(1) COVID OUTBREAK AMONG EASTERCON ATTENDEES. Fans who attended last week’s Eastercon in the UK (“Conversation”) have been self-reporting positive Covid tests and symptoms to the con’s Facebook community group, or to the con’s Discord server, now closed, which reportedly had more than 70 positive tests. Masking is no longer mandatory in the UK, however, the con’s own Covid policy asked people to test before coming, stay home if they tested positive (or had symptoms of an infectious disease), and to wear a mask in program items and crowded areas. There is much discussion of how many people complied with their masking policy, as well as the load on the venue’s ventilation system in places like the bar.
Today one author put it rather dramatically:
(2) FANZINE PILGRIMAGE. Marcin “Alqua” Kłak today published a conreport about “Corflu Craic – my first fanzine convention” at Fandom Rover. The event was held in Belfast the weekend before Eastercon.
…Did I enjoy Corflu? Oh yes! I certainly want to repeat the experience (although next year the con will be held in Nevada so outside of my reach). The atmosphere, the friendliness, the conversations – It was pretty awesome. Eating meals together and discussing fannish topics was memorable.
I got a lot of reading materials. Firstly items I bought at the auction at previous Corflu were given to me. They came with some additional stuff (including the Programme Book from 2022). Then each person coming to Corflu Craic got a random set of fanzines from the chair’s own supplies. Then I got many zines people produced for this year or took them to the con to give away. And at last I bought two publications. The first was 1957 The First UK Worldcon edited by Rob Hansen (which at the end of the con got an award). The second one was a TAFF trip report from Sue Mason. I cannot complain for the lack of fanzines to read this year (and probably next too!). The challenge wiI be to write a few LoCs though (and I don’t have too much experience!).
(3) KSR AT UCSD. On April 19 The School for Global Policy and Strategy and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego will host an in-person discussion with Kim Stanley Robinson, engaging with several UC San Diego researchers, about the bidirectional patterns of influence between climate research and science fiction narrative, and what both suggest about the Earth’s future, and our own. Free admission, register here.
Earth’s Future: A Discussion with Kim Stanley Robinson. April 19, 2023, 12:30p – 1:50p. Institute of the Americas, Hojel Auditorium, UC San Diego
Internationally renowned writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction has long been engaged with the tradition of utopian thought: how do we imagine a better society? His most recent novel, The Ministry for the Future, has been hailed as a masterpiece and held up as a roadmap to climate policy and action, and how his characters navigate the next hundred years of climate catastrophe and cascading political and social effects toward a better future have inspired numerous projects that engage with related ideas in political economy, technology and engineering, climatology and ecology, and urban design.
Introduction by Patrick Coleman, Asst. Director, Clarke Center for Human Imagination
Moderated by Jennifer Burney (Professor; Marshall Saunders Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Global Climate Policy and Research, UC San Diego)
Kate Ricke (Assistant Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego)
Teevrat Garg (Assistant Professor of Economics, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego)
John Ahlquist (Professor and Associate Dean, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego)
(4) SECOND GUESS SFF. GameRant’s Kristy Ambrose says these “Sci-Fi Movies That Almost Had Different Endings”.
…It’s not uncommon for sci-fi movies to have several endings before the director and the studio decide on the one that will hit the theatres. The fans can only hope to catch a glimpse of the alternative cuts on DVDs or Blu-rays. As it happens, these highly successful sci-fi films almost ended differently, and if they had been cut today, their stories might have concluded differently….
Here’s an example – beware spoilers. (If you wonder, “how could they spoil an ending that wasn’t made?” – well, they have to compare it to the actual ending, and there you are, spoiled!)
6. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)
Here’s an example of a dark but comical ending that might have been retained had Little Shop of Horrors been made in another era. Instead of successfully defeating Audrey II, the killer plant that fed on human blood, it eats both Seymour, the main character, and his love interest, the original Audrey. It’s then strong enough to replicate, and the final scenes include several giant killer plants tearing apart the city.
Test audiences weren’t too keen on the ending, however, which sees our downtrodden but plucky protagonist turned into plant food. An alternative ending was used instead, in which Seymour manages to electrocute Audry II before it can do any more damage and stop the global carnage before it even starts.
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1975 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Our Beginning this Scroll is that of Gardner Dozois’ “The Visible Man” novelette. He was a prolific author of short fiction, for which he won two Nebulas, and also wrote four novels. Though his fiction won no Hugos despite five nominations, he won myriads as Professional Editor, Short Fiction.
Now for “The Visible Man” novelette. It was first published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, the December 1975 issue. It got printed as part of The Visible Man collection several years later. Baen has the rights to it now and they last published as an ebook a decade in Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois. It’s a nicely done look at him as a writer. So let’s get to that Beginning…
GEORGE ROWAN’S ONLY chance of escape came to him like a benediction, sudden and unlooked for, on the road between Newburyport and Boston.
They were on old Route 1, the Newburyport Turnpike, and there was not another car in sight. The fully automated Route 95 guideway was just a few miles west of here, running almost parallel to Route 1, but for reasons of his own the sheriff had preferred to take the old secondary road, even though he had to drive the car himself and couldn’t possibly get up to guideway speeds. Perhaps he simply enjoyed manual driving. Perhaps it was some old State regulation, now solidified into tradition, that prohibited the transportation of prisoners on automated roads. Perhaps it was just some more of the expected psychological torture, taking the slowest possible route so that Rowan would have time to build up a greater charge of fear and dreadful anticipation for what awaited him in Boston.
For Rowan, the trip had already become interminable. His memory of the jail in Newburyport, of his crime, of his hasty trial, of his past life—all had become hazy and indistinct. It seemed as if he had been riding forever, on the road, going to Boston for the execution of his sentence. Only that was real and vivid: the slight swaying motion of the car, the seat upholstery sticking uncomfortably to his sweat-soaked back, the ridged rubber mat under his feet. The countryside they drove through was flat and empty, trees, meadows, cultivated fields, little streams, sometimes a boarded-up gas station or a long-abandoned roadside stand. The sky was a flat, washed-out blue, and the sunlight was thick and dusty. Occasionally they would bump over a pothole or a stretch of frost-buckled pavement—the State didn’t spend much anymore to keep up the secondary roads. The car’s electric engine made no sound at all, and the interior of the car was close and hot with the windows rolled up.
Rowan found himself reluctantly watching the little motions of the steering wheel, apparently turning all by itself, driverless. That made him shiver. He knew intellectually, of course, that he was sitting on the front seat between the sheriff and the deputy, but he couldn’t see them. He could hear them breathing, and occasionally the deputy’s arm would brush against his own, but, for Rowan, they were invisible.
He knew why they were invisible, but that didn’t make it any less spooky. When the State’s analysis computers had gone down into his mind and found the memories that proved him guilty, they had also, as a matter of course, implanted a very deep and very specific hypnotic injunction: from now on, George Rowan would not be able to see any other living creature. Apparently the injunction had not included trees and other kinds of vegetation, but it had covered animals and birds and people. He assumed that when he “saw” through invisible people—as he now “saw” the portions of the car that should have been blocked from sight by the sheriffs body—it was because his subconscious mind was extrapolating, creating a logical extension of the view from other visual data in order to comply with the spirit of the injunction. Nothing must be allowed to spoil the illusion. Nor could Rowan break it, although he knew what it was and how it had been created. It was too strong, and planted too deep. He was “blind” in a special and insidious way….
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 12, 1884 — Bob Olsen. He wrote stories for Amazing Stories, from 1927 to 1936, many of them said to be of humorous inclination. He was one of the first writers to use the phrase ‘space marine’ in a two-story Captain Brink sequence consisting of “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (November 1932 Amazing) and “The Space Marines and the Slavers” (December 1936 Amazing). I’m fairly sure that he wrote no novels and less than twenty-four short stories. I do know that severe arthritis curtailed his writing career in 1940. (Died 1956.)
- Born April 12, 1915 — Emil Petaja. An author whose career spanned seven decades who really should be remembered as much for his social circles that included early on as H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and August Derleth which later expanded to include Anthony Boucher, Frank M. Robinson, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein. It should not be overlooked that he did write seven novels and around forty short stories during his career with the stories appearing in Weird Tales, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantastic Adventures, Worlds of Tomorrow, Future Science Fiction Stories and other venues as well. (Died 2000.)
- Born April 12, 1921 — Carol Emshwiller. I think her short stories are amazing and The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories collection won a World Fantasy Award. She’d later receive a Life Achievement from the group of judges chosen by the World Fantasy Awards Administration. I’ve not read her novels, so which would you recommend I read? (Died 2019.)
- Born April 12, 1916 — Beverly Cleary. One of America’s most successful authors, almost a hundred million copies of her children’s books have been sold worldwide since her first book was published in seventy years ago. Some of her best known characters are Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, and Ralph S. Mouse. (Died 2021.)
- Born April 12, 1958 — Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 65. An LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She is has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she writes such papers as ‘Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites’.
- Born April 12, 1936 — Charles Napier. Well let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I surprised to learn that he was General Hardcastle in Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series. (Died 2011.)
- Born April 12, 1979 — Jennifer Morrison, 44. Emma Swan in the Once Upon a Time series, and Winona Kirk, mother of James T. Kirk in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She also paid her horror dues in Urban Legends: Final Cut as Amy Mayfield, the student videographer whose film goes terribly wrong. I’m intrigued to see that she’s the voice actor for the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in the Batman: Hush, a film that needs a R rating to be told properly and indeed did so.
(7) CAN YOU GUESS? “Russell Crowe doesn’t like horror movies. Why the hell is he playing The Pope’s Exorcist?” asks Entertainment Weekly.
Russell Crowe does not like scary movies.
“No, I’m not really a horror film fella,” the Oscar winner tells EW. “I like to sleep deeply at nighttime.”
Crowe is hoping to give cinemagoers interrupted slumbers with his new film The Pope’s Exorcist (in theaters April 14). In this purportedly inspired-by-real-events horror movie, the actor plays Father Gabriele Amorth, the Diocese of Rome’s chief exorcist who investigated thousands of possession cases starting in the late ’80s. Directed by Julius Avery (Overlord), the film finds Franco Nero’s Pontiff sending Amorth to investigate the strange happenings at a Spanish castle which are tormenting an American family, played by Laurel Marsden, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, and, as the clan’s matriarch, Doctor Sleep actress Alex Essoe….
(8) HARRY POTTER AND THE REGISTER OF CASH. Variety reports “’Harry Potter’ TV Show Adaptation Ordered at HBO Max”. Each season will be based on one of the books.
The announcement was made during Warner Bros. Discovery’s presentation to press and investors on April 12, during which it was announced that HBO Max and Discovery+ are officially being combined into a new service dubbed simply Max.
News of a show based on the megahit J.K. Rowling book series first leaked on April 3, but details have now been confirmed.
Each season of the show will be based on one of the books in the franchise, with Warner Bros. Discovery describing the show as a “decade-long series.” It will feature an entirely new cast from the films.
(9) OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE. Not without protest, however,“The NYPD is bringing back its robot dog” – The Verge has the story.
The New York Police Department is reenlisting Digidog, the four-legged robot that the city faced backlash for deploying a few years back, as reported earlier by The New York Times. NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the news during a press event on Tuesday, stating that the use of Digidog in the city can “save lives.”
Digidog — also known as Spot — is a remote-controlled robot made by the Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics. It’s designed to work in situations that may pose a threat to humans, helping to do things like perform inspections in dangerous areas and monitor construction sites. However, Boston Dynamics also touts its use as a public safety tool, which the NYPD has tried in the past.
… City officials say that the NYPD will acquire two robot dogs for a total of $750,000, according to the NYT, and that they will only be used during life-threatening situations, such as bomb threats.
“I believe that technology is here; we cannot be afraid of it,” Mayor Adams said during Tuesday’s press conference. “A few loud people were opposed to it, and we took a step back — that is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what’s best for the city.”…
(10) AL JAFFEE TRIBUTE. Stephen Colbert paid tribute to Al Jaffee on The Late Show last night.
Stephen takes a moment to honor one of the true giants of his childhood, MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee, who died Monday at the age of 102.
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Appropriate for the Easter season: bunnies… “Is Watership Down Science Fiction?” is a question posed by Moid Moidelhoff over at Media Death Cult. Only touching briefly on actual definitions of SF (it arguably defies precise definition) it is the first Media Death Cult video to take place on location at the real Watership down. Join Moid – who’s occasionally known to be a bit of a wag and a tease – for this nine-minute video….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]