(1) CHILDHOOD’S BEGINNING. When people finally stop sending letters, here’s the kind of thing we’ll be missing: “UK toys celebrated on Royal Mail stamps”.
The UK’s favourite toys from the past 100 years are being celebrated in a new set of stamps from the Royal Mail.
Characters in the set include the Sindy doll and Action Man, as well as brands like Spirograph, Stickle Bricks and Fuzzy Felt.
Meccano, the Merrythought bear, W Britain toy figures, Space Hopper and Hornby Dublo trains also feature.
The series of 10 stamps will be released on Tuesday at 7,000 post offices and to buy online.
Royal Mail spokesman Philip Parker said: “British toymakers enjoyed a reputation for quality and innovation.
“These nostalgic stamps celebrate 10 wonderful toys that have endured through the decades.”
(2) PARDON MY SHADOW. If someone had not added “photobomb” to the language, this would not be nearly so clickworthy: “The International Space Station just pulled off the photobomb of a lifetime” at Quartz.
Captured by NASA photographer Joel Kowsky while looking up from Banner, Wyoming, perfectly timed images show a tiny ISS passing in front of the sun.
(3) WABBIT TWACKS. Ricky L. Brown tells Amazing Stories readers about a bizarre crossover project in “Comic Review: Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1”.
Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 was written by Tom King (The Vision, The Sheriff of Babylon) with cover and interior art by Lee Weeks (Daredevil) while color was provided by Lovern Kindzierski (Marvel) and lettering by Deron Bennett (DC, Vault).
This unique crossover is part of a six issue DC Universe / Looney Tunes One-Shot collection. In addition to the Batman Fudd combo, the list of other comics includes: Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1 written by Sam Humphries with art by Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna (June 14, 2017); Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special #1 written by Steve Orlando and Frank Barberi with art by Aaron Lopresti (June 14, 2017); Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 written by Bill Morrison with art by Kelley Jones (June 21, 2017); Wonder Woman/Tazmanian Devil Special #1 written by Tony Bedard with art by Barry Kitson (June 21, 2017); Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1 written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Mark Texeira (June 28, 2017). Though these are billed as “one-shot” issues which are typical stand-alone stories, we can only hope/assume that DC Comics has left the window open for many more installments down the line seeing that they chose to include ”#1” in the title designations on their website. Just sayin’.
(4) POD PEOPLE. Fandompodden interviewed current and future Worldcon organizers for its first podcast in English. (They’re usually in Swedish.)
This is our very first English speaking podcast aiming new and old international fandom friends. We have three amazing interviews from the recent Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Jukka Halme, supreme overlord of the finnish Worldcon. Dave Clark of the San Jose organisation and finaly Steve Cooper and Emmy England of Dublin 2019. Your host for the show is Håkan Wester and Patrick Edlund. Enjoy
(5) CATALANO REJOINS GEEKWIRE. You can now listen to the first episode of GeekWire’s new podcast interview/article series which Frank Catalano is hosting/reporting. It’s about pop culture, science fiction and the arts, and how one of those three topics intersects with tech. The first guest is Greg Bear, on the state of science fiction: “Science fiction has won the war: Best-selling author Greg Bear on the genre’s new ‘golden age’”.
“Nowadays, there’s so many private ventures that when I wrote the War Dogs series, I made the private ventures face forward, and called the Martian colonists Muskies, as a tribute to Elon’s dreams, if not to what the reality is going to be,” he said.
Seattle is a hotbed of science fiction thinking in all these corporations.
As a “hard” science fiction writer who does extensive research, Bear has dived into everything from nanotechnology (his 1983 novel Blood Music is credited by some as being its first use in science fiction) to planetary science. A current fascination, in part because it’s a key setting in the War Dogs trilogy, is Titan. “It’s got a hazy orange layer,” he explained. “It’s full of plastics, and waxes, and organic chemistry. Then, it turns out, it’s actually got a water ocean underneath.”
Access the podcast directly here. (parts of it will also air on KIRO-FM Seattle, as well as be available for streaming).
Some of the top films, TV shows and books today are what was once called “genre fiction,” like sci-fi and fantasy. So is it a golden age for the geeky arts? Or is this mainstream-ization of geek culture more ominous? We explore that question with renowned sci-fi author Gret Bear in the first episode of our special pop-culture podcast series, hosted by Frank Catalano.
Catalano says, “Upcoming episodes will include interviewing SFWA President Cat Rambo about the relevance of awards in science fiction and fantasy and the role of diversity, and curators at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) about the challenges in preserving science fiction and fantasy artifacts from film and TV that were never designed to last. More episodes to come after that, probably at the rate of one or two a month (as my day job allows).”
(6) FUNNY BOOK SALES FALL. Rod Lamberti reports “Comic Store In Your Future: The Secret Empire Sales Drop”.
It didn’t surprise me to read that July 2017 saw the first drop in overall comics sales of the year. A drop in sales did happen. This summer was weaker than last summer sales wise for us. Rebirth last year was a big seller. Our orders were lower than last year reflecting less demand for comics.
(7) MORE ON ALDISS. Christopher Priest writes a remembrance of Brian Aldiss on his blog that’s much more personal than the literary obit he wrote for The Guardian: “Here it began, here it ends”.
In fact, I was too hard up and too shy to go the SF convention, and did not meet Brian Aldiss in person until about 1965. Then, when he found out my name, he said, ‘I remember you — you wrote me that intelligent letter! Come and have a drink!’ It was the first moment of a friendship that was to last, with the usual ups and downs of any friendship between two difficult men, for more than half a century.
This is a photograph taken in June 1970, by Margaret, Brian Aldiss’s second wife. Brian had generously invited me down to their house in Oxfordshire to celebrate the publication of my first novel Indoctrinaire. Also there was Charles Monteith, who was not only my editor at the publishers Faber & Faber, he was Brian’s too. He had been responsible for buying and publishing all the early Aldiss books, including those short stories I had admired so much, and the fabulous bravura of Non-Stop.
(8) HENDRIX AND ALDISS. John Picacio posted this photo of Jimi Hendrix reading a Penguin sf collection edited by Brian Aldiss. Hendrix reading sf was actually a regular thing, as this 2010 Galley Cat article reminds: “Jimi Hendrix and His Science Fiction Bookshelf”.
Most people don’t remember anymore, but rock legend Jimi Hendrix was a science fiction book junkie. We caught up with one the guitarist’s biographers to find out more about his science fiction bookshelf.
In the new book, Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius, authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber take a deeper look at the guitarist…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born August 22, 1920 – Ray Bradbury
- Born August 22, 1978 – Late-night talk show host James Cordon, who also was in some episodes of Doctor Who.
(10) BIRTHDAY GIFT APPEAL. Money is being raised to preserve books and other items donated to IUPUI by Ray Bradbury.
His collection of books, literary works, artifacts, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and so much more is housed at IUPUI in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The Center is led by Professor Jon Eller, a personal friend of Bradbury’s for over 23 years and noted scholar of the author’s works.
Without Bradbury, the world wouldn’t be the same. Preserving these assets will help ensure that generations of fans, scholars, authors, filmmakers, and historians are able to pay tribute to the October Man.
Help us preserve the books of the man who knew what society would be without them.
Your generous gift to this campaign will provide general support to the Center and assist in the preservation of the vast collection. DONATE NOW and help us reach our $5000 goal.
(11) FAMILY TREE. And Bradbury’s family tree includes a Salem woman convicted as a witch. There’s some kind of lesson to be learned about the genetics of sf writers here – if I only knew what it was.
One of my great uncles was the greatest Shakespearian actor of his era. And his brother shot Lincoln, so there's that. https://t.co/zlM5WlxEy7
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) August 22, 2017
(12) SURVEY. Jess Nevins is conducting a survey about sexual harassment in the sf community.
Everybody, do me a huge favor and spread the word on this. It's a survey of sexual harassment in sff: https://t.co/EHC9tIP0CB
— Jess Nevins (@jessnevins) August 21, 2017
(13) WHEDON REVEALED. The Wrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven, in “Joss Whedon’s Fan Site Shuts Down After Ex-Wife’s Explosive Essay”, says that Whedonesque.com is shutting down after Joss Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, posted an essay in The Wrap accusing Whedon of serial infdielity during 15 years of marriage.
- Here the link to Cole’s post: “Joss Whedon Is a Hypocrite Preaching Feminist Ideals,’ Ex-Wife Kai Cole Says”.
- Here’s Whedonesque.com’s shutdown announcement.
(14) PLUS AND MINUS. At Fantasy Literature, Bill Capossere struggles with his final verdict on “The Hike: A surreal and often humorous journey”.
As noted, The Hike is a fast-moving work, despite coming in at just under 400 pages. I read it in a single sitting of just a few hours. Magary keeps things moving apace, save for a few sections that carry on perhaps a little too long. His fluid prose carries the reader along smoothly and easily even if they won’t find themselves lingering over it for its lyricism or startling nature. The humor is another reason it goes down so easily, most of it coming from that crab, who is, well, kinda crabby. The crab is given a run for its comic money, though, by Fermona the giant, who runs a kind of Thunder Dome Buffet for herself. The book isn’t all lightness and humor, however. Magary’s portrait of Ben’s suburban family life is a bit thin, but does strike some emotional chords in scenes where Ben is with or thinking of his children.
(15) VAMPIRE HUNTER. Next year the Stephen Haffner press will bring out The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch. Right now, Stephen is crowdsourcing help in tracking down the original artwork for his cover.
Robert Bloch (1917-1994) is one of the most fondly remembered and collected authors of crime, horror, fantasy, and science fiction of the 20th Century. Noted by many as the author of Psycho, Bloch wrote hundreds of short stories and over 30 novels. He was a member of the Lovecraft Circle and began his career by emulating H.P. Lovecraft’s brand of “cosmic horror.” He later specialized in crime and horror stories dealing with a more psychological approach.
While we have secured permission from the rights-handlers for Gahan Wilson‘s artwork for the cover image, we have been unable to locate the original “Parkbench Vampire” painting.
The image originally appeared on the cover of the humor digest, FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD #33 (Dell Magazines, October, 1964) promising a “Hilarious Monster Issue!”.
As shown above and to the right, someone—somewhere—had access to the original artwork and placed a low-res image on the internet.
We have sent queries to several Gahan Wilson-collectors as well as many collectors of SF-art-in-general asking for the whereabouts of the original artwork, but nothing has surfaced yet.
So, if you, or someone you know, has a lead on where the original artwork resides, or can assist in supplying a high-resolution scan of the painting, please contact us ASAP at [email protected].
(16) BEWARE SPOILERS. Fantasy-Faction’s Zachary A. Matzo reviews The Silent Shield by Jeff Wheeler.
The Silent Shield, the fifth main book in Jeff Wheeler’s Kingfountain series, is proof positive that creative consistency makes for a good read. I feel like a bit of a broken record at this point, but Wheeler has once again crafted a short, engaging novel that manages to not only advance the overall narrative but succeeds in expanding the thematic scope of the series. The Silent Shield marks a new high point in a story that has been consistently excellent, and proves once again that one can craft a mature, emotionally resonant and accessible tale without relying upon the grim, the dark or the explicit.
(17) THE FIRST NUKE. Matt Mitrovich’s verdict is that the book is worth a read, in “Book Review: The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford” at Amazing Stories.
Do you ever feel like we are living in a timeline where people are actively trying to roll back the clock? For example, renewable energy technology is being ignored for coal, despite experts saying it is on its way out. We even have the president attacking Amazon as if online shopping is inferior to retail stores. Now people are apparently nostalgic for the constant threat of nuclear war, which makes The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford unfortunately relevant in this day and age.
The Berlin Project tells the story of Karl Cohen, an actual scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project and father-in-law to the author. In our timeline, he devised a way of using centrifuges to make weapons grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. Now in our timeline, this method was rejected in favor of a gaseous diffusion method which cost billions and delayed the project significantly while the engineering problems were worked out. Benford proposes, however, that Karl is more assertive and has a little luck early on by getting private investors on board who hope to use nuclear power for civilians in the future. Thus a nuclear bomb is built a year earlier in time for the Normandy invasion. As the title suggests, the target for America’s first nuclear strike is Berlin, but the city’s destruction doesn’t necessarily give the Allies the outcome they were hoping for….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kevin J. Maroney, Frank Catalano, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]