(1) MCINTYRE. CaringBridge readers received a saddening update about Vonda McIntyre’s status:
Vonda has been told she has somewhere between two weeks and two months. She’s doing well enough right now that she will probably last longer than the short end of this estimate but we aren’t seeing much cause for hope she might exceed the long end.
She has signed up with hospice. The people who have come out this past week all seem smart and kind, and Vonda is pleased with them.
Vonda is, on the whole, fairly comfortable. She gets some pain before her scheduled paracentesis sessions, but she says it isn’t bad and goes away as soon as she gets the procedure. She’s weak, moves slowly, and sleeps a lot. However, she’s alert and engaged when she is awake, and has been enjoying visits from various people. She doesn’t eat much, but is still enjoying food and has no nausea issues.
Emotionally, I find her to be in astonishingly good shape. She’s still grieving the loss of Ursula and her sister, Carolyn, but she says she’s not especially upset about her own situation. She is focused on getting some things down, many of which are fun for her. This stuff could hit harder later but for now she seems calm and accepting.
Frank Catalano sent the link with a note: “Vonda was generous to me when I moved to the Seattle area in the 1980s and I took on the task of administering SFWA’s Nebula Awards. She and I and a small crew of volunteers stuffed and stamped numerous Nebula Awards Reports in my Queen Anne apartment. I consider her a friend and she has also encouraged my writing.”
(2) MONSTER MASH. A new trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters has dropped. The move arrives in theaters May 31
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
(3) ALSO NSFWWW. Camestros Felapton pauses for breath at almost the halfway point in the series to write a quick review: “Love, Death + Robots: Initial Impressions”.
I’ve watched eight episodes (out of eighteen) of Netflix’s “Adult” anthology series based on contemporary SF short stories. It’s ‘Adult’ in the sense of stereotypes of adolescent male interests which means many episodes with gore and most episodes with CGI boobs. There are some good pieces but they are ones that differ sharply from the general aesthetic.
(4) TECH SUPPORT. Brianna Wu has an opinion piece in today’s Boston Globe: “Senator Warren is onto something: The best way to protect the tech industry is to break it up”.
I’ve spent a career working in tech as a software engineer. And I believe regulated markets are the best way to build and deliver innovative products. That might sound counterintuitive. But increasingly, the largest players in the game aren’t playing by the same rules. Instead, they’re using their power to bully or buy out the competition.
That’s why I was thrilled last week when Senator Elizabeth Warren put forward a bold plan to break up the largest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon. Many parts of the plan are strong and have widespread support by industry experts, such as breaking up Facebook and Instagram. Other parts inadvertently jeopardize privacy and increase consumer risk of malware and spyware. Overall, it’s a strong start to an antitrust conversation that is long overdue.
(5) WOLFE’S SERVICE RECOGNIZED. Last week at the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference, Gary K. Wolfe received the Robert A. Collins Service Award, “presented to an officer, board member, or division head for outstanding service to the organization.” [Via Locus Online.]
(6) IMPATIENTS. In “Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized and Audience Awareness”, Joseph Hurtgen urges us all to “Put Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized on your reading list. It’s a short and powerful meditation on the power of the internet to radicalize suffering individuals, the broken healthcare system in the US, the exploitation of the poor in America, and the broken judicial system in the US.”
…Doctorow considers a slightly different kind of mass murdering, one with a political agenda. The terrorists in Doctorow’s world kill to force the US to fix the broken healthcare system. In the 21st century, our situation is that experimental treatment for cancer is available to those that can write a seven-figure check. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we’ve paid into the system, death is still the only cure.
(7) HOLDING FORTH. YouTube has video of Isaac Asimov on The David Letterman Show, October 21, 1980
(8) ELLEN VARTANOFF OBIT. Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019) died March 17 reports her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.
Stu McIntire wrote a tribute for ComicsDC:
Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen’s family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.
The Washington Post covered a 1997 exhibition she put together from her own cartoon collection:
“I’ve been in love with cartoons since I was 7 years old,” says Vartanoff, 46, who financed her early comic book purchases by collecting returnable soft drink bottles, which brought her 2 cents each. “That amount was more meaningful back when comics cost a dime. My sister and I have been collecting comics since 1957 and began collecting original cartoon art in the 1960s, way before it became a popular thing to do.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 18, 1926 — Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian filmed Mission Impossible which if you’ve not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010)
- Born March 18, 1932 — John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre-friendly novels including The Centaur, Brazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
- Born March 18, 1947 — Drew Struzan, 72. Artist known for his more than a hundred and fifty movie posters which include films in Back to the Future, the Indiana Jones, and Star Wars film franchises. In addition, he designed the original Industrial Light & Magic logo for Lucas. My favorite posters? Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Dark Crystal.
- Born March 18, 1950 — J. G. Hertzler, 69. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, Highlander, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series; for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of Satan, Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2, The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Born March 18, 1959 — Luc Besson, 60. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
- Born March 18, 1960 — Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. (Died 2004.)
- Born March 18, 1961 – James Davis Nicoll, 58. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
- Born March 18, 1989 — Lily Collins, 30. First genre role was in cyberpunk horror film Priest as Lucy Pace. She next shows up in Mirror Mirror before being Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I did read the first three or four novels in the series. Recommended them wholeheartedly, no idea how the film is. She’s Edith Tolkien in the Tolkien filmnow in post-production.
(10) STAY TUNED FOR VERSE. John A Arkansawyer sent a note with this link to his sff poem: “Shameless self-promotion for something which will not win the Rhysling But I’m pleased to have written it in the last fifteen minutes.” — “The Synoptic Bump in “Warrior”, by Gordon R. Dickson”.
(11) IT’S STILL NEWS TO ME. From 2011, Tracer’s parody “How David Weber Orders a Pizza”. He nails the style.
The telephone rang.
Jason Wilkins roused himself out of his dough-and-flour-addled stupor, and gazed at the ringing noise emanating from the receiver….
And if you scroll down to item #24 you’ll find Chapter 2 of Weber’s epic “In Ovens Baked.”
Pizza Delivery Person Third Class Alonzo Gomez smoothly turned his control wheel counterclockwise, with the skill of a man who’d practiced this maneuver for years. In the sealed chamber in front of his feet, a gear at the end of the wheel’s shaft pushed the rack-and-pinion assembly to one side, changing the angle of the vehicle’s front wheels. Now, driven onward relentlessly by the vehicle’s momentum, the tires bit into the road surface obliquely, forcing the vehicle’s nose to port and carrying the entire vehicle with them on its new course. Alonzo and his vehicle thereby rounded the corner, taking them off of Elm street and onto 5th Avenue….
(This reminds me of the time I watched a visiting clergyman doing a sendup of “Pastor Jack telling the congregation the church is on fire.” He had everyone in hysterics, with the assistant pastor waving his handkerchief in surrender.)
(12) DUNE BUILDERS. Warner Bros. Pictures has announced the full cast and creative team for the new Dune movie with Brian Herbert as an executive producer. No change in the November 20, 2020 release date: “Cameras Roll on Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Entertainment’s Epic Adaptation of ‘Dune’”.
(13) RETRO FUTURE. Popular Mechanics remembers “When Pan Am Promised to Fly Us to the Moon”.
In 1964, Austrian journalist Gerhard Pistor walked into a Vienna travel agency with a simple proposition. He’d like to fly to the moon, and if possible, he’d like to fly there on Pan Am.
The travel agency, presumably dumbfounded by this request, decided to simply do its job and make the ask: It forwarded the impossible request to the airline, the legend goes, where it attracted the attention of Juan Trippe, the notoriously brash and publicity-thirsty CEO of Pan American World Airways, the world’s most popular airline. Trippe saw a golden opportunity, and the bizarre request gave birth to a brilliant sales ploy that cashed in on the growing international obsession with human spaceflight: Pan Am was going to launch commercially operated passenger flights to the moon. Or, at least, that’s what it was going to tell everyone.
In hindsight, it’s beyond ludicrous. NASA wouldn’t land men on the moon for five more years; the promise of lunar getaways on a jetliner sounds like a marketing scam at worst, and the most preposterous extension of 1960s techno-optimism at best. And yet, in a striking parallel to today’s commercial space race, would-be customers put down their names on a waiting list for their chance to go to space, joining Pan Am’s “First Moon Flights” Club.
If history is a guide, then Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin should be cautious. Pan Am dissolved in 1991 without ever getting close to launching a spacecraft. Even when it promised the moon and the stars, the airline was far closer to financial oblivion than it was to the cosmos.
(14) NOW THEY TELL US. “US detects huge meteor explosion” – but we need to hear about it from BBC?
A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.
The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.
But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney–The Art of Animation” on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian provides the 15 principles of animation that have ensured Disney’s continued excellence in animation for over 80 years.
[Thanks to Bill, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]