Tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast ended the week-long series of presentations that comprised the 72nd Emmy Awards. The complete lists of winners can be downloaded here.
Watchmen was named Best Limited Series. Cast members Regina King won Best Actress and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won supporting actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson also claimed the category’s Writing award for their Watchmen episode “This Extraordinary Being.”
The Mandalorian earned numerous Emmys in the crafts and production categories.
Chadwick Boseman, Dame Diana Rigg, DC Fontana, René Auberjonois, Robert Conrad, Brian Dennehy, Buck Henry, and Max Von Sydow were among the genre figures honored during the In Memoriam video.
The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.
…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.
“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.
DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom Patrol, Titans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.
Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….
…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.
The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.
The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.
…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.
Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.
Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.
Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.
The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.
My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.
My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?
About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.
I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 11, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]
Born August 11, 1902 — Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick. Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in Anduril, Banana Wings, The Baum Bugle, The Call of Cthulhu, Chacal, The Frozen Frog, The Metaphysical Review, Necrofile, Nyctalops, Riverside Quarterly, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, Studies in Weird Fiction, Weird Tales. Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974). First Fandom Hall of Fame. My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born August 11, 1928 — Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann. His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1932 — Chester Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N. An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside. He was an Eagle Scout. Here and here are appreciations by OGH. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born August 11, 1949 – Nate Bucklin, 71. First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers. Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV. Five short stories. Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa. Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5. Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.” [JH]
Born August 11, 1959 — Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1961 — Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50. Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine. Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet. [JH]
Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48. Tasmanian. Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed). Website here. [JH]
Born August 11, 1976 — Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles. (CE)
Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31. Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here. Website here. Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode). [JH]
…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.
As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.
But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….
(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:
…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!
And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.
…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.
HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)
When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….
…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.
Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.
When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.
But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.
In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.
Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.
More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.
“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”
A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.
Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.
“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.
(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers: Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
Starting with Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, the Star Wars saga launched a revolution in big-budget science fiction filmmaking. One of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time, the series, set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” brought science fiction to the forefront of popular culture. The beloved series has spanned over 40 years, and spawned 11 original films.
Created by George Lucas, the space Western/epic/opera takes place in a massive universe inspired by the American West. With phrases like “may the Force be with you” and “evil empire” embedded in popular lexicon, Star Wars’ cultural impact extends beyond the scope of fans.
Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is a deconstructed super hero story set primarily in an alternative version of the 1980s. Both a critique and a reinvention of traditional comic book tales, Watchmen is dark, gritty, and it used emojis before emojis.
Watchmen’s alternate take on history, nonlinear story structure, and deconstruction of the superhero narrative make many critics consider the series to be one of the best and most transgressive comics in modern history.
Acclaimed science fiction and fantasy short story writer Ted Chiang has won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards for his work. The 2016 film Arrival was adapted from his short story “Story of Your Life.” Chiang holds a degree in computer science from Brown University, and previously worked as a technical writer for a tech company in Bellevue, Washington.
Chiang’s work is known for its intricate, introspective style. While the fantastic is the genre he writes in, he never fails to leave out humanity in an ever-evolving world of technology.
Born in Sussex, New Jersey, screen and television writer D.C. Fontana knew she wanted to be a writer at age 11, when she began writing horror stories featuring her and her friends as characters. She got her start working as a secretary for famed American writer Samuel A. Peebles. Initially hired to be his secretary, Fontana sold him her first story.
Fontana’s achievements include writing for the original Star Trek franchise, of which she was involved from the developmental stages of the series. Fontana has been praised writing believable female characters at a time when television writers were mostly men. She contributed to other genre television and film as a writer and a producer, including Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers.
Founded in 1996 and relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home at MoPOP in 2004, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame honors the genre’s leading creators and most impactful creations. Each year, MoPOP puts out a call to the public inviting it to weigh in on which creators and creations should be included next.
The latest inductees were chosen after a month-long voting process where the public was asked to choose among these nominees for inclusion: Babylon 5, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Xenomorph (fr. Alien), as well as Star Wars and Watchmen, which wound up earning the most votes. The most recent creators considered included Lois McMaster Bujold, Rick Baker, and Sigourney Weaver, plus D.C. Fontana and Ted Chiang, which ultimately won the favor of MoPOP’s audience.
The physical hall displaying the names of the honorees and artifacts related to them is currently closed, as is the museum as a whole during the pandemic. But it’s got some wonderful items, some of which are detailed here. The museum’s exhibits explore the lives and legacies of all current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts.
(1) GLORIOUS. Benford and Niven’s third and final book in their Bowl of Heaven series is out, and they’ll be doing a Powell’s Books Zoom event on June 30, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Written by acclaimed, multi-award-winning authors, Gregory Benford (Timescape) and Larry Niven’s (Ringworld), GLORIOUS (Tor Books) concludes the Bowl of Heaven series praised by Booklist as “a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures.”
In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, Bowl of Heaven and its sequel, Shipstar, audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. The astronauts must explore and document this brave, new, highly dangerous world, while also dealing with their own personal triumphs and conflicts — their loves and jealousies, joys and disappointments.
Benford and Niven are masters of the science fiction genre and a sci-fi power duo. Together they have combined their talents and expertise to create an unforgettable series for science-fiction fans everywhere.
… Alas, my plan to sort and cull my thousands of books — described last week in my Zippy Shell column — failed to make allowance for human nature. For even as I was straining my back by carrying boxes up the stairs to donate or sell to the noble used book dealers of Washington, come bedtime I would go online to take a quick peek at the current offerings from L.W. Currey, John W. Knott, Richard Dalby’s Library, Type Punch Matrix, Wonder Book and Video or Capitol Hill Books. It didn’t matter that I ached like a stevedore at the end of a double shift. During daylight hours, the world applauded a crusading Dr. Jekyll energetically focused on discarding and recycling printed matter, but once night fell Mr. Hyde would emerge and, while fiendishly cackling, type arcane titles into the search engines of viaLibri, eBay and Addall. Typically, when a friend recently recommended H.B. Marriott Watson’s “The Adventurers” (1898), there was suddenly nothing I wanted more in the world than a copy of this forgotten piece of swashbuckling Victoriana….
(3) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. UK publication Infinity Magazine subsequently deleted the public post screencapped below.
(4) GENESIS. Although Mark Lawrence takes J.K. Rowling and Ursula Le Guin as texts, more than anything his post “Influence” is a warning to readers who want to infer the source of a writer’s ideas based on similarities to other works.
While lockdown may have provided us with the chance to catch up on some old movies, there’s only so many you can watch before you crave something new.
Well, fear not, because around the world some of the big-hitters are starting to re-commence production – which was of course halted by Covid-19 – in a variety of socially-distanced ways.
Here are just six of the films to keep your fingers crossed for then in 2021, when the cinemas are hopefully back in business.
The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was able to re-start filming in New Zealand this week, because the country is almost coronavirus free.
Cameron and producer Jon Landau told the press Down Under that part two of the planned five-part film series; rumoured to be called The Way of Water (oh yeah, it’s set under water this time, by the way) would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars back into the country following the pandemic.
Landau shared a photo on Instagram earlier this week as the production got under way.
It will also bring some more big names including Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel to add to returning original stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington.
Avatar 2, which is intended to work as a standalone feature (you won’t need to have seen the first one, in other words), will focus on the children of Sully and Neytiri, who are by now leaders of their clan.
The film is now slated for a December 2021 release, with film five in the diary already for 2027 – for those of you who like to plan ahead.
…But, you only have a limited time—This offer will only be available Friday June 19 through Sunday June 21. You have 3 days to watch the debut season, which is a total of 9 episodes. Since everyone should be binging experts by now, that’s light work!
…In addition to its groundbreaking portrayal of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watchmen is a must-watch due to its timely thesis on white supremacy. In fact, it’s worth a revisit or two to truly reflect on its themes in a critical way. I certainly plan to revisit it.
So go ahead and watch Watchmen and discuss the episodes thoroughly. View the show for free online via HBO.com and via On Demand.
Nibedita Sen, Fran Wilde, Alix E. Harrow, SL Huang, and Shiv Ramdas will join Karen Castelletti to discuss their nominations for Best Short Story.
That panel will be followed by “A Mini Show With Lior Manor, Mentalist.”
Then, at 4:40p.m. Eastern will follow a “Panel Discussion With Hugo Awards Finalists in the Best Editor Short Form Category” —
Ellen Datlow, Lynne Thomas, Neil Clarke, Lynne M Thomas, and Michael Thomas will join Gadi to discuss their nomination and work.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1971 — Larry Niven’s All the Myriad Ways, his third collection, was published by Ballantine Books. Costing $.95 and having 181 pages, it included a number of stories of interest such as the first Gil the ARM story, “The Jigsaw Man”, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?“. It is currently available from all the usual digital suspects.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 18, 1862 – Carolyn Wells. A hundred seventy books, many for children, many more mystery fiction, also poetry, plays.For us, Folly in Fairyland – reprinted 2016 – no, not that, “Folly” is a nickname for Florinda; anyway, see here. And here is A-L of her Animal Alphabet; when you look at the rest of this Ink-Slinger’s Profile you’ll recognize Mark Twain, but you should know Skippy was a popular 1923-1945 comic strip. There’s more, but I’ll stop now. (Died 1942) [JH]
Born June 18, 1889 – Elisabeth Holding. More mystery fiction; no less than Tony Boucher applauded its “subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy”. For us, he praised Miss Kelly too, about a cat who learns to speak with humans: “one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur.” We can also claim three shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, Italian. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. So far as genre is concerned, he’s best-remembered from radio, starring in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles, one of which — playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur — I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes, heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1926 – Allan Sandage, Ph.D. Important next-door neighbor: an astronomer, possibly a great one. Regarded for thirty years as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist. Published two atlases of galaxies; five hundred papers. Warner, Crafoord, Gruber Prizes; Eddington, Cresson, Bruce Medals; Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. See here. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 – Redmond Simonsen. Game designer; indeed credited with coining that phrase, and “physical system design”. Founding editor of Ares magazine. Charles Roberts Awards Hall of Fame. King of Clubs in Flying Buffalo’s 2008 Origins Poker Deck. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 73. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best-known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode”. (CE)
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 71. For some twenty years now, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad has ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate. It always sells out for the entire month. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin — highly recommended. (CE)
Born June 18, 1951 – Vivian Vande Velde 69. Fiction for children and young adults. Two dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Edgar Award for Never Trust a Dead Man, also School Library Journal Book of the Year. Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize. Paterson Prize. “When our daughter was born, I quit my job…. Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn’t…. Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought…. getting published was even harder…. 32 different publishers … before number 33 said yes.” [JH]
Born June 18, 1971 – Sarah Hines Stephens 49. Two Wonder Woman stories, here’s one; two about a girl (I mean really a girl, she’s in 6th Grade) whose study of insects grosses out her friends, but then invaders invade and she develops insectile powers (not all insects are bugs, but I can’t help that, the title wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been Bugged Girl); four dozen in all, some with co-authors, some re-tellings, some non-fiction. [JH]
(12) TERRAN PRIZE. George R.R. Martin announced that Maurice Haeems will receive the scholarship he funds to bring a writer to the Taos Toolbox: “Haeems Wins Terran Prize”.
…With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE, to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).
…Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.
… In addition to probing for signs of ancient life on and below the Martian surface, the Perseverance mission would also take to the skies. The Ingenuity helicopter would attempt to fly — an exceedingly difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”
NASA said it hopes to get at least three flights from the helicopter, but it stressed that it was purely a technology demonstration mission and that it would take each one as they come.
(14) DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. Count on Jon Del Arroz to bring you yesterday’s 770 content today!
…Bradbury wrote and narrated Hanna-Barbera’s 1993 feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.
…The 8-page concept pitch, entitled “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was conceived by producer Greg Strangis (War of the Worlds, Falcon Crest) over the summer of 1986 and is set during a 10-year war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It tells the story of the U.S.S. Odyssey, a ship ferrying a group of cadets on their first deep space assignment and tasked with delivering a document to Organia that could ultimately change the course of the war.
While some of the ideas in this concept can be seen in what ultimately became Star Trek: The Next Generation (such as a young Klingon officer as part of the crew), this original pitch bears little resemblance to the show that went on to have seven successful seasons. One of the more creative ideas was how the original captain dies in the pilot, but “continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer” as a hologram who can be summoned for advice….
So would this character have turned into the Emergency Holographic Captain?
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Steve Wagner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
The Peabody Awards has named 30 programs as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019.
Here is the complete list of winners in the Entertainment category, which include programs of genre interest Chernobyl, Stranger Things and Watchmen. .
“Chernobyl” HBO Miniseries and SKY in association with Sister, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games (HBO)
This emotionally searing miniseries about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and political aftermath is written, acted, and composed to perfection.
“David Makes Man” Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
This visually stunning coming-of-age drama by Tarell Alvin McCraney follows a gifted 14-year-old African American boy (superbly acted by Akili McDowell) growing up in the projects in Florida and haunted by the death of a friend.
Season three continues the fun, nostalgic, horror-meets-sci-fi series about a group of adolescents fighting dark forces in their 1980s Indiana town.
“Succession” HBO Entertainment in association with Project Zeus, Hyperobject Industries, and Gary Sanchez Productions (HBO)
Boasting one of the best ensembles on television, the second season of this satiric comic drama follows the devolution of the fictional Roy media magnate family, and their battles over who will succeed its imperial patriarch.
“Unbelievable” Timberman-Beverly Productions, Sage Lane Productions, Escapist Fare, Katie Couric Media, and CBS Television Studios for Netflix (Netflix)
The superb dramatization of intersecting, albeit vastly-differently-executed investigations into a serial rapist, features standout performances from Toni Collette, Merritt Weaver, and Kaitlyn Dever.
“Watchmen” HBO in association with White Rabbit, Paramount, Warner Bros. Television and DC (HBO)
Brilliantly penned by Damon Lindelof, this high concept sci-fi superhero show refashions the famed DC Comics series to tell a story about racism, policing, fear, and more.
“When They See Us” Participant Media, Tribeca Productions, Harpo Films, Array Filmworks for Netflix (Netflix)
Devastating and commanding, the powerful miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case and the lives it ruined, offers riveting work from a strong ensemble cast.
The organization also announced FRONTLINE and The Simpsons as recipients of Institutional Awards. This distinctive honor goes to programs that have made a significant impact on media programming and the cultural landscape. Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award on Monday.
On December 17, 1989, the clouds parted in the now-iconic opening sequence of “The Simpsons,” inviting the world into the town of Springfield for the first time. Already well known to fans of “The Tracey Ullman Show”—which ran a series of animated shorts by creator Matt Groening starting in 1987—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie would soon rocket to international fame. “The Simpsons,” with nearly 700 full episodes to date, is now the longest-running scripted prime-time series in American television history, and likely the most globally recognized program in history.
Following a decade of earnest family sitcoms, the brash yellow splash of “The Simpsons” on TV cleared the way for a more satiric-parodic, deeply ironic mode of comedy. From the outset, the program was eager to question and rib not just the medium its viewers grew up on, but the beliefs upon which they were structured. Decades later, the effect of its witty humor and willingness to question authority is evident in similarly important comedies that followed in Homer’s four-toed path.
“The Simpsons” expanded notions of what the sitcom could be. It gifted us a wonderful family caught between the poles of father Homer’s delightful ignorance and daughter Lisa’s endearing brilliance, a family that would fumble, fight, and fail, and yet who loved each other in spite of it all. It boldly and inventively ushered animation back into primetime. And it has found ways to remain funny, fresh, and insightful while trusting and respecting its audience’s intelligence. In one episode, Homer thumps his television angrily, demanding that it “be more funny.” Peabody commends “The Simpsons” writers, animators, and cast for answering Homer’s call for 30 years.
Note, the article says, “You’ll only be able to
use the space feature—and experience the hyperspace tunneling—on desktop
versions of Chrome,” but I’m seeing something that seems to be that effect
on my (Win 10 desktop) Firefox browser.
You’ll only be able to use the space feature—and experience the hyperspace tunneling—on desktop versions of Chrome, but it’s easy to find and use:
Click the “Satellite view” button at the lower-left of the screen.
Click the super-tiny “Global view” button at the top of the navigation controls in your browser’s lower-right corner.
Using either the “-” key, your mouse wheel, or the Google Maps zoom controls, zoom out until you’re in the planetary view of Earth.
Select one of the various planets and moons from the list on the left, and you’ll blast through hyperspace to your new destination. Eligible destinations include Mars (to visit Dr. Manhattan), Europa (to recreate the journey of that 2013 sci-fi film), and the International Space Station (to say hello to everyone currently zooming around our planet).
A throwaway line spoken early into the first episode of the newly released Draculaplaces the Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss-produced vampire series within the expansive Doctor Who universe.
…As an oblivious Jonathan rides a rickety carriage towards Dracula’s castle, he pours over a letter from his beloved fiancée, Mina. In it, she writes of life back in England. Whovians were quick to notice that among the details mentioned by Mina was one familiar to watchers of the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi era of Doctor Who. Doctor Who as run by Steven Moffat has a history of being self-referential itself.
Mina writes to Jonathan of “the adorable barmaid at the Rose and Crown.” The 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special (re)-introduces audiences to Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman). Although the character eventually goes on to become the sharp companion to both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors, in the 1892-set episode, she is a barmaid-cum-governess once earning her income at the Rose & Crown Inn.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. The December 2019 entry in Slate’s Future Tense Fiction series is “Actually Naneen,”
by Malka Older, a new short
story about robot nannies from the author of Infomocracy.
…The question of automating child care is political, economic, and ideological all at the same time. Despite decades of educational research, we still put most children through systems designed a century ago to train factory workers and farmhands. Mountains of psychological studies have done little to prevent me from making parenting mistakes—some of them, inevitably, recapitulating my childhood, while others are totally new mistakes I’m adopting into our family like so many holiday traditions. Parenting is the most intensely personal, long-haul project many humans ever take on. What other task averages so many hours over so many years, with such little external oversight or reliable feedback? There is no one correct way to parent because every parental situation is different, and navigating those differences requires all the intelligence, compassion, patience, and humanity we can throw at it.
But it also requires resources, and the idea of outsourcing parenting has always tempted those who could afford it….
When Robert Downey Jr. was preparing for his new role in Dolittle, a movie in which he plays a doctor who lives with a house full of animals—and talks with them—he began to wonder, “How does anyone relate to this guy?” And then he looked out the window of his home in Malibu, Calif., and saw his alpaca Fuzzy looking back at him.
In addition to his wife of 14 years, Susan, and their two kids, son Exton, 7, and daughter Avri, 5, Downey lives with dozens of animals they’ve taken in over the past 10 years. There are pigs (kunekunes, a New Zealand breed), Oreo cows (with that distinctive white belt), pygmy goats, a larger rescue goat named Cutie Boots, a bunch of chickens and two cats, Montgomery and D’Artagnan. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah,’” he says with a laugh. “‘You’re completely surrounded by animals!’”
… I’ve been thinking about why it’s disappointing. In the ’80s, it could seem plausible to “solve” the looming threat of nuclear war by creating the worldwide fear of an alien invader, “a force so dreadful it must be repelled, all enmities aside,” as Veidt declares. But this elegant twist — by which the savior of mankind is also a supervillain who kills millions of people, and gets away with it — was an elegant genre subversion because the antihero really was novel and subversive in the mid-’80s. By making the original Superman a Hitler-sympathizing vigilante literally clothed in KKK iconography, Moore and Gibbons were demonstrating the genre’s disavowed logic, and what Moore says so explicitly in that 2017 interview is pretty easy to find in the comic itself. There’s literally a comic within the comic, in which a shipwrecked sailor tries to save his family and town from pirates and ends up killing his family and town and then joining the pirates, all to hammer the point home: to save humanity from a nuclear holocaust, Veidt kills three million people; because he calculates the inevitability of The Event, he intervenes to bring it about; to be the hero, he becomes the villain. Since 1985, this once-novel idea has been absurdly generative and influential to the point of cliché: from the Watchmen-esque “The Killing Joke” through the Nolan Batman movie through the MCU up to Thanos, the superantihero has been at the heart of the modern post-9/11 revival of the superhero movie. What if the villain is the hero? What if the hero is the villain? “You know how you can tell the difference between a superhero and supervillain?” the comic asked, and then answers, “Me neither!”
What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I tend to binge, so I have to try to avoid genre fiction, but I’m attracted to mysteries, detective novels partly because they come in a series — so I would find myself working through the 10 novels Simenon wrote in 1931 to see what that explosion was about. I had a Patrick O’Brian addiction at one point. When I read Ursula Le Guin, who grew up in Berkeley, I thought that I had discovered that I loved science fiction, and read a lot of it and discovered that I just loved Ursula Le Guin, unless Calvino and Borges count as science fiction.
(7) LESS THREAD, MORE FILLING. N.K. Jemisin will still be
on Twitter, just not as much.
…Since the release of The Rise of Skywalker, viewers have been divided over their feelings about the film. This came to a head Thursday as an anonymous, unverified Reddit post suggested that the film was subject to a significant amount of studio meddling, prompting the hashtag #ReleaseTheJJCut to trend across social media. While Monaghan didn’t speak to these latest conspiracy theories, he does wish for the release of a director’s cut given the sheer volume of unused footage that Abrams shot.
“Like a lot of Star Wars fans, I’m hoping there will be a director’s cut so we’ll get to see more and more of the stuff that was filmed,” Monaghan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t there all the time, but even in the short time that I was there, there was so much stuff filmed that didn’t make it to the theatrical version…. Oh, man, there was so much stuff!”
Star Trek‘s William Shatner is famous for playing Captain James T. Kirk. In 2019, he took on the role of local Santa Claus for the Los Angeles Police Department. Sources within the organization tell TMZ that Shatner visited his local precinct’s police station. He didn’t show up empty-handed, reportedly coming with corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, bagels, lox, and cream cheese to help feed the officers on duty on Christmas Day. Shatner reportedly thanked the on-duty officers and left a holiday card behind as well as a few hundred dollars to help feed the officers throughout the remainder of the day.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 5, 1882 — Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film Drácula, although Wolfman certainly helped make him famous as well. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.)
Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves. Yes, he was just forty five when he apparently committed suicide. Best known obviously for being Clark Kent and Superman in the Adventures of Superman which ran for six seasons. It was preceded by two films, Superman and the Mole Men and the now public domain Stamp Day for Superman. Reeves had one long running SFF series prior to this series, Adventures of Sir Galahad, a fifteen-part serial in which he played the lead. This clip is the only English one I found of him in that role. (Died 1959.)
Born January 5, 1940 — Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the Queen can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a SFF connection that’s will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that time about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones but barely nine to this day. Among the SFF folk that have had a role in the band are Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.)
Born January 5, 1959 — Clancy Brown, 61. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive too list here, but I’ll single out his voice work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of My best loved weird series, the truly strange Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
Born January 5, 1975 — Bradley Cooper, 45. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact, he is here just for that role.
Born January 5, 1978 — Seanan McGuire, 42. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novelsbut they didn’t tickle my fancy. Not sure why though.
The latest features the new character Narek, played by Harry Treadaway. Narek is a Romulan agent who joins up with Jean-Luc Picard and his crew to investigate the Romulans’ new interest in Borg drones. You can watch the teaser above. And speaking of Borg drones, last week’s teaser featured Seven of Nine, again played by Star Trek: Voyager‘s Jeri Ryan.
(12) ON TARGET. The GoFundMe to help Virgil Finlay’s daughter
met it $5,000 goal. She sent
her thanks in an update.
I want to thank everyone who so kindly contributed to help me save my father’s artwork, letters, and poetry. We will continue to work on restoring them piece by piece. My daughter and I both thank you for your kindness! Sincerely, Lail and Brien
(13) RETRO RESEARCH. SF Magazines’ Paul Fraser put together a page on his
blog listing nearly all
of the Retro-Hugo eligible stories from 1944, with hyperlinks to copies on archive.org, as well as one or
two other bits and pieces.
The table below* contains the 1944 fiction eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards, and links to copies of the stories on archive.org. Please use the contact form below to inform me of any omissions.
(* The table includes the contents of Amazing Stories, Astounding Science-Fiction, Captain Future, Fantastic Adventures, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Weird Tales magazine, plus miscellaneous others—e.g. Olaf Stapledon’s Sirius, Robert Graves’ The Golden Fleece. There was no original fiction in Famous Fantastic Mysteries during 1944.)
California has gone through several difficult fire seasons in recent years. Now, some cities are investing in unconventional fire prevention methods, including goats.
Anaheim, a city southeast of Los Angeles, has recently re-upped its contract with the company Environmental Land Management to keep goats grazing on city hillsides nearly year-round.
The goats are stationed in places like Deer Canyon Park, a nature preserve with more than a hundred acres of steep hills. Beginning in July, roughly 400 goats worked through the park, eating invasive grasses and dried brush.
The company’s operations manager Johnny Gonzales says that Deer Canyon, with its peaks and valleys, is just the right kind of place to use goats for fire prevention.
“This is the topography that poses challenges during these wildfire events,” Gonzales says. “And we can go ahead and reduce the fuel loads and take out the invasive plants, and establish the native plants on these banks; you’re re-establishing the ecology.”
…What makes the goats important isn’t just their ability to climb steep hillsides. According to Hogue and Gonzales, the animals eat invasive plants and grasses while only minimally grazing on native plants.
(15) SPACE FORCE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Should the Vulcans choose this time to finally drop in on
us here on Earth, the US Space Force has a new unit designation ready made for
at least one of them. Air Force News press release: “14th Air Force redesignated as Space Operations Command”.
By order of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, effective Dec. 20, Fourteenth Air Force was officially redesignated as Space Operations Command.
[…] The SPOC directly supports the U.S. Space Force’s mission to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations.
[…] The SPOC provides space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing, on behalf of the USSF for USSPACECOM and other combatant commands.
[…] Additional details about SPOC will be available in early 2020 – highlighting Space Operations Command’s critical roles and responsibilities in support of national security objectives.
…The best part of an Iannucci show is typically the insults. (I can’t remember the plot of Veep, but when I close my eyes I can still see and hear Julia Louis Dreyfus cursing out Jonah Ryan or calling him an “unstable piece of human scaffolding.”). Avenue 5 cares more about its plot than its barbs. There are twists, turns, big reveals, and cliffhanger endings that will have you impatiently waiting for next Sunday’s episode. It’s still funny, but don’t expect the mile-per-minute foul-mouthed humor that made Veep so great.
The setting of HBO’s new sci-fi comedy is as impressive as the comedy: A massive gleaming vessel — or, as one character describes it, a “giant dildo floating through space.” The interior sets are all curved, shiny white surfaces and huge windows revealing the infinite outer space all around them; this backfires after some unfortunate space debris ends up orbiting the ship, which is somehow large enough to create its own gravity field.
Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game, had soared to the top of the download charts. Within weeks, millions of people were chasing the digital animated creatures all over the world — and going places they should not go.
More than three years later, Canadian military officials have shared internal documents with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Network that show how the military, both curious and confused, reacted to the wildly popular app.
Maj. Jeff Monaghan, an official based in Kingston, Ontario, wrote in an email: “Plse advise the Commissionaires that apparently Fort Frontenac is both a Pokégym and a Pokéstop. I will be completely honest in that I have not idea what that is.”
At least three military police officers, stationed at different bases, were assigned to wander around with smartphones and notepads in hand to search for Pokémon, Pokéstops and Pokégyms, according to the documents. (Users can find Pokéballs at Pokéstops, use their Pokéballs to capture Pokémon, and train and join teams at Pokégyms.)
“We should almost hire a 12-year-old to help us out with this,” David Levenick, a security expert at a military base in Borden, Ontario, wrote in an email.
Weeks after the app became available, Canadian officials noticed an increase in suspicious activity.
One woman was found on a military base as three children with her climbed on tanks. She was playing Pokémon Go.
(18) THE BEGINNING. In the Washington Post, John Kelly
discusses an exhibit at the University of Maryland about Jim Henson’s college
years, including sketches and drawings Henson made at college and how Henson
created a silk-screening business in school to make money and help perfect his
Henson was born gifted. At U-Md., he became even more talented.”
…Though the single-room exhibit is composed of just a few cases, a few walls and a few TV screens, it gives a good sense of the breadth of Henson’s interests and his love of experimentation. In his short animated film “Drums West,” colored shapes dance across a black background in time with a percussive soundtrack. Yellow and orange rectangles make starburst patterns as the (unseen) drummer, Chico Hamilton, plays the high-hat; blue dots pop as he thumps the bass drum. It’s an abstract visual representation of the music.
How was it done? At the end, the camera pulls back to reveal Henson seated at a workbench. In front of him is a black surface about the size of an LP cover. It’s surrounded by bits of colored paper that Henson has been painstakingly arranging with tweezers, then filming a frame at a time.
As for those souvenir Wilkins and Wontkins Muppets, they’re there too, inside a glass case. In 1958 you could have had a pair by sending in $1 and the last inch of winding band from a can of Wilkins Coffee or a Wilkins Instant Coffee label. “Made of soft but durable vinyl,” a newspaper ad explained, “you only need to move your fingers inside to create 1,001 funny faces.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse
Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
1)Lack of Training 2) Policies Without Procedures 3) Lack of Organizational Memory 4) Tribalism 5) Misogyny 6) Financial Incentive
Let’s look at each of these in order.
Lack of Training Con chairs are usually mostly-untrained volunteers with a staff of untrained volunteers. Even the largest cons tend to draw chairs from their own volunteers, so there’s no competence required beyond years of experience and your team of volunteers not walking out on you. No one receives training in sexual harassment policies, or, frankly, anything. Worse, many of the leadership structures in conventions encourages those seeking power and rewards those willing to be assholes. In our experience, we’ve seen volunteers who exploit or abuse their staff allowed to continue because no one feels comfortable removing them from that position. As people around them leave, they rise in the ranks, filling holes they cause. Abusive and exploitative leaders report to no one, especially at small conventions that are privately funded. AnimeMidwest is a perfect example of this. Having been banned from one con, [Ryan] Kopf created his own. Who will be in a position to police him? No one….
In general, classic SF wasn’t particularly interested in fiction about the disabled, except perhaps as a first step towards a new life as brain-a-jar piloting a space ship or a cyborg covert operative, or to justify testing Phillips’ experimental regeneration treatment on a Lensman. In A Matter of Proportion, Walker focuses on the challenges facing a disabled individual in a world not particularly invested in accommodating their needs. Anne Walker is an author new to me, one I discovered thanks to Rediscovery, Volume 1. This story convinced me I need to seek out more of her work.
…But initially, with no guarantee that the first film would be a box office success, let alone spawn a smash-hit series, and with no actual toys or market data to show potential buyers, Palitoy had a tough job to convince retailers to invest.
“You have to remember, this was a film people weren’t sure about… they were reluctant to take stuff because it was what they thought was a B-movie – you know, science fiction, all that business,” said Bob Brechin, the firm’s chief designer.
Salvation came in the form of Action Man. Retailers were offered discounts on the firm’s hugely popular soldier figures if they would take Star Wars toys.
Sales manager John Nicholas recalled how one chain’s whisky-loving buyer was handed a bottle of Scotch and asked how many Star Wars figures he wanted.
About half an hour later, and with a third of the bottle gone, he had decided. He would take a million.
“Well, it was my biggest order ever. I’ve never taken an order for that, and, you know, when Woolworths came along and said, ‘All right, I’ll have 100,000’, it was ‘Oh, is that all?’.”
(4) SPEAKING OF CREDENTIALS. I’d love to get another Cats
Sleep on SFF entry to see the year out!
A correspondent once told me a story — which I’ve never been able to trace, and I don’t know whether it’s true — about a bibulous, semi-literate, ageing country squire 200 years ago or more, sitting by his fireside listening to Paradise Lost being read aloud. He’s never read it himself; he doesn’t know the story at all; but as he sits there, perhaps with a pint of port at his side and with a gouty foot propped up on a stool, he finds himself transfixed.
Suddenly he bangs the arm of his chair, and exclaims “By God! I know not what the outcome may be, but this Lucifer is a damned fine fellow, and I hope he may win!”
Which are my sentiments exactly.
I’m conscious, as I write this essay, that I have hardly any more pretensions to scholarship than that old gentleman. Many of my comparisons will be drawn from popular literature and film rather than from anything more refined….
(6) WATCHMEN EFFECTS FEATURETTE. I don’t know if there are
any spoilers – caveat emptor!
The visual effects on Watchmen are a thermodynamic miracle. See how we brought you squid attacks, clones, and Europa
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 17, 1973 — Sleeper premiered. Directed by Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, and written by him, it was made as a tribute to Groucho Marx and Bob Hope. Sleeper was awarded the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II. It was equally well received among critics and reviewers, indeed it currently holds a hundred percent rating among the latter at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 17, 2010 — Tron: Legacy premiered. It was directed by Joseph Kosinski, in his feature directorial debut, from a screenplay written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, based on a story by Horowitz, Kitsis, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. It is a sequel to Tron, whose director Steven Lisberger returned to produce. The cast includes Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprising their roles as Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley. It did decently at the box Office, got deciedly mixed reviews among critics and currently holds a 51% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 17, 1903 — Erskine Caldwell. He’s listed by ISFDB as having only two SFF pieces, both short stories, of which one, and no I’m kidding, is titled “Advice About Women”. It was published in The Bedside Playboy as edited by a certain Hugh Hefner and published of course on Playboy Press in 1963. Fredric Brown, Ray Bradbury, Avram Davidson, Richard Matheson and Robert Sheckley were the SSF writers present therein. (Died 1987.)
Born December 17, 1929 — Jacqueline Hill. As Barbara Wright, she was the first Doctor Who companion to appear on-screen in 1963, with her speaking the series’ first lines. (No, I don’t know what they are.) She’d play another character later in the series. (Died 1993.)
Born December 17, 1930 — Bob Guccione. The publisher of Penthouse, the much more adult version of Playboy, but also of Omni magazine, theSF zine which had a print version between 1978 and 1995. A number of now classic stories first ran there such as Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, as well as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata” and even Harlan Ellison’s novella, Mephisto in Onyx which was on the Hugo ballot at ConAdian but finished sixth in voting. The first Omni digital version was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996. It ceased publication abruptly in late 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton whose Birthday was noted here. (Died 2010.)
Born December 17, 1944 — Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years. Which of his other myriad series have you read and enjoyed? I find it really impressive that he attended every WorldCon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community as was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. (Died 2005.)
Born December 17, 1945 — Ernie Hudson, 73. Best known for his roles as Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters films, and as Sergeant Darryl Albrecht in The Crow. I’m reasonably sure his first SF role was as Washington in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a few years before the first Ghostbusters film. Depending on how flexible your definition of genre is, he’s been in a fair number of films including Leviathan, Shark Attack, Hood of Horror, Dragonball Evolution, voice work in Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, and, look there’s a DC animated movie in his resume!, as he voiced Lucius Fox in Batman: Bad Blood.
Born December 17, 1953 — Bill Pullman, 66. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Spaceballs, a film I’ll freely admit I watched but once which was more than enough. He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot. Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon. He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in Independence Day: Resurgence which I’ve not seen.
Born December 17, 1973 — Rian Johnson, 46. Director responsible for the superb Looper, also Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out. I know, it’s not even genre adjacent. It’s just, well, I liked Gosford Park, so what can I say about another film similar to it? He has a cameo as an Imperial Technician in Rogue One, and he voices Bryan in BoJack Horseman which is definitely genre.
Born December 17, 1974 — Sarah Paulson, 45. She’s most likely best known for being Bunny Yeager in The Notorious Betty Paige, but she has solid genre creds having acted in Serenity, The Spirit, Bird Box, Abominable,American Gothic and Glass. She was in seven series of American Horror Story playing at least fifteen different characters. And she’s Nurse Ratched in the upcoming Ratched series.
Born December 17, 1975 — Milla Jovovich, 44. First SFF appearence was as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a very pleasant WTF? from me when I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is five films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Miliday de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of which is odd is it’s a hobby of mind to keep track of those films, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the rebooted Hellboy.
Born December 17, 1993 — Kiersey Clemons, 26. There’s a Universe in which films exist in which performers actually performed the roles they were hired for. Case in point is her who was Iris West is Justice League but all her scenes were deleted. You can see hose scenes in the extras of course. She has other genre creds including being in the reboot of Flatliners (saw the original but this one), in the live action version of Lady and the Tramp which is at least genre adjacent, and Lucy in Extant, a series produced by Steven Spielberg.
Plants have played key roles in science fiction novels, graphic novels, and film. John Wyndham’s triffids, Algernon Blackwood’s willows, and Han Kang’s sprouting woman are just a few examples. Plants surround us, sustain us, pique our imaginations, and inhabit our metaphors – but in many ways they remain opaque. The scope of their alienation is as broad as their biodiversity. And yet, literary reflections of plant-life are driven, as are many threads of science fictional inquiry, by the concerns of today. Plants in Science Fiction is the first-ever collected volume on plants in science fiction. Its original essays argue that plant-life in SF is transforming our attitudes toward morality, politics, economics, and cultural life at large; questioning and shifting our understandings of institutions, nations, borders, and boundaries; erecting – and dismantling – new visions of utopian and dystopian futures
(11) IN MEALS TO COME. Coincidentally, the journal Science asked young scientists to write an advertisement that
answers this question: “How will food options, food availability, and
individuals’ food choices change in the future?” Their answers were decidedly
SFnal. “Foods of the future” [PDF file.] For example —
Tired of managing your diet? Health Capsule provides non-invasive, cognitive control of your hunger, satiation, and weight. Made possible by deep brain stimulation and neuromodulation technology, this environmentally sustainable capsule will keep you healthy and fit while satisfying all your cravings. Put calculating your calories and carbon footprint behind you!
Send us your DNA, and we will predict your food preferences! Receive your personalized food basket, with a day-by-day diet program. We will send you full meals and personalized smoothies based on your genetic taste predisposition. We know what you love; it’s in your DNA.
Ada Gabriela Blidner
Laboratorio de Inmunopatología,
(12) EMPLOYEE THEFT! From Jimmy
Kimmel Live, “Star Wars Cast on Premiere, Stealing from Set & Gifts
from J.J. Abrams.”
J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie & Keri Russell talk about the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, gifts that J.J. gave them, what they stole from set, and they surprise the audience with IMAX movie tickets.
Followed by —
J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell & Chewbacca from the cast of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker play #ForceFamilyFeud!
(13) WINDOW ON TRAVEL INTO CHINA. [Item by
Bill.] Bunnie Huang is a well-known hardware hacker. He goes to China
annually with a group of MIT students to show them where the products they
design will be built, and has written a “how-to” guide for navigating the
Shenzen electronics district. Most of it is specific to the electronics
markets, but there is good information on getting around in China generally –
internet limitations and work-arounds (p. 19), local customs (dress, tipping,
etc.) (p. 20), point-to-translate written material for getting around (p.
67), visas and border crossing (p. 84), etc. With
all the recent discussion about China’s Worldcon bid, it might be a useful introduction.
The Essential Guide to Electronics
in Shenzhen [PDF file].
Israeli archaeologists have discovered the well-preserved remains of a 2,000-year-old factory for making garum, the fabled fish sauce that the Romans took with them on all their journeys of conquest.
The Israel Antiquities Authority came across the small cetaria, or factory for making the prized sauce, while inspecting the site of a planned sports park on the outskirts of the southern city of Ashkelon, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reports.
The dig was funded by the local authorities, and young people and school children from the Ashkelon area came to help out.
It is one of the very few garum factories found in the eastern Mediterranean, despite the Romans’ long presence in the area and the premium they put on the pungent fermented sauce.
Most surviving examples are to be found in the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy.
“We have something really unusual here,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr Tali Erickson-Gini told The Times of Israel, as the Romans added garum to almost all their dishes to give them a salty savoury kick.
“It’s said that making garum produced such a stench that cetariae were located some distance from the towns they served, and in this case the factory is about two kilometres from ancient Ashkelon,” Dr Tali Erickson-Gini said, according to Kan.
This is the face of a woman who lived 6,000 years ago in Scandinavia.
Thanks to the tooth marks she left in ancient “chewing gum”, scientists were able to obtain DNA, which they used to decipher her genetic code.
This is the first time an entire ancient human genome has been extracted from anything other than human bone, said the researchers.
She likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes.
Dr Hannes Schroeder from the University of Copenhagen said the “chewing gum” – actually tar from a tree – is a very valuable source of ancient DNA, especially for time periods where we have no human remains.
“It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human genome from anything other than bone,” he said.
What do we know about her?
The woman’s entire genetic code, or genome, was decoded and used to work out what she might have looked like. She was genetically more closely related to hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than to those who lived in central Scandinavia at the time, and, like them, had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes.
It’s really happening. A bipartisan budget agreement for 2020 will see the creation of a new branch of the military specifically oriented towards space. The United States Space Force will be the first new service branch in more than 60 years, tasked to ensure America’s freedom to operate in outer space—or take space away from somebody else.
The service will be headed by a Chief of Space Operations, similar to how the U.S. Navy is headed by a Chief of Naval Operations and consist of “the space forces and such assets as may be organic therein.” That’s pretty ambiguous language but probably means most of the Air Force’s space assets, from satellite launching facilities like Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to spacecraft ground control bases like Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. It’ll also include america’s network of GPS satellites, the X-37B spaceplane, and other military space assets. The Space Force will also likely strip away a smaller number of assets and personnel from the U.S. Army and Navy.
…Six humorous spots from The Martin Agency continue where the originals left off. Pinocchio continues his lying ways in two spots. One finds him pulled over by a cop and his nose grows as he tries to fib his way out of a ticket to no avail. The other finds his lengthening wooden nose becoming a problem as he lies on a first date he booked on a dating app….
You can access the playlist if you click through
this video to YouTube.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat
Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Bill, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]
Who Watches The Watchmen?
Part Three: Episodes 7-9
By Chris M.
Mr. Phillips: “Was I a worthy
Adrian Veidt: “No. But you put on one HELL of a show!”
Episode 7: “An Almost Religious Awe,” Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour and Claire Keichell, Directed by David Semel.
Episode 8: “A God Walks into Abar,” Written by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, Directed by Nicole Kassell.
Episode 9: “See How They Fly,” Written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye.
beginning, there were good guys and bad guys. And all was well.
The good guy
versus bad guy scenario could sustain the comics industry, and their readers,
for only a relatively short period of time. Nowadays, the good-evil paradigm
has been replaced by who lives or dies, whose ethics are in question, will the
right thing be done or will the most pragmatic or expedient course be taken?
How far can a hero, or a villain, be pushed in a story?
Have you ever
stopped to think about who would ever want to be a superhero? To actually put
on a mask, cowl or a cape? Or, conversely, would you have the nerve to do it
particularly pertinent question in a week that not only closes out HBO’s Watchmen
miniseries, it also coincides with the momentous milestone of Superman publicly
disclosing his Clark Kent identity, a decision that is not likely to be reversed
Alan Moore and
Dave Gibbons Watchmen wasn’t the first comic book story to dabble in
social injustice, heroic ambiguity or the psychological costs of double
identities, but the storyline’s deconstruction of the superhero myths brought
it to an entirely new and enthusiastic audience. Everyone who has ever been
involved in the industry since its publication has recognized it as the gold
standard of visual storytelling.
Blake told Angela Abar back in Episode Three (“She Was Killed By Space Junk”)
that people wanted to become masked vigilantes because of their unresolved
issues with some deep, traumatic experience that they have never resolved, it
was a moment resonated with me.
As a victim of
many childhood traumas myself, I sometimes look back and marvel (no pun
intended) at how I held onto my sanity, progressively healed and survived.
Laurie’s cynical observation is somewhat tainted by her own personal history of
tragedy, it does, to a certain extent, ring true… .
But, let’s face
it, what we’re really talking about here is a basic desire for wish
fulfillment; to right wrongs and on some level, fight injustice. And ever since
Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Bill Finger,
Gardner Fox and many others created the comics industry in the late 1930’s,
many variations have been spun from their creations and mythologies.
of Superman’s secret identity has been the latest in a long line of events and stunts solely created to keep
readers involved, engaged and. most importantly, buying comics and graphic
and company’s adaptation of Watchmen is a corporate extension this
notion, a television event no one could have possibly imagined doing, a
proto-sequel to one of the greatest graphic novels ever written. And while it’s
too bad it was done at the expense of its original creator Alan Moore, I am
very grateful that it turned out so magnificently.
Episode Nine of Watchmen, I can hardly wait to buy a DVD of this series
to wallow in and unpack the details of how Damon Lindelof’s puzzle box of a
story eventually comes together to form a perfect mosaic of ego, false
entitlement, pride, desperation, faith and fate and, of course, love.
In addition, Watchmen
is also an exciting, and paradoxically, meditative parable about how America
has continually failed in reconciling its past injustices, racist acts and
As a viewer, I
found it immensely satisfying to watch all of these thematic threads of race,
white privilege, cultural appropriation, class, revenge, arrogance and egotism
and redemption play out.
In the first
six episodes, we more-or- less wondered when Doctor Manhattan would show up. In
Episode Seven, we found out he was right in front of us all along.
Besides the big
reveal involving Angela (Regina King) and Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) at
the end of the episode, the most remarkable thing that happened was Laurie
Blake’s (Jean Smart) boneheaded mistake. Since her first appearance she has
repeatedly shown herself to be an almost preternaturally observant investigator
and usually the smartest person in a three-mile radius. But her blunder, which
ended up in her being captured by the Seventh Kalvary, was an attempt to reach
out emotionally to a person central to the investigation. And while it advances
the plot, it also reveals her to be as human and vulnerable as anyone else in
admirable moment happened when Senator Joe Keene, Jr. (James Wolk) attempts to
explain his nefarious plot, Laurie, who has obviously experienced this
particular trope literally her entire life, cuts him off and says she doesn’t
give a shit about his monologuing to her. While monologuing has been a standard
(and WAY overused) tool to clue the audience into what may come next, it was
refreshing to see it being rejected on screen here (AND in the finale as well).
was an acting showcase for both Regina King and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and I
expect both to be nominated for Emmys next year because of it. In this mostly
timey-whimey set piece, we discover how Angela and Jon Osterman met a decade
earlier in Saigon, experience the devastating deaths of her parents and
grandmother, which, in turn, leads her to becoming a police officer in Vietnam
and meeting and being initially wooed by a disguised Doctor Manhattan.
As often as he
as been portrayed as aloof and omnipotent, the one boldest risks of the series
was the decision to have him roll the dice and attempt to be human again. (But
then again, he saw himself being in love with Angela, so he may have just been
following the fate he saw for himself.) However, his ability to see the future,
and be in several places in the time continuum at the same time, turns out to
be his greatest power and his fatal flaw.
In the brief
vignette with Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons), he finds himself on the wrong end of
a kangaroo court trial with the “Game Warden” as the judge. When called upon to
defend himself, Veidt rises from the defense table and gives one of the most
unusual, and deliberately hilarious, defenses in the history of
Over the hour
and nine minute finale, all of the narrative strands of our story come together
and are pulled taut; Doctor Manhattan finds himself in imminent danger of being
utterly destroyed by the Seventh Kalvary AND Lady Trieu, Adrian is freed from
his virtual prison to be a spectator of the impending disaster, Will awaits to
see his final act revenge comes to fruition and Angela, Laurie and Wade are
helpless as they see the climax
unfolding before them.
aftermath, Angela ponders the possibility of becoming Doctor Manhattan herself.
And while she seemingly accepts the challenge, she, and the viewers, are left
in suspense; has she gained his power or will something else happen?
“Considering what he could
do, he could have done more,” her grandfather Will tells Angela, which is her
impetus to take up the reins of power. Angela may
have learned to look past putting on a mask to deal with her trauma, but is she
seems to be ready for what happens next.
Because, at its
very core, Watchmen is about power; who has it, who doesn’t, who thirsts
for it, who dares to accept it and uses it responsibly.
she’s ready. I hope she is. And collectively, we should be rooting for her,
Because she is
“The time is
always right to do what is right.”
Luther King, Jr.
This column is
Dedicated to Curtis Flowers, an African-American political prisoner who was
freed on bail on December 16 after spending more than half of his life behind
bars. Mr. Flowers was tried FIVE times for 1996 robbery in which four people
were killed. Three of the convictions were thrown out due to prosecutorial
misconduct by the district attorney who prosecuted him, Doug Evans, and two
other trials resulted in hung juries. While his innocence is still in question
at this point, the case against him has been found to be incredibly suspect by
several independent investigations of the crime. I hope that the small measure
of freedom he has been granted this week allows him the opportunity to see and