By Sara Felix: There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”
And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show. Working on Dublin was like that for me as well. I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”
But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say and the twitter format leaves a lot to be desired. A few people have touched on a part of my answer in different ways but a lot of it boils down to, I volunteer because I want to make a difference and I want to do better. I like being part of a group of people who are excited to put on a good show.
And I think I have in my own ways but I always strive to do more. And there is so much that can be done that hasn’t already. Or it has been done but then forgotten and never to be picked up again. FANAC and the work Joe Siclari and Edie Stern and others have done to showcase past events has opened my eyes to some amazing projects over the years at Worldcon and beyond. And I would like to see some of those rich traditions intertwined with newer ideas added.
I know the question was why do you keep entering bids but I want to talk about why I volunteer for Worldcon and help with bidding.
What have I done?
For me I think I have left some mark on Worldcon fandom. With Colin Harris we created the Artist Showcase that has now been a staple at many Worldcons since Chicon 7. I advocate for it on every con I am involved in. As an artist and the president of ASFA (The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists) I am a promoter of artists and want to see them recognized and part of the community. I want to see their work spotlighted as much as I can. It saddens me that more artists can’t show at Worldcons due to the cost to attend and am always looking for ways to change that.
For Dublin there was amazing art and artists that were featured. To spotlight those artists we created The Art and Artistry of Dublin 2019. I have created art show panels for artists who can’t afford or don’t want a full panel of art, I provide fan art for conventions when seated or bidding as much as I can. I want to help in any small way that is possible.
I was part of the Mexicanx Initiative and work to include the other Mexicanx in fan related activities and have supported the other initiatives like this on the Worldcons I have worked on.
I am trying to make my divisions more inclusive in the future so we have more voices present at the table. There are plans in the beginning stages that hopefully come to fruition on future concoms I am a part of.
These aren’t huge projects but hopefully they are things that people remember and help them to enjoy the event just a bit more.
I run the Chesleys every year for ASFA. Besides all the behind the scenes work I have also called for more diverse voices in the categories since I have been president. I talk about it on panels at conventions and online and push artists to submit their work every year.
So that answers the how I am involved, but why?
I love art. I love science fiction. I love the friends I have in the community. I want to put on a good show. I volunteer to have fun and try and get my friends involved that I enjoy working with. It doesn’t always work out like I plan but overall I am ultimately a perfectionist and want to do something that I am proud of and can talk about positively with my friends and family in and outside of fandom.
And I know there are others out there like that. I have worked with them before. And I will continue to ask them to be on any teams I have in the future. Or go to them for advice when I need a bit of help.
I also like to see organizations do better. I attend SMOFcon to talk to people about how things are run and how we can change current policies or methods and try to use the things I learn to help my teams. My focus is on art and artists a lot of the time and I am always looking for new and innovative ways to help cons promote art and bring more artists.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows…. fandom is hard. There are personalities that I don’t always work well with and opinions that I don’t agree with. I have worked on some very hard Worldcons in the past and now I know when I need to step away. I don’t agree with the principle of “that is how we have always done it” and in fact I think there are some positions in Worldcon that would be better filled by a professional. *cough*social media *cough* The “this is how we have always done it attitude” is toxic for change and I get there are traditions we want to keep. I believe that the past traditions are important and there can be change while still honoring them.
I have learned to set limits for myself on volunteering as it has been made it very apparent that I can’t do everything that is asked of me. This was a hard lesson to learn.
A big red flag for me is when the convention doesn’t align with my ideas of what makes a good Worldcon. My biggest problem with working on Worldcons typically come down to bad communication and silo-ing of divisions.
Let me just say…. I am not perfect. I work on publications and design. Have I misspelled names? Yep you betcha. Have I put out the wrong materials? Totally. I make mistakes and so does my team sometimes. But I try to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
My first Worldcon was a phenomenal experience. The second was not so much and I stopped going after that. It took me 9 years to be involved again at Worldcon and that was because I was asked to volunteer. My experiences going to the convention have been improved by the relationships I have with other volunteers over the years. I am sure most people are aware that going to cons is so much better with friends and I have experienced that with other volunteers when you have worked on something 2+ years. I know there are people I have worked with on past conventions that I talk to everyday or at least every week.
Would I be on a bid team for a convention?
Yes definitely! I am now. I love the people I work with and the enthusiasm they bring to the table and those are best bid teams. And I hope I provide the same level of enthusiasm for things I work on with them. The best bids pay attention to the good and the bad of the conventions that came before and try to incorporate those learnings into their plans. They look to bring on like-minded staff. If I was ever going to bid for a Worldcon this is what I want to do as well. (Not bidding to run a Worldcon, thanks :p)
(1) FRONT AND CENTER. Octavia Butler is on the cover of Huntington Frontiers, published by the Huntington Library in Pasadena. Read the cover article here: “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky” by Lynell George.
When I last encountered Octavia E. Butler, it was 2004 and she was slated to deliver the keynote at the Black to the Future Festival in Seattle, Washington. Time has flattened or obscured some of the details of days spent reporting on panels, lectures, and post-event gatherings. I don’t remember the precise order of events of that opening evening, but I do recall some of Butler’s heartfelt words about finding and making community in this brief but special moment when we were assembled together. I sat, scribbling notes in my reporter’s notebook, making shapes of letters in the darkness of the auditorium. Her voice didn’t seem to need amplification—it was warm and deep and burnished with authority, as if she was not just leading things off, but leading a country….
(2) NOT OUT OF LEFT FIELD. First Fandom Experience solves three eofannish mysteries in “V is for Vincent, Vernon, Vytautas”. Learn more about a famous photo taken over the weekend of the First Worldcon in —
V is for Vincent
Below is one of early fandom’s most iconic images. On Independence Day, 1939, this carload of irascible youth from states far and wide ventured forth from the World Science Fiction Convention in New York to Coney Island. It’s a who’s-who of prominent First Fans: Madle and Agnew from Philadelphia, Korshak and Reinsberg from Chicago, Rocklynne from Ohio, and one very tanned Ray Bradbury from Los Angeles.
But among the who’s-who, there’s a “who’s that?” V. Kidwell. …
…Demon Slayer is based on a popular 2016 manga by Japanese artist Koyoharu Gotoge. But the property didn’t become a pop cultural phenomenon until it was adapted into an anime series for television. Produced by Tokyo-based studio Ufotable, the 26-episode series aired on Tokyo MX and other channels in 2019, but later became a sleeper smash hit when it re-aired on Netflix and Fuji TV. The popularity of the series reignited interest in the manga, making it a runaway bestseller. As of December, the Demon Slayer manga series has sold nearly 120 million copies.
When Ufotable’s big-screen adaptation of the series hit Japanese cinemas this fall, conditions were ripe for a box-office bonanza. Japanese cinemas nationwide had fully reopened nationwide after a brief period of COVID-19 shutdown in the spring. Since the Hollywood studios had postponed most of their releases until 2021, Demon Slayer had limited foreign competition and Japanese cinemas were highly motivated to wring as much earnings potential as possible for the local blockbuster.
As the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shut its laboratories following the covid-19 outbreak, Nathan Copeland, a 33-year-old volunteer, collected the equipment that would grant him transformative abilities during lockdown. Paralyzed from the chest down with only limited arm movement, Copeland took home an advanced brain-computer interface, a device that allows him to control on-screen actions using only his mind.Copeland is part of cutting-edge research into brain-computer interfaces at the University of Pittsburgh, recently awarded over $8 million by the National Institutes of Health. The team’s experiments are a peek into a potential transhumanist future more commonly associated with cyberpunk movies “The Matrix” and “Ghost in the Shell.” Since 2015, Copeland has lived with a transistor-like chip, known as a multi-electrode array, surgically implanted directly into his brain. Copeland’s chip records the rapid-firing of cellular neurons — an almost inscrutably complex neurological signal — which is ferried over to a computer for what’s referred to as “decoding.” This signal is subsequently “translated” into the desired, seemingly telekinetic actions of its user.
…Quality, some may argue, isn’t just representative of one episode or one movie, but the franchise as a whole. Case in point: The Mandalorian finale….
That, many critics argued in the days after the episode aired, is precisely the problem. As Matt Zoller Seitz wrote on Vulture, “the series succumbs to the dark side of parent company Disney’s quarterly earnings statements, which keeps dragging Star Wars back toward nostalgia-sploitation and knee-jerk intellectual-property maintenance.” Other fans rolled their eyes at the criticism, pointing out that Star Wars has always returned to the franchise’s most popular characters, most noticeably in the Expanded Universe’s novels, comics, and video games.
Sound familiar? It should — it’s the exact same debate that popped up in 2017 after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi hit theaters. What is Star Wars? It’s an argument we’ve come back to with The Mandalorian’s second season finale. I’m not a critic, and this newsletter doesn’t exist to critique art. What I’m more acutely interested in is determining Star Wars’ future business. Let’s be clear: Star Wars is more than fine, but as Star Wars expands under Disney, there’s always room to figure out how to ensure it grows at a healthy rate instead of risking alienating parts of its consumer base every year.
At first glance, the classic science-fiction authors James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ might not seem to have much in common. Behavioral psychologist Alice Bradley Sheldon began writing under “James Tiptree Jr.” in 1968, when she was in her fifties. She used the fictional male name and real knowledge of science and the military to infiltrate male-dominated science-fiction magazines. Russ, two decades younger, was an outspoken radical feminist, English professor, and critic. And yet, as Nicole Nyhan writes, the two writers exchanged hundreds of letters over fifteen years. Nyhan provides the introduction to a selection of writing from Tiptree’s side of the correspondence.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1970 — Fifty years ago at Heicon ’70 in Heidelberg, Germany, “Ship of Shadows” by Fritz Leiber wins the Hugo for Best Novella. (It would also be nominated for a Nebula.) It was published in F&SF in July, 1969 which as you can see was billed as a Special Fritz Leiber Issue. This was a bizarre story of Spar, a blind, half-deaf barman at the Bat Rack. We’ll say no more. The other finalists were “A Boy and His Dog” by Harlan Ellison, “We All Die Naked” by James Blish, “Dramatic Mission” by Anne McCaffrey and “To Jorslem” by Robert Silverberg.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 28, 1913 — Charles Maxwell. He makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in the “Spectre of the Gun”, a not terribly good Trek story. He also appeared in My Favorite Martian in “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on the Fifties series Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born December 28, 1922 — Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in such a way that the company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list. I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born December 28, 1929 – Janet Lunn. Three novels, two shorter stories, one anthology for us; much else. Metcalf Award, Matt Cohen Award, Order of Ontario, Governor General’s Award, Order of Canada. Quill & Quire obituary here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born December 28, 1932 — Nichelle Nichols, 88. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which may or may not be canon. (CE)
Born December 28, 1934 — Maggie Smith, 86. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s better known as Minerva McGonagall In the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films. (CE)
Born December 28, 1942 — Eleanor Arnason, 78. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”. She’s a Wiscon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available at the usual digital suspects.
Born December 28, 1945 – George Zebrowski, age 75. A score of novels (Macrolife particularly applauded), a hundred shorter stories, several with co-authors. Clarion alumnus. Edited Nebula Awards 20-22; four Synergy anthologies, half a dozen more e.g. Sentinels with Greg Benford in honor of Sir Arthur Clarke. Three years editing the SFWA Bulletin (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) with Pamela Sargent and Ian Watson. Nonfiction anthologies Beneath the Red Star (studies on international SF), Skylife (with Benford; space habitats), Talks with the Masters (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Gunn). Book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Campbell Memorial Award. “Never Forget the Writers Who Helped Build Yesterday’s Tomorrows” in SF Age. [JH]
Born December 28, 1946 – Sheryl Birkhead, age 74. Long-time fanartist and (it serves us right) veterinarian. Here is a cover for Tightbeam. Here is one for It Goes on the Shelf. Here is one for Purrsonal Mewsings. Here is one for The Reluctant Famulus. Kaymar Award. [JH]
Born December 28, 1952 – Ramona Wheeler, age 68. Two novels, a score of shorter stories. Essay “The Sailor of No Specific Ocean” in the Hal Clement memorial anthology Hal’s Worlds. Here is her cover for her collection Have Starship, Will Travel. Here is her cover for her collection Starship for Hire. [JH]
Born December 28, 1963 – Robert Pasternak, age 57. A dozen covers, two dozen interiors for us. Interviewed in On Spec. Aurora Award. Here is Leslie Fiedler’s biography of Stapledon. Here is the May 93 Amazing. Here is the Dec 00 Challenging Destiny. Here is the Summer 13 On Spec. Here is a review of a Jun – Jul 07 exhibition. Here is an image from a Winnipeg Free Press interview. Here is an ink-drawn face; see here. [JH]
Born December 28, 1979 – D. Renée Bagby, age 41. Eight novels for us, five dozen others (some under another name). Air Force brat, now wife; born in the Netherlands, has also lived in Japan, six of the United States. Has read The Cat in the Hat, Persuasion, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “The voices start talking and I type what they say.” [JH]
Born December 28, 1981 — Sienna Miller, 39. The Baroness in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. More interestingly, she’s Victoria in the flawed but still worth seeing Stardust. (Go listen to Gaiman reading it for the best take on it — brilliant that is!) And she’s Darcy in Kis Vuk, A Fox’s Tale, a Hungarian-British animated tale that sounds quite charming. (CE)
(10) A DISH BEST SERVED LOLD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Zachary Pincus-Roth discusses how a bunch of Millennial Disney musical fans came up with “Ratatouille: The Musical,” created songs, cosplayed characters from the imaginary musical (including enlisting their parents to play older characters) and even creating a fake cover of Playbill for the imaginary musical. Disney Theatrical Productions stated “although we do not have development plans for this title, we love when our fans engage with Disney stories.” — “How TikTok and social media are changing Broadway fandom”.
The Star Wars franchise is about to breach the artistic final frontier with a one-off performance of a kabuki adaptation starring one of Japan’s most revered stage actors.
The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.
Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.
Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery….
…Already by 1932 he admitted to Chapman the weight of the Chaucerian incubus upon his conscience. His Gawain edition, “Chaucer as a Philologist,” and “The Monsters and the Critics” had all appeared before the Second World War. Set against this relatively slender résumé were undelivered assignments such as his Pearl edition, the book-length “Beowulf”and the Critics, and his EETS edition of Ancrene Wisse. If his own harsh remarks about George Gordon holding up their Chaucer edition did not quite qualify him as a “slanderer,” these complaints did de?ect blame from his role as an “idler” who failed to reduce his annotations to a publishable length. He would confess during a newspaper interview in 1968, “I have always been incapable of doing the job at hand.”
It’s common knowledge that the sun is the center of the solar system. Around it, the planets orbit — along with a thick belt of asteroids, some meteor fields, and a handful of far-traveling comets.
But that’s not the whole story.
“Instead, everything orbits the solar system center of mass,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency, JAXA, recently explained on Twitter. “Even the sun.”
That center of mass, called the barycenter, is the point of an object at which it can be balanced perfectly, with all its mass distributed evenly on all sides. In our solar system, that point rarely lines up with the center of the sun…
(14) THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Mike Kennedy: “I just realized that the various dings, buzzes, and clicks our phones/watches play to get our attention are clearly intended to train us to understand R2-D2.”
Star Trek is a franchise that primarily deals in the world of sci-fi, but it’s not unheard of for the franchise to attempt parody other genres every so often. Such was the case in the Deep Space Nine episode “Our Man Bashir,” in which an accident in the Holosuite traps the crew in Bashir’s spy fantasy program. The episode is a fun nod to the genre of ’60s spy films but apparently was not well-received by James Bond studio MGM.
An elderly woman, Sheila, whose daughter has been in a high-conflict zone in a military environment, learns to manage with a robot—ordered apparently off the internet, with a manual—that can learn to do homework and hang Christmas decorations.
It’s an agreeable story and good Christmas fare!
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon will have more than 700 separate program events over five days from 15 to 19 August, making it one of the summer’s largest arts gatherings of any kind.
More than 60 authors will give readings, including Elizabeth Bear, Marie Brennan, Pat Cadigan, Zen Cho, Aliette de Bodard, Guest of Honour Diane Duane, Joe Haldeman, Roz Kaveney, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peadar Ó Guilín, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Ada Palmer, Rebecca Roanhorse, V.E. Schwab, Catherynne Valente, John Scalzi, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Jo Walton.
These writers and others will appear in more than 400 panel discussions whose topics range from Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman to the women of Marvel Comics. There will be sessions introducing Irish science fiction and fantasy (SFF), Northern Irish SFF, Afrofuturism, Japanese SF, steampunk, and grimdark (as in Game of Thrones), as well as works from emerging movements like hopepunk, silkpunk, solarpunk and dieselpunk.
Aspiring authors can learn about worldbuilding, writing and pitching their work from talks by Editor Guest of Honour Ginjer Buchanan and other editors and writers, including a panel discussion on working as a writer in Ireland. As would be expected for an event in Ireland, there will also be Irish language events.
“It’s impossible to list more than a small selection of the riches we will be offering,” said Chair James Bacon. “If anything here interests you, don’t hesitate to join because there is much more where they came from.”
Online sales will close August 1. More than 6600 people have already signed up as members, including more than 5200 attending members. More than 830 people will be attending Worldcon for the first time.
Space science 50 years after the first moon landing will discussed by programme participants including NASA astronaut Dr Jeanette Epps, Irish astronaut candidate Dr Norah Patten, and NASA physicist (and SF writer) Dr Geoffrey Landis. Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell will discuss pulsars, which she first observed in 1967. Professor Bell Burnell will also explore the roles of empiricism and faith in conducting science with Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory. A panel on lunar depictions in science fiction will feature Guest of Honor Ian McDonald, author of the Luna series.
Programming for children includes Irish myths and legends, a singalong session, a live role-playing game led by author Dave Rudden, and a space flight workshop with Dr Norah Patten. Adults who want to stretch their study muscles will find an academic track with five fully packed days including papers on colonialism and decolonization, visions of Ireland, YA literature, fandom studies, mythic heroes, Westeros, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Approximately 40 musical performances will take place, including concerts from the Library Bards, Sassafras, the Doubleclicks, the Irish Video Game Orchestra, and Another Castle, as well as more than a dozen open singing circles and karaoke parties. Theatre will be represented by 14 performances involving 11 plays from playwrights including Rosaleen McDonagh.
Con-goers will be encouraged to live long and prosper through exercises for body and mind including yoga, a parkrun, morning “strolls with the stars,” Pokémon hunting, and gaming sessions with Guest of Honour Steve Jackson (Melee, Chaos Machine, Munchkin). Author John Scalzi will break out his Generation-X DJ skills to host a late-night ‘70s-‘80s-‘90s dance party on Saturday.
Dublin 2019 will be the 77th annual World Science Fiction Convention, the first to be held in Ireland and the eleventh in Europe. Regular Worldcon activities at Dublin 2019 include the 2019 Hugo Awards, the world’s leading awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, on Sunday night; the Retro Hugos honoring fiction published in 1944, on Thursday night; as well as the spectacular Masquerade costume display and competition on Saturday night.
RadioTimes.com understands that a plan is in the works to air a standalone Doctor Who special some time before series 12 hits screens, possibly in a festive slot like this year’s New Year’s Day Special or the Christmas specials that were released every year prior (from 2005 onwards).
However, it’s also possible that the proposed episode will bypass the festive period altogether, airing in a less competitive slot to give the Tardis team their best reintroduction this winter, and avoiding the usual holiday themes favoured by previous Doctor Who specials.
(2) ORDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE. Just as French fries are merely
a delivery vehicle for ketchup, File 770 exists to publicize where Scott
Edelman goes to eat lunch. In Episode 99 of Eating the Fantastic, the
meal is served at the Sagebrush Cantina in the company of comics
legend Gerry Conway.
My first meal of the Nebula Awards weekend was with comics legend Gerry Conway, who I’ve known for at least 48 years, since 1971 — when I was a comics fan of 16, and he was 19, and yet already a comics pro with credits on Phantom Stranger, Ka-Zar, and Daredevil. Our paths back then crossed in the basement of the Times Square branch of Nathan’s (which, alas, no longer exists) where the late Phil Seuling had organized a standalone dealers room without any convention programming dubbed Nathan’s Con, which was a test run for his future Second Sunday mini-cons.
Gerry and I have a lot of history in those 48 years, including his time as Marvel’s editor-in-chief when I worked in the Bullpen — though his tenure was only six weeks long, two of those weeks my honeymoon — a tenure you’ll hear us talk about during the meal which follows. He’s the creator of The Punisher, Power Girl, and Firestorm, and wrote a lengthy and at one point controversial run on Spider-Man. But he’s also worked on such TV series as Matlock, Jake and the Fatman, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Law & Order, and many others.
At Gerry’s recommendation, our meal took place at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas, California, where I invite you to take a seat and eavesdrop on our longest conversation in 40 years.
We discussed how the comics business has always been dying and what keeps saving it, why if he were in charge he’d shut down Marvel Comics for six months, what it’s like (and how it’s different) being both the youngest and oldest writer ever to script Spider-Man, the novel mistake he made during his summer at the Clarion Writers Workshop, why he’s lived a life in comics rather than science fiction, what caused Harlan Ellison to write an offensive letter to his mother, the one bad experience he ever had being edited in comics (it had to do with the Justice League), the convoluted way Superman vs. Spider-Man resulted in him writing for TV’s Father Dowling Mysteries, how exasperation caused him to quit his role as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief (while I was out of the Bullpen on my honeymoon), how he’d have been treated if he’d killed off Gwen Stacy in today’s social media world, and much, much more.
…I think accessibility to the works remains one of the biggest obstacles to this category working effectively, although the proposal makes substantial efforts to address this.
My other concern is the multiple vectors against which we’d need to judge works in this category. The proposal gives numerous examples of other game awards but I’m struck by the many ways game awards split their own categories….
(4) KOTLER’S PICKS. Paul Weimer hosts “6 Books with Steve Kotler” at Nerds of a
Feather. I’m in the middle of reading the author’s latest —
6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?
My latest book is Last Tango in Cyberspace. It’s a novel that follows a protagonist named Lion Zorn. He’s an empathy tracker or em-tracker, a new kind of human with a much deeper ability to feel empathy than most. His talent lets him track cultural trends into the future, a form of empathetic prognostication, and a useful skill to certain kind of company. But when Arctic Pharmaceuticals hires him to em-track rumors of a new and extremely potent psychedelic—with potential medical uses—he ends up enmeshed in a world of startup religions, environmental terrorists and overlapping global conspiracies. It’s a thriller about the ramifications of accelerating technology, the evolution of empathy, and the hidden costs of consciousness-expansion. And it’s awesome because, well, it’s just a ton of mind-blowing fun.
…History is a fairy tale true to its telling. Lafcadio Hearn’s lives are a fairy tale true in various tellings, primarily his own, then those of his correspondents, and with greater uncertainty, those of his biographers. Hearn changed, as if magically, from one person into another, from a Greek islander into a British student, from a penniless London street ragamuffin into a respected American newspaper writer, from a journalist into a novelist, and, most astonishingly, from a stateless Western man into a loyal Japanese citizen. His sheer number of guises make him a creature of legend. Yet this life, as recorded both by himself and by others, grows more mysterious the more one examines it, for it is like the Japanese story of the Buddhist monk Kwashin Koji, in “Impressions of Japan,” who owned a painting so detailed it flowed with life. A samurai chieftain saw it and wanted to buy it, but the monk wouldn’t sell it, so the chieftain had him followed and murdered. But when the painting was brought to the chieftain and unrolled, there was nothing on it; it was blank. Hearn reported this story told to him by a Japanese monk to illustrate some aspect of the Buddhist doctrine of karma, but he might as well have been speaking about himself as Koji: the more “literary” the renderings of the original story, the less fresh and vivid it becomes, until it might literally disappear, like that legendary painting.
Simon Stålenhag’s paintings are a strange, irresistible mix of mundane scenes from the Swedish countryside and haunting scenarios involving abandoned robots, mysterious machinery and even dinosaurs.
They are the product of his childhood memories — growing up in suburban Stockholm and painting landscapes and wildlife — and his adulthood appreciation for sci-fi.
“I try to make art for my 12-year-old self,” he said in a phone interview. “I want to make stuff that would make my younger self see it and go, ‘I’m not supposed to look at this because it’s for adults, but I really want to anyway.'”
Earlier this year the Internal Revenue Service officially recognized the Satanic Temple as a church, meaning it has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
According to the church’s website, the Satanic Temple’s mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”
Yet perhaps because the group describes itself as a “nontheistic religious organization” and maintains an openness about taking political stances, the IRS decision has brought some controversy.
According to an article on Rewire.News, a pro-life petition online states, “This egregious decision runs counter to everything America stands for,” and a Catholic commentator argued that without God or a literal Satan, there is no “real religion.”
A letter to the editor from a self-identified atheist began:
I’m fine with the ruling, based on the finding that the Temple’s attributes — unique tenets, regular congregations and religious services — meet the IRS guidelines for a tax-exempt religious organization, i.e., a church. Neither God, gods nor Satan are required to be a “real religion” under these guidelines, contrary to the commentator quoted in this month’s question.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 5, 1904 — Milburn Stone. Though you no doubt know him as Doc on Gunsmoke, he did have several genre roles including a German Sargent in The Invisible Agent, Captain Vickery in Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, Mr. Moore in The Spider Woman Strikes Back and Capt. Roth in Invaders from Mars. (Died 1980.)
Born July 5, 1929 — Katherine Helmond. Among her roles was Mrs Ogre in Time Bandits and Mrs. Ida Lowry in Brazil. Now I’ll bet you can tell her scene in the latter… (Died 2019.)
Born July 5, 1941 — Garry Kilworth, 78. The Ragthorn, a novella co-authored with Robert Holdstock, won the World Fantasy Award. It’s an excellent read and it makes me wish I’d read other fiction by him. Anyone familiar with his work?
Born July 5, 1948 — Nancy Springer, 71. May I recommend her Tales of Rowan Hood series of which her Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest is a most splendid revisionist telling of that legend? And her Enola Holmes Mysteries are a nice riffing off of the Holmsiean mythos.
Born July 5, 1957 — Jody Lynn Nye, 62. She’s best known for collaborating with Asprin on the MythAdventures series Since his death, she has continued that series and she is now also writing sequels to his Griffen McCandle series as well.
Born July 5, 1963 — Alma Alexander, 56. Author of three SF series including the Changer of Days which is rather good. I’m including her here for her AbductiCon novel which is is set in a Con and involves both what goes on at that Con and the aliens that are involved.
Born July 5, 1964 — Ronald Moore, 55. He‘s best known for his work on various Star Trek series, on the Battlestar Galactica reboot and on the Outlander series.
Born July 5, 1972 — Nia Roberts, 47. She appeared in two two Doctor Who episodes during the time of the Eleventh Doctor, “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”. But it’s an earlier role that gets her a Birthday citation just because it sounds so damn cool: Rowan Latimer in the “Curse of the Blood of the Lizard of Doom” episode of the Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible whichspoofed shows such as Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.
Look at every regular issue cover from the comic book days of 1952 to the present day! Issue contents included!
(10) COUNTING FANS AT WORLDCONS. The latest round of Hugo
statistics led to a discussion on the SMOFs list about other Worldcon stats,
where Rene Walling reminded readers about his compilations, published by James
Gunn’sAd Astra earlier in this decade:
Sweeping statements and generalizations are often made about the membership of early World Science Fiction Conventions (WSFC, or Worldcon) such as “only the same people came back every year” or “the attendance was all male.” Yet rarely is more than anecdotal evidence given to support these statements. The goal of this report is to provide some hard data on the membership of early Worldcons so that such statements can be based on more than anecdotal evidence.
…The number of members listed over the entire 1961-1980 time span totals 33,279 for the WSFC sources, which represents 81.66% of the total from the Long List (40,752). The total number of individual members is 17,136.
(11) IS BEST SERIES WORKING? At Nerds of a Feather, Joe
Sherry precedes his discussion of the nominees in “Reading the Hugos: Series” with some meta
comments about the category.
This is worth mentioning now because 2019 is the third year of the Best Series category and the second appearance of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series because McGuire has published two additional novels (The Brightest Fell, Night and Silence) as well as some short fiction set in that universe. I wouldn’t be shocked to see McGuire’s InCryptid make a second appearance next year, and I also expect to see The Expanse to have its own second crack at the ballot, though with The Expanse I hope readers wait one more year for the ninth (and final?) volume to be published so that The Expanse can be considered as a completed work.
I’m curious what this says about the long term future and health of the category if we see some of the same series make repeat appearances. Of course, we can (and do) say the same thing about a number of “down the ballot” categories like Fanzine (we do appreciate being on the ballot for the third year in a row!), Semiprozine, and the Editor categories.
We have two episodes of The Good Place, and I won’t complain about that either, because this is a popular vote and the show clearly has its fans…. I’m still not among them. It seems to me that The Good Place is still trying to be several things at once, and is failing at all of them, and since the things it’s trying to be include “funny” and “though-provoking”, the result isn’t good.
(13) HELICON AWARDS. Richard Paolinelli celebrated the
Fourth of July by announcing the ten inaugural
winners of the Helicon Awards on his YouTube channel. Sad
Puppy Declan Finn won the Best Horror Novel category, which is probably more
informative about where these awards are coming from than that Brandon
Sanderson and Timothy Zahn also won.
The 2019 Helicon Awards celebrates the best literary works of 2018 in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Military Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Alternate History, Media Tie-In, Horror and Anthology (SF/F/H).
presentation Paolinelli keeps using the pronouns “we” and “our” without shedding
very much light on who besides himself is behind these awards. The slides for
the winners bear the logo of his Science
Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild, opened last year with the ambition of
rivalling SFWA. The Science
Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild closed group on Facebook is listed as
having 275 members – you can’t see the content without joining, but FB displays
a stat that it’s had 6 posts in the last 30 days. The SFFCGuild Twitter account hasn’t been
active since February 2018.
Paolinelli’s blog claims sponsorship of the awards, but in the video he says not only won’t winners be receiving a trophy, he hasn’t even designed a certificate for them, though he might do that in a few weeks.
In addition to the
10 Helicon Awards, Paolinelli named “three individual honorees for the Mevil
Dewey Innovation Award, Laura Ingalls Wilder Best New Author Award and the
Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award.”
So far as the first two awards are concerned, it’s likely that what did most to persuade Paolinelli to give them those names was the decision by two organizations this past year to drop the names from existing awards – in Wilder’s case (see Pixel Scroll 6/25/18 item #5), the US Association for Library Service to Children said it was “over racist views and language,” while the American Library Association dropped Dewey (see Pixel Scroll 6/27/19 Item #13) citing “a history of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexual harassment.”
What is a full night’s sleep?! I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I run Sleepy Burrow Wombat Sanctuary in Australia, which is the largest wombat sanctuary in the world. I’m up every three hours to do round-the-clock feedings for the baby wombats that have recently come into our care. Their first nights with us are always the most critical time where their survival is the most at risk. If being up all night is what it takes to pull them through, I will do it. Don’t feel too bad for me though. I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything in the world. I have a wonderful family I built with the most supportive husband, who is my partner both in life and rescue. I’m a mother to two perfect daughters, a dog, and a house full of the cutest wombats you can imagine. As a family unit we have rescued over 1,300 wombats.
That main character, it will not surprise you to hear, is David Mogo, Godhunter. David lives in a version of Lagos which has been subjected to the Falling: a war which has caused thousands of Orisha to rain down on the city and take up residence. A half-god himself, David was abandoned by his mother and raised by a foster-father who also happens to be a wizard, wielding magical talents which David’s divinity keeps him from using in the same way. Instead, when we meet David he’s trying to throw himself into a bounty hunting existence with as much amoral abandon as possible, taking on a job from far more shady wizard Ajala for “roof money” while trying to suppress the sense that he should be acting with slightly more principle.
Police and security forces around the world are testing out automated facial recognition systems as a way of identifying criminals and terrorists. But how accurate is the technology and how easily could it and the artificial intelligence (AI) it is powered by – become tools of oppression?
Imagine a suspected terrorist setting off on a suicide mission in a densely populated city centre. If he sets off the bomb, hundreds could die or be critically injured.
CCTV scanning faces in the crowd picks him up and automatically compares his features to photos on a database of known terrorists or “persons of interest” to the security services.
The system raises an alarm and rapid deployment anti-terrorist forces are despatched to the scene where they “neutralise” the suspect before he can trigger the explosives. Hundreds of lives are saved. Technology saves the day.
But what if the facial recognition (FR) tech was wrong? It wasn’t a terrorist, just someone unlucky enough to look similar. An innocent life would have been summarily snuffed out because we put too much faith in a fallible system.
What if that innocent person had been you?
This is just one of the ethical dilemmas posed by FR and the artificial intelligence underpinning it.
Training machines to “see” – to recognise and differentiate between objects and faces – is notoriously difficult. Computer vision, as it is sometimes called – not so long ago was struggling to tell the difference between a muffin and a chihuahua – a litmus test of this technology.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
by Shieldforyoureyes Dave Fischer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
By Jo Van Ekeren:
I’ve spent the last couple of years exhuming statistics and ephemera about the Hugo Awards from various sources, including old Usenet posts on Google Groups, old fanzines, archived con websites, and various historical documents which have been scanned and made available online (and I give my thanks to those of you who have been making those archiving efforts, especially Joe Siclari, Edie Stern, Mark Olson, and Bill Burns).
I’ve managed to resurrect full or partial statistics for around 23 additional years beyond what was posted at TheHugoAwards.org. A few years have already been posted there, and I will be gradually rolling out the rest of them over the next few months as I get them formatted into readable documents.
I’ve updated it with Site Selection ballot numbers, Advance Membership numbers, and Hugo participation percentages for 2000-2019, plus Retro Hugo data, as well as showing the difference between the number of categories which were on the nominating ballot versus the number of categories which had sufficient participation to be on the final voting ballot.
You are welcome to link to the full Google document — and certainly can make a backup of it if you wish — but please be aware that I expect it to continue to change as more bits of information become available.
Please do report to me any errors or omissions you might notice, either in the comments on this post, or by submitting a message here.
What does the most recent data about Hugo nominators and voters tell us?
Tracking of the electronic vs. paper nominations and votes, at the turn of the century, was helpful in evaluating the amount of electronic uptake by Hugo voters. That hit 99% in 2011, and has remained there ever since. Now this comparison tracking is chiefly of interest in noting how many remaining members are either unable or unwilling to nominate and vote electronically.
From 1989 through 2007, participation in the final ballot was consistently under 20% of the Advance membership (those eligible to participate in voting). In 2008, both overall membership numbers and Hugo participation began to rise steadily. It is likely that common acceptance and the ease of the ability to nominate and vote electronically contributed significantly to this. In addition, 2008 was the first year of the annual Hugo Voter Packet – containing finalist works which were not otherwise available for free – and this has also likely contributed to the rise of member numbers and of Hugo participation among members.
The ratio of Supporting to Attending members has also steadily risen in the last 10 years, and while some of this can be attributed to the Puppy campaigns of 2015-2016 as well as to fans from the U.S. being unable to attend overseas Worldcons in London and Helsinki, it seems clear that access to a large number of free works in the Hugo Voter Packet is also a contributing factor. Percentage of eligible advance member participation in the Hugo Awards is now at an all-time high, at 40% to 50% of the eligible membership.
Site Selection, which has remained a mail-in or on-site endeavour, has seen somewhat of a decline in participation in the last 10 years. This is likely due to having only one bid site in many of those years, but possibly also somewhat due to people who previously voted for both Hugos and Site Selection by mail in the past now only voting for the Hugos online. This is not likely to change unless and until it becomes common for bidcoms to be willing to have electronic voting for Site Selection.
Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record Again (1971-1999), by George Flynn
29 - Noreascon I
30 - L.A.Con I
31 - Torcon II
32 - Discon II
33 - Aussiecon One
34 - MidAmeriCon
35 - SunCon
36 - IguanaCon II
37 - Seacon '79
38 - Noreascon Two
39 - Denvention Two
40 - Chicon IV
41 - ConStellation
42 - L.A.con II
43 - Aussiecon Two
44 - ConFederation
45 - Conspiracy '87
46 - Nolacon II
47 - Noreascon 3
48 - ConFiction
The Hague, Netherlands
49 - Chicon V
50 - MagiCon
51 - ConFrancisco
52 - ConAdian
53 - Intersection
54 - L.A.con III
55 - LoneStarCon 2
56 - BucConeer
57 - Aussiecon Three
Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record Yet Again (2000-2020),
by Jed Hartman and Jo Van Ekeren
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
58 - Chicon 2000
59 - Millennium Philcon
60 - ConJosé
61 - Torcon 3
62 - Noreascon 4
63 - Interaction
64 - L.A.con IV
65 - Nippon2007
66 - Denvention 3
67 - Anticipation
68 - Aussiecon 4
69 - Renovation
70 - Chicon 7
71 - LoneStarCon 3
72 - Loncon 3
73 - Sasquan
74 - MidAmeriCon II
75 - Worldcon 75
76 - Worldcon 76
77 - Dublin 2019
78 - CoNZealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record for the Retro Hugos
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
54 - L.A.con III
59 - Millennium Philcon
62 - Noreascon 4
72 - Loncon 3
74 - MidAmeriCon II
76 - Worldcon 76
77 - Dublin 2019
78 - CoNZealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Number of categories includes the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award, the Lodestar/YA Award, and any other special categories or awards announced that year. Discrepancies between total nominating categories and total voting categories are the result of categories with insufficient nominations being dropped from the final ballot.
Chicon 2000 received 1,101 Hugo ballots, of which 475 were electronic ballots and 626 were paper ballots. 30 ballots were invalid, which left 1,071 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 30 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic.
ConJosé received 940 Hugo ballots. There were 697 were electronic ballots, 226 paper ballots, and 17 fax ballots. 16 ballots were invalid, which left 924 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 16 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic vs. fax.
Torcon 3 received 805 Hugo ballots, of which 478 were electronic ballots and 327 were paper ballots. 29 ballots were invalid, which left 776 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 29 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic.
The number of final Hugo ballots for Nippon 2007 is unknown. The quoted figure is the number of Novel ballots / 80%, which is the average percentage of final ballots cast for Novel during that stretch of years.
Site Selection went from 2 years to 3 years in advance
Site Selection went from 3 years to 2 years in advance
Tana Mongeau wanted to throw an alt-VidCon. Instead, she threw a Fyre Festival redux.
Mongeau is a YouTuber. She has 3.5 million followers and her name might sound vaguely familiar if you’re at all versed in the surprisingly engaging world of vegan YouTube drama. VidCon is an annual YouTube-centric convention organized by brothers and YouTube royals Hank and John Green. Tanacon is the event that Mongeau organized — and named after herself — last week in California.
Tanacon was inspired by Mongeau’s self-professed dislike of VidCon. In a video you can watch if you have an hour and eighteen minutes to kill, Mongeau explained she would not be attending VidCon this year, citing drama over not being designated a featured creator at the event. And so, Tanacon was born. And, in a way, so Tanacon died. The event was barely six hours into its first day when it was shut down by officials for overcrowding, sending thousand of teens — many who had been waiting hours outside in the sun — into a tizzy. A dehydrated tizzy we can now recount for you to gleefully relive from the relative comfort of wherever you’re presently posted up. (We can only assume it’s not still the parking lot of the Anaheim Marriott Suites.)…
…The fan horde did not take well to the event cancellation. “After the lady said it was canceled, everyone started screaming, complaining, and cussing her out,” 13-year-old Alyssa, who bought a VIP ticket and waited six hours to be turned away empty-handed, said. “Everyone ran to the registration tent and threw the merch … pop sockets, Tanacon bags, stickers, Tanacon condoms, badges. This led to everyone destroying everything.”
Mongeau eventually came outside to calm the crowd. This, reader, will you believe … also did not end well, as evidenced by clips of screaming fans, phones raised above their heads with cameras at the ready, running through the parking lot to spy their queen….
When we picked the date last year it was a different date range then we normally pick. It was the date closest to the previous few years of Fandomfest. The Omni is a great hotel and we wanted to have it there this year.
Unfortunately several things happened. The date we chose made it very difficult to get vendors and bigger named celebs for that date because there were 6 other big conventions on that date.
So many of our normal vendors had already paid and booked other shows for that date. That made it difficult to procure vendors which helps to pay for everything.
Another reason is the pre-sale tickets were at a lower rate then ever. The guests we have chosen to bring in to the event weren’t a big enough pre-ticket purchase draw for the fans.
Putting these shows on costs money. A lot of money. The idea is to have an idea of the excitement for your guest list and the pre-sales are a huge way for us to gauge that in our plan.
We worked with the great people at The Omni to try and find another date there at their beautiful facility but they are completely booked all the way into 2019.
So we are excited to announce that we are working to reschedule and instead of bringing one show in the summer we are going to bring 2 events to better serve you guys. We know we hear all the time how expensive the shows are getting with the autograph prices and the photo op prices as well as admission. We think the time is right to have shows that don’t cost the fans as much money.
All of us love meeting our favorites from our Superhero Movies or favorite TV Shows out there but lets face it, it can get expensive.
Daniels says they’ll “be refunding the few ticket purchases and vendor booths” starting on June 30.
(3) STILL EARTHBOUND. It was an open secret that the launch of James Webb Space Telescope would be delayed again; now it’s just plain open. The schedule now calls for a launch on March 30, 2021. Once launched, the JWST will be inserted into a solar orbit at the Earth-Sun L2 point.
The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable Webb to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.
NASA has again delayed the launch of its next-generation space observatory, known as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the space agency announced today. The telescope now has a new launch date of March 30th, 2021. It’s the second delay to the program’s timeline this year, and the third in the last nine months.
“We’re all disappointed that the culmination of Webb and its launch is taking longer than expected, but we’re creating something new here. We’re dealing with cutting-edge technology to perform an unprecedented mission, and I know that our teams are working hard and will successfully overcome the challenges,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video statement. “In space we always have to look at the long term, and sometimes the complexities of our missions don’t come together as soon as we wish. But we learn, we move ahead, and ultimately we succeed.”
Segun Akinola has been announced as the sci-fi show’s new composer, and he’s in for a challenge almost as significant as hers: reinventing one of TV’s best-known theme tunes. The British-Nigerian musician’s unveiling continues the trend for bringing in fresh blood all around for the show’s new era. Composer Murray Gold worked on all 10 series of the revived show, winning acclaim for his blockbustery orchestral scores – despite many fans complaining they became invasive and overbearing.
Akinola, an alumnus of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and part of 2017’s Bafta Breakthrough Brit programme, could prove an altogether different prospect for a remodelled show. Could fans look forward to hearing something a little more pared down, modern and minimalist?
…Yet his latest challenge sets the bar high. Composing soundtracks for all 10 episodes of Whittaker’s debut series might provide the lion’s share of his workload – but he is also tasked with providing a ‘fresh take’ on the show’s theme music. That’s one of the most iconic elements of Doctor Who – just like the show itself, it’s always changing while remaining, broadly, the same.
Composed by Ron Grainer, the eerie, warping titles first emerged in 1963 in an arrangement now synonymous with Doctor Who’s renegade spirit….
(5) TRAVEL BAN CONSEQUENCES URGED. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision upholding Trump’s travel ban, several leading sff figures voiced a new resolve to deprive the United States of future Worldcons. Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Twitter thread starts here. Adam Roberts carried on the theme in his Twitter thread, and Paul Cornell ratified it.
A daughter of the prolific author who brought literary depth to the science fiction and fantasy genres with books like “The Warlock in Spite of Himself” said he used the people of Champaign as his muse.
“He gained inspiration from the people around him,” said Eleanore Stasheff, whose father, Christopher Stasheff, died June 10 at age 74.
“He always believed home is where the heart is, which is Champaign,” she said. “He found beauty anywhere we were at, but to him, people were more important than nature.”
Data networking was so new that Mr. Heart and his team had no choice but to invent technology as they went. For example, the Arpanet sent data over ordinary phone lines. Human ears tolerate low levels of extraneous noise on a phone line, but computers can get tripped up by the smallest hiss or pop, producing transmission errors. Mr. Heart and his team devised a way for the I.M.P.s (pronounced imps) to detect and correct errors as they occurred.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born June 27 – Tobey Maguire, 43. Spider-Man films of course.
Born June 27 — J.J. Abrams, 52. Executive Producer of Alias, Lost: Missing Pieces, Star Trek, Lost, Fringe, Star Trek Into Darkness, Almost Human… Well you get the idea.
Born June 27 – Samuel George Claflin, 32. Performer, the Hunger Games film series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Snow White and the Huntsman
Though the epic monster fight was the main spectacle of the movie, it also managed to have a plot too. Well, sort of. The movie follows a dying Pharmaceuticals company whose executive is trying to get business by gaining traction on TV. Obviously the best way to get TV viewership is to send two of your employees to a small exotic island in search of giant monsters you can exploit. So that’s just what they do, discovering King Kong in the process. An awesome fight breaks out between King Kong and a giant octopus, for some reason, and after a much too long “exotic” dance sequence from the island’s “natives” King Kong drinks some special juice and falls asleep.
Here’s a little thread I just sent. I still haven’t heard back from Cisca Small after emailing her twice this month about whether #DragonCon intends to invite John Ringo. According to Ringo he’s been invited. If that’s true I’ll be withdrawing my participation as an Attending Professional. I don’t have the luxury of pacifying, appeasing, or normalizing these decisions with my presence. I’m sure a number of authors who aren’t people of color or women will find all kinds of justifications for why it’s ok to attend but still call themselves “allies”. Just know I don’t buy it. I understand though, selling a few copies of your books is more important than letting a Con know that who they invite says everything about who they are.
Coleman also wrote a Twitter thread, which starts here.
I will be withdrawing my participation as an Attending Professional. Seating abusers on panels with the people they target for abuse, what Ringo would call “SJWs”, is not my definition of welcoming or a safe space.
More than six months after the theatrical release of The Last Jedi, just about every aspect of the backlash against it has already been argued and debated to death. But that hasn’t stopped old arguments appearing in new formats.
Last week, we saw an almost certainly fake campaign “raise” millions of dollars to remake a film that earned more than $1.3 billion at the box office. This week, we’re seeing a “manifesto” written by “We the fans of Star Wars” go viral several weeks after it was originally posted. The emergence of the post, which didn’t get that much traction when it was first posted, is almost solely so people can mock it.
The creators of the manifesto believe that “those in charge of a Franchise derives its power as a creative force from the consent of the fandom of that Franchise.” The creators take umbrage with the direction that Lucasfilm has gone since being purchased by Disney and the perceived “misguided political agenda” that it’s pursuing with the new films. It includes grievances against The Last Jedi and the newer films as a whole, characterizing the films as desecrating the legacies of characters we’ve known for decades. And they certainly have an issue with people assuming that they’re racist, sexist, or part of the alt-right for disliking a movie.
“To these ends, we pledge our merchandise, our honor, and our wallets,” the manifesto stated in its final line.
In the Devil’s West trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman has given us an imagined history of the United States — one that feels nearly as true as facts, both crazier and more reasoned than our Old West reality. Silver On The Road defined that world. One where the Devil — the actual Devil, smelling warmly of whiskey and tobacco, dressed in a prim cardsharp’s suit — holds dominion over everything in the United States west of the Mississippi, and defends it and its people from the predation and influence of Washington, Spain, the French and all of the East. From a town called Flood, he makes his deals and sends his chosen out into the world — one of them being Isobel, a teenaged girl, raised at the Devil’s knee and then sent forth (along with her mentor, Gabriel) into the Territory as his Left Hand. She is the Devil’s cold eye, final word and, when necessary, his justice.
Before Cheo Hodari Coker began plotting Season 2 of Netflix‘s “Luke Cage,” he had to address the elephant in the room.
Actually, it was more like a snake in the room. A Cottonmouth to be specific.
Coker, a director, writer and producer who can frequently be found on social media answering both positive and negative questions and comments from viewers of his works, had frequently seen comments online saying that the killing of Season 1 villain Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) was a huge mistake.
There was a method to Coker’s perceived madness. One reason he gleefully accepted working on “Luke Cage” in the first place was his love of superhero comics. Coker still remembers vividly how he felt the moment he read the 12th issue of “Alpha Flight” (published by Marvel Comics in 1983), when legendary comics scribe and artist John Byrne killed the character Guardian.
“When (Bryne) killed Guardian I was verklempt,” Coker told The Washington Post. “I wanted to bring that kind of thing to Marvel television. I wanted to kind of do what Hitchcock did with ‘Psycho,’ because it was a big deal to kill Janet Leigh. And so, that was the thing. Cottomouth in that structure was always going to die. Even though people liked him a lot.”
In the latest intense and unnerving teaser for George R.R. Martin’s upcoming sci-fi/horror series, Nightflyers, a young girl seems to recite some sort of incantation while we’re treated (if that’s the right word) to brief flashes of the rest of the cast in tight, dark spaces looking concerned, being set on fire, being dragged across the floor by some unseen force, and running for their lives. It’s all pretty terrifying, to tell the truth.
[Thanks to Jim Meadows, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, JJ, IanP, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Rev. Bob, Nickpheas, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) LICENSE TO THRILL. Steven H Silver spotted an unusual collectible in traffic the other day —
I was unaware that Illinois issued such event specific license plate until I saw this one today (June 6). The text around Superman indicates it is for the 40th Annual Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois from June 7-10. On the right you can see that the plate expires on June 10, 2018.
To which the answer is, because talking about Space Opera gives me an opportunity to point out a glaring lacuna in almost all the works we’ve discussed so far—the way that nearly every one of them leaves out the centrality of culture, and particularly popular culture, in shaping a society and reflecting its preoccupations.
When I say “culture”, I’m talking about several different things, each integral to the believability of any invented world. Culture can mean shared cultural touchstones, classic and modern, that give people a common frame of reference, like humming a pop song or quoting the Simpsons. It can mean characters who are artists, professional or amateur. It could refer to the way that culture can become a political battleground, as we were discussing just a few days ago in response to the news that conservatives want their own version of SNL. Or it could be a discussion of material culture—fashion, design, architecture—and how it allows people to express themselves in even the most mundane aspects of their lives.
It’s very rare, however, to see science fiction try to engage with any of these aspects of culture. Even as it strives to create fully-realized worlds, art—high and low, functional and abstract, popular and obscure, ridiculous and serious—tends to be absent from them. So are artists—try to remember the last time you encountered a character in a science fiction or fantasy story who had an artistic side, even just as a hobby. Even worse, few characters in SFF stories have any kind of cultural touchstones.
(3) KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Delilah S. Dawson tells what she thinks is the real meaning of that traditional writerly advice “kill your darlings.” The thread starts here —
Here's my story about learning the true meaning of 'kill your darlings'. When my agent sent feedback on my book, she suggested cutting the lighthouse chapter, as it did nothing for the story. Changed nothing. It was pretty, but useless. 1/
The earliest Worldcon masquerades were more like informal costume contests, with several well known authors of the time participating. The costumes worn were a mix of original designs, interpretations of literary characters and what would come to be known as media recreations. 1940 – Chicon I
Following the novelty of Ackerman’s and Douglas’ costumed appearance the previous year, a “Science Fiction Masquerade Party” was featured as part of the convention programming.(1) By Forrest Ackerman’s count, there were 25 people in costume there. The co-host masters of ceremonies were fans and writers Jack Speer and Milton Rothman. Judging from the accounts of the party, the occasion was informal – there was no stage, but there were one or two skits, including one by Ackerman and “Morojo” (Douglas) wearing their outfits from the previous year.
There were several reports of who was there for the first official costumed event. Among that first group of convention costuming contestants were…
(5) ICG IN PASSING. The International Costuming Guild’s in memoriam video, presented at Costume-Con 36 (2018) to recognize those in the community lost in the previous year, is posted on YouTube.
(6) WITH CAT IN HAND. Yoon Ha Lee will be doing an Ask Me Anything on June 12.
I'll be doing a /r/Books AMA on June 12, also the day my book Revenant Gun will be released–come ask Qs about writing, books, and my friendly cat! pic.twitter.com/6oT5m5Nvk2
There are genre tropes, and then there are those archetypes that are mainstays of not just science fiction and fantasy, but of popular culture in general. One of the best examples is the character of the Gentleman Thief (who doesn’t always have to be a gentleman). These rogues are witty, engaging, and will rob you blind with a rakish wink and a smile. You can’t help but be charmed by them. From Robin Hood to Danny Ocean, the character is a permanent favorite in books and on film….
The Holver Alley Crew, by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Maresca’s interconnected Maradaine books (multiple series examining life in the same fantasy city) are a real treat. The latest series is about the Holver Alley crew, a ragtag group of formerly retired thieves are forced to return to a life of crime when their new, respectable shop burns down. When they learn the fire was no accident, they are forced to take desperate measures. All of the Maradaine books are a treat, but this one really stands out because of the especially strong characters. In fine Oceans tradition, Asti and Verci are both brothers and ringleaders, and must assemble a skilled crew to pull of a job to rob a gambling house that took everything from them.
The public is being offered the chance to attend a service of thanksgiving for Professor Stephen Hawking, who died in March aged 76.
It will take place in Westminster Abbey on 15 June and up to 1,000 tickets are available in a ballot.
During the service, the scientist’s ashes will be interred between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
His daughter, Lucy Hawking, said she wanted to give some of her father’s admirers the chance to remember him.
(9) LAST DAYS. Christopher Stasheff’s son, Edward posted the following to his Facebook page on June 9:
My father, Christopher Stasheff, is currently in hospice and expected to die from Parkinson’s Disease within the next two weeks, quite possibly this week. If anyone would like to say goodbye to him, post it as a response here, and I’ll read it to him the next time I see him (I visit him in the nursing home daily). Thanks.
The most recent reports are suggesting that he may only have a day or so left.
My father Christopher Stasheff died at 6:45 PM on June 10th, 2018, surrounded by his wife and two of his children. The other two were able to phone in and say goodbye before he passed. He is survived by hundreds of his students and uncountable fans, and his legacy will live on in all the lives he touched.
It is worth noting that Harold Bloom’s 1993 list of The Western Canon included only two works that are traditionally categorized as science fiction: Ursula Le Guin’s Hugo Award winner The Left Hand of Darkness and George Orwell’s 1984.
But of Bloom’s list, I would argue the majority of the works cited are less relevant to the broad public – and to a concept of cultural literacy – than the recent Hugo Award winners and popular works of science fiction.
For example, references and allusions to Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 13th century poem Parzival are lost on the broader public, while Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One protagonist Parzival is familiar to many.
When a friend lent Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s newest novel, Cat’s Cradle to me, I thought, “Oh, I know this book!” because I saw, as I flipped through it, the “ice-nine” and “Bokonon” I’d heard people buzzing so much about. So I was glad to read it and understand the phenomenon.
But that’s where my joy ended. Vonnegut is a fine writer. His style is idiosyncratic, askew; this is a novel novel. But no one would accuse him of being optimistic or hopeful about the human future. No Pollyanna he….
How far have we voyaged towards Star Trek’s vision of the future and what of it is likely to be fulfilled or remain undiscovered in the next 50 years?
Kevin Fong presents archive material of the likes of Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) talking about the inception and filming of the original Star Trek series, and their thoughts about Roddenberry’s vision of the future and its impact in the United States at the time.
For example, Nichols relates how she had a chance encounter with Martin Luther King the day after she had told Roddenberry that she intended to leave Star Trek after the first series. King told her he was her number fan and almost demanded that she didn’t give up the role of Uhura, because she was an uniquely empowering role model on American television at the time.
For a perspective from today, Kevin also talks to George Takei who played Mr Sulu. Takei laments the ethnically divisive politics of the United States in 2016.
He meets Charles Bolden – the first African American to both command a shuttle mission and lead NASA as its chief administrator. In the age of the International Space Station, he compares himself to the ‘Admiral of Star Fleet’. But the former astronaut also talks about the anger he first felt in 1994 when he was asked to fly the first Russian cosmonaut ever to board an American space shuttle.
Kevin also talk to cultural broadcaster and Star Trek fan Samira Ahmed about the sexual and racial politics of the Original series.
(14) ST:D SEASON TWO. Comedian and new Star Trek: Discovery cast member Tig Notaro opened her set on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert poking fun at her inability to understand any of the tech talk from her Trek dialog. See “‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Tig Notaro Talks Technobabble” at Comicbook.com.
Tig Notaro is one of the new additions to the cast of Star Trek: Discovery in the show’s second season and while she’s excited to be a part of the Star Trek universe she doesn’t exactly speak the language.
Notaro was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote her new comedy special Happy to be Here. She greeted Colbert by saying his theater was “like a room full of pleasant subspace particles wrapped in a tachyon field of good vibes.”
The comment is obviously a reference to her role on Discovery, though she admits “I have no idea what I’m saying on that show…I can’t even picture what I’m talking about.”
She revealed that her character is human and that she plays Commander Jet Reno, a name she got to choose for herself. As for how she got the job, “They just asked if I wanted to do it” she says.
More female directors on Marvel pics: Captain Marvel is the first Marvel title to have a female director at the helm Anna Boden (who is co-helming with Ryan Fleck. And having more female directors behind his superhero pics is a trend he plans to maintain, “I cannot promise that (the next) 20 Marvel movies will have female directors but a heck of a lot of them will,” he said in response to an audience member’s question. The Marvel boss mentioned that agencies are sending more female directors than men for Marvel directing jobs.
On the $1.3 billion success of Black Panther, Feige said that Marvel “wanted to destroy the myth that black movies don’t work well around the world,” and being at Disney with its platinum marketing department allowed the comic book studio to swing for the fences.
“The budget for Black Panther was bigger than Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and you can’t do that without the support and encouragement from the leaders of the company,” he said.
Feige also applauded Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s championing his diverse below-the-line team in Hannah Beachler as production designer, Ruth Carter’s costumes, and DP Rachel Morrison. Their resumes, like Marvel’s directors, didn’t scream tentpole experience, but Feige is grateful he heard them pitch rather than rely on his regular team.
“We can’t imagine the movie without them, and the future movies we hope to make with them,” he said.
After their wildly successful first dino film in 2015, the pair reunited last year to film much of Fallen Kingdom on the Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii. But even surrounded by tropical paradise, they faced more than a few challenges on camera, from filming in a chlorinated pool that fried Pratt’s hair and skin to riding in a zero-gravity gyrosphere that made Howard nauseous. And Pratt had to do some awkward face-offs with a velociraptor that wasn’t really there—until the special-effects department created it. He acts out how he’d say to the air in front of him, “Get back, get back . . .” and then “Whoa!” as he’d throw himself on the ground. The camera crew, watching on monitors nearby, “didn’t want to say how stupid it looked!”
Aster said he deliberately amped up the drama in the film slowly. “I’m not affected by anything in a film unless I’m invested in the people at the center of it,” he said. “I wanted to take my time and immerse people in this family’s life and their dynamic, which is quite complicated. I just wanted to make a film in the tradition of the horror films I grew up loving, like ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘The Innocents.’ Films that take their time are very much rooted in character.”
Setting also plays an important role in the creepiness in “Hereditary.” The family’s luxury cabin in the woods has the right dark corners and haunted attics to make it feel like a trap where its inhabitants are left to slowly die. Annie’s miniature houses become a motif. “The miniatures just struck me as a potent metaphor for the family’s situation,” Aster said. “They have no agency, and they’re revealed over the course of the movie to be like dolls in a dollhouse, being manipulated by these outside forces.”
(18) SPONGEBOB TONY. In “How ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ invaded our brains”, Washington Post writer Sonia Rao interviews the cast and creators of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which is up for 12 Tonys as best musical tonight and is making a lot of Millennials very happy.
Tom Kenny never thought SpongeBob SquarePants, a character he originated on the children’s program almost 20 years ago, would one day end up on Broadway. Why would he have? Parents clamp their hands over their ears whenever they hear SpongeBob’s helium voice, let alone his nasal laugh. The anthropomorphized sponge is no Hugh Jackman.
And yet, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” is up for 12 Tonys on Sunday, tied with “Mean Girls” for the most nominations. Its resonance with serious theatergoers is surprising until you consider that even as adults, those of us who watched the series can’t shake its omnipresent songs, references and memes. Somehow, it became a cultural earworm.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Lexica, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Jonathan Cowie, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) BEAMING UP OR BEAMING DOWN? How likely is The Orville to stick around? Follow the ratings chart and compare it to the competition. Although interest has tailed off since the first couple of episodes, its audience is comparable to a lot of other shows in its time slot.
Look, I have been waiting years to say this and I just can’t hold back anymore. Science fiction is full of horrible dad figures. We know this. There are so many that we’d be hard pressed to decide the winner of that Battle Royale, particularly given the scope of their terribleness. Anakin Skywalker Force-choked his pregnant wife and tortured his daughter. Howard Stark emotionally abused his son into creating the “future” he wanted to bring about, and never managed to utter the words I love you. Admiral Adama made his eldest son feel totally inferior to both his dead son and his surrogate daughter, and then left him alone on a new world so he could spend three minutes with his dying paramour. Sci-fi dads are generally bad at their jobs.
But you know who it the absolutely worst? Spock’s dad.
Yeah. I’m looking at you, Sarek of Vulcan…
It’s a great hook for an article. It’s even greater if you’re old enough to remember that Jane Wyatt, the actress who played Spock’s mother in TOS, had spent years playing the mother in that ultimate patriarchal sitcom Father Knows Best.
(3) SCARY METER. The “2017 Halloween Poetry Reading” is up at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association website, with soundfiles of the poets reading their works.
Readers have been asking me for a while now about when the next Shadow Police novel is coming out. The unfortunate answer is: I don’t know, verging toward never. I’m afraid Tor UK have dropped the line. Now, this is no cause for anger at them. I serve at the pleasure of publishers. I’m used to the ups and downs. (And I know I have several ups coming my way soon, so I feel strong enough to write about this.)
I might, at some point in the future, consider using a service such as Unbound to publish the last two books in the series. (There were always going to be five.) And if a publisher were to get in touch, seeking to republish the first three, then go forward, I’d have that conversation. But the aim right now is to continue with the flourishing Lychford series, and look to use the next non-Lychford novel to move up a league division or two, and then return to Quill and his team from a position of strength.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I’ve loved the reader reaction to the Shadow Police books. I promise I will finish that story when it’s possible to do so. I thought you all deserved an explanation.
(5) AS SEEN ON TV. Today, Jeopardy! obliquely referenced the various Puppy campaigns in a question:
Any member of the World Science Fiction Society can vote for this literary award, which has led to some drama.
Rich Lynch says nobody got it. Steven H Silver called it a “Triple stumper.”
Now that’s what I call “music about aliens systematically wiping out humanity!” This song, bone-deep in its pessimism, explains in some detail why we’ve got this coming: we’re oblivious to everything around us; we’re afraid for reasons we don’t understand; and above all, we’re gonna be a cakewalk for the aliens to conquer. And has there ever been a lyric that crystalized this particular moment in time as well as “At this time, sirs, I recommend that we proceed to Phase Three: Eradicate them all for the glory of our interstellar queen”? Probably. But once the interstellar queen arrives and starts eradicating us, this is going to be the hottest jam of the summer.
(7) DRAGON ART. Hampus calls this a “Meredith painting” – an artist paints an elaborate dragon in one stroke. Apparently this is a thing in Japanese art.
Back in 2015, American startup MegaBots Inc challenged Japanese company Suidobashi to a Giant Robot Duel–a knock-down dragout, totally-not-staged fight between the US and Japanese robot teams. On Tuesday night, the final fight went down. Here’s the breakdown, starting with Round 1:
Iron Glory (MK2) is fifteen feet tall, weighs six tons, has a 22-foot wingspan at full extension, a top speed of 2.5 miles per hour, a 24 horsepower engine, and is armed with a missile launcher and a six-inch cannon that fires 3-pound paintballs. Iron Glory is described as favoring a “Western” combat style, with an emphasis on distance and ranged weaponry….
(9) SAGA FIGURES. Funko is working with Skybound Entertainment to produce figures from the Saga graphic novel series. Nine figures have been announced, which include a couple of variants and one exclusive to Barnes and Noble: “Funko SAGA Pops are Coming!” The figures will be available in February of 2018.
It’s no secret that we here at Skybound LOVE Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’ Eisner Award winning comic SAGA. We love it so much that in the past couple years we’ve teamed up with Brian and Fiona to bring you a ton of amazing merch for the series. Today, we’re happy to announce that everyone’s favorite space opera is OFFICIALLY get the Funko Pop! vinyl treatment.
We’ve got Marko, Alana, The Will, Prince Robot & Lying Cat coming your way and they’re adorable! These guys will be dropping at a shop near you in February. Make sure to keep an eye out for retailer exclusives (like Izabel at Hot Topic) and chase variants. You can see the first images for the figures below. Let us know in the comments which Funko pop you’re most excited for (the correct answer is: ALL OF THEM. Just fyi).
(10) BIRD UPDATE. In October 2015, File 770 linked to a GoFundMe appeal by science fiction writer RP Bird (RP’s Cancer Survival Fund). Terhi Törmänen has news about a new appeal for help:
RP Bird survived cancer treatment but is not in good health and still suffers from chronic and almost debilitating pain. He’s actually currently quite desperate as you can read from his latest appeal.
He’s been able support himself through a low-paying part time job that he’ll probably lose in very near future.
He’s launched a new appeal to raise money to be able to go trough further facial and dental surgery to improve his ability to e.g. eat properly and lessen the pain and other health issues stemming from the cancer and its treatment. The state will pay for the operations but he does not have any savings to pay rent for his one-room accommodation and other very modest living expenses while he’s going through the operations and recovering from them. His appeal is quite reasonable $ 2000.
I think that if you’d mention his desperate situation in the File 770 the appeal might have a chance to succeed and a life could be saved.
…Hilde and I exchanged looks as we drove slowly by, but didn’t want to upset Chris before church. So I drove them to church, then came back, retrieved the body, took it home, and buried it in the back yard, with a lot of tears. (He may not have been THE World’s Best Cat, but he was a contender.)…
(14) IT’S IN THE BAGON. “Do you have a hoard that needs guarding? A dragon could be your greatest ally,” says the person behind the Dragon Bagons Kickstarter.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch Bagthulhu’s conquest of the globe, Wayward Masquerade is back with a range of CR10 cuties that want to hoard all your dice. They’ve raised $6,216 of their $18,260 goal as of this writing, with 26 days left in the appeal.
(15) CEREAL JUSTICE WARRIOR. Saladin Ahmed’s tweet in protest yielded an immediate promise from Kellogg’s to change some art.
Kellogg’s will be redesigning Corn Pops cereal boxes after a complaint about racially insensitive art on the packaging.
The Battle Creek, Mich.-based cereal and snack maker said on Twitter Wednesday it will replace the cover drawing of cartoon characters shaped like corn kernels populating a shopping mall. The corn pop characters are shown shopping, playing in an arcade or frolicked in a fountain. One skateboards down an escalator.
What struck Saladin Ahmed was that a single brown corn pop was working as a janitor operating a floor waxer. Ahmed, current writer of Marvel Comics’ Black Bolt series and author of 2012 fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, took to Twitter Tuesday to ask, “Why is literally the only brown corn pop on the whole cereal box the janitor? this is teaching kids racism.”
He added in a subsequent post: “yes its a tiny thing, but when you see your kid staring at this over breakfast and realize millions of other kids are doing the same…”
Kellogg’s responded to Ahmed on the social media network about five hours later that “Kellogg is committed to diversity & inclusion. We did not intend to offend – we apologize. The artwork is updated & will be in stores soon.”
David K.M. Klaus sent the link along with this quotation:
“Don’t you see, Tommie? I’ve explained it to you, I know I have. Irrelevance. Why, you telepaths were the reason the investigation started; you proved that simultaneity was an admissible concept…and the inevitable logical consequence was that time and space do not exist.”
I felt my head begin to ache. “They don’t? Then what is that we seem to be having breakfast in?” ”Just a mathematical abstraction, dear. Nothing more. She smiled and looked motherly. “Poor ‘Sentimental Tommie.’ You worry too much.” Time For The Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, 1956
Science fiction author and native son Ray Bradbury wrote about 1920s Waukegan as “Green Town” in three books, “Dandelion Wine,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Farewell Summer.”
Bradbury died in 2012. A park, two arts festivals, and a tavern downtown bear his name
Robert Sobol, owner of Green Town Tavern in Waukegan’s downtown district, originally opened the place under a different name in 2006. His business partner left and Sobol took over the bar two years later. Sobol was looking for a new name, so he held a contest asked his customers to think of one. Green Town was declared the winner with the most votes….
Green Town Tavern offers a Saturday Happy Thyme Breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon and features breakfast dishes like the Green Town Omelette — three eggs, bacon, sausage, onions, peppers and cheddar cheese with hash browns — and “Waukegan’s Finest Bloody Mary.”
Vincent D’Onofrio has been set to reprise as Wilson Fisk for the third season of Daredevil, I’ve learned. As the Kingpin crime lord, the Emmy nominee was the main villain in Season 1 of the Netflix series and made an imprisoned appearance in last year’s Season 2. The ex-Law & Order actor hinted to fans recently that official word on his Daredevil return was in the cards with a banner photo of the Fisk character up on his Twitter page
(19) KARLOFF AND LUGOSI: A HALLOWEEN TRIBUTE. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read his posts about the iconic horror actors at The Thunder Child website.
He was beloved by children of all ages, the gentle giant brought to horrifying screen existence by electrodes and the thunderous lightening of mad inspiration. Here, then, is my Halloween look back at the life and career of both Frankenstein’s, and Hollywood’s beloved “Monster,” Boris Karloff.
We’ve already found our favorite mashup of 2019: Boyfriend Dungeon, a dungeon crawler from indie team Kitfox Games (Moon Hunters, The Shrouded Isle), which combines hack-and-slash gameplay with very, very cute guys and girls.
Boyfriend Dungeon is exactly what it says on the tin, based on the first trailer. Players are a tiny warrior fighting through monster-ridden areas. Scattered across the procedurally generated dungeons are a bunch of lost weapons — which, once rescued, turn out to actually be extremely cute singles.
That’s when the dungeon crawler turns into a romance game, and it’s also when we all realized that Boyfriend Dungeon is something special. Every romance option has their own specific weapon to equip, from an epee to a dagger and then some. Players work to level up those weapons, but also to win over these sweet babes during dialogue scenes. If this isn’t the smartest combination of genres we’ve seen in some time, we don’t know what is.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Dann, Steven H Silver, Rich Lynch, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
Fandom is growing. It’s growing tremendously. Unfortunately, the major percentage of that growth is taking place under the auspices of institutions and organizations that are not themselves fannish (or are fannish so long as being so is in service to making a profit).
As fans, we like to say that we’re not in “competition” with events such as SDCC or Dragoncon. Not only do we dismiss Anime conventions and multi-media cons as doing something that we’re not doing, we discount the experience that attendees and staff gain from these events. In our minds there is a difference between the conventions that are connected to fan history and largely follow fannish traditions (you buy a membership, not a ticket; we don’t pay guest to appear; we’re focused on the literature; those aren’t real conventions) and those that aren’t. We go to great pains to try and distinguish the bona fides of small ‘f’ fans and large ‘F’ fans.
But here’s the problem: the non-traditional conventions are offering the vast majority of “fannish experiences” these days. Traditional conventions have such a small footprint in national awareness that so far as most potential fans are concerned, non-traditional events ARE fandom.
In short, it is non-traditional events that are educating the public about what fandom is and what it’s all about. Not traditional fandom.
In 2015, we received submissions from 109 different countries. In the above chart, the blue bar represents the percentage of total submissions for that country. The green bar indicates the percentage of all acceptances. (Reminder: The Chinese translations are handled by a separate process and not included in these numbers.)
Note: If you feel inclined to proclaim that this data indicates that I have a bias towards international submissions, perhaps you should read this editorial. That said, it pleases me that Clarkesworld has a more global representation of science fiction. There’s a lot of great work written beyond our shores.
(4) AND A DEAFENING REPORT. James H. Burns had a blinding insight.
Hanging out at Joe Koch’s comics warehouse the other day, it suddenly occured to me, that if Barry West was Catholic, he would have no problem with Lent.
(Or, if he were Jewish, no problem with Yom Kippur.)
What time is the end of the daylight? The sun is expected to die in roughly 5 billion years. But humans—provided we survive any number of ecological, nuclear, or alien-based disasters—are only expected to last about another 1 billion years on Earth.
So technically the “daylight” will be over for humanity in 1 billion years, which is again, predicated upon the absurd assumption that we make it that long anyway.
I have recently been led to understand that the world in Sherwood Smith’s brilliant duology is supposed to be ours, set far in the future on a distant planet, where the magic is alien science. This would certainly explain why they share many touchstones with our world, while also having two moons for the characters to gaze up at and trees willing to exact revenge. But the true magic in these books for me is in the complexities of the ballroom. Smith has created a complete court to rival Versailles in intrigue, with fan language, complicated symbolism woven covertly into jewelry, long lineage that gives you the feeling every character does have a twisting family tree, and old traditions so tangible you’re sure they must have been in fashion once in our world too.
(7) CHICKENS, NOT POTATOES. This week’s The Simpsons has a Bradbury-esque title: “The Marge-ian Chronicles.”
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 12, 1971 —The Andromeda Strain opens in theaters.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY.
Born March 12, 1923 – Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra.
It is damn near impossible to explain the joy that comes from watching Who’s Out There, a documentary on aliens made by NASA in 1975 starring real scientists, regular people, and then Orson Welles, pontificating into the camera. I cannot emphasize this enough: Spend half an hour watching this.
King obviously has a way with words, and his Twitter is no exception. Full of hilarious thoughts and weekly answers to reader questions, it’s always entertaining. He alternates between adorable tweets featuring his dog, Molly (aka The Thing of Evil), and recommending the books he’s reading. Being the master of horror that he is, I consider him an authority on recommendations in that genre. You could make an entire reading list based on Stephen King recommendations, and be set for a long time.
Here are 11 books that scared the unshakable Stephen King, and so are pretty much guaranteed to keep you up at night and/or give you nightmares. But hey, that’s the fun part!
Since I’ve not gotten any comments on this question at all, I’m going to assume either 1) it’s Saturday and everyone is out enjoying the spring weather or 2) there’s not much interest in what J. K. Rowling publishes on her Website.
Besides this, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of concern about cultural appropriation except as a tool to attack people who are perceived as targets in some way. I expect Native Americans are fairly used to being abused, so another semi-fictional essay on skinwalkers isn’t going to affect their social outlook one way or the other.
The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”; a subterranean “ice wall” around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished. And authorities still don’t know how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.
(15) BATMAN SINGS. In the episode of The Hollywood Palace originally aired October 8, 1966 Adam West sings “The Orange Colored Sky” and “The Summer Wind.”
Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman at the Three Legends event in 2008.
Visual effects genius Ray Harryhausen, who brought the fantastic alive using stop-motion animation, died May 7 in London at the age of 92.
Between 1949 and 1981 he created effects for Mighty Joe Young, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (partly based on a short story, “The Fog Horn,” by Ray Bradbury), It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Animal World, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, First Men in the Moon, One Million Years B.C., The Valley of Gwangi, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Clash of the Titans.
Harryhausen’s fascination with special effects began in 1933 when he saw King Kong, the handiwork of pioneering animator Willis O’Brien. (They would eventually work together on Mighty Joe Young). Harryhausen’s devotion to King Kong also led to his lifelong friendships with Forrest J Ackerman and Ray Bradbury. He went to a revival of the movie in the early 1940s and saw some stills on display he wanted to copy. The theater employee he asked was Roy Test Jr., co-founder of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy League, who knew the owner of the photos, Forry Ackerman and put them in touch.
Six decades later, as part of the British Film Institute’s celebration of Harryhausen’s 90th birthday, Ray Bradbury described on video their first meeting at Ackerman’s house, when they talked about what they wanted to do with their lives, Harryhausen confessing that he wanted to make movies and Bradbury nervously admitting that he wanted to be a writer….
An important part of Harryhausen’s success was his new ideas. The New York Times explains:
The heart of his technique was a process he developed called Dynamation. It involved photographing a miniature — of a dinosaur, say — against a rear-projection screen through a partly masked pane of glass. The masked portion would then be re-exposed to insert foreground elements from the live footage. The effect was to make the creature appear to move in the midst of live action. It could now be seen walking behind a live tree, or viewed in the middle distance over the shoulder of a live actor — effects difficult to achieve before.
Each of the model skeletons was about eight to 10 inches high, and six of the seven were made for the sequence. The remaining one was a veteran from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, slightly repainted to match the new members of the family. When all the skeletons have manifested themselves to Jason and his men, they are commanded by Acetes to ‘Kill, kill, kill them all,’ and we hear an unearthly scream. What follows is a sequence of which I am very proud. I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronised to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing less than one second of screen time; in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months.
His innovations were honored in 1992 with a career Academy Award for technical achievement. At the Oscar ceremony, Tom Hanks told the audience that he thought the greatest movie of all time was not Citizen Kane or Casablanca but Jason and the Argonauts. Which is quite a reversal of fortunes when you consider that Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, a 1959 Hugo nominee, lost to No Award.
Science fiction fandom did eventually become more appreciative. Harryhausen was a Worldcon Guest of Honor in 1987 at Brighton. And he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005.
His filmmaking colleagues also found ways to acknowledge him, dropping in references to his name in animated movies, such as Harryhausen’s restaurant in Monsters, Inc., and giving him live cameos in Beverly Hills Cop III (1994, Bar Patron) and Mighty Joe Young (1998, Gentleman at Party).
Harryhausen’s last feature was Clash of the Titans in 1981. A proposed follow-up, Force of the Trojans, never got a green light. He also came to believe that the movie industry had changed for the worse:
The thing that finally persuaded me to quit was that I saw that the nature of the hero was changing. When I was growing up we had heroes such as Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and David Niven, real gentlemen on the screen. Now, all you have is Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and all those people who solve problems with their fists. It’s a different world and I sometimes feel I’m not part of it. Say what you like about Hollywood in my time, but they were in the business of happy endings, of escapism. Now, you have to sit through two hours of people dying, you know. Today, everything’s so graphic it’s rather unnerving.
Harryhausen is survived by his wife, Diana Livingstone Bruce, who he married in 1963. Said Bradbury, “He found just the right woman at just the right time, and it worked out terrifically.”