(1) CLI-FI. Peter O’Dowd has quotes from several sff writers in WBUR’s post “Novelists illustrate the climate futures that could await us”.
…Omar el-Akkad authored 2021’s “What Strange Paradise” and 2017’s “American War,” which is about a second civil war triggered by a ban on fossil fuels.
“[Climate change] is happening geologically in the blink of an eye,” says novelist Omar el-Akkad, “but in human terms, it’s too long to think about. Very few politicians in power right now have to worry about getting re-elected 30 years from now. Once you move past the lifespan of a mortgage, you’re in trouble.”
El-Akkad says that stories can make the abstract threat of the climate crisis real for readers.
“I think that’s one of the things that fiction allows you to do. To try to say, ‘hey, listen. Care about someone who’s not you,’ ” he says. “Is that going to work against the massive tide of incredibly individualistic society that we’ve created? I don’t know. But fundamentally I have to believe that it might”…
(2) AFROFUTURISM. The New Yorker signal boosts “An Afrofuturist Seneca Village, at the Met”.
In 1857, Seneca Village, a community of predominantly Black Americans, was destroyed to build Central Park. Beginning Nov. 5, the Met imagines an alternate world, one in which the village still thrives, with “Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room,” combining historic and contemporary art and décor. Its visionary lead curator, Hannah Beachler—who won an Oscar for her production design on “Black Panther”—is pictured here, with wallpaper by the Nigerian American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
The Met’s online guide to the imagined room is here: “Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room – In-Gallery Guide”. One item on the walls is this Henry Taylor portrait:
— based on a photograph taken in 1982 at a U.S. Navy facility in Panama City, Florida, of Andrea Y. Motley Crabtree, the first woman to pass the rigorous qualification for deep sea diving, a highly specialized aspect of military service. While Crabtree wears a standard white diving uniform and holds a Mark V helmet in her lap, both the rich, dark painted backdrop and her seated posture align her with depictions of regal subjects such as popes, kings, and cardinals by artists such as Velázquez or El Greco, similarly marking her as a figure highly worthy of prestige.
(3) BOARD GAMES OVER THE MILLENNIA. LASFS’ Nick Smith presents the Pasadena History Museum’s video lecture “From Senet to Monopoly to Terraforming Mars: 4,600 Years of Board Games”.
The evolution of board games has transformed them into a popular pastime all over the world. Join Nick Smith for another fascinating adventure as we discover the history and popularity of ancient games, familiar classics and today’s popular versions of this age-old pursuit.
(4) REINING IN RAMPANT CAPITALISM. In the UK, “Monopoly Sets Up Holiday Hotline To Settle Family Disputes” says Huffington Post.
…Family members attempting to ruin Christmas by bending the rules or blatantly cheating during the game will now have to answer to an official board.
The folks over at Hasbro UK are setting up a dispute hotline from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 for game enthusiasts in the United Kingdom and Ireland stuck in the midst of an argument.
Hasbro conducted a survey of 2,000 adults and found that players are widely unfamiliar with Monopoly’s official rules. As a result, games regularly devolve into disputes. In fact, in a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Hasbro listed 10 common arguments that occur during playing and found that “people making up rules” is the No. 1 issue.
So the company set up the hotline to mediate issues….
… Hasbro expects to receive a “flood of calls” around 6 p.m. on Christmas day.
(5) SEREDIPITY. Kim Beil touts the benefits of writers having a project in “What I Learned While Cataloguing an Entire Library of 19th-Century Schoolbooks” at Literary Hub.
Chapter 4. Accidents are meaningful. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly write about another volume of the National Reader, something fell out of its pages: a newspaper advertisement for “The Most Popular Writer of the Day for Boys and Girls.” Clearly, the book’s owner wished he was reading something else, too. This bookmark led me to other things filed in the Reader’s pages: a small engraved portrait, a scrap of emerald silk. And this, an anathema, or book curse: “Steal not this ^book for fear of strife/ For the owner carries a big/ Dirk Knife.” The project can take you places you’d never think to go on your own.
(6) LEIA’S LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES. At Reason.com, an excerpt from Stephen Kent’s new book on the philosophy of Star Wars, How The Force Can Fix The World. “Princess Leia shows us why hope is crucial for a liberty-oriented way of life.” “Hope Must Conquer Fear in Politics”.
… Hope is a lot of things. It can be personified, objectified, or embodied in places, faith, and prose. But the most simple definition for hope is that it’s to want something you can have, at least in theory. I want very badly to have the Jedi power of levitating objects and moving them around my house with my mind, but I don’t have hope of achieving such a thing, nor should I, even in theory. It’s not within the realm of possibility. But what if I watched enough YouTube videos made by weirdos living in their mothers’ basements, telling me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m wrong, and this power is in fact attainable? All I’d have to do, according to these armchair wizards of the web, is watch enough of their videos and wire them some money. There’s a good chance that at some point you’ll become bitter and angry. After all, someone sold you false goods, hope beyond hope.
This is what happens to Anakin Skywalker when he is told by a supposed friend, Chancellor Palpatine, about the power to control life and death that is known only to the Sith. Anakin, suffering from visions of his wife Padme dying in childbirth, is lured in by a twisted kind of hope we might understand as an intergalactic spin on the snake-oil salesman who travels from town to town hawking miracle cures that almost certainly will let the buyer down.
Just as hope can push the likes of Princess Leia forward through a tragedy like the destruction of Alderaan, hope can also move a desperate and loving husband to spend the last of his savings or sell the house to get that cure from the roving snake-oil salesman. It’s not unlike the snake oil hawked by politicians who say all our problems will be solved if we just give them votes and power, warping the minds of people who go to great lengths to follow them. There is a light and dark side to everything….
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- November 6, 1981 — Time Bandits premiered. Co-written, produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Kenny Baker, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and David Warner. Gilliam has referred to it as the first in his Trilogy of Imagination followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It received widespread critical acclaim with a current ninety percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers and was a financial success as well. Apple has gained the rights for a Time Bandits television series for their Apple TV+ service with Gilliam on board in a non-writing production role and Taika Waititi who directed Thor: Ragnarok as the director of the pilot. You can read Kage Baker’s review of the Criterion edition here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 6, 1907 — Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Her Science-Fiction Handbook was nominated for Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. (Died 2000.)
- Born November 6, 1914 — Jonathan Harris. Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, as seen on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up as such as Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica. He did play lighter roles such as Johann Sebastian Monroe on Bewitched in the “Samantha on the Keyboard” episode, and the voice of Professor Jones, the second Butler of Freakazoid on the series of that name. (Died 2002.)
- Born November 6, 1948 — Michael Dirda, 73. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
- Born November 6, 1955 — Catherine Ann Asaro, 66. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them. She won Nebula Awards for The Quantum Rose novel and “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And the Analog readers really like her, having voted her three An-Lab awards for Best Novella, “Aurora in Four Voices”, “A Roll of The Dice” and “Walk in Silence”.
- Born November 6, 1958 — Trace Beaulieu, 63. Puppeteer, writer, and actor. For the first eight seasons of MST3K, he wrote for the show, operated and voiced the Crow T. Robot puppet, and played the role of Dr. Clayton Forrester, the head mad scientist at Gizmonic Institute.
- Born November 6, 1968 — Kelly Rutherford, 53. She’s here for having the recurring role of Dixie Cousins on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and that’s in addition to managing to get herself involved in some bad genre series that got cancelled fast such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Kindred: The Embraced (eight episodes each). And her very first genre gig had the dubious title of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge.
- Born November 6, 1972 — Rebecca Romijn, 49. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that cross all realities in The Librarians series. She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff off the John Updike novel. She is now Number One on Discovery and the forthcoming Strange New Worlds.
(9) THE SHARP OF THINGS TO COME. Heavy.com demands to know “Why Are the New ‘Star Trek’ Ships All so Pointy?” There’s a lot of info about Trek’s design history packed into this article, and input from key artists like Rick Sternbach.
… Perhaps it was due to the success of Probert’s Enterprise-D that things had to change. Fans knew all about Picard’s ship from seven years of “The Next Generation.” When that change happened, it was in the form of the Enterprise-E and the Voyager.
Rick Sternbach, who served the franchise as a senior illustrator, designer, scenic artist, or technical advisor, created the design for the Voyager for executive producer Jeri Taylor. She asked Sternbach to create a new ship for the show, which was “sleeker and smaller than the Enterprise-D,” according to Trek expert and writer Nick Ottens…
(10) SUITABLE FOR ANY MISSION. Add the flagship-with-a-theme-song to your holiday celebrations with the Enterprise Christmas tree topper. Or skip the tree and use the lighted model as room décor year-around: Enterprise Musical Tree Topper With Light from Moonlofty. (Click for larger images.)
(11) BEZOS LOSES. “Blue Origin Loses Legal Fight Over SpaceX’s NASA Moon Contract” reports the New York Times.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected Jeff Bezos’ latest legal attempt to overturn NASA’s multibillion-dollar moon lander contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The decision ended a monthslong battle between the space companies of two of the world’s richest men that posed a significant obstacle to NASA’s plans for returning humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
The ruling makes it all but certain that whenever American astronauts return to the lunar surface, they will be traveling in a spacecraft built by Mr. Musk’s company. That adds another victory for SpaceX, a company that has become a dominant player in orbital spaceflight, including serving as a primary partner of NASA in carrying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.
But NASA has been unable to work on the program with SpaceX for the duration of Blue Origin’s legal challenges, which may delay the return to the moon….
(12) COMEDY TONIGHT. From last night’s Amber Ruffin show: “Lotionelle Thinks You’re Beautiful… Even With Those ‘Ugly Secrets’”. Sixty years ago this would have been the premise for a Twilight Zone episode.
(13) MORE PRO TIPS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Movie Locations Tutorial” on Screen Rant, written by Seb Decter, Ben Harrison Smith plays “Wild” Ron-Jon Mason, movie location scout, who says he found the school in School Of Rock and the house in Big Momma’s House and lots of warehouses and dark alleys for Marvel. His advice: shoot everything in Toronto but make sure you have a little metal Empire State Building for those New York backgrounds.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. When Owl Kitty is on the rampage in Jurassic Park,cat food always helps! “Jurassic Park but with a Cat” on YouTube.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John A Arkansawyer, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dune, er, Dern.]