(1) CLARION WEST WORKSHOP FACULTY. Earlier this month Clarion West announced their 2024 Six-Week Summer Workshop Instructors:
- Week 1 – Usman T. Malik
- Week 2 – Brenda Peynado
- Week 3 – Cadwell Turnbull
- Week 4 – Sarah Pinsker
- Week 5 – Ruoxi Chen
- Week 6 – Carmen María Machado
The Clarion West 2024 Six-Week Summer Workshop will take place from June 16 – July 27, 2024. Applications for the 2024 Six-Week Workshop are planned to open in early December 2023. As of right now, Clarion West has tentatively booked a new location, fully ADA accessible, in Seattle to host the workshop in person.
(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. From September 2-6 we’ll jump in the Worldcon Wayback Machine and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ConFrancisco Worldcon of 1993. There will be a series of posts drawing on my conreport for File 770, Evelyn C. Leeper’s report for MT Void, and the reports of party mavens Scott Bobo and Kurt Baty.
(3) GLASGOW 2024 BURSARY FUND. Next year’s Worldcon just put out Progress Report #2 which includes news about their fund to assist people in attending and an appeal for donations.
(4) EDELMAN COLLECTIBLES ON BLOCK TO FUND PODCAST TECH PURCHASES. Scott Edelman needs to fund the purchase of new podcasting equipment for Eating the Fantastic, so he’s putting up for auction some of the memorabilia he’s collected over the years. Edelman has listed three items on eBay so far — autographed Babylon 5 trading cards, a Russian edition of A Game of Thrones signed by George R. R. Martin, and a promotional replica of Rick Grimes’ gun from The Walking Dead. More items will be added soon.
(5) TIMOTHY’S APPENDIX N. “How to play Dungeons and Dragons” at Camestros Felapton.
Our resident game expert Timothy the Talking Cat will take you through the basics of some of the world’s most popular games.
…One of my favourite games is Dungeons and Dragons. You can spend a lot of money on books about Dungeons and Dragons but the basic game is very simple. …
Timothy knows all the inside info, like what “DM” stands for.
… The DM can send you messages on your phone (aka “direct messages”, hence the name) for extra clues….
(6) HORROR AROUND THE GLOBE. Here are two more links to the Horror Writers Association’s month-long World of Horror series.
Is there a horror tradition in your country, in your culture? A taste for horror, a market? Not necessarily literature; perhaps oral tradition too.
In Italian culture there are many horror traditions, different for each region. They all came to life from superstitions and syncretism between Christianity and paganism, handed down for generations, especially in small towns. Many of them have oral and rural origins, in the form of stories told by the elderly, with a metaphorical meaning, or as warnings. Italian folklore is rich in this sense, having been a crossroads of peoples and traditions, including ghosts, demons, creatures, witches (many of them linked to the processes of the Inquisition), incarnations of nightmares and revenge, or demiurges of events such as earthquakes, famines, epidemics. Italian horror writers have a lot of material of this kind for their stories, to make known the peculiarities of our territories, with myths and legends capable of telling the dark imaginary of our country.
Do you make a conscious effort to include characters and settings from your country in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
All my writing is based in India, and I always ensure that characters and settings that portray my culture and socioeconomic situation form the baseline of my stories. My intention is to expose the audience to the horror while ensuring that they can actually imagine the setting and characters from their day-to-day lives.
(7) STAND BY FOR ISSUE 100 OF THE DARK. Sean Wallace, editor / publishers of The Dark, shared a peek at the cover of its hundredth issue, arriving soon.
(8) SOME TRILOGIES NEED A FOURTH BOOK. “’It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying’: how authors are being influenced by their fans” in the Guardian. SF author Marie Lu responds to fans’ dismay over ending her Legends trilogy by making it a quartet:
…“Six years after Champion, I wrote a fourth book, Rebel, a real conclusion to the story that I had once thought finished. I realised that I wasn’t ready to let it go yet, and that I needed to know that my characters were going to be all right. I don’t think I would have known that had it not been for my readers. There is something special, even sacred, about the link between the writer and the reader, and about how we learn from each other, collaborators in our own way on a shared story.”…
(9) TERROR INITIATIVE AIMED AT LIBRARIES. Book Riot reports “There Have Been Several Public Library Bomb Threats This Week”.
Stochastic terrorism continues this week, following the numerous bomb threats made in Chicago-area libraries over the past month. Last week’s book censorship news roundup included a look at six different libraries in the Chicago suburbs which received bomb threats, followed by two more bomb threats at an Oklahoma school district and a Davis, California, public library. Several of those libraries received not just one bomb threat, but several over the course of the week.
What used to make headline news, though, now hardly gets a blip on the radar.
This week, there have been numerous bomb threats called into public libraries across the country. These threats are, no doubt, connected to the right-wing rhetoric around libraries and librarians. The rise of stochastic terrorism is what emerges when a political movement chooses to label a group “groomers” or “indoctrinators,” and through these bomb threats, they create terror for library workers and users alike….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 31, 1914 — Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.)
- Born August 31, 1932 — Robert Adams. He’s best remembered for the Horseclans series which became his overall best-known works though he wrote other works such as the Castaways in Time series. While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
- Born August 31, 1949 — Richard Gere, 74. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours! And there’s Chicago which though not genre is absolutely stellar.
- Born August 31, 1958 — Julie Brown, 65. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s also been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink.
- Born August 31, 1969 — Jonathan LaPaglia, 54. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca.
- Born August 31, 1982 — G. Willow Wilson, 41. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the WorldCon 75 Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as should Alif the Unseen which remarkably some call cyberpunk. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite excellent as well. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon. She also got a nomination at Discon III for Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything. Am I missing anything I should be reading?
- Born August 31, 1992 — Holly Earl, 31. English actress who was Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Agnes in Humans. She also played the young Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf in the “Pete, Part One” as well as Lily Arwell in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.“ She was Céline in the “Musketeers Don’t Die Easily” episode of Musketeers, and played Hermia in the ‘18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream film.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- The Far Side. No, this is not that guy from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For all we know, this guy only did it once.
(12) TANA Q&A. “Sci-Fi Noir Detective Saga ‘eJunky’ Explores the Risks and Consequences of Relying on Technology – An Interview with Nicholas Tana” at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society website.
Where did you get the idea for eJunky?
Like many good stories, it started with a nightmare. I woke up sweating after dreaming that I had been abducted by aliens. They appeared like thin humans with extra large heads and big eyes, shadowy figures, in the distance—like moving trees creeping toward me from the dark corners of my bedroom.
As they came within a few feet, I could see that they were dressed in spandex one-piece outfits, midnight black, which later glowed various neon colors, a rainbow array.
There was a sense that I bore witness to their emotions changing, almost like those 1980s mood rings. It was not unlike seeing auras, I would imagine. Their visors and clothes kept changing colors according to their mood.
Soon I was forced to wear one of their visors, too. Immediately, I got the sense that this served a serious purpose of survival, a way of protecting us from each other, as if we needed to know how we were feeling in order to keep from killing each other. My fear quickly changed to calmness for a moment. Until I started to watch as they dissected my body. There was a flicker of fear, but it was swept away with complacency, too.
Then, I woke up.
(13) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 91 of the Octothorpe podcast is now up. Listen here! “O— O— O—“
John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty discuss the Clarke Award winner, the Hugo Voter Packet, and site selection at Chengdu, before getting really quite digressive about GUFF and some fairly outlandish fundraising ideas… Finally, we do picks, as Alison is building LEGO, John has played the Spiel des Jahres shortlist, and Liz has read arguably TOO MANY books.
(14) BALMS AWAY. ‘Scent of eternity’: scientists recreate balms used on ancient Egyptian mummy” and the Guardian takes a sniff.
…“Senetnay’s mummification balm stands out as one of the most intricate and complex balms from that era,” said Barbara Huber, the first author of the research from the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the team say Senetnay lived around 1450BC and was a wet nurse to Pharaoh Amenhotep II.
Senetnay’s canopic jars – vessels in which the deceased’s mummified organs were stored – were discovered in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1900 by Howard Carter, the British archeologist who would later become famous for his role in discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Huber and colleagues analysed six samples of residues of the mummification balms from inside two jars that that had once contained Senetnay’s lungs and liver, as indicated by hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The team found the balms contained a complex mix of ingredients, including fats and oils, beeswax, bitumen, resins from trees of the pine family, a substance called coumarin that has a vanilla-like scent, and benzoic acid, which can be found in many plant sources including cinnamon and cloves….
(15) IT’S A THEORY. “Our Human Ancestors Very Nearly Went Extinct 900,000 Years Ago, Genetics Suggest” – Smithsonian Magazine has the story.
… The study, published Thursday in Science, analyzed the genetic lineages of 3,154 modern humans to trace their characteristics backward in time and model the population patterns likeliest to have produced their existing genomes. Wangjie Hu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and colleagues suggest that between 813,000 and 930,000 years ago the population of ancient humans that would eventually give rise to our own species, Homo sapiens, experienced what geneticists call a “bottleneck.” For unknown reasons, perhaps difficult environmental conditions, their numbers plunged dramatically to a point where our lineage was within a whisper of total extinction. Based on the study’s estimates, some 98.7 percent of our human ancestors were wiped out.,,,
… Population fluctuations, even those hundreds of thousands of years ago, leave signatures that can be identified in modern humans’ genomic sequences. To analyze them, a team of researchers led by Chinese geneticists developed a new tool called FitCoal. The researchers used the tool on more than 3,000 living individuals from 10 African populations and 40 non-African populations. FitCoal computations traced the populations’ many genetic mutations and their probabilities of occurring backward in time to arrive at estimates of population sizes that existed at various moments in evolutionary history.,,,
…Amazingly, the study suggests that our ancestors managed to survive in precariously small numbers for an extremely long time—an estimated 120,000 years. But when conditions again became conducive to human habitation, whether through beneficial climate shifts or, as the authors theorize, technological advances like human control of fire, our ancestors bounced back swiftly. By around 813,000 years ago, all ten African populations in the study appear to have increased by a factor of 20 times.
The Natural History Museum’s Stringer notes that, like other methods of reconstructing past populations, FitCoal relies on some assumptions and simplifications of factors like mutation rates. Since the authors have made FitCoal available to scholars, he adds, its accuracy will be further tested, and researchers may use it to investigate populations through other genomes like those of Neanderthals and Denisovans….
(16) DEMAND IN UK FOR AI LEGISLATION. BBC News reports “Pass AI law soon or risk falling behind, MPs warn”.
…The report also highlights twelve “challenges” that the UK government must address, including:
- Bias: For example AI employment tools might associate women’s names with traditionally female roles
- Privacy: AI tools can be used to identify people in ways that are controversial. For example, police use of live facial recognition systems that scan faces and compare them to watchlists of suspects
- Employment: AI systems will replace some jobs and the economic impact of this will need to be addressed
The use of copyrighted material to train AI systems is also one of the challenges.
So-called generative AI systems can now create new works in the style of famous artists, actors and musicians.
But to pull off this feat AI is trained on huge amounts of copyrighted material. Many authors, actors, artists and musicians argue that AI should not be trained on their works without permission and compensation.
There are already steps to develop a voluntary agreement that would allow AI firms access to copyrighted works, while at the same time supporting artists, the report notes.
A planned exemption to copyright for AI firms was abandoned by the government in February….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. While covering all the other “Barbenheimer” inspired creativity this summer I may have overlooked Ryan George’s “Barbenheimer Pitch Meeting”. But it’s not too late!
Once in a while, the internet goes absolutely nuts for something seemingly random. Recently, the concept of a Barbenheimer double feature emerge, and what seemed like just an internet meme translated into actual, real-world, box office dollars. Take that, Morbius! Barbenheimer definitely raises some questions. Like how did this insane pairing of films come to be? What do these movies have in common? Why is every single word in Oppenheimer underscored with epic music? Why did Barbie keep driving its message home long after it was clear what it was trying to say? To answer all these questions, check out the pitch meeting that led to Barbenheimer!
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steven French, John Coxon, Jeffrey Smith, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who knows a smokin’ idea when he has one.]