Prolific and distinguished author and editor Eric Flint died July 17 at the age of 75. David Weber made the announcement on Facebook.
Flint was frequently hospitalized for health problems in recent years. In 2019, he had to leave the NASFiC/Westercon/1632 Minicon where he was one of the guests of honor to be treated for pneumonia (though he did one of his panels by Skype from a hospital bed.) Before that he had cancer surgery in 2016. In 2017 had to forgo his GoHship at Balticon 51 due to a previous case of pneumonia. This May, he told Facebook friends he was in hospital for a staph infection.
Flint’s incredible career in sff was all the more remarkable for having essentially started after he reached age 50.
Flint spent many years as a longshoreman, and then machinist, as well as serving as a labor organizer and member of the Socialist Workers Party, before beginning his writing career.
With his short story “Entropy, and the Strangler” he won the fourth quarter of the 1993 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. However, it was another four years before his first novel, Mother of Demons, was published by Baen Books. He only moved into writing full-time in 1999.
Since then he has published over 70 novels, many in collaboration with other authors including David Freer, David Drake, David Weber, Ryk E. Spoor, Mercedes Lackey, and more.
Beginning in 1999, he became the first librarian of the Baen Free Library, working with Jim Baen to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encouraged or discouraged the sale of their paper books. In a 2001 article in The Industry Standard — primarily composed of quotes from Harlan Ellison railing against e-piracy — Flint took a very different tack: “’The real enemy of authors – especially midlist writers – is not piracy,’ says Baen’s online librarian Eric Flint. ‘It’s obscurity.’ Two-thirds of the e-mail Flint has received since the Baen Free Library began posting books is from readers who purchased books they initially downloaded from the site.”
Flint also helmed Jim Baen’s Universe, an e-zine published from 2006 until 2010.
for his ongoing encouragement of the genre of alternate history through his support of the community and writers developed around his 1632 series. In 2000, Eric Flint published the novel 1632. Following the publication of the novel, Flint has encouraged an extensive on-line community to expand on his vision and explore the ramifications of alternate history through discussion and publication of fiction and non-fiction that builds off his original work, resulting in dozens of stories and novels and helping to launch the careers of many authors.
And he was a five-time Dragon Award nominee for novels he co-authored in the 1632 series, winning last year for 1637: No Peace Beyond the Line written with Charles Gannon.
Flint donated his archive to the department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University in 2008.
Some of Flint’s convention guest of honor appearances not already mentioned were at the 2010 NASFiC, ReConStruction, and as guest of the 1632 Minicon held in conjunction with the 2020 NASFiC in Columbus, OH.
He is survived by his wife Lucille, their daughter Liz, son-in-law Donald and his grandchildren.
(1) TWITTER SUSPENDS CHUCK TINGLE. Chuck Tingle’s Twitter account has been suspended for reasons he explains on Facebook. He used music with some of his tweets, believing it was fair use, but the rights holder served Twitter with “many” DMCA takedown notices and his entire account was locked. Since this morning Tingle has been trying to get social media users to pressure the rights holder to withdraw the takedown notices. Getting paid for use of the music is what the rights holder would want, one expects.
From Emmy-nominated actor to children’s television host to movie director to Grammy-winning Spoken Word artist, LeVar Burton has nearly done it all in his career. However, one dream has alluded him until now, and that is to host Jeopardy! But that is about to change.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation actor — and self-confessed Jeopardy! superfan — finally gets his go at hosting the long-running quiz show Monday, July 26 to Friday, July 30, as the conveyor belt of guest hosts keeps moving. Burton and his fans have actively been campaigning for the Reading Rainbow host to permanently take over from the late Alex Trebek.
During its Comic-con gig on Friday, the streamer unveiled the teaser poster which features Pike’s Moiraine. The series adaptation of Robert Jordan’s books, is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The Wheel of Time is co-produced by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television and comes from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Chuck writer Rafe Judkins, who is showrunner and exec producer.
(5) MANGA’S OLYMPIC AMBASSADORS. In the Washington Post, Kyle Melnick says customers at Purple Narwhal Music and Manga in Rockville, Maryland are buying lots of Olympics-related manga and anime. “Anime and manga take center stage at the Olympics”. Nine Japanese anime characters are ambassadors for the Tokyo Olympics.
…Many anime — an umbrella term for animation produced in Japan — are adapted from manga, similar to how American comics are shaped into movies. The Olympics ambassadors, who are featured on official Olympics merchandise, are Son Goku (from the Dragon Ball series), Usagi Tsukino (“Sailor Moon”), Naruto Uzumaki (“Naruto”), Monkey D. Luffy (“One Piece”), Astro Boy (“Astro Boy”), Cure Miracle and Cure Magical (“Pretty Cure”), Shin-chan (“Crayon Shin-chan”) and Jibanyan (“Yo-kai Watch”).
Goku is perhaps the most well-known of the group. He’s a naive but determined warrior who is the main character of “Dragon Ball Z,” which was one of the first popular anime in the United States in the 1990s and introduced many fans to the genre. Usagi Tsukino, whose alter ego is Sailor Moon, is the star of another popular 1990s anime, and she welcomed many women into what had previously been a predominantly male fan base.
(6) RICK BOATRIGHT (1955-2021). Rick Boatright, stalwart supporter of and contributor to the 1632 series, died Thursday July 22 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66. Eric Flint mourned him on Facebook:
My old friend Rick Boatright died today. It wasn’t exactly unexpected, because he’d been diagnosed with state four pancreatic cancer, but it came quicker than anyone had expected. I talked to him on the phone just a few days ago and he was in pretty good spirits and thought he still had at least a few weeks left and possibly even a few months. But… he didn’t.
I don’t have anything more to say about it right now. I’ll be writing encomiums about him in the future. But today… Today just sucks.
His ISFDB bio notes Boatright had been a software developer since the early 1970s for not-for-profit social service agencies. Since 2001 he’d been a writer and editor, as well as the Head Geek, for Eric Flint’s 1632 alternate history world. (He also held the Head Geek title for Jim Baen’s Universe magazine.) He also was famous for providing tech support for other authors at Baen Books. Boatright taught high school physics and chemistry in his home town of Topeka, Kansas.
Boatright said in 2014 that despite his fiction credits his real gift was, “… explaining science fiction from the inside. What are the limits and potentials of a slower-than-light multi-stellar civilization? What happens to radio in a time travel story to the 17th century? How do you make records in the 17th century? What is the likely social impact and the biological effect of the English War Unicorn on 21st century warfare?”
(7) ANDERSSON OBIT. Horror/fantasy writer C. Dean Andersson, who also wrote as Asa Drake, passed away July 5 after a long illness. He published 8 novels, the first in 1981 co-authored with Nina Romberg. His short fiction “The Death Wagon Rolls On By” received a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2008. G.W. Thomas did an in-depth interview with him for Dark Worlds Quarterly.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2002 – Nineteen years ago, Jo Walton wins the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She had finished second in the balloting for that award the previous year. It was her first major award. A year later, she would win the World Fantasy Award for her ever so tasteful Tooth and Claw.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 23, 1888 — Raymond Chandler. He of the hardboiled detective genre who I hold in very high esteem is listed by ISFDB as doing some stories of a genre nature, to be exact ”The Bronze Door”, “The King In Yellow”, “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance”. I’ve neither heard it nor read these. So who here has read them? (Died 1959.)
Born July 23, 1914 — Virgil Finlay. Castle of Frankenstein calls him “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative art work for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.” His best known covers are for Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. “Roads”, a novella by Seabury Quinn, published in the January 1938 Weird Tales, and featuring a cover and interior illustrations by him, was originally published in extremely limited numbers by Arkham House in 1948. It’s now available from the usual suspects. (Died 1971.)
Born July 23, 1923 — Cyril M. Kornbluth. I certainly read and really liked The Space Merchants and The Syndic which are the two I remember reading these years on. His only Hugo was at Torcon II (1973) for “The Meeting” which he wrote with Frederik Pohl (the co-winner was “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty). He later was awarded a Retro Hugo for “The Little Black Bag” at Millennium Philcon, and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1958.)
Born July 23, 1938 — Ronny Cox, 83. His first genre role was in RoboCop as OCP President Dick Jones who comes to a very bad end. Later roles Gen. Balentine in Amazon Women on the Moon in “The Unknown Soldier” episode, Martians Go Home as the President, Total Recall as Vilos Cohaagen, Captain America as Tom Kimball and a recurring role for a decade on Stargate SG-1 as Senator Robert Kinsey/Vice President Robert Kinsey.
Born July 23, 1956 — Kate Thompson, 65. Author of the New Policeman trilogy which I highly recommend. Though written for children, you’ll find it quite readable. And her Down Among the Gods is a unique take on a Greek myths made intimate. She got nominations for the Hal Clement (Golden Duck) Award and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.
Born July 23, 1947 — Gardner Dozois. He was founding editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology and was editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years. He won fifteen Hugos for his editing and was nominated for even more. He also won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, once for “The Peacemaker” and once for “Morning Child”. Stories selected by him for his annual best-of-year volumes have won, as of six years ago, 44 Hugos, 32 Locus, 41 Nebulas, 18 Sturgeon Awards and 10 World Fantasy. Very impressive! (Died 2018.)
Born July 23, 1982 — Tom Mison, 39. He is best known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which has a cross-over into Bones. He’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to note that he’s Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. Currently he’s got a main role in second season the See SF series on Apple TV which has yet to come out.
Born July 23, 1989 — Daniel Radcliffe, 32. Harry Potter of course. (Loved the films, didn’t read the novels.) Also Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor in Victor Frankenstein, Ignatius Perrish in Horns, a horror film, and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic in London.
Ziggy encounters a strange example of truth in advertising.
xkcd has a guide to commonly mispronounced equations. I know you’ll find it as helpful as I did. Daniel Dern says it reminds him of this equation from Fritz Leiber’s “Nice Girl With 5 Husbands” in the April 1951 issue of Galaxy –
In Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s comics series La Borinqueña, the eponymous superhero swoops down to Puerto Rico to solve problems that range from guiding lost turtles to rescuing people from a hurricane. Turns out the Puerto Rican superwoman comes to the rescue in real life, too.
Miranda-Rodriguez created La Borinqueña five years ago as a superhero who would entertain readers with her superpowered adventures, express Puerto Rican pride, and make more people aware of the island’s economic problems. Just like in the comics, though, there have been unexpected twists, and La Borinqueña and her creator are not only raising awareness of Puerto Rico and its dilemmas, but is also raising cold, hard cash to help Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria, fend off the pandemic, and move toward self-determination.
The third volume of La Borinqueña (with artist Will Rosado) will come out this month, and Miranda-Rodriguez plans to do a book tour in the fall. He will be bringing chocolate: He contracted with the 92-year-old chocolate maker Chocolate Cortés P.R., to include an original, four-episode La Borinqueña story on the inner wrappers of its bars. Proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition chocolate bars will go to the Fundación Cortés as part of the La Borinqueña Grants Program, which distributes grants to local nonprofits….
(12) JOHN NO LAST NAME. Stephen Haffner previewed some of the beautiful work on The Complete John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman, which can be preordered from Haffner Press.
(13) PRODIGY. This teaser trailer for the new animated Nickelodeon series, Star Trek: Prodigy debuted during the “Star Trek Universe” panel at Comic-Con@Home 2021.
Developed by Emmy® Award-winners Kevin and Dan Hageman (“Trollhunters” and “Ninjago”) the CG-animated series STAR TREK: PRODIGY is the first “Star Trek” series aimed at younger audiences and will follow a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the Star Trek Franchise – but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents
Space flight company Space Perspective has debuted a $125,000 package that brings travelers to the edge of our atmosphere on a space-age hot air balloon.
The Florida-based firm aims to usher in a “new era in luxury travel experiences” with their groundbreaking — or air-breaking, if you will — tour aboard the Spaceship Neptune, a massive, hydrogen-supported balloon with a passenger capsule in tow that can float atop Earth’s atmosphere. There, amateur astronauts can soak up the splendor of our home planet, thanks to panoramic windows and reclining seats.
(15) DINO DRIVE-BY. Jurassic Quest has returned to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from July 23-August 1. The concept kind of reminds me of the Lion Country Safari that used to be in Orange County.
The new Jurassic Quest Drive Thru version of the show features over 70 life-like dinosaurs including the very popular T. Rex, Spinosaurus and Triceratops. Jurassic Quest’s herd of animatronic dinos are displayed in realistic scenes that allow guests to experience them roaring and moving from their own vehicles as they drive their way through the tour. Baby dinosaurs greet guests and bring big smiles to explorers of all ages. During the drive-thru experience, guests are guided by an engaging and informative digital audio tour featuring show entertainers and dino wranglers that lasts about an hour. Guests stay in their cars throughout the tour with limited contact, if any, with staff who wear masks, social distance, and follow all state and local guidelines regarding health and safety. To further ensure the safety of patrons and staff, all equipment and workstations undergo regular sanitization throughout the show. All attendees receive a free, safari-style family photo in their vehicles set against a dinosaur backdrop as a memento of their experience.
(16) FRANK. Here’s an alarming item you can squeeze into that empty space on your bookshelf. (As if any Filer would have that!) “Peeping On The Bookshelf Booknook” at Souamer.
(17) THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY. Wait, we’re not talking about just the end of the week — the End of the World is coming! But when and how? Isaac Arthur explores all the options from manmade to natural, tomorrow to a trillion years in the future.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In a spoiler-filled “Space Jam 2: A New Legacy Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the writer at the pitch meeting’s goal is to make a film that will convince children to tell their parents, “You know, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. really is my favorite multi-media and mass entertainment conglomerate.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Lowrey, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint (suggested in June 2019).]
(1) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo has some of the most insightful comments yet offered about the harassment spawned by Jason Sanford’s report on Baen’s Bar, as well as Mercedes Lackey’s response to others’ claims made about her history with the Bar, in “Opinion: When Writers Punch – Up, Down, or Sideways” at The World Remains Mysterious.
… When a writer publicly calls someone out, they need to be aware of all of the implications, including the fact that the more popular the writer, the more devastating the results can be, not due to any intrinsic quality of the writer, but the number of fans. The more fans, the more likely it is that the group will contain people who, emboldened by the idea of pleasing a favorite writer, can — and will — go to lengths that go far beyond the norms of civil, and sometimes legal, behavior.
This played out recently with reactions to Jason Sanford’s piece on a specific forum within the Baen’s Bar discussion boards administered by Baen Publishing, which have included web posts doxxing Sanford and calling for complaints to be made to a lengthy list of people at Sanford’s placement of employment about the post he made on his free time on a platform that has nothing to do with his employment.
As I’ve said earlier, I have a great deal of respect for Baen and hope it emerges from this watershed moment in a way that suits the bigheartedness of its founder. But in the fray, a lot of writers have been egging their followers on to do shitty things in general, and what has emerged include the above specifics.
It’s not okay to point your readers at someone and basically say “make this person miserable.” It is okay to vote with one’s pocketbook. To not buy the books of people you don’t support. That is called a boycott, and it is an established tactic. (One of my consistent practices throughout the years, though, is to read a book by each one before I make that decision, so I know what I might be missing out on. So far, no regrets.) Going beyond that is, in my opinion, is the act of someone who’s gotten carried away and is no longer seeing their target as a fellow human being, and who needs to stop and think what they are doing….
(2) COMMENTING ON THE UNSTOPPABLE. Harper Campbell reviews Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction edited by Joshua Whitehead in “An Indigenous sci-fi moment” at The Ormsby Review.
…It really matters that so much space is being created by Native writers to tell Native sci-fi stories. Science fiction has seeped into the cultural subconscious of the world, providing our basic frame of reference for each successive wave of technological change. We understand that we have entered an age of technological modernity, and it isn’t enough to see the future as simply an extension of the past. Science fiction is what helps people all over the world make sense of a “normal” that is in perpetual change.
It is a serious shortcoming of science fiction, then, that it tends to gloss over colonialism and imperialism. The implicit view of most science fiction, after all, is one in which colonizers are the true vehicle of world-historical change. Science fiction is always saying — look how far we’ve come, look how much we’ve accomplished, see how unstoppable we’ve been. And what they mean is, look how unstoppable colonialism has been.
And like colonizers, the implicit perspective of science fiction tends to see the cosmos as a field of pure resource. The tendency is to insist that the earth, our beloved green and blue earth, is after all just one planet, theoretically interchangeable with any other that could support life. And why stick to just one planet? Like Cecil Rhodes, the arch-imperialist, sci-fi aspires to annex the stars.
So when an Indigenous writer starts to put down the first words of a science fiction story, they must already be grappling with nothing less than the significance of the history of the world and what it will mean for the future. They must wrestle with the cosmic dimension of colonialism from the other side, from a perspective that could never say “Look how unstoppable we’ve been.”
Five things you can touch, whispers Rose, and I touch: duvet, her hand, my own hair, the rough plaster of the wall, and my device. It wakes up, a rectangle of soft light in our dark bedroom.
Four things you can hear, she says, and I listen for the tap-tap of water from somewhere in the kitchen, the rhythm of a neighbor’s music through the floor, the rustling of bedsheets and my pounding heart.
In grad school, I remember reading about—or at least, I think I remember reading about—a new browser plug-in designed to capture your internet click trails for later re-searching. The promo materials visualized this as a beautiful network of interconnected websites, making it possible to refind any page, article, recipe, meme etc. I am easily distracted and spend approximately 18 hours a day on the internet, so this sounded like a dream come true: Never again would I waste time retracing my digital steps to find something vaguely remembered reading but neglected to bookmark! I signed up to beta test this tool immediately. Or at least I think I did. I never heard anything about this widget again, and my attempts to remember its name have all been in vain. I’ve searched through my email, browser history, Twitter likes: nothing. I may have imagined this thing. Looking for it made me feel like a character in a Borges story: wandering the library stacks in search for the one book that will tell me what stacks I’ve already been in….
On Thursday, March 4, at noon Eastern, author Leigh Alexander and Andrea K. Thomer, information scientist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, will discuss this story in an hourlong online discussion moderated by Punya Mishra, professor and associate dean of scholarship and innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. RSVP here.
(4) THE NEXT GRANTVILLE GAZETTE. On March 1, 2021, 1632 Inc. will release Issue 94, March 2021 of The Grantville Gazette at www.grantvillegazette.com.
The Gazette is a SFWA-approved venue for professional writers, and pays professional rates. The Gazette is published every other month, and has been published since 2007. It is available in several different electronic editions, including Kindle, ePub, PDF, and more. It can be downloaded directly from the Gazette website, or from our distributor, Baen.com.
This issue features works by best-selling authors Virginia DeMarce, Iver P. Cooper, and Edward M. Lerner, as well as columns by Kristine Katherine Rusch and Walt Boyes.
Edited by Walt Boyes, with Bjorn Hasseler as managing editor, and Garrett Vance as Art Director, the Gazette offers fiction and fact, both from the 1632Universe and from the UniverseAnnex, which is designed to provide a venue for general SFF.
More than 160 authors have had their first professional sale to The Grantville Gazette, through the medium of critique and workshops, both for 1632 fiction and general SF. Some of these authors have gone on to successful careers as writing professionals.
WHEN: Anytime, and for as long as you choose to celebrate on Sunday, March 7, 2021.
WHERE: Stay safe and read in the comfort of your home, bed, or even in the bathtub! Or mask up and go for a walk with an audiobook from the Library!
HOW: Choose a book (or many!) and let the pages transport you! Have a ball while reading at home, and show your support for the Los Angeles Public Library by donating what you would have spent at an annual gala or a night out.
Share photos of your literary festivities on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tell us what you’ll be reading – tag #StayHomeandRead to let others know how you are celebrating!
ATTIRE: Choose formal or warm and fuzzy – anything goes when you’re having a ball at home.
FOOD & DRINK: Feast on lobster and champagne, milk and cookies, or wine and cheese.
Bryan Stewart: I’m curious what’s your favorite answer to the Fermi Paradox? Do you think we’ll make first contact in our lifetimes?
[AT] I have become more pessimistic about this as I’ve got older (and the personal element of that ‘in our lifetimes’ necessarily becomes shorter). I do believe life is common in the universe, but the universe is very big so that can still produce colossal, uncrossable vistas between any two species that might appreciate each other’s’ existence. On a bad day I feel that a sufficiently advanced civilization is likely to destroy itself rather like we’re in the process of doing ourselves. On a good day I suspect that our attempts to find life are predicated far too much on that life being like us, and that we may simply not be sifting unusual alien signals from the background hiss, or may be looking in the wrong place.
Ten and twenty years ago I used to play a minor parlor trick; I wonder if it would still work. When asked my favorite writer, I’d say “Shirley Jackson,” counting on most questioners to say they’d never heard of her. At that I’d reply, with as much smugness as I could muster: “You’ve read her.” When my interlocutor expressed skepticism, I’d describe “The Lottery”—still the most widely anthologized American short story of all time, I’d bet, and certainly the most controversial, and censored, story ever to debut in The New Yorker—counting seconds to the inevitable widening of my victim’s eyes: they’d not only read it, they could never forget it. I’d then happily take credit as a mind reader, though the trick was too easy by far. I don’t think it ever failed.
Jackson is one of American ?ction’s impossible presences, too material to be called a phantom in literature’s house, too in-print to be “rediscovered,” yet hidden in plain sight….
(8) FANCASTS TO CONSIDER. Cora Buhlert has expanded her Fanzine Spotlight project to fancasts, of which these are the latest entries. She says, “I’m really enjoying this project, though it has upset my Hugo ballot, because there are so many great podcasts out there I never knew about.”
The Journey Show is an outgrowth of Galactic Journey, our time machine to 55 years ago in fact and fiction. That site has been around since 1958…er…2013, and the conceit is that we are all fans living in the past, day by day, reviewing all the works of the time in the context of their time.
On our podcast we like to explore how narrative helps people to envision and achieve a better future. In turn, we like to talk to writers, editors, activists, gamers, and anyone else who helps us imagine those worlds. We consider our podcast to be linked thematically with HopePunk. Our interpretation of HopePunk takes a stance of hope through resistance to the current norms. Emphasis on the PUNK. Any given podcast discussion can range from a specific novel or story, to a guest’s career, politics, religion, music, writing tips, and ttrpgs. Guests often include editors, traditionally published writers, and Indie writers.
Some other previous guests have included folks like Bill Campbell, Tobias Buckell, Malka Older, P. Djeli Clark, and James Morrow, Janet Forbes (founder of the world building platform World Anvil), and Graeme Barber (writer and ttrpg critic).
[Alasdair Stuart] I had it gently and affectionately pointed out to me that there was no reason not to. I’d had a lot of frustrations with freelance projects at that point (multiple projects paid years late, another company going insolvent, etc). So one day I made a joke about what my newsletter would be and 50 ‘I’d read that’ emails later I realised I had an audience if I wanted to do it. And I did. I took Matt Wallace’s words about building your own platform to heart and started building mine.
Sisters Alice Baker and Ann Spangler have set themselves the goal of reading and discussing all Hugo and Nebula winning novels.
Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?
Alice: For me, it was because I was looking for a way to connect with my sister who I do not often get to see in person. We both have a love of the genre (although Ann likes Fantasy more), and since we were going to be discussing it anyway, I thought we should record them. I have some previous experience on the Educating Geeks podcast. Also, I find it difficult to read for hours like I used so I am trying to retrain myself.
Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?
Way back in 2014, Andi was live-tweeting her first time through Star Trek, Grace was podcasting on All Things Trek, Jarrah was blogging at Trekkie Feminist, and Sue was podcasting and blogging at Anomaly Podcast. At different points in time, Andi, Jarrah, and Sue had all been guests with Grace on All Things Trek on TrekRadio – sometimes with each other, sometimes individually. Having been connected through podcasting, and with that show coming to a close, Andi proposed that we start our own. After much planning, Women at Warp launched as an independent podcast in 2015.
When Paul Verhoeven adapted Starship Troopers in the late 1990s, did he know he was predicting the future? The endless desert war, the ubiquity of military propaganda, a cheerful face shouting victory as more and more bodies pile up?
But the scene that left perhaps the greatest impact on the minds of Nineties kids—and the scene that anticipated our current cinematic age the best—does not feature bugs or guns. It is, of course, the shower scene, in which our heroic servicemen and -women enjoy a communal grooming ritual.
On the surface, it is idyllic: racial harmony, gender equality, unity behind a common goal—and firm, perky asses and tits.
And then the characters speak. The topic of conversation? Military service, of course. One joined for the sake of her political career. Another joined in the hopes of receiving her breeding license. Another talks about how badly he wants to kill the enemy. No one looks at each other. No one flirts.
A room full of beautiful, bare bodies, and everyone is only horny for war.
… This cinematic trend reflects the culture around it. Even before the pandemic hit, Millennials and Zoomers were less sexually active than the generation before them. Maybe we’re too anxious about the Apocalypse; maybe we’re too broke to go out; maybe having to live with roommates or our parents makes it a little awkward to bring a partner home; maybe there are chemicals in the environment screwing up our hormones; maybe we don’t know how to navigate human sexuality outside of rape culture; maybe being raised on the message that our bodies are a nation-ending menace has dampened our enthusiasm for physical pleasure.
Eating disorders have steadily increased, though. We are still getting our bodies ready to fight The Enemy, and since we are at war with an abstract concept, the enemy is invisible and ethereal. To defeat it, our bodies must lose solidity as well….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 27, 1994 — On this date in 1994, the TekWar episode TekLab first aired. Though created by William Shatner, it was actually ghost-written by writer Ron Goulart. This extended episode was directed by Timothy Bondoff the the story by Westbrook Claridge which was developed into a teleplay by? Chris Haddock. As always the lead character was Jake Cardigan played by Greg Evigan, and yes, Shatner was in the series as Walter Bascom. Torri Higginson, of later Stargate fame, got her start on this series. The series doesn’t far well with the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes where it currently has a dismal thirty six percent rating.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 27, 1807 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Taught at Bowdoin and Harvard. First American translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy; better known to many for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and Hiawatha, whose accessibility had better not blind the thoughtful. Book-length poems, novels, plays, anthologies, a dozen volumes of poetry. “What a writer asks of readers is not so much to like as to listen.” (Died 1882) [JH]
Born February 27, 1850 – Laura Richards. Ninety books addressed to children; fifty stories ours, at least (what should count can be unclear with “children’s”). LR’s mother Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; 1917 Pulitzer Prize for biography of JWH by LR & sister Maud Howe Elliott “assisted by [sister] Florence Howe Hall”. LR also wrote biographies of Abigail Adams, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc; 5 others. Maybe best known for “Eletelephony”. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born February 27, 1934 — Van Williams. He was the Green Hornet (with the late Bruce Lee as his partner Kato) on The Green Hornet and three Batman cross-over episodes. He would voice President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Batman series, show up in an episode of Mission Impossible, and also do a one-off Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected and that’s it. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born February 27, 1938 — T.A. Waters. A professional magician and magic author. He appears not terribly well-disguised as Sir Thomas Leseaux, an expert on theoretical magic as a character in Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy fantasy series and in Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl in which he also appears as Tom Waters. He himself wrote The Probability Pad which is a sequel to The Unicorn Girl. Together with Chester Anderson’s earlier The Butterfly Kid , they make up Greenwich Village trilogy. (Died 1998.) (CE)
Born February 27, 1944 — Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it. Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not at all familiar with. So what else is worth reading by him? (Died 2003.) (CE)
Born February 27, 1960 — Jeff Smith, 61. Creator and illustrator of Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. He’s won a very impressive eleven Harvey Awards and ten Eisner Awards! (CE)
Born February 27, 1945 – Hank Davis, age 76. Nine short stories in e.g. Analog, F&SF, not counting one for The Last Dangerous Visions. A dozen anthologies. Correspondent of SF Commentary, SF Review. Served in the Army in Vietnam. [JH]
Born February 27, 1951 – Mark Harrison, age 70. Two hundred sixty covers, fifty interiors. British SF Ass’n Award. Here is The Story of the Stone. Here is Valentine Pontifex. Here is the Mar 93 Asimov’s. Here is the Mar 95 Analog. Here is Mercury. Artbook, Dreamlands. [JH]
Born February 27, 1964 — John Pyper-Ferguson, 57. I certainly remember him best as the villain Peter Hutter on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. but I see that he got he got his start in Canadian horror films such as Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Pin: A Plastic Nightmare. His first major SF role was in Space Marines as Col. Fraser which turns only such role. And though he has an extensive one-off career in genre series with over two dozen appearances, his occurrence as a repeated cast member is not uncommon as he’s Agent Bernard Fainon the new Night Stalker for the episodes, shows up as Tomas Vergis on Caprica for six episodes and I see he’s had a recurring role on The Last Ship as Tex Nolan. (CE)
Born February 27, 1970 – Michael A. Burstein, age 51. Twoscore short stories. Served a term as SFWA Secretary (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), simultaneously Vice-President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer. President, Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet. Fanzine (with wife Nomi Burstein), Burstzine. [JH]
Born February 27, 1976 — Nikki Amuka-Bird, 45. The Voice of Testimony in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor story, “Twice Upon A Time”. She’s shown up quite a bit in genre work from horror (The Omen), space opera (Jupiter Ascending), takes on folk tales (Sinbad and Robin Hood) and evening SF comedy (Avenue 5). (CE)
Born February 27, 1993 – Ellen Curtis, age 28. Three novels (with Matthew LeDrew), three shorter stories; four anthologies (with Erin Vance). Has read The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Castle of Otranto, The Name of the Rose, a Complete Stories & Poems of Lewis Carroll, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales. [JH]
(12) REDISCOVERING ‘UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Looking back on the final voyage of the original Star Trek crew, Escapist scribe Darren Mooney makes a compelling argument for the subtext of the movie. He reads the movie as a rejection of nostalgia, and the need to hear new voices within genre fiction. It’s an article that’s relevant to several of fandom’s ongoing internecine struggles: “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Rejected Franchise Nostalgia in a Way Impossible Today” at Escapist Magazine.
…Three decades later, it’s impossible to imagine a major franchise demonstrating this level of introspection without provoking a fandom civil war. The Undiscovered Country provides a contrast with films like The Rise of Skywalker, in that The Undiscovered Country is about an older generation learning that they need to step aside and make room for those that will follow, while The Rise of Skywalker is about how the older generation is never too old for a joyride in the Millennium Falcon….
… In September, Rupert Gebhard, director of the Munich’s Bavarian State Archaeological Collection, and Rüdiger Krause, an early European history professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, published a paper in the German journal Archäologische Informationen arguing that the artifact—which features images of the sun, the moon, and the Pleiades star cluster—is not the remarkable earliest-known depiction of astronomical phenomena that it had been heralded as.
“It’s a very emotional object,” Gebhard told the New York Times. He believes that the looters who discovered the disk before it was recovered in 2002 moved it from its original site and reburied it with real Bronze Age artifacts to make it appear older and more valuable.
Cryptography in seventeenth-century England was not just the stuff of spies and traitors, a fact that became a major plot point in The Sign of the Gallows, my fifth Lucy Campion historical mystery. While ciphers had grown more complex between the 16th and 17th centuries with the development of new mathematics, the actual practice of secret and hidden writing occurred in different domains of everyday life. Merchants might send messages about when and where shipments might occur out of fear of theft. Leaders of non-conformist religious sects like the Quakers might communicate with their followers in code, informing them of their next meeting. Friends and merry-makers might write riddles and jests using ciphers to entertain one another, in a type of pre-parlor game. Lovers, especially those unacknowledged couples, might write amorous messages that could not be read if discovered by jealous husbands or angry parents….
5. PLACES IN THE ATTACK THE BLOCK ARE NAMED AFTER FAMOUS BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS.
The movie takes place in a fictional neighborhood. The main council block in the film is called Wyndham Tower in honor of John Wyndham, the English science fiction writer famous for novels such as The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Other locations include Huxley Court (Aldous Huxley), Wells Court (H.G. Wells), Moore Court (Alan Moore), Ballard Street (J.G. Ballard), and Adams Street (Douglas Adams). Just after the movie title appears, the camera pans across a map of the area, showing the various names.
(16) WORSE THAN THE DIET OF WORMS. Antonio Ferme, in “George A. Romero’s Lost Movie ‘The Amusement Park’ Comes to Shudder” at Variety, says that Shudder will show Romero’s 1973 film The Amusement Park which was believed lost until it was found and restored in 2018. The film was commissioned by the Lutheran Society to showcase problems of elder abuse but suppressed because the Lutherans thought it was too gory.
… “Amusement Park” stars Lincoln Maazel as an elderly man who finds himself increasingly disoriented and isolated during a visit to the amusement park. What he initially assumed would be an ordinary day quickly turned into a hellish nightmare filled with roller coasters and chaotic crowds….
… Helen Helenson, first applicant for asylum in Potatopia: The minutes when I thought I would have to look at a brownish plastic oval and not clearly know what gender it was were some of the most frightening of my life. I started to sob. I thought, what will they come for next? Soon I won’t know what gender any of the plastics are around my home….
…To make Flatcat more endearing so people will actually want to touch and interact with it, its creators at a Berlin-based robotics startup called Jetpack Cognition Lab have wrapped it in soft, fluffy fur so that it looks more like a cat—or at least a cat that somehow survived repeated run-ins with a semi-truck. In reality, Flatcat is more like like a ThiccFurrySnake, or maybe a FlattenedCaterpillar. Calling it a cat is certainly a stretch….
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “That Mitchell and Webb Look–Holmes And Watson” on YouTube, British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb play two actors who keep fighting over who gets to play Holmes and who gets to play Watson.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Kurt Schiller, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Walt Boyes, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
[Editor’s Introduction: Walt Boyes, Editor, the Grantville Gazette and Editor in Chief, Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, emailed this letter of comment on February 17. I did not realize it was intended for publication until I saw his comment on Eric Flint’s Facebook page. Here it is:]
Walt Boyes: I regret that Jason Sanford says he is being harassed. Nobody should do that, under any provocation.
However, one thing I believe that Jason Sanford did wrong is to lump all the conferences on Baen’s Bar together.
As Eric Flint noted, the conferences he oversees (oversaw) are heavily moderated (I am one of them, though not a Bar Moderator) and we do not allow the kinds of behavior that Mr. Sanford reports. I don’t go to Politics or Blazes because I know what’s there. Do not want to do that.
But since Mr. Sanford decided to throw the baby out with the bath water, Science Fiction has (at least temporarily,I hope) lost a very important resource. The1632Tech and 1632Slush conferences and the UniverseSlush conferences have provided a great resource to beginning (or otherwise) writers. We have been doing this for over 20 years. We critique and workshop beginning writers’ work, and at the end of the process, often buy the stories for the Grantville Gazette (www.Grantvillegazette.com). These stories can be in the 1632Universe, or just really good science fiction or fantasy, because we kept the Baen’s Universe crit group going, and we publish one or two stories from there every issue.
These conferences have produced millions of published words, paid at SFWA professional rates (currently $0.08/word) and at least one Nebula nominated author (Kari English). Over 150 authors have made their first professional sale through those conferences. Several have become NYT and Amazon Best Sellers.
There is no politics in these conferences. There is no violence or discussion of violence other than as it relates to the 1632 series.
So, because Mr Sanford didn’t do all the research that an investigative reporter should (I too am a member of SPJ and have done investigative reporting for decades), our writers who were working on their stories, as they have done for 20 years, are now out in the cold. We have even, at least temporarily, lost the archives of the conferences, which are irreplaceable. Instead of editing the 94th issue of the Gazette, I am now trying to save the conferences we have used to create it.
I am not saying that Mr. Sanford did the right thing, or the wrong thing. But actions have consequences, and what he has done has challenged the careers of many beginning writers, because he didn’t ask anybody who knew anything what was going on.
Walt Boyes, Editor, the Grantville Gazette; Editor in Chief, Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press
Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.
On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.
The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”
The Hollywood Reporterreported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.
The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.
The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.
The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”
(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.
Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.
Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.
Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.
(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress. I am taking a victory lap on this one. You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms. I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward. There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before. Very gratifying. Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com (Reviews are appreciated too). I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced. I may add others soon. Donations are accepted on Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not a crusader, just a businessman. Support allows me to create new work.
(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:
(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences. For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.
“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”
Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.
“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”
(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020 is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.
Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired. This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach. German-Swiss of Sicily. Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English. (Died 1878) [JH]
Born December 26, 1903 — Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82. (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.) Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents. Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories. More here. [JH]
Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78. Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers. Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”). Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.” [JH]
Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69. Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker. Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His Profession, Cybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This Earth, From Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33. [JH]
Born December 26, 1953 — T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE)
Born December 26, 1953 — Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow World, The Burning Goddess, City of Assassins,The Secret World of Alex Mack, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
Born December 26, 1960 — Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian. Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE)
Born December 26, 1961 — Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty. Black Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52. Jaffe Foundation award. Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency. A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories. Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
Born December 26, 1970 — Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37. Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Ironman tri-athlete. NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller. Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit. “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.” [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.
(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.
Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:
It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.
… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.
“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”
Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.
… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.
Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.
(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]
(1) CON CANCELLED. MediaWest*Con 40 will not be held – the pioneering
sf/media con in Lansing, MI declares it’s the “End
of an Era”. The con had been scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in
…Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.
Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.
(2) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 1632. Eric Flint posted a 20-year retrospective of 1632 and the
book series it proved to be a launching point for: “Tempus Fugit”.
…I’ve lost track of how many authors have been involved in the Ring of Fire universe, and how many words have been written in the series. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 authors, and we’re now well beyond 10,000,000 words—of which at least 5,000,000 have been produced in paper as well as electronic format. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twenty times as long as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and sixteen times as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And—wait for it! wait for it!—it’s now much longer than the Bible. (Which comes in at 783,137 words, in the King James edition.)
There are now at least two million copies of the 1632 series books in print. And—this is where grubby scribblers chortle with glee—the royalties earned by the authors have just gone over the $2,000,000 mark. Yay for us!
Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives in the United States.
According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”
…The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020. You can see the full requirements and apply here. The winner will be announced in September. The prize is sponsored this year by Biblio, Swann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.
Again, we have a strong ballot in this category. G.V. Anderson is certainly one of the best short fiction writers to have emerged in recent years. Her novelette “A Strange Uncertain Light” is also the only Nebula finalist to have originated in the print magazines. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll is a lovely little story and I’m happy that it made the ballot. Sarah Pinsker and Caroline M. Yoachim are both excellent writers of short fiction, though I haven’t read these particular stories. I also must have missed “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal, even though I usually read the Tor.com stories. However, I have enjoyed other stories by Mimi Mondal that I read. Finally, I’m very happy to see Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo on the Nebula ballot and not just because we featured it at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year. This is the first Nebula finalist we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, by the way, though we have featured finalists and even winners of the Bram Stoker and Sir Julius Vogel Awards.
Diversity count: Six women, two international writers, two writers of colour
Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).
Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.
The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatizing. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.
But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world….
Whatever happened to that girl? You know the one I mean: long hair, old-fashioned dress, with a dark, looming house in the distance and a look of anxiety on her face. She’s most often running from said dark house.
The girl from the Gothic novels.
I’m talking about the mid-20th century Gothic novels, not the original crop of Gothic books, like The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho. No, it’s that second wave of Gothics—termed Gothic romances—that were released in the 1960s in paperback form that I’m referring to. This was a category dominated by authors such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney, and their covers fixed in the minds of a couple of generations what ‘Gothic’ meant….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 20, 1955 — Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode which was also directed by Arnold. It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 20, 1906 — Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based of a member of the French Foreign Legion, and was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contains four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
Born February 20, 1912 — Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
Born February 20, 1925 — Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full blown horror film. And, of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
Born February 20, 1926 — Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
Born February 20, 1943 — Diana Paxson, 77. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
Born February 20, 1954 — Anthony Head, 66. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
Born February 20, 1964 — Rodney Rowland, 56. His best remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film that frankly sounds horrid. He’s got one-offs in X-Files, Welcome to Paradox, Dark Angel, Seven Days, Angel, Charmed and Twin Peaks.
Born February 20, 1967 — Lili Taylor, 53. Her most recent role was as Captain Sandra Maldonado in the short lived Almost Human series, with her first genre role being in The Haunting off Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
(11) ARE WE STILL ALLOWED TO LAUGH? Art Spiegelman reviews SCREWBALL!:
The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey, and a museum
exhibition of Rube Goldberg’s art, in “Foolish
Questions” at the New York Review of Books.
…Now that comics have put on long pants and started to strut around with the grownups by calling themselves graphic novels, it’s important to remember that comics have their roots in subversive joy and nonsense. For the first time in the history of the form, comics are beginning to have a history. Attractively designed collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, and so many more—all with intelligent historical appreciations—are finding their way into libraries.
Paul Tumey, the comics historian who co-edited The Art of Rube Goldberg book seven years ago, has recently put together a fascinating and eccentric addition to the expanding shelves of comics history.3 The future of comics is in the past, and Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four-hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago. The book is a collection of well-researched short biographies of fifteen artists from the first half of the twentieth century, accompanied by generous helpings of their idiosyncratic cartoons. Goldberg—whose name schoolchildren learn when their STEM studies bump into chain reactions—is the perfect front man to beckon you toward the other less celebrated newspaper cartoonists who worked in the screwball vein that Tumey explores.
The Force is strong with Hasbro’s new animatronic Baby Yoda toy.
The actual-sized figure of The Mandalorian‘s The Child comes to life with animatronic motions and sounds taken directly from the hit Disney+ series. Arriving in Fall 2020, this lifelike recreation of The Asset will retail for $59.99 and is intended for ages four and up. He also comes with the Mandalorian’s pendant, as given to him by his mentor Din Djarin.
US customs officers made an unusual discovery when they carried out a spot check on a Canadian mail truck – a human brain inside a jar.
The brain was found at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, on 14 February, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.
It was inside a shipment labelled “Antique Teaching Specimen”.
The shipment originated in Toronto and was destined for Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Upon opening the shipment, CBP officers found the package to contain a human brain specimen inside of a clear glass mason jar without any paperwork or documentation in support of its lawful entry into the United States,” the agency said in a statement.
In case you missed it, the end is nigh. Ever since Jared Diamond published his hugely popular 2005 work Collapse, books on the same theme have been arriving with the frequency of palace coups in the late Roman Empire. Clearly, their authors are responding to a universal preoccupation with climate change, as well as to growing financial and political instability and a sense that civilization is lurching towards a cliff edge. Mention is also made of how big-data tools are shedding new light on historical questions. But do these books have anything useful to share?
The upside of societal collapse is that while it
may be the end of the world for them, it can help with innovation and renewal,
if not there then elsewhere. Also, even if the end of the world cannot be
prevented, learning from past societal collapses may help us soften the
A SCIENCE REPORTER. Andrew Porter advises “Print it out, put it in your wallet! (Put your own
name over the one that’s there.)” Was this what he used to get in and
cover events for SF Chronicle?
Rita Ebel, 62, has come up with a novel way of helping wheelchair users like herself enjoy their shopping experiences in the western German town of Hanau.
Rita, who has been using a wheelchair since a serious car accident 25 years ago, has been building ramps from Lego and distributing them around town.
(17) SCIENTISTS GRASP THE OBVIOUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Horror films make you scared. It’s official. Shock, horror, drama, probe!!!! Psychologists in Finland used functional magnetic resonance imaging on 37 subjects watching horror films to see their ‘hemodynamic brain activity’, which is a psychologist’s poncy way of what we biologists call ‘blood flow’. (Why use two words when you can use three longer ones). Different parts of the brain were stimulated when another group was shown non-horror films. Or in the psychologists’ words: “[Their] main finding was that acute fear elicited consistent activity in a distributed set of cortical, limbic, and cerebellar regions, most notably the prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, amygdala, cingulate cortex, insula, PAG, parrahippocampus, and thalamus.”
…Here we studied the brain basis of sustained and acute fear using naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enabling analysis of different time-scales of fear responses. Subjects (N ?= ?37) watched feature-length horror movies while their hemodynamic brain activity was measured with fMRI….
…Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony said Wednesday that it will not participate in next week’s PAX East gaming exposition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, out of concern about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Sony announced its decision in a post on its PlayStation blog:
“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
In response, PAX East organizers vowed that the show would go on, but with extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state, and federal public health guidelines,” the organizers said on the PAX website. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
A new deepfake puts Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, “The Cage” — and I kind of love it. In this particular AI-powered face swap, Bezos plays a Talosian alien with a huge bald head, while Musk plays Captain Christopher Pike (who is the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk).
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Karl-Johan Norén, Bill
Wagner, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Andrew.]
By John Hertz:Spikecon combined Westercon LXXII (regional)
and the 13th NASFiC (North America S-F Con, since 1976 held when the Worldcon
is off-continent – this year’s Worldcon was in
Dublin, Republic of Ireland), plus a 1632 Minicon (fans of
Eric Flynt’s 1632 series) and Manticon 2019 (fans of David
Weber’s Honor Harrington series, with its Royal Manticoran
Navy, i.e. Space navy). This was a first.
Kate Hatcher; attendance, about 800; in the Art Show, sales about $20,000 by
about 60 artists.
Westercon and NASFiC each had Guests of Honor. The Utah Fandom
Organization (yes, that spells –) brought two more; eight other sponsors
brought nine more.
all happened at Layton, Utah, 4-7 July 2019, fifty miles from where the Final
Spike was driven completing the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years
(population about 70,000) is twenty-five miles from Salt Lake City, where
Westercon LXVII had been – the first in Utah.
used the Davis County Conference Center and five hotels.
available space I hadn’t seen anywhere to put a Fanzine
Lounge. Hatcher said “How about a fanzine party in the Hospitality
Suite?” With Hospitality Suite chief Dorothy Domitz’ agreement we settled
– if that word may be used in fandom – on Friday night, 7-10 p.m.
Glassner, who had hosted the Fanzine Lounge at the 76th Worldcon in 2018, was
my co-host for the fanzine party. We were both on-site by Wednesday
and went shopping with Chris Olds the Party Maven. I made a flier.
I was Chief Hall-Costume Judge. Decades ago hall
costume was settled for the costumes some people wear strolling the
halls. Marjii Ellers called them “daily wear from alternative
costumes are meant to be seen at a distance; hall costumes are meant to be
met. To acknowledge them a gang of judges prowls the con and,
spotting a good one, awards a rosette on the spot.
con had made disks with Spikecon – Hall Costume Award;
while shopping I looked for lace, or like that, to go round
them. JoAnn Fabric & Crafts didn’t have spools enough in any
appealing style, but on the way out I saw some red-white-and-blue-striped cake
cups (for cupcakes, right?): it was the Independence Day
weekend. We got those.
Selina Phanara hadn’t
anything ready to exhibit in the Art Show, but luckily I was able to borrow the
Selina Phanara Sampler from fellow Phanara fans Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink &
Jerome Scott, a vertically (“portrait”?) laid out banner with color
reproductions and her name and E-mail address. Art Show chief Bruce
Miller proved to have space for it.
first of three Classics of SF discussions
I led, on “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (which just won the Retrospective Hugo for Best Novelette of 1943), was at 12:45 p.m. Regency dancing had to be at 3:15 – another time and space problem. The Chesley Awards(by the Ass’n of SF Artists) and Art Show Reception were at 7. So after “Mimsy” I hustled back to my room, changed, sauntered to the Conference Center for dancing – can’t hustle in Regency clothes – then met my fellow Art Show judges to decide and turn in the Art Show Awards before the Reception, then back to my room for conventional garments, and hustled to the Hospitality Suite where Glassner had started the fanzine party.
we trespass upon chronology.
“Mimsy”. A.J. Budrys, one of our best authors and critics both,
taught “Always ask, Why are they telling us this?” Why
do Kuttner & Moore tell us Jane Paradine, the children’s mother, is very
pretty? Remember a woman is co-writing; K&M always said that
everything they published, under any name (they used many; “Mimsy” appeared as
by Lewis Padgett), was by the two of them together.
considered Sexism? – or Mere sexism? (whatever
that may mean, about which there was also talk) – or Sexism
unconsciously or otherwise adopted by a 1943 woman?
or beneath or beside this we human beings are drawn to beauty; think not only
of an attractive man or woman, but also “I saw
young Harry … gallantly armed, / Rise from the ground … and vault … with
such ease into his seat / As if an angel dropped down from the clouds, / To
witch the world with noble horsemanship” (Henry IV Part 1, Act 4 scene
different points in “Mimsy” K&M invite us to feel for the parents
– for the children.
also the sneaky ironic foreshadowing of “The only people who can understand
philosophy are mature adults or kids like Emma and Scotty.”
Rex Holloway, the psychologist, help or hurt? Does Paradine suggest paradigm;
does Holloway suggest hollow way?
“Mimsy” tragic – in the classical sense, grievous and revealed to result from a
fault of the recipient even if – or because – that fault had been thought
does the story end with the telephone ringing? Who did K&M tell
us is calling? Why?
Unthahorsten is “a good many million years in the future”, what happens to Emma
Regency dancing. Maybe you already knew my article in Mimosa,
or maybe you followed the link to it above. I hold Jane Austen one of the
greatest authors in the world, and yes, that means I rank her with Aeschylus,
and Shakespeare, and Lady Murasaki. But she – since I’m talking to
SF fans here – is, like them, a Martian writing for other
Martians. She doesn’t explain. Georgette Heyer, writing
two centuries later, like an SF author introduces us to the world she
portrays. So it’s she I recommend, to start with anyhow; luckily
she’s a superb author herself.
said Cross-cultural contact is homework for SF. Mike
Ford said history is our secret ingredient. Theodore Sturgeon said
science fiction is knowledge fiction. Not all knowledge is
data. Some of it is doing. I learn a lot from this hobby
that grew out of a hobby.
Hospitality Suite was in the Garden Inn, attached to the Conference Center, not
in the Homes2 Suites across a driveway, which had been planned as the
Party Hotel. As it turned out, the Hospitality Suite could stay open
until 2 a.m.; the Homes2 shut down parties at midnight. Could that
have been discovered in advance, maybe even worked around? For ways
that are dark, and tricks that are vain, our hotel negotiations are peculiar.
and I had each brought a handful of fanzines, some recent, some from years
past. People looked and talked. I’d also printed the opening
page of Bill Burns’ efanzines.com. That gratified some, and was
news to others. Obviousness is relative. After our
three hours we donated what remained of our food and drink, also two little
tables I’d bought to spread fanzines on.
Hospitality Suite may be the best part of an SF convention. You’re
welcome whether you’re a fan or a pro or both; whether or not you’re in with
some in-crowd. Conversations happen. You meet people you
didn’t know you wanted to meet.
it’s called the Con Suite because the con itself hosts it, unlike say a SFWA
Suite (SF Writers of America).
the Homes2 lobby later, half past midnight or maybe one, I found a surprisingly
large crowd, and a spread of refreshments along a center table. Thus
I learned parties were being shut down. People had gravitated, and
brought leftovers. It was Lobbycon.
I heard Match Game SF had been fun, as usual. Of course it had to
happen. Kevin Standlee, his wife Lisa Hayes, and their friend Kuma
Bear, were Westercon’s Fan Guests of Honor. For a dozen years
they’ve been mounting this adaptation of the oft-revived television panel-game. At
the Worldcon they’d be nose-deep in the Business Meeting, and like that;
Spikecon was the moment. Until they started this, who
knew Standlee had a game-show host in him?
Standlee, Hayes, and Kuma are fen of many talents.
Hayes does the tech. I think Kuma is the producer.
Rocket Ship “Galileo” at the crack of dawn, i.e. 10:15 a.m. I was not alone
in wanting to celebrate the Glorious 20th; the U.S. Postal Service had issued a
decades before humankind actually did it, Heinlein wrote this
speculation. It’s the first of his “juveniles” – they have
young-adult protagonists – books which some of us think his best: they’re gems.
“Galileo” is reasonable science for 1947. Heinlein said he’d only
compressed the time and the number of people. Note that it isn’t a
rocket ship built in a back yard.
how he manages the characterization – sparely but tellingly. The
books on the shelf in the clubhouse – Ross Jenkins’ parents (the one-word
utterance “Albert.” in Chapter 4!) – “Going to put her down on manual?” and
what follows. Look how characterization also advances the plot
– like setting up Art’s speaking German.
very points we might hang fire on are things Heinlein needs for what I’ve
called the C.S. Lewis One-Strange rule: an extraordinary person in ordinary
circumstances, or an ordinary person in extraordinary
circumstances. Boys taking apart almost anything mechanical from alarm
clocks to souped-up jalopies. “Cigarette,
Doctor? Cigar?” These are verisimilitude at the time of
you looking for the Heinlein Double Surprise – something strange happens, then
something really strange happens? There it is!
Art Show tour I led was at 11:30. I didn’t invent these tours, but I
often arrange them, and usually lead one myself. Why me? When
Kelly Freas first told a con to get me for one, I went to him. He said,
“You seem to be able to say what you see.”
never forgotten that. When I’m arranging the tours it’s what I ask tour
leaders to do.
used to say “docent tours”. Docent is the right word,
but I found people didn’t know what it meant, and didn’t look it up, so it put
them to sleep.
Art Show was one of the strengths of Spikecon.
Here was Mark Roland, one of few who does etching; his “Persistence of Memory” won 1st Place Monochrome (if you follow the link, scroll down, 3rd image; you’ll see he says these are limited-edition fine art prints, hand-wiped and printed on rag paper in his studio).
was Elizabeth Berrien, whose “Cloud Unicorn” in aluminum wire won Best 3-D; she
has not exhibited with us for a while, being distracted with airports and hotel
lobbies. Her Website is worth a look. At a
party, or a panel discussion, you’ll see her listening or contributing to the
conversation, all the while twisting wire. She must carry the whole
in her mind, like Michelangelo saying “I just get a block of marble and chip
away anything that doesn’t look like a Madonna and Child.”
Douglas’ “Ghost Leviathan”, worked up from the page into bas-relief with layers
of color, and found objects, won 1st Place Color. She has
recently been at Orycons.
by Elizabeth Fellows won 2nd Place Monochrome. Looking straight at it you
saw vertical strands of dark yarn on a field of white. Fellows
didn’t, so the Art Show did, mount a sign Look at it
sideways. You then saw a face – which I think was Alan Rickman
as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter movies – but wasn’t his
word “Forever”? Where are my notes?
particularly glad Bjo Trimble, her husband John, and their daughter Kat, were
at the con; as it turned out they were sponsored by Ctein (pronounced “k-TINE”;
yes, that’s his full name; while we’re at it, there should be a circumflex over
the j in Bjo, an Esperantism indicating
In the photo you can see Bjo’s “Aslan” (from The Chronicles of Narnia), which won 3rd Place Monochrome, over her head. Kat’s “Mariposa” (which you can’t quite see in the photo) was a Judges’ Choice.
is one of few photographers in our Art Shows. Photos are necessarily
of things actually existent; what’s the SF element? We get some
neighbors, like astronomicals, or the spacecraft so far built; and indeed Ctein
shoots them. But his other pictures too have a quality of marvel.
The art of photography includes the mind of the artist. Ctein
being one of the judges, and also exhibiting, he insisted that nothing by a
judge should get an award.
No picture-taking is our Art Show rule, but Jan Gephardt was allowed to shoot this panel of her own (you can just make out
some of her paper sculptures at upper left).
night, the Masquerade. Decades ago this was a dress-up party;
it’s now a costume competition – with a stage, lights, and sound, if we can
manage. The Masquerade Director was Tanglwyst de Holloway; Master of
Ceremonies, Orbit Brown; judges, Dragon Dronet, Theresa Halbert, Kitty Krell.
as a Novice, and winning Best in Show – which is quite possible, I’ve been a
judge at Worldcon Masquerades where we did that – was Hanna Swedin, “Snaptrap”
(Re-Creation, from Five Nights at Freddy’s 3; Re-Creation entries
are based on known images, Original entries are not; the Novice, Journeyman,
and Master classes allow entrants to compete against others with their own
level of experience if they wish, but anyone can “challenge up”, and experience
brought the Site-Selection results. Columbus, Ohio, won unopposed
for the 14th NASFiC in 2020 (the 78th
Worldcon will be at Wellington, New Zealand, in
2020). Tonopah, Nevada, beat Phoenix, Arizona, 82-51, for Westercon
LXXIV in 2021 (Westercon LXXIII will
be at Seattle, Washington, in 2020).
is a noteworthy outcome. In contrast with Phoenix, Tonopah is an
unincorporated town of population 2,600; no air, rail, intercity-bus service;
it’s halfway between Reno and Las Vegas (each about 200 miles, 250 km,
away). Probably not even the best crystal-gazer would venture to say
what lurks in the minds of fen, but “Why Tonopah?” from the bid committee to its parent organization, all
explained again at Spikecon in conversation, bid parties, and the exercise
we call the Fannish Inquisition, may be instructive.
quarter to one p.m., October the First Is Too Late. As
always I asked who’d read it recently or had it fresh in mind, who even if
having read it didn’t have it fresh in mind, who hadn’t read it, who hadn’t
heard of it; most always there are some of each (hadn’t heard of it may
prove to be but I hear these discussions are fun, which I’ll take).
way of reminding people to look things up I pointed out that “bacon” for an
Englishman is nearer to what United States people call “Canadian bacon” than to
what U.S. people call “bacon”. If this is what you’re living on while
camping, it makes a difference.
all the music for? Is it mere window-dressing? Well, it
shows the mind of the narrator. It sets up the exploration of art
and technology, human and mechanical possibilities, with the future (though we
must beware of that word with this book) keyboard instrument in Chapter 13.
music, at least as we understand it, is about time, and time is the theme, the
endoskeleton, of the book: one of the more brilliant observations I heard all
about the framing story? What about “someone, or something, was
using the Sun as a giant signaling device”? Does it tell us anything
about the fourth-millennium people? The narrative doesn’t take us to
it again – or does it, in the last chapter, with “a higher level of perception
than our own”?
we to be uncertain about the certain uncertainty of the people we meet at the
end, like Sir Arthur Clarke’s “It is well to be skeptical [or as he spelled it,
sceptical] even of skepticism”?
Closing Ceremonies the joined Westercon and NASFiC had to
disjoin. When Kate Hatcher ended Spikecon, the Westercon gavel went
to Sally Woehrle for Westercon LXXIII; but the NASFiC is an entity of the World
Science Fiction Society, so the WSFS gavel went to a courier for the 77th
Worldcon which would need it before the 14th NASFiC.
Standlee, Hayes, and Kuma were present, being Fan Guests of Honor for Westercon
LXXII, and Linda Deneroff was present, being Fan Guest of Honor for the 13th
NASFiC, all experienced in Business Meeting fandom, so we managed.
in the course of helping take down and clean up I found my roommate Kevin Rice
carrying a box of leftover plastic train-whistles. He’d made them by
3-dimensional printing, gosh: six inches long with two pipes, the top one
marked “Spikecon 2019” and the bottom one “Layton, UT”. They were in
knew there would be a Dead Dog party (until the last dog is –), and separately
a Dead Dog Filk, so that’s where
I went with them. More of the filkers being of the
musical-instrument type, they took more.
By John Hertz: (reprinted from No
Direction Home 12) Indeed there
was rejoicing on Friday 10 May at Promontory, Utah.
40 miles from Layton, site of this year’s combined Westercon LXII [West
Coast Science Fantasy Conference – oh, all right, it’s been in Colorado and
Texas, and Alberta] and 13th NASFiC [North America Science Fiction Convention,
held when the Worldcon is overseas] (also, for good measure, combined with the
1632 Minicon – Eric Flint’s 1632
shared-universe stories – and the Manticon – David Weber’s Honor Harrington
stories with their Royal Manticoran Navy), to be held 4-7 July.
A hundred fifty years ago at Promontory, on May 10, 1869, the final spike
was driven into the final rail-tie completing six and a half years’ work to
create the Transcontinental Railroad.
Travel – of passengers or freight – from New York to San Francisco was
shortened, not in space but in time, from six months to ten days.
So our convention will be Spikecon.
We s-f fans are to some extent students of technology. Here was some.
Thousands attended the 150th-anniversary celebration, from 49 of the 50 States and from Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Switzerland.
The Central Pacific railroad had built from the west, the Union Pacific
from the east. In a famous photograph –
more technology – the Central’s steam engine No. 60 and the Union’s No. 119
met, cowcatcher to cowcatcher, two 60-ton machines great in their day, the
Union’s burning coal, the Central’s burning wood. They were represented on this anniversary by
first sang “Who built the Ark?” I’ve
traced it to 1892 and it was well known then (The Dental Register v. 46, p. 603).
Thousands of Chinese helped build the Transcontinental in the west,
thousands of Irish in the east.
Mulhall, ambassador from the Republic of Ireland, was present for this 150th,
and raised a toast. The ambassador from
the People’s Republic of China, whose name in courtesy to him I had better
spell Cui Tiankai and not Ts‘ui T‘ian-k‘ai, said in a recorded message the
Transcontinental was a “telling example of how the Chinese and American people
can come together to get things done and make the impossible possible.”
Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation and the first Chinese-American
of Cabinet rank, said “The Central Pacific needed industrious, tireless
workers, and Chinese answered the call with great skill and dedication.” A multiracial theater troupe performed a
musical retelling in the wrong kind of Chinese peasant hats. Lance Fritz, head of the Union Pacific, which
now hauls far more freight than passengers, said the railroad laborers, in
12-hour days and sometimes brutal conditions, changed America forever.
Wouk (rhymes with “oak”; May 27, 1915 – May 17, 2019) died ten days short of
his 104th birthday. He became famous
first novel Aurora Dawn (1947) was a
Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His
third, The “Caine” Mutiny (1951), won
the Pulitzer Prize, was adapted into a Broadway play The “Caine” Mutiny Court-Martial (1953) and a motion picture with
Humphrey Bogart (E. Dmytryk dir. 1954).
next, Marjorie Morningstar (1955),
put him on the cover of Time magazine
and was made into a movie with Gene Kelly (I. Rapp dir. 1958). His sixth, Youngblood Hawke (1962), which he denied basing on Thomas Wolfe
(1900-1938), was serialized in McCall’s
and made into a movie (D. Daves dir. 1964) with James Franciscus.
eighth and ninth, The Winds ofWar (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978), were made into television mini-series
(D. Curtis dir. 1983, Winds; 1988-89,
Remembrance) with Robert Mitchum.
A Hole in Texas (2004) is
science fiction; what if, years after U.S. President Clinton canceled the
Superconducting Supercollider, the Chinese announced finding the Higgs boson? In fact no one found it until 2012.
The inside jacket of Hole says Wouk “exercises his deep
insight and considerable comic powers to give us a witty and keen satire –
about Washington, the media, and science, and what happens when these three
forces of American culture clash.”
Like a good satirist he is
fundamentally concerned with human nature, our foibles and – Sarcasm is in anger, satire is with love
– our fortes. Like a good s-f writer he
illuminates by means of possible, fictional, science. He realizes, as Sturgeon said, that Science fiction is knowledge fiction.
Remembrance together are 1,800 pages.
Hole is 280.
A word to the wise is sufficient. This
is problematic for satirists. What if
people in the audience – including, perhaps, the satirized – aren’t very wise?
Lafferty made Thomas More (1478-1538)
the eponym of his marvelous Past Master
(1968). Poor Sir Thomas, if one may use
that expression, pulled five hundred years into the future, keeps crying “Utopia  is a satire!”
We haven’t yet reached the setting of Past Master – and I certainly hope we
shan’t – but fifty years after Past
Master was published we still don’t see that about Utopia.
You may jib at Hole’s explanation, chapter 5, thinking “It would have been better
if Wouk had read more s-f.” You may
dislike, as the book goes on, what seems to be increasingly fundamental
Should those befall, you will be lucky
if you remember the superb management of what characters and readers must know
in Marjorie Morningstar, and the
devastating treatment of masculine and feminine romantic sex fantasies there
and in Youngblood Hawke.
Maybe you won’t. Maybe you won’t have read them. In that case, and if nothing else helps you
first, wait till the end of Hole,
when the bubble bursts, the man is crashingly shown not so smart, and – satire is with love – everything
nevertheless comes right.
Marjorie Morningstar may be Wouk’s best. It may be great. I have yet to meet anyone who was awake to it – what’s the author’s name?? – but time may tell.
National Book Foundation making it a finalist said Marjorie was “released from
the social constraints of her traditional Jewish family, and thrown into the
glorious, colorful world of theater….
[a] paean to youthful love and the bittersweet sorrow of a first
heartbreak.” O Sir Thomas!
By John Hertz: Spikecon, 4-7 July 2019, will combine two general-interest s-f conventions, Westercon LXXII (West Coast Science Fantasy Conference – oh, all right, it’s been in Colorado and Texas) and the 13th NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention, held when the World Science Fiction Convention is overseas), and two special-interest ones, 1632 Minicon and Manticon 2019. There’s a big tent for us! Or maybe a geodesic dome. Or a Dyson sphere.
The con is named in honor of the Golden Spike, the last
spike driven to join the Central Pacific and Union Pacific creating the
Transcontinental Railroad on 10 May 1869, just forty miles from the con site.
We’ll do three Classics of SF
discussions, one story each. Come to as
many as you like. You’ll be welcome to
I’m still with A classic is an artwork that survives its
time; after the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it
remains, and is seen as worthwhile in itself. If you have a better definition, bring it.
Here are our three. I think each is interesting in a different
way. Each may be more interesting now
than when originally published.
Kuttner & Moore, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943)
The authors each said, after they
married, anything under their names or their various pseudonyms was by
both. Decades later, Tim Powers is known
for explaining the real – i.e. SF – reason for something in history; here’s the
real – i.e. SF – reason for something in fantasy; yet even that’s hardly the
greatest element. The title alludes to
Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass
(1871), as we – maybe – eventually understand.
Rocket Ship “Galileo” (1947)
We’ve also come to the golden
anniversary of the Glorious 20th, when humankind first set foot on the
Moon. Decades earlier came this
speculation. It isn’t, incidentally, a
rocket ship built in a back yard; and as A.J. Budrys used to demand, it answers
“Why are they telling us this?” Nor are
these pioneers the first – nor yet the second.
Hoyle, October the First Is Too Late (1966)
This first-rate astronomer – he
was knighted six years later – also wrote SF.
In both fields he was famously willing to propose speculations far from
others’. In science one may someday be
proved right or wrong; fiction doesn’t work that way. We might say of this story It’s about time. Only maybe it isn’t. Maybe time isn’t.