Chuch” from Chuck Harris.) Englander who became an adjunct (at least) of Irish Fandom with a letter to Walt Willis of Slant beginning “Dear Mr. Ellis”. CH submitted a story about a family of werewolves beginning “The family were changing for dinner”. Persuaded to visit Vin¢ Clarke and Ken Bulmer at their flat the Epicentre (mistaking this for the center, or centre, of an earthquake, has a long history) he helped generate Sixth Fandom, was shot with a water-pistol by James White, wrote for Hyphen, and formed Tentacles Across the Sea with Dean Grennell. Much later Spike published the Chuck Harris Appreciation Magazine, which only a Johnson fan like me would call the Great Cham, hello Spike. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born December 23, 1928 – George Heap. Long-time secretary of the Philadelphia SF Society, filker, Tolkien fan before the paperback Lord of the Rings arrived, he moved to Rochester, joined The Cult, and died at the horrid age of 41 just before Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon. You can see four 1960 issues of his SF Viewsletter here. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born December 23, 1929 — Peggy Fortnum. She’s an English illustrator beloved for illustrating Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear series. She first illustrated him in A Bear Called Paddington. One of Fortnum’s Paddington illustrations is part of a series of stamps that was issued by the Royal Mail in 2006 celebrating animals from children’s literature. Somehow it seems appropriate on Christmas for me to share that stamp here. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born December 23, 1945 — Raymond E. Feist, 75. Best known for the Riftwar series. The only novel I’ve read by him is was Faerie Tale, a dark fantasy set in the state of New York, which is one damn scary work. His only Award to date is a HOMer Award for Servant of the Empire which he co-wrote with Janny Wurts. (CE)
Born December 23, 1978 — Estella Warren, 42. Deena on the Planet of The Apes. She also shows up in Ghost Whisper, the Beauty and the Beast film as Belle the Beauty, Taphephobia, Feel the Dead and Age of the Living Dead. (CE)
Born December 23, 1954 – Susan Grant, age 66. U.S. Air Force veteran, then commercial pilot; 18,000 hours flight time. RITA Award – for Contact, an SF romance; there’s cross-genre action for you. A score of novels, a few shorter stories, several Booklist and Library Journal Books of the Year. [JH]
Born December 23, 1960 – Miyabe Miyuki, age 60. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Six novels, ten shorter stories so far available in English. Yamamoto Shûgorô Prize, Naoki Prize, two Yoshikawa Eiji Prizes, Nihon SF Taishô Award. Mystery Writers of Japan Award. Batchelder Award for the English translation of her Brave Story. Film, television, manga, video games. All She Was Worth (English title) called a watershed in the history of women’s detective fiction. [JH]
Born December 23, 1970 – Natalie Damschroder, age 50. A dozen novels for us, thirty all told, many shorter stories. Loves the New England Patriots more than anything except her family, writing, reading, and popcorn. I omit what she thinks her teen fiction kicks. [JH]
Born December 23, 1984 — Alison Sudol, 36. She’s known for her role as Queenie Goldstein on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I do so like those titles. She’s also has a recurring role as Kaya in Transparent, a series which is at least genre adjacent for its genre content and certainly SJW in content. (CE)
Born December 23, 1985 – Marta Dahlig, age 35. Digital artist, mostly. Here is the Jun 05 Revelation. Here is The Shifter (German edition, translated as The Healer). Here is Sloth. In a different vein, here is Mimi and the Brave Magic. [JH]
Born December 23, 1986 — Noël Wells, 34. Voice actor on Star Trek: Below Decks where she voices the green-colored Ensign D’Vana Tendi. I so wanted to love this series but was actually repelled by it. I said a year ago that “It should a rather fun time.” Well I was wrong. So what do y’all think of it? (CE)
(7) COMICS SECTION.
“Shoe” might have this same reaction to some of the book lists I run.
“Get Fuzzy” doesn’t treat a famous mathematician with the gravity his deserves.
…Beginning in 1970, it culls together a half century of powerful American short stories from all genres, including–for the first time in a literary anthology–science fiction, horror, and fantasy, placing writers such as Usula Le Guin, Ken Liu and Stephen King next to some of the often-taught geniuses of the form–Grace Paley, Toni Cade Bambara, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson. Culling widely, Freeman, the former editor of Granta and now of his own literary annual, brings forward some astonishing work to be regarded in a new light. Often overlooked tales by Dorothy Allison, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison will recast the shape and texture of today’s enlarging atmosphere of literary dialogue.
(9) BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. Jason Scott retells a story he says happened in the 1990s. Thread starts here.
Here in Narnia, it is so, so important that we have seasons, as I, the White Witch, have always been the absolute first to say. Lots of seasons, one leading to the next, leading to Christmas. I have always cared the most about seasons, and the second most about being absolutely sure that there will be Christmas. “More Seasons for Narnia!” was actually my slogan, although it was on a bumper sticker covered in ice crystals and hidden on my sledge under a big heap of Turkish delight. But I knew that it was there….
[Thanks to Chris Rose, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…At one point, Vladimir Nabakov said that Madame Bovary was really just an extremely well-written fairytale. There’s one sense in which, unlike other of my books, that was what I was hoping to accomplish with Shoat Rumblin. The book was never finished to my satisfaction, although I wrote an ending for it. Through looking over it again, I’m at least contented with what I’ve done—if still uncertain how believable it is. As I’ve said on Twitter, it’s an experiment in gay pornography and realistic storytelling. Parts of it are funny and parts of it, I confess, I think are pretty grim. Overall, I’d call it a comedy rather than a tragedy, if only because it does have a happy ending, however believable or unbelievable you find it. I’m also hoping that this makes it intriguing enough for some of you to take a chance on it.
… MRK: One of my favorite things is when I introduce a reader to an author who is, by any metric except to this reader, more famous than I am. And they have never heard of them. And they’re like, “oh, this new author Ursula K. Le Guin, I love her books!” (laughs)
JS: You’re like; I don’t know how to break this one to you, but… But, that actually brings up a really interesting point which is that because science fiction and fantasy is, as a literature, as opposed to every other aspect of media, because it is still sort of niche where you come into the genre matters. Because, if they come in with you, then a lot of your antecedents or people who influenced you will be new to them. And to them, those classics will seem almost derivative or not up to date. I’ve had that happen sometimes where people will read me first, especially people who are under the age of 35. They’ll read me first and then they’ll go backwards into someone like Heinlein and then they’re like—“hmm, I don’t know—his stuff’s OK, but I kind of like yours better.” And I’m like, well—one, thank you, and two, it’s definitely because this is the path that you took into this genre. And, it’s still something that is very possible to do in this genre that I don’t know if in mainstream it will happen as much.
While a space traveler’s greatest fear is typically what’s waiting out there in the great unknown, what they bring back to Earth could be much, much worse. That’s the premise of Russian filmmaker Egor Abramenko’s feature debut “Sputnik,” a sci-fi chiller with the stately echoes of Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien.” Set in the 1980s, “Sputnik” blends creature-feature effects with heady extraterrestrial thrills. An official selection of the canceled 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the movie debuts from IFC Midnight in select theaters and on VOD August 14. Watch the trailer for the film below….
Here’s the YouTube intro:
Due to her controversial methods, young doctor Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina) is on the precipice of losing her medical license. Her career may not be over, though. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich (Pyotr Fyodorov), a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: there’s something living inside of him that only shows itself late at night. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.
There are no official casting breakdowns yet available, but many are speculating about the potential lead characters based on Martin’s book. Fire & Blood covers 150 years and includes the rise and fall of many leaders in Westeros so it’s not clear which characters and time period will be the focus of the series. But sources tell EW that the famed Dance of Dragons – the Targaryen Civil War that occasionally referenced in GoT that ripped apart Westeros – will be tackled at some point in the series. What would make sense is if the first season (or two) led up to those events. Some fans have suggested the show could also be an American Horror Story-style anthology series, covering a vastly different time period in each season.
A famous phrase that signals the end of many stories, from faerie tales to action movies to romance novels. Growing up, so many of the tv, film, comics, books, and more that I experienced said – implicitly, if not explicitly – that once a couple overcame whatever big trial happened in act three, the relationship itself was smooth sailing.
And depending on how you read those stories, it says something worse. It says that long-term, committed relationships are boring, or that they’re only interesting when they’re falling apart. “Happily Ever After” doesn’t prepare anyone for the lived reality of making a long-term relationship work. Sometimes the best romance works will illustrate those challenges and joys on the way, because romance writers are grand masters of characterization. But getting into my first romantic relationships, I had few fictional models for what it was like to negotiate the higher-level challenges and opportunities posed by a committed partnership. And being a storyteller by trade, that lack of narrative models became especially frustrating.
With Annihilation Aria, I set out to add to the count of works that unpack “Happily Ever After” and show that a committed couple can be exciting protagonists as well….
…The truth is, a book of modern fantasy is a treasure trove of marvels, a cabinet of curiosities, and, perhaps more importantly, a strong, strong testimony to the importance of imaginative literature, of non-realist literature, and of traditions other than the Anglo Saxon. We, personally, have been enriched by these stories and lifted up by them. We hope readers will find their own favorites and fond memories from reading herein.
(7) CAPCLAVE CHANGES PLANS. Bill Lawhorn, Capclave 2020 Chair, says they’re going virtual. The event will be over the same weekend, but won’t start until Saturday.
Due to the novel coronavirus, the Capclave team has made the decision to be virtual this year. We will be holding Capclave October 17-18. Yes, this is two days, but we will run longer on Sunday than is typical. We will be focused on presentations, panels, and small group activities such as author readings or discussions.
Going virtual does present the opportunity to include people who would likely not be able to participate in a normal year. Keep an eye on our website and social media for news regarding new participants.
We plan to use Zoom for most activities, but we are looking at adding a text chat area via Discord as well. We will be updating our Code of Conduct to reflect the online nature of the convention. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 21, 1929 — John Woodvine, 91. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man. He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally, he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. (CE)
Born July 21, 1933 — John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. (Died 1982.) (CE)
Born July 21, 1944 – David Feintuch. Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer. Nine novels, of which seven portray Space navy officer Nick Seafort, translated into Czech, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish. Said he’d completed an eighth, of which no more has emerged. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born July 21, 1950 — Asenath Hammond. She was was a fan who was a member of NESFA, New York City and LASFS fandoms. She was married for a time to Rick Sternbach. Mike has a write-up on her here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born July 21, 1950 – Bill Kunkel. Cartoons (sometimes as “Potshot”) in Algol, Checkpoint, The Frozen Frog, Trap Door; Chunga seemed to energize him, he gave it much (for the end, see here and here; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, loc = letter of comment). Comics: DC, Marvel, Harvey; primary scripter for Richie Rich. Pro wrestling: photographed for, edited, published Main Event magazine, hosted The Main Event radio show, energized Pro Wrestling Torch, cartoons and columns for Wrestling Perspective. Video games: Electronic Games, Tips & Tricks magazines; designed a dozen games; memoir, Confessions of the Game Doctor. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born July 21, 1951 — Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher King, Bicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born July 21,1952 – Kathy Tyers, 68. Ten novels, half a dozen shorter stories translated into Dutch and German. A Star Wars novel was a NY Times Best Seller. Two CDs of folk music (she plays flute, Irish harp). Worked with Christopher Parkening on his memoir Grace Like a River. Lives in Montana. [JH]
Born July 21, 1956 – Todd Dashoff, 64. Chaired Philcon 1988 and the Millennium Philcon – what else should we name a Worldcon at Philadelphia in 2001? Knows Harry Warner upheld the rule that the local con there is Phillycon and only a Worldcon there is Philcon. Knows this rule has not been followed since 1947 and meanwhile (after HW’s death) a comics con has been calling itself Phillycon. Has been PSFS’ (Phil. SF Soc.) President and Treasurer. Stalwart helper from locals to Worldcons. Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Joni, another shining star) at Lunacon 46. [JH]
Born July 21, 1960 – John Wardale, 60. Balloon sculptor, hair braider, costumer, photographer, patiently giving balloon and braid workshops for beginners too. A pleasure, if that word may be used, to judge “Angels Take Motown” at Detcon the 11th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) by Janine & John Wardale, Sharon & Hall Bass, which we awarded Best Motown Entry (Journeyman Class). Has also taught Science: Energy + Time = Change. [JH]
Born July 21, 1976 – Stephanie Law, 44. Two dozen covers including books in German and Polish, also cards and other games. Featured in Spectrum (six times) and Locus. Best in Art Show, DragonCon 2015. Art Guest of Honor at BayCon 2015, JordanCon 10, Philcon 2019; was scheduled for the 13th NASFiC this year. Artbook, Descants and Cadences. Website here. [JH]
Born July 21, 1976 — Jaime Murray, 44. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood. (CE)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro reports it was a hard day at the Frankenstein factory.
Garfield shows what would be – for these aliens – a fate worse than death.
Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider calls this “Contemplation.”
For any author, being able to describe yourself as a bona fide bestseller is key to conferring your career with a certain gravitas – and will often bring you even more sales. In the UK, while most book charts are tallied by Nielsen BookScan, the Sunday Times bestseller list – like the New York Times chart in the US – has become the gold standard. But making the bestseller list isn’t necessarily as straightforward as tallying sales. Not all is fair in romance and war (and other genres) when it comes to getting to the top of the charts.
Take the case of Mark Dawson, a British writer who just over a week ago hit No 8 on the Sunday Times hardback list with his thriller The Cleaner, released by the independent publisher Welbeck at the end of June. This is a great achievement for any author or small publishing house, but Dawson had done something remarkable: he bought 400 copies of his own book, at a cost of £3,600, to push his sales high enough to make the top 10….
First, a popular esports tournament was canceled. Next, top gaming studio executives stepped down. Then, a prominent talent management agency for video game streamers laid off its employees and closed.
The stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry that began in June has continued unabated, as more women — and some men — have come forward with accusations of mistreatment.
Despite the actions that companies have taken in response to individual incidents, gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point for an industry with a long and difficult history of sexist behavior and abuse. This is not the first time women have spoken up. In 2014, in what is known as Gamergate, women faced death threats for criticizing the gaming industry and its culture. Last year, women again came forward with stories of abuse in what was seen as gaming’s #MeToo moment.
So few expect the resignations this time to quickly change a culture that for decades has often been hostile to women.
“You can fire people all day long,” said Kenzie Gordon, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta who studies how games can be used to prevent sexual and domestic violence. But “if only the individual people are held accountable, that doesn’t have any impact on the culture of the organization as a whole, necessarily.”…
… It’s conditions such as these—monotony, idleness, tedium, sensory deprivation, loneliness—that concern NASA psychologists who want to send a crew to Mars. Using existing technologies, a trip to the red planet will take 200 to 300 days of travel. Most of the time will be spent inside a cramped capsule. There will be a communication delay with Earth of up to 24 minutes due to a span of hundreds of millions of miles. Real-time chatting or video calls with friends and family and mission support will be an impossibility—the limitation is the speed of light—that no new technology would be able to overcome.
Mars crews would likely need to operate with a high level of autonomy because of this communication delay. Many people believe autonomy, which implies freedom of choice, can stave off boredom. Indeed, work imbued with personal meaning can be a potential solution, but it can’t fix everything.
In addition to the isolation and sensory deprivation, there will still be repetition of meals and routines and clothing and conversations between crewmembers. The workloads will still likely be full of tedium, with narrow margins for error. In short, a mission to Mars has the perfect ingredient list for boredom and disaster borne of boredom.
Researchers from the University of Stirling, UK, have embedded ceramic spheres in aluminum foam to create a material that couldn’t be cut with angle grinders, power drills or water jet cutters. “They dubbed it Proteus after the shape-shifting Greek god, for the way the material metamorphosed in different ways to defend against attacks,” reports New Scientists
(14) THE SWARM. Could “swarm 3-D printing” become an endless opportunity for unanticipated results?
…What they appear to have developed is a kind of mobile robotic 3D printing concept. As you can see in the video, dual independent 3D printers are temporarily fixed to specific locations on a grid. From these locations the devices will print within a controlled zone (which AMBOTS calls a “Chunk”).
After completing a layer of a chunk, a mobile robot picks up each 3D printer and moves them to another spot on the grid where they can then access another chunk. By moving the 3D printers repeatedly through a series of access points they are able to build the entire structure — without interfering with each other.
One beast Serling struggled with during the run of The Twilight Zone continues to be an irritant today. That has to do with lightweight commercials that tended to deflate the intensity of a suspenseful Twilight episode.
“However moving and however probing and incisive the drama,” mused Serling at a UCLA speaking engagement in 1971, “it cannot retain any thread of legitimacy when after 12 or 13 minutes, out comes 12 dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Cowboy Bebop” on YouTube, Screen Junkies takes on the classic anime series, where everyone chain smokes and the gloomy atmosphere is heightened by introspective sax solos.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
In a special issue produced with the full cooperation and permission of the Fan Writer finalists, I spotlight all of them and give details of the remarkable body of work these six people produce. Special thanks in particular to Sarah Gailey for writing the piece on me.
(2) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Hugo voting closes on Wednesday, July 22 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7). In New Zealand that’s Thursday, July 23 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12).
(3) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. “Where am I goin’? / I don’t know / Where am I headin’? / I ain’t certain…” Camestros Felapton says it’s “Still not my job to fix the Dragon Awards” but he can’t help himself — the post makes several suggestions for improvement. Even more fascinating is this observation.
… Impact: Goodreads Awards get far more votes, Hugos and Nebulas have more impact, even the Locus awards generate more buzz and media coverage, the Clark’s have more critical clout and so on. Four sets of awards in and even Baen Books don’t play up their Dragon Award wins much on books covers or general marketing. For example, here is Brad flippin’ Torgersen’s bio on Amazon…
… Note: Analog AnLab Reader’s Choice, Writers of the Future, Nebula, Campbell and Hugo Awards are all listed but not the Dragons. Brad’s Dragon Award win simply isn’t used to promote Brad either in general or on his books, aside from his personal blogs and Facebook.
What’s in this year’s Souvenir Book? Artist William Stout—famed for his illustrations and murals depicting dinosaurs, and his comics and movie poster work—once again graces the Souvenir Book with one of his incredible covers, this one saluting the centennial of famed author Ray Bradbury, one of Comic-Con’s most beloved guests over the years. Stout is also one of the very few people to have attended every Comic-Con, as a special “Cover Story” feature reveals in this year’s book. Learn the “Easter Eggs” Bill worked into this cover, plus his process of creating this amazing illustration, along with his past association with Bradbury.
In addition, the Souvenir Book also celebrates the following anniversaries:
• Ray Harryhausen Centennial—The 100th birthday of the stop-motion animation legend • 75th Anniversary of EC Comics—They brought us Tales from the Crypt and MAD magazine • 75th Anniversary of Moomin—The world-wide comics sensation for all ages • 50th Anniversary of Conan in Comics—Robert E. Howard’s barbarian conquered comics starting in 1970 • 50th Anniversary of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World—The King of Comics moved to DC in 1970 and created a whole new world of characters • 50th Anniversary of Last Gasp—The pioneer underground comix publisher and distributor • Plus the Proverbial “Much More”—Comic-Con Museum, 2019 Award Winners, and the “In Memoriam” section
(5) ANALOGY. At Tablet, Andrew Fox remembers “How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit” in “My Science Fiction Rabbi”.
Science fiction is just Judaism in a spacesuit.
If the statement strikes you as ridiculous, consider the evidence. Both cultures began life on the margins, the domain of small and mocked minorities who looked at the world from the outside and who survived by adhering to their own intricate traditions. Both cultures are, first and foremost, an exercise in “what if,” Judaism forever looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and having its adherents pray daily for the rebuilding of the Temple, and science fiction imagining the life that lies just at the cusp of the possible. And both cultures stand at risk of being loved out of existence, embraced mightily by the mainstream, sailing precariously between the Scylla of assimilation and the Charybdis of dilution….
…‘Unbelievable!!!!!’ is “a Sci-Fi Parody Adventure which follows the crazy exploits of four off-beat astronauts (one is a marionette) who travel to the Moon on a rescue mission to determine the fate of two Space Agency comrades who have not been heard from in several days. The individuals they find at the Lunar Base are not whom they appear to be and nearly succeed in killing our heroes. Soon the astronauts find themselves trying to save the Earth from an invasion of Killer Plant Aliens!!”
Indie Rights CEO Linda Nelson announced via a statement:
“Indie Rights is so excited to be featuring UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! at Virtual Cannes. We’ll be screening the film for international buyers on June 24th. Snoop Dogg and Star Trek fans will love this plant-based, inter-galactic parody.”
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 20, 1952 — The Shadow’s “The Curse of the Emerald Scarab” first was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System with the sponsor being Wildroot Company Inc. It was written by J.G. Leighton, and starred Bret Morrison as The Shadow / Lamont Cranston, and Gertrude Warner as Margo Lane. The Announcer was Sandy Becker. We would love to tell all about it including where to hear it, but like nearly sixty percent of The Shadow radio broadcasts, they were lost as Mutual thought of these was broadcast once and done. There were 677 episodes aired over 18 seasons, so a lot did survive.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 20, 1906 – Bill Danner. Arrived in the mid-1940s. From the mid-1950s his hand-set letterpress fanzine Stefantasy (Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction, often shortened to stef, + fantasy) ran 44 years. Other fanzines A Dangerous Thing, Lark, Pull No Punches. Active in FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n) and VAPA (Vanguard Am. Pr. Ass’n). (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 20, 1924 — Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1930 — Sally Ann Howes, 90. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in Brigadoon. Though more genre adjacent than genre, I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role. (CE)
Born July 20, 1931 — Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Did 2014.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1938 — Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, 82. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Now she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up recently in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (CE)
Born July 20, 1942 — Richard Delap. Canadian fanzine writer who wrote for Granfalloon and Yandro. He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice but lost to Harry Warner, Jr. at St.Louiscon, and Wilson Tucker at Heicon ‘70. Edited Delap’s F&SF Review (1975-1978), published by Fred Patten – both had been prolific reviewers for Geis’ Science Fiction Review, who tried to make a go of their own semiprozine.Delap was a co-editor of The Essential Harlan Ellison. He died of AIDS complications just after it was published. (Died 1987.) (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born July 20, 1943 – Bill Bowers. Best known for his fanzine Outworlds (three FAAn – Fan Activity Achievement – Awards); also Xenolith; Double:Bill with Bill Mallardi. Won TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) in a tie with Roy Tackett; withdrew. Chaired Corflu 4 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fan Guest of Honor at IguanaCon II the 36th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). Early adopter of offset printing. Fond of lists. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born July 20, 1947 – Mike Gilbert. Two dozen covers, eighty interiors, for books, fanzines, prozines. Here is Victory on Janus. Here is the Feb 70 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Here is the Noreascon Program Book (29th Worldcon). Here is the Mar 71 Worlds of If. Here is the Dec 74 Analog. Here is Breaking Point. Here is an interior for Granfalloon 7 – part of a Mike Gilbert portfolio. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 20, 1949 – Guy Lillian, 71. Publications for Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 21, Archon 36, Con*Stellation XXII. Rebel Award and Rubble Award. Won DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) with wife Rose Marie, trip report The Antipodal Route; thereafter The Panoramic Route (to Anticipation the 67th Worldcon), The Aboriginal Route (to Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon). Current fanzines Challenger, Spartacus (politics), The Zine Dump (reviews). [JH]
Born July 20, 1955 – Susan Dexter, 65. Ten novels, six shorter stories; a dozen maps and interiors. Chalk paintings, see here (at her Website). Covers for some of her own books, like this (SD did a pastel, Teddy Black finished). Weaver and hand-spinner, as shown in this photo. [JH]
Born July 20, 1959 – Martha Soukup, 61. Thirty short stories, translated into Croatian, French, German; Nebula for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”; collection, The Arbitrary Placement of Walls. Poetry in Asimov’s, Star*Line. Essays, reviews, in Aboriginal, Fantasy Review, NY Review of SF, SF Age. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Where Tinkerbell ended up, clapping will not do her any good. The Far Side.
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, a theory widely shared on social media suggested that a science fiction text, Dean Koontz’s 1981 science fiction novel, The Eyes of Darkness, had predicted the coronavirus pandemic with uncanny precision. COVID-19 has held the entire world hostage, producing a resemblance to the post-apocalyptic world depicted in many science fiction texts. Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s classic 2003 novel Oryx and Crake refers to a time when “there was a lot of dismay out there, and not enough ambulances” — a prediction of our current predicament.
However, the connection between science fiction and pandemics runs deeper. They are linked by a perception of globality, what sociologist Roland Robertson defines as “the consciousness of the world as a whole.”
Globality in science fiction
In his 1992 survey of the history of telecommunications, How the World Was One, Arthur C. Clarke alludes to the famed historian Alfred Toynbee’s lecture entitled “The Unification of the World.” Delivered at the University of London in 1947, Toynbee envisions a “single planetary society” and notes how “despite all the linguistic, religious and cultural barriers that still sunder nations and divide them into yet smaller tribes, the unification of the world has passed the point of no return.”
Science fiction writers have, indeed, always embraced globality. In interplanetary texts, humans of all nations, races and genders have to come together as one people in the face of alien invasions. Facing an interplanetary encounter, bellicose nations have to reluctantly eschew political rivalries and collaborate on a global scale, as in Denis Villeneuve’s 2018 film, Arrival.
It seems everyone is interested in Mars these days.
For decades, sending probes to the red planet was the exclusive purview of the United States and the Soviet Union, and later Russia. But in 1998, Japan made an attempt, which ended in failure, followed by the European Space Agency, then China (also unsuccessful) in 2011, and two years later, India.
Now, the United Arab Emirates has sent one, too: an orbiter named Hope. It’s the country’s first interplanetary space shot.
“The UAE is now a member of the club and we will learn more and we will engage more and we’ll continue developing our space exploration program,” UAE Space Agency chief Mohammed Al Ahbabi told a joint online news conference at Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, where the $200 million mission lifted off at 5:58 p.m. ET Sunday, riding a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket after nearly a week of weather delays.
Approximately an hour after launch, Hope, or “Amal” in Arabic, separated from its housing and deployed its solar panels. It will spend the next seven months on its journey to Mars.
…The orbital probe is designed to gather comprehensive data about the thin atmosphere of Mars.
“The purpose was not only to get to Mars by 2021 and have valid scientific data coming out of the mission that is unique in nature and no other mission has captured before,” Sarah Al Amiri, deputy project manager and science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, said earlier. “But more importantly, it was about developing the capabilities and capacity of engineers in the country.”
Mardi Gras gets The Twilight Zone treatment, with a dash of Knives Out, as very wealthy, very terminally-ill man invites his greedy family over to settle his affairs. He insists that they all don grotesque masks that match their uniquely terrible personality traits — if they don’t, they won’t see a dime of their inheritance.
You can probably guess where this is going, when the family members take off their masks… One of the most disturbing endings in the history of the show.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to Fil 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]
Okay, the world continues to go mad, with Covid-19, racism, and social injustice rampant. (Tonight, for instance, they’re tear-gassing people in D.C. again, coronavirus cases in Arizona are spiking, and two megachurch conmen are claiming they’ve invented a new air conditioning that kills 99.9 per cent of the virus. Note: They haven’t.)
I spend most of my days yelling and/or screaming at the TV and obsessing about how nuts everything is and how many things need to be fixed, and today’s no exception, but some of the time, just to keep a tenuous hold on our sanity, my family and I try to think about stuff that has nothing to do with the mayhem around us. To that end, my husband quilts, my daughter does the Getty Art Challenge, I read Agatha Christie mysteries, and together my daughter and I make up lists of favorite books and movies.
We thought you might need to take a mental break occasionally, too, so we’re sharing this, but I don’t want you to think that we’re not still VERY AWARE of how much is wrong and how much we need to do to rescue the world from its current messes.
So, in that spirit…
My daughter Cord and I had so much fun coming up with our lists of books that we reread over and over again, that we decided to put together another list, this one of movies and books that you should definitely read and/or watch….
5. BOOK: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen MOVIE: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant)
It’s impossible to improve on Jane Austen, but Emma Thompson almost pulls it off in her brilliant script for the 1995 movie, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. She got rid of a bunch of extraneous characters and equally extraneous scenes and made the younger sister Margaret (a mere cipher in the novel) into a charming and fully-developed character who by the end was my favorite: “He’s kneeling down!”
(2) IGNORE THOSE CLICKBAIT WEBSITES. That’s what George R.R. Martin says. He means the other ones, not mine, I’m sure. Even if I am also linking to his Winds of Winter progress report. Because we all want to know!
…If nothing else, the enforced isolation [of the pandemic] has helped me write. I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress. I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week. But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week. It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go. Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.
… Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah. I will be dropping back into Braavos next week. I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.
I do wish they would go faster, of course. Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month. I fear I shall never recapture that pace again. Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.
George is also preparing to participate in the virtual Worldcon.
…I still plan to host the Hugo Awards and fulfill all the rest of my toastmasterly duties for worldcon, and have started pre-recording some bits for the ceremony (a wise precaution, since I am hopeless with Zoom and Skype and like things), but that is a lot less time-consuming and distracting than flying to the other end of the world. In between tapings, I return to Westeros.
Some inventive Doctor Who fans — and Nate — showed off their costume-making talents to the world, with The Doctors themselves assessing the results.
The Late Late Show host and former Who cast member James Corden put out a call to Doctor Who fans to compete in a cosplay challenge where they would have some 24 hours to create a costume from the show “using only objects from around their homes.” This is, in fact, keeping with the tradition of the classic series, which has often been teased for its wobbly sets and very low-budget aesthetic. (Seriously, some of the creatures were clearly made from bubble wrap.)
James Corden also did an interview segment with the two actors.
Aaron Robertson: I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek, poetic quality of the annotations. I wonder if you have any literary influences of your own with those?
Leslie Klinger: The big “literary influence” on me is the best Sherlockian scholarship, written by hundreds of amateur scholars who love the world of Holmes and Doyle. Dorothy Sayers famously explained how Sherlockians approach the stories in their scholarship: “The rule of the game is that it must be played as solemnly as a county cricket match at Lord’s; the slightest touch of extravagance or burlesque ruins the atmosphere.”
I have carried that approach—the Sherlockian “game”—over to other books that I’ve annotated, pretending (or “pretending”) that the stories are true and analyzing them from a biographical/historical perspective. Could the character have really done that? Are the historical aspects presented true or made up?
Neil—no mean Sherlockian himself—is especially adept at weaving reality into his fiction. I discovered that in detail in the course of annotating Gaiman’s Sandman and so fully expected to find a wealth of historical underpinnings here.
…Actors Sandra Oh, Phillipa Soo, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles and newcomer Cathy Ang joined producers Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou, along with director Glen Keane, to discuss the making of the movie, a musical adventure about a young Chinese girl named Fei Fei (Ang), who builds her own rocket ship to travel to the moon in order to prove the existence of the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e (Soo).
Soo, a Tony Award nominee for her work in “Hamilton,” noted that she has known about the story of Chang’e since childhood, through a children’s book written by Amy Tan. “I remember as a kid, asking my dad to read it over and over and over to me. Because I was just obsessed with this idea of the moon lady,” Soo said. “And when I was asked to play her, I was of course honored because it’s so infrequent that I’m being asked to play specifically Chinese characters. And also even more rare that I get to be in a film with incredible Asian actors who are surrounding me. So when I read the script and they invited me to come join them to create this beautiful story, I was, of course, immediately on board and so excited.”
(6) AGENT DROPS KRUEGER DUE TO ALLEGATIONS. Publishers Lunch reported today:
Agent DongWon Song announced that he was dropping Filipino-American fantasy author Paul Krueger as a client after allegations were made on Twitter that Krueger had harassed multiple women in publishing, although the specifics of the complaints available on that platform were unclear and mostly second-hand. Krueger posted a vague apology but has since deleted his Twitter account, and one person who publicly accused Krueger subsequently made her account private. DongWon said in his tweet, “I have terminated my professional relationship with Paul Krueger. This was a difficult decision to make but it is the right one.” He referred to “new information coming to light” in the past week and said he had “spoken to several people directly impacted by Paul’s behavior,” later adding, “Thank you to those of you who spoke up. That took courage and I am grateful to you all.”
… So how do you store 12.5 million books — and not only books, but maps, manuscripts, microfilms, periodicals and newspapers too? By 2009, the New Bodleian (which had 11 floors of space) as well as facilities at Nuneham Courtenay and a salt mine in Cheshire (yes, really) were at capacity. Costing approximately £25 million, and involving the biggest book-move in the Bodleian’s history (6.5 million items!), the BSF needed some serious storage. As we entered the main warehouse, it became clear that they really pulled it off.
… The BSF is huge. Its shelves are 11 metres high and over 70 metres long. Before the automatic lights kick in, the narrow aisles seem to converge into darkness. We wore high-visibility jackets to alert staff driving the book-retrieval vehicles to our presence. A cross between a cherry-picker and a forklift, these vehicles are configured to fit exactly between the shelves, allowing staff to retrieve an impressive average of one book per minute. Although I personally wouldn’t like to be 11 metres up in the air, Boyd assured us it’s a very safe operation!
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 23, 1983 — Twilight Zone: The Movie premiered. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis who says they conceived it as a cinematic interpretation of the 1959–1964 TV series at created by Rod Serling. The film stars Vic Morrow, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Quinlan, and John Lithgow, with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the prologue segment. Burgess Meredith took over as Host, the position of Rod Serling, in the series. So how did it fare? Critics were generally lukewarm, although some like as New York Times‘ media critic Vincent Canby, who called the movie a “flabby, mini-minded behemoth” were almost angry. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 54% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 23, 1945 — Eileen Gunn, 75. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and Others, Steampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future. (CE)
Born June 23, 1946 — Ted Shackelford, 74. He’s mostly remembered as Lieutenant Patrick Brogan on Space Precinct which lasted a single season of thirty-four episodes. It was created and produced by Gerry Anderson. It combined live action, full-body prosthetics, puppetry, and Supermacromation techniques. The writing crew likewise was huge — thirty-seven are listed at IMDB. Likewise the cast was immense, Ted Shackelford, Simone Bendix, Lou Hirsch and Richard James who a cast of thirty-seven actors according ISFDB! He had the usual one-offs in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Deadman’s Gun and The Outer Limits. (CE)
Born June 23, 1951 – Greg Bear, 69. Blood Music which won both a Nebula Award for Best Novelette and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette is an amazing read. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. (CE)
Born June 23, 1953 — Russell Mulcahy, 67. You’ll likely remember him as directing Highlander, but he was responsible also for Highlander II: The Quickening, but disowned it after the completion-bond company meddled with production. He would later release this film as Highlander II: The Renegade Version. He also directed several episodes of The Hunger, On The Beach, Perversions of Science and Tales from The Crypt. (CE)
Born June 23, 1963 — Cixin Liu, 57. He won a Hugo Award for The Three-Body Problem and a Locus Award for Death’s End. He also a nine-time recipient of the Galaxy Award, China’s SFF awards. Anyone got a clue what’s going on with the alleged Amazon production of The Three-Body Problem as a film? (CE)
Born June 23, 1972 — Selma Blair, 48. Liz Sherman in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She voiced the character also in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space. (CE)
Born June 23, 2000 — Caitlin Blackwood, 20. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The God Complex”, and had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”. She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond. No idea how she was cast in the role but it was brilliantly inspired! (CE)
Born June 23, 1896 – Paul Orban. His first sale was a watercolor at age 14 for $5 – about $135 in money of 2020. Fifty years later he had done a dozen covers, some fourteen hundred interiors. Brian Aldiss said he expressed “perennial things – unending quests, great aspirations, long farewells, and a welcoming pair of arms on the far side of light.” Here is a cover for Astounding magazine. Here is a cover for Marooned on Mars. Here is an interior for The World of Null-A. Here is an interior for Norman Menasco’s “Trigger Tale”. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born June 23, 1931 – Nancy Share. With her sister Marie-Louise Share produced the fanzine Hodge-Podge for SAPS (the Spectator Amateur Press Society); with Larry Touzinsky, Fan To See (she was Art Director) which had contributions and letters from Robert Bloch, Terry Carr, Harlan Ellison, Juanita Wellons (later J. Coulson). When Wrai Ballard wrote Non-Poetry that poetry-haters might like, NS countered with Am-So Poetry. After the revelations of Ghu, Foo (or Foofoo), and Roscoe, NS proclaimed Ignatz. She married Art Rapp, the first Rosconian. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 23, 1937 – Richard Curtis, age 83. Edited the anthology Future Tense; audio anthology Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy; wrote Squirm, a movie novelization; a few shorter stories. Best known as a literary agent; contributed “Agent’s Corner” to Locus 1980-1992, collected as Mastering the Business of Writing (rev. 1996). [JH]
Born June 23, 1947 – Mark Olson, F.N., age 73. Active Boston fan; has been President and Treasurer of both NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) and MCFI (Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc., which has produced three Worldcons, four Smofcons). Chaired Boskone 23 and Noreascon 3 (47th Worldcon). Fan Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 9, Minicon 34, WindyCon 33. Fellow of NESFA, a service honor. Active with fanhistory Website fanac.org (fanac = fan activity; FANAC = Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions ran the 50th Worldcon, then started the Website); oversees Fancyclopedia 3. Fanzine, The Typo Machein. [JH]
Born June 23, 1967– Tommy Ferguson, age 53. Founded the Queen’s University of Belfast Science Fiction & Fantasy Society. Lived in Belfast, Toronto, Belfast. Long-time fanzine Tommyworld – TF beat Claire Brialey, Tom Digby, Mike Glyer, Cheryl Morgan, Ted White, and me for Best Fanwriter in the 1998 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards – now a Website. [JH]
Born June 23, 1981 – Ertaç Altinöz, age 39. Digital artist (his name actually uses a dotless-i character which in Turkish stands for a sound different from i, but the software won’t show it). Here is a cover for Clarkesworld 49. Here is Shireen Baratheon teaching Ser Davos to read. Here is “The Pointy End”, which for me recalls Princess Langwidere in Ozma of Oz. [JH]
After being officially cancelled earlier this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Free Comic Book Day is back! Though usually scheduled for the first Saturday in May each year, Diamond Comic Distributors have announced the event will take place in comic shops around the country with brand new free comics every week starting in July and running through September. Due to the length of the event now, it’s being rebranded as Free Comic Book Summer for this year. Retailers will receive five to six Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) titles in their weekly shipments during each week of the promotional window, the full slate of which you can find below.
“Every year, Free Comic Book Day is our big event to thank current comics fans, welcome back former fans and invite those new to comics to join the fun,” said Joe Field, originator of FCBD, and owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA. “In this very different year, Free Comic Book Day is more like Free Comic Book Summer… and there’s so much fun to discover in this year’s FCBD comics! So many cool stories are available for this stretched-out Free Comic Book Day 2020. I’m confident long-time fans and newcomers alike are going to find a story that’ll make them want to visit their local comic shop every week! Fans, bring your friends and family and head to your local comic shop every week starting July 15 through September 9 to check out the new, and fantastic, free comics available that week!”
(11) A RECORD NO ONE WANTS TO SURPASS. Rob Hansen has added a section on the 1970 UK Eastercon to his THEN fanhistory website, with photos and links to audiofiles.
SCI-CON the 1970 UK National Science Fiction Convention took place over the weekend of Friday, 27th March to Monday, 30th March. It was held in London at the Royal Hotel, Russell Square (located a hundred yards or so from Russell Square Underground station). It’s widely regarded as being the worst Eastercon ever held.
Well, I guess that’s frank enough!
Bill Burns’ Prologue gives immediate hints about why things didn’t go well.
…At the Oxford Eastercon in 1969, George Hay proposed with his then-usual enthusiasm that the 1970 convention should be held in London – without having done any prep work on finding a hotel (or indeed on anything else). In the absence of any other bids, George was awarded the con. At the time he was also starting something called “The Environmental Consortium” with an office in central London, whose aims were never quite clear to me, but which an on-line reference notes was one of George’s organisations to promote “applied science fiction”.
Despite winning the bid, George had no hotel, no committee, and no idea how to run a con. Derek Stokes and I looked at each other in dismay, and volunteered for the committee in the hope of steering the con at least partially along traditional lines, but George had his own agenda and couldn’t be restrained….
(12) HAMILTON. Some inside baseball about the Disney+ release of Hamilton.
An extremely rare Pokemon card, thought to be one of only seven ever produced, is up for auction online and experts said it could sell for up to $100,000.
The Pokemon Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer card, being sold by Heritage Auctions, is billed by the auction house as the “holy grail” of collectible cards and its condition was rated a perfect 10 by experts at PSA Card.
For the first time in more than three decades, research scientists have received grant money from NASA to search for intelligent life in outer space.
Specifically, the [$278K, 2 year ] grant will provide funding for a project to search for signs of life via “technosignatures.”
Grant recipient Avi Loeb of Harvard is quoted as saying:
“Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures or swarms of satellites.”
Anogher grantee, Adam Frank (University of Rochester) said:
“The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look. Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals? Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed.”
On 20 July, Nasa will get its first opportunity to launch the Perseverance rover to Mars. Here, we answer some common questions about the mission.
What will the rover do?
The Perseverance rover will land on Mars to search out signs of past microbial life, if it ever existed. It will be the first Nasa mission to hunt directly for these “biosignatures” since the Viking missions in the 1970s.
The rover will collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface for return to Earth at a future date. Perseverance will also study Martian geology and test out a way for future astronauts to produce oxygen for breathing and fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere.
In addition, a drone-like helicopter will be deployed to demonstrate the first powered flight on Mars. Perseverance will explore Mars’ Jezero Crater for at least one Martian year (about 687 Earth days).
The newly crowned world’s fastest supercomputer is being deployed in the fight against the coronavirus.
Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer claimed the top spot on Monday, carrying out 2.8 times more calculations per second than an IBM machine in the US.
The US machine, called Summit, came top of the bi-annual Top500 list the previous four times.
Fugaku’s victory broke a long run of US-China dominance, returning Japan to the top for the first time in 11 years.
Top500 ranks the world’s most powerful non-distributed computer systems.
Fugaku has already been put to work on fighting the coronavirus, simulating how droplets would spread in office spaces with partitions installed or in packed trains with the windows open.
When it is fully operational next year, experts are hoping the machine will also be able to help narrow down the search for effective treatments for the virus.
The room-sized machine lives in the city of Kobe and was developed over six years by Japanese technology firm Fujitsu and the government-backed Riken Institute. Its name is another way of saying Mount Fuji.
Its performance was measured at 415.53 petaflops, 2.8 times faster than second-place Summit’s 148.6 petaflops. The US machine is housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. A supercomputer is classified by being more than 1,000 times faster than a regular computer.
Facebook has banned users trading in historical artefacts on the site.
It follows a campaign by academic researchers and an investigation by BBC News, exposing how items looted from Iraq and Syria were sold on Facebook.
One expert welcomed the move but said for anything to change, Facebook should invest in “teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts”.
Facebook says all trade in ancient artefacts is banned on its platforms.
(19) PLAIN GOOFY. The Screen Junkies continue their look at older movies with their “Honest Trailer” on A Goofy Movie.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) FAN HISTORY PROJECT SPOTLIGHT. File 770 is late to pass on the great news, but last October Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari told everyone on his list “that we have received a request from the Library of Congress to archive our site.”
…From the letter: “The Library of Congress preserves important cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them…The Library will make this collection available to researchers at Library facilities and by special arrangement.” They may later make it publicly available as well. We’ve all seen the loss of many websites that showcase the hard work and outstanding accomplishments of fans and historians in our field. This archiving request from the Library of Congress will ensure that the work we’ve been doing with your help will be available, even after the current class of fan historians has bit the dust. Color us ecstatic. We’ll let you know when the process has completed.
The Library of Congress gives an overview of its web archiving program here.
The Library of Congress Web Archive manages, preserves, and provides access to archived web content selected by subject experts from across the Library, so that it will be available for researchers today and in the future. Websites are ephemeral and often considered at-risk born-digital content. New websites form constantly, URLs change, content changes, and websites sometimes disappear entirely. Websites document current events, organizations, public reactions, government information, and cultural and scholarly information on a wide variety of topics. Materials that used to appear in print are increasingly published online.
(2) COMPLETING THE SET. The 2020 Kurd Laßwitz Preis (German SF Award) winners now have all been named following this late selection:
Best German language audio drama first broadcast in 2019
Unser Leben in den Wäldern by Marie Darrieussecq and Gerrit Booms, WDR
….in a new blog post on the official D&D website the development studio detailed what it has been doing to tackle the game’s own history of racist stereotyping, and what will be done going forward to ensure the game tastefully represents its fantasy world.
“Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the peoples in the game—orcs and drow being two of the prime examples—have been characterized as monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated,” the new statement reads in part. “That’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in. Despite our conscious efforts to the contrary, we have allowed some of those old descriptions to reappear in the game. We recognize that to live our values, we have to do an even better job in handling these issues. If we make mistakes, our priority is to make things right.”
Going forward, D&D will be making those things right with a six-point plan. Outside of the game itself, these include the use of sensitivity readers on upcoming and current Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks as part of the creative process, and a commitment to “proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists,” a move already made for products set to release in the next year, but a policy being maintained going forward.
…From an editorial standpoint, the D&D team will also go back through material as it is being prepared for reprints, and update them to modify and remove any racially insensitive material. The adventures Tomb of Annihilation and The Curse of Strahd were cited as particular examples, with Curse of Strahd being called out specifically for its use of Romani sterotypes in the background of the Vistani, a nomadic group of travelers that primarily resided in Barovia before the death of Count Strahd von Zarovich. In the editorial process for Strahd’s reprint, as well as two upcoming products, Wizards worked with a Romani consultant to present the Vistani without using reductive tropes.
But some of the points delve into the game itself—for example, the aforementioned ongoing exploration and re-examination of Drow and Orcish cultures in the game’s fiction, beings that were long described as beastly and villainous by nature while also being approximations of non-white cultures….
…But whenever that happens, the public libraries that will emerge from this historic pause will be changed from the ones that closed their doors in March, librarians tell PW, both in the short term, and into the future.
The most pressing issue facing libraries, of course, is how to reopen safely, for both library staff and the public. For most libraries, that means services like curbside pickup or limits on patron visits to start. It means ensuring library workers have appropriate personal protective equipment, and reconfiguring the library space: less furniture, distance between computer stations, more hand sanitizer stations, spit guards, and plexiglass dividers. It means contactless checkout, new cleaning procedures, and 72-hour materials quarantines.
It also means enormous pressure on library staff, including new rules to enforce, such as physical distancing and wearing masks. None of it will be easy. And all of it will be done under the threat of job cuts, a potential second wave of Covid-19 infections, immense budget pressure, and worsening political dysfunction….
(5) NO SMOKING. During last autumn’s round of California wildfires, a Washington Post writer accompanied a salesman for treating houses with fire retardant on a visit to Dean Koontz’ estate. “California will never stop burning”.
…Thirty miles southwest of the 46 Fire, Dean Koontz, the megaselling novelist, was standing outside his enormous new home the morning after Halloween.
“We had friends who wouldn’t move to California because of earthquakes.”
Like other Californians, he has stood on a roof with a garden hose and a stance of defiance.
“They moved to the Gulf Coast and got hit by a hurricane.”
It costs a fortune to insure some homes in California. This is why Koontz invited Moseley and his team for a consultation about a defensive sprinkler system and his SPF3000 spray. Local authorities have challenged the effectiveness and safety of the product, but Moseley has testimonials from grateful clients and documentation of test results.
He also has his on-the-go demonstration. On Koontz’s front stoop, Moseley blowtorches one end of a piece of wood. It ignites, burns, starts to disintegrate. Then he torches the other side, which has been treated with SPF3000. It blackens but does not ignite. Then Moseley scrapes the charred veneer with a car key to reveal intact wood underneath….
“Impressive,” Koontz says. His Tuscan-style villa is in a gated community near Irvine. This is a place of Bentleys and catering trucks, and an air of invincibility. Koontz knows that nothing is invincible. If he were younger, maybe he’d move to a place that wasn’t quaking and conflagrating so much. Arizona, perhaps. But he loves it here.
“None of us live forever,” he says. “And you have to weigh the quality of life with the risk.”
….Born in Barcelona, Ruiz Zafón worked in advertising before he made his debut as an author in 1993 with young adult novel The Prince of Mist. In 2001, he published The Shadow of the Wind, which followed a boy called Daniel who is taken to the Cemetery of Lost Books in Barcelona and becomes fascinated by the author Julian Carax and the shadowy figure trying to eradicate every last copy of Carax’s books. The novel was translated into English by Lucia Graves in 2004, and became an international hit. “If you thought the true gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind,” said Stephen King in a review. “Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendour and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots.”
Ruiz Zafón, who moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, and divided his time between Spain and the US, has said that while he had written “pretty successful” young adult novels for 10 years, with The Shadow of the Wind he “wanted to create something very special”.
“So what I did was take what for me is very important, which is take all the great ambition in all those 19th-century novels, but try to reconstruct those big novels – the Tolstoy, the Dickens, the Wilkie Collins – but try to reconstruct all of that with all the narrative elements that the 20th century has given us, from the grammar of cinema, from multimedia, from general fiction, from everything that is out there, to create a much more intense reading experience for the readers,” he said.
He followed the bestseller up with three more novels in the series, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven and The Labyrinth of Spirits. Completing the tetralogy, he told Spanish press in 2016 that he had “the feeling of the job done”….
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 19, 1964 — The Twilight Zone finale aired.
“A swimming pool not unlike any other pool, a structure built of tile and cement and money, a backyard toy for the affluent.” — Rod Serling in his opening narration to this episode.
The Twilight Zone series finale: “The Bewitchin’ Pool” was the thirty-sixth episode of the fifth and final season. Earl Hamner, Jr., got the idea for this episode while living in the San Fernando Valley region and witnessing an alarming divorce rate and the effect it had on children. The episode was one of the first shows on television to really address the problem of divorce and bad parenting, and in part it represents wish fulfillment for children in such situations. It was directed by Joseph M. Newman from the script by Earl Hamner, Jr.
It had an unusually large cast: Mary Badham as Sport Sharewood, June Foray as Sport Sharewood (voice, outdoor scenes), Kim Hector as Witt, Dee Hartford as Gloria Sharewood, Jeffrey Byron as Jeb Sharewood, Georgia Simmons as Aunt T and Tod Andrews as Gil Sharewood.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 19, 1824 – Henri Hildibrand. Wood engraver for Hetzel, who did so much good and bad for Verne; those editions were lavishly illustrated, anyhow. This cover for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a composite of a Peter Gimbel photo and a de Neuville print Hildibrand engraved. Here is Aronnax studying the giant squid. Here is the underwater destroyed town (note de Neuville’s signature at lower left). (Died 1897) [JH]
Born June 19, 1872 – Sutton Griggs. Son of a slave; Baptist minister; active in the Nat’l Ass’n for the Advancement of Colored People; published and distributed his own books and pamphlets, thirty of them. Imperium in Imperio has a black nation hidden in Texas, outsold many contemporaries to whom he was invisible. (Died 1933) [JH]
Born June 19, 1881 – Maginel Enright. Younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright (Maginel a contraction of Margaret Ellen). Illustrated Frank Baum’s Twinkle Tales, Policeman Bluejay, Juvenile Speaker; five dozen by others. See here and here and here. Memoir, The Valley of the God-Almighty Joneses. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born June 19, 1915 – Julius Schwartz. Co-published pioneer fanzine The Time Traveller. Helped organize NyCon I the first Worldcon. Co-founded Solar Sales Service, representing Bester, Bloch, Bradbury. In reviving or re-creating the Flash, Green Lantern, and like that, instrumental in opening Silver Age of Comics. Edited Batman, Superman, fifteen years each; dozens more. Memoir Man of Two Worlds subtitled “my life in science fiction and comics”; also he was active as fan and pro; also “Man of Two Worlds” was his creation Adam Strange – in whose stories Alanna’s father Sardath looked like him. Inkpot, Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, Will Eisner Hall of Fame. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born June 19, 1921 — Louis Jourdan. Fear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two tv horror films in the late Sixties, appear to be his first venture into our realm. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later. And then comes the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. Definitely popcorn films at their very best. Oh and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born June 19, 1926 — Josef Nesvadba.A Czech writer, best known in his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd.: Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available in digital format. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born June 19, 1947 — Salman Rushdie, 73. Everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (Let the arguments begin on that statement.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Grimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well. (CE)
Born June 19, 1949 – Marilyn Kaye. Taught twenty years at St. John’s University (New York), now lives in Paris. A hundred children’s and young-adult books, four dozen ours. In her Replica series, teenage Amy’s discovering she is a clone, genetically modified for superhuman abilities, is only the beginning. In her Gifted series, each in a small middle-school class has a superhuman ability; an outside group seeks to manipulate them and their abilities for profit; the students dislike their abilities and one another. [JH]
Born June 19, 1953 — Virginia Hey, 67. Best-remembered for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fabulous Farscape series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of the KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film. No, I’ve not seen it. (CE)
Born June 19, 1957 — Jean Rabe, 63. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Rogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written according to ISFDB five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer. (CE)
June 19, 1963 – Aleksandar Žiljak. A dozen short stories; some covers and interiors, see here (his collection Blind Birds). Co-edited Ad Astra anthology of Croatian SF 1976-2006; co-edits literary SF journal Ubiq. Six SFera Awards: three for Best Story, two for Best Illustration, one (shared) for Ad Astra. The Wayback Machine has this interview. [JH]
Born June 19, 1978 — Zoe Saldana, 42, born with the lovely birth name of Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario. First genre role was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She’s Nyota Uhura in the new Trek series, and she’s also Neytiri in the Avatar franchise. She portrays Gamora in the MCU, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy, a truly great film though I’m less impressed with the second film by far. (CE)
There’s a reason why Jack Kirby, co-creator of such iconic comics characters as the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, and Captain America, is called the “King of Comics.” Considered one of the great innovators in the history of American comics, Jack Kirby (1917-1994) is arguably the greatest superhero comic book artist of all time.
In the new graphic biography, Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, comics artist and biographer Tom Scioli pays tribute to Kirby in a vividly illustrated and comprehensively researched examination of Kirby’s life and career from his rough and tumble childhood growing up on the Lower East Side of New York in the early 20th century to his military service in WWII to the transformative comics he created for Marvel and later for DC Comics….
(11) SACKY HACK. This is real thinking outside the box.
(12) MARCH OF TIME. At the LA Review of Books, Aleida Rodriguez’s autobiographical essay “Time Machine”, in addition to Wells and Borges, even mentions Clyde Crashcup from the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.
WHEN I LANDED in the US as a child of nine, I felt I had not only traveled in space but also in time. Though it was 1962, behind me lay a 19th-century world of oil lamps, muddy rutted roads, and horse-drawn carts, while before me flickered a vision so sleek and modern there were no shadows and bright-green lawns sprouted cones of mist.
Time traveler became my invisible identity. Secretly, I searched for mentors in movies like The Time Machine (1960), envying Rod Taylor his ability to go back and forth, to witness and control the passage of time. Propelled and buoyed by a utopian vision of the future, he set off, watching the rising hemline on a mannequin in a shop window, then the shop itself disintegrating to dust in an instant, the surrounding buildings crumbling and disappearing, replaced by insect-like cranes scampering on skyscrapers. His present had succumbed to shattered shards. But by moving a crystal-topped lever sharpened to a point like a pen, he could also reverse direction and return to his intact and cloistered world of waistcoats.
I yearned for that, a trip back — not to Bountiful but to a prelapsarian time, before the rupture in my family caused by the Cuban revolution….
A German-Russian space telescope has just acquired a breakthrough map of the sky that traces the heavens in X-rays.
The image records a lot of the violent action in the cosmos – instances where matter is being accelerated, heated and shredded.
Feasting black holes, exploding stars, and searingly hot gas.
The data comes from the eRosita instrument mounted on Spektr-RG.
This orbiting telescope was launched in July last year and despatched to an observing position some 1.5 million km from Earth. Once commissioned and declared fully operational in December, it was left to slowly rotate and scan the depths of space.
eRosita’s first all-sky data-set, represented in the image at the top of this page, was completed only last week. It records over a million sources of X-rays.
“That’s actually pretty much the same number as had been detected in the whole history of X-ray astronomy going back 60 years. We’ve basically doubled the known sources in just six months,” said Kirpal Nandra, who heads the high-energy astrophysics group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany.
(14) QUARANTINE CAT FILM FESTIVAL. This looks promising!
The most purr-fect, a-meow-zing, and totally fur-tastic cat videos anyone has ever seen!
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Frank Olynyk, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) MISKATONIC SCHOLARSHIP. Scott Gray is the 2020 winner of George R. R. Martin’s Miskatonic Scholarship, which supports a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop.
As a boy, Martin came across his first story by H. P. Lovecraft. He says, “I had never read a story that scared me more . . . so of course I sought out more Lovecraft wherever I could find it.” Martin’s love of weird fiction grew, and he found that “No werewolf, no vampire, no thing going bump in the night could give me chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked.”
With the annual Miskatonic Scholarship, Martin hopes to provide “encouragement and inspiration to a new generation of writers.” And to one special scholarship candidate, Martin wants to offer the opportunity to learn and improve at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, one of the top programs in the world for writers of the fantastic. The scholarship covers full tuition and housing at the workshop.
Scott Gray lives in New Hampshire.
…He developed a love of stories as a young boy, especially those that transported him to other worlds.
…Jeanne Cavelos, one of the scholarship judges and director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, says, “The other judges and I loved the unique way that Scott’s story brought heart and a deep sense of humanity to this tale of cosmic horror. It evoked not only fear but also hope and joy.”
(2) FEELING DISCONNECTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Michael Cavna has a piece in the Washington Post about how comedians miss people getting together in groups and laughing. Among the people Cavna talks to are Pixar head Pete Docter, who says that Soul is being edited in hundreds of homes of Pixar employees, and Patton Oswalt, who says that when he performs, “each crowd is its own separate sentient living thing” and without an audience, “you lose a check-in with humanity. You lose a reminder that ‘OK, I’m connected with the planet–I’m connected with the present.” “Without movie theaters, we’re missing communal laughter: ‘You lose a check-in with humanity’’.
…Docter, the chief creative officer of Pixar, says that early filmmakers, in both animation and live-action, understood how their movies were made to be seen with an audience.
“Strange pauses and gaps in Bugs Bunny cartoons suddenly made sense when I saw them with a live audience — those blank areas were filled with audience laughter,” Docter says while self-quarantining in his Bay Area home. “The same was true of Laurel and Hardy and [Buster] Keaton films — they were timed to allow space for the audience to respond.”
Locus Awards Weekend, June 26-28, 2020 in Seattle WA
We are keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 status, and will be diligent about canceling as needed. At this time it seems likely we will not have a physical event, but we are exploring virtual alternatives. We are in a holding pattern and have suspended general ticket sales.
(4) DISNEY WORLD MEETS FLORIDA MAN. Really, you’d think it would have happened before now. From behind a paywall at The Week:
A Florida man has been caught trying to self-isolate on a private island in Disney World. Richard McGuire, 42, insisted that he hadn’t seen the numerous ‘no trespassing signs’ on the island, or heard the loudspeaker warnings from Disney officials who became aware of his presence. He claimed to be ‘unaware’ of the police helicopter that hovered overhead because he was asleep on an abandoned building on Discovery Island. When he was arrested, McGuire told police it felt as if he’d discovered a ‘tropical paradise.’
(5) CLOCKING IN. In “Here’s How Time Works Now” at McSweeney’s, Eli Grober has the 411 about the changing nature of time. For example —
You may remember that a day used to take place over the course of 24 hours. We felt this was too much. A day is now over the moment you first ask yourself, “What time is it?”
It does not matter what time it actually is when you do this. As soon as you ask or think, “What time is it” for the first time that day, even if it is still ten in the morning, it will suddenly be eight at night. Does that make sense?
(6) THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. And it feels appropriate to follow with The Lewis Carroll Society of North America’s post “If you knew Time …”, a collection of links to resources about the author.
“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.”
For so many of us, this topsy-turvy world of shelter-in-place has left us with time on our hands. Our president, Linda Cassady, has some suggestions for some fine online Carrollian resources. And who knows? You might discover some unknown or little-known item or a fresh perspective that we can tell the world about!
(7) TAKE THE CHALLENGE. “Antidepressants or Tolkien”— it’s a quiz. The Filer who sent the link says, “It’s more difficult than you would expect.” I racked up a score of 17/24.
(8) A PIONEER. In this video the late D.C. Fontana being interviewed by Rob Word from the A Word On Westerns podcast. Her comments are mostly regarding the shows for which she wrote episodes and bounced from westerns to sci-fi and back.
President Donald Trump on Saturday shared a heavily altered video clip from the 1996 film Independence Day in which it appears that he gives the iconic speech from the President of the United States.
Not only is Trump superimposed, but so are others in the crowd, including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Jr., as well as Fox News’ personalities Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.
As of 8:30 p.m., the president’s post had been retweeted 50,000 times and had more than 153,000 “likes.”
Actor Bill Pullman, who played President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day, was among those who saw the clip. And he responded.
“My voice belongs to no one but me, and I’m not running for president — this year,” Pullman told The Hollywood Reporter.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 18, 1962 —They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn’t seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in the Twilight Zone. — Intro narration. On this date The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” an episode based on a story by Ray Bradbury. Although Bradbury contributed several scripts to the series, this was the only one produced. The script was written by Bradbury himself. An large ensemble cast was needed, hence Josephine Hutchinson, David White, Vaughn Taylor, Doris Packer, Veronica Cartwright, Susan Crane and Charles Herbert all being performers. This was the year that the entire season of the series won Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon III.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz. Typoed by Mike Glyer.]
Born May 16, 1918 — Sam Dann. Scriptwriter who wrote 311 episodes of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater between 1974 and 1982. The show despite its name broadcast a lot of horror and science fiction stories as well. Much of his work was adaptations such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Murder on the Space Shuttle (Holmes meets Rogers!), the SF content was largely his. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born May 18, 1919 – Margot Fonteyn. Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; named prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet by Elizabeth II. Danced many fantasies e.g. The Firebird, Giselle, Raymonda, Swan Lake. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born May 16, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker Man, Shiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection. Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think I read is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born May 18, 1931 – Don Martin. Album covers for Prestige Records (Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Stan Getz). A cover and thirty interiors for Galaxy. Mad’s Maddest Artist, of hinged feet, onomatopoeia – his car license plate was SHTOINK – and National Gorilla Suit Day. Fourteen collections. Ignatz Award, Nat’l Cartoonists Society’s Special Features Award, Will Eisner Hall of Fame. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born May 18, 1948 – R-Laurraine Tutihasi. Active in fanzines, the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; won its Kaymar and Franson awards), and otherwise. Loccer (“loc” also “LoC” = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) at least as far back as Algol and The Diversifier, also Janus, Tightbeam, Broken Toys. Her own fanzine is Purrsonal Mewsings. [JH]
Born May 16, 1952 — Diane Duane, 68. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! (CE)
Born May 16, 1958 — Jonathan Maberry, 62. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has a high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with Sriracha sauce. I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. (CE)
Born May 16, 1958 — Toyah Willcox, 62. English actress who’s done quite a bit of genre work starting with being in The Quatermass Conclusion as Sal and then again in the Quatermass series. She shows up on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Janet, and as Dog in the superb Ink Thief series. She plays Dialta Downes in Tomorrow Calling based off Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum“ with the screenplay by Tim Leandro. (CE)
Born May 18, 1959 – Debbie Dadey. A hundred sixty books, of which six dozen are (with Marcia Jones) short Bailey School Kids, also Ghostville Elementary, The Keyholders. Int’l Reading Ass’n Children’s Choice, Young Adults’ Choice awards; ABC Best Book for Children; Sunshine State Young Reader’s Awards. [JH]
Born May 18, 1959 – Sophie Masson. Member of the Order of Australia. Forty novels, twenty shorter stories. Aurealis Award for The Hand of Glory. [JH]
Born May 17, 1963 – Greg Beatty. Ph.D. in English. Rhysling Award. Stories, poems, articles, essays, reviews, interviews, in Abyss & Apex, Aeon, Asimov’s, Audiofile, Helios, Independent Scholar, Internet Review of SF, N.Y. Review of SF, Philological Quarterly, SF Studies, Starline, Strange Horizons, Tangent Online. Children’s picture books too. [JH]
…With the rainbow-solid queer credentials brought to the table by creator Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes, Nimona, The Fire Never Goes Out) and her team, and with the equally sparkling queer representation present in the series from the very beginning (Bow’s nerdy dads, thirtysomething Princess couple Spinerella and Netossa, Scorpia’s whole Scorpianess), fans needn’t have worried that their favorite friends-to-enemies lesbian ‘ship would right itself in the end. Still, when the frenemies’ long-awaited admission of love gave Adora enough strength to stop that apocalyptic countdown in the final minutes of “Heart Part 2,” you could almost feel the internet breathe a collective sigh of relieved joy.
While much of the world is in lockdown, youngsters in one very unusual classroom are still having lessons.
At a forest school in Borneo, baby orangutans learn tree-climbing skills from their human surrogate parents.
The orphans spend 12 hours a day in the forest, preparing for a new life in the wild.
The orangutans were filmed and photographed before coronavirus struck, for the TV series Primates, on BBC One.
With human contact routinely kept to a minimum, life goes on much as before for the animals, says Dr Signe Preuschoft, leader of ape programmes for the charity Four Paws, which runs the rehabilitation centre in East Kalimantan.
As a precaution, the staff now have temperature checks, wear facemasks and change into uniforms on site.
…The young orphaned apes climb high into the treetops with their caregivers to help them acquire the skills they would have learned from their mothers in the wild.
They would otherwise spend more time on the ground than is natural for a species that feeds, lives and sleeps in the canopies of trees.
Baby orangutans have a huge advantage when it comes to climbing, as they can hold on “like an octopus”, says Dr Preuschoft.
“I think the orangutans were really completely thrilled when they realised that they could actually be in a canopy together with one of their moms,” she adds.
At least a dozen supercomputers across Europe have shut down after cyber-attacks tried to take control of them.
A pan-European supercomputing group says they seem to have tried to use the machines to mine cryptocurrency.
“A security exploitation” disabled access to the Archer supercomputer, at the University of Edinburgh, on 11 May.
Staff said they were working with the National Cyber Security Centre to restore the system, which had recently installed a pandemic modelling tool.
“We now believe this to be a major issue across the academic community as several computers have been compromised in the UK and elsewhere in Europe,” the team said.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “At Home With Roz Chast” on Vimeo is a portrait of the New Yorker cartoonist.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Dann, Michael Toman, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]
(1) MURDERBOT READING TOMORROW. The New York Review of Books will host online a “Martha Wells Book Launch Party” on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. EDT
On the eagerly awaited occasion of the publication of “Network Effect,” Martha Wells’ fifth “Murderbot” story and the first full-length novel in the series, Ms. Wells will read from her work and then be interviewed by guest host/curator Amy Goldschlager.
(2) SHUFFLE AND REDEAL. At the Wild Cards blog, Bradley Denton thinks it’s time for Howard Waldrop to tell the current generation all about how “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway” (which I think of as “Jetboy’s Last Adventure”) became the series’ origin story — “Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!”
…HW: Of course! And another is – You’ll recall in “The Annotated Jetboy,” where I talk about Danny Deck writing the biography of Jetboy? Danny Deck is the hero of Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. And of course he writes Godot Is My Co-Pilot: A Life of Jetboy.
…Anyway, I was gonna do the Jetboy story about the A-bomb for Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and either Lew or Bud (sf authors Lewis Shiner and Walton “Bud” Simons, both Austin-based at the time, like Howard), I can’t remember which, said, “You should talk to George. George and that bunch in New Mexico have been playing a superhero role-playing game, and they’ve spent so much time and money on it that they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a book. You oughta tell him about this Jetboy thing, because it sounds like something that would fit in there.” If it was Lew I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Bud, and if it was Bud I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Lew. One or the other of ‘em knew more about it than the other one did, right?
See, I didn’t even know about this. George hadn’t mentioned it to me in a letter or anything. So I wrote to George, and I said, “I’ve got a story that might fit with whatever goddamn thing you’re doing. You should tell me about it.”
So he sent me the prototype Cut and Shuffle, which was all about what was going on in the Wild Cards world before anyone else even knew what it was. And I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right, I can work with that. But your timeline is all wrong.” See, they were gonna start it in the 1980s, with the world having gone on for thirty years.
BD: Oh, so they weren’t initially going to do an origin story? They were going to jump into the world of Wild Cards three decades on?
HW: Right, exactly. I said, “That’s all wrong! You gotta tell how all this came about!” So I got them to tell me all the stuff about Dr. Tachyon, and the virus, and the whole thing, y’know. And I stuck it sideways into the Jetboy/A-bomb story, and sent it to George.
And of course George says, “When we send you stuff, you should read it! You got all this stuff wrong!” I said, “Ah, that’s your job! You can fix that!”
(3) ANIMAL CROSSING BANK FRAUD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a front-page article by Leo Lewis and Robin Wigglesworth in the April 29 Financial Times.
“Savers at Nintendo’s the Bank of Nook are being driven to speculate on turnips and tarantulas, as the most popular video game of the coronavirus era mimics central bankers by making steep cuts in interest rates…
The estimate 12m players of the Japanese gaming group’s cartoon fantasy ANIMAL CROSSING were informed last week about the move, in which the Bank of Nook slashed the interest on savings from 0.5 percent to just 0.05 percent: 1,9m bells, the in-game currency, can be bought online for about $1…
…It did not take long, however, for players to spot that they could defraud the game’s bank by depositing large sums in savings accounts and then ‘time travelling’ by tweaking the console’s internal clock. The bank duly paid decades of interest, making rapid bell millionaires. People familiar with the practice said the Bank of Nook rate cut was an effort to curb the practice. Nintendo has made no official comment on the matter.”
Fans of Edward Cullen, the brooding vampire hero from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling “Twilight” series, will have something fresh to bite into this summer.
Ms. Meyer announced on Monday that “Midnight Sun,” the new novel in her vampire romance series, will be published on Aug. 4, more than a decade after the original story concluded.
“I thought seriously about delaying this announcement until things were back to normal,” Ms. Meyer said in a statement. “However, that felt wrong, considering how long those who are eager for this book have already waited.”…
This free intermediate level writing course includes essays, practicals, and 13 video presentations featuring Writers of the Future judges: David Farland, Tim Powers, and Orson Scott Card.
By the end of the workshop, you should have a short story completed. If you are qualified (see the rules here), you can enter your story in the Writers of the Future Contest. The twelve annual winners will be flown out to Hollywood for the week-long live workshop with a full roster of Contest judges and publishing professionals teaching as well as giving you their advice on how to make it as professional writers.
Enter your email address to start the course. You will also receive Writers of the Future newsletters with writing tips and special offers. You can unsubscribe at any time.
(6) 2020 PULITZER PRIZES. Columbia University today announced the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
There was no genre work among the winners, although 2020 Fiction winner Colson Whitehead has won before for the sff novel Underground Railraod (2017). Indeed, Whitehead now is just the fourth author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. The others are Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner and John Updike. (The winners in journalism are at the link.)
LETTERS AND DRAMA
Fiction “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Drama “A Strange Loop” by Michael R. Jackson
History “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America” by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)
Biography “Sontag: Her Life and Work” by Benjamin Moser (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Poetry “The Tradition” by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
General Nonfiction “The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care” by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
Music “The Central Park Five” by Anthony Davis, premiered by Long Beach Opera on June 15, 2019
While many people are observing May 4 as Star Wars Day by saying “may the fourth be with you,” local Star Trek fan Lisa Donnelly has opted to instead just say “happy holidays.”
“Star Wars doesn’t have a monopoly on holidays that take place on May 4, you know,” said Donnelly. “There’s National Bird Day, Latvian Independence Day, and one of the non-canonical dates for Star Trek’s Federation Day is right around the corner on May 8. Those days deserve just as much recognition as some manufactured holiday celebrating a science fantasy movie series for kids.”….
The origin of the phrase is thought to date back to May 4, 1979. On this day, Conservatives in the United Kingdom published a newspaper advertisement to congratulate their candidate, Margaret Thatcher, for taking the Prime Minister’s office. The advertisement said “May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations”.
(8) NEW STAR WARS MOVIE. Naturally, this is also the logical day for announcing the franchise’s new project. Lisa Richwine, in the Yahoo! News story “Taika Waititi to direct and co-write a new ‘Star Wars’ movie with ‘1917’ screenwriter” says that Disney announced a bunch of Star Wars-related projects on StarWars Day, most notably that Taika Waititi will direct a new Star Wars and co-write it with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, nominated for an Oscar for her work on 1917.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 4, 1962 — The Twilight Zone aired “The Dummy”. It was written by: Rod Serling from an unpublished story by Lee Polk. It was directed by Abner Biberman and produced by Buck Houghton. It starred Cliff Robertson, Frank Sutton and George Murdock. An average ventriloquist finds he has a not-so-average and quite horrifying dummy. The plot here would later influence many other series including Batman: The Animated Series with their own terrifying animated apparent dummy.
You’re watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet ‘Willie.’ In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 4, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull faced Bombers and fInally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
Born May 4, 1913 — John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. DCUniverse streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.)
Born May 4, 1920 — Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to Sunday. Ride the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.)
Born May 4, 1942 — CN Manlove, 78. His major work is Modern Fantasy: Five Studies which compares the work of Kingsley, MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Peake. Other works include Science Fiction: Ten Explorations, The Impulse of Fantasy Literature and From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England.
Born May 4, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 77. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early cons and published an APA, the Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Tell me about him.
Born May 4, 1956 — Murray McArthur, 63. He first shows on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Born May 4, 1914 — James Bacon. He was in all five films in the Planet of the Apes franchise, the only actor to do so. He portrayed an ape in each of the films with the exception of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which he played a human, General Faulkner. This was the only film of the ‘Ape’ series in which he was credited. He also showed in Roddenberry’s Planet Earth as Partha. (Died 2010.)
Born May 4, 1977 — Gail Carriger, 43. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moirai Cook does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well.
Nick Frost and Simon Pegg’s UK-based production company, Stolen Picture, has optioned the rights to Ben Aaronovitch’s best-selling novel series Rivers of London.
Aaronovitch is currently working on the adaption of the first novel, also named Rivers of London. He will also serve as an Executive Producer on the series alongside Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Stolen Picture CEO, Miles Ketley.
A Sunday Times best-seller, Rivers of London was first published in 2011, earning Aaronovitch a nomination in the New Writer of The Year category at the National Book Awards in 2011 and has spawned a popular graphic novel series. Each subsequent novel has also charted in the Sunday Times Top Ten Best-Seller list.
The crime/supernatural crossover follows the adventures of Peter Grant, a young mixed race police officer who, following an encounter with a ghost finds himself working for The Folly, a secret Scotland Yard department that deals with supernatural crime. The Times described Rivers of London as “an incredibly fast-moving magical joyride for grown-ups”.The Rivers of London franchise has been published in more than 15 languages and, to date, has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
“Nick Frost and Simon Pegg asked me if I wanted to make Rivers of London with them – you think I was going to say no? Stolen Picture have a reputation for making creator led TV with the minimum of corporate bollocks and the maximum of fun. It’s an opportunity I would be bonkers to say no to” says Ben Aaronovitch.
[Mark] Hamill will portray an ancient vampire in Jemaine Clement‘s FX series What We Do in the Shadows and EW has your first look at the character — fangs and all. The episode titled “On the Run,” set to air May 13, will introduce a vengeful enemy from Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) past who appears without warning to settle a personal debt. This causes Laszlo to flee his home and go into hiding.
…I should be clear and up front about something: I may be a somewhat biased reviewer in a regard, but not in the way that you might think. You see, good reader, I am a relation but not a direct descendant of Charles Dickens, so that a novel where his literary creation escapes into the real world was and is always one I would be extremely interested in. I’ve read and been interested in Dickens’ work from a young age. His work has always been part of my life.
I can happily report that this novel is extremely literate and considerate with the work of Dickens, what it means and where it comes from. The novel feels like the author’s own coming to terms with Dickens’ work in a real and palpable way, as well as Victoriana and Edwardiana in a real and palpable way.
Susan and Kitty are schooling you on the Top 10 Fictional Schools in pop culture. From prestigious prep academies to borderline lethal boarding schools, which esteemed educational institutions will make the grade?
For example —
2. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Located at 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County, New York, this school for mutants has gone by many names- Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, X-Haven, and most currently the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach.
This school provides a safe place for young mutants to receive education both in traditional schooling and also the control and understanding of their powers. Kitty Pryde is currently the headmistress. The school motto is “Mutatis Mutandis” meaning “once the necessary changes have been made”.
Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria.
The team in Kenya and the UK say the finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease.
Malaria is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, so protecting them could in turn protect people.
The researchers are now investigating whether they can release infected mosquitoes into the wild, or use spores to suppress the disease.
…”The data we have so far suggest it is 100% blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria,” Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya told the BBC.
He added: “It will come as a quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough.”
…General Mills took to Instagram to reveal its newest creation. As described on the packaging, the cereal consists of sweetened corn puffs with marshmallows. All of the green marshmallows are in the shape of The Child’s head, which is reason enough to give this bite a shot, if you ask us.
[Thanks to JJ, Darrah Chavey, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
Playful, whimsical, or dark, but always thoughtful and tinged with the inexplicably weird, the Weird Dream Society brings together some of the most innovative creators in speculative fiction. Most of the book consists of reprints with a few new stories to round it out.
The anthology includes stories by Nathan Ballingrud, Carina Bissett, Gregory Norman Bossert, Karen Bovenmyer, Christopher Brown, Emily Cataneo, Julie C. Day, Michael J Deluca, Gemma Files, A.T. Greenblatt, Nin Harris, Chip Houser, James Patrick Kelly, Marianne Kirby, Kathrin Köhler, Matthew Kressel, Jordan Kurella, Premee Mohamed, Sarah Read, Sofia Samatar, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Steve Toase, and A.C. Wise.
In addition to his fictional work, author and artist Gregory Norman Bossert generously donated the anthology’s cover illustration.
Proceeds from this charity anthology go to support RAICES, the nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families, and refugees. With offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, RAICES is “a frontline organization in the roiling debate about immigration and immigrants in the world.”
…But I’ve never been one for rules or guidelines, and really neither is this collection. I will say, I knew a few of these stories ahead of time, they were favorites published in off beat anthologies and magazines back in the day, so seeing them here was a joy and a promise of things to come. You know an anthology is going to be good when you recognize some of your favorites right away….
JK Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter adventures, is donating £1m to charities supporting vulnerable people during the lockdown.
Half of the money will go to Crisis which helps homeless people, and half to Refuge to support victims of domestic abuse.
Rowling’s donations come amid #HarryPotterDay on Twitter.
Saturday also marks the anniversary of one the author’s major events in her stories.
On Twitter, Rowling said: “Today’s the 22nd anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, but I am going to be honest and say that it feels inappropriate to talk about fictional deaths.
“Too many people are losing loved ones in the real world.”
Rowling, who wrote many of her Harry Potter stories while living in Edinburgh, said many vulnerable people who were homeless or in an abusive relationship were suffering at this time.
(3) COMMUNITY RALLIES. Shelf Awareness reports an epic fundaising success to help comics and book stores.
In five days, #Creators4Comics raised $433,166 for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to support comics stores and indie bookstores hurt by Covid-19. The group’s charity auction featured 635 separate auctions on Twitter and other platforms by comics creators, authors and celebrities.
“Comic shops and indie bookstores have supported so many of us,” said Kami Garcia, author of the graphic novel Teen Titans: Raven, who brought the organizers together. “They aren’t just places where we buy books and comics. These stores are places where we find belonging.”
Among the participants were Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswalt, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Joe Hill, Shannon Hale, Mike Mignola, Brad Meltzer, Mariko Tamaki, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Gene Luen Yang, Tom King, Bryan Edward Hill, Jason Aaron, Marc Guggenheim, Gail Simone, Vita Ayala, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cassandra Clare, Marieke Nijkamp, Margaret Stohl, Jock, Mico Suayan, and G. Willow Wilson. Seth Meyers, Damon Lindeloff and Robert Kirkman made generous matching donations.
Since March 13, 135 comics retailers and their households have received more than $150,950 in financial assistance for rent, food and essential medications from Binc–more than double the amount distributed last year to this sector of the book industry. In total, 722 comic book stores have now applied for aid….
…Well, some might say that reading genre fiction is a bit like ordering pulled-pork sandwiches over and over, that it makes you predictable (i.e. boring). Others might add that writing genre fiction is little more than an act of trying to resuscitate long-dead tropes while trying to pass off cheap imitations as original work. Given these two stereotypical notions, especially within the writing community, there can be a lot of shame or defensiveness around reading or writing these kinds of stories. Therefore, I feel the need to present an argument in defense of genre fiction, its readers, and its writers….
The development and execution of The Twilight Zone and its induction into the annals of TV history is a story of an obsessive need for acceptance on many levels.
Submitted for your approval:
Exhibit A: Rod Serling, Zone’s creator, executive producer, central writing force, and charismatic host. The show’s popularity preyed upon his endless reservoir of ideas, originally inspired by his obsession with the past and his preoccupation with aging, mixed in with a measure of courage and faith, and the survival techniques he learned in the army….
[A stunning new nature documentary by world famous publisher, naturalist and national treasure Sir Timothy Cattenborough]
Our beautiful planet Earth. From up here on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro we can see the vast vistas of nature’s own miracles and what greater miracle can there be than the majestic novel — one of the natural world’s most miraculous miracles.
Here I am in the forests of Borneo gazing in wonder at the spectacular site of thousands of novels making their nests among the natural shelving of the great pine trees of northern Scandinavia. Whether it is these great majestic creatures of the plains of Patagonia or the more common domesticated novel of these rolling hills of Southern England, the novel is a familiar sight to us all.
But very few people have ever managed to see the hidden lifecycle of a novel. How are they born? How do they grow? And how, via the miracle of evolution do they reproduce? Today, via special cameras disguised as robots disguised as librarians we have, over a gruelling five minute project, at last gained unique footage of the novel’s lifecycle….
The “Star Wars”-sweet venue, which also celebrates a number of different fandoms via a host of events, will celebrate May the Fourth by offering 21+ fans Wretched Blue Milk Snack Packs for $11.38 each.
(8) TEMPTING TIDBITS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Not directly SF (although McPhee has written about Freeman Dyson, just not here.)
The Patch, John McPhee’s newest [in 2019] (and 7th) collection of short pieces, has two parts:
six long sports or sport-related articles (mostly golf) (~ 90 pages)
“an album quilt” — ~130 pages of dozens of his shorter articles (or excerpts from same)
In case “John McPhee” and “new collection of short pieces” isn’t enough to make you borrow or buy the book, here’s links to 3 sections of quilt, and if these aren’t enough to get you to borrow or buy this book (and, by extension, proceed to read more of his books), well, then more wouldn’t help.
1, “Pools and pools and pools of chocolate — fifty-thousand pound, ninety-thousand pound, Olympus-length pools of chocolate…”
2. [Found via Google Books.] “When Martha, my youngest daughter, was seventeen, her English teacher–Mrs. Thomas–write forty-seven vocabulary words on the blackboard and told the class to write a short composition using all forty-seven words: aspersion, audacious, avarice, blanch…”
“Joseph Martin, computer methodologist at the [New York] Times, has been pursuing for some years what he describes as ‘the ideal philosophy of creating a newspaper’… you start by ‘capturing the keystroke at the origin.'”
(DPD notes, the first URL does not contain the full text of what’s in the book.)
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 2, 1952 — Tales Of Tomorrow aired its “Red Dust” episode. As the copy provided not the network says, “The first human mission to another solar system loses 2 crew on a red dust-covered planet, which once had an advanced civilization. Due to allergies, neither of the shipmates got anti-radiation shots, so the remaining crew aren’t concerned about their own return to Earth. But then the red dust starts to appear everywhere on the space ship.” It was directed by Don Medford from a script by Irving Elman from the play by noted SF writer Theodore Cogswell, a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. His “The Wall Around the World” novelette as published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4. The cast was Fred Stewart, Lex Barker, Skedge Miller and Robert Patten. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 2, 1890 — E. E. “Doc” Smith. Best-known for the Lensman and Skylark series. I note that multiple sources say he is called the father of space opera. Is he indeed that? Another author I know I’ve read quite a lot of but would be hard pressed to say exactly what I’ve read decades on. (Died 1965.)
Born May 2, 1921 — Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English as most of us don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories, Classic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.)
Born May 2, 1924 — Theodore Bikel. He was on Next Generation playing the foster parent to Worf in the “Family” episode playing CPO Sergey Rozhenko, ret.. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Bikel also guest-appeared on The Twilight Zone in “Four O’Clock” as Oliver Crangle. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragorn in the animated The Return of the King. By the way, Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs is quite excellent. (Died 2015.)
Born May 2, 1925 — John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did so. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
Born May 2, 1941 — Paul Darrow. He‘s best remembered for playing Kerr Avon in Blake’s 7. He also had two appearances on Doctor Who, playing Captain Hawkins in Doctor Who and the Silurians, a Third Doctor story, and later Trekker in Timelash, a Sixth Doctor story. He also played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Link” in the Science Fiction series. (Died 2019.)
Born May 2, 1942 — Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.)
Born May 2, 1946 — David Suchet, 74. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock,” simply called Landlord. Don’t let don’t deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time times to time including Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Harry and the Hendersons, Dr. No: The Radio Play, Wing Commander, Tales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
Born May 2, 1946 — Leslie S. Klinger, 74. Editor and annotator of Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein, as well as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, and the stories of H. P. Lovecraft. I particularly recommend his Sandman annotations as Gaiman was actively involved in them and they’re quite interesting.
Born May 2, 1948 — Bob Null. Very long-time LASFS member who was the club’s VP for an equally long period. Fancyclopedia3 say that “He also sat on the Board of Directors, and frequently handled logistics for local conventions including both Loscon and local Worldcons, and was always one of those nearly invisible hard-working people who make fandom work. He is a Patron Saint of LASFS.” (Died 2010.)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Grant Snider of Incidental Comics captures the present season of the world.
(12) JOB LOSSES. Condolences to gifted editors Diana M. Pho, Diana Gill, and Melissa Frain who were among Macmillan’s COVID-19 employee layoffs.
Streaming service Deezer is developing technology to automatically detect explicit content in songs.
The company has been looking into the issue because record labels often fail to identify offensive lyrics when they submit songs, it explained.
In fact, it said, a “substantially large part” of its library did not have a tag indicating whether or not a song contained strong language or themes.
In response, it is researching a way of automatically flagging up such content.
Although the technology is not yet “fit for tagging songs as explicit in a fully automated manner,” it could be used to help humans identify potentially explicit material.
The problem has grown exponentially bigger over the last couple of years, with profanities cropping up ever-more frequently in mainstream pop songs by the likes of Ariana Grande and Beyonce.
Added to that, a streaming service like Deezer can receive up to 40,000 new tracks every day, making it impossible for humans to review all the lyrical content.
Parents are particularly keen to screen out explicit content – but while mainstream services like Deezer, Apple and Amazon Music offer the ability to “turn off” explicit songs, the results are patchy at best.
Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer is not a fan of the word “very.”
“It’s not a dreadful word,” he allows, but “it’s one of my little pet words to do without if you can possibly do without it.”
“Very” and its cousins “rather” and “really” are “wan intensifiers,” Dreyer explains. In their place, he advises that writers look for a strong adjective that “just sits very nicely by itself” on the page. For example, “very smart” people can be “brilliant” and “very hungry” people can be “ravenous.”
Dreyer gets the final say over questions related to grammar, style and clarity at Random House. Now he’s sharing his writing advice in the new book Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.
“Words are my business, and the meaning of words is my business,” he says. “To watch language twisted and distorted — that gets under my skin and makes me unhappy.”
…A much smarter option for dodging the duvet is employed by space pirate captain Kraiklyn in Ian M Banks’ novel Consider Phlebas. He could put each side of his brain to sleep individually so he could stay constantly awake and no one could sneak up on him in bed. The downside was that his personality changed depending on whether his left or right brain was in charge.
Generally, though, catnap-compressing contraptions are surprisingly rare in speculative fiction — it seems sleep is just too fundamental a human requirement for even sci-fi writers to mess with. Still, that doesn’t stop us trying out all manner of apps and sleep trackers to improve the quality of our kip….
The sci-fi story follows a prisoner (Bruce Willis) plucked by scientists to time travel (though the filmmakers prefer to think of it as “mind travel”) to the mid-’90s to discover the root of the virus, which is thought to be generated by an anarchist faction known as The Army of the 12 Monkeys.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Conspiracy Cruise” on Vimeo is a short film by Brad Abrahams that asks what happens when members of conspiracy fandom on a cruise are attacked by the conspiracy!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Julie C. Day, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]