(1) MUST-READ GRAPHIC NOVELS. The Guardian has a little list: “From Maus to Tamara Drewe: the 10 graphic novels everyone should read”.
The recent hoo-ha about the Man Booker prize’s longlisting of a graphic novel for the first time, the chilling, understated Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, may have piqued your interest in exploring this ever-expanding medium further, or perhaps for the first time. Not everyone has grown up reading comics and the demands of their various verbal and visual literacies can take some adjusting to, particularly if you’re used to the orderly typesetting of prose novels. It’s never too late, though, to try stretching your brain – both sides of it when it comes to graphic novels, where looking is as important as reading.
The roundup begins with —
This experience comes through in the wordless migration parable The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2006), which follows a man who has gone on ahead of his wife and children to seek work abroad and struggles to navigate his alien surroundings and their indecipherable language. Unable to make himself understood, he resorts to making simple drawings to communicate his need for a room. The reader shares his bafflement and gradually grasps with him how his strange new homeland works. Tan’s genius in children’s picture books blossoms in this extended tale for all ages, illustrated in almost photographic sepia images.
(2) PREDATOR’S FIRST BITE. ScreenRant gives the popular actor’s fans a reason to mourn: “The Predator Cuts Edward James Olmos’ Character Due to Shorter Runtime”.
As first reported by Slash Film, Olmos won’t be appearing in The Predator as previously planned. When asked about his role in the film Olmos commented, “I’m not in the show though. It was too long so my character, they had to take me out. They were like half an hour, 3/4 of an hour too long. So I understand why“. Olmos himself doesn’t seem to be terribly disappointed by the news, but fans of his previous work such as Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner certainly will be.
(3) CARTOON VERDICT. Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Final Space (Netflix)” is an interesting tour whether you’re likely to watch the series or not – and more likely not, based on his conclusions….
It’s basically a fun kids cartoon but with more violence and (generally mild) sexual references. With a small amount of effort, it could have been a really good kid’s cartoon instead of whatever it ended up being…
I wouldn’t want to recommend you watch it as for some readers it might result in them using their mobile device as a projectile aimed at the wall but it is sort of a better show than it deserves to be.
(4) PAPER CANCELLED. John Teehan notes that the SFWA Bulletin is abandoning its print edition.
End of an era. As production manager and occasional editor, I worked on 56 issues over 15 some odd years. The SFWA Bulletin is now going digital, and the current issue is the last print one I’ll be involved with. It was a great run—one of the best gigs ever. Had some ups and downs, certainly, but the experience overall was a great one in which I found myself growing each year. Many thanks to everyone who supported our work over the years.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 5, 1861 — The United States government issued its first income tax, encouraging more people to write fantasy.
- August 5, 2011 — Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a reboot that worked.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
- Born August 5, 1930 – Neil Armstrong
(7) CURIOSITY’S QUIET ANNIVERSARY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] You may have seen headlines about Curiosity singing (well, humming) Happy Birthday to itself in honor of it’s fifth birthday (as measured in Earth years since landing) last week. Well, nope. Florence Tan at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate explained to The Atlantic why this was a one-time occurrence (in 2013) rather than an annual event — “Why the Curiosity Rover Stopped Singing ‘Happy Birthday’”.
“The answer to your question will sound rather cold and unfeeling,” her email began.
“In a nutshell, there is no scientific gain from the rover playing music or singing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Mars,” Tan said. In the battle between song and science, science always wins.
Vibrating the sample-analysis unit (which is a normal part of Curiosity’s scientific endeavors) uses energy that could be put to use elsewhere and adds wear and tear to the SAM unit. Plus, of course, it takes someone to work the humming into an incredibly tight schedule:
“It’s not just, ‘Oh, I’m ready to send a command, just send an email to somebody,’” Tan said in a phone interview. The rover’s activities are scheduled down to the minute, and SAM requires power to operate. Curiosity runs on a nuclear battery that turns heat into electricity, and it will eventually die.
So, the uncaged rover no longer sings.
(8) VONARBURG BIRTHDAY. Steven H Silver lights up another cake at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Élisabeth Vonarburg’s ‘Cogito’”.
She has twice been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and once for the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award. Her greatest recognition came from the Canadian Casper/Aurora Awards, which she has won ten times. Vonarburg won the French language award in 1987 for her story “La Carte du Tendre” (“Readers of the Lost Art”). That same year, she received a second Aurora for her fannish contributions to Solaris. She won three additional short story Auroras for “Cogito” (1990), “Ici, des tigres” (1991), and “La Course de Kathryn” (2004) and five Auroras for Best book for Histoire de la Princesse et du Dragon (1991), Ailleurs et au Japon (1992), Chroniques de Pays des Mères (1993), Les Voyageurs malgré eux (1996), and Reine de Mémoire 4. La Princesse de Vengeance (2007). She won the Prix Rosny-Ainé and the Prix Boreal in 1982 for her novel Le Silence de la Cité. She also won the Boreal for Chroniques de Pays des Mères (1993), Les Rêves de la mer (1997), Reine de Mémoire 1. La Maisson d’oubli (2006) and Reine de Mémoire 4. La Princesse de Vengeance (2007). Prior to 1990, the Aurora Award was known as the Casper Award and in 2011, the Prix Aurora and Prix Boreal combined.
(9) EERIE. Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins has a birthday today, too – and is wondering how File 770’s commenting bug knew!
I can easily accept that some crazy glitch in your blogware puts a far-future date on my draft comment.
What’s spooky is that WHEN I WAS COMMENTING ABOUT CENTENNIALS AND BICENTENNIALS the date on my comment turned out to be 5 August 2854, 900 years after my own birth.
Pics, or it didn’t happen? I attach a screenshot.
(10) OUTREACH. The reading evangelists from Dublin 2019 will be out again next weekend at a local event: “Dublin Comic Con and Outreach”. Chair James Bacon outlines the history:
…No matter where we go, we try and focus on ensuring we have something for all ages of reader. We isolate books for children and younger readers, and keep them to one side; we know adults also love them, but we conserve them so every child can walk away with a book or comic.
This year in Dublin we have 4 large boxes of Childrens Comics, The Beano, Whizzer and Chips and Buster, and cartoon based Superhero comics as well as children’s books, and we will ensure kids get them.
It positively encourages the gentle transition of fascination with all that is super heroes or fun on the screen, to reading on the pages.
These projects have benefited hugely from established conventions who support their logistical activities and also from individuals and organisations who make generous donations of books, magazines and comics as well as their time and effort. Publishers and book stores also support the activities, and Half Price Books in the states have consistently been very good to SF Outreach.
This year, Dave Finn from Incognito Comics has again given two car loads of magazines, books, and comics to Outreach, knowing from seeing it in action at London Film and Comic Con, that the energy and enthusiasm to encourage reading is genuine and if as a by-product, people go to more cons, well isn’t that just fabulous.
Dublin Comic Con next weekend, and if you are in Dublin and want to check out anything to do with the Worldcon, please do call by and speak to us if you are going to Dublin Comic Con. (Check tickets availability, they do sell so well!)
(11) CHOCOLATE HUGO. Jerry Pournelle famously said, “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money,” however, at the 1984 Worldcon Larry Niven played off his collaborator’s pet phrase when he presented him with a solid chocolate rocket during the ceremony: “Jerry, this is the Hugo that will get you through times of no money better than….”
All that came back to mind when I saw Worldcon 76 will auction the version of a chocolate Hugo given at last year’s Hugo Loser’s Party in Helsinki.
Yes, these were awarded at the legendary Hugo Loser’s Party in Helsinki Finland at Worldcon 75. The frame is milk chocolate, the center is white chocolate. Together, they taste like victory.
We can’t guarantee they’re gluten free. They may have been made in a facility that works with nuts. If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, you can still buy and enjoy this, but don’t eat it. Just relax and bathe in the glamor of owning a Worldcon Hugo Award.
And keep cool, or it might melt.
The beneficiary of the Worldcon76 in San Jose Charity Auction is the Alzheimer’s Association.
(12) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. If that was too much chocolate, then for certain this is too much jam: “What If the Earth Was Made Out of Blueberries?” at Popular Mechanics,
In the heart of blueberry season, Billy-bodega, a user on Physics Stack Exchange, posed the question: “Supposing that the entire Earth was instantaneously replaced with an equal volume of closely packed, but uncompressed blueberries, what would happen from the perspective of a person on the surface?” the question got promptly deleted. But it didn’t stop Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, to seriously tackle the idea, explaining the development of this blueberry planet (and even publishing the comprehensive answer in a paper).
What you’d end up with, according to Sandberg, “is a world that has a steam atmosphere covering an ocean of jam on top of warm blueberry granita.” Here’s how the planet would form: you start with fat, thick-skinned blueberries (blueberry Earth would be much less dense than actual Earth, and gravity would be weaker). Since blueberries can’t withstand strong forces, gravity would turn them into mash, releasing air that previously separated them from their neighbors, shrinking the radius of the planet.
(13) NOVIK. Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, her take on Rumplestiltskin, is reviewed by Choire Sicha in the New York Times Book Review. “Rumpelstiltskin Redux”.
Here [the author] has gathered countless old tales and turned them into something new. The theft of summer, a burning demon who lives inside a prince, a witch’s hut in the woods, the secret power of names, the frozen winter road that winds its way through the depths of the forest—they’re all here.
(14) THUMB DOWN. At Locus Online, “An Awful Warning, in More Ways Than One: Gary Westfahl Reviews The Darkest Minds“.
If anyone is glancing at this review for advice on which films to see this weekend, my recommendation would be to avoid The Darkest Minds. For while it is competently executed and offers some superficial novelties, it is a film that most people have already seen several times, and since two similar franchises to be discussed have failed to generate expected sequels, it may be that many filmgoers are growing as tired of this film as I am.
The film is a generally faithful adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s novel The Darkest Minds (2012), yet another version of a common formula for success in the modern marketplace of young adult fiction: a future dystopia spawned by an improbable disaster that prods evil adults to torment and oppress its teenagers, despite the fact that – or even because – these amazingly talented and virtuous youth are the only ones who can save humanity from impending extinction. In this case, the improbable disaster is the sudden appearance of a disease called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration), which kills most young people and imbues the surviving youth with a variety of psychic powers: “greens,” superintelligence; “blues,” telekinesis; “yellows” (in the film, “golds”), control of electricity; “oranges,” the ability to control others’ minds; and “reds,” pyrokinesis. Naturally, the government responds by declaring martial law, rounding up all teenagers, and placing them in concentration camps to either be slaughtered or exploited as slave labor. Our heroine, Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg), conceals her feared orange powers, keeping her alive until she escapes from her camp with the help of Cate Connor (Mandy Moore), a member of an underground organization called the Children’s League which turns out to be similarly sinister. But Ruby runs away to join three other teenage fugitives, the blue Liam (Harris Dickinson), the gold Suzume, or Zu (Miya Cech), and the green Chubs (Skylan Brooks), and they proceed to have several adventures in the vicinity of Virginia (though the movie was filmed in Georgia).
(15) CLIMATE FIXES. Kim Stanley Robinson educates in “The King Of Climate Fiction Makes The Left’s Case For Geoengineering” at Huffington Post.
…Robinson’s New York 2140, published last year, lays out a vision of what climate catastrophe and a leftist uprising against the capitalist forces that caused it would look like. So HuffPost asked him to elaborate on what he sees as the future of geoengineering. The following was edited for length and clarity.
How do you define geoengineering and what are the forms it will most likely take?
I guess the definition would be something like “a deliberate planned attempt by human beings to mitigate the damages of climate change, of carbon dioxide and methane buildup in the atmosphere, and of ecological damage generally, by way of some action that is large-scale” — if not global in reach, then regional in ways that might have global repercussions.
I’ve been saying that “geoengineering” is a bad name because engineering implies we know what we’re doing more than we really do. Also, that we have more powers than we actually have. I’ve suggested we think of it as “geo-finessing” or “geo-tweaking” or even “geo-begging,” to better indicate our relative ignorance and weakness in the face of global geochemical processes. Lots of those processes we can’t do anything about, even if we really want to. So the name needs some unpacking.
The most likely forms it might take, I think, are the following: casting dust-like particles into the atmosphere to mimic a volcanic eruption, so that for a number of years after that, the global average temperatures would go down a bit. Drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by way of biological and/or mechanical means. Pumping seawater onto the ice cap of Eastern Antarctica. Stimulating growth of small life forms in the ocean that would then die and take their carbon to the seafloor ? this has been mentioned as a possibility, but it’s widely regarded as potentially dangerous for ocean ecologies. Still, it might be tested on small scales, even used on small scales, which would reduce its power to help but also its power to harm.
(16) RETRO TECH. How we know it’s the 21st century: “Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack”. Remember all those post-holocaust stories of reviving old tech? (But is anybody still making ribbons?)
Government workers in a borough of Alaska have turned to typewriters to do their jobs, after ransomware infected their computer systems.
A spokeswoman for Matanuska-Susitna said the malware had encrypted its email server, internal systems and disaster recovery servers.
She said staff had “resourcefully” dusted off typewriters and were writing receipts by hand.
The borough is in the process of rebuilding its systems.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lisa Goldstein.]
If a rover sings on Mars and no one hears it, has it really made a sound?
3- As far as SFF Netflix things go, Extinction is a pretty good SFF movie with some fairly mediocre special effects.
(13) excellent review, in both senses.
1) I can attest to the brilliance of ‘The Arrival’. And the rest of Shaun Tan’s work too. ‘The Lost Thing’ won an Academy Award a few years back.
Currently marooned in the City of Baldes with Turyin Mulagesh, but falling asleep before being able to progress too much. Baltic states proving too much of a distraction.
We, in that man Glyer’s Employ, Scroll in a Pixellated File.
(I missed the email form the cabal. Did I get it right?)
I saw a trailer for The Darkest Minds and thought that it was The New Mutants which also apparently has a film due.
We watched this last night and enjoyed it. Helps that it has a decent cast.
(9) Doesn’t that “several months past” (see screenshot) mean that August 5 is not Bill’s birthday, in this or any other year?
@bookworm1398: let me answer your question with another question.
If a filer filks on Mars and Mike isn’t there to scroll it, have they really filked?
(7) CURIOSITY’S QUIET ANNIVERSARY
This is a weird take on “Should a robot sing happy birthday in space.”
I mean: there’s nothing “cold and unfeeling” about saying “We did that once and it was beautiful, but we also have so much incredible research and exploration to do, and every iota of energy that Curiousity expends is tremendously valuable.” That’s not cold. That’s awesome.
But no, I guess what The Atlantic wants out of NASA is “Happy Birthday” on Mars. Again and again and again. :-/
(7) Birthday’s A Rover.
On Mars Have We Got A Rover
1) No thanks to a mildly condescending recommendation. Some folk might really find graphic novels (as distinct from, say, comic strips or New Yorker cartoons or Mad magazine) less compelling than print fiction (or film or theatre or sitting and staring out a window at a bird feeder). Let them as likes ’em, read ’em. And stop telling me that I’d really like cantaloupe (or liver or sushi or kale) if I’d only give it a chance. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it. (Actually, I quite like spinach. Also field greens. Give ’em a chance–I’m sure you’ll really like ’em.)
14)….Well, that was a pointlessly lengthy diatribe about the horrors of YA science fiction. Please, tell us how you really feel.
Title credit! (Gets up and does victory dance. Dog wakes up, looks over, and goes back to sleep.)
The Jo Walton book AN INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE HUGOS is due to be released tomorrow. I ordered it after reading about it here, about two years ago.
I’ve been a Mars rover for many’s the year
And I spent all my power on science I fear,
But now I’ve been roving for 5 earth years o’er
and they won’t let me hum Happy Birthday no more.
And it’s no, nay, never.
No nay never no more
Will I hum Happy Birthday
No never no more.
Then my wheel hit a rock, oh, Lord what a shock
And nearly tumbled over
Turned nine times around then Opportunity drowned*
I’m the last of the Martian rovers
* Work of fiction. Nothing can stop Opportunity. Nothing. Not even the recently discovered Martian lakes.
@Jack Lint: Ob XKCD
Niall McAuley, Jack Lint, applause!
Niall McAuley, Jack Lint, when I raise a Guinness or two later this afternoon, it’ll be in your honor.
(1) I’m moderately well-read in comic books and graphic novels, but I’ve only read three of the suggested books.
THE ARRIVAL is amazing and well worth getting – I checked it out from the library and immediately bought a copy after reading it. I force it on guests who stay for more than a day, and every one of them has liked it as well.
MAUS is just one of those books that you’ve read if you want to understand the power and range of comic book form. The subject matter is painful, even with the distancing using animals as fill-ins for humans. Also well worth reading.
PERSEPOLIS is a very good look into a life I wouldn’t have thought of looking at. The form makes her easy to follow and relate to, and again, I think the first volume is very much worth finding and reading. I felt the second volume was a bit of a let-down, but I never was able to put my finger on why.
So, considering that the three I’ve read I’ve enjoyed (and are, in fact, high I my own list of recommendations) I suppose I ought to go seek out the others. I wonder if the library has them…
(9) The keen-eyed Rev. Bob is correct: my birthday, one I am proud to share with such prominent fen as Seth Breidbart and Paula Lieberman, falls on 12 January, not 5 August. Sorry if I conveyed an incorrect impression.
Nevertheless, 2854 is the year my triplets Seth and Paula and I will turn 900, so, in the context of discussing centennials of Theodore Sturgeon and others, I thought that nonacentennial worth noting.
(By the way, today’s draft-comment apparatus indicates that it is “August 6, 6532,” so File 770‘s software seems to be speeding up. Tempus fugit!)
‘This skull is five million years old!’
‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…’
“looking is as important as reading.”
I was an adult before I figured that out. It took Sandman, with art that was actually worth looking at even if there hadn’t been a story around it, for me to realize that a big chunk of the story was not made out of text. I was reading before I can remember, so grade school comic and picture books just seemed like a total waste of time.
Binti fans might like to see the picture of a Himba lady with fantastic hair and Otjize in one of the BBC’s recent photo roundups.
Meredith, great link. I always enjoy the BBC’s picture roundups,and that particular photo did help fill in visual background for the story. I didn’t understand or remember from the story about it being a protection from the sun, but that makes a lot of sense.
I managed to finish reading most Hugo fiction categories just in time for last week’s voting deadline, except for Novelettes.
Reading Binti: Home left me with an irrepressible urge to substitute the word otjize into various pieces of fiction:
“The sky above the port was the color of otjize”
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the otjize began to take hold.”
“I have no otjize, and I must scream”
@Jamoche: I too don’t remember learning to read (my parents tell me that I was reading before I was fully talking) but I’ve been reading comic books for as long as I’ve been reading anything else. (I have a distinct memory of picking up a comic off of an airport newsstand, whose cover date was before I turned 3 years old. I suspect from other evidence that I bought it well past the actual cover date, but I still can’t yet have been 4.)
(I had that comic for almost 30 years, until I lost it in a fire.)
What does that prove? Well, I don’t know.
I’ve only read four, myself. But Paul Gravett usually knows his stuff.
And one of the ones I’ve read that you haven’t — TAMARA DREWE — is, to my mind, a masterpiece. It plays with both visual and narrative approach without ever sacrificing readability — possibly because the author, Posy Simmonds, is a longtime newspaper comics creator, reaching a mass audience rather than an enthusiast audience, and clarity is crucial for the kind of comics she’s done.
I’ve also read THE WALKING MAN, which was a wonderful visual experience, but much as I can appreciate it on a craft level, I’m more drawn to comics that use text and art in combination.
Yeah, I feel similarly. But then, my TBR bookshelves are packed with graphic novels I haven’t gotten to yet…
Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on August 6, 2018 at 1:45 pm said:
One of them (the one listed as “The Walking Man”) is available here.
@David Goldfarb – Probably also some correlation between visual and non-visual thinkers. I was also an adult before I figured out that “picture it” was more than a figure of speech. I’m still not sure how the whole “make pictures in your head” thing is supposed to work.
microtherion: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing otjize. Hit it!
@Jamoche: Perhaps. My own thinking style is primarily auditory, but I can picture things if I need to.
Andrew M : from the Goon Show, and their parody of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. The Scarlet Capsule.
“We’re all descended from Irish Stew!”
#11: Chocolate Hugo: I have a piece of the chocolate Hugo that was created for Science Fiction Age, the late SF magazine edited by Scott Edelman, for the 1993 (I believe) Worldcon. He saw a Hugo-shaped piece of chocolate, but unfortunately fans just saw chocolate. And they consumed much of it.
The pointy part is what I saved, and I have it here still. Every few years I was the dust off, but eating 25-year-old chocolate is tempting the digestive gods.