(1) TO BOLDLY SNIFF. No need to be shy about writing this subgenre:“Imagining The Real World by Rae Mariz” at Stone Soup.
…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….
(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!
(3) WINDOW ON CHICON 8. Keith Stokes’ photos of the Worldcon are now online at “Chicon 8 – the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention”.
Here’s his shot of the Chengdu Worldcon exhibit table.
(4) TOLKIEN IN THE BOOT. The New York Times covers “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader”
Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.
As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.
All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.
“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….
(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!
(6) I LIVE IN A CLOCK NOW. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele take on steampunks in this 2020 sketch. “When Your Friend Goes Steampunk”.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1997 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot.
If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.
Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series.
It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same.
And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here.
I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.
Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.
A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The Scavenger, Viper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
- Born September 22, 1939 — Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
- Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
- Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday.
- Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000.
- Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times. Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
- Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
- Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- The Far Side – is this about an alien SJW credential?
(10) IT COULD ALWAYS GET WORSE. Stephen King reviews Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts for the New York Times: “Celeste Ng’s Dystopia Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality”.
The definition of “dystopia” in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”
Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…
(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)
…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….
(12) IRON CONTRACT. “’Iron Widow’ YA Bestseller to Be Adapted Into Movies” reports Variety.
“Iron Widow,” the New York Times bestselling novel by Xiran Jay Zhao, is headed to the big screen.
Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.
The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot….
(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.
Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.
Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.
(14) JWST LOOKS AT NEPTUNE. “New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades”. Read the NASA release at the link.
…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(8) Paul Kincaid’s book on the fiction of Iain Banks for the University of Illinois Modern Masters of Science Fiction series is superb. I haven’t yet read his Brian Aldiss volume for the same series but I’m greatly looking forward to it. And of course, he was the spouse of Maureen Kincaid Speller.
Ellen saw this, and I checked: the pics of Chicon? I don’t know who “Larry Flint” was, though we were, most certainly, at a panel with the same panelists for Eric Flint.
mark: I have sent an email to Keith Stokes with your correction.
8) For Bear, I have to vote for her Eternal Sky and Lotus Kingdoms trilogies.
Regarding Bear, Cat’s favorites are also my favorites, but Karen Memory and the Lotus Kingdoms are also quite good. Honestly, I have yet to be disappointed by Bear!
13) As foreshadowed in 2000’s Star Trek:New Worlds game that I worked on. See around the 2m mark:
Polygon count was so crucial in those days that the drones are not placing individual polygons for those buildings, but rather fractions of polygons.
Although thinking about it, I believe we may have taken those construction drones from the Original Motion Picture.
Another day, another notification. Huzzah.
(4) As all of the readers of this blog are likely aware, Tolkien loathed fascism
@Andrew (not Werdna) Yes, Tolkien wasn’t a 21st century progressive, but he was most certainly antifa, and would be appalled.
(3) The WSFS meeting photos have a number of caption errors, or in some places I can provide captions for the people who are in the photos.
Photo 1: Includes me giving the Mark Protection Committee’s Report.
Photo 2: If there was any intent to include all of the BM staff, not just the ones sitting on the head table and thus in the photo, the others are: Martin Pyne, floor manager (pictured in photo 3 sitting in front of Donald Eastlake); Lisa Hayes, videographer; Kevin Standlee, assistant videographer. I personally tend to use “head table” as shorthand for “Business Meeting administrative staff,” whether or not they sit at the table at the head of the room.
Photo 3: Photo captioned “Kent Bloom” is actually Donald Eastlake III, I think giving the Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee Report.
Photo 4: Cliff Dunn
Photo 5: People relatively close to camera are, from left to right: Unknown, Brian Nisbet (taking a drink of water), Nicholas Whyte, Tony Parker (I think), Mary Robinette Kowal
3) I Do not appear to be in any of the photos.
This is a mixed blessing to be sure.
(2) I thought this was their theme . . .
8) Pretty sure Jerry Oltion came up with the perfect model for a literary award: The “Pretty Good SF Award” he gave out for a number of years had a voting membership of 1. No losers, only winners. And no arguments about what should have really won.
(8) Whenever I see Elizabeth Bear’s name, I think of the two stories she wrote with Sarah Monette: Boojum and Mongoose. Both are available to read online, or listen to as a podcast.
Boojum (text version):
Boojum (audio version, part 1):
Boojum (audio version, part 2)
Mongoose (text version, but a link to the audio version is above the story):
Has the format of comment notifications from WordPress changed for anyone else?
What change are you noticing?
The last one I noticed happened several months ago at the time of a new release of WordPress. (Although the notifications come from the Jetpack plugin.)
Yeah, they look different in my email. Was Jetpack updated?
Subject line of the email is:
“[File 770] Mike Glyer commented on Pixel Scroll 9/22/22 On Tsundoku Did OGH, A Stately Pixel-Scroll Decree” instead of “[New comment] Amazon Changing Its Ebook Return Policy”.
First line of email is: “New comment!” instead of “in response to Mike Glyer:”
It’s no problem – just new and different
I did update Jetpack. Earlier in the week when the missed notifications started to get more frequent again I decided there was no longer any benefit to freezing everything the way customer service had me do. I permitted the main Jetpack update to be loaded, and the Jetpack Social update, which is separate. Things will either get better or worse. If the latter, I will be starting over with customer service anyway.
@Andrew (not Werdna)–Yes. I am suddenly getting separate emails for each individual comment, and I want to know how to change it back. Is this what has happened to you?
And of course, I’ve now replied to Andrew (not Werdna), unaware until I did so that there were subsequent comments.
Also, what’s got me annoyed is not what others are commenting on. I noticed that change, and I don’t like it, but I considered that basically an aesthetic objection, not a problem.
Yeah, I am getting atomized emails now too Andrew
Hmm. I’ve always gotten one email per comment – they just look a bit different now.
Lis Carey: I am suddenly getting separate emails for each individual comment, and I want to know how to change it back
Lis, go here (you may need to sign into WordPress with your commenting e-mail address — and this page took quite a while to load for me, at first it said “you are not following any sites”), find File 770, click “Settings” and turn off the button for “E-mail me new comments”.
@JJ–Thanks! Hopefully that’s fixed it now.
I always received individual emails for each response, but as of today, they’re no longer grouped together by GMail into threads. Which is rather annoying. I think, after looking into it a bit, this is because the messages now include the poster’s name in the subject line, which makes each one unique, while before, they simply had the scroll title.
Old: “Subject: [New comment] Pixel Scroll 9/17/22 The Last Scroll Title On Earth Sat Alone In A Room”
New: “Subject: [File 770] Mike Glyer commented on Pixel Scroll 9/22/22 On Tsundoku Did OGH, A Stately Pixel-Scroll Decree”
I did dig through the email headers to see if there might be something else going on, but didn’t spot anything.
Gmail is a pretty popular system, so this will probably affect lots of folks. OTOH, I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about it. WP may be an open source system, but from what I’ve heard, it’s still pretty opaque.
@ArbysMom: They wrote a third story in that setting, “The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward“.
@Patrick Morris Miller Thanks!
Yes, I agree you have summarised it correctly that the issue is with the new subject line format for comment notification emails. I also use Gmail & it no longer groups several comments into one email. I would still like to be able to follow comment threads but this change is going to make my inbox even more unmanageable…
WordPress needs a Digest option. 🙁