The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists (Detective Varg #0.8), by Alexander McCall Smith Penguin Random House, ISBN 9781984898524, February 2019
Review by Lis Carey: Detective Ulf Varg is the head of the Department of Sensitive Crimes for the Malmö police. It’s important to understand that this is not the Special Victims Unit. The cases they get are…strange. Odd. Possibly a bit weird, sometimes.
The case that comes to them, one fine morning, involves a champion pedigreed cat, a Burmese, belonging to a breeder of Oriental cats. The breeder, with this particular cat, attended a cat show. The cat was bred to a champion male, and the entire expected litter was pre-sold.
When the kittens were born, they were clearly not purebred Burmese, and the breeder has a huge problem.
One aspect of this is a rumor that her champion Burmese female wasn’t really purebred. A story then emerges that a person, never seen clearly enough to be identified, snuck in a big, rangy, street tom, and put him into the Burmese female’s crate. Nature took its course, and the mixed-breed litter was the result. Sabotage, rather than fraud.
Ulf and his partner, Anna, have to figure out the truth.
That’s their official case. Ulf’s brother, Bjorn, is the leader of a political party called the Moderate Extremists. They have great ambitions, but they’re polling at about 1%, as are their main rivals, the Extreme Moderates. Ulf and Bjorn don’t see eye to eye on politics, at all, and maintain their closeness as brothers by not discussing politics, ever. So it’s a real surprise when Bjorn calls Ulf and asks for help with a political problem. Someone is leaking sensitive party information to their rivals, the Extreme Moderates. This could shake Bjorn’s position as the head of the Moderate Extremists.
Very, very reluctantly, Ulf agrees to do a quiet, private investigation.
If you’ve read McCall Smith’s other mysteries, you know hard-hitting crime investigation isn’t the point, here. It’s good people, some more good than others, trying to solve problems and make the world a little better. There are interesting and likable characters here, each with their own problems, and basic decency. It’s enjoyable.
No, I have no idea how McCall Smith’s depiction of at least part of Sweden’s political world will look to Swedes. My provisional assumption is that the specific parties mentioned are detached enough from reality to not cause any great offense,
Effective July 1, 2023, the SFWA Board of Directors will be made up of the following members:
Jeffe Kennedy, President
John Murphy, Vice President
Jasmine Gower, Secretary
Erin Hartshorn, Chief Financial Officer
Directors-at-Large Monica Valentinelli, Jordan Kurella, Christine Taylor-Butler, Chelsea Mueller, and Phoebe Barton
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, who ran as a write-in for SFWA Director-at-Large, was not elected.
Departing the SFWA Board on June 30 will be directors Remy Nakamura and José Pablo Iriarte.
REFERENDUMS. Previously, genre writers of poetry and translators of fiction could not use those portions of their paid work as part of their catalog when applying to join SFWA or to upgrade their membership classification. But SFWA members have just voted to approve two resolutions to accept those qualifications:
(I) Paid SFF and related genre poetry sales shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA.
(II) Payment for SFF and related genre translation work shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA by the translator.
The SFWA Board says, “We’ll publicly announce when the organization is ready to begin taking applications that include poetry and translated works.”
(1) 2025 WORLDCON SITE SELECTION UPDATE. The Seattle 2025 Worldcon Bid News for June reports theirs was the only bid filed, and the only one that will be on the official ballot. (If another one appears it could still be a write-in.)
Seattle filed its site selection paperwork in April which was acknowledged and approved! According to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Constitution, bid documents for opposing bids must be filed no later than 180 days before the opening of the administering convention. No other bids were filed, so Seattle will be the only bid on the printed ballot. We could not be more excited! Supporting memberships are still on sale through our website, and we hope to have strong voter turnout in October.
… Watch for announcements on how to vote in site selection remotely. Barring an unlikely loss to a write-in campaign, we also plan to sell upgrades to supporting members who do not participate in site selection which allow them to purchase attending memberships to the Seattle Worldcon for a similar cost. Stay tuned for more!
…The panel was very interesting and went into what distinguished East German science fiction from West German and Western science fiction in general. One of the points made was that since East Germany has an official vision of what the future would look like, namely a Socialist utopia, the questions East German science fiction asked was not so much, “What will the future look like?”, because they already knew, but “How do we get there?” and “How do we do this?” The above-mentioned novel Andymon by Karlheinz and Angela Steinmüller is actually a good example for this, because it’s about some young people landing on a planet they’re supposed to colonise, only that the planet is not as advertised, so they have to figure out how to make it habitable anyway.
Emma Braslavsky pointed out that by the 1980s, when East Germany was visibly declining and falling apart (which tracks with what Aunt Metel told me, namely that East Germany continued improve and progress, albeit slowly, into the 1970s, then it stagnated and gradually fell apart), the Socialist Utopia was more of a promise, much like Christmas. Just sleep one more night and Christmas – Socialism is here and everything will be wonderful. Emma Braslavsky also noted that when she watched things like Star Trek on West German TV (a large part of East Germany could and did watch West German TV), someone muttered some complete nonsense like “Reverse the polarity” and it actually worked.
Even though the panelists grew up in two very different countries and systems, there were some things that united all of them. For example, it was never easy to be a budding SF fan in a small rural village or town, whether in East or West Germany, because library selections were limited and books or comics not always easily available in local shops….
(4) CATHERINE LUNDOFF Q&A. Oliver Brackenbury’s So I’m Writing a Novel… podcast devotes episode 66 to the “Queen of Swords Press”.
When most of us think about publishing we tend to think of one of the Big Five (Four? How many are we down to now?), but there is a whole world of smaller, independent publishers to explore!
Wanting to learn more about that world, Oliver spoke with Catherine Lundoff about her own experiences launching and running Queen of Swords Press.
…In addition to the recent clause preventing the use of books in training generative AI without an author’s express permission, the new clauses require an author’s written consent for their publisher to use AI-generated book translations, audiobook narration, or cover art. These clauses can benefit publishers and the publishing industry at large by maintaining the high quality craftsmanship that consumers are used to.
The Authors Guild also urges publishers to identify any books that contain a significant amount of AI-generated text. This summer, the Guild will be publishing AI guidelines for authors and publishers containing each of these conditions.
The purpose of these demands is to prevent the use of AI to replace human creators. The Authors Guild strongly believes that human writing, narration, and translation are vastly superior to their AI mimics. Moreover, as an ethical matter, the Authors Guild opposes relying on these tools to replace human creators, in part because current AI content generators have largely been trained on pre-existing works without consent. The Guild stands in solidarity with human creators in other industries, who like authors, face professional threats from AI-generated content flooding the markets for their work….
We encourage publishers to adopt these clauses and authors and agents to request that they be added to their contracts.
Clause Relating to Authors’ Use of AI Author shall not be required to use generative AI or to work from AI-generated text. Authors shall disclose to Publisher if any AI-generated text is included in the submitted manuscript, and may not include more than [5%] AI-generated text.
Audio Book Clause (For Use With Audiobook Grants) With respect to any audiobook created or distributed under this Agreement, Publisher shall not permit or cause the Work to be narrated by artificial intelligence technologies or other non-human narrator, without Author’s prior and express written consent.
Translation Clause (For Use With Grants of Translation Rights) With respect to any translations created or distributed under this Agreement, Publisher shall not translate or permit or cause the Work to be translated into another language with artificial intelligence technologies or other non-human translator, without Author’s prior and express written consent. For purposes of clarification, a human translator may use artificial intelligence technologies as a tool to assist in the translation, provided that the translation substantially comprises human creation and the human translator has control over, and reviews and approves, each word in the translation.
Cover Design Clause (For Book Contracts) Publisher agrees not to use AI-generated images, artwork, design, and other visual elements for the book cover or interior artwork without Author’s prior express approval. For purposes of clarification, a human designer may use artificial intelligence technologies as a tool to assist in the creation of artwork for the Work, provided that the human artist has control over the final artwork and the artwork substantially comprises human creation.
Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?
Because no matter what the theme is, they will see themselves in the personal essays. That’s the beauty of these books, I think, that we all have these shared experiences and we like to see echoes of our own lives in what we read. Beyond that, if you love RPGs and began playing as a kid, you’re going to love this book.
As is now traditional, we’re publishing below the full list of eligible titles received by the Clarke Award from which our official shortlist selection is decided.
This is released as an open-source resource to showcase the breadth and diversity of UK science fiction literature as part of its ongoing commitment to self-accountability and supporting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across the publishing industry and science fiction community.
This year’s judging panel received 97 eligible titles submitted by 40 UK publishing imprints and independent authors.
The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2023 are:
The Vulcan known as Spock was one of the most important characters in Star Trek, and many of his family members also played key roles in the franchise. Ever since his debut in Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock has been an integral part of Star Trek lore, and so has his kin. As the series progressed, more and more of Spock’s family tree began to be fleshed out, and it was clear that Spock was one of the most connected individuals in the Alpha Quadrant. From villains to ambassadors, Spock’s family was just as important as he was in shaping the franchise….
Here’s one member you might have overlooked.
When Sarek returned in The Next Generation, he was accompanied by a new wife who filled much the same role that Amanda did. Because of the large gap in the Star Trek timeline between TOS and TNG, it could be assumed that Amanda died of old age, and Perrin, a human woman, eventually married Sarek. Because of Sarek’s advanced age, she was a companion and caretaker to him, and she was very protective of his important image as he began to succumb to Bendii syndrome in TNG season 3, episode 23, “Sarek”. Unlike Amanda though, Perrin did not get personally involved in Sarek and Spock’s affairs.
… The forthcoming film, which opens in Japan on July 14, is easily the most anticipated movie coming to Japanese theaters in years — and exceedingly little is known about it. (U.S. and international release dates for the film have not yet been set.)
Ghibli previously described the film as “a grand fantasy” loosely inspired by Japanese author Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 novel How Do You Live?, a coming-of-age story about the emotional and philosophical development of a young boy after the death of his father….
In the interview, [lead producer Toshio] Suzuki also contrasted Ghibli’s approach for How Do You Live? with the usual marketing methods of Hollywood.
“There’s an American movie — ah, I almost said the title out loud! — coming out this summer around the same time [as How Do You Live?],” he said. “They’ve made three trailers for it, and released them one at a time. If you watch all three, you know everything that’s going to happen in that movie. So how do moviegoers feel about that? There must be people, who, after watching all the trailers, don’t want to actually go see the movie. So, I wanted to do the opposite of that.”…
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2007 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Elizabeth Bear’s “Tideline” reminds me how great the short stories are by a writer whose novels I usually am reading, such as the ever so excellent White Space series.
This story was first published in Asimov’s Science Fiction in their June 2007 issue. It’s been reprinted a number of times and Primes Books published it in the Shoggoths in Bloom collection they released which is available from the usual suspects at a very nice price.
It’s also in The Best of Elizabeth Bear from Subterranean Press which I need not say will set you back many a penny.
The audio series StarShipSofa in their number thirty-nine production has it as the lead piece here.
And now the Beginning to this story…
Chalcedony wasn’t built for crying. She didn’t have it in her, not unless her tears were cold tapered glass droplets annealed by the inferno heat that had crippled her.
Such tears as that might slide down her skin over melted sensors to plink unfeeling on the sand. And if they had, she would have scooped them up, with all the other battered pretties, and added them to the wealth of trash jewels that swung from the nets reinforcing her battered carapace.
They would have called her salvage, if there were anyone left to salvage her. But she was the last of the war machines, a three-legged oblate teardrop as big as a main battle tank, two big grabs and one fine manipulator folded like a spider’s palps beneath the turreted head that finished her pointed end, her polyceramic armor spiderwebbed like shatterproof glass. Unhelmed by her remote masters, she limped along the beach, dragging one fused limb. She was nearly derelict.
The beach was where she met Belvedere.
Butterfly coquinas unearthed by retreating breakers squirmed into wet grit under Chalcedony’s trailing limb. One of the rear pair, it was less of a nuisance on packed sand. It worked all right as a pivot, and as long as she stayed off rocks, there were no obstacles to drag it over.
As she struggled along the tideline, she became aware of someone watching. She didn’t raise her head. Her chassis was equipped with targeting sensors which locked automatically on the ragged figure crouched by a weathered rock. Her optical input was needed to scan the tangle of seaweed and driftwood, Styrofoam and sea glass that marked high tide.
He watched her all down the beach, but he was unarmed, and her algorithms didn’t deem him a threat. Just as well. She liked the weird flat-topped sandstone boulder he crouched beside.
The next day, he watched again. It was a good day; she found a moonstone, some rock crystal, a bit of red-orange pottery, and some sea glass worn opalescent by the tide.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 5, 1908 — John Russell Fearn. British author and one of the first British writers to appear in American pulp magazines. A prolific author, he also published novels as Vargo Statten and with various pseudonyms such as Thornton Ayre, Polton Cross, Geoffrey Armstrong and others. As himself, I see his first story as being The Intelligence Gigantic published in Amazing Stories in 1933. His Golden Amazon series of novels ran to over to two dozen titles, and the Clayton Drew Mars Adventure series that only ran to four novels. (Died 1960.)
Born June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. He was secret agent Gary Seven in the “Assignment: Earth” on StarTrek. The episode was a backdoor pilot for a series that would have starred Lansing and Teri Garr, but the series never happened. He of course appeared on other genre series such as The Twilight Zone, Journey to the Unknown, Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1994.)
Born June 5, 1931 — Barbara Paul. Writer of mysteries, some twenty or so, and a handful of genre novels. Her novels feature in-jokes such as her Full Frontal Murder mystery novel which uses names from Blake’s 7. Genre wise, she’s written five SF novels including a Original Series Trek novel, The Three-Minute Universe, which is available at the usual suspects. (Died 2022.)
Born June 5, 1946 — John Bach, 77. Einstein on Farscape, the Gondorian Ranger Madril in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Also a British body guard on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he was the body double for shooting of Saruman in place of Christopher Lee, who was unable to fly to New Zealand for principal photography on The Hobbit film series.
Born June 5, 1953 — Kathleen Kennedy, 70. Film producer responsible for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, her first film, and later produced the Jurassic Park franchise. She’s been involved in over sixty films, I’d say of which at least half are genre, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark as an associate to Steven Spielberg. Amblin Films with her husband and Spielberg has produced many of the genre’s best loved films.
Born June 5, 1960 — Margo Lanagan, 63. Tender Morsels won a World Fantasy Award for best novel, and Sea-Hearts won the same for Best Novella. She’s an alumna of the Clarion West Writers Workshop In 1999 and returned as a teacher in 2011 and 2013.
Born June 5, 1976 — Lauren Beukes, 47. South African writer and scriptwriter. Moxyland, her first novel, is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town. Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller with fantasy elements is set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. It won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a Kitschies Red Tentacle Award for best novel. (I love the name of the latter award!) And The Shining Girls would win her an August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. Afterland was on the long list for a NOMMO. Much of her short fiction is collected in Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Sheldonwitnesses an Uber reservation being placed for “Mister Gandalf”.
…From Monday, June 5 through Sunday, June 11, anyone who needs a road trip snack-break can visit the Cheez-It Stop to pick up several bags of orange crackers. The Cheez-It Stop has been equipped with the world’s first (and so far, its only) Cheez-It Pump which will spray bags of Cheez-Its through your open car window. And best of all, it’s completely free to take advantage of the pump and feed your Cheez-It cravings.
Regardless, you just have seven days to visit the Cheez-It Stop before it disappears into the desert’s memory. It can be found at 61943 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, California and will be open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT every day between now and Sunday.
…The Delaware-based beermaker has brewed up its own homage to the film called Asteroid City Lager, and it collaborated with the director himself to design the label. According to Dogfish Head, Asteroid City Lager was brewed with a combination of regeneratively grown pilsner malt, Tuxpeno corn malt, and Michigan-grown Zuper Saazer hops. The beer was then finished with a Pennsylvania lager yeast, which the brewery says is “a nod to the 1950s era during which Asteroid City takes place.”
… The beer’s eye-catching label pays tribute to the film’s desert landscapes and to the Asteroid City billboard that shows the fictional town’s biggest tourist attraction, a giant crater left by a meteor….
(15) CHOCOLATE ORTHODOXY. I can confirm this will be a controversial opinion in our neck of the woods.
Baaaad news? How big is the asteroid coming toward Earth in 2023?
Asteroid 2023 HO18 is estimated by NASA to have a diameter of as much as 50 meters. In imperial measurements for American readers, that would be 164 feet or just under 55 yards.
But to use a more creative metric, consider the humble domesticated sheep (Ovis aries). These animals are widespread throughout the world and while there are a wide number of breeds, they are all still part of the same species.
Three years ago, a Chinese farmer made an unusual donation to a university museum—a giant, nearly intact human skull with strange proportions and an unusual backstory. The man’s family had been hiding the fossil since it was unearthed at a construction site in Harbin nearly 90 years ago.
After geochemical detective work to locate where the fossil was likely found, and painstaking comparison of its distinctive features with those of other early humans, some of the scientists investigating the find believe the cranium from Harbin could represent an entirely new human species—Homo longi or “Dragon Man.” If so, they further suggest it might even be the human lineage most closely related to ourselves.
“The discovery of the Harbin cranium and our analyses suggest that there is a third lineage of archaic human [that] once lived in Asia, and this lineage has [a] closer relationship with H. sapiens than the Neanderthals,” says Xijun Ni, a paleoanthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University. If so, that would make the strange skull a close relative indeed since most humans today still have significant amounts of Neanderthal DNA from repeated interbreeding between our species….
Bigger brains may not equate to higher intelligence after all, according to a remarkable discovery about an early hominin.
Homo naledi, a hominin discovered in the Rising Star cave system in Africa’s Cradle of Humankind in 2013, had human-like hands and feet but a brain a third of the size of humans — a characteristic researchers previously attributed to a marker of far less intelligence than its Homo sapien relatives.
But the assertion that bigger brains make for a smarter species may have been disestablished now that scientists have made a harrowing journey into the Rising Star cave and discovered that the species — which lived about 335,000 to 236,000 years ago — buried its dead and marked the graves. It is the first non-human species in history known to do so, paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Lee Berger told ABC News.
…The researchers began to hypothesize that Homo naledi buried its dead during continued excavations in 2018 and in July 2022, those hunches were not only proven but amplified once Berger and his team found skeletal remains of Homo naledi and then carvings on the wall above them to mark those laid to rest there.
The symbols included triangles, squares and a sort-of “hashtag” sign, as in two cross-hatching equal signs, Berger said. However, it is unclear what these carvings meant, and researchers will be delving into whether there is a “random chance” that Homo naledi used the same symbols as humans or if they were obtained from some sort of shared ancestry.
(19) REH SCHOLARSHIP. A video of the “Glenn Lord Symposium”, i.e. the academic track of the 2023 Robert E. Howard Days, is available for viewing on YouTube.
1)Dr. Dierk Gunther, Professor of English Literature at Gakushuin Women’s College, Tokyo His presentation: “Through the Eyes of an Ophirean Woman: Thoughts Concerning the Racism of Robert E. Howard’s The Vale of Lost Women.” 2) Brian Murphy, Howard Scholar His presentation: “Far Countries of the Mind: The Frontier Fantasy of Robert E. Howard.” 3) Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville His presentation: “Robert E. Howard and Oil Booms: Crime, Disorder and Reality.”
…After Collider’s special screening, a member of the audience asked Dos Santos how hard it was to put the LEGO dimension together. Surprisingly, Dos Santos revealed the whole scene was created by the 14-year-old Youtuber LegoMe_TheOG, known for recreating movies and TV shows trailer and full scenes with LEGO pieces. A few months before Across the Universe hit theaters, LegoMe_TheOG made a viral recreation of the movie’s first teaser. After that, producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller brought him to the project….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
The scholarships are offered to those pursuing careers as writers of horror fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. The diversity grants also extend to library workers. And there are funds offered for YA writing programs at libraries.
The scholarship, open to all horror writers (HWA membership is not required), is worth $2500, which may be spent on approved writing education over the two years following the granting of the scholarship.
This scholarship, worth $2,500, is open to horror writers who identify as women. It may be spent on approved writing education over the two years following the granting of the scholarship.
The late Rocky Wood, then HWA President, explained why the scholarship was created in 2014.
“It is very clear to the HWA that there are unseen, but real, barriers limiting the amount of horror fiction being published by women. There are many fine women writers being published in our genre but we also see potential for the percentage of horror fiction being published by women to increase. This Scholarship, named after the great female horror writer, aims to encourage more female writers to enter our genre and to aid in the development of those already working within it. At the same time the HWA exists to extend the horror genre in all its aspects, so we are also establishing Horror Writers Association Scholarship, which is open to all our members, regardless of gender.”
The Diversity Grants will be open to underrepresented, diverse people who have an interest in the horror writing genre, including, but not limited to writers, editors, reviewers, and library workers. …the Diversity Grants have adopted the broadest definition of the word diversity to include, but not limited to, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabled, and neurodiverse.
The number of grants awarded is subject to the amount of funds raised. Each Grant is worth $500 and may be spent on approved expenses for a period of two (2) years following the awarding of the Grant.
The Dark Poetry Scholarship, first awarded in 2015, is designed to assist in the professional development of Horror and/or Dark Fantasy Poets. It is worth $1,250, which may be spent on approved writing education over the two years following the granting of the scholarship.
The Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship Fund for Non-fiction Writing provides grants for research and writing a specific nonfiction project relating to horror and dark fantasy literature. The amount is flexible. Membership in HWA is not a requirement.
The Dennis Etchison Young Writers scholarship is open to students in grades 10-12 (or the equivalent, if home schooled), with an interest in writing horror/dark fiction. The winner may apply the $500 toward college tuition, course fees (on line or traditional), and/or materials pertaining to the enhancement of writing skills. The money can also be used for online Horror University courses from the HWA.
The Young Adults Write Now fund will provide up to five endowments of $250 each per year for selected libraries to establish new, or support ongoing, writing programs. The program is currently open to United States libraries, but will be expanded in the future to include other countries, as part of the HWA’s global presence. Membership in the HWA is not a requirement. Recipients receiving funding will be able to use the monies for anything relating to the proposed/active writing program, including but not limited to supplies, special events, publishing costs, guest speakers/instructors, and operating expense. Monies may not be used to fund other programs or expenses for the library.
San Diego Comic-Con has announced that the 2023 recipients for the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award are Beth Accomando and Scott Dunbier. The award will be presented by Ruth Clampett (Bob’s daughter) during the Eisner Awards ceremony on July 21.
Beth Accomando has been a film critic for 30 years and began at KPBS in 1987. Since 1997 she has been covering independent and international cinema as well as pop culture for National Public Radio. She volunteers and does fundraising as part of The Film Geeks at the Digital Gym Cinema to bring independent and envelope-pushing genre filmmaking to the Media Arts Center San Diego’s micro cinema. She is also co-founder of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. Beth makes a point of bringing attention to local San Diego creators and events, from interviewing authors at bookstore signings to covering shows such as Black Com!x Day.
Scott Dunbier spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign for Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, an anthology that raised nearly $175,000, with all proceeds being donated to Ukrainian refugees, in partnership with Operation USA. The book’s contributors include Alex Ross, Arthur Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Walt Simonson, Jill Thompson, Howard Chaykin, Stan Sakai, Colleen Doran, Matt Wagner, Sergio Aragonés, Louise Simonson, June Brigman, and many more. Scott has been Special Projects Editor at IDW since 2008, where his award-winning publications have included the Artist’s Edition line of books.
Comic-Con’s Humanitarian Award named for animator Bob Clampett, who created the TV series Beany and Cecil, designed such popular characters as Porky Pig and Tweety Bird. Clampett was a regular guest at Comic-Con in the 1970s and early 1980s.
[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
BUY THIS AND ALL YOUR WRITING DREAMS CAN COME TRUE(BEGGING THE QUESTION PT. 3)
Hello All! Melanie here.
Are you familiar with the theory of relativity? More specifically, the Writer X theory of relativity? If not, here’s a summary: everything in the universe conspires to keep Writer X from writing her epic fantasy saga.
To be fair, X had a lot of things on her plate last week that were only partially writing-related. First, her writer boyfriend appears to have dumped her—or at the very least, ghosted her, which has thrown a wrench in X’s plans as she finds that having him around puts her in the mood to write more.
But it would seem that X’s hare-brained take on a universal conspiracy holds some water. When X abducted the gnome that abducted Tod Boadkins’ mobile phone, X discovered that her boyfriend had been brainwashed by a unique brainwashing device used by a Gnome Crime Ring that goes around pimping people’s houses in Cradensburg and furnishing those houses with stolen goods.
Although, I’m confident they consider themselves a legitimate Multilevel Marketing Operation.
I’m sure that Writer X would have gotten to the bottom of this all and gone out to dinner with Tod if it hadn’t been that she’s also been abducted. We also learned that nothing breaks the soul like chicken marsala Lean Cuisine!
Meanwhile, in Cradensburg, we’re starting to get a firsthand peek into that Mysterious Complex. I wonder if it’s a cult.
Without further ado…
Subject: Special Offer from Pimp My House Sales Associate #3472Xxxxxx
Do your shutters have enough bling to blind your neighborhood three streets deep? Does your fireplace also double as a subwoofer? If not, have I got an offer for you!
(Never mind the scripted pitch Gladys. It’s obligatory, they screen my emails! Psss, it’s X!
Hang on, Gladys, my supervisor is making his rounds. BRB!!! (That means “be right back”!))
Perhaps you’re content with the creaky cabinet doors in your kitchen. When were those installed? In 1962? Do you suffer from 15 layers of yellowed, sticky contact paper lining the bottom of your silverware drawer? Who put this stuff in, anyway? Surely not you! You’re stylish!
Which is why you should be the first on your block to sport our cutaway, fish tank cabinet doors complete with real fish tanks, tropical-themed aquatic decorations, and goldfish with Jamaican accents!
(I would have sent you an email without the pitch, but things have gotten especially harried here in the House Pimping call center, what with them catching those Herbalife spies last night!!!!!)
You work hard. Why soak your sore dogs in a run-of-the-mill, ceramic lined tub when you get home? You deserve the creature comforts of a deluxe jacuzzi completely with 42 heated jets, a champagne dispenser, and three submersible fondue pots!
(Anyhoo, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going. Right now I am on the verge of one of the biggest writing opportunities of my ENTIRE life!!!! It’s all about to happen, Gladys!!! The mansion in Scotland, vacationing in hobbit homes in New Zealand, the cheetos dipped in caviar!! I am about to be a HOUSEHOLD NAME!!!!
Just as soon as I break free of this gnome prison call center, grab that brainwashing device, and meet with my exboyfriend, award nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins!
Whoops! Here comes the supervisor again.)
You’ve heard of spinning rims, but have you ever heard of spinning gutters? Don’t sleep on the latest trend in pimped-out home improvement. Your state-of-the-art spinning gutters will be the envy of all the houses in your neighborhood. Plus, they clean themselves by hurling leaf debris into your neighbor’s backyard! Imagine the savings, not just on your wallet, but in back-breaking labor! What will you do with all your free time?
I’ll tell you what you can do with your newfound free time! You can enjoy it in your exclusive home car theater.
(Sorry Gladys, took me a little longer to get back to this!!! I had to step out and attend an energy-filled Name & Claim session!! It’s a little team-building exercise we do every few hours to make customer care specialists more focused on our goals.
This afternoon, I’m more pumped than ever!!! It’s not every day you break into FILM WRITING!!!! That’s what I “named and claimed” my life as a famous writer of blockbuster fantasy films!!! I inspired my whole team, too! All the gnomes are really excited. They can’t wait to sell house pimping to the Hollywood Moguls my career will bring them into contact with!!!!
Let me catch you up. As you know, when last we spoke I was gathering my jar of nickels and spelunking equipment to hunt down the brainwashing device those gnomes used on my exboyfriend, award nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. This of course led me to go caverning through that great big hole that runs under the gates of the Mysterious Complex.
That great big hole led me up and into a darkened warehouse. At first I wandered around aimlessly shaking my jar of nickels to lure out any hiding gnomes. But then I found myself outside of a strange door with a strange, and hauntingly familiar sign.
The sign read:
MANAHEE MOTION PICTURES
Was it a clue??? I couldn’t know, so I shook my jar of nickels and went inside.
I climbed the stairs to get closer to them and that’s when I got the WRITING BREAK OF A LIFETIME. I truly am destined to be the next big epic fantasy writer of all time!!!!!
Let me tell you what I heard right after this message from my captors.)
What’s a “home car theater,” you ask? Let’s paint the picture for you.
When you’re seated in your home theater getting a tan from your HD LED widescreen cineplex television, what’s missing from the theater experience? You’ve got it! SEATS THAT TRAP YOU WHEN YOU GET UP FOR A POPCORN RUN.
But who would want to install those gum ridden clam shell seats when you can have an equally ensnaring experience clambering up and out of a BUCKET SEAT installed three inches above the floor?
Right now, for a limited time, we’re offering you a special: pimp your house today and our gnomes will install a full complement of AUTHENTIC bucket seats ripped out of Chryslers we found laying around.
But that’s not all!
(Okay, I’m back, Gladys. And I think I’m one step closer to stealing that brainwashing device and breaking out of here!!!! While I was pasting in my sales script, I overheard two gnomes in the next cubicle whispering about a POTENTIAL INVASION BY BEACHBODY!!!!! Apparently with the delicate balance of the gnome MLM juggling world being disrupted, all of the biggest Multilevel Marketing Corporations are anxious to sink their teeth into fresh meat.
I even spotted a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant wandering around here offering complementary facials!!! You know it’s getting real when someone whips out the moisturizer!!!
Combine that with Herbalife associates infiltrating the premises last night and cyphoning off house pimping gnomes to join them as “distributors” and it’s going to be pandemonium any minute!!!!
Anyhoo, where was I? I was hearing voices!!! And you know what it was???
Gladys… it was the owner of the Mysterious Complex meeting with her marketing and business managers. They were talking about the giant hole someone had dug under their gates and into their prop department. Apparently these burglars ran off with several hundred thousand dollars worth of movie props!!!
That’s when I stopped shaking my jar of nickels and pressed my ear to the door…)
Perhaps you’ve heard about the bidet craze sweeping the nation? Maybe your neighbor has whisked down to Home Depot to install a bidet attachment on her toilet. Why keep up with the Jones’s when you can out clAss them altogether?
Tell [SALES ASSOCIATE #3472XXXXXXX] that you’re ready to PIMP YOUR HOUSE now and we’ll throw in a free chrome plated bidet. For a limited time, we’re also offering a seltzer attachment. Sure, your neighbor’s toilet offers a cleansing stream of water with each use, but yours will offer a cleansing stream of BUBBLY water, ensuring the most awakening, surprising experience you can get before your 6 o’clock commute to Boston every morning. And we guarantee that, or your seltzer’s on us!
(Gladys, what I’m about to tell you has changed EVERYTHING!!!
The board at the Mysterious Complex agreed that they had to take an aggressive approach to winning the hearts and minds of Cradensburg so that they can “fulfill their core mission.”
They’re going to host a local film festival and launch a short film WRITTEN BY A LOCAL CRADENSBURG WRITER!!!!!
THIS IS MY OPPORTUNITY, GADLSY!!!!
All I need to do is sell 56 more house pimping packages and I’ll be promoted to double ruby. From there, I’ll be invited to a special inspiration brunch in the C-Suite of the operation where I’ll pass by the office of “the Big Guy.” If my information from Lil’ gnomey is right, the brainwashing device is in an old KFC bucket in that office!!!
And while I’ve never written a film script in my entire life, I’m sure my first attempt will be worthy of PETER JACKSON!!!!
Things are all working according to plan!!!! Except for the bit where the gnomes all popped out of holes they’d dug in the ground and threw me and my jar of nickels in a burlap sack and dragged me to Orientation. Small hiccup. But I make LEMONADE!!!!
Speaking of plans, this is where you come in Gladys. I’ve NAMED AND CLAIMED my sales goals and I’m more driven than ever. This is why I’m writing to you to invite you to take up this amazing opportunity!!!!)
With a simple reply of “I’m in,” your sales associate [SALES ASSOCIATE #3472XXXXXXX] will get you connected to a highly skilled team of gnomes who will expand your house beyond your wildest dreams.
We’re going to offer this package to you at a fraction of the price that it’s worth. But if you’d like savings with a side of dream career, you can save even more by joining our sales associate team. That way you can connect people to their blinged out chimney flashing today, and your financial freedom tomorrow!
Don’t wait to act on this. After all, tomorrow’s just a dream away.
[SALES ASSOCIATE #3472XXXXXXX]
P.S. Can you email my exboyfriend for me please and let him know I may be late to our dinner date at Fish! Fish! Fish!? Also, can you ask him if he’s satisfied with his current kitchen cabinets? He could be your first downline, Galdys!!!
The 2023 Roswell Award and New Suns Climate Fiction Award winners have been announced on Facebook by Sci-Fest LA.
Both are international short science fiction story competitions for writers age 17 and older. The Roswell Award seeks stories that explore and connect themes such as social justice, feminism, identity, inequity, environmental sustainability, ethics, and technology. The New Suns Climate Fiction Award is for original short science fiction that reimagines new ways of living and depicts humanity exploring and overcoming today’s climate and biodiversity crises.
THE ROSWELL AWARD
1st Place — “Philanthropy” by Cecilia Evans (Thailand)
2nd Place – “First Plantings” by Elizabeth King (Utah, USA)
3rd Place – “Breathing for Two” by Rich Larson (Canada)
NEW SUNS CLIMATE FICTION AWARD
Winner — “Desert Rain” by Natalie Click (Arizona, USA)
(1) CHIANG CALLS AI “A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS”. Behind a paywall in the Financial Times: “Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang: ‘The machines we have now are not conscious’”.
…Before we have had a chance to order, the proprietor, who also doubles as the waiter, turns up with two steaming bowls of peppery red lentil soup. The flavours instantly awaken my taste buds: salty and pungent. As we dive in, Chiang, in his contemplative way, takes issue with my observation that his fictional worlds and the one we’re inhabiting are getting uncomfortably close together.
“The machines we have now, they’re not conscious,” he says. “When one person teaches another person, that is an interaction between consciousnesses.” Meanwhile, AI models are trained by toggling so-called “weights” or the strength of connections between different variables in the model, in order to get a desired output. “It would be a real mistake to think that when you’re teaching a child, all you are doing is adjusting the weights in a network.”
Chiang’s main objection, a writerly one, is with the words we choose to describe all this. Anthropomorphic language such as “learn”, “understand”, “know” and personal pronouns such as “I” that AI engineers and journalists project on to chatbots such as ChatGPT create an illusion. This hasty shorthand pushes all of us, he says — even those intimately familiar with how these systems work — towards seeing sparks of sentience in AI tools, where there are none.
“There was an exchange on Twitter a while back where someone said, ‘What is artificial intelligence?’ And someone else said, ‘A poor choice of words in 1954’,” he says. “And, you know, they’re right. I think that if we had chosen a different phrase for it, back in the ’50s, we might have avoided a lot of the confusion that we’re having now.”
So if he had to invent a term, what would it be? His answer is instant: applied statistics….
(2) CHICON 8 WILL SHARE SURPLUS. The Chicon 8 Worldcon committee informed Facebook readers today the 2022 event has a surplus. Here’s how they will distributed it:
We are delighted to tell you that Chicon 8 has achieved a modest budget surplus, despite the challenge of a pandemic environment which reduced our membership numbers and increased our costs. This means that we will have funds to pass along to the next three Worldcons, as well as some other fannish organizations.
Additionally, we are offering a partial reimbursement to all qualifying staff, volunteers and program participants. You should have received the email last weekend, so do check your spam filters! Questions can be sent to reimbursements @ chicon.org
Quite a while back, a since-deleted Reddit account asked, “Those who went to high school with celebrities, who were they and what were they like?”…
16. “My cousin went to high school with George R. R. Martin [the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series adapted into Game of Thrones] and recalled having a freshman lit class with him. When it was time for everyone to read their stories, George’s was BY FAR the best. Apparently, the entire class simultaneously dropped their jaws. Guy’s a talent. Oh, and apparently, he was a typical nice dude.”
From the first frame in the opening sequence of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the music sets the tone. First, our protagonist whistles us a tune, a homespun melody that grounds us in Carl Kolchak’s world. Quickly, though, the playful music swells into a nearly-overwhelming orchestral score, contrasting the simpler sounds with blood-pressuring raising crescendos.
The title music is indicative of what’s to come. Carl Kolchak is seemingly a simple-enough man, however, his exploits are anything but. What could be a simple series about a regular newspaper reporter turns into a monster-of-the-week horror show. It’s a testament to the cast and crew that this tone is so expertly balanced.
Chief among the creatives who influenced the series’ direction is the show’s various composers. Initially, for the made-for-TV ABC movies featuring Kolchak, those duties were handled by Bob Cobert. Cobert was, himself, no stranger to television shows that go bump in the night; that’s his work soundtracking the vintage vampire soap opera Dark Shadows. You might also recognize his work in Trilogy of Terror, another terrifying made-for-TV flick.
The theme for the television series, though, was composed by Gil Mellé. That’s Mellé’s melody that Kolchak whispers in the opening moments. Shows like Ironside and The Night Gallery were all the better for their Mellé scores….
I don’t think I have posted a single thing to the 20 Books to 50K Facebook group that hasn’t been declined by the moderators. None of my posts have been political, and I’ve gone out of my way not to throw any bombs.
Even in the wokest days of KBoards, before I was banned from that site (and just before they fell off a cliff in terms of being the main gathering place online for indie authors), the moderators were never this harsh.
Online communities have a life cycle, and in the later stages they either fall apart because the trolls take over, or the moderators become too tyrannical. Apparently, that now applies to real-life communities too, now that we all spend most of our time online. Right now, 20 Books is in perhaps the most advanced stage of a moderator takeover that I’ve ever seen….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2003 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Our Beginning is that of “A Night on the Barbary Coast”, a short story by Kage Baker that was first published in The Silver Gryphon anthology edited Marty Halpern and Gary Turner and published by their Golden Gryphon Press twenty years ago. Check out the contents on ISFDB — if you’ve not read it, you’ll want to. Oh and the wrap around illustration is by Tom Canty.
Kage and I as I have mentioned before had a long conversation ongoing in email and on the phone for years before her death. We were planning a Concordance consisting of interviews with her characters and other materials but she became too ill too fast for it to happen. Pity that as it would been a lot of fun to do.
Gods and Pawns where it was reprinted along with other Company stories is available from the usual suspects. The Silver Gryphon is about two dollars currently on ABE Books. Signed copies are considerably more.
And here’s our Beginning…
I’d been walking for five days, looking for Mendoza. The year was 1850.
Actually, walking doesn’t really describe traveling through that damned vertical wilderness in which she lived. I’d crawled uphill on hands and knees, which is no fun when you’re dressed as a Franciscan friar, with sandals and beads and the whole nine yards of brown burlap robe. I’d slid downhill, which is no fun either, especially when the robe rides up in back. I’d waded across freezing cold creeks and followed thready little trails through ferns, across forest floors in permanent darkness under towering redwoods. I’m talking gloom. One day the poets will fall in love with Big Sur, and after them the beats and hippies, but if vampires ever discover the place they’ll go nuts over it.
Mendoza isn’t a vampire, though she is an immortal being with a lot of problems, most of which she blames on me.
I’m an immortal being with a lot of problems, too. Like father, like daughter.
After most of a week, I finally came out on a patch of level ground about three thousand feet up. I was standing there looking down on clouds floating above the Pacific Ocean, and feeling kind of funny in the pit of my stomach as a result—and suddenly saw the Company-issue processing credenza on my left, nicely camouflaged. I’d found Mendoza’s camp at last.
There was her bivvy tent, all right, and a table with a camp stove, and five pots with baby trees growing in them. Everything but the trees had a dusty, abandoned look. Cripes, I thought to myself, how long since she’s been here? I looked around uneasily, wondering if I ought to yoo-hoo or something, and that was when I noticed her signal coming from… up? I craned back my head.
An oak tree rose from the mountain face behind me, huge and branching wide, and high up there among the boughs Mendoza leaned. She gazed out at the sea; but with such a look of ecstatic vacancy in her eyes, I guessed she was seeing something a lot farther away than that earthly horizon.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 4, 1936 — Bruce Dern, 87. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. Dern also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, The Haunting, The Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants.
Born June 4, 1951 — Wendi Pini, 72. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading!
Born June 4, 1960 — Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 63. If you’ve not discovered the delights of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is a great deal of fun no matter where you start. Nor let us forget the Spade/Paladin series, I think we can call it a series, which is quite delightful. Ten Little Fen is the first novel in that series. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her Website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A. J. Budrys.
Born June 4, 1960 — Bradley Walsh, 63. His first genre was on The Sarah Jane Adventures as Odd Bob Elijah Spellman aka The Pied Piper in “The Day of the Clown” story. His major genre role video wise however is Graham O’Brien, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Now it’s worth noting that he has a lot of theatre experience that is genre having appeared in multiple versions of Aladdin, Cinderella, Jack & the Bean Stalk, Peter Pan and Snow White.
Born June 4, 1964 — Sean Pertwee, 59. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course, playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “, on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film of that name the same year. He did a bit of low-budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie which I dearly want to see! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham.
Born June 4, 1972 — Joe Hill, 51. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops. Nice guy like his father. Actually the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve got Full Throttle, his latest collection in my digital reading pile. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.
Born June 4, 1975 — Angelina Jolie, 48. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role being quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen her Maleficent films.
Born June 4, 1991 — Jordan Danger, 32. She is best known for her role as Zoe Carter on Eureka. (Now inexplicably renamed A Town Called Eureka in syndication.) She also showed up in Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators which as horror is genre of sorts, plus the SF films, Higher Power and Beyond the Sky. And even a vampire film, Living Among Us. All low budget, all straight to DVD productions.
(10) TO START YOUR WEEK. Sunday Morning Transport seeks to encourage subscribers with this free read, “Hibernation Heirloom”.
For June, we begin with Chelsea Mueller’s evocative view of motherhood’s pressures and expectations. ~ Julian and Fran, June 4, 2023
…Robert J. Sawyer’s latest sci-fi novel Download released this month also revolves around the two core themes. In the novel, humans have uploaded their consciousness into the meta-universe, opening up an alternative way of life. But suddenly, something happened. Some people vanish forever, and the survivors have to return to the real world.
The inspiration for the novel comes from Sawyer’s own feelings during the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, we were free to meet, to gather, to touch each other, to hug loved ones. Then the life we had taken for granted took a big hit and many had to connect online. So I thought, what if one day humans could only survive digitally and never return to the real world? Or what if they were suddenly forced to return to the real world after getting used to digital existence?”
Nor were his feelings confined to this point. “For decades, sci-fi writers have depicted various possible plagues, but when a plaue actually arrived, the world was still unprepared. People never learn from their mistakes, and this hasn’t changed for thousands of years.” Sawyer tells.
“And one thing hasn’t changed too. No matter how much convenience the Internet can provide, how exciting the video games can be, nothing can replace real human connection, laughter and clinking glasses, eye contacts, and soft breathing by the ears. Digital life has never been the direction of human evolution. In this era of rapid advances in AI, it is more vital than ever to appreciate human contribution and value.” Sawyer claims….
(12) WILLETT’S FIRST NOVEL BACK IN PRINT. Soulworm, the debut novel of Edward Willett, now the award-winning author of more than 20 novels and twice that many nonfiction books, has been made available once more in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press Reprise.
This YA fantasy novel, originally published in 1997, was written in the 1980s while Willett was news editor of the Weyburn Review newspaper, and is set in Weyburn in 1984—which nowadays gives it a Stranger Things vibe, although at the time it was a present-day tale.
Willett is an Aurora Award winner for Marseguro (DAW) and for Best Fan Related Work in 2019 for The Worldshapers podcast, and a Saskatchewan Book Award for Spirit Singer in 2002.
For years, Liothel has waited in vain for her powers to manifest themselves, so that she can become a full-blown Warder, defender of the realm of Mykia from the mind-controlling spirit creatures known as soulworms. But when a soulworm escapes from the Warden’s citadel through a magical portal into the parallel world of Earth, it is her spirit that, entirely by accident, is sent in pursuit.
She finds herself, a helpless, unsuspected observer, in the mind of Maribeth, a teenage girl in the small Canadian prairie city of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1984—and discovers the soulworm has possessed Maribeth’s best friend, Christine.
Somehow, she must find a way to save Earth from the plague of death and destruction the soulworm and its offspring will release if allowed to spread across the unprotected planet. Only she knows the danger—and only she can stop it.
…The researchers found that two out of four of the dying patients experienced a swell of gamma waves — the brain activity associated with lucid dreams and hallucinations — even after their hearts had stopped, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Scientists have long thought that the brain dies with the rest of the body, but the latest study suggests that people may retain a certain level of consciousness that lends to dream-like, out-of-body experiences as they die, Vice reported.
“The discovery of the marked and organized gamma activities in the dying brain suggests that [a near-death experience] is the product of the dying brain, which is activated at death,” the lead author of the study, Jimo Borjigin, told Vice.
“As far as I am concerned, our study may be as good as it will ever get for finding neural signatures of near-death consciousness,” Borjigin told Vice, adding that the “only thing better than this is to have the patients survive to tell the tale that correlates with the detected neural signatures.”…
(14) PROVING LOVE. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Gwendoline Christie and Oliver Chris, was captured live from the Bridge Theatre in 2019. Watch now on National Theatre at Home:
‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ A feuding fairy King and Queen of the forest cross paths with four runaway lovers and a troupe of actors trying to rehearse a play. As their dispute grows, the magical royal couple meddle with mortal lives leading to love triangles, mistaken identities and transformations… with hilarious, but dark consequences. Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedy will be captured live from the Bridge Theatre in London. Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Oliver Chris (Green Wing, NT Live: Young Marx), David Moorst (NT Live: Allelujah!) and Hammed Animashaun (The Barber Shop Chronicles) lead the cast as Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we feel great. After several months of delay, TBS has finally set a new release date for its anthology series Miracle Workers. The upcoming fourth season, formally titled Miracle Workers: End Times, premieres on the network on Monday, July 10.
End Times primarily follows a warrior named Sid (Daniel Radcliffe) and a warlord named Freya (Geraldine Viswanathan), a couple who must now face one of their biggest challenges yet: acclimating to a suburban lifestyle. Because even dystopia comes with its own share of modern day struggles. Based on previously released trailers, Sid and Freya try their best to find normalcy in their new setting, offering support for each other through every up and down. Additionally, Steve Buscemi will play Sid’s boss, and from the current glimpses of him, things won’t be smooth sailing.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Vincent Docherty, John Hertz, Andrew (not Wernda), Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]