(1) BLACKADDER GOES POSTAL. Guess who the Royal Mail has put on an issue of stamps? “Blackadder’s 40th anniversary celebrated with new stamps” at BBC News.
The 40th anniversary of BBC comedy series Blackadder is being celebrated with a special set of stamps.
The classic sitcom, which spanned hundreds of years of British history over four series, was first broadcast on 15 June 1983.
Four decades later the show, which launched the careers of some of the UK’s most recognisable actors, remains a favourite with British viewers.
Now some of its most famous scenes have made it on to eight new stamps.
… Writer Richard Curtis said he was “very amused and delighted” to see his creation on the stamps
“It’s a great relief for Blackadder to have his head on a stamp, instead of on a stake,” he added….
(2) MEMORIAL CELEBRATES 25 YEARS. Author Michael Ward shared photos on Facebook of a C.S. Lewis-related feature at Oxford.
It’s twenty-five years since the Addison’s Walk memorial at Magdalen College was installed to mark the centenary of C.S. Lewis’s birth. The then President of Magdalen, the late Anthony Smith, unveiled it, and the late Walter Hooper, Lewis’s editor and biographer, recited the poem engraved thereon to the gathered crowd. The event was preceded by Evensong in the college chapel, at which lessons were read by Jill Flewett (Lady Freud), who was an evacuee at The Kilns during the Second World War, and by the late Laurence Harwood, Lewis’s godson….
He posted a close-up of the commemorative plaque here.
(3) ACCESSIBILITY GROWING IN VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A number of game designers are giving more thought to adaptations for players with disabilities. The PBS NewsHour’s website takes a look: “Why developers are designing video games for accessibility”.
… “I think it’s still really early and we’re still learning and we’re still growing, so there’s so much more I think we can do,” Brennecke said. “This is the first iteration of a lot of these ideas and I think, over time, we’re going to continue to improve that as an industry.”
Disability advocate Zigmont believes this push for accessibility will ultimately benefit everyone who picks up a controller. She explained that when engineers design with disabilities in mind, it often leads to benefits for everyone. Adding curb cuts at a crosswalk, for instance, makes it easier for wheelchair access, but also for parents pushing strollers and workers moving items on a hand truck.
“If you build for the disability community, you make it better for the whole community,” she said.
(4) MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH MONTREAL. [Item by Danny Sichel.] From the MTL Blog: “The STM Redid The Montreal Metro Map With ‘Star Wars’-Themed Station Names For May The 4th”. (STM = Société de Transport de Montréal. They run the metro and the buses.)
True, the puns work better if you’re familiar with (a) Star Wars in French, and (b) the normal Montreal metro map, but still….
(5) JOSEPH P. MARTINO (1931-2023). A regular fixture of Analog in the Sixties, author Joseph P. Martino died July 29, 2022 (though File 770 just recently learned of his death.) The family obituary appeared in the Dayton Daily News. He is survived by his wife Nancy and twelve children and step-children.
…He served in the Air Force for 22 years. His duty stations included Air Force research laboratories throughout the United States, and a tour of duty in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Joseph retired from the Air Force in the grade of Colonel in 1975. After retirement from the Air Force, he joined the University of Dayton Research Institute as a Research Scientist and worked there for 18 years until his retirement from the University….
One of his better-known stories, “Pushbutton War” (1960), is available at Project Gutenberg. In addition to his fiction, he wrote several books on technological forecasting.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1986 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Bob Shaw’s one of my favorite writers. I’ve read The Orbitsville trilogy several times and the Warren Peace books are equally enjoyable.
He would win Hugos for Best Fan Writer at Seacon ‘79 and Noreascon Two. His short story “Light of Other Days” was nominated for a Hugo Award, as was The Ragged Astronaut novel which is where our Beginning is from this Scroll. It did win a BSFA.
The Ragged Astronaut novel was published by Gollancz in 1986 with the cover illustration by Alan Brooks.
It is a Meredith Moment at the usual suspects.
And now for our Beginning…
It had become obvious to Toller Maraquine and some others watching on the ground that the airship was heading into danger, but–incredibly–its captain appeared not to notice.
‘What does the fool think he’s doing?’ Toller said, speaking aloud although there was nobody within earshot. He shaded his eyes from the sun to harden his perception of what was happening. The background was a familiar one to anybody who lived in those longitudes of Land–flawless indigo sea, a sky of pale blue feathered with white, and the misty vastness of the sister world, Overland, hanging motionless near the zenith, its disk crossed again and again by swathes of cloud. In spite of the foreday glare a number of stars were visible, including the nine brightest which made up the constellation of the Tree.
Against that backdrop the airship was drifting in on a light sea breeze, the commander conserving power crystals. The vessel was heading directly towards the shore, its blue-and-grey envelope foreshortened to a circle, a tiny visual echo of Overland. It was making steady progress, but what its captain had apparently failed to appreciate was that the onshore breeze in which he was travelling was very shallow, with a depth of not more than three hundred feet. Above it and moving in the opposite direction was a westerly wind streaming down from the Haffanger Plateau.
Toller could trace the flow and counter flow of air with precision because the columns of vapour from the pikon reduction pans along the shore were drifting inland only a short distance before rising and being wafted back out to sea. Among those man-made bands of mist were ribbons of cloud from the roof of the plateau–therein lay the danger to the airship.
Toller took from his pocket the stubby telescope he had carried since childhood and used it to scan the cloud layers. As he had half expected, he was able within seconds to pick out several blurry specks of blue and magenta suspended in the matrix of white vapour. A casual observer might have failed to notice them at all, or have dismissed the vague motes as an optical effect, but Toller’s sense of alarm grew more intense. The fact that he had been able to spot some ptertha so quickly meant that the entire cloud must be heavily seeded with them, invisibly bearing hundreds of the creatures towards the airship.
‘Use a sunwriter,’ he bellowed with the full power of his lungs.
‘Tell the fool to veer off, or go up or down, or …’ Rendered incoherent by urgency, Toller looked all about him as he tried to decide on a course of action. The only people visible among the rectangular pans and fuel bins were semi-naked stokers and rakers. It appeared that all of the overseers and clerks were inside the wide-eaved buildings of the station proper, escaping the day’s increasing heat. The low structures were of traditional Kolcorronian design, orange and yellow brick laid in complex diamond patterns, dressed with red sandstone at all corners and edges–and had something of the look of snakes drowsing in the intense sunlight. Toller could not even see any officials at the narrow vertical windows. Pressing a hand to his sword to hold it steady, he ran towards the supervisors’ building.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 13, 1937 — Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite (well the first story, not the second at all) as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. No, I’ve not forgotten about his Hugos. Roger Zelazny would win his first Hugo for …And Call Me Conrad which would later be called This Immortal. It would be the first of six Hugos that he would win and one of two for Best Novel, the other being for Lord of Light. His other four Hugos would be for the “Home Is the Hangman” novella, the “Unicorn Variation“ novelette, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” novella and “Permafrost” novelette. Very, very impressive! (Died 1995.)
- Born May 13, 1945 — Maria Tatar, 78. Folklorist who if you’re not familiar with her you should be. She’s written, among several works, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Annotated Peter Pan and The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen which is reviewed here on Green Man.
- Born May 13, 1946 — Marv Wolfman, 77. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And he worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell, he even wrote a Reboot episode!)
- Born May 13, 1949 — Zoë Wanamaker, 74. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”.
- Born May 13, 1951 — Gregory Frost, 72. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend for an interesting look at taking an legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel.
- Born May 13, 1958 — Frances Barber, 65. Madame Kovarian, a prime antagonist during the time of The Eleventh Doctor showing up in seven episodes in totality. Fittingly she played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. I’ve got her doing one-offs on Space Precinct, Red Dwarf and The IT Crowd.
- Born May 13, 1958 — Bruce Byfield, 65. No idea if he has academic training, but he certainly has a fascination with Leiber. He wrote Witches of the Mind: A Critical Study of Fritz Leiber which was nominated for a Locus Award for Best Non-Fiction, and many fascination sounding essays on Lieber and his fiction including “The Allure of the Eccentric in the Poetry and Fiction of Fritz Leiber” and “Fafhrd and Fritz”.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Six Chix has an idea about how it would look if the fantasy characters we read about were real.
- Arlo and Janis show what not to name your car.
- From Tom Gauld:
(9) GOOD OMENS FOR THIS SUMMER. Comicbook.com lets us know: “Good Omens Season 2 Premiere Date Announced by Prime Video”. It’s July 28.
…The second season of Good Omens is expected to follow Crowley and Aziraphale living amongst the humans in London’s Soho. According to Amazon, things begin to get apocalyptic once again “when an unexpected messenger presents a surprising mystery.”
“Good Omens 2 just would not be the same without the astonishing Jon Hamm as Gabriel, everyone’s worst boss,” Gaiman said in a statement when the second season was announced. “The story that Terry Pratchett and I created all those years ago continues to take us from London’s Soho into Heaven and Hell. It’s a delight for me to bring back characters we loved (or hated) and bring in new characters, from the shiniest top floors of Heaven to the dankest basements of Hell, to love (or to hate, or to love to hate or hate to love). All of them are part of the strange and unusually beloved family of Good Omens.”…
(10) WORLDS APART. [Item by Steven French.] Hugely positive review of M John Harrison’s latest in the Guardian: “Wish I Was Here by M John Harrison review – a masterly ‘anti-memoir’”.
…Throughout his writing life, Harrison has refused the generic, escapist iterations of fantasy and science fiction as “easy things to think, a waste of the power of the big visionary-apocalyptic machine”. It is central to his practice that novels be recognised not as immersive experiences, illusory spaces to inhabit, but for the artificial constructs they are. They aren’t alternative worlds, but the work of a writer in our own….
(11) THE ONE WITH THE BORG WHALES. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Illustrator gravelyhumerus posted this sketch playing off the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and the pesky Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc.
(12) CAN WE KEEP HUMAN FAILINGS OUT OF SPACE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The prospect of settling the Moon, Mars and elsewhere requires urgent conversations about issues such as labor and reproductive rights far from Earth. “Ethics in outer space: can we make interplanetary exploration just?” – book reviews in Nature:
Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space Erika Nesvold MIT Press (2023)
Reclaiming Space: Progressive and Multicultural Visions of Space Exploration James S. J. Schwartz, Linda Billings and Erika Nesvold (eds) Oxford Univ. Press (2023)
…From Star Trek to Apollo 17, space exploration is often framed as humanity pushing collectively towards a better future. But those utopian visions probably won’t mesh with reality. The book Off-Earth explores the ethical implications of humans moving into outer space — and whether those who do can avoid bringing along Earthly problems such as environmental destruction and social injustice. Nature spoke to its author, Erika Nesvold.
Nesvold is a computational astrophysicist, game developer and a member of the team behind Universe Sandbox, a physics-based space simulator. Based in Severn, Maryland, she is also co-founder of the JustSpace Alliance, a non-profit organization that works for a more inclusive and ethical future in space, and co-editor of Reclaiming Space, a collection of essays that explores similar themes….
Why is now a good time to talk about ethics in space exploration?
A lot of people are talking about these topics because of the growth of the private space-flight industry. For decades, human space exploration was done by national agencies with different motivations, different rhetoric surrounding it and different levels of public participation. With private space flight, members of the public — if they get rich enough — can actually think about going into space….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Steven French, Danny Sichel, Ben Bird Person, Kathy Sullivan, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Birthdays, Zelazny – and you cannot forget Creatures of Light And Darkness. (I have a novel beyond the ones coming out that I started writing as a joke short… and found myself channeling the Zelazny of that novel.)
(8) Tom Gauld: I keep saying that I enjoyed early cyberpunk… but I DID NOT SIGN UP TO LIVE in one of those futures.
mark: Right. Just like when Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick wrote about the future — they were trying to warn us away from ending up in those futures!
Zelazny’s birthday, absolutely.
I wish Zelazny (whose works I admire, and not just because I share a name with the hero of of his “Lord of Light”). Pity he didn’t write a tale based on ancient Caledonian mythology–“Laird o’ Licht”.
And more recently, Margaret Atwood. She did not intend The Handmaid’s Tale to be a blueprint.
Cider is not pushing medication right now, but is urging rest.
I know people like to bash them, but I think the second Amber Chronicles are actually pretty decent! They’re not in the same league as the first, sure, but few things are! 🙂 If I’m honest, I liked the second Chronicles more than I liked This Immortal (or whatever you want to call it), despite the latter’s Hugo.
I’ll also give a thumbs-up for Creatures of Light and Darkness, which was definitely among his most odd works, but quite entertaining. It’s the source for his classic, and very funny, Agnostic’s Prayer.
1) Those look interesting, but I’m holding out for the Mr Bean tribute stamps.
7) yes to all the Zelazny works mentioned, but I find myself rereading Doorways in the Sand more than any of them. Pure fun the whole way through.
1) and a quick search online shows the US (and elsewhere) have issued Mr. Bean stamps. Sigh.
7) Wanamaker played Clarice Groan in the BBC adaptation of Gormenghast, which I thought was quite well done.
Frances Barber portrayed Goneril in the stage production (and film) of King Lear, which starred Ian McKellen. I was lucky enough to see the play live in Los Angeles. Later, the production was also filmed and is available on DVD (2008). Sylvester McCoy was in it as well.
So, you have a “Lord of the Rings” connection, a “Doctor Who” connection with McKellen and McCoy, and Barber has a multitude of credits in mysteries (“Marple, “Inspector Morse,” and “Midsomer Murders”), Jim Henson’s “Storyteller” series (as Medusa), 1997’s “Photographing Fairies,” and “World of Warcraft, Battle of Azeroth” to name a few. Quite a range!
7) And Zoë Wanamaker was in the Netflix Shadow & Bone, which I just finished watching this evening. (It was, unsurprisingly, very YA, but I enjoyed it.)
1) Blackadder stamps seem to be part of a cunning plan…..
1) Nice stamps, but I’m glad I gave up collecting new issues a couple of decades ago – those face values are horrifying! I’m feeling ancient that I can remember when a 2nd class stamp cost 2.5p, first class was 3p, and the highest value in a commemorative set was usually about 7.5p!
My top four works by him are Isle of Dead, To Die in Italbar, He Who Shapes and the first Amber series.
Jack of Shadows is my nominee for hidden Zelazny gem. Also, Doorways in the Sand.
I really enjoyed Doorways in the Sand, too.
(5) I remember Joseph Martino’s works. May his memory be a blessing.
7) Maria Tatar also wrote a study of the Bluebeard legend and its variants in fiction and cinema, Secrets Beyond the Door. It’s quite good.
I’m going to put in a quick plug for two later Zelazny novels. Eye of Cat and A Night in the Lonesome October – but there’s plenty more good stuff where those came from.
Paul King says I’m going to put in a quick plug for two later Zelazny novels. Eye of Cat and A Night in the Lonesome October – but there’s plenty more good stuff where those came from.
I forgot A Night in the Lonesome October as o only like as an oral experience, preferably as read by Zelazny himself which I knew I heard some decades back.