(1) THE ANSWER, MY FRIEND. George R.R. Martin empathizes with the Kiwis at Not A Blog: No Fooling.
…The biggest news in that regard is that this year’s worldcon, CoNZealand, has also decided to go virtual. I know what a difficult decision that was for the Kiwis, who have worked so hard bidding and winning the con, and dreamed so long of bringing fandom to their magical island. New Zealand is one of my favorite places in the world, and Parris feels the same way. We have been there several times before, and I know we will visit again… just not this year, alas. I gather that pushing the con back to late 2020 or early 2021 was not feasible, for various logistical reasons, which meant that going online was the only real alternative to cancellation. How that will work, I have no idea. No one does, really. It has never been done before. The technical aspects are going to be daunting, no doubt… but I know that everyone concerned is going to do their best. Fingers crossed.
If there is a silver lining in these clouds, this will give me more time to finish WINDS OF WINTER. I continue to write every day, up here in my mountain fastness….
(2) HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL. Will the San Diego Comic-Con be an exception? SYFY Wire says “San Diego Comic-Con Organizers Remain ‘Hopeful’ That The Con Will Go On”.
“To our amazing Comic-Con and WonderCon fans: We understand how difficult the current climate has been for all of us and appreciate your continued support through these trying times,” said an announcement posted on SDCC’s official Twitter page. “No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July.”
(3) ANY BOOB CAN TAKE AND SHOVE A BALL IN A POCKET. Nick Mamatas tells LitReactor readers why he doesn’t hold small presses in any esteem: “Ask Nick: Publishing 201: Why Are Small Presses Almost Always So Awful?”
…The sad and horrible fact is that most small presses are labors of love. By this I don’t mean a love of the written word or some community of under-published writers, I mean that the owners of small presses are seeking love, and one way to be loved, in the short term, is to splash around some money and the dubious promise of prestige and literary reputation.
Now, running a small press is difficult. The initial outlay can be extensive, and everyone you interact with is also a love-seeker. When one opens any business, the first people one meets aren’t customers with full wallets, but would-be vendors, jobseekers, glad-handers, and the like. Open a dry cleaner tomorrow and the first people through the door will be unqualified folks looking for work, kooks wanting to hang flyers about the school play in your window, a Little League team hitting you up for sponsorship, someone with a sob story about a shirt they need for a job interview that may keep them from becoming homeless in a week and so can’t they pleeeease get a “nice guy” discount of 70 percent, a batty weirdo complaining about non-existent smells and carcinogens, and the like.
In publishing, it’s worse. Writers, mostly not very good ones, line up for a chance to be published—the big presses have already rejected them all….
(4) ON THE NOSE. “Gene Roddenberry, Co-Pilot, B-17 41-2644 LOS LOBOS Of The 394th BS” — Wings Remembered has a photo gallery about his war service.
Gene Roddenberry flew over 80 missions, most of which would have been as Bill Ripley’s co-pilot on LOS LOBOS. We have had this section of nose art from LOS LOBOS for more than 20 years. During this time we had not been able to positively identify the B-17 that this nose art section was from. That changed recently when author and historian Steve Birdsall contacted with this information
(5) ORSINIAN PASSPORT. Time to revisit the Library of America’s 2016 selection “Imaginary Countries, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018)” (from Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia).
During her college years in the early 1950s, Ursula Kroeber began working on her first novel. She later recalled that the Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia and subsequent events had “roused the political spirit in me,” but she hadn’t yet visited the countries of Eastern Europe and didn’t feel comfortable writing about them. She explains:
“I was twenty years old, working at one of the dining tables about midnight, when I got the first glimpse of my other country. An unimportant country of middle Europe. One of those Hitler had trashed and Stalin was now trashing. . . . I see the river, the Molsen, running through an open, sunny countryside to the old capital, Krasnoy (krasniy, Slavic, “beautiful”). Krasnoy on its three hills: the Palace, the University, the Cathedral. The Cathedral of St Theodora, an egregiously unsaintly saint, my mother’s name. . . . I begin to find my way about, to feel myself at home, here in Orsenya, matrya miya, my motherland. I can live here, and find out who else lives here and what they do, and tell stories about it” [from the Introduction, The Complete Orsinia].
It’s not a coincidence that the name of this imaginary country (Orsinia) and her own name both stem from Latin words for a female bear (orsa in Italian, from ursa in Latin)….
(6) ON LOCATION. LA Curbed has “The ultimate ‘Back to the Future’ filming locations map”. And holy cats! Who knew Marty McFly and fanzine fan Ed Cox were practically neighbors! (Well, within a mile-and-a-half of each other, anyway.)
4. McFly house
9303 Roslyndale Ave
Arleta, CA 91331
The McFly residence (built in 1954) still stands on Roslyndale Avenue in Arleta. Roslyndale and several nearby streets stand in for Hill Valley’s somewhat rundown Lyon Estates suburb.
(7) BENNETT OBIT. Voice actress Julie Bennett (1932-2020) died March 31 of complications from COVID-19. Here’s a brief excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter’s tribute —
Her animation career began with “Fractured Fairy Tales” in 1960 on The Bullwinkle Show, and she voiced Cindy Bear for the first time a year later on The Yogi Bear Show, which featured Daws Butler doing his best Art Carney impersonation as Jellystone Park’s most famous resident.
She also voiced Aunt May on a 1997 Spider-Man animated series, did the talking for a Barbie doll and worked in films including the Judy Garland-starring Gay Purr-ee (1962) and Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966).
Her résumé also included Mr. Magoo, Get Smart, The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Garfield and Friends…
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- April 2, 2005 — The Quatermass Experiment premiered. It was a live television event remake of the 1953 television series of the same name by Nigel Kneale. Written by Richard Fell and directed by Sam Miller, it starred Jason Flemyng was cast as Quatermass, with long-time Kneale admirer Mark Gatiss as Paterson, Andrew Tiernan as Carroon, Indira Varma as his wife Judith, David Tennant as Briscoe, Adrian Bower as Fullalove and Adrian Dunbar as Lomax. The critics really liked it and it became BBC Four’s fourth-highest-rated program of all time. It’s not that popular at Rotten Tomatoes where the audience reviewers give it only a 47% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 2, 1914 — Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!) That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth at Sheffield. (Died 2000.)
- Born April 2, 1921 — Redd Boggs. Los Angeles fanzine writer, editor and publisher. The 1948 Fantasy Annual was his first zine with Blish as a contributor, with Discord being nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1961. He was nominated for the Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer, and Sky Hook was nominated for Best Fanzine. Boggs was also a member of First Fandom. (Died 1996.)
- Born April 2, 1933 — Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator who provided numerous book covers for paperback of genre novels for Ballantine Books in the Seventies. He’s particularly known for his work on the paperback editions of Brunner novels such as The Shockwave Rider which you can see here and Stand on Zanzibar that you can see over here. (Died 2016.)
- Born April 2, 1939 — Elliot K. Shorter. He began attending cons in the early Sixties and was a major figure in fandom through the Seventies. Some of the zines he worked on were Engram, the Heicon Flyer and Niekas. He was the TAFF winner at Heicon, the 28th Worldcon, in Heidelberg Germany. And he helped Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. Mike has a detailed obituary here (Died 2013.)
- Born April 2, 1940 — Peter Haining. British author and anthologist responsible for a number of really cool works such as The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook, The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Spring Heeled Jack, Doctor Who: The Key to Time A year by year record (which covered all of classic Who) and James Bond: A Celebration. He was responsible for some one hundred and seventy books in his lifetime. (Died 2007.)
- Born April 2, 1945 — Linda Hunt, 75. Her first film role was Mrs. Holly Oxheart In Popeye. (Anyone here who’s disputing that’s genre?) She goes on to be Shadout Mapes in Lynch’s Dune. (Very weird film.) Next up is Dragonfly, a Kevin Costner-fronted horror film as Sister Madeline. And in a quirky role, she voices Lady Proxima, the fearsome Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
- Born April 2, 1948 — Joan D. Vinge, 72. Best-known for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo and its sequels, her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after her serious car accident was the 2011 novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies.
- Born April 2, 1978 — Scott Lynch, 42. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is to my utter surprise now at seven. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora, but who here has read the entire series to date? He’s also stated that there will be a sequel series set some twenty years on in the future with new protagonists which will also be seven books in length. And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors?
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Rhymes with Orange has a high flyer.
(11) MARVEL MAKES SOME COMICS A TEMPORARY FREE READ. Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s digital comics subscription service, is now offering all fans “FREE access to some of Marvel’s most iconic stories from recent years, including now-classic Marvel Comics events and critically acclaimed runs featuring the Avengers, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and more. Fans who are social distancing will be able to escape into the Marvel Universe and revisit their favorite stories from a curated selection of complete story arcs – completely free – on Marvel Unlimited, starting Thursday, April 2 until Monday, May 4.”
To access Marvel Unlimited’s free comics offering, download or update the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS or Android at the respective Apple and Google Play app stores, and click “Free Comics” on the landing screen. No payment information or trial subscriptions will be required for the selection of free comics.
This month’s free comics will feature instant Marvel Comics classics and can’t-miss events including:
- AVENGERS VS. X-MEN
- CIVIL WAR
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RED GOBLIN
- BLACK PANTHER BY TA-NEHISI COATES VOL. 1
- THANOS WINS BY DONNY CATES
- X-MEN MILESTONES: DARK PHOENIX SAGA
- AVENGERS: KREE/SKRULL WAR
- AVENGERS BY JASON AARON VOL. 1: THE FINAL HOST
- FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 1: FOUREVER
- BLACK WIDOW VOL. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.’S MOST WANTED
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER ULTIMATE
- CAPTAIN MARVEL VOL. 1: HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER, MORE
Customers on the Marvel Comics App and webstore as well as comiXology will also have free access to these stories for a limited time.
(12) MCU NEWS. Bradley Russell, in the Total Film Magazine story “Everything we know so far about Marvel Phase 4, including new MCU movie release dates and cast news” has a detailed listing of forthcoming release dates for MCU films, including the revised Black Widow release date and what’s happening with Marvel series coming to Disney Plus.
…The last current Marvel Phase 4 movie – and probably the most exciting. Thor: Love and Thunder is coming on November 6, 2021, and will almost definitely shock you with its big reveal: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is the new Thor (now officially called Mighty Thor). Just let that sink in for a moment.
(13) IN THE ISOLATION ZONE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that, in the first episode of “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling spoke of “the barrier of loneliness” as he discusses the seven best Twilight Zone episodes that deal with loneliness and isolation. “Seven ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes that are eerily timely during the coronavirus pandemic”.
1. “Time Enough at Last”
One person’s mass-casualty event is another person’s opportunity to finally get a little reading done. Burgess Meredith plays the clerk who hides in his bank’s vault to enjoy a few page-turners. When that girded vault allows him to survive a nuclear attack, the clerk is left gloriously alone — just himself and stacks of books to happily devour. The twist, of course, is to watch his step — isolation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
(14) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The Guardian reports “Cats can infect each other with coronavirus, Chinese study finds”. (The study doesn’t show feline transmission to humans, however.)
Cat owners may wish to be more cautious about contact with their pets, as a study from China has revealed Covid-19 can be transmitted between cats.
(15) ORIGIN OF $PECIE$. David Quammen reviews three of the very many works about Darwin and his theories in “The Brilliant Plodder” at New York Review of Books.
…One lesson from all this is that Darwin’s name sells. A less mercantile way of viewing it is that Darwin’s name stands for what Daniel Dennett has called “the single best idea anyone has ever had,” and therefore serves as a portal to scientific and philosophical ruminations of vast depth and breadth. We can’t stop reading and talking about Darwin, 138 years after his death, because the great theory of which he was co-conceiver (with Alfred Russel Wallace) and chief propounder (in On the Origin of Species) was so big and startling and forceful, yet so unfinished when he died in 1882, that there’s always more work to do. We’re still trying to figure out how evolution by natural selection—Darwin’s dangerous idea, in Dennett’s phrase—applies to every aspect of life on Earth, from virulence in coronaviruses to human social behavior.
(16) WE WERE NOT ALONE. “Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa”.
Two million years ago, three different human-like species were living side-by-side in South Africa, a study shows.
The findings underline a growing understanding that the present-day situation, where one human species dominates the globe, may be unusual compared with the evolutionary past.
The new evidence comes from efforts to date bones uncovered at a cave complex near Johannesburg.
The research has been published in the journal Science.
The new work also revealed the earliest known example of Homo erectus, a species thought to be a direct ancestor of modern humans (Homo sapiens).
The three groups of hominins (human-like creatures) belonged to Australopithecus (the group made famous by the “Lucy” fossil from Ethiopia), Paranthropus and Homo – better known as humans.
Andy Herries, from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues evaluated remains found at the Drimolen Cave Complex using three different scientific dating techniques: electron spin resonance, palaeomagnetism and uranium-lead dating.
(17) FOR THE FAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING. BBC has learned an online buyer has won an opportunity to launch a commercial rocket for 40 million yuan ($5.6m; £4.5m) in central China.
According to the official People’s Daily, popular online shopping platform Taobao live-streamed the sale of a commercial rocket yesterday evening.
The official China Daily said that the rocket was “a small launch vehicle” in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, which has already seen eight commercial launches.
Buyers were told that they could paint the body of the rocket and the launch platform, and that they could visit the launch site and control the launch.
Posters advertising the livestream, headed by celebrity shopping anchor Wei Ya, went viral on Wednesday 1 April, leading many to speculate they were part of an April Fools joke.
But national newspaper Global Times says that Taobao confirmed that “this is for real” in an online post.
(18) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter knew what the contestants didn’t on tonight’s Jeopardy! But in this case, is that something to brag about?
Category: Movie Monsters.
Answer: “Based on a 1960 Hugo Award-winning novel, this movie starred Casper Van Dien & Denise Richards as soldiers fighting insect-like aliens.”
No one could ask, “What is ‘Starship Troopers’?”
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Guitarist Mike Dawes won’t explain where his composition “William Shatner’s Pants” got its name, but it’s a good tune and an immortal title!
[Thanks to Dann, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]