(1) ON THE CORPORATE RIM. Tesla, The Lego Group, Netflix, Zoom, and SpaceX are on the TIME100 Most Influential Companies 2021 list. So is Roblox —
When adults turned to Zoom for pandemic-era happy hours, kids filled the social void with Roblox. In 2020, Roblox Corporation’s free-to-play game—which allows users to construct original, three-dimensional online worlds—grew its daily user base 85% to more than 32.6 million. Players can do everything from delivering pizzas to exploring ancient Rome to shelling out real money for virtual Robux to outfit their blocky avatars. (As in many online communities, some have faced harassment.) “Futurists and science-fiction writers have been imagining the Metaverse for decades,” says CEO David Baszucki, referring to the concept of a persistent, shared, 3-D virtual space. Roblox is making it a reality.
(2) ANOTHER CONVENTION CASUALTY. Jo Walton’s Scintillation con — planned for October 2021 in Montreal — is canceled. Current plans are to hope for 2022. “2021 is also cancelled”.
There will be no Scintillation in 2021. There’s no word about the border opening. Vaccinations are happening, but unevenly, and it’s not possible to get any guidance as to whether it will be legal to have events in Quebec in October. We thought about pushing it back, but then it runs into both World Fantasy (still planned to be in Montreal, still planned to be at least partly in person) and winter. The hotel are very reluctant to commit, and keeping the whole thing as a possibility was making us anxious, and of course the closer it gets the harder it is for people to commit. The worst result would be having a con and losing money so we can’t do it other years. So I decided we’d be better to just cancel again, and have the best Scintillation ever in 2022….
(3) 2021 SEIUN AWARDS FINALISTS. Locus Online’s 2021 Seiun Awards Nominees post has translations into English of all the titles up for Best Japanese Novel and Best Japanese Story, as well as the correct English titles of the works nominated for Best Translated Novel and Best Translated Story (i.e. of works into the Japanese language.) And I don’t! So hie thee hence.
The award’s own official website also lists the nominees in Multimedia, Comic, Artist, Non-Fiction, and “Free” (other) categories.
The awards will be presented at SF60, the 60th Japan SF Convention, scheduled for August 21-22, 2021 in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture.
(4) ACTOR NOEL CLARKE FACES HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, has suspended British actor and producer Noel Clarke following allegations of sexual misconduct reports CNN. He’s known to sff fans for playing Mickey Smith in 15 episodes of Doctor Who, and appearing in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The body told CNN in a statement on Friday that it had made the decision to suspend Clarke’s membership, along with his recent award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, “in light of the allegations of serious misconduct” leveled against him in the Guardian newspaper.
“BAFTA has taken the decision to suspend his membership and the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award immediately and until further notice,” it added.
The suspension comes just weeks after Clarke was given the award — one of the academy’s most prestigious honors — at its annual ceremony on April 10.
According to the Guardian, claims of sexual harassment and bullying were made against Clarke by 20 women, all of whom knew him in a professional capacity between 2004 and 2019.
(5) MANY I BUY ANOTHER VOWEL, PLEASE? James Davis Nicoll would like to point you at “The Single Best Bibliographical Resource There Is (if You Like SFF)” at Tor.com.
… The ISFDB’s roots can be found in USENET, a now archaic decentralized worldwide distributed discussion system intended to be sufficiently robust enough that in the event of a global thermonuclear war, surviving users would still be able to exchange angry barbs about the latest Robert A. Heinlein novel even as deadly fallout collected in deep drifts around the furious posters. By its nature, however, USENET posts tend to be ephemeral. Thus, in the mid-1990s, Al von Ruff and the entity known as Ahasuerus created the web-based ISFDB….
(6) 124C41+. SF2 Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie sent another update about prospects for UK fan groups resuming in-person meetings in the foreseeable future.
I have almost finished downloading five months of Nature PDFs that accrued during my “digital lockdown”, fortunately I had paper subscriptions so I was kept up-to-date during this time. Next is Science, BMJ, etc. And I’ve not yet looked at the backlog e-mails December 2020 to March ’21…
As lockdown over here in Brit Cit eases, our local Northumberland Heath DA8 Science Fiction Group is hoping for a members-only meet in June before resuming regular open meetings. Before then a few of us may though have a garden
gathering as under CoVID rules, before late May, six are allowed to gather outside. (We hope Buffy the dog doesn’t count as one of the six: she slays vampires you know.)
Whether or not our SF group will have a larger barbecue this summer remains to be seen.
As for larger UK meetings, such as the Birmingham SF Group or the London SF Circle, getting to these will involve public transport and that may put off some. We will see. For now, the London SF Circle is virtual.
Fortunately, over here, both the weekly rates of infection and fatalities seem to be in steady decline, for which we have the vaccines to thank. (All hail the UK Science Base, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.)
Trusting things are going well for you over in the rebel colonies? News from some places elsewhere is depressing. Hopefully we can speed up vaccinating the world.
(7) DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Dream Foundry has made Cassie Alexander’s seminar “Injuries in Fiction and Writing About Other Medical Topics” available on their YouTube channel.
Have you ever needed to incapacitate a character and gotten stuck wondering what was real versus what was functional for your project? As an author and RN, Cassie understands the way we need to sometimes bend things for fiction — but also the thrill of making fiction as truthful as possible. The first half of the talk will include an overview of such topics as: blows to the head, strokes, burns, gunshots/arrowshots, what’s “life support,” infectious processes, heart attacks, etc., and the second half of the talk will be audience questions about their WIPs.
(8) WAIT UNTIL I PRODUCE THE SILMARILLION. Uh, yeah. At Literary Hub, Emily Temple documents “How J.R.R. Tolkien Blocked W.H. Auden From Writing a Book About Him”.
…Of course, without Tolkien’s cooperation, the book never materialized—though I have to say I’m sorry. I personally would love to read what was, judging by the above, sure to be Auden’s half-catty, half-worshipful book on Tolkien. We’ll all just have to imagine it, I suppose.
(9) CHEAP CHEAP. The Independent’s Ed Cumming knows how it happened and is willing to explain: “Intergalactic: How Britain fell in love with the rickety, low-budget sci-fi show”.
Blame Doctor Who. When they arrived in 1963, the Time Lord and his chums didn’t merely create a franchise that would dominate British TV for more than 50 years – they spawned an entire universe of tonally imitative series set in space. From Blake’s 7 and Space Island One to Star Cops and Outcasts, UK TV schedules have been littered with these curiosities. With their rattling sets, iffy costumes and eccentric English charm, we might fondly call such shows “Mibs”, or Mostly Indoors British Sci-fi.
Another may be on the way in the form of Sky One’s space-prison drama Intergalactic, which begins tonight. While they differ in their specifics, these programmes share a love of big themes delivered on tight budgets. They’re also more liked than initial critical reception tends to suggest.
It stems from a paradox at the heart of the genre. For audiences, a futuristic setting conjures visions of spectacle, elaborate costumes and faraway locations, all augmented with cutting edge technology and special effects. In Hollywood, sci-fi has long pushed the envelope of what is possible in filmmaking. For TV producers on a tight leash, however, mostly indoor sci-fis have a different quality. When outside movement is limited by an infinite hostile void, you can film the whole thing in a tiny studio. Viewers get big ideas. You get great value. Everyone wins.
(10) LIGHTING UP THE TV. Netflix dropped a trailer for the second half of Season 5 of Lucifer.
It’s time to meet your new maker! Lucifer is back with eight thrilling new episodes. Season 5 Part 2 premieres May 28th.
(11) MY ILIAD SCORE WAS AN ODDITY. “How Well Do You Know An Iliad?” Take the quiz. I scored six out of seven, but I predict many Filers will get perfect marks!
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born April 30, 1839 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. (Personal name last, Japanese-style.) Possibly the last great Japanese woodblock artist. Some of his work is fantasy. Here is the cover of Higashi ed., Kaiki [“fantastic”], Uncanny Tales from Japan vol. 1 (showing Minamoto no Yorimitsu Cuts at the Earth Spider). Here is Midnight Moon at Mount Yoshino (Lady Iga no Tsubone confronting the ghost of Sadaki no Kiyotaka, see here). (Died 1892) [JH]
- Born April 30, 1926 — Cloris Leachman. I’ve got her first in the genre in Young Frankenstein as Frau Blücher. (Strange film.) She does her obligatory mouse role when she voices Euterpe in The Mouse and His Child. Next up is being The Lord’s Secretary in The Muppet Movie. (Always a fun time.) Hmmm… she’s Millie Crown in Shadow Play, a horror film that I don’t plan on seeing. Not my cup of tea. Lots of voice work from there out and I will only note her as Mrs. Tensedge in The Iron Giant, a great film indeed. She in the live action and I assume disgusting Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse as Ms. Fielder. (Died 2021.) (CE)
- Born April 30, 1934 – Baird Searles. Book reviewer for Asimov’s. Film reviewer for Amazing and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Co-wrote A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction and A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy; Films of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Co-founded the SF Shop, New York. Drama and Literature director at Radio Station WBAI; weekly program “Of Unicorns and Universes”; 100-minute reading of “The Council of Elrond”, pronunciations verified with Tolkien by telephone; complete (serialized) reading of Last and First Men. (Died 1993) [JH]
- Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven, 83. One of my favorite authors to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I, “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976 which I admit surprised me. (CE)
- Born April 30, 1947 – Melinda Murdock, age 74. Ten novels, one shorter story, three covers. Here is Timegate; here is A Sea of Troubles. [JH]
- Born April 30, 1959 – Bill Congreve, age 62. Two dozen short stories. Three Ditmars. Book reviewer for Aurealis. Edited four Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy (three with Michelle Marquardt), four more anthologies. Small press, MirrorDanse Books. Favourite (he’s Australian) meal: tabouli, roast chicken, Guinness, and Street’s Blue Ribbon ice cream. [JH]
- Born April 30, 1960 – P.C. Cast, age 61. Three dozen novels, nine shorter stories, some edited by daughter Kristin Cast. In high school fell in love with mythology and Quarter Horses. Served in the Air Force, taught high school herself. NY Times and USA Today best-selling author. Prism, Holt Medallion, Laurel Wreath, Oklahoma Book awards. Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. [JH]
- Born April 30, 1968 — Adam Stemple, 53. Son of Jane Yolen. One-time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tales, Pay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as engaging. (CE)
- Born April 30, 1968 – David Goldfarb, 53. Worked part-time at The Other Change of Hobbit, when it was in its first location in Berkeley. Has been Tuckerized by Jo Walton in Ha’Penny and Half a Crown, and by Mark Waid in the comic book Legion of Super-Heroes. At ConJosé co-accepted Jo’s Astounding (then-Campbell) Award. He’s five-for-five in Mark and Priscilla Olson’s “Trivia for Chocolate” game at Worldcons he’s attended. He competed in “Win Tom Whitmore’s Books” at Denvention 3 and beat Tom and won a rare Bujold hardcover from him. [OGH]
- Born April 30, 1973 — Naomi Novik, 48. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the Astounding Award. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet read her Spinning Silver novel which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. (CE)
- Born April 30, 1973 – Jeanine Hall Gailey, age 48. Ten dozen poems; five collections. Co-edited Dwarf Stars 11 (annual anthology, DS Award finalists, SF Poetry Ass’n; poems of at most 10 lines). Two top prizes from Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Memorial Fund (2007, 2011). Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. Elgin Award. Moon City Poetry Award. [JH]
- Born April 30, 1982 — Kirsten Dunst, 38. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise, voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode! (CE)
- Born April 30, 1985 — Gal Gadot, 36. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro shows cops tracing a witch’s missing sibling. You’ll probably solve this disappearance before they do.
(14) IN CHARACTER. Keith Houston, in “Miscellany #90: The Grawlix” on his blog Shady Characters explains that the bunch of random typography in comics used to portray obscenity is called “The Grawlix” and was invented by Mort Walker for Beetle Bailey in the 1950s.
…But here’s the thing. A grawlix is not a collection of typographic characters — at least not the way that Walker defined it. In Lexicon, he writes:
“A variety of acceptable curse words are at the cartoonist’s disposal. He may throw in a new one from time to time, but the real meat of the epithet must always contain plenty of jarns, quimps, nittles, and grawlixes[.]”…
(15) MAY THE FOURTH ITH NEXT WEEK. SYFY Wire thinks you should spare no expense to celebrate — “May the 4th, Star Wars Day 2021: Bad Batch premiere, events, merchandise, more”. A roundup of several dozen thematic products.
… After more than a year of shutdowns and delays, cantinas and gangster hideouts throughout the galaxy are finally opening their doors to more and more clientele. We haven’t felt this giddy and hopeful since Vader tossed Palpatine into the reactor of the Death Star. It’s only fitting that Star Wars Day 2021 should ring in a new era of optimism. After all, the entire franchise is rooted in the concept of sparking hope in dark times.
So, cash in those galactic credits and clear your schedule for Tuesday, May 4, because we’ve got your guide on how to party like it’s the days of the Old Republic. (Be sure to check back in with SYFY WIRE as more May the 4th goodies are revealed over the next week.)…
(16) URSA PASSES ORSON. In the Washington Post, Brittany Shammas says that a negative review of Citizen Kane from the Chicago Tribune has been unearthed, which makes Paddington 2 the highest ranking film on Rotten Tomatoes with uniformly positive reviews. “Rotten Tomatoes downgrades Citizen Kane’s perfect score”.
… A thousand memes and jokes were born of the news that the talking-bear sequel’s score of “100 percent Fresh” had bested the “99 percent Fresh” now assigned to the film widely hailed as the greatest ever made.
“please don’t misinterpret the adjusted Rotten Tomatoes rankings to mean that ‘Paddington 2 is now the best movie of all time.’ Paddington 2 *already was* the best movie of all time,” quipped David Ehrlich, a senior film critic at Indie Wire. “thank you.”…
(17) NOT FOREVER, JUST TOMORROW. Variety introduces “’The Tomorrow War’ Trailer: Chris Pratt’s Time-Traveling Sci-Fi Film”.
Amazon has released a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi thriller “The Tomorrow War,” debuting this summer.
The movie, out July 2, stars Chris Pratt as Dan Forester, a high school teacher who is recruited by a group of time travelers to fight a war in the future. As an alien species threatens life on Earth, the only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to travel to the year 2051 and help save the planet. Dan teams up with his estranged father, played by J.K. Simmons, and a brilliant scientist, played by Yvonne Strahovski, to rewrite the fate of mankind.
(18) HIS GREATEST ROLL. “Hear Jeff Goldblum play D&D, because life finds a way” at Polygon.
Actor Jeff Goldblum is joining the cast of a fan-made Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Dark Dice, created and written by Fool and Scholar Productions. The high-concept audio drama starts out as a traditional session of D&D, complete with dice and a Dungeon Master. Sequences are then cut, condensed, and performed with additional voice acting, original music, and sound effects. Episodes featuring the Jurassic Park actor will begin airing for free on May 12. The announcement was made Wednesday by Deadline.
(19) STUCK. “NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter just failed to lift off from the Martian surface, but it will try again on Friday” – Yahoo! has the story.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter was scheduled to embark on its most daring flight yet on Thursday. But it failed to lift off, so NASA plans to try again on Friday.
Ingenuity made history when it flew for the first time on April 19 – a 10-foot hover that marked the first controlled, powered flight ever conducted on another planet. Since then, the 4-pound drone has completed two more flights, venturing farther and flying faster each time.
Ingenuity was in good shape after its last flight, in which it traveled roughly 330 feet out and back. It was set to attempt an even more ambitious adventure on Thursday: a 117-second flight in which the little drone was supposed to reach a record speed of 3.5 meters per second. The plan was for the helicopter to climb 16 feet into the air, fly south for about 436 feet, and snap photos of the Martian surface along the way. It was then supposed to hover for more photos, turn around, and fly back to its original spot for landing.
But Ingenuity’s rotor blades didn’t lift it up at all.
The culprit is probably a software issue that first showed up during a high-speed spin test ahead of the chopper’s first flight….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I’m sure I can’t explain Captain Yajima but it’s pretty amusing.
[Thanks to N., JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]