(1) SCHOOL NAMED FOR BUTLER. They were thinking about renaming the school library – in the end, they decided to rename the whole school for her: “Pasadena Unified Renames Washington Middle School As Octavia E. Butler Magnet” — ColoradoBoulevard.net has the story.
…Dr Shannon Malone stated that “Octavia’s love of science research combined with her love of writing is exactly what STEAM integration is about at our school. We don’t teach things in isolation we show that all things can come together such as a love of Science Fiction and a love of writing.” The school will be hosting the 2nd Octavia Butler Writing and Art Contest with novels and poetry. The Pasadena Library will feature a virtual tour about Octavia Butler and proudly showcase the school’s mural….
The district announced the decision with this statement:
In appreciation of Octavia E. Butler for her outstanding achievements in literary science-fiction and for representing the qualities of a PUSD graduate that will inspire our youth and greater community, Washington Middle School shall be known henceforth as the Octavia E. Butler Magnet. Board President Elizabeth Pomeroy declared “let’s all pledge to read a book by Octavia Butler!” The motion was passed, approved, and adopted on February 24, 2022, at a special meeting of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.
(2) PRAISE FOR BARKLEY. At the Hugo Book Club Blog: “So Glad We Asked: an appreciation of Chris M. Barkley”.
… In retrospect, Barkley has shown a remarkable amount of foresight. He warned in 2004 (a full decade before it happened) that there was the possibility that a slate of politically motivated malcontents might attempt to disrupt the Hugos. This was followed by his urging in 2013 that “The only way traditions like the Worldcon and Hugos will have any future is if the people who are interested and feel frozen out of the process continue to provide civil and constructive criticism and stay involved in fandom … What we need is MORE dissent, MORE thinking outside the box and MORE diversity in fandom, not less.”
The first time the editors of this blog encountered Chris M. Barkley, we were volunteering as photographers for the 2015 Hugo Awards ceremony. For years after, we assumed that he had received a Hugo Award nomination for his blogging, and this seemed like a reasonable assumption to make: his work is consistently good, he writes about fannish activities, and he’s well known in the community.
It was to our great surprise when we learned that he has never been on the Hugo Award ballot as a fan writer. It’s time to rectify that oversight, and 2022 should be his year….
(3) WHEN EUROCON WAS IN KYIV. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie reports, “Currently thoughts elsewhere. Just heard that one of our team members, Boris Sidyuk, is alive. (A little scared — I think suffers from British understatement — but alive.) Some might know him from the 2006 Eurocon on which he was a senior committee member organising the international dimension.”
Jonathan attended the Eurocon held in Ukraine in 2006. Read his account of making fannish connections there in “The 2006 Eurocon, Ukraine”.
…The need for an outlet for Ukrainian SF is not a trivial point. Though the Ukraine is the latest country to break close ties with Russia (meaning that up to recently Russia dominated most activities including publishing), it is effectively a bilingual nation with nearly all the population speaking both Ukrainian and Russian. So getting SF professionally published actually in the Ukrainian language within the Ukraine has in the past been difficult, though matters are now slowly getting a little better. Prior to 1990 and the fall of the Berlin wall, if you wanted to write professionally you had to belong to the Writers Association of the Ukraine. However the Association did not consider SF as a serious genre, furthermore the Association was closely tied to the communist party. So potential writers had to be inventive, such as trying to get published in popular science/propaganda magazines. Needless to say SF conventions also were few prior to 1990 and that did not help. Today Ukrainian writers still have problems. For example, the Ukranian writer Sergey Slyusarenko has had several short stories published but only recently his first novel [Tactile Senesations]. However this was through a Russian publishing house that distributed his book in Russia in Russian. No bulk copies were sent to the Ukraine. Fortunately though, this year Slyusarenko was one of those to receive a Eurocon Encouragement Award and it is hoped that this will prompt an Ukrainian publishing house to produce an Ukrainian edition….
(4) WHERE TO READ UKRANIAN SFF WRITERS IN ENGLISH. Alex Shvartsman has compiled “A List of Ukrainian-born SF/F Authors Whose Fiction is Available in English” and posted it at Future Science Fiction Digest. He will continue to update it as he finds more qualifying works.
Are you curious about science fiction and fantasy works written by authors who either currently reside or were born in Ukraine? There are a number of such works available in English. Interestingly. the authors I was able to come up with for this list lean heavily toward fantasy over science fiction. And they tend to write excellent stuff–I’m a long-time fan of many of these authors, though I did find several short story writers in the course of researching this post who are new to me as well.
(5) LESSER CONSEQUENCES OF INVASION. “Disney to Pause Theatrical Releases in Russia, Including ‘Turning Red’” reports Variety.
The Walt Disney Company announced on Monday that it will be pausing all theatrical releases in Russia, including that of “Turning Red,” which was previously set to premiere in the country March 10.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”
Disney is the first of the major film distributors to pause its theatrical releases in the region, which will likely cause others to follow suit. However, it seems that Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” will still have a Russia release for now, with the film set for a worldwide premiere on March 3.
(6) CHERNOBYL IN THE NEWS AGAIN. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage discusses “Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes – stunning TV that is suddenly unmissable” with filmmaker James Jones.
Had it been released at any point in the past few years, Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes would have been an important documentary; a feature-length blend of audio interviews and largely unseen archive footage that puts the 1986 disaster into horrifying new perspective. That it comes out now – just days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including an attack on the Chernobyl site itself – makes it as unmissable as it is harrowing.
…One contained a footnote that caught his eye. “It referenced footage that was shot in Pripyat [in northern Ukraine] the weekend after the accident,” he says. Despite the fact that the worst nuclear disaster in history had happened down the road hours earlier, releasing 400 times more radioactive material into the atmosphere than the Hiroshima bomb, the footage showed residents milling about as if nothing had happened.
“You can see mothers pushing babies around and kids playing football in the sand,” says Jones. “Then you start to see these white flashes on the film because of the insanely high level of radiation. It was so chilling.” Nevertheless, the existence of this footage spurred him to seek out more. Via a wealth of sources – national archives, propaganda films, collapsed Soviet documentary studios, western news reports, children and soldiers who happened to have video cameras at the time – he began to piece together a blistering documentary that draws a straight line from the USSR’s attempts to play down the disaster to the fall of the Soviet Union itself.
Although Chernobyl is one of those historical punctuation points on which everyone thinks they have a decent overview, not least due to Sky’s recent drama series, The Lost Tapes is studded with moments of footage so extraordinary that you are unlikely to forget them. A clean-up helicopter crashing to the ground over the explosion site. Searing footage of injuries and mutations to humans and animals. Wooden grave markers in an irradiated forest.
(7) AT THE TOP OF HER GAME. Congratulations to Cat Rambo for being named a guest at Origins Game Fair.
(8) FREE TAFF BOOK. The Harrison Saga: The Extraordinary Exploits of Sir William Makepeace Harrison by “Harry Hurstmonceaux and Cyril Faversham”, ripping yarns written from 1957 to 1975 by the UK fans John Owen and Stanley Nuttall, is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund.
In these ripping yarns written from 1957 to 1975 by the UK fans John Owen and Stanley Nuttall (writing as Hurstmonceaux and Faversham), the awesome figure of Sir William Makepeace Harrison bestrides the world like a Roman-nosed colossus. The British Empire’s last unflinching bulwark against Nazis, Commies and duplicitous foreigners in general, Harrison upheld the banner of Civilization – or at least the Union Jack – o’er palm and pine. His magnificently silly adventures are threaded with tongue-in-cheek echoes of Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Buchan, “Sapper” of Bulldog Drummond fame, Dornford Yates, Ian Fleming, Raymond Chandler, Frank Hampson and a million Victorian/Edwardian boys’ adventure stories. It would be wrong to giggle at such unstinting heroism, swordsmanship, gunplay, gourmandizing, fine-wine-bibbing and deus ex machina escapes, but nevertheless one does.
For The Harrison Saga, Rob Hansen has assembled all Owen’s and Nuttall’s tales of Sir William Makepeace Harrison with an explanatory Foreword, an Afterword and (assisted by David Langford) some learned notes on literary references and in-jokes. For readers who crave something “a little stronger”, there is also a bibliography.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2002 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty years ago, Altered Carbon was published in the UK. Written by Richard Morgan, it would be followed by two sequels, Broken Angels and Woken Furies. It’s a series that I really, really liked and I thought was wrapped well.
It would win the Philip K. Dick Award. Other nominated works for the Award that year were Mark Buds’ Clade, M.M. Buckner’s Hyperthought, Chris Moriarty‘s Spin State and Ann Tonsor Zeddies‘ Steel Helix.
The novels would become the basis of the Netflix Altered Carbon series which ran for eighteen episodes over two seasons before being canceled plus an anime prequel film. Originally the first novel was going to be a film and those rights were sold for a million dollars which allowed Morgan to become a full-time writer but it never went anywhere which is how Netflix ended up with it.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 28, 1913 — John Coleman Burroughs. An illustrator known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations. He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
- Born February 28, 1928 — Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a Showtime series planned off it. He also wrote two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All off his work is available from the usual digital sources. Though far from being genre, The Queen’s Gambit is most excellent. (Died 1984.)
- Born February 28, 1947 — Stephen Goldin, 75. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
- Born February 28, 1948 — Bernadette Peters, 74. Performer, stage, film and television, so this is selected look at her. She was A Witch in Into the Woods on Broadway and reprised the role in a tv film. It is a Stephen Sondheim musical based on the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. She’s in The Martian Chronicles as Genevieve Seltzer. She does a lot of voice acting, to wit in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Wakko’s Wish, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Rita, a recurring role on the Animaniacs and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The most recent genre role I see her doing is Circe on The Odyssey series several back.
- Born February 28, 1966 — Philip Reeve, 56. He is primarily known for the Mortal Engines and its sequels. I read the first three novels before deciding that was enough of that series. Not that it’s not a fine series, it just wasn’t developing interestingly enough to warrant me reading any more of it.
- Born February 28, 1958 — John Barnes, 64. I read and really liked all of the novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. (My take on it. Yours may well differ.) What else by him do y’all like? I see he’s not put out a novel in a decade now, a pity that. Some of his fiction is available at the usual suspects though not the Thousand Cultures series.
- Born February 28, 1977 — Chris Wooding, 45. If you read nothing else by him, do read the four novel series that is the steampunkish Tales of the Ketty Jay. Simply wonderful. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray plays off the Cthulhu Mythos that certain folk don’t think exists and does a damn fine job of doing so.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Blondie finds the key to selling books.
(12) STONED. Atlas Obscura knows where to find the “Pop Culture Gargoyles Hidden in Gothic Architecture” (published in 2018).
…If you’re curious enough for a gargoyle safari, stay around the edifice! You will not be disappointed, as Darth Vader is just one of many pretty unusual creations conceived to adorn the National Cathedral. The 112 sculpted gargoyles include those by Walter S. Arnold, who envisioned gargoyles as portraying the specific hopes and fears of their era. Arnold’s sculptures have name like “The Crooked Politician,” “The Fly holding Raid Spray,” or the “High Tech Pair,” representing a stylized robot and surveillance camera….
(13) WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. Can these be “The 10 Goofiest Sci-Fi Movies Ever”? Screen Rant thinks so.
While the movie could be considered a gruelingly accurate prediction of a dystopian future, Idiocracy is actually a satirical and hilarious sci-fi flick. The film is about a man with a below-average IQ who is frozen in a government experiment, but he’s then thawed out in the future and is treated like a genius.
It’s a silly concept, but Idiocracy also attempts to tackle so many subjects, such as people’s obsession with celebrities, entertainment and media consumption, and politics. Based in a world where the President of the United States wears an American flag as a cape and carries a machine gun at all times, the 2006 movie is so over the top.
(14) THE OLD TICKER. “Edgar Allan Poe’s pocket watch among donations to museum” reports the Guardian.
The pocket watch owned by Edgar Allan Poe while he was writing his famous short story The Tell-Tale Heart, in which the murderous narrator compares the thumping of his victim’s heart to the tick of a clock, has been donated to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.
Literary collector Susan Jaffe Tane gave the watch along with almost 60 other artefacts, including letters and rare first editions. Curator Chris Semtner said Poe’s timepiece was “especially important” because the author owned it while writing the story…
(15) APPRENTICED TO A PIRATE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Korean pirate movie sounds like fantasy to me! The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure comes to Netflix on March 2.
Lured by the promise of fortune and riches, a band of pirates set off in the hopes of uncovering hidden treasure. But when the elements turn against them and the lines between folklore and reality wear thin, they soon realize that some quests are better left unconquered.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Saturday Night Live’s “Subway Churro skit” with John Mulvaney covers most Broadway musical bases.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Alex Shvartsman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Langford, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris.]
May I note how wonderful John Barnes’ Thousand Cultures series is? And how much I wish that it would get added to the usual suspects please? It’s not that my Infinite Library is really loaded to the virtual walls but it’s a series that I’ve wanted for some time now.
And I agree, Cat. AS my friend Fred Kiesche would say “Money Left On the Table”
(10) Suspect that Barnes’ birth year was 1958 not 68 – I loved the 1000 Cultures and am fond of Orbtial Resonance too (the Meme War series is odd in containing both YA and very-non-YA books in it)
10) John Barnes is a very good writer and I really enjoyed Orbital Resonance, which was definitely a tribute to Heinlein juveniles. It’s been a while since I read his works, but the only thing that made me uncomfortable with him is a streak of BDSM through his work, especially in Mother of Storms. If you like books flavored with BDSM, fine, just not my thing.
@Rob Thornton: See also Finity and Kaleidoscope Century
My experience with Barnes begins and ends with his fantasy novel One for the Morning Glory, which I recommend to everyone. I tried, and bounced off of, Mother of Storms and Kaleidoscope Century.
I really liked Barnes’ three books Patton’s Spaceship, Washington’s Dirigible, and Caesar’s Bicycle. Reread that series several times. Clever alternate history. Inventive things like the SHAKK gun that made its own reloads from dirt, basically.
Mike Glyer says I really liked Barne’s three books Patton’s Spaceship, Washington’s Dirigible, and Caesar’s Bicycle. Reread that series several times. Clever alternate history. Inventive things like the SHAKK gun that made its own reloads from dirt, basically.
Those are available from the usual suspects as The Timeline Wars for between eleven and thirteen dollars depending on where you get them. A good deal at the price anyways.
I have a fondness for John Barnes’ Jak Jinnaka series (THE DUKE OF URANIUM, A PRINCESS OF THE AERIE, and IN THE HALL OF THE MARTIAN KING), which I’ve described as both a homage to and a deconstruction of Heinlein juveniles (and some of Heinlein in general).
Hilde and I had a very interesting dinner with Barnes at a local convention some years ago. Sorry he seems to have dropped out of the field in recent years.
Bruce Arthurs says Hilde and I had a very interesting dinner with Barnes at a local convention some years ago. Sorry he seems to have dropped out of the field in recent years.
As far as I can tell, The Last President eight years ago was the last piece of long genre fiction that he wrote. He’s still writing short genre fiction as of three years ago.
4) I’ve dipped into the Ukraine-based THREE CROWS magazine Shvartsman mentions several times, and read some pretty good stories there. I keep it on my list of potential markets for my own fiction. Link: THREE CROWS MAGAZINE/
10) I liked Mortal Engines well enough, but for Philip Reeve I always preferred his Larklight books, sort of Victorian boys’ own adventure in space novels (and using a Victorian idea of how space worked and how one might travel in it; so, lots of sails and aether, as I recall).
10) Goldin’s Imperial Stars series is okay. Much, much better is the JADE DARCY series he wrote with his wife Mary Mason, which I strongly, strongly recommend.
I emailed him just last week to say that there are still people who care about Jade and the frizzlic. He said he and Mary still hope to get book 3 done.
(10) I haven’t read Goldin’s E. E. “Doc” Smih novels (though I have a couple). But I still remember “The Eternity Brigade,” though I read it about an eternity ago. It involves soldiers who sign up for a cryogenic program. And then the technology takes a shocking turn. And another…
Neal Stephenson’s Anathem is £1.29 (one of his best in my reckoning)
Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book is 99p (not read, but there’s been buzz – and criticism)
Robert Jackson Bennett’s Shorefall is 99p (the third book is on the way – I liked this, but not as much as Foundryside)
Add Invisible Sun by Charles Stross, the final volume of the new Merchant Princes trilogy at 99p
10: the entirety of the Sunday John Carter strips done by John Coleman Burroughs can be found on the ERB website
Meredith moment: Rex Stout’s Fer-de-Lance, the very first of the Nero Wolfe novels, is available from the usual suspects for four dollars and ninety nine cents. I personally think Goodwin comes off a lot better in the novels than Wolfe does. And he’s certainly not what a certain Filer thinks he is.
Man, I need to reread John Barnes stuff.
One for the Morning Glory is one I fondly recall reading to my daughter.
The Thousand Cultures is one I love, it and the Jak Jinaka books.
The Mother of Storms I file under can’t reread just yet and has some of the most affecting and horrifying scenes in it.
(5) Hmm. So there’s an upside to this invasion for the common Russian people.
@Cat that’s the first time I’ve ever been called a Filer! I don’t think I merit that honor yet. Maybe someday. But thank you!
I will remind you that Archie flat out tortures a man for information in The Golden Spiders.
Orbital Resonance. Thousand Cultures.
Mother of Storms is a really well-written piece of something I would not have finished by almost any other author, and I wasn’t entirely happy that I did persist to the end.
10) Bernadette Peters also played a robot in the 1981 movie ‘Heartbeeps’. Her co-star was Andy Kaufman who also played a robot. It was a robot rom-com. ( A rob-com? )
And while checking my memory on IMDB, noticed she also had a role in the TV mini-series from 1980 based on the ‘Martian Chronicles’. I vaguely recall Rock Hudson in that, but did not remember anyone else.
John Barnes excels at a particularly haunting kind of horrible-stuff-happens story. Kaleidoscope Century is probably the most uncomfortable of these, thanks to making a sadistic psychpath the narrator, though Mother of Storms has some similar material. I’ve been following his work for thirty years now, and it has become progressively darker and more pessimistic and, I have to say, more persuasive–I can’t count the times over the last decade or so that I’ve thought “Meme Wars” while watching the news.
The Martian Chronicles is a 1980 television 3 episode miniseries based on Ray Bradbury’s 1950 book The Martian Chronicles and dealing with the exploration of Mars and the inhabitants there. The series starred Rock Hudson, Darren McGavin, Bernadette Peters, Roddy McDowall, Fritz Weaver, Barry Morse, and Maria Schell. It was aired on NBC in January 1980 in three episodes with a total running time of just over four hours (nearly five hours on the DVD version). The series depicts Mars as having a “thin atmosphere” which humans can breathe with water-filled canals and desert-like vegetation. The miniseries was directed by Michael Anderson and written by Richard Matheson.
A delightfully silly Meredith moment: Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block’s Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Is available from the usual suspects for two dollars and ninety nine cents.
That’s not being an asshole, that’s being evil. Let’s not dance around the facts here.
Also, being stupid, because torture will make someone say whatever they think will make the torture stop. Horrible way of getting information.
(5) Disney should do China now, where they enslave and forcibly sterilize Uighurs.
This selection of clips, especially the first one, makes me think of John Barnes’ young Utilitopian artist-politicians from A Million Open Doors.
@John A Arkansawyer: The one who was introducing standup to Utilitopia?
@Andrew: Yes. The one right behind Thorvald on the stairwell.
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