(1) DRAGON PRESERVATION SOCIETY? A Twitter user with 90K followers who goes by the handle Aristophanes claims to be incensed that works like John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society become Dragon Award finalists. As a remedy he is calling for people to band together and nominate all the works on his ticket. Can the Dragon Awards be saved? How would we know if they aren’t? Thread starts here.
The Dragon Award’s policy is to encourage people to campaign for fan support. Always has been. So this appeal violates no rule, written or otherwise. My only question about his list is — can it really be a Dragon Awards slate without a book by Declan Finn on it? This will be the first one without him I’ve ever seen!!
(2) FOUNDATION. Apple TV+ has released a second trailer for “Foundation — Season 2”.
More than a century after the Season 1 finale, tension mounts throughout the galaxy. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with special abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. Meanwhile, the Foundation and Empire are on a collision course for war with the fate of humanity in the balance.
(3) HOW MANY NAMES? Best Semiprozine finalist Strange Horizons tells how this year’s Hugo Administrator clawed back the progress SH had made in getting their full team listed. (They weren’t the only ones affected by the policy change, of course.) Thread starts here.
(4) JMS AT SDCC. “Babylon 5 Cast Set for San Diego Comic-Con 2023” reports the SDCC Unofficial Blog.
…While writer and series creator J. Michael Straczynski has been teasing for months that he will be at the convention with lots to talk about the new animated film, Babylon 5: The Road Home, we’ve got our first look at just what that appearance will likely entail.
The upcoming animated film continues the story of the 1990’s space opera series, as John Sheridan unexpectedly finds himself transported through multiple timelines and alternate realities in a quest to find his way back home. Most of the cast is returning for the film, including Bruce Boxleitner as John Sheridan, Claudia Christian as Susan Ivanova, Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari, Bill Mumy as Lennier, Tracy Scoggins as Elizabeth Lochley and Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander.
Patricia Tallman revealed on Instagram that she will indeed be at the convention — and so will most of her castmates.
Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Tracy Scoggins, and Patricia Tallman will be signing in the Sails Pavilion on Saturday, July 22 from 11am-12pm, which certainly ups the odds of a panel with cast in appearance.
Patricia Tallman will also be signing on her own from 2:30pm-7pm on both Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, and fans can pre-order her Pleasure Thresholds, a Babylon 5 Memoir, for $30 (or $40 if you purchase at the con). Copies can be autographed and personalized….
(5) IO9 COLLIDES WITH THE UNPLEASANT FUTURE. “‘F*cking Dogsh*t’: G/O Media Editor Tears Into Management Over ‘Embarrassing’ AI-Generated Article ‘Riddled With Basic Errors’” at Mediate.
James Whitbrook, the deputy editor of G/O Media’s Gizmodo and its subsection io9, tore into management on Wednesday after the company published a “shoddily written” AI-generated article “riddled with basic errors.”
After it was revealed last week that G/O Media would begin rolling out articles generated by artificial intelligence, GMG Union — which represents many of the news outlets under G/O Media’s banner, including Gizmodo — protested the introduction of “computer-generated garbage” which “erodes trust in us as journalists, damages our brands, and threatens our jobs.”
Despite the protests of the union, however, G/O Media moved forward with its controversial decision this week.
“A Chronological List of Star Wars Movies & TV Shows” by “Gizmodo Bot” appeared on G/O Media’s tech and science news website on Wednesday, only to be swiftly ridiculed by social media users for messing up the chronological order of the franchise.
In a Twitter post, the deputy editor of the site revealed he had only been “informed approximately 10 minutes” before the article went live and that “no one at io9 played a part in its editing or publication.” In his own “personal comment,” Whitbrook added, “It’s fucking dogshit.”
Whitbrook also published the letter he sent to the management of G/O Media, which read:
“For 15 years, io9 has grown an audience that demands quality coverage of genre entertainment, from critical analysis, to insightful explainers, to accurate news and industry-shaping investigative reporting. These readers have grown io9 into one of the best performing desks at Gizmodo, G/O Media’s flagship site in terms of traffic, and they have done so by rigorously holding this team and the colleagues that came before us to a standard of expertise and accuracy that we have been proud to achieve. The article published on io9 today rejects the very standards this team holds itself to on a daily basis as critics and as reporters. It is shoddily written, it is riddled with basic errors; in closing the comments section off, it denies our readers, the lifeblood of this network, the chance to publicly hold us accountable, and to call this work exactly what it is: embarrassing, unpublishable, disrespectful of both the audience and the people who work here, and a blow to our authority and integrity. It is shameful that this work has been put to our audience and to our peers in the industry as a window to G/O’s future, and it is shameful that we as a team have had to spend an egregious amount of time away from our actual work to make it clear to you the unacceptable errors made in publishing this piece.”
(6) BURP! The Guardian, meanwhile, is there when “Authors file a lawsuit against OpenAI for unlawfully ‘ingesting’ their books”. One of them is Paul Tremblay.
Two authors have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, claiming that the organisation breached copyright law by “training” its model on novels without the permission of authors.
Mona Awad, whose books include Bunny and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, and Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World, filed the class action complaint to a San Francisco federal court last week.
ChatGPT allows users to ask questions and type commands into a chatbot and responds with text that resembles human language patterns. The model underlying ChatGPT is trained with data that is publicly available on the internet.
Yet, Awad and Tremblay believe their books, which are copyrighted, were unlawfully “ingested” and “used to train” ChatGPT because the chatbot generated “very accurate summaries” of the novels, according to the complaint. Sample summaries are included in the lawsuit as exhibits….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2010 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Catherynne M. Valente’s an amazing individual. I’m proud to say that I’ve had coffee with her as she lives here in this city. And her writing is just as stellar as she is.
No Hugos so far but she has won Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards for The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden (both Awards) and The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice (Mythopoeic). She also has won an Andre Norton Award.
Her other great series is the Fairyland series centered around twelve year-old September. And that’s all I’m saying about this delightful affair. Our Beginning is from the debut novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
It was first published online on her site but she’s taken that down. The first print edition was by Feiwel and Friends thirteen years ago. It was an independent publisher that has since been acquired by Macmillan.
So here’s our Beginning…
EXEUNT ON A LEOPARD In Which a Girl Named September Is Spirited Off by Means of a Leopard, Learns the Rules of Fairyland, and Solves a Puzzle
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver’s cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold above the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.
“You seem an ill-tempered and irascible enough child,” said the Green Wind.
“How would you like to come away with me and ride upon the Leopard of Little Breezes and be delivered to the great sea, which borders Fairyland? I am afraid I cannot go in, as Harsh Airs are not allowed, but I should be happy to deposit you upon the Perverse and Perilous Sea.
“Oh, yes!” breathed September, who disapproved deeply of pink-and-yellow teacups and also of small and amiable dogs.
“Well, then, come and sit by me, and do not pull too harshly on my Leopard’s fur, as she bites.”
September climbed out of her kitchen window, leaving a sink full of soapy pink-and-yellow teacups with leaves still clinging to their bottoms in portentous shapes. One of them looked a bit like her father in his long coffee-colored trench coat, gone away over the sea with a rifle and gleaming things on his hat. One of them looked a bit like her mother, bending over a stubborn airplane engine in her work overalls, her arm muscles bulging. One of them looked a bit like a squashed cabbage. The Green Wind held out his hand, snug in a green glove, and September took both his hands and a very deep breath. One of her shoes came loose as she hoisted herself over the sill, and this will be important later, so let us take a moment to bid farewell to her prim little mary jane with its brass buckle as it clatters onto the parquet floor. Good-bye, shoe! September will miss you soon.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 78. Robin in that Batman series. He would reprise the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes, and two recent animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. (Has anyone seen these?) The latter are the last work done by Adam West before his death.
- Born July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 77. Although I think Stallone made a far less than perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot on for the film which was something the second film, which had a perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect.
- Born July 6, 1950 — John Byrne, 73. A stellar comic book artist and writer. He’s done far too much to detail here so I’ll just single out that he scripted the first four issues of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, was the writer and artist on the excellent Blood of the Demon from 1-17 and responsible for Spider-Man: Chapter One which took a great deal of flak.
- Born July 6, 1951 — Rick Sternbach, 72. Best-known for his work in the Trek verse starting with ST: TMP where he designed control panel layouts and signage for the Enterprise. He’s next hired for Next Gen where communicator badge, phasers, PADDs and tricorders are all based on his designs. These designs will also be used on DS9 and Voyager. He also pretty much designed every starship during that time from the Cardassian and Klingon to the Voyager itself. He would win the Best Professional Artist Hugo at SunCon and IguanaCon II.
- Born July 6, 1951 — Geoffrey Rush, 72. First genre role is like the Mystery Men series which I’ll bet everyone has forgotten, followed by House on Haunted Hill, Finding Nemo and some other genre work as well with his major genre role being as Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. And I’ll include his role in Shakespeare in Love as Philip Henslowe even if strictly speaking it’s not genre related as I really, really love that film.
- Born July 6, 1952 — Hilary Mantel. Though best remembered as the author of the Wolf Hall franchise, she’s actually written some genre fiction. The Mysterious Stranger involves supernatural occurrences in a small British town in the Fifties; and Beyond Black is about a psychic who sees more than she wants to. She also indulged in alternative history in the short story, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983”. (Died 2022.)
- Born July 6, 1980 — Eva Green, 43. First crosses our paths in Casino Royale as Vesper Lynd followed by Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass, and then Angelique Bouchard Collins in Dark Shadows. Ava Lord in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (weird films those definitely are) with a decided move sideways into being Miss Alma Peregrine for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And she was Colette Marchant in Dumbo. She’s got two series roles to her credit, Morgan Pendragon in Camelot and Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful.
(9) TITAN COMICS GOODIES AT SDCC. The Titan Booth #5537 at San Diego Comic-Con 2023 will be the place to get some limited availability merchandise. Some of it looks pretty cute, like these pins.
- Doctor Who: Thirteen Piece TARDIS Enamel Pin Collection
Titan Booth #5537 at SDCC 2023 is the only opportunity for US Doctor Who fans to buy this EXCLUSIVE Thirteen Piece TARDIS Enamel Pin Collection. Please note: this beautiful, one-of-a-kind TARDIS collection will be available from Titan Booth #5537 from Preview Night (Wednesday July 19th). Numbers are EXTREMELY LIMITED. First come, first served.
And there will be some collectible figures available, too.
- Doctor Who: Fourteenth Doctor 3″ Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
- Doctor Who: Fourteenth Doctor 3″ Classic TITAN Vinyl Figure
David Tennant’s upcoming Fourteenth Doctor arrives in San Diego as a pair of separately-packaged, separately-available EXCLUSIVE 3” TITANS Vinyl Figures. Both releases (3” Kawaii Fourteenth Doctor and 3” Classic Fourteenth Doctor) are available from Titan Booth #5537.
- My Hero Academia: Dabi 3″ Glow-In-The-Dark Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
- My Hero Academia: Shigaraki 3″ Glow-In-The-Dark Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
My Hero Academia TITANS Viny Figures return to Titan Booth #5537 as a pair of separately-packaged, separately-available San Diego EXCLUSIVE 3” Kawaii TITANS Vinyl Figures. Both releases (Dabi and Shigaraki) feature Glow-In-The-Dark effects and are available from Titan Booth #5537.
(10) CARVING UP THE STREAMING MARKET. JustWatch has shared their graphs about the market shares of streaming services for the second quarter in 2023.
SVOD market shares in Q2 2023
Prime Video continues to hold down the streaming crown in the US with a 1% lead over global giant, Netflix. Major players: Max and Disney+ also face similar challenges with a 2% gap separating the two.
Market share development in 2023
Newly rebranded streaming giant: Max (formerly HBO Max) displays positive development, gaining +1%; Paramount+ also won with a +1% increase in shares. On the other hand, Disney+ and Hulu drop in shares, suffering -1% losses each.
(11) SURF’S UP. Nature reports “Monster gravitational waves spotted for first time”. “Using beacon stars called pulsars, a decades-long effort has found space-time ripples that are light years wide.”
Gravitational waves are back, and they’re bigger than ever.
After the historic first detection of the space-time rattles in 2015 using ground-based detectors, researchers could have now rediscovered Albert Einstein’s waves with an entirely different technique. The approach tracks changes in the distances between Earth and beacon stars in its Galactic neighbourhood called pulsars, which reveal how the space in between is stretched and squeezed by the passage of gravitational waves.
Whereas the original discovery spotted waves originating from the collision and merger of two star-sized black holes, the most likely source of the latest finding is the combined signal from many pairs of much larger black holes — millions or even billions of times the mass of the Sun — slowly orbiting each other in the hearts of distant galaxies. These waves are thousands of times stronger and longer than those found in 2015, with wavelengths of up to tens of light years. By contrast, the ripples detected since 2015 using a technique called interferometry are just tens or hundreds of kilometres long.
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George shows the many advantages that would come our way “If We Stopped Using Numbers”
[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 Jim Janney.]