(1) ABRAMS BACK AT THE HELM. The Wrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven and Umberto Gonzalez, in “J.J. Abrams To Replace Colin Trevorrow on STAR WARS: EPISODE IX”, say that Disney says that Abrams has been signed to direct this Star Wars film after Trevorrow, who has been attached to Episode IX since 2015, was given the boot.
“With ‘The Force Awakens,’ J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.
Abrams directed and produced “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015. He is also serving as an executive producer on the upcoming film “The Last Jedi,” out this December, which Rian Johnson is directing. Abrams will co-write “Episode IX” with Chris Terrio.
(2) A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY. Time-lapse photography unexpectedly reveals that starships are built from wood.
(3) TOOTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM. And it’s time that the new series theme embarked on a shakedown cruise.
When it comes to Star Trek, a dynamic main title theme is key. In this behind-the-scenes video for Star Trek: Discovery, composer Jeff Russo leads a 60-piece orchestra in recording the new series theme.
(4) THANKS FROM THE CENTER. The Center for Bradbury Studies hit its fundraising goal.
(5) VINTAGE TUBE. Echo Ishii has a new installment in her series of reviews of antique TV shows: “SF Obscure: The Tripods”
The Tripods TV series is a 1984-1985 YA SF series based on a series of books The Tripods by John Christopher. It ran for two seasons on the BBC. There are many changes from the books to the tv series though the basic concept remains the same.
The show begins in the future 2089. We see a pre-industrial version of England. Horse drawn carriages, family farms, etc. A young man in a suit is being congratulated by his friends and family for his “capping “ceremony. He takes off his hat to reveal his shaven head. Out of the sky comes a giant metal tripod, that lands in the lake and pulls the young man up inside.
(6) BELIEVERS IN THE MISANDRY CONSPIRACY. At the Emperor’s Notepad a blogger who writes books as Xavier Lastra is convinced he has come up with a more profound explanation for the anti-male bias claims Jon Del Arroz has been selling online this week: “‘Lit Bait’ and preferences/discrimination in genre literature”.
Because the artistic preferences of SF&F editors go way beyond a possible gender bias (which I’m sure exists in some places.) You could be a woman of color with an African-Asian name and a card-carrying member of the Communist Party that if you write a certain type of story, it will be ignored. If it gives off just a whiff of testosterone or sounds like an action-packed adventure yarn with a preference for honest and unironic drama and fun, without any pretense of being “mature,” it won’t be accepted. After all, they have an artistic image to maintain. They can’t just publish any pulpy trash!
And here’s where the feminine aspect comes into play. Obviously, women write all sort of stories, but there is a specific female subset that seems to be especially apt at writing the sort of sentimental Literary Bait, dripping with status anxiety and cheap progressive performances, that routinely gets awarded. It happens at all levels, from school contests to international literary awards. Call it “discrimination” or simply “preferences,” but it’s there.
(7) CAN YOU SAY, “ECOLOGICAL DISASTER”? I KNEW YOU COULD. The more I hear about these hippo books, the more intriguing they become. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fic & Fantasy Blog’s Martin Cahill gives Sarah Gailey’s latest two tusks up: “The Hippo Mayhem Continues in Taste of Marrow”.
Earlier this year, Sarah Gailey treated us to a book that made the phrase “alternate history western hippo caper” part of the vernacular. River of Teeth is a fun, nuanced tale of an alternate 19th century United States in which hippopotami were introduced into the environment to make up for a livestock shortage and soon overran their boundaries (something that really almost happened, save for a fateful vote in Congress). It’s a novella chock full of what we love in a debut: memorable prose, a lush setting, precise worldbuilding, and a cast of diverse characters trying their best to pull off a caper, even with the odds against them.
If River of Teeth asked why and how this hippo-hunting posse formed up, sequel Taste of Marrow asks a different question: why do they stay together? Especially with the caper is in shambles, a key member of the crew dead, and another presumed dead at the hands of a pregnant assassin?
Several weeks after River of Teeth, the feral hippos once penned into the Mississippi have been let loose, and Archie and Houndstooth are fleeing to parts left un-feraled.
(8) WEIN REMEMBRANCE. NPR’s Glen Weldon paid tribute to the late Lein Wein on Morning Edition: “Comic Book Legend Len Wein Dies At 69”.
GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Len Wein wrote and edited the adventures of many well-known superheroes over the course of his career – your Batmans, your Hulks. But he created Wolverine with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe. Hugh Jackman played him on screen for years. With his extendible, razor-sharp, adamantium claws, he isn’t much of a talker.
(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)
WELDON: He’s more of a grunter, and slasher and stabber.
(SOUNDBITE OF SLASHING)
WELDON: Wolverine was an innovative superhero in several ways. He was hotheaded. He was hyperviolent. He was Canadian. Most importantly, he was an antihero, one of an emerging breed of characters who strained against the good-guy-versus-bad-guy formula of old-school comics. As Wein explained in the 2016 PBS documentary, you couldn’t pin the guy down.
(9) TODAY’S DAY
Video Games Day
History of Video Games Day
The history of Video Games Day is really the history of the video game, and that history goes back much farther than most people imagine. The first game ever created is often thought to be Bertie the Brain, an artificial intelligence designed to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Considering that Bertie was a 4 meter high machine built on vacuum tube technology, you can imagine it didn’t get out much, in fact, it was disassembled after the Canadian National Exhibition it was revealed at, and never rebuilt. A year later a computer was built called Nimrod, Nimrod was a computer built and displayed at the Festival of Britain in 1951 and designed to play a game called Nim.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 12, 1958 – The Blob premiered.
- September 12, 1993 — Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered on the small screen.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY POET
- Born September 12, 1942 – Marge Simon, Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.
(12) HURRICANE HARVEY FALLOUT. The 100 Year Starship Symposium that was scheduled for this weekend in Santa Monica has been postponed til next year.
While we were busily and excitedly preparing for the debut of the NEXUS 2017 event in Santa Monica this month, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the administrative, programming and operational headquarters of 100 Year Starship (100YSS).
As you know from all the news reporting, Hurricane Harvey effectively stopped Houston business, transportation, commerce and private activities at homes for five days or more. All aspects of the work on NEXUS was severely disrupted. And though the skies are clear in Houston now, the problems of catching up in the face of clean-up and remediation of this natural disaster — currently called the most severe in U.S. history – continue. We tried diligently, but it has been impossible to overcome Harvey’s impact.
The NEXUS event team huddled and decided to postpone NEXUS so that it will be the type of wildly transformational, engaging and magical event planned.
Space. Radical. Vital. Down to Earth.
We are working to reschedule NEXUS for the first quarter of 2018 and should have new dates shortly.
However, one of the weekend’s scheduled events will still take place —
The 25 Strong! Celebration under the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the Oschin Pavilion of the California Science Center will take place in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 as originally scheduled since most of the planning and logistics activities were handled there. If you had planned to attend, are local or have safe travel plans, then please join us.
Patrick S. Tomlinson will be hosting 25 Strong.
(13) LAWS WERE BROKEN. In “Still A Harsh Mistress – Andy Weir: Artemis” at Spekulatív Zóna, Bence Pintér reviews the new novel by the author of The Martian.
Nevertheless, Jazz needs money. Very, very much. And that’s the point when one of her old clients, a Norwegian billionaire businessman comes up with a plan. It is complicated, but it’s a piece of cake for a woman as talented as Jazz. The job pays a lot of money. It is also illegal as hell. And as it turns out, it can really affect the future of Artemis. By the way: why everyone is suddenly crazy about the failing aluminium industry?
The start is a bit bumpy, but after we learn more about Jazz and her ways, the novel shifts to full throttle. The elements are almost the same as in The Martian: a lot of fun in the narration by the badass protagonist and loads of Moon-science instead of Mars-science. Also with some sparkling dialogues and one-liners, the Brazilian mafia, and a collection of misfit friends of Jazz. Jazz is doing a lot of illegal stuff, so forget about the heroism of Mark Watney. And also say goodbye to space potatoes: all you got in exchange is algae-based food called Gunk, which is awful by all accounts.
(14) 19TH-CENTURY RESISTANCE LEADER. GF Willmetts of SFCrowsnest has some iconoclastic things to say about “The Forgotten Genius Of Oliver Heaviside by Basil Mahon (book review)”.
Much of the formulas and his science, especially his legacy, are in the footnotes at the back of the book. It would have made more sense to have incorporated much of this into the main contents of the book. If readers couldn’t understand it, they can easily skip it but placing in notes brings it to secondary importance. I think even Heaviside would agree his maths is more important than his life.
(15) NOTE FROM THE DEAN. Crooked Timber’s John Holbo helps you visualize what happens when “Robert Heinlein writes letters to editors and librarians”.
Enough Lovecraft! Robert Heinlein! I’m reading Innocent Experiments:Childhood and the Culture of Popular Science in the United States, by Rebecca Onion. Chapter 4, “Space Cadets and Rocket Boys: Policing the Masculinity of Scientific Enthusiasms” has quite a bit of good stuff on Heinlein – well it would have to, wouldn’t it? If you’ve read some Heinlein you kind of know what Heinlein is like. But there’s good stuff here about his exchanges with editors. The guy was one serious SJW, insisting on his minority quotas. Of course, he always manages to make it weird in his cosmopolitan-but-All-American, messianic-rationalist-masculinist libertarian-disciplinarian anti-authoritarian-but-in-an-authoritarian-way way.
(16) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY GAINS RECRUIT. Marvel says you can expect to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar space when the comic’s next issue appears.
The Guardians have been tasked with some wacky and big adventures while doing the Grandmaster’s bidding, which includes stealing from The Collector – and Star-Lord even accidently destroyed one of his favorite mix-tapes. Now, as they prepare for their Legacy arc THE INFINITY QUEST, they’ll have to team up with the group that has been on their tails – the Nova Corps – as well as one ex-Avenger if they want to keep the universe safe.
“We’re excited to have an Avenger joining the ranks of the Guardians…or is it the Nova Corps? Or both? Oh, you’ll see,” teased editor Jordan D. White. “Just know, he beat out some stiff competition, as you can tell by that cover of issue #12!”
Who exactly is this Avenger? One of the five Marvel superstars on this cover should give you a hint…
(17) HWA ANTHOLOGY. The Horror Writers Association’s Haunted Nights will be released October 3:
Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.
In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.
- “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds” by Seanan McGuire
- “Dirtmouth” by Stephen Graham Jones”
- “A Small Taste of the Old Countr” by Jonathan Maberry
- “Wick’s End” by Joanna Parypinski
- “The Seventeen Year Itch” by Garth Nix
- “A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night” by Kate Jonez
- “Witch-Hazel” by Jeffrey Ford
- “Nos Galen Gaeaf” by Kelley Armstrong
- “We’re Never Inviting Amber Again” by S. P. Miskowski
- “Sisters” by Brian Evenson
- “All Through the Night” by Elise Forier Edie
- “A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds” by Eric J. Guignard
- “The Turn” by Paul Kane
- “Jack” by Pat Cadigan
- “Lost in the Dark” by John Langan
- “The First Lunar Halloween” by John R. Little
(18) NOPE. Madeleine E. Robins explains “No, I Won’t Put You in My Book” at Book View Café.
I have a lot of friends who tuckerize, or even kill off people who have hurt them in their fiction. Sometimes they auction off naming for a character for charity. Sometimes a friend just works his/her way into a story. I found myself a member of the NYPD a few years ago, which was kind of interesting. I have nothing against having real-world names or real-world people showing up in fiction; I sometimes find it distracting, if it’s a real-world name or person I personally know, but that’s not enough reason to demand a practice be stopped. I don’t kill off my enemies (wait, I have enemies?) or exes in my work, but again–that’s me.
(19) CAT HERDERS. SJW symbols survive Irma: “Hurricane Irma: Rare animals survive devastating storm”.
As Hurricane Irma cut a devastating path through the Florida Keys islands, a colony of six-toed cats appears to have survived without a scratch.
The furry felines, descended from a pet owned by Ernest Hemingway, ignored orders to evacuate as the winds swept through the writer’s historic house.
Endangered deer native to the islands also appear to have survived the storm.
Florida Keys and western parts of the state bore the brunt of Irma in the US, with winds of up to 120mph (192km/h).
“Save the cats. Get all the cats in the car and take off!” the late Mr Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel, urged in a video posted on Friday.
Staff responsible for maintaining the Hemingway Home Museum in Key West, Florida, chose to ride out the storm over the weekend in the property with 54 of their feline friends.
(20) SJW CREDENTIALS – ALL ABOARD! Unfortunately I can’t get my computer to pick up an excerpt from “What It’s Like to Ride Japan’s Cat Café Train” at Atlas Obscura. You’ll love the photos.
(21) ALWAYS NEWS TO SOMEONE. To make up for it, I will run another SJW Credential story I missed when it came out in 2016: Seanan McGuire and the TSA.
(22) SCARES MORE THAN CROWS. “Giant Star Wars AT-AT model built in front garden” – video at the link.
A man has built a giant Star Wars model in his front garden.
The 20ft (6m) replica AT-AT – a combat vehicle in the Star Wars films – was built by Ian Mockett, 54, at his home in Harpole, Northamptonshire.
It took him and his friends a month to make it out of wood for the village’s annual scarecrow festival.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Burn Out. JJ has anointed this a “strong contender for the DP Short Form Hugo.”
Stella, a space mechanician, has broken down and ended on a desert planet. While she is in despair, a little girl appears out of nowhere. Following the child into a tunnel, in the depths of the planet, she discovers a big cave full of objects that belonged to her, reminding her the dreams she has left behind.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]