(1) GAIMAN AND DORAN. The Guardian has made the full video of the livestream event with Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran available online now, introducing their new graphic novel Chivalry from Dark Horse Comics. In comic shops now, in bookstores next week.
(2) AS TIME GOES BY. Rachel Birenbaum, author of a time travel novel, discusses why time travel stories remain an important part of sf. “On Time Travel and Metafiction” at CrimeReads.
…Every iteration begins with rules. The author has to create their universe and dictate how long time travel lasts, how it’s done, how it might affect the protagonist physically, and more. Most tales send people hurtling forwards or backwards with orders not to affect anything but their target. While all the rules are different, the reason behind time travel is almost always the same: regret….
(3) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY. “LOTR Fitness Challenge Asks You To Walk From The Shire To Mordor To Rid Evil From The World” — GameSpot has the details.
Looking to get in shape but need some extra motivation? A new gamified exercise program challenges players to log workouts in the real world as they virtually follow The Lord of the Rings characters Frodo and Sam from The Shire to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.
The Conqueror Virtual Challenges has teamed up with Warner Bros. for a new series of five virtual challenges based on The Lord of the Rings movies. Anyone can take part in exercises of varying lengths, with the ultimate goal of making it all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring.
The Conqueror Challenges app has been updated with a Middle-earth map that has five challenges to unlock: The Shire, The Fellowship, Mines of Moria, The Eye of Sauron, and the Mordor. Participants can run, cycle, swim, or walk to reach the set distance, and each stop has stories and postcards detailing Frodo and Sam’s journey. The distances are listed below….
(4) COUNT HIM OUT. “Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat ‘can confidently say’ he’s done showrunning”. Radio Times has quotes.
“I think I can confidently say I’m done showrunning Doctor Who,” Steven Moffat (who was in charge of Doctor Who from 2010 to 2017) told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party.
“Everyone can stop worrying. I did it for six seasons on the trot. And I cannot imagine going back into doing that. I cannot. I simply cannot picture it.”
He added: “I loved the show. I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t love the show. And I loved every second I spent on it, although some of them were hellish. But I’ve done that. I have done it and I did it a lot.
“So no offence and no disrespect and certainly no disdaining of wonderful memories. But no, I will not be showrunning Doctor Who again.”
(5) AN APPEAL TO AUTHORS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Russia has been using SF/F fiction for a few years now to promote propaganda against Ukraine.
Even back in 2006 at the Eurocon in Ukraine it was possible to see how Russian publishing dominated over Ukrainian in that country. However, since then Russian propaganda against Ukraine has appeared in fiction including fantasy.
For example Eduard Limonov in Kyiv Kaput has written an alternate universe history of Ukraine that ends up predicting events in the future.
Chytomo – the Ukrainian publishing news site – has created a pie chart of Russian publishers and the number of such propaganda books they publish.
Western writers may wish to note — once all this ghastly business is over — who these publishers are and avoid them translating western works. The chart is here.
Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk also commented, “This is an important article, it explains why we ask authors not to provide foreign rights to Russian publishers.” “50 propaganda books against Ukraine and incitement to hatred against Ukrainians from Russian publishers” at Chytomo.
…Another problem was propaganda.
Since 2009, Russia has been actively publishing books on the war between Russia and Ukraine in the «fantasy» genre, as well as «historical» and nonfiction literature about the «collapse of the Ukraine project» and mocking the independence of the «non-existent» Ukrainian people, «artificial» Ukrainian language.
These books can be easily found on the Internet for purchase and in services for open access books. In addition, children’s books began to offer more and more poems about the «great Russian army» that was coming to free everyone.
The import of books from Russia was limited in 2017 due to their aggressive content. Only books with anti-Ukrainian printed materials were restricted, such as publications aimed at eliminating Ukraine’s independence, promoting violence, inciting ethnic, racial, religious animosity, carrying out terrorist attacks, and violating human rights and freedoms. The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine was entrusted with the functions of examination and issuance of permits.
The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine processed more than 45,000 applications during this period: issued 39,416 permits to import publishing products, 5,275 refusals and revoked 2,227 previously issued permits.
Among the publications not allowed on the territory of Ukraine, many publications belong to authors who have been included in the lists of persons who pose a threat to national security — in particular, Zakhar Prilepin, Alexander Dugin and Alexander Tamonikov. The latter is «famous» because the list of anti-Ukrainian publications includes 20 of his works at once, not just with propaganda elements, but those whose sole purpose is to incite hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1978 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Much to my surprise, forty-four years ago a series called Quark aired as mid-season replacement on NBC. Why surprises me is that it only lasted eight episodes. I swear I remember it lasting longer than that.
It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. It was co-produced by David Gerber who had been responsible for the series version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (try not to hold that against him) and Mace Neufield who after being a talent agent for such acts as The Captain and Tennille became responsible for The Omen as the producer.
The cast was Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson Richard Kelton Tricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable, Conrad Janis, Alan Caillou and Bobby Porter. The Barnstable twins got a lot of press, mostly for the fact that they didn’t wear much and really, really could not act. They previously appeared as the Doublemint Twins often with identical canines. I kid you not.
Ok, so how is the reception? Oh you have to ask? Seriously? One reviewer summed it up this way: “Only lasting eight episodes, it is eight episodes too many. The idea of spoofing science fiction is a given and there are only a handful that get it right, but this is a spectacularly awful show.” And another said succinctly that “A viewer seeking something a little different may find the series entertaining, but low expectations are a must.”
It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It might be streaming on Crackle and Philo, two services that I’ve never heard of.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 7, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula like figure here, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers here, and finally, the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship here. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
- Born April 7, 1915 — Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories. His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they would publish was under pseudonyms. During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 (2018) for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.)
- Born April 7, 1928 — James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many or even which ones that I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few as I really, really loved this series. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there were other novels down the years. He was a 1996 Worldcon guest of honor at L.A.con III. It appears that only a handful of his novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
- Born April 7, 1939 — Francis Ford Coppola, 83. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead who was seriously into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of his include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one here has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael Jackson, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.
- Born April 7, 1945 — Susan Petrey. Another who died far, far too young. Only three of her stories were published during her lifetime. More of her work appeared in the Gifts of Blood collection published after her death. She was nominated, also posthumously, for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and her story ”Spidersong” was nominated for the Hugo Award at Denvention Two. The Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to both the Clarion & Clarion West workshops and also supports an instructor at Clarion West as a Petrey Fellow. (Died 1980.)
- Born April 7, 1946 — Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that his four Oscars include a pair he won for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.)
- Born April 7, 1951 — Yvonne Gilbert, 71. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE)
(8) WORLD BUILDER. “How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (a review)” by Brenton Dickieson at A Pilgrim in Narnia.
…Thus, while Jemisin has become a leading figure, her influence and prestige have come through two decades of unrelenting commitment to sophisticated world-building, culturally rich, character-driven literary prose, and a remarkable capacity for experimental writing. This concentration of character-voice combined with a disciplined approach to speculative world-building appears in some of Jemisin’s best writing in How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
The true Jemisin fan is going to be particularly thrilled to participate in some of her short story experiments that later become novels or full series. “The Narcomancer” has a tinge of a melancholy sweetness, a story of conscience and vocational risk that becomes part of the Dreamblood series (which I haven’t read yet). “Stone Hunger” was exciting for me to read, for I was privileged to see how Jemisin began to conceptualize the extremely complex character make-up of The Broken Earth Trilogy–and how deeply implicated the characters are in that universe with the speculative world itself. And “The City Born Great” has all the terrifying brilliance and bracing goodness of The City We Became–an experiment in allegorical fiction that I have argued (here and here) is more successful in this short story than in the full novel….
(9) THIS JUST IN. From the authors themselves: “Getcher new Lee & Miller news right here!”
Three Liaden Universe® titles to be released by Baen in 2023
Scout’s Progress will be reissued in a new mass market/ebook edition March 2023
Salvage Right* will be published in Summer 2023
Trade Lanes** will be published in Fall 2023
Liaden Universe® Constellations audiobook editions
Tantor Media will be releasing the first four Liaden Universe® Constellations, starting in June. Go to this link, and click on the individual titles to preorder.
Trade Lanes audiobook edition
We are in contact with our publisher and hope to have news regarding the Trade Lanes audiobook edition soon. As soon as we have it, you’ll have it. Promise
*Salvage Right is set on Tinsori Light after the events described in Neogenesis. The cast of characters includes, but is not limited to: Jen Sin yos’Phelium, Seignur Veeoni, Tocohl Lorlin, Lorith, Tolly Jones, Hazenthull nor’Phelium, Theo Waitley
**Fair Trade is the third book following the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn ven’Deelin, who made his first, admittedly awkward, bow in Balance of Trade; his second, somewhat more nuanced, in Trade Secret.
(10) ON STAGE AT CALTECH. A musical adaptation of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon will be performed by Theater Arts at Caltech (TACIT) in Pasadena’s Ramo Auditorium on six times next week – see full details at the link.
From the Earth to the Moon
From the writers of the record-breaking Caltech musical Boldly Go! comes a fresh new science fiction musical based on the Jules Verne classic written in 1865. Gauntlets are thrown, headlines made, duels waged, and alliances put to the test in this dynamic imagining of spaceflight in the late nineteenth century directed by Brian Brophy.
…TACIT, as Theater Arts at Caltech is familiarly known, typically prepares and performs two or three plays each academic year. Recent productions include She Kills Monsters, Avenue Q, Rent, Company and many original projects.
Members of the Caltech community have the opportunity to learn all aspects of the theatrical craft—acting, stage crew, set construction, wardrobe, light and sound operation, properties, house management, and publicity—and to work with professionals in areas of theater design: set, light, sound, costume, and music. This is a hands-on approach, not classroom theory. It also provides an appreciation of the theatrical literature and exposure to the literature of many languages (in translation).
(11) HOLY GUACAMOLE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet DALL-E, the A.I. That Draws Anything at Your Command”.
At OpenAI, one of the world’s most ambitious artificial intelligence labs, researchers are building technology that lets you create digital images simply by describing what you want to see.
They call it DALL-E in a nod to both “WALL-E,” the 2008 animated movie about an autonomous robot, and Salvador Dalí, the surrealist painter.
OpenAI, backed by a billion dollars in funding from Microsoft, is not yet sharing the technology with the general public. But on a recent afternoon, Alex Nichol, one of the researchers behind the system, demonstrated how it works.
When he asked for “a teapot in the shape of an avocado,” typing those words into a largely empty computer screen, the system created 10 distinct images of a dark green avocado teapot, some with pits and some without. “DALL-E is good at avocados,” Mr. Nichol said….
(12) HE’S NOT HEAVY, HE’S MY BOSON. The W boson is not bigger on the inside, but it’s bigger than anticipated: “’Huh, That’s Funny’: Physicists Delighted by New Measurement for the W Boson” reports Gizmodo.
A collaboration of hundreds of scientists have precisely measured the mass of the W boson, an elementary particle responsible for the weak nuclear force. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the boson is more massive than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the working theory that describes several of the fundamental forces in the universe….
(13) A BAD DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA A LONG TIME AGO. “Tanis: Fossil of dinosaur killed in asteroid strike found, scientists claim”. BBC News says the artifact will be seen in a Sir David Attenborough production to be broadcast April 15.
Scientists have presented a stunningly preserved leg of a dinosaur.
The limb, complete with skin, is just one of a series of remarkable finds emerging from the Tanis fossil site in the US State of North Dakota.
But it’s not just their exquisite condition that’s turning heads – it’s what these ancient specimens are purported to represent.
The claim is the Tanis creatures were killed and entombed on the actual day a giant asteroid struck Earth.
The day 66 million years ago when the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began.
Very few dinosaur remains have been found in the rocks that record even the final few thousand years before the impact. To have a specimen from the cataclysm itself would be extraordinary.
The BBC has spent three years filming at Tanis for a show to be broadcast on 15 April, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Sir David will review the discoveries, many that will be getting their first public viewing.
Along with that leg, there are fish that breathed in impact debris as it rained down from the sky.
We see a fossil turtle that was skewered by a wooden stake; the remains of small mammals and the burrows they made; skin from a horned triceratops; the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg; and what appears to be a fragment from the asteroid impactor itself….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in “Morbius Pitch Meeting,” a spoiler-filled episode, says that Dr. Michael Morbius drinks vampire bat blood which causes him to bulk up “like a Calvin Klein underwear model.” But the producer tells the screenwriter to add many more references to Spider-Man, Vulture, and other Marvel characters because “we’re in the MCU now” at Sony.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cleo Campion, Daniel Dern, Borys Sydiuk, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
f i r s t
(6) I remember “Quark” – though the series was regularly scheduled mid-season in 1978, the pilot was shown in May 1977 – and that timing is very interesting. The pilot episode was a parody of “Star Trek” through and through (with a half-alien character and all) – after all, what other media science fiction could be a large enough target to parody. But the series wasn’t scheduled until (as Cat correctly said) May 1978, and by then the world had changed. The first episode broadcast in 1978 was titled “May the Source be with You”
(13) The New Yorker did a fairly long article on this back in 2019 – I’m looking forward to a book with lots of photos and drawings.
(The impact was in spring – they looked at growth rings on fish scales!)
Correction – the half-human character was not in the pilot. Oops.
I remember Quark. I was in college. I remember the first episode, an hour in length, which pretty much was a Star Wars spoof. I best remember the line “The Source? Is it dangerous?” “Only if it’s on your side.” Much like Salvage One, the only good episode was the first and the others just went downhill. In Quark’s case, the remaining episodes seemed to be mainly spoofs of Star Trek. Is it just me, or does that photo look like their heads have been pasted on? It’s the correct costumes, and that’s the same outfit the Barnstable twins always wore, but the proportions make it look like everyone’s head was just a little too big and pasted on.
Yeah the pilot aired this month but the rest of the series wouldn’t air, as Andrew (not Werdna notes, until the following February. My bad for not making clearer. Now giving that it only lasted seven episodes beyond the pilot I thought it really didn’t matter in the end.
Hey it did outlast the Space Rangers by two whole episodes!
@Troyce: I think it’s a painting with cutouts for the heads, and the real people are standing behind it, like those photo ops you see at carnivals.
As a 15 year old boy in 1978 I thought the Barnstable Twins were fantastic…. Actors……
10) Let’s hear it for Grand Ole Space Opry! However, the Cal Tech troupe was beaten to the punch by Jacques Offenbach with his 1875 production of “Le voyage dans la Lune,” an honest-to-Jules-Verne space opera (I have no French; I think that title means “The Trip to the Moon”). It was based on “From the Earth to the Moon,” and Verne was a mite miffed at first. Apparently, back in those days there was little or no legal framework for contracting out performance rights to a literary work (today, we usually call those “movie rights”). According to Wikipedia, this operetta has been revived occasionally, most recently in 2016.
This wasn’t Offenbach’s only foray into SF. One of his more famous works, “Tales of Hoffman,” featured a robot.
Jim White was a remarkable writer and a delightful person to know. His medical-SF “Sector General” series was excellent. I particularly enjoyed his late novel in the series, “The Galactic Gourmet”, in which the greatest chef in the Universe went to Sector General, the greatest hospital in the Universe, to try to improve hospital food. It partly succeeded….
Jim White, Sector General… and you, Cat, neglected to mention the line in it that everyone remembers. They’re trying to save a race of dinosaurs, that look like a brontosaurus, by teaching them to teleport.
They name the brontosaur, of course, Emily.
We just reviewed a James White novel, All Judgement Fled, on our SF 101 Podcast, because we came across a mention to it while researching the upcoming Denis Villeneuve adaptation of Rendezvous With Rama. It was a very interesting read and discussion.
(3) – The cost of one challenge is 50 USD. The cost of all 5 challenges in 200 USD.
I was considering signing up for fun because it sounds awesome and a huge motivator to go on hikes. I’ll pass. Price is a bit too steep for me.
This does not mean that the challenges are not worth that amount, just that I personally view it as well outside my price range.
(6) Quark: I barely remember Quark… mostly just the premise, of them being space garbage men.
I wonder if it had any impact on Donald Kessler thinking of the Kessler Syndrome ?
(7) LA Con III honored James White as both a science fiction writer and a fan writer. The whole way it was done was one of the best things ever.
@ Yehoshua Paul
Yikes! For that price, I could buy a nice under-desk elliptical.
(6) I remember Quark fondly — but in my defense, I was rather young at the time. I do remember that the twins were not great actresses… With Buck Henry involved, it should have been better, and maybe it never got a chance to grow. Or maybe the studio interfered. (“You can’t put that joke in there. It’s too intelligent!”)
I remember the TV version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir fondly, as well, even if it was much (much!) sillier than the book and the movie. After all, it had with Edward Woodward.
Tom Becker says LA Con III honored James White as both a science fiction writer and a fan writer. The whole way it was done was one of the best things ever.
Please explain that as it sounds way cool. The Hugo database isn’t that detailed.
13) “The limb, complete with skin, is just one of a series of remarkable finds emerging from the Tanis fossil site in the US State of North Dakota.”
The “TANIS” site?????
Has anyone told Dr. Jones and Marcus Brody yet?
Sad news: I just learned that Ted Scribner, well-known Australian fan, passed away recently, after a long illness. I met Ted electronically decades ago in Niven fandom, and had many wonderful discussions with him. I believe more information is available on Edwina Harvey’s Facebook page, but since I don’t have a Facebook account, I don’t know for sure.
@Cat Eldridge: A lot of credit goes to a certain Mike Glyer who was the chair, although he probably will try to give credit to Bruce Pelz.
Honoring James White as a writer, a lot of creativity and effort went into recreating Sector General in the exhibit hall, and having the species guide in the back of the program. Tor Books launched the Sector General book The Galactic Gourmet at the con, and NESFA Press launched The White Papers which features his excellent fan writing along with his science fiction writing. The launch party for both books was in the Fan Lounge. LA Con III recruited Geri Sullivan, a most excellent party runner and a good friend of James’, to run the Fan Lounge. I remember Milt Stevens, the LA Con II chair, was helping out. It was a first class operation. James was a non-stop blur for the whole convention, completely thrilled by the whole thing. He was over the moon. Not only did LA Con III honor him well, they enabled James’ many friends in NESFA, Tor Books, and MPLS in ’73 fandom to pitch in and make it truly wonderful.
Apologies to anyone I left out!
While I cannot disagree with the lack of acting talent exhibited by the Barnstable twins (who were cheerleaders at The University of Kentucky while I was an undergraduate), it should be noted that since Quark, Patricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla (Cyb) Barnstable have donated more than 15 million dollars since 2008 to the The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center at the University of Kentucky.. Much of the money came from the proceeds of the annual ceeberty laden Kentucky Derby Eve party (I’ve never gone, even though it takes place about a mile from my apartment) they host. A 2018 U.S. News & World Report article ranked diabetes care at the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center 33rd in the nation.
JoelZakem says While I cannot disagree with the lack of acting talent exhibited by the Barnstable twins (who were cheerleaders at The University of Kentucky while I was an undergraduate), it should be noted that since Quark, Patricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla (Cyb) Barnstable have donated more than 15 million dollars since 2008 to the The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center at the University of Kentucky.. Much of the money came from the proceeds of the annual ceeberty laden Kentucky Derby Eve party (I’ve never gone, even though it takes place about a mile from my apartment) they host. A 2018 U.S. News & World Report article ranked diabetes care at the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center 33rd in the nation.
Well bravo for them.
Actually if I was being less charitable and I will be, the entire cast showed an amazing lack of acting ability here. I don’t know if it was the material that they were handed, or just that nothing really worked here (and remember that this is my opinion), but I got the firm feeling that anybody was near close to their best here.
Some short-lived series worked, i.e. I thought Nightmare Cafe showed great potential in its very, very short existence.
@ann marble: It was Edward Mulhare that played Captain Gregg in the tv series, not Edward Woodward. Mulhare later appeared in Knightrider.
D’oh! And how could I forget him in Knightrider?…
3) Waaay back in the early 2000s my wife joined a group of women online who were using LoTR as inspiration for improving their health. They called themselves the Shieldmaidens, and Karen Wynn Fonstad, creator of The Atlas of Middle-Earth was one of the group. From her work I learned how, um, imprecise JRRT was regarding some of the distances involved in the story.
And just to round out the musical side of things…
The Hoffman of the title of Offenbach’s opera was himself a writer of fantasy and science fiction, and yes, a real person. His stuff is still available. He also, to add one more layer, wrote opera himself.
It makes me wonder if the script for the 19th Century might perhaps have been written by A. E. van Vogt.