(1) BACK FROM THE NEBULAS. Connie Willis shares with Facebook readers some of her info from the “We Have Always Been Here” panel —
At the Nebula Awards weekend in Los Angeles this last week I was on a panel with Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, and Eileen Gunn called “We Have Always Been Here,” about early women SF writers. We discussed a bunch of them and decided to follow up with a Twitter hashtag–#AlwaysBeenHere–and discussions on our blogs and Facebook pages of these terrific (and sometimes nearly forgotten) writers.
One of the reasons their names aren’t well-known now is that they, like everybody else in SF at the time, were writing short stories rather than novels, so their stuff can be hard to find. Great writers like Fredric Brown, Ward Moore, and Philip Latham found themselves in the same boat.
Here are some of the women writers I’d like to see be read by a new generation…
(2) UNREAD WORD POWER. Cedar Sanderson expands our vocabulary in “Tsunduko Tsundere” at Mad Genius Club.
…My daughter explained to me that tsundere is ‘typically someone who acts like they don’t want something, but they really do.’ In anime or manga it’s actually a romantic style. Argues with the one they are attracted to, but inside they are all lovebirds and sighs. I am feeling a bit like this in my current relationship with books, in particular paper books.
(3) HERO PICKER. In the Washington Post, Sonia Rao profiles Sarah Finn, who, as the casting director of Marvel, has cast more than 1,000 roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and Tom Hiddleston:
The risk paid off. Downey’s performance as the morally torn superhero anchors the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga, which began with 2008?s “Iron Man” and concluded 21 films later with last month’s box-office behemoth, “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s difficult to imagine anyone but him in that role — a statement that could extend to any of the heroes, really.
That’s largely thanks to Finn, who took on the gargantuan task of casting every actor who appears in the MCU (aside from those in “The Incredible Hulk,” released a month after “Iron Man”). That amounts to more than a thousand roles overall, she says, ranging from characters as high-profile as Captain America to those as minor as his background dancers. The job — which Finn held for the first five MCU films alongside Randi Hiller, who now heads casting for live-action projects at Walt Disney Studios — calls for a certain prescience, the ability to predict what sort of traits an actor would one day be asked to exhibit in films that have yet to be written.
(4) STAN LEE ELDER ABUSE. Variety reports “Stan Lee’s Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges”.
Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, special aggravated white collar crime loss of over $100k; and one count of elder or dependent adult abuse.
The investigation into whether Stan Lee was the subject of elder abuse began in March 2018 stemming from actions allegedly taken by Morgan in May and June of 2018.
The grand theft charges stem from $262,000 that was collected from autograph signing sessions in May 2018, but that Lee never received.
(5) MORE ON JACK COHEN. Jonathan Cowie writes —
The funeral was mainly a family affair with Ian Stewart and I representing SF, and in addition to myself there were a couple of other biologists.
However there were over a hundred messages sent in to family. And a few tributes read out including one from Nobel Laureate Prof. Sir Paul Nurse who was one of Jack’s student and who praised his teaching saying that every university departments needs its Jack Cohen.
- Read Jonathan Cowie’sown tribute on his personal site.
- And he’s archived an article he commissioned from Jack for Biologist way back in the 1990s on alien life here.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 25, 1953 — It Came From Outer Space premiered (story by Ray Bradbury).
May 25, 1969 — The first shave in space took place on Apollo 10.
May 25, 1977 — Star Wars: A New Hope premiered on this day.
May 25, 1979 — Ridley Scott’s Alien debuts.
May 25, 1983 — Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in theatres.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 25, 1808 — Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In addition, the opening seven words from Paul Clifford : “It was a dark and stormy night”, he also coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” ISFDB credits him with eight genre novels including The Coming Race, Asmodeus at Large and Last Days of Pompeii to name but three. He wrote a lot of short fiction with titles such as “Glenhausen.—The Power of Love in Sanctified Places.— A Portrait of Frederick Barbarossa.—The Ambition of Men Finds Adequate Sympathy in Women”. (Died 1873.)
- Born May 25, 1916 — Charles D. Hornig. Publisher of the Fantasy Fan which ran from September ‘33 to February ‘35 and including first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. He paid for the costs of Fan Fantasy by working for Gernsback at Wonder Stories. (Died 1999.)
- Born May 25, 1935 — W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known that Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
- Born May 25, 1939 — Ian McKellen, 80. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s going to be Gus the Theatre Cat in the forthcoming Cats.
- Born May 25, 1946 — Frank Oz, 73. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise.
- Born May 25, 1946 — Janet Morris, 73. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy, the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series.
- Born May 25, 1949 — Barry Windsor-Smith, 70. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon.
- Born May 25, — Kathryn Daugherty. I’m going to let Mike do her justice, so just go read his appreciation of her here, including her scoffing at the oversized “MagiCon” pocket program and the pineapple jelly beans she was responsible for. (Died 2012.)
- Born May 25, 1962 — Mickey Zucker Reichert, 57. She’s best know for her Renshai series which riffs off traditional Norse mythology. She was asked by the Asimov estate to write three prequels in the I, Robot series. She’s the only female to date who’s written authorized stories.
- Born May 25, 1966 — Vera Nazarian, 53. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies, Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Incidental Comics takes “A Writer’s Routine” from A to Z.
(9) URSULA VERNON. A hound wants out of this chicken outfit. Thread starts here.
(10) EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS. ComicsBeat’s Hannah Lodge advances “5 reasons DOOM PATROL is the best superhero show of the decade”. Reason number one —
The Doom Patrol isn’t a team of shiny superheroes, a team of super-villains working to thwart those heroes, or even bad guys with a change of heart. They’re flawed, but trying, and their quests are less of the greater-good variety and more of the personal, soul-searching kind (even if they do casually prevent an apocalypse or two along the way). Each of the team members has your standard issue set of powers. What’s different about this show is the way they view and use them: as consequences and reminders of the mistakes they made in life they must learn to use and accept rather than invitations to a virtuous or higher moral calling. It’s refreshing to see this team as a found family working for smaller stakes and through very human issues – more often through things like superhero therapy than sprawling battles.
(11) OBJECTION. We’ve all heard sf stories get criticized for bad science – but what happens when a Real Lawyer Reacts to Star Trek TNG Measure of a Man — an episode written by Melinda Snodgrass?
When Starfleet officer Maddox orders Data’s disassembly for research purposes, Data is thrust into a legal battle to determine if he is entitled to the rights enjoyed by sentient beings. Data tries to resign his commission but Starfleet won’t let him. Worse, against his will, Commander Riker is ordered to advocate against Data. Captain Picard must defend Data in a trial for his life. Is it a realistic trial? Does Data deserves all the rights and privileges of a Starfleet officer? IS DATA A REAL PERSON?!
(12) LINGO SLINGING. The Washington Post’s Avi Selk profiles linguist David J. Peterson, who created the Valyrian and Dothraki languages for Game of Thrones in “a 600-page document owned by HBO”. Peterson explains he began his career by being irritated at a scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi where Princess Leia includes the words “yate” and “yoto” to mean “a wookie; a bounty; a thermal detonator, and 50,000 space credits.” Selk also profiles several other creators of imaginary languages, including Jessie Sams, who teaches a course in imaginary languages at Stephen F. Austin State University. “How a community of obscure language inventors made it big with ‘Game of Thrones’”
A running joke in “Game of Thrones” has Peter Dinklage’s character, Tyrion, repeatedly butchering the Valyrian language, despite his best efforts.
In the episode last Sunday, he’s trying to ask a military guard for permission to see a prisoner and comes up with: “Nyke m?zun ipradagon bartanna r?elio.” A subtitle on the screen translates this for us as: “I drink to eat the skull keeper.”
When the guard stares at him in confusion, Tyrion tries again but only utters more gibberish. Finally, the guard informs him in perfect English, “I speak the common tongue,” and takes him to see the prisoner. Hah.
It’s a simple gag on its face, but there’s a deeper layer. The language Tyrion is garbling actually exists….
(13) FOR THE ROCKET. James Reid’s assessment of a Hugo finalist category: “Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 – Short Story”.
I like short stories to be self-contained: a good idea or a complete story. As such I often gravitate to stories that are focused on doing one thing well. It also means that I tend to prefer vignettes, where Hugo short stories can be surprisingly long (7500 words or less).
Note: it’s hard to discuss a short story without spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to my rankings and general comments.
(14) RETRO REVIEWS. Right this way to Evelyn C. Leeper’s Retro Hugo Novella Reviews.
There’s always one on each ballot–one finalist that is totally unavailable–and this year it is “Attitude” by Hal Clement. This will not stop it from winning, of course; Clifford Simak’s “Rule 18” won a Retro Hugo in 2014 for its 1939 publication, and it had been reprinted since only once–in Italian. I think I can safely say that he won on name-recognition, and the same could happen with Clement. (“Attitude” is available in NESFA’s Clement collection, but I have no access to it.)…
(15) THE WRIGHT STUFF. Steve J. Wright has completed his Lodestar YA Novel Finalist reviews.
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
- Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
- The Invasion by Peadar O Guilin
- Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
(16) SCIENCE ESSAY CONTEST. Nature has launched a young writers nonfiction contest to find the most inspiring ideas about the research of the future.
This year, Nature turns 150 years old. To mark this occasion, we are celebrating our past but also looking to the future. We would like to hear from you. Nature is launching an essay competition for readers aged 18 to 25. We invite you to tell us, in an essay of no more than 1,000 words, what scientific advance, big or small, you would most like to see in your lifetime, and why it matters to you. We want to feature the inspiring voices and ideas of the next generation
The deadline for completed essays is midnight GMT, UK time, on 9thAugust 2019. The winner will have their essay published in our 150th anniversary issue on 7 November, and receive a cash prize (£500 or $ equivalent) as well as a year’s personal subscription to the journal. For further information and to submit, visit go.nature.com/30y5jkz. We are looking for essays that are well reasoned, well researched, forward-looking, supported by existing science, and leave room for personal perspective and anecdotes that show us who you are. We encourage you to entertain as well as to inform; we are not looking for academic papers, an academic writing style or science fiction (though clearly those with an SF interest may have interesting ideas.
(17) BIG BANG’S BREXIT. Okay, it’s safe to talk about The Big Bang Theory again — its final show has aired in the British Isles and western Europe. British media reaction includes:-
- Metro: “The Big Bang Theory leaves behind a much greater legacy than Friends ever did”
- iNews: “The Big Bang Theory finale: hidden Easter eggs and other things you might miss in the last episode of season 12”
- Joe: with the typically British headline — “The worst television show of all time ends for good tonight”
(18) ANOTHER LEGO BRICK IN THE WALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Ars Technica: “Massive Lego National Cathedral built with Vader, droids, Harry Potter wands’. The National Cathedral is using LEGOs to raise money for a restoration fund, and is including sff references (see added emphasis below) in the 1:40 scale model structure.
As millions of dollars in donations stacked up for the Notre-Dame Cathedral following the horrific fire last month, the Washington National Cathedral was quietly building its own restoration fund—brick by plastic brick.
[…] [Instructions were] created by the designers and professional Lego aficionados at Bright Bricks—are used by volunteers and kind donors who buy individual bricks and place them on the growing replica by hand. The bricks go for $2 each and all the money goes toward the $19 million needed to repair damage from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011.
[…] While the size of the project is impressive, what’s perhaps more remarkable is that Santos is designing and assembling only with off-the-shelf Lego bricks. This requires some creative workarounds and repurposing of parts. Small stone angels that sit at the foot of the tomb of Bishop Henry Yates Satterlee (the first Episcopal bishop of Washington and a key figure in the Cathedral’s construction) are represented by Star Wars droid heads. Part of the ornaments along a stained-glass window are made of droid arms. A cross at the altar of the basement chapel (Bethlehem Chapel) is made of Lego tire irons, and an ornate railing on the outside of the back of the cathedral is made of Harry Potter wands. The Lego cathedral will also include a Darth Vader head, replicating the actual Darth Vader “gargoyle” that sits high on the Northwest tower.
(19) RELEASE THE KAIJU. The “Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Knock You Out – Exclusive Final Look.” Movie comes to theaters May 31.
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, P J Evans, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
@Chip: In the sense that it’s an approximate phonetic guide to the pronunciation of the Japanese word, sure. 🙂 but of course it’s also very much a correct spelling in that it’s become part of English (much like tsunami). Either way tsunduko is wrong.
And people think the tagging system in Archive Of Our Own is complicated!
@Xtifr: I did say “tend”. I acknowledge your examples, but ISTM that the term “MilSF” is relatively recent (unlike, e.g., “New Wave”), while The Forever War and Catch-22 were both products of their era, half a century or so ago. (MASH is an odd case — the original books (as opposed to the movie, let alone the TV series) reads like a frat-boy story in which the combat is (AFAICR) all offstage.) I wonder whether there’s anything today similarly questioning and acceptable to people who’d call themselves fans (rather than occasional readers) of MilSF.
@Chip Hitchcock: There’s a definite tonal shift in the M*A*S*H books after the first two. As in, they start to suck. The first two are interesting enough books, with faults no worse than most fiction of their time. There’s a lot of virtue in naïve anti-authoritarianism. I’ll be glad when it’s untangled from its last cultural moment and appreciated again.
(14) “Attitude,” by Hal Clement is in Travelers of Space, edited by Martin Greenberg. I obtained a copy from the Los Angeles Public Library. It’s actually a pretty good story. A group of human spacemen are captured by a band of starfish-shaped aliens. The humans then try to figure out how to escape using their limited resources. As a sample of Clement’s early writing, this story isn’t as strong as some of his later classics, but is nevertheless entertaining and is deserving of its place on the Retro Hugo ballot.
@Chip Hitchcock: Heh, ok, “tends” I’ll freely grant. And, of course, that’s why I tend to dislike MilSF.
(On the other hand, I have no hesitation about classifying Vatta’s War, which I liked a lot, as MilSF. Even if she was basically a privateer in the early parts of the story. Also, I think, several books in the Vorkosigan Saga qualify, though definitely not all.)
As for the term “MilSF”, yes, it’s fairly recent, but it’s just a shortened version of “military science fiction”, which isn’t so recent, and which, in turn is derived from “military fiction”, which is even less recent. (Though there, again, the shortened version, “MilFic” is rather recent.)
(ETA: I haven’t actually read MASH, but I loved Catch 22. And I’m pretty fond of The Forever War.)
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