(1) BIOLOGY LESSON. We can learn along with Matt Wallace:
(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has shared her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading on June 14 where “Nathan Ballingrud read from his novel The Strange and Dale Bailey read from his story ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space’ and both made the crowd very happy.”
(3) COVER ART UNCOVERED. Alex Shvartsman has revealed the cover for The Digital Aesthete. See preorder information at the link.
We now have a cover for the anthology of stories about artificial minds interacting with art. The stories and the art are created by humans (the cover is drawn and designed by the spectacular K.A. Teryna!)
(4) NO, NO, IT WOULD BE A LITERARY SOCIETY. Norman Spinrad’s first attempt to explain his idea was completely successful. Everybody knew exactly what he meant. Now he tries to remedy that with a cagier post, “SFS and SFWA”.
I think I should this make this clear. SFWA means Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. SFS means Speculative Fiction Society. SFWA has existed for a long time and I was elected its president three times. Speculative Fiction Society is something that does not yet exist, it is something that may or may not exist in a possible future, it is, well, speculative fiction.
SFS is not an enemy of SFWA nor would it be mean to replace it. SFS is not a new invention. SFWA was born as society of speculative fiction writers. Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm invited writers of their choice to their large house in Milford annually to meet each other and bring stories of theirs to read his small society. Stories of which they were proud, stories they felt had literary problems, and to some extent, stories that they had trouble finding proper publication.
Although we all well knew that the price of liberty was taking care of business, this was primerily a literary society. The core was to help each other create better literature. But business being what it was, Damon said that we should create something that could also help writers take care of business. Not quite a union like the Screen Writers of America, but something that could act like one when called to, a Science Fiction Writers of America.
The SFWA, now calls itself the Science Fiction and Fantacy Writers Association. As such, it sometimes does act like a union when it comes to the rights and economic problems of its members. But it no longer functions as a literary society devoted to the literary health and evolution of speculative fiction.
Indeed it has now become a legally non-profit corporation, whose bottom line is not literature, but the bottom line, dedicated to maximum numbers of various levels of memberships, selling various fandom goods like baseball or soccer teams, behaving more like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Association.
An SFS, a Speculative Fiction Society, could never take the place of this Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Associaton. It could not do it, it would not want to do it, it would not want to destroy it. It would not be a corporation, not-profit or not.
The literary concept of speculative fiction is at least as ancient as Plato’s REPUBLIC and it was captured as “science fiction,” “sci-fi,” and yes, SF, by publishing fluke, and the purpose of a Speculative Fiction Society would be to rescue what should be a central literature of any dynamic society.
A famous and almost you might say snotty French publisher that calls itself “Less Belles Lettres” wanted to publish a book celebrating its hundredth birthday. They wanted to publish a book called “Les Futures des Belles Lettres,” a double meaning in French, the future of the publisher and the future of serious literature.
They asked me to write whatever I wanted to as long as the story I did that. I wrote a story called BELLES LETTRES AD ASTRA. A hundred years in the future the central literature would have to be be speculative fiction
(5) HOWDY. Literary Hub delivers a post “In Praise of Sci-Fi Legend Connie Willis’s Cinematic Universe” inspired by her new book Roswell.
…Centered on Francie, a young woman traveling to New Mexico to stop her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding, Roswell is a kind of self-learning punchline algorithm. A skeptic regarding all things flying saucer, Francie is of course abducted. From there on out, the novel’s escalation through repetition is unceasing. The way Monument Valley has been mislocated in old western films, the way playing solitaire invites unsolicited advice, the way language empties itself semiotically if explained for too many hours to a cute, terrifying little alien: all turn the plot forward like fine teeth in a gearbox.
Francie eventually helps her captor, a pretty decent non-humanoid fellow, learn English thanks to the aforementioned western films. “I AINT NEVER GULLED A PARDNER,” the alien initially repeats without understanding; astute readers will hear another turn of the machine. The idea of “PARDNERS” becomes vital not only for surviving Las Vegas hotels and an Elvis-themed wedding, but essential to Francie saving her friends and at least one planet….
(6) ABOUT GOLIATH. Abigail Nussbaum is one of the participants in a “Roundtable on Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi at Strange Horizons” which she discusses at Lawyers, Guns and Money:
I mentioned Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath in my Hugo ballot post, and reviewed it on my blog. But the further I get away from it, the more convinced I become that this is one of the major science fiction novels of 2022, and that neither I nor the fandom as a whole have done enough to promote or discuss it. I was therefore thrilled when Strange Horizons reviews editor Dan Hartland proposed a roundtable discussion of the novel. Along with A.S. Lewis, Archita Mittra, and Jonah Sutton-Morse, it was a thrill to go deep into this remarkable, challenging book….
… Jonah Sutton-Morse: Thanks for gathering us—I’m really looking forward to this.
I have, I think, an answer to what the book is “about,” and moreso to “where did your focus wind up landing,” but I’m not sure they’re particularly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to reading other answers to this.
My focus in Goliath wound up landing on the moments and edges outside the stories that the book tells. There’s a way that Goliath is straightforwardly a story about ecological collapse, capitalism scavenging on leftover fragments, and the destructive impulses of gentrification and racism that we can see in national US news stories every day. But it struck me that, while the book was aware of that story, and expected the reader to be able to follow it (and this is a book that I found hard to follow), my focus kept falling on the pieces outside that story. The impulse to scavenge the remnants of a city is less interesting than the people who do the basic manual work of hammering the bricks. The people who leave ecological collapse are less interesting than those who remain—and even among those who left, the most interesting are those at the margins who eventually return. The mechanics of living in climate collapse, and enduring the policing that comes with the intrusion of wealth, are acknowledged but less interesting than an adventure collecting wild horses, or a group of people playing Spades and talking trash.
I don’t really like saying that this novel is “about” the lives and details around the edge of the destructive forces that regularly lead my national headlines (and I realize that the “Winter” section that Dan puts at the heart of the book at least partly complicates my reading), but it is those lives and details that my focus landed on….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
The author of tonight’s Beginning, Saladin Ahmed is an Eisner Award-winning comic book writer for the debut of the Black Bolt series. He also wrote the Miles Morales: Spider-Man series. He is currently writing Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Exiles. Finally in this vein, I want to note his work on The Magnificent Ms. Marvel series.
His only novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, where our Beginning is from, was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 7. Dublin 2019 saw him pick up a Best Graphic Story nomination for Abbot.
He’s written but a double handful of short fiction sff stories, six of which are collected in Engraved on the Eye: Short Fantasy & Science Fiction.
And now his Beginning…
Beneficent God, I beg you, let this be the day I die!
The guardsman’s spine and neck were warped and bent but still he lived.
He’d been locked in the red lacquered box for nine days.
He’d seen the days’ light come and go through the lid-crack. Nine days. He held them close as a handful of dinars. Counted them over and over. Nine days. Nine days. Nine days. If he could remember this until he died he could keep his soul whole for God’s sheltering embrace.
He had given up on remembering his name.
The guardsman heard soft footsteps approach, and he began to cry. Every day for nine days the gaunt, black-bearded man in the dirty white kaftan had appeared. Every day he cut the guardsman, or burned him. But worst was when the guardsman was made to taste the others’ pain.
The gaunt man had flayed a young marsh girl, pinning the guardsman’s eyes open so he had to see the girl’s skin curl out under the knife. He’d burned a Badawi boy alive and held back the guardsman’s head so the choking smoke would enter his nostrils. The guardsman had been forced to watch the broken and burned bodies being ripped apart as the gaunt man’s ghuls fed on heart-flesh. He’d watched as the gaunt man’s servant-creature, that thing made of shadows and jackal skin, had sucked something shimmering from those freshly dead corpses, leaving them with their hearts torn out and their empty eyes glowing red.
These things had almost shaken the guardsman’s mind loose. Almost. But he would remember. Nine days. Nine…. All-Merciful God, take me from this world!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 19, 1915 — Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as Bradbury, Bester, Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which included some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
- Born June 19, 1921 — Louis Jourdan. Fear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two TV horror films in the late Sixties, appear to be his first venture into our realm. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later. And then came the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. Definitely popcorn films. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (Died 2015.)
- Born June 19, 1926 — Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known for his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd. : Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available in digital format. (Died 2005.)
- Born June 19, 1947 — Salman Rushdie, 78. Everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (Let the arguments begin on that statement.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Grimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
- Born June 19, 1952 — Virginia Hey, 71. Best known for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fabulous Farscape, series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film.
- Born June 19, 1954 — Kathleen Turner, 69. One of her earliest roles was in The Man with Two Brains as Dolores Benedict. Somewhat of a Fifties retro feel with that title. Of course, she voiced sultry Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of my favorite all time films. I still haven’t seen all of the Roger Rabbit short films that were done. She voiced Constance in Monster House a few years later, and was in Cinderella, a television film where she was the lead of the Wicked Stepmother Claudette.
- Born June 19, 1957 — Jean Rabe, 66. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Rogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok, I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written according to ISFDB five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer.
- Born June 19, 1978 — Zoe Saldana, 45. She was born with the lovely birth name of Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario. First genre role was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She’s Nyota Uhura in the new Trek series and she’s also Neytiri in the Avatar franchise. She portrays Gamora in the MCU, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy, a truly great film. I’ll confess that I’ve not yet seen the other Guardians of the Galaxy films. Should I?
(9) THEY’RE NOT LOSING AN X-MAN, THEY’RE GAINING AN AVENGER. This September, Tony Stark and Emma Frost tie the knot in the X-Men #26 and Invincible Iron Man #10 crossover event.
Today IGN exclusively revealed the upcoming connecting covers for X-MEN #26 and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10, which feature the long awaited wedding between Emma Frost and Tony Stark. Debuting in September, both issues are written by Gerry Duggan with art by Stefano Caselli (X-MEN #26), Juan Frigeri (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10), and stunning covers by Lucas Werneck.
First, in X-MEN #26, the moment we swore would never happen—heck, the moment EMMA FROST swore would never happen—is here at last! As the Frost/Stark knot is tied, Emma’s mutant family reacts to this surprise news! Then, readers are cordially invited to the wedding of Anthony Edward Stark and Emma Grace Frost in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10. Come join the lucky couple as they exchange vows. Attire is Hellfire formal. Orchis raid to follow. Plus some exclusive wedding extras!
(10) ROMITA JR. Q&A. “’The greatest man I’ve met’: iconic comics artist John Romita Sr. remembered by his son” at the Gothamist.
To many of our listeners, your dad was an artist who created and designed characters at both Marvel and DC. He’s best known for drawing Spider-Man in the ’60s and ’70s. He had a hand in creating Wolverine, the Punisher and Luke Cage, among others. But who was he to you?
He’s the guy who taught me how to hit a curve ball, and that was almost as [important] to me as learning how to draw Spider-Man’s eyes properly. It was so much more than just the art. I was talking to my brother about the fact that when it rained on the weekends in the summertime, we would watch old movies together and he would tell us what was about to happen. And the scenes in “On the Waterfront” have stuck with me forever since. That’s the part I remember, is how much time he spent with us.
And then he taught us so many things. It was more than just the art mentor to me – and yet he never forced anything on me, as far as art went. He told me, “I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You come to me and ask me a question. If you do something wrong, I’ll proactively act that way.” So the man just did everything right with my brother and me. It was fantastic.
Like I said, as much as he helped with my art-world life, he was that way with all aspects of our lives. He was a brilliant man….
(11) IN ANOTHER FATHER’S DAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here’s an interesting video about the cargo vessel MS München, which vanished in December 1978 and is believed to have been sunk by a rogue wave: I remember this case very well, though I was only five when it happened. But my Dad worked for Hapag Lloyd, the shipping company which owned the München, at the time and so the search for the missing vessel was a big topic in our home. I’m not sure if my Dad helped to design the München — he was a naval architect for Hapag Lloyd — but he definitely knew some of those who were lost and attended the memorial service for the crew and passengers.The loss of the München also overshadowed the launch celebration for the new Hapag Lloyd cruise liner MS Europa only 8 days after the München vanished. My Mom and many other women opted to wear black evening gowns for the launch banquet.
(12) COMING ATTRACTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I had only just alerted Filers as to Matt O’Dowd’s safe distance from a supernova (see (16) in the June 15 Scroll) in his PBS Space-Time video when new research indicates that the Red Giant Betelgeuse is in the late stage of core carbon burning, and a good candidate for the next Galactic supernova. It had been thought it might be many centuries away but it could be as close as a few decades. Fortunately Betelgeuse is hundreds of light years away. Nonetheless it should be visible in the day time and maybe some Filers who are on the young side might just witness it. In fact it may have already exploded just that the light has not reached us…! (See the pre-print Saio, H. et al (2023) “The evolutionary stage of Betelgeuse inferred from its pulsation periods”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.)
(13) DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE. The Smithsonian Magazine says “Cats May Have Been Domesticated Twice”. You know, given the independent nature of cats that just sounds so likely. However, the headline meant something different than what I first assumed.
Whether they were being worshipped as gods or transformed into memes, the relationship between cats and humans goes back a long ways. There are more than 500 million domestic house cats around the world, all of which are descended from a single subspecies of wildcat. But according to new research, there might have been a second, more recent (and unrelated) instance of cats becoming domesticated in China.
Most archaeologists believe that cats probably domesticated themselves more than 10,000 years ago when the fluffy little murderbeasts realized they could get an easy meal by staking out Neolithic storerooms and farms for the rats and mice that were attracted to human settlements. More cats meant fewer rodents, which meant more crops for the hard-working humans. Over time, our ancestors started taking care of the felines, leading to the modern house cat, Grennan Milliken writes for Popular Science.
But this story of a second line began a few years ago, when researchers uncovered several cat bones near Quanhucun, an early farming village in central China. The bones were about 5,300 years old and analysis of their chemistry showed these felines likely survived on a diet of grain-fed rodents, suggesting they at least hunted for dinner near the town’s millet stores.
The scientists found a few indications of domestication, according to the study recently published the journal PLOS One. First, based on the wear of its teeth, the remains of one of the cats seemed much older than the others, perhaps suggesting that someone took care of the cat as it got older, writes David Grimm for Science. These cats also were all slightly smaller than their wild counterparts, and one was even buried as a complete skeleton.
“That’s evidence of special treatment,” study author Jean-Denis Vigne tells Grimm. “Even if what we’re seeing here is not full domestication, it’s an intensification of the relationship between cats and humans.”
Further analysis showed that these cats did not descend from the same subspecies as the modern house cat, but actually belonged to a species known as “leopard cats,” Grimm reports. This means that the leopard cat lineage is genetically distinct from our modern fuzz balls….
(14) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Apparently this “New England theater one of just 30 in the world to see this Hollywood blockbuster as intended”.
…When Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ hits theaters in July, the Providence Place Cinemas 16 in Rhode Island will present the $100 million epic in IMAX 70mm film, one of just 30 movie theaters in the world to do so.
Without getting too technical, 70mm is regarded as the best possible projection for films. Frames are more than three times larger than a typical celluloid, allowing for a much richer and fuller picture than is typically found in modern theaters….
…In addition to the upscale picture, portions of ‘Oppenheimer’ were filmed in black and white, meaning Nolan had to practically invent a new format of film.
The film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who oversaw the development of first atomic bomb during World War II, drops on July 21. The pristine film formats will be especially pivotal in viewing the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon.
“We knew that this had to be the showstopper. We’re able to do things with picture now that before we were really only able to do with sound in terms of an oversize impact for the audience, an almost physical sense of response to the film,” said Nolan in a recent interview.
(15) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff has just made three mini-documentaries on science fiction. There is nothing really new here for the seasoned SF fan but some of these were shot on location. The first video looks at SF’s origins and includes a trip to Mary Shelly’s grave and Woking’s Martian tripod.
The second video examines SF’s Golden Era with the rise of the classic pulp magazines and the big three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – before moving on to Wyndham.
He ends with the interest in dystopias, autocratic dictatorships and mutually assured destruction. Could Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 dumbed-down world ever come about? In part, shot on location at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and an English village that could be Midwich… The final video ponders on SF’s present-day state. There was the rise of the new wave with Moorcock and then in the US with Ellison. And we also got Dick and cyberpunk before cyberpunk, and Gibson. Could we be about to embark on the most exciting period of science fiction?
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]