The bidders to hold the 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu, China held a kickoff meeting to publicize their efforts on July 28, the day before the start of CoNZealand. Those attending saw video messages from well-known sff authors Liu Cixin, Wang Jinkang, He Xi, and Yao Haijun, deputy editor-in-chief of Science Fiction World magazine,
A photo shows there also was a video message from Colette H. Fozard and William Lawhorn, co-chairs of Discon III, the 2021 Worldcon in Washington, D.C.. The 2023 site selection vote will be administered by their Worldcon. A press release posted after the meeting quotes Lawhorn —
William Lawhorn, chairman of the 2021 Washington Worldcon, also encouraged Chengdu’s bid. He hopes the Worldcon can expand its scope of influence to farther places on earth. “After all, only by hosting at different places each time, the world-class convention can be diverse and the sci-fi family can be enlarged.” Lawhorn said, “We need Chengdu, China to become a part of our world sci-fi family.”
(1) ANOTHER AGENCY MELTDOWN. After Marisa Corvisiero’s tweet provoked several agents to resign from her agency — Corvisiero fired the rest. Book & Film Globe supplies the background:
Literary Twitter has responded in all manner of ways to the death of George Floyd and to the subsequent nationwide outrage. Anti-racist book lists abound, black-owned bookstores get great press, and people continue to call out the publishing industry for racism. Most recent is Marisa Corvisiero, founder and agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency, an NYC-based boutique agency whose clients include Maze Runner author James Dashner, who publisher Penguin Randomhouse dropped in 2018 over allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Make your point, take a stand, and don’t hurt other people or damage property in the process,” said Corvisiero yesterday in a now-deleted tweet. “No violence is acceptable ever. The whole point is to be heard and seen to help make things better.”
In response to this statement and to the agency’s representation of Dashner, many members of Corvisiero’s staff resigned this week. And if things ended there, this wouldn’t be news. Instead, Corvisiero doubled down by firing her remaining staffers.
Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware tweeted a screencap of Corvisiero’s message telling her agents they were fired:
Here are some tweets from the agents who resigned.
Due to facing criticism from tweets sent out by the owner of CLA, many clients discovered that their literary agents were fired en masse and now have their livelihoods thrown in disarray during a pandemic. This directory is meant for literary agents and editors to help ease the blow and economic hardship this has placed on these writers by finding them home for new work.
(2) HUGO VOTER PACKET TABLE OF CONTENTS. Laura’s Library has made a list of what’s in the “2020 Hugo Voters Packet”. There are also detailed comments citing problems with some documents.
In the following breakdown, I have put an asterisk (*) next to the file types where I noticed formatting issues. In most cases, these issues only affect the EPUB and MOBI formats, and the PDF version of the same book looks fine….
…We support Black Lives Matter and the protesters who are seeking justice for centuries of white supremacy and police brutality.
We acknowledge that SFWA has historically ignored and, in too many instances, reinforced the injustices, systemic barriers, and unaddressed racism, particularly toward Black people, that have contributed to this moment. We have allowed those who spoke for change in SFWA to be drowned out by those who clung to the status quo. We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling these oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.
These are the actions that SFWA is taking as first steps to clean our own house and work towards making our community safer for Black writers.
(5) FINANCIAL TIMES NOTES CHINESE WORLDCON BID.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the May 30 Financial Times, Jing Tsu, John M Schiff professor of East Asian languages and literatures at Yale University, discusses the Chinese 2023 Worldcon bid as part of her survey of current Chinese sf.
…Meanwhile, even as they opened their doors, the organisers of the Chengdu gathering (AsiaCon) were also thinking, on a more global scale, eyeing a bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2023. For those outside the sci-fi world, ‘Worldcon’–an annual affair that has been running for over 80 years and draws from a mainly North American and European fan base of sci-fi enthusiasts–might not mean very much.
But for those in the know, it is, according to Yao Haijun, editor of Chengdu-based magazine Science Fiction World, which helped organise AsiaCon, like bidding to host the Olympics. Landing WorldCon would confirm China’s position as a global centre in sci-fi. not just an ordinary participant. ‘It would be a true landmark,’ says Han Song, a widely respected voice in the Chinese science-fiction world, ‘to bring writers and fans from disparate worlds together to learn and share one another’s visions for the future.’
A concerted effort is now under way to secure the necessary support among the 6,000 or so WorldCon fan members who will vote on the location for the 2023 event. The Chinese sci-fi community has been diligently lobbying for the idea, dispatching representatives to staff booths at recent world conventions in London, Helsinki, San Jose, and Dublin to spread the slogan of Chengdu–‘Panda Wants a WorldCon.’
As such, China’s sci-fi scene is emerging as an unexpected element in a broader initiative of cultural diplomacy aimed at projecting a positive and engaging impression of the country abroad. Yet unlike Beijing’s ‘panda’ or ‘ping-pong’ initiatives of the past, it is driven by popular grassroots enthusiasm–which has made Chinese officials sit up and take notice.
Tsu interviewed Discon III co-chair Bill Lawhorn, who said he visited Chengdu and found a “city pushing to be on the cutting edge.’
Last night, the San Dimas High School seniors graduated in a virtual ceremony attended by the school’s most famous alumni: Bill Preston and Ted Logan, the time-traveling, air guitar-playing heroes of the Bill & Ted movies. Appearing in a short video message, actors Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) offered their hearty congratulations to the class of 2020.
“We know that it’s a tough time right now and that you’re having to do this virtual graduation,” Winter said. “We wanna wish you the best of luck moving forward.”
“Well done,” added Reeves.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 4, 1982 — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiered. Directed by Nicholas Meyer and produced by Robert Sallin, the screenplay was by Jack B. Sowards off a story by Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards. It starred the entire original Trek cast plus guest stars of Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley and Ricardo Montalbán. Gene Roddenberry was not involved in its production. It was a box office success and critics really, really liked it. It’s generally considered the best of all the Trek films ever produced. It would finish second to Bladerunner at ConStellation for Best Dramatic Presentation. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a stellar 90% rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 4, 1894 – Patricia Lynch. Interwove Irish rural life and fantasy. In The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (here’s a Jack Yeats illustration) and 3 sequels, children meet the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn mac Cumhaill (pronounced roughly “fin m’cool”), are replaced by mischievous changelings, and like that; in Brogeen of the Stepping Stones and 11 sequels the leprechaun Brogeen keeps running away from home, with his elephant companion Trud. Fifty novels, two hundred shorter stories. (Died 1972) [JH]
Born June 4, 1897 — Robert J. Hogan. Starting in 1933 and lasting for 115 issues, his G-8 and His Battle Aces (both the name of the superhero here and the pulp itself), battled mad scientists, vampires, weirdly advanced technology and the like. He also wrote The Secret 6: The Complete Adventures, more pulp adventures which had an even stronger SF bent. The latter is available at the usual digital suspects for a very reasonable price. (Died 1963.) (CE)
Born June 4, 1916 – Ozma Baum Mantele. First granddaughter of L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). The Lost Princess of Oz was dedicated to her. It was one of her last wishes that Baum’s manuscript of his last Oz book (Glinda of Oz) be donated to the Library of Congress; done, the year after her death. “Memories of My Grandmother Baum”, “Ozcot, My Second Home”, and “Fairy Tales Can Come True If You’re Young At Heart” in The Baum Bugle; see also its “Baum Family Questionnaire”. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born June 4, 1930 – Steve Schultheis. Coined “Beastley’s on the Bayou” when Beatley’s hotel on Indian Lake, Ohio, wouldn’t admit African-American Bev Clark to Midwestcon IV. Wrote (with Virginia Schultheis) the song “Captain Future Meets Gilbert & Sullivan”. Retrieved the 15th Worldcon’s gavel for the Goon Defective Agency, in what proved to be as true to life as the Agency itself (John Berry wrote up the Agency, satirizing himself as Goon Bleary). Instrumental in composing the World Science Fiction Society constitution adopted by the 21st Worldcon. [JH]
Born June 4, 1936 — Bruce Dern, 84. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday but which I thought was awesome when I saw in-theatre. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. He also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, The Haunting, The Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants. (CE)
Born June 4, 1951 — Wendi Pini, 69. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a Balrog. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! (CE)
Born June 4, 1953 – Pam Fremon, F.N. Chaired two Boskones; worked on 47th, 62nd, 66th Worldcons (maybe more if I remembered better). Elected a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; for service). Here’s a photo of some watermelon art for the Orlando in 2001 Worldcon bid. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born June 4, 1960 — Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 60. If you’ve not discovered the amazements of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is a great deal of fun no matter where you start. Other than those two series, I’ve not read deeply of her, so recommendations are welcome. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for “Sing”. Her Website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys. (CE)
Born June 4, 1969 – Ralph Voltz. German-born illustrator now of North Carolina. Four hundred fifty covers, and much else, in and out of our field. Here is This Is My Funniest; here is The Nakk and the Cat (Nakks are in the Perry Rhodan universe); here is “Star Wars” on Trial. [JH]
Born June 4, 1972 — Joe Hill, 48. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops. Nice guy like his father. Actually, the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve got Full Throttle, his latest collection in my digital reading pile. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award. (CE)
Born June 4, 1975 — Angelina Jolie, 45. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen, nor have any desire to see, her two Maleficent films. (CE)
Born June 4, 1984 – Xia Jia. A dozen short stories so far; under the name by which she earned a Ph.D. she is a university lecturer in China. In “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) meets a demon, with footnotes. “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” shows what at first seems a haunted keep, as in millennia of Chinese stories, but proves to be a decayed far-future theme park with cyborgs. Translated into Czech, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Spanish. [JH]
But not all sci-fi vehicles are fondly remembered like the USS Enterprise or Mad Max’s Interceptor. Some of these haven’t aged well while others are just hilariously lame in general. In this list, we will rank 10 such hilariously bad vehicles in sci-fi films….
8. Total Recall – Johnny Cab
Total Recall‘s chaotic future seems to be annoying on purpose with all sorts of flashy, over-the-top technology, and space creatures. No wonder that leading man Arnold Schwarzenneger spends most of the movie in a cranky mood. The cherry on the top is the Johnny Cab.
Johnny Cabs are the taxis of the year 2084 that are driven by robotic drivers that look more like a creepy human-size ventriloquist dummy. And these drivers can be really annoying, making small talk with the passengers at every instance. Further, the cabs are pretty grotesque in themselves. In fact, the Tesla trucks pretty much look like Johnny Cabs!
(11) GRANDMA THEFT AUTO. Behind a paywall in The Week:
“A 90-year-old Japanese woman has developed an online following for her skill in playing video games. Hamako Mori, known as the ‘Gaming Grandma,’ said she acquired her passion for gaming 39 years ago while watching children play. ‘It looked like so much fun,’ she said, adding it wasn’t ‘fair if only children’ got to play. Today, 150,000 YouTube followers log in to watch her play her favorite game: the violent Grand Theft Auto 5, where a carjacker kills people with an assortment of weapons. ‘I am truly enjoying my life,’ she said. ‘It’s rosy.'”
(12) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Camestros Felapton explained the true origins of his prowess.
(13) DUDS ON JEOPARDY! [Item by Andrew Porter.] First day of the Teacher’s Tournament Final on Jeopardy!
Not science fiction or fantasy, but still stunningly wrong questions.
Answer: On this man’s death in a 1935 motorcycle accident, Churchill said, his “pace of life was faster & more intense than the ordinary.”
All three got it wrong:
“Who is Chamberlain?”
“Who is Astin-Martin?”
“Who is Davidson?”
Correct question: “Who is T.E. Lawrence?”
I am pondering a world in which Neville Chamberlain died in a motorcycle accident — who knew he had it in him? — and never got to be PM, or met Herr Hitler, or wave that piece of paper in the air….
The Jodrell Bank Observatory is being “switched back on” after the longest shutdown in its history.
The first set of telescopes have resumed operations at the Cheshire site after it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said a spokesman.
During lockdown, staffing at the University of Manchester facility was cut from about 60 to a “skeleton crew”.
Scientists have dubbed the switch-on the biggest “reboot” in the history of astrophysics.
Research, including a study into how planets form around stars, has continued at home since on-site research ended on 17 March.
The world famous site will remain closed to visitors until the government changes its guidelines on visiting public places such as museums, said a spokesman. ‘Positive signal’
Jodrell Bank, which opened in 1957, is known as the birthplace of radio astronomy and is one of the earliest radio telescopes in the world.
(15) CRUNCHABLY SOFT. Oor Wombat risks all for science. And cleans up after. Thread starts here.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “If The News Was A Person.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]
…The guests are from 14 countries and regions, and over 40 events will be organized during the three-day conference.
…Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province which is best known as the home of pandas, is the cradle of “Science Fiction World,” China’s most popular sci-fi periodical.
Founded 40 years ago, the magazine has cultivated a large number of well-known sci-fi figures including Han Song, Wang Jinkang and Hugo Award-winner Liu Cixin.
Chengdu has made great efforts in recent years to develop the sci-fi culture industry and build itself into China’s science fiction town. It has put in a formal bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023.
A partial list of the international writers and conrunners who are
in Chengdu includes CoNZealand (2020) co-chairs Kelly
Buehler and Norman Cates, DisCon III (2021) co-chairs Colette Fozard and
William Lawhorn, Chicago in 2022 bid co-chairs Dave McCarty, Helen
Montgomery, plus Crystal Huff, Pablo
M.A Vazquez, Ben Yalow, Derek
Künsken, Mimi Mondal, Robert J. Sawyer, and Francesco Verso.
Some of the guests and visitors were also part of the group photo below taken at the China Science Fiction Conference two weeks ago (November 2-3) in Beijing, China. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal is at center, with Vazquez on the left, and Vincent Docherty (co-chair 1995 and 2005 Worldcons) to the right.
… Kennedy adds an interesting little tidbit about the material used to create the screen:
“But I’m going to add one other thing that I didn’t know anything about this and it’s an interesting little tidbit. You have to grow the crystals for these screens. Who knew? You have to wait five years for the crystals to grow. And the crystals means a limited number of screens. Not only do you have to grow them but if you have volume, it’s important that you have the same bunch of LCD screens so that all the crystals are growing together. And then, how they refract the light, then they go into a whole pass on the ground crystals to then curate which ones are refracting the light in the same way so Its quite a process.”
So now the soundstage, a performance capture volume like the one James Cameron used on the Avatar films, is wrapped with these very high-resolution LED screens that present footage either shot on location or “in combination with CG environments.” Brennan explains further:
“And we’re able to have the perspective with cameras, but that means that you can change from Iceland to the desert in one [minute] from setup to setup so it really changes the flow of production. I think it also helps because actors are not in a sea of green. They’re actually seeing the environments that they’re in. And you add to that, after the puppetry and they’ve got characters to perform against in the environments that they are in and I think it does change.”
Silvia: I like mosaic novels so it’s no wonder I thought “Automatic Eve” by Rokuro Inui was cool, but it also had a Phillip K. Dick meets steampunk Japan vibe that is hard to miss. The other science fiction novel I recommend is Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s “We Cast a Shadow,” in which a black lawyer wants his son to undergo an expensive procedure that will render him white. It’s a near-future, socially charged and pretty impressive debut.
The first book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy introduces a stunning world in the midst of an apocalyptic event. To avoid major spoilers, let’s just say that The Fifth Season is brimming with gloriously intense family drama and includes one of the most phenomenal magic systems ever created. It also boasts a complex protagonist who is a mother, gifting us with one of the most formidable and fascinating characters of the 21st century. Jemisin made history by winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in the row for this trilogy, cementing her status as an essential voice in fantasy literature. But critical success aside, simply diving into her luminous prose will be enough for you to discern why she’s such a brilliant, must-read author. —Frannie Jackson
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 21, 1942 — “Tweety Bird” debuted.
November 21, 1969 — First ARPANET link put into service.
ARPANET was an early computer network developed by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Taylor, and other researchers for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It connected a computer at UCLA with a computer at the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, CA. In 1973, the government commissioned Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn to create a national computer network for military, governmental, and institutional use. The network used packet-switching, flow-control, and fault-tolerance techniques developed by ARPANET. Historians consider this worldwide network to be the origin of the Internet.
November 21, 1973 — The Michael Crichton scripted Westworld premiered. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, critics gave it mixed reviews but it has an 86% rating among watchers at Rotten Tomatoes.
November 21, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. The feature starred the talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed. However the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 21, 1924 — Christopher Tolkien, 95. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR and his father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. I’ll leave to this group to discuss their merit as I’ve got mixed feelings on them.
Born November 21, 1937 — Ingrid Pitt. Actor from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the true version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s Underworld, Dominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.)
Born November 21, 1941 — Ellen Asher, 78. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2011.
Born November 21, 1942 — Jane Frank, 77. Art collector along with her husband quite beyond belief. Really. Together they put compiled a legendary collection of genre artwork, The Frank Collection, that has won awards. She is the author of numerous articles on illustration art, artists and collecting, and the book The Art of Richard Powers which was nominated for a Hugo, The Art of John Berkey, and The Frank Collection.
Born November 21, 1944 — Harold Ramis. Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
Born November 21, 1945 — Vincent Di Fate, 74. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
Born November 21, 1946 — Tom Veal, 73. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X. In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
Born November 21, 1950 — Evelyn C. Leeper, 69. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978; it is currently at Issue #2,041. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon.
Born November 21, 1953 — Lisa Goldstein, 66. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog.
Born November 21, 1965 — Björk, 54. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.
Coca-Cola Amatil, which produces the beverage, said the ad was a light-hearted parody of “zom-com” or “zomedy” movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies.
…The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the complaints, saying that while the ad may be distasteful to some viewers, it did not reach the threshold to be considered likely to cause harm or serious offence.
It noted that since receiving the complaints, the advertiser had decided to reschedule the ad to be screened after 7pm.
We still don’t know what the titular hero of The Mandalorian is going to do with the little “asset” that he found in the first live-action Star Wars series, but it is more than clear that the real world wants a piece of it. Everyone wants merchandise for the “Yoda Baby,” and there’s good news on the horizon.
Disney and Lucasfilm purposely held back this bit of salesmanship to avoid spoilers, but that starship has flown. CNBC reports that all kinds of toys and apparel based on the character will be out in time for the holidays.
(9) IN WIRED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The December WIRED
has three articles on Star Wars that I thought were interesting. These
Angela Watercutter interviews cosplayers who enjoy cosplaying Rey because her costume is relatively simple and because she is the first female character in Star Wars to wield a lightsaber: “Everybody Loves Rey, a Star Wars Story”.
Annamarie McIntosh is coming undone. People in comic-book tees are rushing past her, lit up by too-bright fluorescents. She’s surrounded by massive signs with corporate logos, from Nintendo to DC Comics. The cavernous hall is 460,000 square feet, and McIntosh is taking up about three of them, trying to cinch the beige bandages wrapped around her arms. “We’re having issues here,” she says, with an exasperated giggle. “It’s been falling down all day.” With an assist by her mom, the 17-year-old finally twists and tucks her costume into place. All things considered, the fix is easy. It’s 2019’s Comic-Con International, and compared to the wizards and warlocks and Wonder Women crowding the floor, the outfit of the Jedi Rey is plain, simple. Sensible.
Adam Rogers undertakes “A Journey to Galaxy’s Edge, the Nerdiet Place on Earth” — and discusses how the park is a form of storytelling. He says that cosplaying in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is banned, although “I saw a few women cosplaying on the down low, hair done weird, rocking galactically appropriate boots.” This graf of Rogers is news to me:
Eventually, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open. That’s a two-day stay adjacent to the Orlando park in a hotel designed to look like a Star Wars spaceship, a luxury liner called the Halcyon. The windows will somehow look out onto space; families will get tours of the bridge, and ‘port day’ will connect to Galaxy’s Edge. Apparently even the hotel building ill be bermed off from arriving guests–all they’ll see is the ‘terminal’ where they board a shuttle to the Halcyon in orbit above.
Genevieve Valentine fills in the backstory of Padme Amidala from the story in Revenge of the Sith and other clues from various other Star Wars stories: “Padmé Amidala, Queen of Empty Space”.
The biggest battle in Star Wars is between its mythic arcs—the heroes’ journeys—and its political stories. Padmé fell on the political side so squarely that the prequel trilogy expended significant visual and narrative energy trying to drag her toward the mythic, where Anakin Skywalker was waiting.
She never got there. Her realm was that of the negotiation and the vote, and nothing was able to bring her into line with the adventure and the myth.
(10) KIWI IN TRAINING. Stephen Colbert has spent the week
masquerading as The Newest Zealander. I
don’t think any WorldCon venues are in shot, but parts are right next to Museum
Prominent New Zealand celebrities Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) and Bret McKenzie (“Flight of the Conchords”) show Stephen around the town of Wellington and offer him tips on how to blend in as a local.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, N., Martin Morse
Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, Tom
Boswell-Healey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
A new year means a new issue from Fiyah Literary Magazine. Which comes with some news. Namely, that co-executive editor Justina Ireland is stepping down and leaving the publication and DaVaun Sanders is stepping up into that role. The issue also steps back from the tradition of centering around a specific theme, though that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few that sneak in. Namely, a lot of the works look at infection, disease, and affliction. They map the devastation that pandemics create, whether the plagues are medical, magical, or moral. And they find characters who are faced with the sicknesses draining their worlds and have to decide what to do about it. Fight back? Seek a cure? Flee? Or weather the storm as much as possible? It’s an issue full of defiance and strength, though it recognizes that sometimes even that isn’t enough. There’s four short stories, one novelette, and two poems to get to, so let’s dive right into the reviews!
(4) DC IN 2021 WORLDCON BID
NEWS. If the (currently unopposed) bid to hold the 2021 Worldcon in
Washington DC succeeds, here’s who will chair —
The Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. (BWAWA) the sponsoring organization of the DC in 2021 Worldcon bid elected Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard as the co-chairs of the resulting Worldcon should we win site selection. Bill has been very active in local DC fandom for many years, and was recent co-chair of the World Fantasy Convention in 2018 in Baltimore. Colette has been working and running volunteer-run genre conventions for over 20 years, and was most recently one of the Vice Chairs of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in 2017.
… Alex really likes to explore the practical aspect of magic. They say, for example, that the arsonist’s mark is not very useful. You might get stuck in the military, but even there, it’s not super-useful to throw fireballs. Magic doesn’t get busted out every ten minutes, either. When you’re young, you want to magic up the place. But Alex compares it to how adults typically don’t climb stairs for no reason.
Some forms of magic are inherently unethical. There’s no good way to torture and kill.
Amplification technology can magnify magic power. Suddenly the fireball you can cast becomes huge. They describe the differences between magical marks as creating a caste system. Some marks are worth lots of money. Datamancy, which allows you to instantly correlate and get answers from any database, can get you rich. Even within the group of people who possess the same mark, there is diversity, as in other social groups. There are lots of common, easily recognizable marks. You only get one type of mark, and having no mark (called Arcana dystotia) is vanishingly rare. People are spiritual about their magic, and afraid of losing it….
(6) GAIMAN. Neil Gaiman will be among those honored with the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award at a ceremony on March 7. Poets & Writershas the story:
The Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award celebrates authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community. The award, which is presented each year at Poets & Writers’ annual dinner, is named for Barnes & Noble in appreciation of its long-standing support.
Recipients of the 2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award are Reginald Dwayne Betts (for mentoring individuals involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and for his efforts to reform these systems); Neil Gaiman (for advocating for freedom of expression worldwide and inspiring countless writers); and Roxana Robinson (for her long-standing, fierce, and outspoken advocacy on behalf of authors).
(7) PRISONER ON RADIO. BBC
Radio 4 is dramatizing for radio the iconic 1960s television mystery series The
Prisoner as a series of audio plays.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat
Born January 8, 1908 – William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who first appeared when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
Born January 8, 1925 – Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire tv career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. (Died 1997.)
Born January 8, 1941 — Boris Vallejo, 78. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
Born January 8, 1942 – Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode? He was also guest starred in Futuruma and had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
Born January 8, 1947 – David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. He shows up again in The Hunger later on as The Host. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name. (Died 2016.)
Born January 8, 1977 – Amber Benson, 42. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a truly shitty Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
Born January 8, 1979 — Sarah Polley, 40. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The Movie, Existenz, No Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the Dead, Beowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.
‘The lovely woman-child Kaa was mercilessly chained to the cruel post of the warrior-chief Beast, with his barbarian tribe now stacking wood at her nubile feet, when the strong clear voice of the poetic and heroic Handsomas roared, ‘Flick your Bic, crisp that chick, and you’ll feel my steel through your last meal.”
Three new planets and six supernovae outside our solar system have been observed by Nasa’s planet-hunting Tess mission in its first three months.
Since it started surveying the sky in July, the MIT-led Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite project has identified Pi Mensae b, a “super-Earth” that travels around its star every six days, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world with an orbit of only 11 hours.
The most recent discovery, an exoplanet named HD 21749b, has the longest orbital period at 36 days. It orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away in the Reticulum constellation, and is thought to have a surface temperature of about 1,650C (3,000F). This is relatively cool considering its proximity to its star.
(11) ICONIC LITTLE LIBRARY.
The Bookshelf blog has a photo of a
Little Library”. Click to see.
…The genius of Seanan McGuire is how tightly she is able to wrap barbed spikes around the narrative so that as the reader is pulled in closer and closer that those barbs pierce our hearts and we don’t mind one bit. McGuire so perfectly captures the painful alienation of children….
(13) SOCIETY OF
ILLUSTRATORS MOCCA ARTS FESTIVAL. The featured artists for this year’s
MoCCA Arts Festival have produced a keynote artwork for the event:
Peter and Maria Hoey are brother and sister artists. Their illustrations appear in newspapers and magazines, commercials, and advertising worldwide. Since 2007 they have independently published their comics under the name COIN-OP. The first hardcover collection of their work: Coin-Op Comics Anthology 1997-2017, published by Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing, is out now. Their early comics appeared in many issues of the legendary BLAB! Magazine. They are currently hard at work on their first full length graphic novel. Peter and Maria Hoey are represented by Rapp | Art.
The Hoeys will be attending the Fest as Featured Artists. Further scheduling information about their attendance will be available in future announcements. The MoCCA Arts Festival will take place April 6 – 7th, 2019 from 11AM – 7PM on Saturday and 11AM – 6PM on Sunday. Mere steps from the Hudson River Greenway and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, MoCCA’s host venue, Metropolitan West, will encompass two floors of exhibitor tables, demo lounges, a gallery of original art showcasing the work of special guests, and a café providing beverages, snacks, and entrées. To learn more about this year’s MoCCA Arts Festival click here.
The MoCCA Arts Festival is a 2-day multimedia event, Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival, drawing over 7,000 attendees each year. With 400 exhibiting artists displaying their work, award-winning honorees speaking about their careers and artistic processes and other featured artists conducting workshops, lectures and film screenings, our Festival mission accelerates the advancement of the Society’s broader mission to serve as Manhattan’s singular cultural institution promoting all genres of illustration through exhibitions, programs and art education.
The 2019 MoCCA Arts Festival will take place April 6-7th, 2019 at Metropolitan West in New York City with programming mere steps away at Ink48 (653 11th Ave). Applications to exhibit at the Fest will be available during the month of December.
If you store grains in your pantry, you’ve probably had the unfortunate experience of opening a package or jar to find tiny bugs living inside.
You’re not alone — there are more than 200 species of these pesky grain insects ruining dinner plans around the world on a daily basis. It’s no accident that they’ve made a home in your pantry — they’ve evolved along with humans. In a way, they contain a fascinating natural history of our own domestication.
This is particularly true of the granary weevil. A reddish-brown beetle that turns up in oats, rice, corn, dry pasta and more, it’s the only grain insect that has never been found outside of human food-storage situations.
Most grain insects are equal opportunity pests — feasting on animals’ food supplies in addition to our own. But the granary weevil has outplayed the others with a special adaptation that at first appears to be a disadvantage: It can’t fly. Its wings have fused together, encasing it in a solid exoskeleton. (Imagine getting knocked around by grains the size of your own body — you’d definitely want a protective suit like the granary weevils’.) But that also makes it hard to get anywhere outside its pile of grain.
Hyundai has shown off a small model of a car it says can activate robotic legs to walk at 3mph (5km/h) over rough terrain.
Also able to climb a 5ft (1.5m) wall and jump a 5ft gap, the Hyundai Elevate could be useful for emergency rescues following natural disasters, it said.
It was part of a project exploring “beyond the range of wheels”, it added.
The concept has been in development for three years and was unveiled at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas.
“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.
“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Juliette Wade, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]