(1) BRADBURY MUSEUM CLOSING. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in his hometown of Waukegan, IL is shutting down this month they announced today on Facebook.
In 2017 a group of dedicated volunteers came together to honor Ray Bradbury in his hometown Waukegan, Illinois, with an interactive museum. As the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum Committee, we operated the museum out of a space in downtown Waukegan, donated by the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition.
Now, after much consideration, the RBEM Committee has decided to officially close in May 2023. This decision followed challenging realities. COVID was a daunting obstacle. Many donors shifted their attention to other, more pressing social needs. In addition, it was immensely difficult to secure a much-needed permanent location in downtown Waukegan.
Over the years, we worked with museum designers to develop plans for the future museum. At the same time, the RBEM Committee and volunteers welcomed visitors to events, readings, performances, and exhibits in Waukegan and at national and regional conventions. We presented Ray Bradbury programs, online and in-person, for local and regional schools and libraries. A highlight event was the August 22, 2020, celebration of the Centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth in Waukegan.
April 2023 marked our final program. Partnering with the Waukegan Public Library and the Waukegan Historical Society and funded by an Illinois Humanities grant, we presented Explore Ray Bradbury, a weekend of multi-media and hands-on engagement with Bradbury’s classic books and themes. Excited visitors of all ages heard Bradbury stories, created Bradbury-themed crafts, invented banned book slogans and pins, and experienced a virtual reality journey to the International Space Station….
(2) FLORIDA FUR. CBR.com reports how “Furry Convention Disrupted by Florida Governor’s New Law”.
Megaplex, a furry convention based in Orlando, has been forced to change its policy on the minimum age of attendees due to new Florida legislation.
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and Republican presidential nominee, recently passed SB 1438, or the Protection of Children Act. This bill prohibits the admission of children to any “adult live performance,” defined as “a presentation that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, or specific sexual activities.” Allowing underage individuals to an event in Florida falling under that definition is punishable by a year of prison and/or a $1,000 fine. As reported by Rolling Stone, furries are not a specific target of SB 1438, but the subculture, which involves art and costumes of anthropomorphized animals, is often stereotyped as being highly sexualized.
… A statement on Megaplex’s website reads, “Many have raised concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation. After reviewing Florida SB 1438 it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup. Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult… It is our hope that this change is temporary and that we can welcome members of all ages back next year. With this in mind, the public decorum portion of the Code of Conduct as well as standards for programming, attire, and behavior in convention space will not be changing and will continue to be enforced as has been in the past.”…
The Rolling Stone article has more analysis: “Furries Now Have Serious Beef With Ron DeSantis”.
…So what does a law about exposing kids to sexually charged content have to do with people dressing as cartoon bunnies and foxes? While SB 1438 does not specifically target minors dressing as furries, it prohibits children from attending adult performances, which it defines as “a presentation that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, or specific sexual activities.” And, like drag, there are pervasive misconceptions that this mode of expression is inherently sexual.
While it is true that there is a segment of furrydom that does treat it as a kink, it is not a representation of the wider community, and many furries do not view their interest in anthropomorphized creatures as sexual at all. Though many conventions do cater to the NSFW aspects of the furry fandom, they typically save such programming for later at night to ensure the rest of the con is family-friendly, or cordon off adult vendors so they are not in full view of other attendees.
The fact that the furry organizers felt pressured to bar children from the convention is yet another example of how it’s been seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights. (The ACLU referred to it as “a blatant attempt to erase drag performers and silence the LGBTQ+ community.”) The furry fandom overwhelmingly skews LGBTQ, with nearly 80 percent of furries self-identifying as such, according to surveys of the fandom. “Furry has become synonymous with LGBTQ, since there is such a large intersection of communities,” says Joelle, one of the founders of Moms of Furries, an organization supporting kid furries and their parents. (Joelle and her cofounder, Carrie, requested their last names be withheld for safety reasons; they both have children in the fandom who are also queer.) “Furries feel connected to what they see as persecution of the queer community.”
Additionally, many furries identify as transgender, and “would not feel safe” at a convention in Florida, which recently passed a law making it a misdemeanor trespassing offense for someone to use a bathroom that does not align with their birth sex, says Carrie. “Right now anything that isn’t very straight-laced, in Florida, is starting to be called out as deviant,” she says. “Obviously furries are an easy mark for that.”…
… Megaplex will take place September 15-17 in Orlando, FL.
(3) IAFA ASKS IF THEY SHOULD STAY IN ORLANDO. For similar reasons, The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) has launched a survey about whether it should remain in Florida, relocate to another state, or adapt to a virtual or hybrid format.
We have received many concerns regarding the safety of our multiply-marginalized members, the ethical issues of spending organizational and personal funds in Florida, and many other concerns. We fully acknowledge and share your dismay over these developments, as they are antithetical to our organization’s values of inclusivity, equality, and justice.
While the decision to move the conference is a significant one, we also understand that it may have practical implications and involve a complex process. Therefore, we assure you that we are actively exploring alternative options and potential venues. We are engaging with our partners and considering various locations that align with our values and prioritize the well-being of our members.
Moreover, we recognize that this situation extends beyond a single event or location. We are committed to using our platform and influence to raise awareness, challenge discriminatory practices, and support organizations and activists who are fighting against systemic inequalities. We will actively seek opportunities to collaborate with local advocates, amplify their voices, and contribute to the ongoing efforts to create a more just and inclusive society.
We want to emphasize that your feedback and perspectives are invaluable to us. We encourage you to continue sharing your concerns, suggestions, and insights with us by clicking the ICFA45 Survey below. Together, we can navigate these challenging times and work towards a more equitable future.
(4) SCHOLARSHIP FROM HELL. The Horror Writers Association Scholarship from Hell recipients are Alex Luceli Jimenez and Timaeus Bloom.
The Scholarship From Hell puts the recipients into the workshop environment of Horror University, which takes place during HWA’s annual StokerCon®.
The winners receive domestic coach airfare (contiguous 48 states) to and from StokerCon 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA, June 15-18, $50 for luggage reimbursement, a 4 night stay at the convention, free registration to StokerCon®, and as many Horror University workshops as they’d like to attend.
(5) UTOPIA AWARDS. The public is invited to make nominations for the 2nd annual Utopia Awards hosted by CliFiCon 2023.
The 2nd annual Utopia Awards will highlight and honor authors, artists, and other creators producing works focused on hopeful outlooks, solutions to climate change and related social problems, and building a better future.
Nominations for the 2nd annual Utopia Awards are open to works published in 2022 that exemplify hopeful, utopian fiction (science fiction, fantasy, climate fiction…)
Works nominated for a Utopia Award must have been published during 2022.
Nominations are accepted for works published by traditional or independent publishers, magazines, and anthologies, as well independently published works.
CliFiCon 2023 is a two-day online conference taking place October 7-8. Buy tickets here.
(6) WHERE DID YOUR SF JOURNEY START? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Don’t know if you’ve seen this over at Media Death Cult – ”This is where my Science Fiction journey started”? But Moid Moidelhoff has done a piece on where his SF journey began…
Now, mine began with H. G. Wells War of the Worlds original film and then novel along with Gerry Anderson’s Supercar then Fireball XL5 etc. Quickly followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey (premiere week in Cinerama format at London Leicester Square) to discover Arthur C. Clarke wrote books too and so it was: Sands of Mars, Childhood’s End, City and the Stars, Tales From The White Hart… My first con was the 1977 Novacon 7 in Birmingham with John Brunner (whom I had already read) as GoH. At Novacon 8 I met biologist and SF fan Jack Cohen and I did not know it but that was to become a life-long (his sadly and not mine) fan friendship and biological colleague (he was active in the professional learned body, the Institute of Biology, of whom I was to become a staff member and ultimately Head of Science Policy and Books. Jack was occasionally on one of the committees I serviced.)…
I’m rambling aren’t I? Anyway, Moid’s journey it seems began with the weekly comic 2000AD and its Judge Dredd. I too was (and am) into 2000AD and our college SF group, Hatfield PSIFA, visited the 2000AD office a couple of times and they were also guests of honour at one of our early Shoestringcons (as recorded in the 2000AD 1983 annual – see pic attached). It’s been sad to lose so many of the 2000AD staff including recently Alan Grant (to whom I owe a few pints as he always said I was a poor student (and so to this day I always buy a pint for a student at cons and/or an unemployed fan depending on whom I come across)).
I’m rambling again aren’t I? Moid recounts his being a fan of 2000AD in this 20 minute vid here.
(7) BOLO FOR A DEATH ON THAT HILL. Collider’s Lloyd Farley declares “’Return of the Jedi’ Is the Best Film in the Original Star Wars Trilogy and I Will Die on That Hill”.
… New, unique creatures enter the Star Wars universe for the first time, including a rancor, the sarlacc, Ewoks, fan favorite Max Rebo, and Jabba the Hutt himself, a large slug-like creature covered in his own excesses, lauded for heading a far-reaching criminal empire. Jabba is nothing like we would have expected him to be, but to me, he’s perfect — a visual representation of the ugliness of his vocation. Jedi also brings back the fun that took a back seat in Empire Strikes Back. Han oozing charm and confidence as he tries in vain to sweet talk Jabba out of killing our group of heroes is a funny return to the charming scoundrel we love. C-3P0’s awkward handling of the revelation that the Ewoks see him as a god is delightfully comic, a pretentious droid having to come to terms with unyielding adoration….
(8) WHEN MONEY FLOWS AWAY FROM THE WRITER. “Termination Fees in Publishing Contracts: Not Just Bad for Authors” explains Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware.
…Why are termination fees a red flag?
Obviously, they are onerous for authors, who might have good reason to want to escape a contract early, and can’t do so without opening up their wallets.
More problematically, publishers can and do employ termination fees abusively. They may hold them over the heads of unhappy writers to shut them up, attempt to use them as an extra income source by offering to jettison dissatisfied authors at the slightest provocation (for example, now-defunct publisher Curiosity Quills offered an annual “escape clause” period where writers could request an invoice), impose them even in situations where, per their own contract language, they shouldn’t apply (as happened to this author as part of a dispute over publisher breach), terminate the contracts of writers who’ve pissed them off and demand the fee even though termination wasn’t the writer’s decision, or, in more than one case I’ve heard about, close the publisher down and refuse to return rights unless the writers paid to get them back….
(9) GARY KENT (1933-2023). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Gary Kent, a stunt performer, stunt coordinator, and actor in numerous genre films, died May 25 reports Variety. Most were horror with a smaller number of science, fiction & fantasy flicks. Most were also “B movies.” He was most active during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of the notable exceptions to that time period was his stint as stunt coordinator for Bubba Ho-Tep in 2002.
…Soon after his stuntman debut in 1965, Kent appeared as a gas tank worker in Peter Bogdanovich’s debut feature film “Targets,” then worked on “Hell’s Bloody Devils,” “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant” “Angels’ Wild Women” and Richard Rush’s “Psych-Out,” racking up injuries along the way.
While starring in Al Adamson’s soft-core Western “Lash of Lust,” Kent encountered Charles Manson and his followers living at the Spahn movie ranch, and later told Quentin Tarantino about Manson and his mechanic’s work on the film’s dune buggy. Though the Cliff Booth character was also based on other stuntmen, Kent’s story inspired the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” sequence when Booth encounters the Manson family at Spahn Ranch.
In addition to performing in front of the camera, Kent also worked in production jobs and directed, serving as the assistant director on “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” the unit production manager on Brian De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise,” writer-director for “Rainy Day Friends” and director of “The Pyramid.”…
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Lisa Goldstein’s The Uncertain Places gives us the Beginning this Scroll.
Now she’s one of my favorite writers with this novel plus Dark Cities Underground, Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon and Walking the Labyrinth all being excellent reads. I also like her short fiction, some of which has been collected in Daily Voices and Travellers in Magic but none since the latter collection was done thirty years ago.
This novel was published by Tachyon twelve years ago. The cover art was by Ann Monn.
It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.
And here is that Beginning…
IT WAS BEN AVERY who introduced me to Livvy, Livvy and her haunted family. This was in 1971, when Ben and I were sophomores in college. A lifetime ago, another world, but it seems like I can still remember all of it, every motion, every color, every note of music. For one thing, it was the year that I fell in love. But for another, I don’t think that anyone who experienced what I did that year could possibly forget it.
Ben had gone to Berkeley early in September, before classes started, to find an apartment for us. He’d seen Livvy’s sister Maddie in a play and they’d started dating, and when I got to Berkeley he couldn’t talk about anything else. Now we were going to visit her family up in Napa Valley, in the wine country, for a couple of days.
Back then Ben drove a humpbacked 1966 Volvo, a car that seemed ancient even though it was only five years old. It smelled of mold and rust and oil, and to this day, whenever I find myself in a car like that, I feel young and ready for anything, any wild scheme that Ben or I would propose. The car went through a constant cycle of electrical problems—either the generator didn’t work, or the regulator, or the battery—and on this trip, as on so many others, the battery warning light flickered on and off, a dull red like the baleful eye of Mordor.
We got on the freeway and headed out of Berkeley, then passed through the neighboring suburbs. As we crossed the Carquinez Bridge Ben started telling me about the last time he’d taken the car in, and the Swedish mechanic who told him the problem was with the “yenerator.” He did a goofy imitation of the mechanic, who I was sure was nothing like Ben portrayed him, but I barely paid attention. I was thinking about my upcoming classes, and about this sister of Maddie’s he wanted me to meet.
“Tell me again why I’m coming with you,” I said, interrupting him in the middle of the story.
You’ll like them,” Ben said. “They’re fun. Come on, Will, have I ever disappointed you?”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 26, 1865 — Robert Chambers. His most-remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.)
- Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.)
- Born May 26, 1923 — James Arness. He appeared in three Fifties SF films, Two Lost Worlds, Them! and The Thing from Another World. The latter is based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart). The novella would be the basis of John Carpenter’s The Thing thirty years later. (Died 2011.)
- Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He was on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. (Died 2017.)
- Born May 26, 1925 — Howard DeVore.He was according to all sources, an expert on pulp magazines who dealt in them and collected them, an APA writer, con-runner and otherwise all-around volunteer in First Fandom. He wrote two fascinating-sounding publications with Don Franson, A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards. (Died 2005.)
- Born May 26, 1964 — Caitlín R. Kiernan, 59. They’re an impressive two-time recipient of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards. As for novels, I’d single out Low Red Moon, Blood Oranges (writing as Kathleen Tierney) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as being particularly worth reading. They also fronted a band, Death’s Little Sister, named for Neil Gaiman’s character, Delirium.
- Born May 26, 1970 — Alex Garland, 53. Writer of Dredd, Ex Machina and Annihilation (which I still haven’t seen — opinions please on it — the books for the latter were excellent and usually don’t see films based on fiction I like). Ex Machina was nominated for a Hugo at MidAmeriCon II, Annihilation likewise was at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. Dredd alas wasn’t nominated. He also wrote 28 Days Later but I’m really not into Pandemic films right now despite the current one ending.
(12) BOOKSTORE UNIONIZATION UPDATE. Publishers Weekly tells the status of three different bookstore unionization efforts: “Workers at Park Slope B&N File for Union Election; Hadley, Mass. Store Votes for Union”.
Barnes & Noble workers at the Park Slope, Brooklyn, store filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on May 25, seeking representation from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The news comes a little less than a month after workers at the flagship B&N store in Manhattan’s Union Square launched their own union drive, and on the same day as 15 workers at the B&N outlet in Hadley, Mass., voted unanimously to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1459. The Union Square B&N election is scheduled for June 7.
(13) ANTHOLOGY WILL BENEFIT PRO-CHOICE ORGANIZATION. [Based on a press release.] Aqueduct Press announced today that it will publish Adventures in Bodily Autonomy: Exploring Reproductive Rights in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror. One hundred percent of royalties will go to NARAL, Pro-Choice America.
Edited by Raven Belasco, author of the Blood & Ancient Scrolls series, the anthology will feature the work of Kathleen Alcalá, Elizabeth Bear, Raven Belasco, Tara Campbell, Anya De Niro, Jaymee Goh, Cynthia Gralla, K Ibura, Ellen Klages, Annalee Newitz, Nisi Shawl, Cecilia Tan, Sonya Taaffe, Helena María Viramontes, and an introduction by international social justice activist Maggie Mayhem.
World Fantasy Award Winner Elizabeth Lynn says this of the anthology, “So satisfying to read a volume of new speculative fiction stories centered on women’s experience, women’s lives, women’s choices! You’ll find a pleasurable variety here: hard sf, fantasy, ghosts, vampires, horror, sweet lyricism, and steel-edged noir—stories from well-known names, and stories from writers you’ve never encountered before. I guarantee that at least one story in this volume will make you punch the air in triumph, and another will work its way into your dreams, and not let go.”
(14) FANS IN THE FIFTIES. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Just an amazing number of photos from the 1950s, all digitized in Dave Rike’s gallery of old black-and-white photos of fans now preserved at the Internet Archive.
(15) RISKY BUSINESS. [Item by Steven French.] Like the author of this piece, I hadn’t really thought of quantum based tech being of interest to the insurance industry but of course, the latter is all about dealing with risk, and the former offers risk a-plenty. These include risks associated with cyber attacks (because according to the no cloning theorem quantum states can’t be replicated), or with the fact that we’re dealing with fundamentally irreducible probabilistic phenomena (at least according to most interpretations of quantum theory) but what was most interesting to me, as a philosopher of physics, was the concern about risks to do with our lack of understanding: “Commercializing quantum technologies: the risks and opportunities” at Physics World.
…Striking a balance between using reinsurance and insuring risk internally is a classic optimization problem that is very important for an insurance company to get right. Getting things wrong, even by a tiny bit, can be very costly. Scharrer explains that optimization is currently done using a heuristic approach that relies on human expertise.
While reinsurance optimization could be done better on a conventional computer, Scharrer says that it would take decades to do the calculations. And that is where a quantum computer could come in handy – because some quantum computers are predicted to be very good at solving certain optimization problems that could be relative to reinsurance. But like a lot of the technology being discussed at the conference, such a quantum computer does not yet exist.
In his talk, Munich Re’s Nawroth talked about how insurers could use quantum computers to do simulations that could help them better understand a wide range of phenomena that affect risk. These include climate change, green technologies, financial markets, pandemics, cyber security and so on….
(16) SPEAK, MEMORY. “Security vendor says fast action is needed now on deepfake voice” reports Biometric Update.
A new research report from security analyst vendor Recorded Future says voice cloning is capable of defeating voice multifactor authentication in the wild. Authors of the report say a cross-industry approach is needed to keep deepfake voice in check.
The report, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Do Crime,” is a nod to science-fiction author Harlan Ellison’s dark visions, but the findings it contains warrant poetic flourish.
“Voice cloning technology is currently being abused by threat actors in the wild,” the report states. It is “enabling the spread of misinformation and disinformation and increasing the effectiveness of social engineering.” The barrier to entry continues to get lower, with platforms such as ElevenLabs’s popular Prime Voice AI offering low cost, browser-based options for text-to-speech (TTS) conversion.
“Voice cloning samples – such as those of celebrities, politicians, and internet personalities (‘influencers’) – and are intended to create either comedic or malicious content, which is often racist, discriminatory, or violent in nature,” the report says. Threat actors are demonstrating effective voice-based fraud attacks including voice phishing, or vishing….
(17) FLIGHT TEST. BBC News finds Virgin Galactic back on the scene after two years: “Virgin Galactic: Sir Richard Branson’s rocket plane returns to spaceflight”.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane is back in action after a gap of almost two years.
The Unity vehicle, with two pilots and four passengers aboard, climbed high over the New Mexico desert to the edge of space – before gliding back down.
It was billed as the plane’s final test outing before entering commercial service in June.
Galactic has sold over 800 tickets to individuals who want to ride more than 80km (260,000ft) above Earth.
The company expects to start working through this passenger list with Unity flights initially occurring at the rate of one a month. New rocket planes are being designed for service in 2026 that should each be capable of increasing the cadence to one a week.
Thursday’s mission came just a couple of days after winning bids were announced to buy the assets in Sir Richard’s other space firm, Virgin Orbit, which filed papers with a bankruptcy court in April….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Actor, author and “Reading Rainbow” founder LeVar Burton joined the L.A. Times Book Club on May 24 to discuss the State of Banned Books with Times editor Steve Padilla.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]