(1) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. The Royal Mail Visions of the Universe stamps are being issued in celebration of the Royal Astronomical Society’s 200th Anniversary.
A collection of eight Special Stamps with stunning images depicting astronomical features and phenomena studied by British astronomers and astrophysics over the centuries.
(2) BIG MANDALORIAN GOLD. It might be an iron on his hip, but it’s gold in the bank. The Hollywood Reporter hears “Disney’s Bob Iger Considering ‘Mandalorian’ Spinoff Shows”.
The Mandalorian, created by Jon Favreau, has become the de facto flagship show for Disney+, with the Star Wars series introducing the world to Baby Yoda, easily the breakout character of 2019.
During the earnings call, Iger also said Disney+ had reached 28.6 million paid subscribers as of Monday, less than three months after launch.
The CEO also revealed premiere windows for two of the streaming platform’s anticipated Marvel Studios shows. August will see the debut of The Falcon & the Winter Soldier, Marvel’s first Disney+ series, which will be followed in December by WandaVision, which stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively.
(3) NEXT IMPRESSIONS. Learn about “6 Books with Juliette Wade” at Nerds of a Feather.
5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?
I was in college when I first read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since then, I’ve read it at least five times. I find new things in it every time. It has blown my mind in so many ways, and really inspired me to challenge worldbuilding elements that I had always taken for granted. I really love the way the book uses both researcher and character points of view. It’s one of the works that really got me to pay close attention to the kinds of drive and conflict that point of view changes can create.
(4) MUSIC INSPIRED BY DHALGREN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the Newton (MA) Tab, Feb 5, 2020 —
House of the Ax is a haunted performance installation, inspired by the labyrinthine novel “Dhalgren” by Samuel R. Delaney [sic]. The performers [missing comma sic] Rested Field, are a Boston-based experimental ensemble, invested in exploring alternative modes that integrate both deterministic and improvisatory strategies….
There is one workshop and two perforamnces scheduled. Open free rehearsal/workshop is Friday, Feb. 7, 6-9pm and will feature an open discussion about surveillance, performativity, anonymity, and bullying, particularly in online spaces. Performances are Saturday, Feb. 8, 6-9PM and Sunday, Feb 7, 2-5pm. At the Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds, 286 Waverly Ave., Newton. Tickets are $15….
More information here.
(5) HUGO CHAT. YouTuber Kalanadi presents 2020 Hugo Nomination Recommendations. At the site, the video is supplemented with a list of resources including File 770’s Best Series eligibility compilation by JJ.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- February 7, 1940 — Walt Disney’s movie Pinocchio debuted.
- February 7, 1992 — The Ray Bradbury Theater aired “The Utterly Perfect Murder” episode. Based on a short story by Bradbury, it concerns the long plotted revenge of a boy tormented in his childhood who now thinks he has plotted the utterly perfect murder. It’s directed by Stuart Margolian, and stars Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and David Turri. You can watch it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 7, 1931 — Gloria Talbott. A spate of Fifties films earned her the title of Scream Queen including The Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, The Cyclops, I Married a Monster from Outer Space and The Leech Woman. Her longest role was on Zorro as Moneta Esperon. She retired from acting in her mid-Thirties. (Died 2000.)
- Born February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 70. Michael Toman, in an email asking OGH that we note her Birthday today, says that he has “A Good Word for one of my favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L .Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and “The Pelican Bar” won significant awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide.
- Born February 7, 1952 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.)
- Born February 7, 1955 — Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World. Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voice Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.)
- Born February 7, 1960 — James Spader, 60. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No, I did not enjoy that film, nor the Ultron character. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter.
- Born February 7, 1962 — Eddie Izzard, 58. I’m going to give him Birthday Honors for being a voice actor in the Netflix series Green Eggs and Ham where he voices Hervnick Z. Snerz, an arrogant, overbearing businessman. No idea if that’s a character from the book or not. He’s also had roles in the awful reboot of The Avengers series as a film, Shadow of the Vampire, Alien Invasion, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Lego Batman Movie.
- Born February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He also played the lead role in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do though other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.)
(8) DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE. Big Finish announces “Final four Doctor Who Short Trips for 2020 confirmed!”
Her Own Bootstraps, written by Amy Veeres, performed by Jacob Dudman
Extracting a dangerous Time War weapon from an irresponsible scientist, the Doctor arrives on Krakatoa in 1883 to destroy it. Problematically, the scientist is also in Krakatoa to steal the weapon. This is where she found it before the Doctor stole it from her. Trapped in a paradox, the Doctor must overcome a future he cannot change.
A future that has already happened.
The Meaning of Red, written by Rod Brown, performed by Nicola Bryant
The TARDIS accidentally strands Peri alone on the inhospitable world of Calleto. Taking refuge with the planet’s only colonists, she waits and waits, but the Doctor doesn’t return. Her only hope lies in discovering the secrets of this planet.
It’s that, or she dies.
Blue Boxes, written by Erin Horakova, performed by Mark Reynolds
Death stalks the phone lines.
UNIT’s been inundated with prank calls. Bored, the Doctor agrees to help Liz investigate. Quickly immersed in the world of phone line hackers, it is revealed that they’re being killed, one-by-one. With the death toll rising, the Doctor will have to use all his cunning and wits to defeat a foe he can’t even talk to.
He’ll also have to use a blue box. Just not the one you’re expecting.
The Shattered Hourglass, written by Robert Napton, performed by Neve McIntosh
The Time Agency has been meddling with time ever since its inception. Of all the days in history, today is a day that will define the agency forever.
Today is the day of their greatest achievement. Today is the day they removed an entire galaxy from the timeline.
Today is the day the Doctor’s shutting them down.
(9) EVEN BIGGER FINISH. Also on the way is a River Song and Captain Jack Harkness team-up.
At last! – …River Song and Captain Jack Harkness cross paths for the first time in their zig-zagging timelines. Will the universe ever be the same again? Alex Kingston co-stars along with Camille Coduri, also returning as Jackie Tyler.
The Lives of Captain Jack volume three will be released in March 2020, and is available on pre-order from today from £19.99, exclusively from the Big Finish website.
Actor John Barrowman said: “Alex Kingston and I have talked about this for years. We knew that the fanbase always wanted River and Jack to meet, or to cross timelines, and we just never knew when it would happen. Alex and I were always game for it and, thanks to Big Finish, this is where it’s happening.
“It’s like Jack is the male River and River is the female Jack. There are all sorts of comparisons in their behaviours and how they react; the verve and vivacious passion they have for solving problems; getting to the heart of the action and adventure; the determination to get what they want, but also the sadness behind both of their eyes.”
Co-star Alex Kingston added: “I’ve always imagined that, when River’s not on adventures with the Doctor, she’s somewhere having fun with Captain Jack. I’ve always had that at the back of my head.
“John Barrowman and I get on so well, and whenever we’ve met at conventions, it’s the one request that the fans have come up with more than any other. We have a lot of fun together so it’s something we’ve both been pushing independently for. I was so thrilled to find out that our dream has come true.”
The Lives of Captain Jack volume three features the following rollicking good adventures:
Crush by Guy Adams
Captain Jack takes Mrs Tyler on a luxury cruise in space.
Mighty & Despair by Tim Foley
On a distant planet in the far future, two travellers have come looking for a mythical hero.
R&J by James Goss
From ancient battles to eternal wars
A pair of time-cross’d lovers take the stars
The Lives of Captain Jack volume three will be released in March 2020, and is available on pre-order from today at £19.99 as a download and £24.99 as a collector’s edition CD box set (which also unlocks a free download version on release). This exclusive Big Finish pre-release price will be held until the set’s general release at the end of May 2020.
(10) PAPERBACK WRITERS. At Counterpunch, Ron Jacobs’ long introduction eventually leads to a review of PM Press’ second in a series of pulp fiction reviews, Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980.
…In the late 1960s, I spent many hours at the various drugstore newsstands in my suburban town reading for free. It was at one such establishment where I discovered Mickey Spillane, Harlan Ellison, Frederick Pohl, Herman Hesse, and the Harvard Lampoon, among others. I would finish up my morning newspaper route on Saturdays and head to the drugstore in the local shopping center. There I would meet up with other newspaper carriers and eat breakfast. That was where I had my first cup of coffee. After the three or four of us delivery boys finished breakfast, I would head to the newsstand to catch up on the newspapers I didn’t deliver and the magazines I didn’t want to buy and my parents didn’t subscribe to. After a quick survey of this media, I would scan the paperbacks and find one to read. If, after a half hour or so of reading, I was intrigued I would buy the book. Usually, the cashier didn’t care what I was buying. Sometimes, however, the cashier would be some uptight older woman or a wannabe’ preacher and they would refuse to sell me the paperback. This usually meant that I would go back to the newsstand and ultimately walk out with the book without paying for it. My library of paperback fiction resided in a box under my bed in the room I shared with one of my brothers. It was mostly made up of pulp novels featuring seedy criminals, badass private eyes, sexy covers, science fiction speculations, and fiction/new journalism popular with hippies and freaks—Herman Hesse, Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe come immediately to mind.
(11) THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S INVISIBLE MAN. SYFY Wire: “WIRE Buzz: Invisible Man trailer teases terrifying backstory; Vanessa Kirby returning to Mission: Impossible”.
Unlike its titular character, the horrors of writer/director Leigh Whannell‘s Invisible Man remake will be fully perceived by the naked eye. In the new and terrifying official trailer for the upcoming film, Elisabeth Moss‘ Cecilia tries to leave her abusive boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), only for him to literally punch through a car window to get her back.
[…] “There have been a lot of great Dracula movies and a lot of great werewolf movies, but I feel the Invisible Man is kind of the Aquaman of this stable of monsters,” Whannell told SYFY WIRE during our visit to the project’s Australian set. “With this film, I feel like it wants to be more serious tonally. Not to say there aren’t moments with the characters where there might be levity, but it’s not a tonal thing. I wanted to make something that was like a vise that was tightening on people, which doesn’t leave much room for one-liners.”
(12) IN ALL HUMILITY. Gary L.M. Martin, author of Sleeping with Hitler’s Wife, dispenses genre wisdom on his Amazon author page. He begins —
Let’s talk about the dismal state of scifi/fantasy novels:
1) There are basically five kinds of scifi/fantasy novels:
a) teenagers with magical powers fighting vampires in Brooklyn;
b) teenagers surviving a post-nuclear wasteland;
c) a moody boy/girl growing to become warrior/magician/king;
d) everyone fighting World War II again, in outer space; and
e) “Hard” scifi, with 200 pages of description of how to drive a moon buggy.
For the most part, there are only five kinds of scifi, because people only can write what they’ve already read. So what you end up reading are bad imitations of bad imitations of bad imitations, and so on….
(13) DOUGLAS FAMILY ALBUM.
(14) SHOCKING! A clip from The Late Show: “Patton Oswalt Is Shocked When Stephen Colbert Tells Him To Skip “The Hobbit.” The Tolkien stuff begins at 5:51.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Frank Olynyk, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
If Karen Joy Fowler was born on this date in 1950, she’s 70.
Buster Crabbe must have been precocious to have played all those roles if he died when he was 3!
Should be 1908. (It’s like my typing. I did a search, but I had to do it twice, because the first time I used “carbbe”.)
I will not argue with anyone about their choices of birth date or current age.
@12: so is this bozo anyone we should know about, let alone pay attention to? Could we give him a Margaret Atwood prize for blinkered viewpoint, or would that be cruel (to her — I’ve read that she’s backed off some of her less-informed criticism of genre)?
That’s a seriously mashed-up (and obscure) title — all it needs is to be wrapped in purest Samite.
(12) IN ALL HUMILITY.
Considering how poorly-read this guy obviously is in terms of SFF, I don’t think any of his books will be worth reading.
It sounds like he wants “literary” SF.
Maybe like this one by Simon Jimenez:
Yeaahhhh… I’ve just had a look at his Amazon author’s page. He’s got a book which is very clearly a ripoff of The Puppet Masters (complete with red-headed female protagonist), and one entitled Earth Girls Under Mind Control From Planet D. 🙄
(12) …people only can write what they’ve already read.
That tells me all I need to know about his fiction.
ETA: @P J Evans: having read his screed, I think ‘literary SF’ is decidedly not what he is looking for.
(9) EVEN BIGGER
Do we get to hear the story of how River Song was attacked by a bicycle pump? :rolleyes: 😀
12) in colloquial English, what a pillock.
12) Well, the guy’s correctly identified some common trends in recent SFF… on the other hand, the last four modern SFF books I read are Tamsyn Muir”s Gideon the Ninth, Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night, R.F. Kuang’s The Dragon Republic and Sue Burke’s Interference, none of which fits easily into his five categories… And I submit that, if a doofus like me can find books that don’t fit his little list, then they can’t be hard to find.
Still, I suppose I have to congratulate him on the superb development of his levator labii superioris alaeque nasi. (The longest-named muscle in the human body… also, the one that you sneer with.)
If “people can only write what they have already read,” that means not just that nobody in 2020 can write anything new, nobody in the past can ever have written anything new. And thus that there can never have been a first story about time travel, or a first book about people (of any age) surviving a post-nuclear wasteland, or a first novel about fighting vampires… The same logic should apply outside genre: how are novels (of any sort) possible in that line of reasoning?
The only thing clear here is that this guy can’t write a screed that everyone hasn’t already read. Well, that and that either he doesn’t mean a word of it, he’s just trolling and will be delighted that we’re talking about him at all (suggested by the statement that getting people angry is success) or he thinks he’s the greatest science fiction writer of all time.
12.) Golly gee whiz, by Martin’s criteria, I must not be writing SF or fantasy. His five categories don’t look at all like anything I’ve written. And I’m so not giving him the clicks he clearly is angling for with that piece of work. I agree with Vicki that he’s trolling….
5) If you have a Best Fancast Hugo nomination to spare, you wouldn’t go wrong giving it to Rachel at Kalanadi. She’s definitely one of the best SFF Booktubers around.
12) Pay no attention to the man desperately craving attention.
(8) I suppose it had to happen eventually, the Doctor using a phone phreak blue box. That was the one that played the audible tones that controlled long distance telephone signalling, allowing someone to redirect long distance calls. I wonder if the audio will (accurately) reproduce the tones?
Meredith Audio Moment (Audible.com):
The Rage of Dragons (“The Burning” #1) by Evan Winter is the Audible.com Daily Deal today for $4.95! The publisher sez: “Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.”
This self-published-to-traditional-published book was a Reddit 2019 Stabby winner for Best Debut Novel. Filer Paul Weimer, in the sadly-defunct Barnes & Noble SFF blog, called it an impressive fantasy debut.
The deal ends at 11:59 PM PT and the narrator, Prentice Onayemi, sounds good. And, you know, there be Dragons. 😉
Meredith Ebook Moments (U.S., at least), some of which have been on sale before, methinks:
Join by Steve Toutonghi, about people using technology to join consciousnesses, is $1.99 from Soho Press (uses DRM). “A searing, ballistic plunge into the mysteries of identity and mortality,” says Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love. This appears to be a stand-alone.
An Excess Maile by Maggie Shen King is $0.99 from Harper Voyager (uses DRM). One of the Washington Posts’ “The 5 best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2017,” it’s a “chilling dystopian tale of politics, inequality, marriage, love, and rebellion, set in a near-future China.” This appears to be a stand-alone.
Titanshade (“The Carter Archives” #1; book 2’s out in two months) by Dan Stout is $1.99 from DAW (uses DRM). It’s a “noir fantasy thriller” following a homicide cop set in a city of oil, 8-tracks, disco, magic, and a reclusive amphibian race called “Squibs.” It sounds like a 70s dark fantasy “Alien Nation.”
“People only can write what they’ve already read” only literally works if there is a lot of time travel going on. But I suppose hyperbole gets more clicks than just commenting that there are a lot of unoriginal stories out there, and that, viewed from a sufficient distance, the number of possible distinct plots is some small number.
(1) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. Those stamps look way cool! And I love that they have brief descriptions on the stamps themselves.
(5) HUGO CHAT. ::opening in new tab for later::
(9) EVEN BIGGER FINISH. Heh, I can imagine various kinds of sparks flying when River and Jack meet. 😉
(14) SHOCKING! I LOL’d several times watching that segment (starting with the Tolkien stuff to the end), so thank for that.
I’m still 2 weeks behind on Pixel Scrolls. Except this one!
Jumping into the Pixel Scroll with both feet:
@Lis Carey: Excellent! I’d like to be about 20 years younger, in that case. 😀 Where do I sign up for this age adjustment?
@PhilRM: “That tells me all I need to know about his fiction.” – LOL!
@Vicki Rosenzweig: “The only thing clear here is that this guy can’t write a screed that everyone hasn’t already read.” – Touché! 😉
(12) You post these things just to make sure we have lively comment sections, right? For those commenting that it looks like he’s looking for “literary” SFF…um…not based on his own books. No, he’s definitely in the camp of “My reading is really really narrow so I’m going to make broad generalizations about the scope of the field that support my claim that I’m doing something bold and innovative. Aren’t I an amazing genius?”
@Heather Rose Jones
The link I posted is for a book that has two major female characters and an orphan, who have to save the galaxy. “Literary SF” is how one reviewer described it. It looks like space opera to me, and not all that good.
The XFL (football league) is giving it another shot. It’s been 19 years since the first try crashed and burned. I mention this only because the Seattle franchise are the Dragons*. Probably going to be some good dragon merchandise on clearance when the league crumbles and falls again. I still have a nice selection of San Francisco Demons shirts I picked up on deep discount from the end of the first iteration.
(* Maybe should have been the Seattle Trolls. Does Seattle have any connection to dragons?)
“And when the file breaks the pixel will scroll”
It’s almost time to set up a recommendations list for 2020 works, and I would like to suggest that we not limit ourselves to Hugo categories this time. Many of us may be voting in other awards–most notably, the Locus, but also the Goodreads, the Dragon Awards, and who knows what else. And I’m pretty sure we also have a SFWA member or two–or at least, some SFWA-eligible folks.
I already have one thing I posted there as “First Novel”, which is a Locus category, but not a Hugo one. I worried about that, which was probably silly, but I still worried. Also, genre is useful for the Locus and Goodreads, and subgenre, I think, for the Dragons.
I’m posting this here because I don’t want to clutter the recs with a meta-discussion as we hammer out the details (assuming there are details to hammer out) but I will, of course, be posting a link back to this thread from the 2019 rec list.
12) It sounds as though he’s spent too much time on Kindle Unlimited, because that’s a reasonably accurate accounting of the state of affairs there.
I snapped that one up in a snappy trice this morning. It’s been on my wishlist for a while. Dragons!
rochrist rochrist says rochrist on February 8, 2020 at 1:23 pm said:
12) It sounds as though he’s spent too much time on Kindle Unlimited, because that’s a reasonably accurate accounting of the state of affairs there.
Queen of Air and Darkness, there’s a lot of merde there. I subscribed once just to see what there in terms of graphic novels (virtually none I wanted to read) and there was even less in terms of worthwhile genre fiction. I’ve never gone back.
12) Perhaps there is a heuristic in here: “If you believe that a genre is derivative, your work will be derivative.”
Also, it looks like Caitlin R. Kiernan has a new novella “The Tindalos Asset” on pre-order at Amazon for $3.99.
Don’t forget his latest, Sleeping with Hitler’s Wife. Which – unless his protagonist somehow managed to sneak into the Führerbunker to sleep with Eva Braun-Hitler in the not quite 24 hours between Hitler marrying Eva Braun and their suicide – is impossible.
It seems to me from his books that this guy is going for a B-movie/men’s adventure magazine vibe. Which you can absolutely do, but in that case, scratch the hyperbolic author bio.
Anyway, I know whose books I will not be featuring anytime soon.
Robert Conrad has died, age 84.
“Wild Wild West”, for one.
The Dragons in Rage of Dragons aren’t as central as you might hope, it must be admitted. A lot of the book is Game of Thrones meets Count of Monte Cristo and Gladiator.
Xtifr: It’s almost time to set up a recommendations list for 2020 works, and I would like to suggest that we not limit ourselves to Hugo categories this time.
This is a great suggestion!
I’ve gone into the 2019 page and added specific verbiage to indicate that it’s not limited to Hugos, and when the 2020 post goes up, that wording will be carried over.
“Why are there so many Scrolls about Pixels, and what’s on the other side…”
10) is missing a link BTW.
Sturgeon came up with his Law when books had to get out of the slushpile and past an editor. If we assume every level of filtering removes 90%, then we’re looking at 99.9% crud.
(12) Martin must’ve caught somebody’s attention
Particularly, he caught the attention of the @men_write_women Twitter account, and well YIKES