(1) ANSWER THAT RING. Vanity Fair has a gallery of “first look” photos accompanying its article: “Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Rises: Inside ‘The Rings of Power’”.
Galadriel’s world is a raging sea. Far from the wise, ethereal elven queen that Cate Blanchett brought to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed films, the Galadriel played by Morfydd Clark in Amazon’s upcoming series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is thousands of years younger, as angry and brash as she is clever, and certain that evil is looming closer than anyone realizes. By episode two, her warnings set her adrift, literally and figuratively, until she’s struggling for survival on a raft in the storm-swept Sundering Seas alongside a mortal castaway named Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), who is a new character introduced in the show. Galadriel is fighting for the future; Halbrand is running from the past. Their entwined destinies are just two of the stories woven together for a TV series that, if it works, could become a global phenomenon. If it falls short, it could become a cautionary tale for anyone who, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, delves too greedily and too deep.
Amazon’s show, which debuts on Prime Video on September 2, is based not on a Tolkien novel per se but on the vast backstory he laid out in the appendices to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. …
(2) THE VALUE OF EDUCATION. Cat Rambo claps back at Upstream Reviews’ “A Whitewashed Tomb: SFWA’s Best Can’t Sell Books” (linked yesterday) which took a swipe at her sales and what she charges for online writing classes. Thread starts here. Learn about The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers at the World Remains Mysterious.
(3) RATHBONES. The 2022 shortlist for The Rathbones Folio Prize was released yesterday, but I don’t detect any genre works on it. Maybe next year. If you want to check it out, click the link.
The 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist is comprised of works by celebrated writers speaking to personal and profound themes including race, religion, family and love. This year ’s Rathbones Folio Prize recognises internationally renowned talent from the UK, Ireland and South Africa, as well as celebrating a blistering debut novelist. The judges have chosen books by four women and four men to be in contention for the £30,000 prize, which recognises the best fiction, non-fiction and poetry written in English from around the world.
(4) KINDRED INSIGHTS. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Library of America is doing a free event to discuss Octavia Butler’s Kindred with playwright-screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who is adapting the book for an FX show, on February 24 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at Eventbrite.
Join us for a fascinating close-up look at Octavia E. Butler’s visionary SF masterwork—a time-travel thriller that plunges its 1970s New York heroine into the antebellum slave South—with Obie-winning playwright and screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon, HBO’s Watchmen), who is adapting the novel for a limited series on FX.
There will be a brief Q&A at the end of the program; you will be able to type a question and submit it to the event moderator.
(5) VISION FOR THE FUTURE. Emily Coutts, who plays Lieutenant Keyla Detmer on Star Trek: Discovery, explains how Star Trek helped her come out: “How Star Trek Helped ‘Discovery’ Star Emily Coutts Come Out” at Out Magazine.
After reading the script for the season 2 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, Emily Coutts — the actor who portrays Keyla Detmer, a bridge officer and pilot aboard U.S.S. Discovery — burst into tears in her car. In the storyline, crew members of the Starfleet ship decide to join Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in traveling to the future. In doing so, they chose to leave the life they knew in order to advance the greater good.
In that moment, Coutts recalls thinking, “This is where I’m at in my life right now. I can stay where things are comfortable. Or I can go and grow into my full self, and really come out, and tell everyone, and celebrate that, and go to the future, whatever that holds.”
“It wasn’t so much that reading [the script] made me realize I was queer,” clarifies the 32-year-old. “I had been discovering that for many years prior. It was more that when I read it, I was inspired to be brave enough to finally come out, and tell people that I was gay, and trust that my future would be a beautiful thing if I was living openly and freely. I’m really grateful for that experience and proud of myself for taking the leap.” …
(6) LOCK-IN. [Item by Frank Catalano.] In the Seattle Times article “Thanks to a glitch, some Seattle Mazda drivers can’t tune their radios away from KUOW” a journalist invokes 2001: A Space Odyssey in this line: “But it might have tried, just trying to be a good computer, as HAL thought he was, misinterpreting the format, executing it badly and, well, $1,500.”
But it is far more weird and adorable than that. A glitch in how a car’s infotainment system reads data coming from a single radio station (an NPR affiliate, at that) bricks Mazda radios: It is either represents really poor computer programming on Mazda’s part, or a cleverly malevolent attempt on KUOW’s part to lock in listeners for the next radio ratings period.
…Somehow the signal the station sent to the modern HD Radio that’s part of the Mazda infotainment center had, as Welding puts it, “fried” a major component.
That frying made the radios only play KUOW. No chance of catching a little classic rock or some Dori soliloquies. KUOW. Forever.
Also gone from the infotainment center were such features as Bluetooth, navigation, the clock and vehicle stats — “Many of the features I paid for when I bought it new,” Welding says.
It was as if the infotainment center had decided to team up with the ghost of HAL. You remember that malfunctioning, soft-spoken and ultimately sinister artificial intelligence computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey”?
That movie was released 54 years ago; now, there are just more HALs out there.
As the radio remained frozen, the rebooting visuals on the screen in the middle of the dashboard were just too distracting when he was driving. Welding ended up covering the spot with cardboard….
(7) GROWTH MEDIUM. Morgan Hazelwood shares her notes about “Short Fiction Expanded – A DisCon III Panel” at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress.
In December 2021, I had the opportunity to attend DisCon III. Here are my other DisCon posts.
The panelists for the titular panel were: AC Wise as moderator, Michael Swanwick, Jenny Rae Rappaport, Howard A Jones, and Mary Turzillo.
The panel description was as follows: Sometimes an excellent short story or novella demands to be fleshed out and republished as a novel. How can you do this successfully, and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid? When is the expansion an enhancement, and when is it just a marketing necessity?…
(8) LEAPIN’ LIZARDS! “The epic conclusion of the Jurassic era.” Here’s the trailer for Jurassic World Dominion.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1984 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-eight years ago at L.A. Con II where Milt Stevens and Craig Miller were Chairs, Gordon R. Dickson (pro) and Dick Eney (fan) were the Guests that year and the Toastmasters were Robert Bloch and Jerry Pournelle, David Brin won the Best Novel Hugo for Startide Rising, the second book of six set in his Uplift Universe. Some of this novel previously appeared in Analog (May 1981) in a slightly different form under “The Tides of Kithrup”. Other nominated works that year were Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy, Millennium by John Varley, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov. It also won a Nebula and the Locus Award for Best SF Novel as well.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 10, 1904 — Lurton Blassingame. Literary agent for Heinlein. He makes the Birthday list because Grumbles from the Grave has more letters to Blassingame than to any other correspondent. And even some of Blassingames’s letters to Heinlein are included. (Died 1988.)
- Born February 10, 1906 — Lon Chaney Jr. I certainly best remember him as playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (look, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.)
- Born February 10, 1929 — Jerry Goldsmith. Composer whose music graces many a genre undertaking including, and this is not complete listing, Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Poltergeist, Planet of the Apes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, Star Trek: Voyager, The Mummy, The Twilight Zone (need I say the original series?) and he even did the music for Damnation Alley! (Died 2004.)
- Born February 10, 1953 — John Shirley, 69. I’m not going to even attempt a complete précis of his career. I read and much enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin and oddly enough his Grimm: The Icy Touch is damn good too in way many of those sharecropped novels aren’t. I see that to my surprise he wrote a episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- Born February 10, 1967 — Laura Dern, 55. I’m going to note she’s in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as Sandy Williams which is not genre but which is one weird film. Jurassic Park where she is Dr. Ellie Sattler is her first SF film followed by Jurassic Park III and a name change to Dr. Ellie Degler. Such are the things movie trivia is made of. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has her showing as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. I think her first genre appearance was on Shelley Duvall’s Nightmare Classic.
- Born February 10, 1970 — Robert Shearman, 52. He wrote the episode of Who called “Dalek” which was nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2006 at L.A. Con IV. (There were three Who entries that year and “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” won.) His first book, a collection of short stories called Tiny Deaths was a World Fantasy Award winner. He’s written a lot of short fiction since then, collected helpfully into two collections, displayed. Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman and They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman.
- Born February 10, 1976 — Keeley Hawes, 46. Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos In the most excellent Twelve Doctor story “Time Heist”. She also played Zoe Reynolds in MI5 which is at least genre adjacent given where the story went. She has also provided the voice of Lara Croft in a series of Tomb Raider video games.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Broom Hilda can’t get free of romantic entanglements.
(12) POLITICAL POINTERS. Once the New Zealand Herald explains it, the inside joke makes sense: “Chris Hipkins replies to National MP question with Spider-Man meme”.
…”Has the Minister met with the Minister for Covid-19 response to request that MIQ spots be allocated to teachers granted a border exception; and if so, on what date, if not, why not?” the East Coast Bays MP wrote.
Hipkins, who is both the Minister for Covid-19 response and Minister of Education, responded with “please refer attached” and included a pdf file with a popular meme showing two images of Spider-Man pointing at each other….
(13) DOES THE EARTH SURF? “Astronomers close in on new way to detect gravitational waves” reports Nature.
Astronomers could be on the verge of detecting gravitational waves from distant supermassive black holes — millions or even billions of times larger than the black holes spotted so far — an international collaboration suggests. The latest results from several research teams suggest they are closing in on a discovery after two decades of efforts to sense the ripples in space-time through their effects on pulsars, rapidly spinning spent stars that are sprinkled across the Milky Way.
Gravitational-wave hunters are looking for fluctuations in the signals from pulsars that would reveal how Earth bobs in a sea of gravitational waves. Like chaotic ripples in water, these waves could be due to the combined effects of perhaps hundreds of pairs of black holes, each lying at the centre of a distant galaxy.
So far, the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA) collaboration has found no conclusive evidence of these gravitational waves. But its latest analysis — using pooled data from collaborations based in North America, Europe and Australia — reveals a form of ‘red noise’ that has the features researchers expected to see. The findings were published on 19 January in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society1….
(14) TIME PASSAGES. Netflix has dropped a teaser trailer for The Adam Project, a new sf film with Ryan Reynolds.
After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self on a mission to save the future.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. You can get a head start on your Super Bowl commercial watching in the company of this crew of Austin Powers villains.
Climate change just got a new enemy and he’s one EVil son of a Belgian. Dr. EV-il is going electric to stop climate change from ruining Earth before he can.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Frank Catalano, Rob Thornton, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]