(1) F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Mar/Apr 2021 cover art is by Mondolithic Studios. Available at www.fandsf.com.
(2) MAKE READERS FEEL. Melinda Snodgrass has posted the text of her speech at the 2021 Life the Universe and Everything conference: “Tears That Speak”.
…When I sit down to write I am making an explicit promise to my reader or my viewer that I will not disappoint them. Now that isn’t a promise I will give them a happy ending (though Connie Willis and I absolutely agree that there is nothing wrong with a happy ending). What I’m promising is that I will give them an earned ending.
This is my reminder that if your story is based on one of these archetypes you best not complicate the story so much that you fail to meet those expectations by trying to be too clever by half, or trying to “redefine fiction or television” or whatever other grandiose notion one might have.
Which brings me to what for me is the most essential rule: Endings matter. In other words you have to “stick the landing”. This is a debate I’ve had with a certain famous fantasy author over many years. He claims that if you have a great journey you will be forgiven for punting the ending. I couldn’t disagree more. If you blow the ending it doesn’t matter how great the journey might have been. A bad ending will taint the entire work whether book or film.
I have my own personal example of this. The video game Mass Effect. It would probably go down as one if the not the greatest game in the history of the industry… but they blew the ending. I loved that game and the ride was amazing, but I cannot bring myself to replay it because I know that dreadful ending is waiting for me. And believe me, if I love a game I will replay it — numerous times — like Dragon Age: Origins….
(3) WAIT FOR IT. Futurism reads the social media tea leaves and concludes “’The Mandalorian’ Season 3 Cannot Release Until 2022”.
…So most of the titles on the [Disney+ preview kit] list are related to Marvel, and the only ones pertaining to Star Wars are the shows about Boba Fett and the Bad Batch (the former being live-action and the latter being animated). With The Mandalorian absent from this list, it appears that the show will not come back in 2021, but rather 2022.
…Disney+ wants to be sure that it has subscribers for as long of a period of time as possible. If The Mandalorian season 3 were to come out in 2022, perhaps even right after The Book of Boba Fett has its season finale, then that would give fans a reason to stick around and stay subscribed for a couple more months. This strategy would be similar to what happened recently on CBS All-Access, where the new Star Trek animated series Lower Decks aired its first season and was immediately followed by season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. It is a strategy that makes a lot of financial sense. The people making the shows try to tell really good stories, but the business side also has to be taken into account in order to sustain the platform that hosts these shows.
(4) PEAK INVENTIVENESS. A novel by S. B. Divya gets the group’s attention in “Hugo Book Club Blog: The Humanity Of Machinehood”.
…One of the recurring themes explored in the book — and one of the reasons it should be considered for the Prometheus Award — is the relationship between government services, the private sector, and do-it-yourself culture. As an example, those wanting to go to space do so through the participation of voluntary hobbyist rocket-ship clubs, while health care is allocated through a system of micro-auctions. Pharmaceuticals are often printed at home with some government oversight, but pill designs come from both giant corporations and from hobbyists. None of these details are delivered by way of polemic, but rather flow naturally within the story.
In such a setting, the most powerful actors seem to be religions, in part because of the unassailable sway they have over their followers. Without giving too much away, there are philosophical aspects to a religion of Neo-Budhism that provide incredible motivations to some of the religion’s adherents. Religion thus is shown to be a tool to navigate and instigate change….
(5) PRIME POHL. Fanac.org has posted recording of a 1963 interview of Frederik Pohl conducted by Fred Lerner: “Science Fiction as Social Criticism” at YouTube.
Frederik Pohl fields questions on everything from how science fiction covers race relations to religion and advertising in this 1963 audio interview (presented with illustrative pictures). Fred Lerner, noted librarian, bibliographer and historian, was just 18 when he interviewed Frederik Pohl, both a professional science fiction writer of long standing, and one of the earliest science fiction fans.
At the time of the interview, in addition to writing, Fred Pohl was editing prominent SF magazines and original anthologies. In this recording, listen for the discussion of his “Space Merchants” to predictions about the advertising industry, his views on fantasy vs science fiction, comments on the best fiction of the period, and even a whiff of “fans are slans”. This thoughtful interview provides not only a perspective on a major author in the field, but on a major editor. It’s worth noting that this is the second interview Pohl did that day. Interviewer Fred Lerner tells us that “the recording engineer was so interested in what Pohl had to say that he forgot to turn on the recorder. Fred Pohl was gracious – and patient – enough to repeat the interview!”
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- February 16, 1967 — On the day in 1967, Star Trek’s “Space Seed” premiered on NBC. Written by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber, it was directed by Marc Daniels. It guest starred Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh who would repeat this role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which would be nominated for a Hugo. Benedict Cumberbatch later portrayed Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born February 16, 1878 – Pamela Colman Smith. Drew the 78 cards of the Waite-Smith Tarot deck in six months, a remarkable achievement in fantastic art. Two books of Jamaican folklore; here is Annacy Stories (spelled Anansi in e.g. the Niven-Barnes book). Illustrated Yeats and Stoker. World War I charity work. Theater programs and illustrations; here is an image from Scheherazade; here is Sir Henry Irving as Cardinal Wolsey in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. (Died 1951) [JH]
- Born February 16, 1922 – Rusty Hevelin. Fan Guest of Honor at Denvention Two the 39th Worldcon; Fan GoH and Toastmaster at so many SF cons that everyone (including RH) lost count. U.S. Marine in World War II. Antioch College man (as am I); dated Coretta Scott. DUFF (Down Under Fan Find) delegate. Fantascience Digest (with Bob Madle). Dealer, mostly of prozines, at and after Baycon the 26th Worldcon (there have been various other Baycons); instrumental in Pulpcon for thirty years. Moskowitz Archive Award (for collecting); his collection went to Univ. Iowa. Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2011) [JH]
- Born February 16, 1925 – Ed Emshwiller. Over forty years one of our best and most frequent illustrators. Five hundred forty covers, twelve hundred interiors. Here is the Jun 51 Galaxy. Here is Jack of Eagles. Here is Prelude to Space. Here is Have Space Suit, Will Travel. Here is the Apr 60 F&SF. Here is the Program Book for Chicon III the 20th Worldcon. Here is The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller vol. 1 (his wife). Five Hugos. Artbooks Emshwiller: Infinity × Two, Dream Dance. SF Hall of Fame. (Died 1990) [JH]
- Born February 16, 1938 – Chuck Crayne. Long vital in Los Angeles fandom; earned its Evans-Freehafer Award (service). Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon. Co-founded the NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Official Arbiter of The Cult at least as often as George Scithers. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born February 16, 1951 — William Katt, 70. Ralph Hinkley, the lead of The Greatest American Hero. A series I know I watched and loved at the time. In December 1975, he auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker but didn’t get the role obviously. (CE)
- Born February 16, 1954 — Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? Certainly The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about single malt whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.) (CE)
- Born February 16, 1953 — Mike Glyer, 68. I decide to let one of y’all give him Birthday greeting so let’s Paul Weimer do it: “I first became of the inestimate Mr. Glyer because of seeing his name in Locus, multiple times, for something called File 770. When I found it online and started to read the blog, I only stepped in the middle of a stream of decades long science fiction fandom that has been his pole star. Mr. Glyer’s fandom has been an inspiration and model for myself, and doubtless, many others. I am glad that I have helped in my own small way to help with the edifice of SF fandom that he has created and in a very real way, embodies. Although I still have not yet managed to meet him in person, I am proud to call him a friend. Happy Birthday Mike!” (CE)
- Born February 16, 1955 – A.C. Farley, age 66. A score of covers, twoscore interiors (besides his work for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Here is Retief to the Rescue. Here is the Jan 89 Asimov’s. Here is the Nov 90 Analog. Here is Precious Cargo. Here is the Oct 93 TMNT. Here is his Website for Altered Earth Arts. [JH]
- Born February 16, 1957 — Ardwight Chamberlain, 64. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that tickles me as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work English dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island. (CE)
- Born February 16, 1964 — Christopher Eccleston, 57. The Ninth Doctor who’s my third favorite among the new ones behind David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. Other genre work includes 28 Days Later, The Seeker, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World, The Leftovers, The Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre. (CE)
- Born February 16, 1968 — Warren Ellis, 53. I think Planetary is bloody brilliant as is Global Frequency and Transmetropolitan. His work on The Authority is not to be sniffed at either, nor should we overlook Iron Man: Extremis. He’s got two rather superb novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, that are not genre but which if you like hardboiled detective fiction, I’ll strongly recommend both. (CE)
- Born February 16, 1969 – Jennifer Marie Brissett, age 52. One novel, nine shorter stories; essay “Dear Ms. Butler” for Luminescent Threads. Interviewed in Strange Horizons and Uncanny, two good descriptions for her novel Elysium; it won a Philip K. Dick Special Citation. Has read Anna Karenina, The Makioka Sisters, Aeschylus’ Oresteia plays, Watership Down, Don Quixote, four by Wells, two each by Bradbury, Hemingway, Dumas. [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- xkcd uses Star Wars to explain the circular workings of a vaccine.
(9) A TRILOGY IS STILL IN THE CARDS. News items don’t get much shorter than this:
(10) DID YOU VOTE FOR HIM? James Davis Nicoll celebrates the U.S. holiday with “Five SF Tales of Presidential Peril” that are not jolly at all!
…When it comes to celebrating the legacies of fictional presidents, well… a system of checks and balances that works as designed doesn’t seem to make for a plot-friendly setting (although it must be reassuring to those who live under it). But authors are in no way limited by reality. They can tweak their settings in any way that makes for a thrilling adventure tale…and they have!….
(11) DO OVER. If the Doctor can’t change history, he can at least change his mind.“Sylvester McCoy says doubts about female Doctor were ‘stupid sexism’” the Guardian’s account based on a Radio Times interview.
The former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy has said his initial reservations about a female Doctor were due to “stupid sexism” and that he would like the role to be played next by a person of colour.
McCoy, who played the seventh incarnation of the doctor between 1987 and 1996, was quoted in 2015 as saying: “The Time Lord should never regenerate as a woman.”
He further dismissed the idea of a female Doctor, saying: “I’m sorry, but no – Doctor Who is a male character, just like James Bond. If they changed it to be politically correct, then it would ruin the dynamics between the Doctor and the assistant, which is a popular part of the show. I support feminism, but I’m not convinced by the cultural need of a female Doctor Who.”
But in a new interview for Radio Times, McCoy acknowledged that his initial reservations about the casting of Jodie Whittaker in the role were primarily motivated by sexist inclinations….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Lilo & Stitch” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say Stitch sounds “like a cross between Gollum and the Minions” and notes that Disney + changed the cover of a dryer Lilo plays in to a pizza box because they don’t want anyone to think they want kids to play in dryers.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, N., JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Meta title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]