Longshot Press, run by Daniel Scott White, opened a new round of trolling its critics this weekend.
One avenue of attack was the email some received today (click for a larger image).
Two of White’s magazines were the subject of complaints in February 2020, first publicly identified by Benjamin C,. Kinney. The opening paragraph of File 770’s roundup “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both” recaps what the issues were at the time:
UnrealandUnfitmagazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.
SFWA followed up with a statement on Facebook warning about these practices in March 2020. After that, Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White spent the rest of the year attacking SFWA in a series of eight posts on his personal blog The Land of Words. In other posts he contended the public rejection ratings were really a form of award. On the Longshot Press website itself he sought to discredit SFWA in “A Clear Bias at the SFWA” [Internet Archive link].
Unfit Magazine’s Twitter account has trolled Kinney and Jim C. Hines before (Hines, because in December he responded to the Longshot Press attack on SFWA in a Twitter thread that starts here.) Here are screencaps of Unfit’s new round of attacks.
People’s approach to trolls swings back and forth between denying them the oxygen of attention and exposing their abuses to the sunlight. This weekend the sun came out.
…Still, after the success of Star Wars, Foster found himself a go-to person for movie novelizations. Over the years, he’s penned dozens of novelizations for franchises like Aliens, Star Trek, Dark Star, The Black Hole, Clash of the Titans, Outland, The Thing, Krull, The Last Starfighter, Starman, The Chronicles of Riddick, and others. They were all written in addition to his own original novels.
The nature of a work-for-hire contract means an author who’s written a tie-in novel will have little control over where their story ends up; how characters, situations, or details are used after they turn in their manuscript; and even the copyright of the work itself. It’s a tradeoff: Foster might not own the book, but the product may provide a steady revenue stream for years, especially if the franchise is popular with audiences. Write enough of them, and those tributaries will feed a healthy river.
Shortly after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox last year, Foster says that his royalties for his Alien novels stopped coming. He and his agent first attempted to resolve the issue with the book’s publisher, Warner Books. According to Foster’s agent Vaughn Hansen, while Foster and the organization [SFWA] were working to uncover the provenance of those rights, it became clear there were also missing payments for his Star Wars novels….
Unpaid royalties appear to be an issue that affects other writers. Four additional authors have come forward to Polygon to confirm that they haven’t been paid royalties for work now owned by Disney, for works that appear to have been transferred to other publishers: Rob MacGregor, who wrote the tie-in novel for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as several additional tie-in novels; Donald Glut, author of the Empire Strikes Back novelization; James Kahn, author Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novelizations; and Michael A. Stackpole, author of the X-Wing comics,Star Wars: Union, and Star Wars: Mara Jade — By the Emperor’s Hand. Without seeing contracts or the full details of the nature of the transfer of property from Lucasfilm to Disney, it’s hard to know if each author falls into the same situation as Foster, but the result appears to be the same: They haven’t received money that they feel entitled to for the work that they published….
Barry Barish is an emeritus professor at Caltech, where he has worked since 1963. He became director of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) project in 1997, which led to his Nobel Prize in 2017. He has many other awards and is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and American Physical Society, of which he was also president.
Barry joins our Nobel Minds playlist on the INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE podcast. He shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics with Rai Weiss and Kip Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” We discuss Barry’s long and remarkable career that covers many disciplines within physics. It’s not the standard model, but he has a confidence about himself, and his contributions that make it seem perfectly natural to have been part of such varied, noteworthy projects during his career. Despite that, Barry also admits to feeling like an imposter at times, especially when singing the same Nobel register as Einstein. What a moment!
As an author, one key thing I always need to be doing is marketing, and events are wonderful marketing tools. Events allow us authors and other creatives to reach a new audience base, network with fellow creatives, and get our names out there. It allows people to gush about what they love while also opening doors for others who are looking to get into those fields. It even helps to demystify the careers of creatives. Plus, events are great for selling—vendor tables are usually bustling, and panels/workshops are key places to chat about all the creative endeavors.
But what about virtual events? Is it still a great experience for the panelists?…
This two-part ABC mini-series, an adaptation of King’s sprawling 1986 novel about a child-murdering monster in small-town Maine, is perhaps best remembered for Tim Curry’s frightening performance as Pennywise the Clown.
“I liked that series a lot, and I thought Tim Curry made a great Pennywise,” King said. “It scared the [expletive] out of a lot of kids at that time.”
In fact, King credits the impact of the series on children with the later success of the film version, which starred Bill Skarsgard as the diabolical clown and was a box-office sensation in 2017. (A 2019 sequel, based on the second half of the novel, was similarly successful.)
“One of the reasons the movie was a big hit was because kids remembered seeing it on TV,” King said. “So they went to see it.”
As he details in his account below, he experienced immediate friction with his main co-star Ali Larter — and perceived indifference from creator and showrunner Tim Kring — that led him to feel singled out as a Black actor, a feeling that only grew more intense after he was fired from the show after its first season.
…As the first season played out, I learned two other non-white lead characters would be killed off and I started to wonder whether D.L. would suffer the same fate. His presence on the show kept getting smaller, and by the mid-season finale he had been shot more times than 2Pac. I even had my management inquire about the possibility of me being killed off. While I was initially thankful for the opportunity, the experience had become creatively unfulfilling and I thought moving on might be best for everyone. I was told, however, that the production’s response was “We love Leonard.” And in March 2007, while filming the penultimate episode of the season, a producer told me that I was indeed returning for Season 2. I took it as a positive sign, and looked forward to new possibilities.
One of our last publicity obligations that first season involved a photoshoot for Entertainment Weekly, in which cast members, based on their characters’ relationship on the show, were featured on collector’s edition covers. The release of the covers was to coincide with the network’s upfront presentation for the 2007-2008 season in New York.
Upon arriving backstage at Radio City Music Hall for a rehearsal, I caught my co-star’s eye. “I’m hearing our cover is selling the least of all of them,” she told me. It was the first and only thing she said to me that night and I believed the subtext was clear: I was tarnishing her brand….
(7) ANOTHER REASON TO BEWARE. Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White, publisher of Unfit and Unreal magazines, doubles down on his unhinged strategy of making enemies of SFWA writers.
Two of his magazines were the subject of complaints last February, covered by File 770’s roundup: “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both”. Then two weeks ago White called for submissions to the magazines, but added “Tip: SFWA members not eligible” (see here, item #2.)
White’s latest assault is against Benjamin C. Kinney, first person to put his name to the complaints brought out in February. Thread starts here.
And White is also working on a Nixonian enemies list.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2008 — Twelve years ago, Catherynne M. Valente had the unusual honor of winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for not one novel but for two novels in the same series, The Orphan’s Tales:In The Night Garden and its sequel, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice. It is the only time that this has happened as far as we can determine. An Otherwise Award would also go to The Orphan’s Tales:In The Night Garden.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 16, 1880 – Anna Alice Chapin. Children’s book from the Victor Herbert operetta Babes in Toyland with its libretticist Glen MacDonough. Half a dozen more fantasies; ten other books; shorter stories for magazines and newspapers; a play with her husband, and three more stories, made into films. (Died 1920) [JH]
Born December 16, 1917 — Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome. I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read. I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born December 16, 1927 — Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett. I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.) (CE):
Born December 16, 1937 — Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley. He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including Eva, The Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of Dragons. The Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born December 16, 1928 – Philip K. Dick. Four dozen novels, ten dozen shorter stories, half a dozen poems; letters in The Alien Critic and Psychotic, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary. A Hugo for The Man in the High Castle; Campbell Memorial Award for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said; British SF Ass’n Award for A Scanner Darkly; Kurd Laßwitz Prize for VALIS. SF Hall of Fame. See too The Shifting Realities of PKD (L. Sutin ed. 1995). Curiouser and curiouser. (Died 1982) [JH]
Born December 16, 1937 – Norm Metcalf. His Index of SF Magazines 1951-1965 followed Day’s Index to the SF Magazines 1926-1950. His fanzine New Frontiers drew contributions from fannish pros e.g. Poul Anderson, Tony Boucher, Sprague de Camp. Active in many apas, e.g. FAPA (fifty years), IPSO, OMPA, SAPS (forty years), SFPA, The Cult. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born December 16, 1948 – Steve Forty, age 72. Indispensable Vancouver fan. Served as President of BCSFA (British Columbia SF Ass’n – to bring in a Tom Digby joke, not its real name, which is West Coast SF Ass’n), editor of BCSFAzine, chair of VCON 20, perhaps inevitably Fan Guest of Honour at VCON 40. BCSFAzine was printed by Gestetner mimeograph until the late 1980s; S.40 had at least six Gestetners, each carrying a different colour ink (note spelling, these are Canadians), so as to manage multi-color covers. BCSFA’s VCON Ambassador for Life. Aptly a steel-burnisher by trade. To us in the States he is the North Forty, but what do we know? [JH]
Born December 16, 1956 – Alexander Bouchard, age 64. Fanzines Scopus:3007, Lightning Round. Podcaster, costumer, conner (we have filkers, costumers –). Fanwriting at least as early as “Asimov, the Foundation of SF” in Lan’s Lantern 34. I’ve heard of but not seen the vegan electric-pressure-cooker recipe book over this name so can’t say if his, but you probably know fans who’re vegan electric pressure cookers. [JH]
Born December 16, 1957 — Mel Odom, 63. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the Buffyverse, Outlanders, Time Police, Rogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. (CE)
Born December 16, 1967 — Miranda Otto, 53. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an an amazing cast even if the Tomatometer gives it’s 5% rating. (CE)
Born December 16, 1971 – Roz Clarke, age 49. Three anthologies with Joanne Hall (2 vols. of Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion; Fight Like a Girl); four short stories. “Haunt-Type Experience” reprinted in Stories for Chip (i.e. S.R. Delany; tribute anthology). [JH]
Anyone can be a hero. ‘The Watch’, an all-new series inspired by characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett stars Richard Dormer as Vimes and Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin.
(11) ON THE BOTTOM. John Picacio tweeted photos of his 2020 Hugo which features something I’ve never seen on the trophy before – writing on the bottom of the base. The text explains the design elements.
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Time is the most cinematic of subjects because before the movie camera came along, human beings had no way of seeing time backwards, slowed down, sped up. And I think that went some way to sort of explain to me why I’ve been interested in exploring it in movies because I think there’s a really productive relationship. And I had this visual notion of a bullet that’s in a wall, being sucked out of the wall and into the barrel of the gun it was fired from. And I put the image in “Memento,” my early film, as a…
“The undisputed heir to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ begins its fifth (and next to last) season on Amazon Prime Video.”
DPD comments (note, I’m also submitting a shortened-for-length-restrictions version of this to the NYTimes online comments to the review, which already has a modest but informed discussion going):
While this is basically a favorable-enough review of the TV series, I want to pick a few nits, from the perspective who
a) is a life-long sf fan — written, also comics, movies and TV
b) has read all the Expanse books (and some of the novellas/stories) and is current watching the previous seasons
c) Never watched the original Battlestar G; watched maybe 2-3 eps of the 2004 reboot.
1) Hale says, with respect to The Expanse (show), “The series capably fulfills the basic requirement of speculative science-fiction: It keeps you guessing about where the journey’s going to end.”
Huh? This makes me wonder how much Hale knows about science fiction as a genre, as opposed to having watched a bunch. Discuss amongst yourselves.
2) “With regard to the show’s intensely devoted following, a binge only confirms what was obvious from the first few episodes. ‘The Expanse’ is the natural heir to the cult-favorite ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004-9); it’s another old-fashioned, hard-core space adventure set within an up-to-date clash-of-civilizations political allegory. It was an easy move for the ‘Galactica’ faithful.”
Since, like I said above, I haven’t watched (enough) B/G, I can’t agree or disagree with the “natural heir” point, nor whether B/G faithful found it an “easy move.” I will challenge “allegory” (and I’m dubious about “civilizations”).
3) “’The Expanse’ operates on a smaller, more intimate scale than ‘Galactica,’ …it doesn’t imagine ships zapping among star clusters. It’s contained within our solar system.” Hello? Venus whack? Galactic gateway? I’m not convinced Hale has watched the most recent two seasons. Or wasn’t paying attention.
4) “’The Expanse’ builds its future world in a schematic way that provides an efficient framework for plot and, I’m guessing, appeals to viewers who like their science-fiction highly diagramed.”
I’m not sure what Hale means by “schematic,” much less “highly diagrammed,” and even if I did, I don’t think I’d agree, assuming I could figure out what he meant. I mean, you could make similar claims about Game of Thrones, no?
5) “Into this setup, the show introduced a golem-like alien substance (called, with a notable lack of imagination, the protomolecule)”
“Notable lack of imagination”? Talk about setting phrasers to “Snark!”
“In its facelessness and inexorability, it was a decent stand-in for the cylons of ‘Galactica.’””
First, isn’t Cylon a proper noun, worth of initial-capping?
Arguably, also, the p-mol isn’t completely faceless, e.g., using the appearance (and perhaps more) of Detective Miller at times, to manifest to James “F***ing” Holden.
Like I said, Hale’s review is basically positive, but the off-notes irk me. Again, my theory is that Hale’s watched his share of TV/movie sf, but hasn’t read a significant amount of it.
Released in September during the 50th anniversary year of the 1970 tragedy, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (Abrams ComicArts) by veteran comics journalist Derf Backderf garnered the majority of votes in PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critic’s Poll, receiving eight votes from a panel of 14 comics critics.
… The PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll is compiled by asking participating critics to list up to 10 trade book releases they consider the best graphic novel and comics works of the year. The book receiving the most votes wins; and we share the remaining top vote-recipients. Titles listed as Honorable Mentions each received a single vote. Taking part in this year’s poll are PW graphic novel reviewers Gilcy Aquino, Chris Barsanti, Maurice Boyer, Rob Clough, John DiBello, Glen Downey, Shaenon Garrity, Rob Kirby, Cheryl Klein, Maia Kobabe, Sarah Mirk, and Samantha Riedel. Also participating are PW Graphic Novels Reviews editor Meg Lemke and PW senior news editor Calvin Reid.
(15) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. Family Planning (1968) on YouTube is a 1968 Disney cartoon, featuring Donald Duck, done in cooperation with the Population Council.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Shazam! The History of Shazam!” on YouTube is a 2019 documentary, narrated by Cooper Andrews, about the character originally known as Captain Marvel and, from 2011 onwards, completely known as Shazam. It’s of course tied in to the 2019 movie Shazam, and we learn that the reason Billy Batson in the movie is part of a foster family was because of a 2012 revision of the character by Geoff Johns. I think the lawsuits over whether Captain Marvel was a Superman knockoff are more interesting than the character itself. It’s primarily comics-oriented because the only filmed appearances of the character until 2019 were in a 1940s serial and what looks like a cheezy 1970s Saturday morning series, I think the most fun facts in the documentary are a visit to the DC archive (known as the Vault) and learning that one of the chief enemies of Captain Marvel, Dr. Sivana, was modeled after co-creator C.C. Beck’s dentist. I did think it was worth an hour.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Liptak, Trey Palmer, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.
Why does the SFWA post fake news? Why do they exhibit so much bias? There are a number of cases, but let’s begin with a solid example.
The SFWA issued a warning (via Writer Beware) stating that Thinkerbeat was the publisher of both the Unfit and Unreal magazines. This has never been the case. They have always been published by us, Longshot Press. Why didn’t the SFWA check the facts? Why did they mislead the public? Why, most importantly, haven’t they removed the false statement? Here is the statement they made:
The Board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is issuing a warning regarding short fiction publisher Thinkerbeat (wrong!), which publishes the semi-pro magazines “Unfit” and “Unreal.” (wrong!) The publisher (wrong!) publicly posts lists of rejected stories along with the author’s name and a numeric score.
This publisher’s (wrong!) behavior is far outside of industry standards and is contrary to the interests of writers. Humiliating writers, betraying their trust, and violating their privacy is not acceptable.
Jim C. Hines breaks down Longshot Press’ case in a Twitter thread that starts here.
(3) THE LAST SALVO. Sarah Gailey winds up their Personal Canons series with a comment and a table of links to all the posts: “Personal Canons: On Endings”.
…I was absolutely staggered by the response to my open call for submissions. Many people published essays of their own. (One of my favorites belongs to Meg Elison, who wrote powerfully about The Neverending Story. DongWon Song also wrote beautifully about the notion of canon as “outdated, colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer.”). Multiple anonymous donors sent generous funds to help me purchase a higher volume of essays than I would have been able to on my own. Several of my brilliant colleagues got in touch with contributions to the series, waiving payment so I could bring in more voices from among submissions.
And oh, wow, the submissions. They were an absolute embarrassment of riches. I had the honor of reading an incredible range of pieces from writers around the world. There were reflections on gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, race, ethnicity, upbringing, religion, and more. Some of the pieces were sharp and funny; some of them were meditative and nuanced; some of them grappled hard with tarnished legacies and shifting identities.
All of them were powerful love letters to the stories that made us who we are today….
… “The Hollow Lands is a beautiful piece of work, building on An Alien Heat with musical subtlety and intelligence,” says Moorcock. “I am delighted by the interpretation and can’t wait to hear the resolution to this amazing project! They are a wonderful complement to what is one of my own favourite sequences and I could not hope for a better interpretation.”
The Hollow Lands is a continuation of a trilogy of Moorcock’s stories, dubbed The Dancers At The Ends Of Time series, that began with An Alien Heat, released in 2018. For this second instalment, Falcone has assembled a stellar cast of progressive rock luminaries including Blue Öyster Cult members Albert Bouchard, Eric Bloom, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Joe Bouchard, Hawkwind associates Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Bridget Wishart, Adrian Shaw and Dead Fred as well as Nektar’s Ron Howden, Strawbs‘ Chas Cronk, and many more!
It seems reasonable to distinguish between worlds that were lost by accident and those that were misplaced on purpose. Similarly, one can distinguish between worlds that have since been recontacted and ones that are still on their own. Thus, four basic flavours….
The director is returning to TV after 50 years, with a drama about two androids raising humans on a far planet. He talks about working through lockdown, doing big adverts for China – and living on £75 a week.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Forty years ago, Manly Wade Wellman would win the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He’s known for his fantasy and horror stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, which draw on the native folklore of that region. His best known creations are John the Balladeer, Judge Pursuivant and John Thunstone. He would be inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame several years later.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 9, 1848 – Joel Chandler Harris. JCH’s Tales of Uncle Remus are brilliant fantasy. They’re also wretchedly racist. They weren’t originally; he collected them from Southern blacks, who were telling their own folklore; his retelling ran them through his own mind; he made them popular, and he slanted them. Should he be applauded? Here is a report on the Wren’s Nest, JCH’s house made into a museum by his great-great-great-grandson, whose name is – Shakespeare. Here is its Website. I could say JCH’s Shakespeare is a monkey’s uncle, or maybe godfather, but this is complicated enough. (Died 1908) [JH]
Born December 9, 1900 – Margaret Brundage. High-school classmate of Walt Disney (“I finished. He didn’t”). Working in pastels on illustration board she became the lead cover artist for Weird Tales. Her lead subject was nude and semi-nude women. Those issues sold; some found them offensive. Here is The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage (from the Jan 38 WT; another cover used this from the Oct 33 WT). She was the first to illustrate Conan the Barbarian, and Jirel of Joiry; she seems to have been the first woman graphic artist in SF. We just voted her a Retrospective Hugo as Best Pro Artist of 1944. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born December 9, 1926 — Kirk Douglas. He’s best remembered as Spartacus, but he’s was on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (in the lead roles), Saturn 3, Seven Days in May and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea plus he showed up on Tales from the Crypt and Touched by an Angel. He was also the very last recipient of the Ray Bradbury Creativity Award which was presented to him by Bo Derek. Did you know that Kirk and Ray did a Japanese coffee commercial together? See here.(Died 2020.) (CE)
Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 86. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude and sexy faerie. No, I’m not mentioning Cats. Really I’m not. (CE)
Born December 9, 1947 — Sarah Smith, 73. She has authored King of Space, a work of genre fiction published as a hypertext novel by Eastgate System, one of the first such works. She’s written two conventional genre novels, The Knowledge of Water and The Other Side of Dark, plus a double handful of short fiction and essays. (CE)
Born December 9, 1948 – Curt Stubbs. Central to Phoenix fandom, a founder of the Central Arizona SF Society and of LepreCon. Guest of Honor at MileHiCon 11 and TusCon 8. See this appreciation, with a tribute from Jeanne Grace Jackson and a short heartfelt note from Teresa Nielsen Hayden who rarely speaks here. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born December 9, 1952 – Nicki Lynch, age 68. She and husband Richard Lynch have done much together; his birthday was December 4th, so you can see their joint honors there; I can’t omit that their fanzine Mimosa won six Hugos; you can see it electronically here; and I point you again to a good write-up of them, with a good photo too, here. They contribute separately to SFPA (in this case not the SF Poetry Ass’n but the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, an apa), a fine fannish custom. [JH]
Born December 9, 1952 — Michael Dorn, 68. Best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in Trek franchise. Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else. He also played at least one other character in the Trek universe. Rumoured to be appearing in the second season of Picard. (CE)
Born December 9, 1970 — Kevin Hearne, 50. I have really enjoyed the Iron Druid Chronicles. Though I’ll confess that I’ve not yet read the spin-off series, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries. Yeah, it really, really does exist. Sausages figure prominently. (CE)
Born December 9, 1976 – Michelle Muenzler, age 44. Fifty short stories, two dozen poems, in Apex, Daily SF, The Colored Lens, Electric Velocipede, Space and Time, Star*Line. Also a Broken Cities novella. Also bakes Turkish-coffee shortbread. [JH]
Designed by Laura Jean Shannon (Titans, Black Lightning) and built by her LA-based supersuit team in conjunction with Creative Character Engineering, Hoechlin’s new costume feels very much in line with recent big-screen interpretations on the character. Shannon streamlined the look by ditching the thick cape straps, gave him a sleek new belt, and brightened the Man of Steel’s signature shield (Never forget, the S stands for “hope”).
Furthermore, there’s a very practical reason for why Hoechlin is receiving a new suit. “Originally, [Hoechlin] came on for the crossovers and that suit wasn’t built to sustain a series,” Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbing revealed at DC FanDome in September.
The newest addition to the CW’s superhero universe, Superman & Lois follows Clark Kent (Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Tulloch) as they juggle working (and saving the world) and raising their two teenage sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin) after moving back to Smallville.
(10) FOR PEANUTS FANS. The Library of America hosts a virtual event, “Peanuts at 70: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and The Meaning of Life,” a conversation with Sarah Boxer, Jonathan Lethem, Clifford Thompson, and Chris Ware; Andrew Blauner, moderator, on Wednesday, December 16 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Registration required at Eventbrite.
In 1950 Charles M. Schulz debuted a comic strip that is one of the indisputable glories of American popular culture—hilarious, poignant, inimitable. The Peanuts characters continue to resonate with millions of fans, their beguiling four-panel adventures and television escapades offering lessons about happiness, friendship, disappointment, childhood, and life itself.
Join editor Andrew Blauner and four distinguished contributors to the LOA collection The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life, for a seventieth anniversary conversation reflecting on the deeper truths of Schulz’s deceptively simple strip and its impact on their lives and art and on the broader culture.
… Unlike that huge needle that went right through the amber and into the mosquito in that iconic scene from Jurassic Park, extracting DNA from fossilized insects in amber often involves soaking the sample in chloroform to free the inset. The researchers found out this only fast-forwards the degradation process. DNA starts breaking apart almost immediately after death. Amber that has survived a hundred million years has already gone through enough.
…First, creating and implementing national space policy needs to be a whole-of-government process that integrates perspectives, capabilities, and interests from across all relevant federal agencies. In 2016, the Trump administration revived the National Space Council to formalize a separate space policy process and raise its visibility within the federal bureaucracy and the public. The Biden administration should continue to use the National Space Council as the main body for developing and coordinating national space policy. They can build on the Council’s success by staffing it with experts who understand both the interagency process and the importance of space, and by reforming the Council’s existing User Advisory Group to increase the representation of a diverse range of users of space services and applications.
Of immediate concern to nearly everyone in the space industry is the growing risk from orbital debris, which consists of dead satellites, spent rocket stages, and other pieces that have accumulated in orbit around Earth over the last 60 years. The on-going deployment of large constellations of thousands of commercial satellites only heightens discussions concerning the risks of space debris and collision with other spacecraft, as well as challenges to space traffic management and risk of radiofrequency interference amongst all current and future spacecraft….
On April 13, 2029—a Friday the 13th—the asteroid Apophis will pass remarkably close to the Earth, coming within 31,000 kilometers of the Earth’s surface, or closer than satellites in geostationary orbit. In late 2004, shortly after its discovery, astronomers projected at one point a 1-in-37 chance of a collision in 2029, but additional observations soon ruled out any impact. A small risk of an impact in April 2036 lingered for a few years, particularly if the asteroid passed through a narrow “keyhole” of space near Earth during its 2029 flyby (see “Sounding an alarm, cautiously”, The Space Review, May 31, 2005), but that, too, has since been ruled out.
With the near-term risk of an impact eliminated, Apophis has shifted from a threat to an opportunity. That 2029 close flyby makes the asteroid, several hundred meters across, an ideal target for studies by ground-based telescopes and radars. It also puts it in reach of spacecraft missions, including relatively small, low-cost ones.
(15) LOG ON. The Doctor Who Festive Holiday Yule Log is part of Christmas on the TARDIS courtesy of BBC America.
Give your holiday season some cozy Doctor Who cheer with a crackling fire, some biscuits, and a few Thirteenth Doctor surprises! Can you spot all the hidden festive secrets?
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Avarya on Vimeo.
Embarked on a spaceship in the hope of finding a new habitable planet, the human trapped in his own ship after the robot overseer finds every single candidate planet unsuitable. Eventually the human finds a way out, but that will only reveal a dark secret
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Anne Marble, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Gordon Van Gelder, Kathy Sullivan, Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
We understand your concerns and that you want as much notice as possible if CoNZealand were to be cancelled. We are extremely keen to see CoNZealand go ahead and bring Worldcon to New Zealand for the first time ever. Our Executive have discussed the situation and unanimously agreed that we are not cancelling the convention. Please be assured that we are closely monitoring the situation and will make a further statement if the situation changes. We do note that the convention could possibly be cancelled by the New Zealand Government or the venues, but we see no sign of that happening.
Kelly Buehler, Norman Cates – CoNZealand Chairs
(3) SFWA ON UNFIT/UNREAL. SFWA has issued a statement on
Facebook warning about the practices of Unreal and Unfit magazines
posting lists of rejected stories and author names on Thinkerbeat (reported here in
February). However, the Thinkerbeat page seems to have been taken down.
The Board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is issuing a warning regarding short fiction publisher Thinkerbeat, which publishes the semi-pro magazines “Unfit” and “Unreal.” The publisher publicly posts lists of rejected stories along with the author’s name and a numeric score.
This publisher’s behavior is far outside of industry standards and is contrary to the interests of writers. Humiliating writers, betraying their trust, and violating their privacy is not acceptable.
…We arranged mailing to Summercat (news writer, furry historian, and curator of the Furry Library), who received four huge binders. There were copies of parts of 1980’s zines someone liked and kept. A binder of misc anime stuff, a binder of (colloquial) furry anime stuff, and a binder each that looked like a collection of work from artists Jerry Collins and Juan Alfonso. Among the photocopies, there was a hand written artifact.
(5) MY BABY, THE CAR. [Item by Daniel Dern.]Gizmodo
Is Crossing Over With Legends of Tomorrow…via Car”. So (ignoring backstory as not essential for this), the
March 24 episode of Legends of Tomorrow brings (some of) our intrepid
Legends to where the Supernatural TV series is being shot, so (we) get
Baby (which is, I gather, a car) from Supernatural, along with a few
other elements of Supn’l (tho no characters, I gather).
So it’s not quite a crossover, depending on your
definition of things.
There’s some multiverse precedent, at least from the
(paper) comic book PoV, IIRC, where, pre-Crisis (on Infinite Earths),
Earth-Prime was “our” universe. Per https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Earth-Prime: “where
the readers lived, DC Comics operated as a publisher and all superheroes are fictional.
However, Earth-Prime is shown to be an alternate reality when the Flash (Barry
Allen) accidentally travels there from Earth-One.”
(I’m still just a teeny bit sad that the recent CW
5-episode crossover didn’t include a Muppets-style montage that included a few
seconds also from Riverdale, the Warner Brothers cartooniverse, Nancy
Drew, and Penn & Teller. Ah well.)
(6) BOSKONE ON TV. Boston’s WCVB aired a
segment shot at Boskone: “The
growth in popularity of science fiction literature”. GoHs Holly Black,
Kim Stanley Robinson, and artist Eric Wilkerson get extended facetime, but Fanac.org’s
Joe Siclari and Mark Olson are onscreen for a split second, too. Video at the link.
(7) GATE SHOW. The station’s “Chronicle” also
ran a video report about the Boston Fan Expo: “Going behind the scenes of the Boston
Convention and Expo Center.”
(8) LIU ADAPTATION. [Item by
Joel Zakem.] Last
night, I saw a screening of a film entitled La Verite (The Truth),
directed by Hirokazu Kore-ede and starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche
and Ethan Hawke. While it is not a genre film, Deneuve plays an aging actor who
is appearing in a F film entitled “Memories of My Mother,” which is based
on the Ken Liu story of the same name. “Memories of My Mother” was initially
published on the Daily Science Fiction web site and appears in Liu’s
latest collection “The Hiden Girl and Other Stories” (Saga Press,
2020). Liu is also listed as an Associate Producer of La Verite.
short film based on “Memories of My Mother” and entitled Beautiful
Dreamer was released in 2016, but I have not seen it.
Otto Hahn remained in Berlin and was named interim head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute “until a loyal Nazi could be found to take over.” But Hahn was so dependent on Meitner that he continued to collaborate with her, even after she’d fled to Sweden. He met with her in secret and sent her, on postcards via courier, the results of experiments they’d designed together. It was Meitner not Hahn, who analyzed the results and recognized that they had split the atom. The notion that a nucleus can split and be transformed into another element was radical; no one had fathomed it before. Meitner provided the first understanding of how and why this had happened.
Because Meitner was Jewish, the paper Hahn published in Germany did not have her name on it. Hahn might have been motivated by the fact that, if they paper had had borne her name, it would have been discredited as “Jewish Physics,” and he certainly was aware that including a Jewish woman on the paper would cost him his career in Germany. So, he published without Meitner, falsely claiming that the discovery was based solely on insights gleaned from his own chemical purification work, and that any insight contributed by Meitner played an insignificant role.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 12, 1999 — Wing Commander premiered. It was based rather loosely based on the Wing Commander series. It was directed by Chris Roberts, who created the video game series. It starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., Saffron Burrows, Jürgen Prochnow, David Suchet, and David Warner. Critical reaction to it was overwhelmingly negative. It has an audience rating of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. It however spawned at least three sequels. You can see it here.
March 12, 2015 – Terry Pratchett dies. Cat Eldridge writes
We lost Him five years ago today and even though I knew it was coming, it still was a horrible shock. Of all the losses we’ve suffered in the genre, this one and the loss of Iain Banks are the ones I’ve felt the deepest. I’m going to offer up the toast that Hob Gadling gives in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Season of Mists as an expression of my feelings:
To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due.
To mark the occasion, Steven H Silver sent out links to his 2000 SF
SIte interview with Pratchett.
In any event, the Discworld has changed over time as Pratchett honed his skills as a writer. In early books, Pratchett referred to several characters only by their title. The Archchancellor of Unseen University or the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. As time progressed, the characters acquired names and more definable personalities.
“In those days, the Archchancellor would change at least once per book. I’m a little uncertain about [whether the Patrician changed or has always been Lord Vetinari]. Sourcery actually marked the boundary line. The books before that were ‘Old Discworld’; the books after that were ‘New Discworld.” They are the same place, but written by a better writer.
“Because the early ones were written in the fantasy tradition. You populate, apart from your heroes, with rogues, beggars, vagabonds, lords, whores… you don’t think of them as characters. But I find it much more fun to bring them forward as characters.”
Pratchett’s fans are legion and they are very vocal about their favourite novels and characters. This causes slight problems since everyone tells Pratchett which characters to focus on, but the suggestions are usually contradictory. Pratchett has taken to ignoring the advice.
“The problem is that I get requests from people who want more of the witches or don’t like the witches and want more guards. You’ll get what you’re given, but everyone is cheering for the party of choice.
“I get a lot of e-mail on the subject [of combining series]. But the fact is that if you like pickles and you like chocolate, but chocolate pickles may not be a good idea. If you put them all together, its sort of like a super-hero league where Batman can only have adventures because Superman happens to be out of town. What a lot of people want is to see a face-off between Granny and the Patrician. It may happen, but I don’t want to do it just to have the fun of doing it. I almost had Vimes and Lady Sybil meeting Verence and Magrat in The Fifth Elephant, but it got edited out because I was doing it as ‘series glue’ rather than because it was necessary for the book.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 12, 1879 — Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough to see that much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.)
Born March 12, 1886 — Kay Nielsen. He’s best-known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia. He was also the Visual Development Artist on The Little Mermaid. (Died 1957.)
Born March 12, 1914 — John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty-year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say, the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.)
Born March 12, 1925 — Harry Harrison. Best-known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? (Died 2012.)
Born March 12, 1933 — Barbara Feldon, 87. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career.
Born March 12, 1933 — Myrna Fahey. Though best-known for her recurring role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney’s Zorro, which I’ll admit is at best genre adjacent, she did have some genre roles in her brief life including playing Blaze in the Batman episodes of “True or False-Face” and “Holy Rat Race”. Her other genre appearances were only on The Time Tunnel and Adventures of Superman.
Born March 12, 1952 — Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. oh but what a role it it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs.
This week’s lead story is a look at the startlingly audacious Doctor Who season finale and it’s connections to Moorcock’s The Eternal Champion, the Creative Commons Licensing movement and Wildstorm Comics. Backing that up are my adventures attempting to replicate the breakfast sandwich from Birds of Prey, with a recipe from the always excellent Binging with Babish.
Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America was a cautionary tale about anti-Semitism in the United States and the dangers of a cult-of-personality presidency in which a politically unseasoned celebrity favored for his “America First!” nationalism forges questionable international alliances and enables the worst instincts of his partners and supporters, setting off a wave of hate crimes further emboldened by “But the economy is booming!” platitudes.
Terrifying fantasy. Right?
So what do you do when speculative fiction no longer feels so speculative? That’s the challenge facing The Wire collaborators David Simon and Ed Burns in their HBO limited-series adaptation of The Plot Against America. Simon and Burns aren’t always able to conquer the challenges of Roth’s text — it’s a great book, if not the most fluidly transferrable story to the small screen — but they’ve certainly crafted a six-hour nightmare with an insidious creep. Some viewers are likely to complain that nothing sufficiently dramatic or awful is happening — and they’ll surely be wrong — before the series twists the narrative knife by the end.
(15) IS LESS BETTER? Sean Kelly finds some internal contradictions in the ways Star Trek’s crews amuse themselves. Thread starts here.
Ever seen an actual gorilla fighting a Komodo dragon? Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about animal cruelty) that fight fell through back in the 1920s, as the Depression sent potential investors running for the jungle. But, hoping to get at least some traction from this defunct battle royale, the hopeful promoter of the epic showdown, Merian C. Cooper, dreamed up King Kong instead — which, thanks to Fathom Events, you’ll be able to catch on the big screen for the first time nationally in more than six decades.
Identifying Earth’s building blocks from terrestrial rocks is challenging because these ingredients have become mixed as the planet evolved. Evidence of an unknown building block in ancient rocks provides fresh insight.
The Earth formed from an unknown selection of meteoritic material. New research finds that the composition of ruthenium isotopes in ancient rocks from southwest Greenland contains evidence of a previously unrecognized building block of Earth. Surprisingly, the inferred isotopic composition of ruthenium in the material does not match known meteorite compositions. The authors’ findings suggest that Earth’s volatile components, such as water and organic compounds, could have arrived during the final stages of the planet’s growth…
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse
Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s
Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH. Hey, every now and
After a great deal of soul searching, I must regretfully step down from chairing the Cóyotl Awards. I apologize for the awkwardness of this timing with awards season at hand. Unfortunately, until the season arrived, I didn’t realize how much the newer commitments in my life (among others, editing the furry e-zine Zooscape and a 3-book deal for a space opera trilogy) had conspired to take up every last minute of my time for the foreseeable future, extending into the next few years.
The Cóyotl Awards have survived awkward transitions before. The year when I took over, we held voting for two years’ worth of awards at once and hosted a double awards ceremony to cover the previous year that had been missed. So, even if this transition is rocky, it is survivable.
(3) THE HISTORIC RECORDS. Fanac.org has posted video
of Dave Kyle being interviewed by Joe Siclari in 2012.
Dave Kyle was an enthusiastic and productive science fiction fan and professional, with an 80+ year tenure.
In this 2012 interview conducted at Philcon 2012, Dave talks about how fandom started, the first Worldcon, fandom in the 1930s (and 40s and 50s and …), the Science Fiction League, decades of controversies, Gnome Press, chairing his Worldcon and much, much more.
The interviewer, Joe Siclari, is an able and knowledgeable fan historian, and asks all the right questions.
Thanks to Philcon 2012 and Syd Weinstein for providing the video.
Raymond A. Palmer began his pioneering work in science fiction fandom in 1928 at age 18. In 1938, his amateur accomplishments as a club organizer, fanzine publisher, author, editor and promoter of science fiction launched his professional career when he became editor of the iconic pulp magazine Amazing Stories. This is his story, an excerpt from The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s.
In New Model Astronauts we take a look at how Hollywood’s perception of the astronaut as mythical figure has changed and continues to do so. Our other main story, Boldly Going, takes a look at how what we remember something as being and what it was changes over time and what that means for us as viewers in a modern age.
This week’s Women in Horror Month spotlights directors, including Karyn Kusama, Chelsea Stardust, Julia DeCourneau and Issa Lopez.
Finally, the brilliant Tim Niederriter has work in a StoryBundle right now. Do check it out and fellow Word Make Gooder, Kat Fowler is part of a really fun D&D livestream you should check out. They’re on Twitch and YouTube..
The fictional “Umbrella Corporation” from the game “Resident Evil” shares a logo with a biotech lab in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China, where a new coronavirus is believed to have originated….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 1, 1978 — The Crime Traveller series premiered on BBC. It was produced by Carnival Films for the BBC. The premise being of time travel for the purpose of solving crimes. It was created by Anthony Horowitz, and starred Michael and Chloë Annett. It would last but eight episodes being caught in the change of guard in the BBC Head of Drama position. You can watch the first episode here.
March 1, 1991 — Abraxas, Guardian Of The Universe premiered. directed by Damian Lee and starring Jesse Ventura and Sven-Ole Thorsen, with a cameo by James Belushi. premiered. It directed by Damian Lee. It starred Jesse Ventura and Sven-Ole Thorsen, with a cameo by James Belushi. Critics used the words “cheesy, low budget, shoddy effects and dreadful acting” to describe it. The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes reflects that at 19%. You can see it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 1, 1885 — Lionel Atwill. He had the lead roles in Thirties horror films Doctor X, The Vampire Bat, Murders in the Zoo and Mystery of the Wax Museum but his most remembered role was the one-armed Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein which Kenneth Mars parodied in Young Frankenstein. He would appear in four subsequent Universal Frankenstein films. (Died 1946.)
Born March 1, 1915 — Wyman Guin. Ok, occasionally doing these Birthdays results in me being puzzled and this is one of those times. In 2013, he was named as recipient for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award at ReaderCon 24. When I look him up, I find that he wrote a single novel and seven stories according to the folks at ISFDB. I’ve not read him. So, was he that good? Should I seek out his novel, The Standing Joy,and add it to my reading list? His short stories are available at the usual digital publishers but the novel isn’t. (Died 1989.)
Born March 1, 1918 — Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Spain. Other genre appearances were Quatermass II, Danger Man, The Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.)
Born March 1, 1923 — Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg Terror, The Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.)
Born March 1, 1938 — Michael Kurland, 82. The Unicorn Girl which he pennedis the middle volume of the Greenwich Village trilogy by three different authors, the other two being by Chester Anderson and T.A. Waters. Kurland has also written other genre novels including Ten Little Wizards and A Study in Sorcery, set in the world of Garrett’s Lord Darcy. His other genre novels are Ten Years to Doomsday (written with Chester Anderson), Tomorrow Knight, Pluribus and Perchance.
Born March 1, 1941 — Martin Greenberg. Founder of Gnome Press who’s not to be confused with Martin H Greenberg. My research for this Birthday note shows that he’s definitely not on Asimov’s list of favorite people despite being the first publisher of the Foundation series. Not paying authors is a bad idea. (Died 2011.)
Born March 1, 1946 — Lana Wood, 74. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. It’s very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the latter are five stars.
Born March 1, 1954 — Ron Howard, 66. Director of Cocoon and Willow. Also responsible for the truly awful thing that is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And opinions are I believe are definitely divided on Solo: A Star Wars Story. As a producer only, he’s responsible for Cowboys & Aliens and The Dark Tower.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
The way Rich Horton sees it, “Olivia Jaimes takes a bit of a swipe at epic fantasy/cyberpunk in today’s Nancy. (Perhaps it’s affectionate, but I confess I took a bit umbrage.)” But he adds, “That said, Sluggo’s strategy for reading at school seems like a good one!”
Driving the news: Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, a group of scholars that studies bioethics, are calling for AI to be developed in a way that protects the planet and safeguards “the rights and the freedom of individuals so they are not discriminated against by algorithms.”
IBM executive vice president John Kelly and Microsoft president Brad Smith are signing the “Rome Call for AI Ethics” on behalf of the two tech companies.
The group outlined ethical principles related to transparency, access and impartiality — what they call an “algor-ethical” framework.
It is a “first step toward awareness and engagement” with other companies and international institutions for a public debate about AI ethics, a spokesperson for the Academy told Axios in an email.
Octopus-inspired robot can grip, move, and manipulate a wide range of objects
Of all the cool things about octopuses (and there’s a lot), their arms may rank among the coolest.
Two-thirds of an octopus’s neurons are in its arms, meaning each arm literally has a mind of its own. Octopus arms can untie knots, open childproof bottles, and wrap around prey of any shape or size. The hundreds of suckers that cover their arms can form strong seals even on rough surfaces underwater.
Imagine if a robot could do all that.
Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Beihang University have developed an octopus-inspired soft robotic arm that can grip, move, and manipulate a wide range of objects. Its flexible, tapered design, complete with suction cups, gives the gripper a firm grasp on objects of all shapes, sizes and textures — from eggs to iPhones to large exercise balls.
(14) A LITTLE MEME THINGY.
(15) OFF BROADWAY. Last night on Saturday Night Live the sketch “Airport Sushi”
has the Phantom of LaGuardia emerging to warn someone boarding a flight at
LaGuardia airport that he really shouldn’t eat the airport sushi.
Reynolds owns Aviation Gin, and the recent ads for the alcohol company have been nothing short of hilarious… Now, Reynolds’ latest ad, which features his voiceover, is celebrating Leap Day, which happens every four years in February. Of course, that means folks born on February 29th have an especially interesting birthday. In the new ad, Reynolds enlists a woman who was born on Leap Day 84 years ago, which means tomorrow is technically her 21st birthday.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Rich Horton, Brian Z., and
Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.
As we read the stories we rank them. For 1 star, not shown on the list, please try again. For 5 stars, we buy them, also not shown on the list. For 2 to 4 stars, we think you deserve recognition and have created this list to say thank you.
If you’re an author out there submitting short stories, you should be aware of the things that the magazine Unfit and Unreal (via their portal Thinkerbeat Reader) are doing without your permission.
Here’s a screenshot from the page where they publish the authors, titles, and ratings for some stories they’ve rejected….
(Yes, public. This page is visible to everyone, not only Thinkerbeat readers.)
…Maybe some authors are willing to have their rejections named & rated. I certainly wouldn’t be, but that’s your choice to make. But it’s DEFINITELY not okay to share information about individual submissions without asking permission. None of the authors in my screenshot were aware of this until I told them.…
After some subtweeting (see here for an example), Jason Sanford broke the news on Twitter. His thread about Kinney’s post has received numerous responses from editors and writers. Starts here.
Stephen Granade writes: “I was one of
the authors on the list, and chose to out myself, as the editor hadn’t asked
permission” – see his tweet here.
Interestingly enough, the magazines claim they won’t use your data in any way — see screencap of their policy in this tweet by Erin M. Hartshorn.
To add to this lack of professionalism, when Benjamin
Kinney asked about this practice, the editor of the magazines replied simply,
Victoria Strauss has added a warning to her followers
about not submitting to those sites:
Alasdair Stuart, as usual, has cogent thoughts on the
matter. Thread starts here.