(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ON HUGO DELAY. The Chengdu Worldcon yesterday confirmed on Twitter what Hugo co-Administrator Dave McCarty said a week ago on his Facebook page concerning when to expect the ballot:
(2) SWIPER STOP SWIPING. Music conglomerates are asking for a quarter billion dollars:“Twitter Lawsuit: Music Publishers Claim ‘Massive Copyright Infringement’”. The Hollywood Reporter has full details.
Twitter’s longstanding refusal to secure music licensing rights has come to a head with a lawsuit accusing the company of mass copyright infringement.
The three major music conglomerates — Universal, Sony and Warner — joined by a host of other publishers on Wednesday sued Twitter for at least $250 million over the alleged infringement of roughly 1,700 works for which it received hundreds of thousands of takedown notices. They allege the company “consistently and knowingly hosts and streams infringing copies of music compositions” to “fuel its business.” Twitter has rebuffed calls for it to obtain the proper licenses, according to the suit.
Twitter is the lone major social media platform without music licensing deals, which permits those sites to legally host videos and other content featuring publishers’ music. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat have all entered into agreements that compensate creators of musical compositions for use of their work….
(3) AVENGERS LEGAL ENDGAME. The Hollywood Reporter reports new court filings as “Marvel Winds Down Fight Over Avengers Characters”.
Marvel has made a major move toward ending the battle for the rights to its most iconic characters — including the Avengers — but the fight isn’t over.
Back in 2021, Marvel filed a series of lawsuits in response to copyright termination notices from Larry Lieber and the estates of Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, Don Heck and Don Rico.
U.S. Copyright Law gives authors or their heirs the ability to essentially claw back copyrights after a certain period of time. It doesn’t cover works made for hire, which has been Marvel’s primary argument in these matters.
At issue are the rights to titles including Amazing Fantasy, The Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil, Iron Man, Journey Into Mystery, Marvel Super-Heroes, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Tales of Suspense and Tomb of Dracula.
In addition to the specific art and stories in the comics, the termination notices also targeted “any character, story element, or indicia reasonably associated with the Works.”
Collectively, an extremely long list of characters has been involved, including Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch.
Marvel, represented by Dan Petrocelli and Molly Lens of O’Melveny, has apparently reached deals that resolve four of the fights, as the parties have filed joint stipulations for voluntary dismissal.
There’s one exception: No such notice has been filed in the fight over Steve Ditko’s works….
(4) THE PTAO. “Pratchett and Philosophy: The Tao of Sir Terry” is related by J. R. H. Lawless at Tor.com.
…This is not an exhaustive survey of those various viewpoints and concepts. Rather, this essay is an attempt to provide a flying machine’s-eye overview of just a few of the major philosophical underpinnings of Pratchett’s Tao, or “way.” Let’s jump in…
(5) ASTEROID CITY GOES BICOASTAL. SYFY Wire tells fans how to “Visit Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City Pop-up in NYC and LA”.
Wes Anderson fans in New York City and Los Angeles, get yourself suited up and head to the exclusive Asteroid City Pop-Up activations at the Landmark Theatres Sunset and Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan. Both theaters cater to the cinephile crowd and are celebrating Wes Anderson’s Focus Features sci-fi / dramedy, Asteroid City — out in limited theatrical release on June 16 and wide release on June 23 — by turning both theaters into the dusty little town.
… As the Landmark was still under renovation, Holloway said it was the perfect time for Focus to swoop in and wrap the whole lobby with signage, wallpaper and lighting grabbed straight from the film. Actual costumes and props featured in film are included in the display.The Pop-Up covers two floors of the cinema. Plus, there are social media-worthy photo ops, including reproductions of the two cabins where Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) and Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) have their deep conversations, and the podium where General Grif Gibson (Wright) hosts the Junior Stargazer awards….
(6) A WRITER’S HEALTH MEMOIR. Madeline Ashby shares vulnerably while introducing a recipe for “Betty’s Summer Surprise Fruit Dessert” at Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup.
…My illness enjoyed hiding behind my successes. It hid inside my carry-on and my hardshell. It hid under my gel manicure. It was a deceptively-worded clause in yet another contract I had failed to sign and scan until long after the work was done. Occasionally others glimpsed it peeking out from behind my glasses, which is, I imagine, why, in the greenroom at SXSW 2018, Bruce Sterling suddenly turned to me with the dread weight of his perceptiveness and asked, “But are you okay? Really?”
Reader, I was not.
A lot of my day was spent watching loops of soothing videos. There was something democratizing about video platforms, then. People were still nervous on camera. I listened to soft-spoken men explaining crypto and whispering women explaining crystals. What I was really listening to were people talking about the beliefs which had seen them through times of crisis. This is how I found the recipe I am about to share with you…
(7) JOHN ROMITA SR. (1930-2023). Legendary comic book artist John Romita Sr., who worked on The Amazing Spider-Man, and co-created Mary Jane Watson, Wolverine and the Punisher, died June 12 at the age of 93 reports Deadline. See also the New York Times’ obit:
…Mr. Romita’s interest in drawing was encouraged at home and in school, according to a 2007 biography by Sue L. Hamilton. In 1938, he purchased two copies of the first Superman comic, keeping one safely in a bag while using the other as a drawing guide.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Mr. Romita began working as a commercial artist. But a chance meeting with a friend and former high school classmate, who worked for Stan Lee, the comic book revolutionary, led to his first big break. Mr. Romita began secretly sketching comics in pencil for his friend, who would later go over them with ink and pass them off as his own work.
Mr. Romita took his career into his own hands in the 1950s and revealed the arrangement to Mr. Lee, who in turn gave him the opportunity to work, Mr. Romita said in an interview with The Comics Reporter in 2002….
The Guardian’s David Barnett adds these details: “John Romita Sr: the Spider-Man artist was a titan of the comic-book world”.
… Spider-Man, of course, wasn’t Romita’s first comics work; not even his first chance to stamp his mark on the Marvel Universe. The man often billed in the comic credits in Stan Lee’s Barnum-esque fashion as “Jazzy” John had started work in comics in 1949, aged just 19.
His first work was uncredited, a 10-page gangster story for Timely Comics, which was the forerunner of Marvel. He cut his teeth on war, horror, science fiction and romance comics throughout the 1950s, and then late in the decade moved to DC Comics where he worked mainly on the hugely popular teen romance titles such as Young Love, Heart Throbs and Girls’ Romances.
Hearing that Romita was thinking of getting into commercial illustration after DC pulled the plug on many of its romance titles as the genre declined in popularity, Stan Lee, ever the comic book puppetmaster, met him for a three-hour lunch and persuaded him to take on Daredevil, with issue 12 of the blind superhero’s title which came out in January 1966. It’s hard not to imagine Lee quietly moving the pieces around the chessboard of his masterplan as he wrote a Daredevil issue later that year with Spider-Man (who had debuted in Amazing Fantasy issue 15 in 1962) as a guest star, to see how Romita would handle the character who – by accident, or more likely Lee’s design – was shortly to become Marvel’s flagship superhero….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2018 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Sam J. Miller has been nominated for multiple Nebula Awards along with the World Fantasy and Sturgeon Memorial Awards with one of his two Awards to date is a Shirley Jackson Award for his “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” story.
By my count, he’s written nearly fifty stories and his stories have appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and Uncanny Magazine along with being reprinted in over fifteen year’s best collections.
The other is the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Blackfish City: A Novel which is our Beginning this time.
And now for that Beginning..
People would say she came to Qaanaaq in a skiff towed by a killer whale harnessed to the front like a horse. In these stories, which grew astonishingly elaborate in the days and weeks after her arrival, the polar bear paced beside her on the flat bloody deck of the boat. Her face was clenched and angry. She wore battle armor built from thick scavenged plastic.
At her feet, in heaps, were the kind of weird weapons and machines that refugee-camp ingenuity had been producing; strange tools fashioned from the wreckage of Manhattan or Mumbai. Her fingers twitched along the walrus-ivory handle of her blade. She had come to do something horrific in Qaanaaq, and she could not wait to start.
You have heard these stories. You may even have told them. Stories are valuable here. They are what we brought when we came here; they are what cannot be taken away from us. The truth of her arrival was almost certainly less dramatic. The skiff was your standard tri-power rig, with a sail and oars and a gas engine, and for the last few miles of her journey to the floating city it was the engine that she used. The killer whale swam beside her. The polar bear was in chains, a metal cage over its head and two smaller ones boxing in its forepaws. She wore simple clothes, the skins and furs preferred by the people who had fled to the north when the cities of the south began to burn or sink. She did not pace. Her weapon lay at her feet. She brought nothing else with her. Whatever she had come to Qaanaaq to accomplish, her face gave no hint of whether it would be bloody or beautiful or both.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall aka Compton Crook. Stephen Tall was the most common pseudonym of American science fiction writer Compton Newby Crook. He wrote two novels, The Ramsgate Paradox (in his Stardust series) and The People Beyond the Wall. The Stardust Voyages collects the short stories in that series. The Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award was established by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in his name for best first novel in a given year. (Died 1981.)
- Born June 14, 1909 — Burl Ives. No, I’m not including because of being him voicing Sam the Snowman, narrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in that film though I could argue it is genre. No, I’m including him because he was on The Night Gallery (“The Other Way Out” episode) and appeared in several comic SF films, Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon and Earthbound. He also appeared in The Bermuda Depths which is more of a horror film. (Died 1995.)
- Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated quartet of Space Cat books — Space Cat, Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m pleased to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects and yes I’ve read them. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. Side note: he was an editor of the works of William Blake which must have a really interesting undertaking! (Died 1978.)
- Born June 14, 1921 — William L. Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. He was best known for publishing adult magazines and books, which led to First Amendment litigation, and also a criminal prosecution that resulted in a jail term. (Died 2017.)
- Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 74. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator. Hugos? Well there was one. ConAdian saw him win for his “Down in the Bottomlands” novella, and his “Must and Shall” novelette picked up a nomination at L.A. Con III, and Chicon 2000 where he was Toastmaster saw his “Forty, Counting Down” honored with a nomination.
- Born June 14, 1955 — Paul Kupperberg, 68. Scripted more a thousand stories of which I’ll only single out a very few: The Brave and the Bold, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, House of Mystery, Justice League of America, and Star Trek. One of my favorite scripts by him was his work on The Phantom Stranger (with Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell).
- Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 65. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.
(10) INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR WGA STRIKE. Variety checks in around the world: “’Screenwriters Everywhere’: Writers Strike Gets Global Support”.
From Argentina to New Zealand, support for the Writers Guild of America is officially going global.
Wednesday marks an International Day of Solidarity for the writers strike that is being branded “Screenwriters Everywhere,” with events taking place in major cities including Paris and London.
The Writers Guild of America has enlisted members from the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, Federation of Screenwriters in Europe and UNI Global Union to demonstrate global support for the union’s strike against Hollywood’s largest producers. The unprecedented rallying behind the WGA is especially relevant during this strike given the globalization of content, and the fast-growing international outposts of many “struck” companies, such as Netflix and Prime Video….
In London —
Titans of television turned up for the U.K. rally in support of WGA: “Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker, “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong, “Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies and “His Dark Materials” writer Jack Thorne were among those who came to show solidarity with their U.S. counterparts.
Russell T Davies said:
…Russell T Davies was typically forthright about why he had made the effort to come down to London for the rally. “This is a fight to the death for drama,” he told Variety. “We’re looking at processes and software and attitudes and hostility that could drive these people into other jobs. These could be teachers and clerks and shop assistants in a few years time because our jobs are being erased. Absolutely erased with a happy smile on the accountants’ faces.”…
(11) STARFIELD. Forbes contributor Paul Stassi tries to wrap his brain around an elaborate video game that arrives in three months: “I Don’t Even Understand How ‘Starfield’ Exists”.
Microsoft promised that after all this time, we would finally get a proper look at Bethesda’s Starfield, set to be released in just over three months. No more in-engine footage, no more brief previews. Starfield instead did a showcase that was nearly as long as Xbox’s entire show. And I don’t think anyone expected it to be as wild as it was.
Very clearly, Starfield is using elements of No Man’s Sky as a base. A thousand planets, instead of infinite ones, but the same concept: exploration. Plus mining, plus cataloguing wildlife, plus building homes and finding ships to sail the stars.
But soon enough, the similarities stop, and you remember that oh wait, there’s also an entire mainline Bethesda RPG layered on top of this, and also, they are doing some things that almost sound too insane to be real….
Believe me, I understand how AAA video game hype works. We all remember being fooled by early looks at Cyberpunk 2077 or the aforementioned No Man’s Sky. But this feels different, namely because this game comes out in three months. This is not some years-early preview, and Bethesda has famously barely shown us anything about the game to this point outside of a few scarce minutes of gameplay and proofs of concept. What we’re seeing here is what the game is. Nothing is going to be cut or reduced in scale at this point.
There are questions, sure. How many of the thousand planets will have two neat buildings and then you move on? Or is there true exploration to be found? And just how buggy will this game launch, given that A) it’s this absolutely massive and B) it’s a Bethesda game, home of the most voluminous and hilarious bugs in the industry?
But it is hard not to be blown away by what was shown yesterday….
(12) DIDJA SEE THAT?! Inverse says “A Nearby Supernova Could Be Our Chance to Hear From Aliens”.
… The trick, of course, is that interstellar communication isn’t quick. Imagine there’s a three-car pileup on your street; you look out your window and see it, then yell downstairs to your neighbor, telling them to go take a look. All of that can happen within a matter of seconds.
But the space version takes a lot longer. Let’s say a star 21 million light years away explodes; it takes 21 million years for the light to reach you so that you can see the explosion. You send a radio message to your interstellar neighbor about 100 light years away, but that message will take 100 years to reach them.
Meanwhile, you’ve got to consider how far from the supernova your interstellar neighbor lives. Will the light from the explosion have reached them by the time they can hear your radio message?
As an example, Cabrales suggested that 32 star systems should already have seen the bright afterglow of SN 1987A, a supernova in our own Milky Way galaxy that lit up Earth’s skies in (you guessed it) 1987. If there’s anyone manning radio telescopes and transmitters on a planet around any of those stars, they’d have had time to see it and send a signal, and that signal would have had time to reach us here on Earth….
(13) MOVE OVER HABITABLE ZONES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] When considering the possibility of extraterrestrial life (exobiology) around other stars, astronomers often use the concept of the star’s ‘habitable zone’. There is now a new proposal put forward by three astrophysicists and a microbiologist all of whom are based in the US. This new concept is what they call the ‘photosynthetic habitable zone’.
The ‘photosynthetic habitable zone’ is the overlap between two other zones: the ‘photosynthetic zone’ and the ‘habitable zone’. The ‘photosynthetic zone’ is different from the ‘habitable zone’. The former, as the researchers define it, is where Earth-biology-type oxygen generating photosynthesis can take place, while the latter is where liquid water can exist on the planetary surface. (I mention Earth-biology-type photosynthesis which uses two non-oxygen generating photosynthetic systems – one gives a leg up to the other to get the energy to split water – as it has been hypothesised that a three photosystem mechanism might evolve around slightly redder stars than our own but the researchers do not include this.)
The photosynthesis zone is actually bigger than the habitable zone (as, for example, on Earth there are microbes that can photosynthesise while living in snow and ice). So what you need to do is to look at the overlap between the two to get the ‘photosynthetic habitable zone’.
The researchers have done this plotting graphs for planets of varying atmospheric thickness (the thicker the atmosphere the less light reaches its surface for photosynthesis) with one axis of the graph being the star’s size and the other the distance of the exoplanet’s orbit from its star. The graph shown here is for planets whose atmospheric thickness is similar to Earth’s. There is a further refinement in that the planet should not be tidally locked to its star. (In the graph the upper limit is for those planets that take a billion years to become tidally locked.)
The researchers have plotted photosynthetic zone and habitable zone exo-planets on the graph. They identify just five that are in the photosynthetic habitable zone (PHZ) that are not tidally locked: Kepler-452b, Kepler-1638b, Kepler-1544b, Kepler-62e, and Kepler-62f, that are consistently in the PHZ. Of these, Kepler-452b seems to have conditions most like Earth. Kepler 452b was discovered in 2015. It is around 1,400 light years away (430 parsecs away) from Manchester’s Festival of Fantastic Films and a decent pint of beer. It is suggested that Kepler-452b be the focus of study looking for biosignatures. However, it is a long way off.
The primary research paper proposing this new concept is Hall, C. et al (2023) “A New Definition of Exoplanet Habitability: Introducing the Photosynthetic Habitable Zone”. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, vol. 948, L26.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George knows what it’s like to be going through airport security before the crack of dawn. You probably know, too. So how come you didn’t make this video instead of him? “Early Flights When You’re Not A Morning Person”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]