(1) UP, UP, AND AWAY. “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight” the space agency reported today. (For a summary of the mission see the Wikipedia: “Ingenuity (helicopter)”.)
Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).
“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”
The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.
(2) ALL THE FEELS. The Atlantic’s Marina Koren captures the emotions of the event in “No, You’re Crying About a Helicopter on Mars”.
… I am not a spacecraft engineer, nor do I know this robot personally. But I am mortal, and we mortals tend to anthropomorphize robots and even have fuzzy feelings toward them. (The exception: If their appearance falls into the “uncanny valley” category, they can creep us out instead). A whole assortment of research on the relationship between people and machines shows that we can’t help attaching our little human feelings to the little mechanical robots we build. And NASA knows it.
As with other robotic missions, NASA maintains a Twitter account for Perseverance, the rover that brought Ingenuity to Mars in February, and dispatches are written from the perspective of the machine. “I love rocks,” Perseverance tweeted in February to its followers, who currently number 2.7 million. “I’m on the move!” it exclaimed in March as it took its first drive. “I’ve taken my first selfie,” the rover said earlier this month, showing us a picture of its robotic frame, with Ingenuity in the background. NASA has already shared imagery of Ingenuity’s flight—from Percy, stationed nearby, and from the helicopter itself, which captured its shadow flitting across the surface of Mars….
(3) A WALK, NOT A GALLOP. Book Riot’s Alice Nuttall points the way: “Slow Sci-Fi: 11 Thoughtful And Low Action Sci-Fi Reads”. A Becky Chambers’ novel is first on the list.
…Slow sci-fi can be a peaceful read between more action-packed books, or can give you the chance to grapple with a futuristic or otherworldly concept on multiple levels. Don’t be fooled — slow doesn’t mean shallow, and sometimes thoughtful sci-fi can give the horrors of a dystopia more time to develop, really drawing back before landing that gut punch. Here are some lower-action, thoughtful sci-fi reads to add to your TBR pile.
(4) THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT. Texas A&M Libraries will host “The Future at 25 Cents A Copy: The Material Culture of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines”, a virtual talk scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Noon (US Central). The participants are Jeremy Brett, an Associate Professor at A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection; Anna Culbertson, head of Special Collections & University Archives at San Diego State University, and Andrew Lippert, Special Collections Processing Archivist at UC, Riverside who works with the Eaton Collection. Register at the link.
“The “Pulp Era” of the 1920s-1940s was crucial to the formation of the science fiction genre in the United States. Pulp magazines were colorful, exciting vehicles for the work of countless creators, many of whom became major names. Librarians from three institutions with major pulp collections—Texas A&M University, the University of California, Riverside, and San Diego State University—will discuss the literary and genre legacy of pulps, including their significance as examples of mid-century American material culture.”
(5) DO YOU KNOW? Lise Andreasen would like to poll the audience.
(1) A French gentleman worked with agriculture, and invented a new drill plough, that was better at sowing. Michel Lullin de Chateauvieux – Wikipedia
(2) In “Surface Tension,” James Blish, talks about sowing people in the universe. The premier scientist is Chatvieux.
Does anybody know, whether this is a coincidence?
(6) EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. In return, Lise Andreasen offers to enlighten people who keep asking: How can this movie be nominated for the Hugo? She forwards these snippets from the Wikipedia plot summary:
Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest…
Katiana’s ghost appears to (redacted)…
Luckily, unseen elves save (redacted)…
(7) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU HANG UP? Marvel dropped a trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will be (only) in theaters September 3.
(8) PROVING LOVE. Netflix will release Love, Death, And Rockets, Volume 2 on May 14.
The NSFW animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Naked giants, Christmas demons, and robots-gone-wild… Consume irresponsibly.
Is there another Scalzi story in the new series? Youth wants to know.
(9) PROGRAMMED FOR FAILURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber, discusses Disco Elysium, a role-playing game created by “Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz and his friends during a night of drinking in 2005” and which won three gaming awards at the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of Oscars.
The brew of debauchery, failure, and resilience that marks this origin story is palpable in the 6,000 years of dense history Kurvitz and his team crafted around this detective game. The story unfolds across the impoverished district of Martinaise, abandoned by the law following a failed communist revolution and now under the heel of a corrupt labor union.
Your protagonist is similarly scarred, beginning the game with a bout of amnesia following a drug-fueled bender so destructive it makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like something for children. As you recover your memory it becomes apparent that you’re a cop with a murder case to solve, a task you are profoundly ill-equipped to handle. ‘The entire story is about how to react when you’re faced with failure,’ Helen Hindpere, lead writer on the Final Cut, tells me. ‘How do you come out of it? What do you do?’
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon. It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born April 18, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.) (CE)
- Born April 19, 1923 – Lygia Fagundes Telles, age 98. Camões Prize. Commander, Order of Rio Branco. Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres. Grand officer, Order of Gabriela Mistral. Third woman elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Called First Lady of Brazilian Literature. Fifteen stories for us available in English, see collection Tigrela. Many other works, many other awards. [JH]
- Born April 18, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here as it’s in the public domain. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.) (CE)
- Born April 18, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.) (CE)
- Born April 18, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 86. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. (CE)
- Born April 18, 1946 — Tim Curry, 75. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as a year earlier he’d been in the Scottish Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player. (CE)
- Born April 19, 1947 – Donald Eastlake III, F.N., age 74. Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 16. Served as President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Frequent chair of WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meetings, a particularly difficult thankless task. Fellow of NESFA (service). Guest of Honor (with wife Jill Eastlake) at Rivercon IX. See here. [JH]
- Born April 19, 1948 – Christopher Yates, age 73. A dozen covers. Here is The Committed Men. Here is The Year of the Quiet Sun. Here is Solaris. Here is Rogue Moon. Here is Toyman. Here is The Bornless Keeper. [JH]
- Born April 19, 1951 – Patricia Geary, age 70. Four novels. Vassar woman. P.K. Dick Award. Professor at Univ. Redlands. [JH]
- Born April 19, 1967 – Steven H Silver, age 54. Chaired Windycon XXIX-XXX, 42 (so some are in Roman, some in Arabic numerals; do you think anyone asked me?); co-chaired Nebula Award Weekend 2010 (with Peggy Rae Sapienza, making SHS a Lawn Mower), chaired 2015-2016. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 49, Capricon 32. Fanzine, Argentus; three guest-editorships on Journey Planet. See here. [JH]
- Born April 19, 1978 – Aleksi Briclot, age 43. A score of covers, two dozen interiors; comics, films, video games. Collection Worlds and Wonders in French and English (here is his cover). Here is the Sep 04 Deep Magic. Here is Galaxies 42. Here is The Rose of Sarifal. Here is Boundless. Here is Stranger Things 4. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater shares a superhero’s blessed event.
- The Far Side calls for the exterminators.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a complicated but rewarding techncology gag.
(13) NOT DRAWN THAT WAY. CBR.com says “DC’s Karate Kid Was Accidentally Drawn the Wrong Way for Years”.
… One of the other audacious things about Shooter’s story was that he actually added FOUR new Legionnaires to the Legion in that story! Can you imagine pitching an editor with a story where you add four new members to the team? But hey, it worked out! One of the things Shooter felt that the Legion lacked was action characters. He felt that everyone’s powers were too passive. Everyone just pointed and fired a blast from their fingers or whatever. So that’s why Shooter loved the idea of Karate Kid, and wow, devoting PAGES to a fight between Superboy and Karate Kid was a bold, bold gambit at the time…
The problem was, as Shooter explained to my pal Glen Cadigan in Glen’s seminal work, The Legion Companion (I’d link to it, but I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it does Glen any good for me to tell you go buy a used copy on Amazon, ya know?), “In my crummy drawings, he was Half-Asian…when Shelly drew him, he made him like an American. Which is a shame.” As I noted in another old Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the other Legionnaires introduced in that issue, Ferro Lad, was going to be Black, but Mort Weisinger wouldn’t approve it. Shooter was trying to diversify the Legion and he kept coming up short….
(14) IMPOSTER SYNDROME. The Hollywood Reporter tells why “Tim Curry Once Got Thrown Out of a ‘Rocky Horror’ Screening”.
…[Curry] explained, “I went rather early on at the Waverly [Theatre] in New York where it started, and they thought I was an imposter. And they threw me out.” Curry noted he was not in costume when he was tossed.
The Waverly (now IFC Center) was the original home of the midnight audience-participation screenings of Rocky Horror, which then spread across the country and still takes place to this day.
Asked about his feelings on the audience-participation screening, he said, “I thought it was enormous fun. I was having a ball — and then I got thrown out.”…
(15) TIME TO PLAY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com entry has nothing to do with curling: “A Game of Stones: Five Novels Set in Asteroid Belts”. On the list is –
Up Against It by M. J. Locke (2011)
By the 24th century, humans can be found everywhere in the solar system, from the inner system all the way out to the Kuiper belt. This is possible in large part thanks to a trade network spanning the system. The network ensures that vital resources like volatiles are transported cheaply and reliably from source to destination. A case in point: asteroid 25 Phocaea (and its one settlement, Zekeston) flourish because the settlement can import the volatiles it lacks.
What Zekeston accepts as necessity, others see as opportunity. A disaster leaves Zekeston short on volatiles. Ogilvie and Sons is the only company in a position to resupply Zekeston in time to save its population. Ogilvie and Sons is more than willing to do this, provided Zekeston submits to rule by Ogilvie and Sons. Zekeston’s head of resource management, Jane Navio, is determined to save her adopted community from the predatory corporation. Whether she can do so with the resources at hand—some sympathetic functionaries and a gang of plucky kids—is unclear.
(16) BIG EARS. YouTube has a sketch from last night’s The Simpsons called “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)” where Quilloughby of The Snuffs (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up in Springfield and charms Lisa Simpson. Morrissey of The Smith’s manager Peter Katsis loudly complained the show was making fun of the artist.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says there are “enough nautical-themed Maguffins to fill an entire movie” in the first ten minutes, but he notes that it’s never clear in the movie why Davy Jones has an octopus face.
[Thanks to Ben Bird Person, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]