(1) APOLLO REUNION. Forbes tells how the picture came to be: “Buzz Aldrin Dazzles In Photo Of Apollo Astronauts”. John A Arkansawyer, who sent the link, says, “But gosh, I love the suit Buzz Aldrin is wearing! It makes me want to go out and punch a goddam liar right in the face.”
The only man between here and the moon capable of pulling off a rocket ship patterned suit, four gold rings, American flag socks, and a double watch combo is Buzz Aldrin, 89. Aldrin was one of eight Apollo astronauts to attend the 115th Explorers Club Annual Dinner March 16. The dinner also celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 1969, by Aldrin and the late Neil Armstrong who died in 2012. Aldrin and his astronaut brethren were photographed in New York by Felix Kunze whose composite image rocketed to the top of Reddit Sunday evening.
(2) MY TYPE. That item in a recent Scroll about getting your cat its own keyboard? Kalimac sounds like his cat is overdue for one:
I came home from a quick visit to the library to find that a reply, fortunately unsent, had been opened to the e-mail that happened to have been sitting on my desktop at the time I left. The text read:
5v44444444444444444444444jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkumuuuuuuu
Just so you know.
(3) FUNEREAL POSTER. SYFY Wire makes an observation as “All those dusted heroes return(?!) in latest poster for Avengers: Endgame “.
Walt Disney Studios marketing president Asad Ayaz tweeted out the new Chinese poster for Endgame, and aside from giving us some new looks at the living heroes the post-Infinty War team will have to rely on, it also features 14 of the ones who are no longer with us. As with all the rest of Endgame’s intentionally mysterious marketing teases, though, there’s a catch to the way the two groups are presented:
(4) VISA CATASTROPHE ENDS MALAYSIAN CON. Eleven cosplayers from four Asian countries plus the con organizer were taken into custody: “A Dozen Cosplayers Arrested During Immigration Raid at Cosplay Convention”.
Twelve people without proper work visas were arrested during an immigration raid at a cosplay convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on its first day over the weekend.
The event, Cosplay Festival 4, had a line-up of performances on March 23 when officers from the Immigration Department of Malaysia (Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia/JIM) stormed its venue at the Sunway Putra Hotel around 2 p.m. after receiving a tip.
(5) AMAZON DEVELOPING BUTLER BOOK FOR TV. “‘Wild Seed’: Viola Davis Developing Adaptation Of Octavia Butler Novel At Amazon, Scripted By Nnedi Okorafor And Wanuri Kahiu”: Shadow and Act has the story.
“We love Octavia Butler and her work and have for decades. But Wild Seed is our favorite. It’s expansive, disturbing, and unique. Wild Seed stays with you. It’s a love/hate story of African immortals that connects people on the African continent to the Diaspora. It merges the mystical and the scientific seamlessly. You’re going to see shape-shifting, body jumping, telepaths, people born with the ability to defy the laws of physics, all in the context of our past, present and future world,” said Kahiu and Okorafor.
(6) THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Leonard Maltin says “‘Dumbo’ Begs the Question: Why?”
Disney’s new live-action Dumbo isn’t awful….but it isn’t very good, either. Why waste so much money and talent on a film that is foredoomed to take second place to a classic? I know it’s all about making money, yet surely there are new ideas to pursue instead of constantly reproducing past successes. In this case the bar is set impossibly high. Dumbo is my favorite animated Disney feature. It’s got heart, humor, and originality. What’s more, it tells its story in just over an hour’s time. It’s a perfect movie.
Why Tim Burton would devote himself to a mediocre remake with a bloated script I can’t imagine….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 28, 1918 — Robert J. Serling . Brother of that Serling. Author of several associational works including Something’s Alive on the Titanic. He wrote “Ghost Writer” published in Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary. (Died 2010.)
- Born March 28, 1922 — A. Bertram Chandler. Did you ever hear of popcorn literature? Well the Australian tinged space opera that was the universe that of the Rim World and John Grimes was such. A very good starting place is the Baen Books omnibus To The Galactic Rim which contains three novels and seven stories. If there’s a counterpart to him, it’d be I think Dominic Flandry who appeared in Anderson’s Technic History series. Oh, and I’ve revisited both to see if the Suck Fairy had dropped by. She hadn’t. (Died 1984.)
- Born March 28, 1942 — Mike Newell, 77. Director whose genre work Includes The Awakening, Photographing Fairies (amazing story, stellar film), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (popcorn film — less filling, mostly tasty), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to wit “Masks of Evil” and “The Perils of Cupid”.
- Born March 28, 1981 — Gareth David-Lloyd, 48. Best known for playing as Ianto Jones on Doctor Who and Torchwood. John Watson in (what is referred to as a steampunk version by Wiki) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, also known simply as Sherlock Holmes. I also see him in Dark Signal, a supernatural thriller.
- Born March 28, 1983 — Natalie Lander, 36. I adore the amount of characterization that a performer brings to an animated character in the voice work they do. So it is with her work as Stargirl in the Justice League Action series of short animated works done recently. She created a smart and stubborn character who wasn’t going to be second to anyone.
(8) REDDIT REELING AFTER MCDONALD SMEAR. A moderator of Reddit’s r/Fantasy group was one of the individuals engaged in the character assassination of Ed McDonald. The other moderators, trying to find a way forward, have posted a timeline of what they knew when, plus an apology. Here are excerpts.
All hell broke loose within r/Fantasy. Up became down.
The r/Fantasy mods received information from multiple sources that there appeared to be a smear campaign against Ed McDonald. Retractions were posted from those who had put things out there involving Ed.
Later on Wednesday, we received information that one of the two individuals involved was a longstanding r/Fantasy moderator. WTF.
The r/Fantasy mod team shifted communications to remove that moderator from conversations and, during that process, that mod appears to have deleted his account. No information or other from that former mod.
TODAY – THURSDAY MORNING
We took time to try and sort things out. Again – looking to people across the industry and reputable sources. At this time there are retractions related to Ed McDonald across the internet from those who posted and information building that indicates mis-information was put out there against Ed McDonald. It also appears that one of those individuals was (a former) moderator of r/Fantasy.
The remaining r/Fantasy mods are reeling a bit with this crazy information.
We would like to issue a formal apology to Ed McDonald for what has transpired. Go buy his books and give him a virtual hug. The information out there is incomplete but, at the very least, Ed is owed an apology for the call to ban him for 2019. Of course, he has been reinstated as an active r/Fantasy member.
No ill will should be borne towards those that were brought to be a part of something unwittingly. The level and scale of deception used to influence and coerce those that were used against me was extraordinary. And when I say that, unless you have seen the evidence, what you’re imagining by ‘extraordinary’ probably does not even begin to cover it. I’m going to go on stating this because even describing it that way does not begin to explain the lengths, depths and time investment that were put into this. The people who were coerced have been abused and they are also survivors of online stalking. Some of them have posted publicly to say that the perpetrator has groomed them for an entire year.
It is not right to be angry towards those whose trust has been abused. Those that have come forward and publicly apologised must not be blamed or attacked. Not in my name. Not because of this incident.
While I was the target, and the consequences of that targeting would have been life altering and devastating for me if not for the actions of those who believed in me and brought the truth to light, I am not the only survivor of online abuse. The people now discovering that they have spent months, or years, talking to and confiding in someone they believed to be a friend, only to discover that they have been played, are survivors as well.
Secondly, this has nothing to do with gender. I was not targeted because I was male. Due to the nature of the campaign, and because I have never met or spoken to the perpetrator, I do not know whether the person responsible is male or female. Please do not make this a platform for unrelated issues. The issue is entirely one of online harassment and falsification, which could happen to anybody irrespective of who they are.
Be kind to one another. If there’s at least one lesson we can all agree on, it’s surely that.
Author Mark Lawrence, creator of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, shared his own experience with being attacked.
[–]MarkLawrenceStabby Winner, AMA Author Mark Lawrence 136 points 2 hours ago
It’s remarkably easy to raise a reddit lynch mob.
It happened to me (on a vastly smaller scale) in one thread. Half a dozen accounts – all started that day and all sharing the same word in their title – started calling me a cancer and accusing me of unspecified crimes against new authors.
Most people looking at the thread just saw lots of names saying I was the bad guy and me not lying down and taking my lumps. The one guy with many accounts got lots of upvotes and I was down in negative double digits.
Mods removed my replies.
It was unfortunate but not malicious on anyone’s part but the instigator. Modding a group is hard and there is often a lot going on at once.
The developments of the past few days have actually helped some people discover the author’s work for the first time, while others are trying to counter the toxicity with positive attention, such as Mark Timmony’s review of McDonald’s Blackwing.
(9) SJWC CRISIS. Not all cats live up to their reputation as companions in the quest for social justice…. BBC asks: “Should cats be culled to stop extinctions?”
Scientists are calling for a widespread cull of feral cats and dogs, pigs, goats, and rats and mice to save the endangered species they prey upon.
Their eradication on more than 100 islands could save some of the rarest animals on Earth, says an international team.
Islands have seen 75% of known bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile extinctions over the past 500 years.
Many of the losses are caused by animals introduced by humans.
Not naturally present on islands, they can threaten native wildlife.
“Eradicating invasive mammals from islands is a powerful way to remove a key threat to island species and prevent extinctions and conserve biodiversity,” said Dr Nick Holmes, from the group Island Conservation.
(10) SPACESUITS AREN’T THE ONLY PROBLEM. BBC finds way too much science gear is available only in large sizes: “One small step for man, but women still have to leap”.
Nasa has cancelled plans for its first all-female spacewalk this Friday, citing a lack of available spacesuits in the right size.
There are not enough suits configured on the International Space Station for both Christina Koch and Anne McClain to go out at the same time, so male astronaut Nick Hague will replace Lt Col McClain.
Last week, Lt Col McClain went on a spacewalk with Col Hague and learned that a medium-sized spacesuit fitted her best.
However, Nasa said in a statement: “Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday 29 March, Koch will wear it.”
For many women working in science, a choice between using equipment designed for men or missing out altogether is all too familiar.
(11) BITS BECOME BITERS. Or something like that: “Britain’s ‘bullied’ chatbots fight back”.
UK chatbot companies are programming their creations to deal with messages containing swearing, rudeness and sexism, BBC News has learned.
Chatbots have received thousands of antisocial messages over the past year.
One financial chatbot has been asked out on a date nearly 2,000 times and to “send nude [picture]s” more than 1,000, according to its makers, Cleo AI.
The chatbot now responds to the request by sending an image of a circuit board.
(12) MORE INTERNET TOXICITY. Apparently it far exceeds the ratio predicted by Sturgeon’s Law: “‘The biggest, strangest problem I could find to study'”.
Businesses are under siege every second of every day, bombarded by a “grey noise” of potentially harmful web traffic seeking access to their networks. But IT staff often can’t tell the malicious traffic from the benign. Why?
If your office building were visited thousands of times a day by criminals peering through the windows seeking a way in, you’d be understandably nervous about hanging around.
Yet any organisation with an online presence gets exactly this type of unwelcome attention all the time.
Security researcher Andrew Morris calls this constant barrage “grey noise” and has started a company of the same name with a mission of logging, analysing and understanding it.
…In 2018, Mr Morris’s network was hit by up to four million attacks a day. His honey-pot computers process between 750 and 2,000 connection requests per second – the exact rate depends on how busy the bad guys are at any given moment.
His analysis shows that only a small percentage of the traffic is benign.
That fraction comes from search engines indexing websites or organisations such as the Internet Archive scraping sites. Some comes from security companies and other researchers.
The rest of the internet’s background noise – about 95% – is malicious.
(13) MAKING A SPECTRE OF HERSELF. TIME Magazine dutifully published the official disclaimer. But the truth is out there! “‘As Far As We Know All Our Stores Are Ghost-Free.’ Supermarket Responds to Frozen Aisle Haunting Post”.
The employee, Christiana Bush, who works in the store’s bakery department, posted about the ghost sighting in a local, private Facebook group. ”This is going to sound really strange….but has anyone seen a ghost in the Wilmington market basket?” she wrote according to the Boston Globe. Adding that after she saw the woman, she looked to see if anyone else was catching a glimpse of the apparition and when she looked back she was gone.
“She looked kind of like melancholy and a little angry. So it was kind of a creepy kind of sense, but it was something,” Bush said Monday, according to the local NBC affiliate. She believes the woman was a ghost and asked the Facebook group whether anyone else had a paranormal experience in her store. The modern day ghost story has since gone viral with people across the country weighing in on the likelihood of a Victorian era ghost choosing to haunt a Market Basket.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Scrolls are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.
@Paul Weimer, don’t worry. Raymond Chandler is great.
Thanks for the title credit!
Re (2), I once had a cat pooh-pooh my writing by stepping on my laptop while I was reading a story aloud to my group. One fleeting touch of a paw got the cursor going with about forty lines of “p00p00p00p00p00…”
I consoled myself with the fact that cats are notoriously poor literary critics (meaning no disrespect to Tim).
Another side to the Chandler discussion: I would argue that Flandry also varies widely. I put A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows on the syllabus the one time I taught SF because I felt it had the substance to go with The City and the Stars, The Space Merchants, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and Stand on Zanzibar. (This was 1979; there wasn’t nearly as much woke fiction then, although I also included “Baby, You Were Great!” and “The Women Men Don’t See”.)
Chip Hitchcock says Another side to the Chandler discussion: I would argue that Flandry also varies widely. I put A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows on the syllabus the one time I taught SF because I felt it had the substance to go with The City and the Stars, The Space Merchants, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and Stand on Zanzibar. (This was 1979; there wasn’t nearly as much woke fiction then, although I also included “Baby, You Were Great!” and “The Women Men Don’t See”.)
Varies widely in what sense? I don’t remember there being a great deal of difference in the quality of the writing exhibited between the beginning of the Flandry tales in the early Fifties and when the last ones were written some thirty years later. They’re all entertaining popcorn literature.
In science news: they have fossils from very soon after Chicxulub hit. Like within a few hours afterward. Fish, dinosaurs, trees with amber, tektites.
@ Cowan. Actually, IMO Raymond Chandler is terrible. A lot of other people seem to like him though, just goes to show how most people have no taste:-)
P J Evans on March 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm said:
Wow, that is a huge find!
@Darren: It’s the smoking gun for killings from 65 million years ago!
(obRaymondChandler: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”)
And that piece inspired a series of “Ray Electromatic Mysteries” by Adam Christopher, about a robot private eye/assassin who has memory-wipe problems that make the mysteries trickier. Including one called BRISK MONEY.
The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF, edited by Mike Ashley, 2013
This anthology is somewhat of a mixed bag, with some excellent stories, quite a few decent and interesting stories, and some stories which I thought would have been far better omitted.
The standout of the 25 stories here is the exceptional Walk to the Full Moon, a novella by Sean McMullen about a genetic branch of the ancestors of humans, who developed a unique skill.
Other excellent stories are “Time Gypsy” by Ellen Klages (despite its unfortunate title), about a grad student in quantum physics who makes the most of a once-in-a-lifetime time-travel opportunity; “After-Images” by Malcolm Edwards, about an English community trapped in a time-slowed vortex; “Legions in Time” by Michael Swanwick, about a woman hired to guard a time-travel device; “Darwin’s Suitcase” by Elisabeth Malartre, in which a time traveller attempts to prevent a religious overreaction to one of Darwin’s works which eventually resulted in an oppressive Age of Darkness; and “Traveller’s Rest”, in which the planet is enmeshed in an interminable war through a barrier of graduated differential time-lapse zones.
“The Chronology Protection Case” by Paul Levinson is an interesting and chilling story which is unfortunately marred by the male character’s fixation on the women he encounters, rendering them objects for his desire rather than human beings in their own right.
“The Pusher” by John Varley is a poignant story because of the time differential of space travel and the lengths to which the main character goes in order to compensate for it. This is a clever idea: something which seems very obvious and sinister, turning out to be something entirely different and not-so-sinister. However, seen through the lens of almost 40 years later, the creepiness and psychologically-predatory nature of what actually happens does not seem so clever any more. It’s worth reading, but very much “of its time”.
“Palely Loitering” by Christopher Priest is a time paradox story about a self-absorbed man who goes back to give himself as a child a lifelong obsession with a woman he professes to love but doesn’t actually know. It’s a great pity that the author did not do something more interesting with the intriguing and inventive worldbuilding in which the story is set.
“Coming Back”, a short story by Damien Broderick about a physics grad student trapped in a time vortex, should almost certainly be avoided due to its portrayals of assault and rape by a main character whose Groundhog-Day repeats permit him to learn to simulate being a decent person in order to get what he wants, while never growing out of the vile human being that he actually is.
With a few exceptions, this volume provides a wide and interesting variety of the different types of time-travel stories, and is definitely worth the read.
All this discussion about whether “popcorn literature” is a good or bad thing, and whether or not that depends on whether you like popcorn reminds me, for some reason, of an old Firesign Theatre line: “The world is my oyster–except for months with an ‘r’ in them!” 🙂
(For the record, I like popcorn, but I like popcorn literature more.)
@ Kurt – cool! Chandler was parodying some of the worst of the genre, but on re-reading it I was reminded of the recent parody posted here of a MilSF author who’s name I’ve forgotten and who I’ve personally not read. (FWIW I like Chandler and SF.)
JJ on March 29, 2019 at 11:39 pm said:
Now I’m imagining a book by that Warner company collecting stories about voyaging on furry elephants.
@Cat Eldridge: the writing style in Flandry may not change radically (although I wouldn’t say it was a problem even in the early work), but the matter of the stories does; AKoGaS in particular is about coping with the results of his youthful carelessness.
@JJ: Thanks for that review – I love time travel stories. “Legions in Time” is a wonderful tale.