(0) SCROLL LITE. Still full of symptoms, but a bit more energetic than yesterday. Yay!
(1) WHAT DO YOU KNOW? You can catch up on the results of two genre-oriented trivia events at LearnedLeague.
The One-Day Special quiz for The Last Unicorn has now concluded, and the questions can be seen by the general public. Here’s a link to it. Filer David Goldfarb got 10/12 right, ranking 36th out of 247 players.
Here’s another LearnedLeague quiz, about Octavia Butler. You can find it by following this link. Goldfarb got 11/12 on that one, ranking 14th out of 356.
(2) MEMORY LANE.
2019 — [By Cat Eldridge.] In Dublin 2019 which was forty-nine years after she got her first Hugo at Heicon ‘70 for The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin would receive her final Hugo for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. It came on the 50th anniversary of first publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.
The original novels that comprise this lovely work, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan, (1970) and The Farthest Shore (1972), were amazingly, at least to my thinking, not nominated for Hugos.
I’ve got a copy and I can say that is is indeed a stellar work. There’s an introduction done by her for this edition also It also includes Tehanu, The Other Wind, “The Daughter of Odren” novelette, the Tales From Earthsea collection and two short stories, “The Rule of Names” and The Word of Unbinding”. It also “Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University”, her lecture there.
There were among fans online complaints about its price. Really? You got five novels plus other goodies in an oversized lavishly illustrated volume that was immediately a collectors item and you’re complaining? Proof that some fans are born kvetchers.
It was not awarded a Best Novel Hugo but instead was awarded Best Art Book with its illustrations being by Charles Vess who won Best Professional Artist that same year. Vess has illustrated a lot of the work of Charles de Lint including A Circle of Cats and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.
(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 2, 1913 — Burt Lancaster. Certainly being Dr. Paul Moreau on The Island of Doctor Moreau was his most genre-ish role but I like him as General James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. And, of course, he’s really great as Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams. (Died 1994.)
Born November 2, 1927 — Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. He’s been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
Born November 2, 1941 — Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is showing up in digital form at the usual spots. (Died 2016.)
Born November 2, 1942 — Stefanie Powers, 80. April Dancer, the lead in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. which lasted just one season. Did you know Ian Fleming contributed concepts to this series and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well? She would play Shalon in the crossover that started on The Six-Million Man and concluded on The Bionic Woman called “The Return of Bigfoot”.
Born November 2, 1942 — Carol Resnick. 80. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes in which she and Mike appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning awards four times.
Born November 2, 1949 — Lois McMaster Bujold, 73. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. She joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
Born November 2, 1959 — Peter Mullan, 63. Actor and Filmmaker from Scotland whose first genre role is in FairyTale: A True Story, which is based very loosely based on the story of the Cottingley Fairies (and which makes for interesting reading, if you have the time). He played Corban Yaxley in both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is currently in a recurring role on the Westworld series as the James Delos character.
(5) THE CHASE. This is the best thing I’ve seen today!
(6) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King dropped this Lovecraft parody on Saturday.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:
Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.
This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.
… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).
The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…
… But the metrics now tell a different story.
I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.
Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readershere prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.
But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….
(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”.
The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.
When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.
(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.
The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….
The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?
It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.
Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….
(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.
Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.
The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.
Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).
(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:
…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.
For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….
(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman,Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, and Superboy.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1928 — [By Cat Eldridge.]The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)
We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.
It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should.
A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.
Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did.
This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 15, 1911 — James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
Born October 15, 1919 — E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
Born October 15, 1924 — Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”. (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, Otherworld, The Secret Empire, The Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
Born October 15, 1935 — Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
Born October 15, 1942 — Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
Born October 15, 1953 — Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”. Damn it, where is his Hugo?
Born October 15, 1954 — Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats.
Born October 15, 1968 — Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.
(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.
(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.
…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….
That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.
(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).
Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.
With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!
…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….
…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
After the first lockdown in March 2020, I went looking for book sales data. I’m a data scientist and a literary scholar, and I wanted to know what books people were turning to in the early days of the pandemic for comfort, distraction, hope, guidance. How many copies of Emily St. John Mandel’s pandemic novel Station Eleven were being sold in COVID-19 times compared to when the novel debuted in 2014? And what about Giovanni Boccaccio’s much older—14th-century—plague stories, The Decameron? Were people clinging to or fleeing from pandemic tales during peak coronavirus panic? You might think, as I naively did, that a researcher would be able to find out exactly how many copies of a book were sold in certain months or years. But you, like me, would be wrong.
I went looking for book sales data, only to find that most of it is proprietary and purposefully locked away. What I learned was that the single most influential data in the publishing industry—which, every day, determines book contracts and authors’ lives—is basically inaccessible to anyone beyond the industry. And I learned that this is a big problem.
The problem with book sales data may not, at first, be apparent. Every week, the New York Times of course releases its famous list of “bestselling” books, but this list does not include individual sales numbers. Moreover, select book sales figures are often reported to journalists—like the fact that Station Eleven has sold more than 1.5 million copies overall—and also shared through outlets like Publishers Weekly. However, the underlying source for all these sales figures is typically an exclusive subscription service called BookScan: the most granular, comprehensive, and influential book sales data in the industry (though it still has significant holes—more on that to come)….
Kermit Woodall (KW) Cents of Wonder is a unique collection of the first science-fiction stories to win an award.
Steve Davidson (SD) It’s an anthology of all of the stories to win, place or receive honorable mention from the very first two writing contests ever held in the field of science fiction.
The stories represent the first attempts by new, previously unpublished authors to understand the requirements of the new genre of “scientifiction” and try their hands at delivering on concepts that had not yet been articulated – creating the suspension of disbelief and rewarding that with a sense of wonder.
As such, we regard it not just as an anthology, but as a tool, useful for SF historians, academics in the field and a no-pressure way to introduce new readers in the field to some of its important developmental history. These are the stories that would inspire following generations of famous SF writers, who would themselves go on to write works that excited, inspired and informed the authors we read today….
(4) LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER. Bobby Derie discusses H.P. Lovecraft’s adventures in various Chinatowns in “Lovecraft in Chinatown” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.
…For his first thirty years, H. P. Lovecraft seldom left his native Providence, Rhode Island. All of his travels, his visits with friends, and to ethnic enclaves in different cities—as well as his marriage and all of his professionally-published fiction—happened in the last seventeen years of his life. The vast majority of character growth, exposure to different cultures, and challenges to Lovecraft’s prejudices happened in the final third of his existence. Which is why it is interesting to see what Lovecraft writes about various ethnic neighborhoods and enclaves he visited, including the few Chinatowns he visited on his travels….
(5) FELLOWSHIP AVAILABLE FOR LOVECRAFT RESEARCH. The John Hay Library at Brown University invites applications for its 2023 S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship in H. P. Lovecraft for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application deadline is November 1, 2022.
…The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others. The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library (projects do not need to relate to Lovecraft directly). The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $2,500 for up to two months of research at the library during the 2023 calendar year. The fellowship is open to students, faculty, librarians, artists, and independent scholars.
Was it important for you that such a violent story should also be funny? I don’t know if that was intentional. There’s a Sri Lankan gallows humour, because we’ve been through a hell of a lot of catastrophes. The place isn’t as volatile as it was even a month or two ago; there’s still uncertainty, but there’s a lot of people cracking jokes. I think I could never write a straight-out-horror ghost story, maybe it’s just my sensibility. Even in the 1989 situation, there was a lot of farce and it was quite ridiculous.
…The author of a 2002 post-apocalyptic fiction novel, “Metro 2033”, was put on the list after a Russian court ordered his arrest in absentia for his criticism of the offensive….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1955 – [By Cat Eldridge.] On this date in 1955, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe came to an end after just twelve episodes. You know there are certain series, be they video or written that you just know lasted much longer than they actually did. For me, this is one of them.
This black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures originally began life as a proposed syndicated television series. I’ve no idea why that never came to be, but it didn’t, mores the pity.
It was written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. A year later Davidson would script the The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu series, and Shipman scripted more Westerns than is really healthy to think about including, and I kid you not, Hi-Yo Silver. It was created by condensing the fifteen chapters of the 1938 Lone Ranger film serial.
The cast was Judd Holdren as Commando Cody, Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert, William Schallert as Ted Richards and Richard Crane as Dick Preston. There are as I said above but twelve episodes. You can see the first episode, ‘Enemies of the Universe” here. Before you ask, yes it is out of copyright.
The Commando Cody character was actually first introduced three years earlier in Republic’s Radar Menfrom the Moon serial (1952) with actor George Wallace in the title role. In the sequel, Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) Judd Holdren also played the rocket man, but his character was renamed Larry Martin for reasons.
Do I like it? Oh very much so. It’s SF pulp at its very, very finest. I just wish it was really as long as my mind’s eye remembers it being.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 8, 1920 — Frank Herbert. Dune, of course, which won a Hugo at Tricon. (I’ve read it myriad times.) I’ll admit I only like the series through Dune Messiah. And no, I’ve not see the new Dune. The BBC full cast audio version of Dune is quite amazing. I’m also fond of Under Pressure. Beyond that, there’s not much that I’m fond of. (Died 1986.)
Born October 8, 1949 — Sigourney Weaver, 73. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and Lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film Best Dramatic Presentation Award after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. And yes, I know Conspiracy ‘87 gave Aliens a Best Dramatic Presentation Award as well but I’m really not a fan of that franchise.
Born October 8, 1949 — Richard Hescox, 73. Though he does a lot of comics work , you most likely to know him for his film poster work. He did this poster for Swamp Thing, over here you can this stellar work he did for The Dark Crystal, and his movie poster concept art for Escape From New York.
Born October 8, 1974 — Lynne M. Thomas, 48. Librarian, podcaster and award-winning editor. She has won ten Hugo Awards for, among other things, her work on the SF Squeecast fancast and editing Uncanny magazine with and husband Michael Damian Thomas. She and her husband are fanatical Whovians, so it’s no surprise that with Tara O’Shea, she edited the superb Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It.
Born October 8, 1993 — Molly C. Quinn, 29. Fey / Intern Molly / Melony on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and Pemily Stallwark on the sort of related Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She’s Jenny in the Arthurian Avalon High series, and showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Howard’s date.
(10) SHORT AND FREE. Space Cowboy Books will host “Online Flash Science Fiction Night” on October 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. The evening of short science fiction readings will feature authors Jenna Hanchey, Taylor Rae, and Tara Campbell. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less. Register for free here: here.
This event is in collaboration with If There’s Anyone Left series of flash fiction anthologies Get Vol.1 here & Vol.2 here
The professional chess world is in chaos after accusations that master Hans Niemann has been cheating in official play, including some wild theories about how he might be getting outside help. But are vibrating anal beads that wirelessly communicate with the outside world even possible? It turns out the technology can work, and Adafruit will teach you how to build your own….
The DIY project starts with a plastic soda bottle preform (these are heated and expanded through a molding process to create the larger soda bottles you’ll find on store shelves), which is waterproof and nearly indestructible: an important feature depending on where you plan to use your Cheekmate (yes, that’s really what it’s called) device. From there, it’s stuffed with a small assortment of various electronics, including a haptic buzzer, a battery, an ESP32-S2 board with built-in wifi, and some wires and soldering.
The tutorial also includes all the code needed for the device to receive wireless text messages through the Adafruit IO cloud service and then translate them into Morse Code, which is transmitted to the user by pulses of its haptic buzzer. To successfully learn to cheat at chess, if that’s how you intend to use your Cheekmate, you’ll need to learn Morse Code first, but that’s probably a lot easier than the actual game….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King dropped this video parody of films like The Wicker Man and Midsommar.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Lloyd Penney, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
It strikes me that your previous anthology Dominion was extremely successful. It seems to me like it would be tempting to take the easy route and follow that up with something very similar. One of the things that impresses me about Bridging Worlds is that you’ve taken a risk. Could you speak to that risk? To the fact that you’re tackling new ground here?
[ODE] I consider myself a literary explorer. I want to enjoy and experience things across the entire gamut of the literary, starting with the speculative. That is why I am engaged in a wide range of activities like writing and editing, long and short fiction, non-fiction, slush reading, publishing, conrunning, organizing awards, presses, etc. Even in my fiction, you’ll notice this. O2 Arena my Nebula-winning story is mundane sci-fi as Geoff Ryman coined, where my Nommo-winning “Witching Hour” is fantasyish. “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place” is a historical fantasy and “Destiny Delayed” in Asimov’s and Galaxy’s Edge published this year is a genre blender. My latest story “The Magazine of Horror”, yet unpublished is epistolary, written as a series of letters between magazine editors and a submitter.
My editing is the same. After Dominion, an original fiction anthology, I undertook to do the first-ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, a Hugo, Locus, WFA & BFA finalist. It was a reprint anthology. And next wasBridging Worlds, an original non-fiction anthology, then I edited several collections with Interstellar Flight Press before returning to editing original fiction with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight again in Africa Risen. I believe in exploring, charting and discovering new courses, to challenge myself to growth as you cannot find without risk. Rather than stagnating on the capitalist, hollywoodish attitude of being safe and dying on the altar of ‘never change a winning formula.’ The truest wins, are yet undiscovered and continued progress and the ongoing growth of the genre hinges on going outside our comfort zones to find what’s different, new, needed.
(2) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Annie Ernaux is the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature, a French author cited “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.” The summaries of Ernaux’ major works do not indicate that any are genre, but you wanted to know who won, didn’t you?
SFF-related non-fiction is somewhat sidelined by the big genre awards, since the Nebulas have no non-fiction category and the Best Related Work Hugo category has become something of a grab bag of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. So why do you think SFF-related non-fiction is important?
[Jim Beard] Because of the width and breadth of SF and Fantasy in pop culture, and how we all as fans have connection points throughout it. I personally love coming across a non-fiction book on a subject I love, whether well-known or obscure, and while I myself am chugging away on doing my own publications, I can’t wait to see what other editors and publishers are doing. We’ve only scratched the surface of what can be discussed, debated, and delivered in SFF non-fiction.
…Tomlinson and his wife have both been the victims of impersonators spoofing their email and social media accounts to send bigoted messages to colleagues and random people, prompting intensive cleanup efforts on the sci-fi writer’s behalf.
All the while, the author continues to receive dozens of insulting texts, voicemails, and emails on a daily basis from his nameless stalkers, some of whom even send pictures indicating they’re just outside his house.
Yet, as Tomlinson told The Daily Beast, the efforts they’ve taken to identify his harassers and potentially bring them to justice have not only come up empty but cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. All because a court recently found that the identity of the anonymous owner of the message board can remain hidden and thus cannot be subpoenaed to provide information about the identities of the users on their site.
Tomlinson’s plight is somewhat similar to that of trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who has been the focus of a lengthy, vicious, anti-trans harassment campaign by users on the internet message board Kiwi Farms. In fact, Tomlinson himself was the target of a 1,400-page thread on the notoriously toxic online community, whose users single out specific individuals to stalk and harass….
…During this period of time, Tomlinson filed a court action attempting to subpoena Cloudflare in an effort to seek the identity of the anonymous blogger who runs the OnA Forums. Tomlinson’s lawyers argued that he needed the ability to depose the forum owner in order to learn the identities of dozens of anonymous users he sought to sue for posting defamatory statements about him on the site.
In September 2021, a California judge granted John Doe’s order to quash Tomlinson’s petition to subpoena Cloudflare to learn Doe’s identity, citing protections under Section 230 that allows for anonymity for those who passively engage on the internet.
…Besides quashing the subpoena, Judge Ethan P. Schulman also ordered Tomlinson to pay a mandatory amount of $23,739.25 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
(5) CITY TECH SF SYMPOSIUM. The Seventh Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium has put out a “Call for Papers: Science Fiction and the Archive”. The online event, sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY, will take place Tuesday, December 6, 2022 from 9:00AM-5:00PM Eastern.
Continuing the explorations and conversations of the previous two symposia on “Race” and “Access” respectively, this year’s City Tech Science Fiction Symposium is focused on the idea of the “Archive.” The potential of the SF Archive as an inclusive and celebratory concept is increasing, and we hope this symposium will be a space to facilitate its expansion through our conversations and collegial debate. Of course, an archive (little a) can refer to practical considerations of Library-based Special Collections like those in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection and others, including the collected materials, cataloging, and providing access. However, we are also thinking of the Archive (big A) in terms of canonicity, cultural preservation, reading lists, and bookstore shelfspace. These latter considerations raise questions about what does and doesn’t get included within what we might call the SF Archive as well as who does and doesn’t get a say in those selections. Therefore, the SF Archive is a broadly based concept that encompasses Libraries and Special Collections and the larger cultural space of fandom, social media, and the marketplace, all of which involve the exchange of cultural capital, influence by different forms of gatekeepers, and conversations on many levels by different readers about what SF should be valued, recognized, and saved.
The SF Archive changes over time. Perhaps most exciting for the present are the many initiatives to excavate our shared cultural histories for SF that had been overlooked or forgotten but certainly deserving of inclusion, such those by writers of color, women, and LGBTQ+ persons; and efforts to bring global SF to wider audiences thanks to growing networks of readers and scholars versed in the original language of a text and those wanting to experience those stories through translation.
(6) CROWDSOURCED QUESTIONS FOR KEVIN SMITH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Readers of the Guardian interview director Kevin Smith. Of his works Dogma and Masters of the Universe: Revelation are explicitly genre, the rest is at the very least genre-adjacent: “Kevin Smith: ‘How are you going to get laid if you look like an old person?’”. The answer to the first question is really sad BTW, because Smith says he received so much harassment from toxic fanboys about Masters of the Universe: Revelation that he wouldn’t even want to do a Star Wars or Marvel movie, because he fears it would be worse.
What was it like working with Alan Rickman in Dogma? CWilliams1955
Bliss. Alan Rickman, it turns out, was my friend. I was such a fan from the moment I saw him in Die Hard. I assumed we were just associates, but he stayed in touch the rest of his life. Whenever I was in England, he would call out of the blue and say – I can’t do the voice: “I know you’re here, it’s time to hang out.” He wasn’t just being professionally courteous because we made a movie together 20 years ago. I still can’t believe Alan Rickman actually liked me.
One of my favourite memories is when he came to one of my shows at the O2 in London and we drove back to town together. He said: “I’ve finally broken and bought an apartment in New York.” I said: “That’s excellent.” He said: “It’s not excellent, it’s in the same building as my friend Ralph.” I said: “Why is that bad?” And he said: “Ralph Fiennes. If the Harry Potter world found out that Snape and Voldemort live in the same building, they’d burn it to the ground!”
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1962 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years ago, the very first novel in James White’s most exemplary Sector General series was published, Hospital Station.
Now I wasn’t originally was going to do an essay on this series as I was about to do a UPN series about a human interstellar hospital series (and yes I’ll tell you about it next year) but I remember this series and yes I liked it a lot, so decided to essay it this time. Me, fickle? No.
(That series, Mercy Point, was considered influenced by White’s series. It lasted seven episodes. No, I’ve not seen it.)
I think I was in University when I discovered the Ballantine Books paperback of the first novel in a wonderful bookstore near the public library in the town near the University. (It had four used bookstores. Bliss!) I won’t say it was it was the cover that it attracted me as it wasn’t at all appealing, but the tag line of “the fabulous story of a hospital in the sky” did get my attention.
It certainly didn’t disappoint. Hospital Station was quite amazing from beginning to end. It was the home of many strange creatures, including humans!
As one reviewer so aptly put it, “Good-natured, high quality, pacifist SF that is ideal comfort food when looking to elevate your mood into the upper range of the happy scale.” It was the antithesis of all the military SF in existence and I loved deeply it for being so. Humans and aliens not attacking each other, but working together instead. Oh how so very wonderful!
White was very good at envisioning both how humans would handle dealing with various aliens and those aliens themselves. One of the lasting advantages of text fiction over video fiction is it is easier to create in the mind’s eye an alien for the reader. And damn cheaper too!
Some reviewers and readers have criticized the twelve novel series saying that as it went along its way that it got weaker, less interesting. Not for me, as I think it was perfectly fine right to the end, even the sometimes far too jokey The Galactic Gourmet.
Okay, food in genre fiction is a tricky thing to do. Just look at Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille which is the only novel by him that I deeply loathe with all my heart. (Don’t worry, he knows that. He gets dark chocolate from me.)
One critic compared the setting to that of Deep Space Nine which I must say makes me go WTF? Yes it’s a station in outer space but that’s the only resemblance. A pacifist hospital versus a heavily armed station? Huh?
I’ve re-read some of the novels several times such as Hospital Station forty years on and the steel booted Suck Fairy stubbed her toe on the way to it and broke her leg. It’s just as fine now as it was way back then.
The first three novels, Hospital Station, Star Surgeon and Major Operation are really a Meredith Moment from the usual suspects at twelve bucks.
White was a Guest of Honor of the L.A.con III Worldcon that Our Ever So Gracious Host chaired in 1996.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 6, 1942 — Britt Ekland, 80. She starred in The Wicker Man as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels.
Born October 6, 1946 — John C. Tibbetts, 76. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
Born October 6, 1950 — David Brin, 72. Author of several series including Existence, the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Sundiver, followed by Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II (1984). I’ll admit that the book he co-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me to no end.
Born October 6, 1955 — Ellen Kushner, 67. If you’ve not read it, do so as her now sprawling Riverside series is amazing. I’m quite sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award.
Born October 6, 1952 — Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library from 1986-2017, a collection started in 1970 with a donation from Judith Merril. Toolis was a significant influence on the Canadian SF community, a founding member of SFCanada, who won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
Born October 6, 1963 — Elisabeth Shue, 59. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D. Really Piranha 3D? Let’s look that up on Rotten Tomatoes… The audience reviewers there gave it a twenty-two percent rating.
Ewan McGregor revealed earlier this year that he spent virtually the entirety of filming for 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones wandering round a blue-screen studio talking to inanimate objects while portraying the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, an experience he clearly found disgruntling. “I spent a lot of time off on my own and on this planet with tall aliens, and of course, none of that was there,” he said during interviews for the recent Disney+ show that revived the Jedi knight. “For me, it was, like, a long time walking around blue sets speaking to tennis balls and sticks and it was just not what I was used to, and it was hard to make. Hopefully, we made it realistic and we did the best we could.”
In the early days of CGI film-making, actors regularly reported similar unease, but in recent years the problem seems to have diminished. This is probably down to the increased use of motion capture where actors can bounce off their fellow cast members in a more organic fashion….
(11) STAR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Timmy Fisher discusses “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinocchio.
…The song was penned for Walt Disney’s original animated feature, with in-house composer Leigh Harline setting words by ex-Broadway lyricist Ned Washington. That wistful version–a homage to the nursery rhyme ‘Star Light, Star Bright’–was perfectly suited for the crooning falsetto of Cliff Edwards, aka Ukulele Ike, a vaudeville star who voiced Jiminy Cricket and recorded abridged versions for the opening credits and the final scene….
Though Pinocchio initially struggled at the box office. ‘When You Wish’ was an instant hit: a re-recording with Edwards and the Victor Young Orchestra jostled for attention among covers by Glenn Miller, Kate Smith, and Vera Lynn, as well as the movie soundtrack release. Foreign-language versions such as the Swedish “Ser du Stjärnan I Det Blå” (“Do you see the star in blue”) soon popped up. Even Nazi Germany succumbed. According to Albert Speer, Hitler whistled it at the Palais de Chaillot overlooking a conquered Paris.
Having premiered just over 25 years ago to a mixed reception, the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie has slowly garnered an appreciation alongside a strong fandom for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, who made a brief return appearance as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013….
…While best known for his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek, Nimoy is no stranger to directing, having helmed Star Trek III and IV as well as Three Men and a Baby, which went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1987.
With an impressive track record not only with sci-fi fans but also at the box office, Nimoy might have seemed like a no-brainer to come on to direct. So, what happened?
“FOX did not want him to do it. They were concerned it looked very kitsch to go, ‘Aren’t we clever? We’ve got Spock from Star Trek directing.’”…
(13) YOU GOT TROUBLE, MY FRIEND. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna says newspapers are slashing the space given to comic strips, with Lee Enterprises saying in its 77 dailies the comic strips will be cut to half a page. Comic strip creators are scrambling to replace the lost income. “Is the print newspaper comics page in trouble?”
…And Patrick McDonnell, creator of the strip “Mutts,” which he says lost dozens of clients, underscores why comics are a popular staple of the newspaper, with readers developing long-term relationships with their favorite strips: “Over time, the characters are like family. Newspapers should consider this bond before they decide to make drastic changes.”…
(14) BOO! Alasdair Beckett-King sums up all haunted house movies in this clip from 2021.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metal: Hellsinger,” Fandom Games says this game combines the thrill of blasting creatures with the throbbing beats of metal, with a different headbanging song on every level. They say “We wonder what these guys could do with an actual budget,” but adds the key to success here is “just don’t expect to use any part of your brain that you can’t find on a lizard. But sometimes smooth brain fun is the best kind of fun.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, mark, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern & Sullivan.]
(1) RED WOMBAT SIGNS SUNDAY AT CAPCLAVE. The Ursula Vernon autograph session specifically for kids at Capclave will be on Sunday, October 2 at 1:00 p.m. Capclave is at the Rockvillle Hilton, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD. Children who are coming just for the book signing session and their parent-in-tow get in free. www.capclave.org
(2) WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? Erik Braa’s Storytime Braacast has one of Todd Mason’s short stories, “The Ghost Bar”, on this week. Todd tells where the idea came from:
The germ of the story got into my head in Chicago a few trips ago. I’d moved away from Chicago in the spring of ’11. During one of my visits to house sit for a friend… probably in ’17 or ’18, I was making the rounds and was startled by the reappearance of a pub I used to frequent. The place was supposed to have been rebuilt with condos above it, the project stalled out, and it just sat empty for several years.
I went inside and got hit with some serious cognitive dissonance. The place looked *mostly* the same. Except the bar seemed to be longer and the bathroom was not where it was supposed to be. Sort of the uncanny valley effect, but with a building.
Turns out the new bartender had a few people in common with me and I got the full story about the place eventually getting remodelled. But after I got over the whole “OK… I’m not imagining things am I,” the idea of a bar rising from the dead got into my head and… eventually this story popped out.
(3) WHERE ENOUGH NONSENSE ADDS UP TO A DOLLAR. This Folding Ideas video is about a publishing scam that operates by scamming people into doing a publishing scam. The publishing scam itself is using underpaid ghostwriters and voice actors to produce audiobooks about nonsense (trending topics smooshed together) cheaply, with all the accompanying review trading and so on to get the audiobook noticed. The scam is getting people to pay for “advice” on how to do the publishing scam! “Contrepreneurs: The Mikkelsen Twins”.
(4) HAPPY THIRTIETH! Mike Allen has posted a four part interview in which he reflects on 30 years as a writer, editor and publisher. The questions were asked by Mythic Delirium Assistant Editor Sydney Macias. In addition, authors Cassandra Khaw, C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez used the AI Midjourney to create 20+ images based on the creatures and monsters from Allen’s short stories, and those are interspersed through the interview. The links to all four parts are here on Mike Allen’s Home Page.
… I think back on the version of me that existed in 1990, 91, 92, meandering toward the end of my days as an undergraduate, starting to get somewhat serious about submitting stories and poems to magazines, and the preconceptions I had then about how writing worked, how publishing worked, how readers chose what they want to read, and I can’t help but think that every single one of those preconceptions has proven wrong in some way.
That’s not so surprising. In those pre-household internet, pre-social media days, growing up in Appalachia, I didn’t meet anyone who shared my particular set of interests in significant numbers until late high school and college, and even then my specific set of eccentricities made me the square peg — though I note with tongue-in-cheek that I was more like a multi-pointed star of some sort, really, when it came to fitting in. Certainly I had no one to compare notes to when it came to getting published….
Inspired by the “button people” from “The Button Bin” and “The Quiltmaker”
Inspired by “The Spider Tapestries”
(5) GET ON THE CALENDAR. Cat Eldridge says, “Anyone who has Anniversary or Birthday ideas should just email me here. And anyone who thinks they should be written up is included in that list. We are certainly interested in including Filers among the Birthdays covered here.”
(6) ROCKET COLLECTOR. Editor Neil Clarke has a wonderful piece about Clarkesworld’s amazing run at the 2022 Hugo Awards ceremony: “Editor’s Desk: Sweet Sixteen”.
…There were two more firsts for Clarkesworld this year as well: This was the first time we’ve had two winners in a single year and the first time I’ve won in Editor, Short Form. The idea that this could happen wasn’t even a possibility in my head. Not that I didn’t have faith in Suzanne . . . After nine consecutive losses, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t in the cards for me and I was completely fine with that. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been at a Hugo Awards ceremony. So much so that a friend and fellow finalist mocked me for being too laid-back.
Vampires are perhaps the most iconic monsters lurking in the night. Luckily, with that level of fame, the average person has a pretty good idea of what to do if they ever find themselves facing off against a bloodsucker. A stake through the heart will kill them. Silver is bad, too. A crucifix is a good defense against a vampire except for when it isn’t. Sunlight will burn a vampire… unless it just makes them sparkle?
“Futurama” fans will still be able to hear Coolio featured on their favorite show — the late rapper recorded segments for the animated series before his death — giving show creatives a chance to give Coolio, and his character, a proper send-off.
David X. Cohen, Executive Producer of “Futurama,” tells TMZ he was shocked to hear about Coolio’s passing, especially because he recorded lines for their upcoming season just weeks before.
For those unaware, Coolio’s appeared in a few episodes of the show in the past, playing Kwanzaa Bot — a counterpart to Chanukah Zombie and Santa Claus Robot. His first appearance was way back in 2001….
(9) DREW FORD R.I.P. Drew Ford, founder of It’s Alive Press, which he dedicated to bringing back out-of-print genre classics like Roachmill, Aztec Ace, Fish Police, and the graphic novel version of The Silver Metal Lover, has died of COVID-related pneumonia. “Drew Ford, Founder of It’s Alive Press, Has Died From Coronavirus” reports Bleeding Cool.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1954 – [By Cat Eldridge.] The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. — Opening lines of Casino Royale
This was the month that sixty-eight years ago saw the first television adaptation of Fleming’s Casino Royale. An episode of the American Climax! anthology series, the show was the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel.
Purists beware that this wasn’t the Bond of Fleming’s novels, although this marks the first onscreen appearance of the secret agent. Actor Barry Nelson’s Bond is played as an American spy working for the Combined Intelligence Agency.
It aired on October 21, 1954 in the first season of Climax!, the third episode of that still new series. Now keep in mind that the novel was adapted into a fifty-minute episode, but Fleming’s Bond novels were relatively short, this one clocked in at just over two hundred pages. It keeps damn every line of the violence in the novel but removes quite a bit of the nuances of that novel.
It had a small cast of which the only others worth mentioning are Peter Lorre who played Le Chiffre, and Linda Christian as the first video depiction of a Bond girl. Curiously the CIA agent, Felix Leiter, became Clarence Leiter.
The original version done in color was lost but film historians found, with quite some difficulty, the black and white prints. The rights to the original were acquired by MGM at the same time as the rights for the 1967 film version, clearing the legal entanglements and allowing it to make the 2006 film of the same name. Several versions have since been shown.
A last note: almost to the last reviewer they agree that this was the Worst ever casting of a Bond ever. One said that he “trips over his lines and lacks the elegance needed for the role”.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 1, 1914 — Donald Wollheim. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as halves of Ace Doubles. His work at DAW got a special award from the folks at World Fantasy. (Died 1990.)
Born October 1, 1935 — Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 87. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which she was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncredited in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2, Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
Born October 1, 1940 — Richard Harris.One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? I’ve not. (Died 2002.)
Born October 1, 1943 — Sharon Jarvis. Did I ever tell you that aliases give me a mild headache? Well, they do. She did a splendid trilogy of somewhat erotic planetary adventures called These Lawless Worlds that Ellen Kozak co-wrote. She wrote two more series, charitably called pulp, one as Johanna Hailey and another as Kathleen Buckley. Now more interestingly to me, she was an editor in the early day, seventies and eighties. I’m going to quote at length from her website: “Sharon Jarvis has worked in the print media for more than twenty-five years for newspaper, magazine and in publishing companies. She has built a reputation for her market-wise expertise in the cutthroat world of publishing. Ms. Jarvis has been a sought-after editor from her days at Ballantine where she helped promote the billion-dollar science fiction boom. At Doubleday she was the acquisitions editor and worked with some of the biggest names in science fiction, including Isaac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Harlan Ellison. At Playboy Press, Ms. Jarvis developed, instituted and promoted the science fiction line which helped sustain the publisher through many a setback in other general lines.”
Born October 1, 1944 — Rick Katze, 78. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume most stellar Best of Poul Anderson series.
Born October 1, 1947 — Tom Clancy. ISFDB only lists Red Storm Rising as a true genre novel. I’ve not read anything so I’ve not a clue if it is or is not genre, but EOFSF says of that novel that it “is a standalone Technothriller that can now be read as Alternate History.” Of the rest of his series, they say that “None of these sequences edges close enough to genuine speculation to list here.” (Died 2013.)
Born October 1, 1958 — Michelle Bauer, 64. Actress, model, and scream queen. Really she is. Setting aside a lot of films that OGH prefer I not talk about (though she had a double for the sex scenes), she did star such films The Tomb, a supernatural horror film which had John Carradine in it. It was very loosely based on Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars.
Born October 1, 1989 — Brie Larson, 33. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. She’s in The Marvels, scheduled tentatively to be out next year.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld on the bank robbers negotiating their book deal, in the Guardian.
(13) MAUS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behinds a paywall, books columnist Nilanjana Roy discusses Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
I remember my first encounter with Maus back in 1993. I was encouraged to buy the two books by Mirza Asad Baig, founder of the Midland Book Shop in Delhi. ‘Don’t listen to literary snobs who won’t read comic books,’ he said. ‘Trust me, this author has written a tremendous tale. If you disagree, you can exchange it.’ I never did…
…I hope critics of Maus take to heart what Spiegelman said in 1987 when discussing his sometimes exasperating father. The author did not want to have written a book whose ultimate moral might have been that if you lead a virtuous, exemplary life, you would survive something like the Holocaust. ‘That’s not the point,’ he said. The point is that everyone should have survived the Holocaust. There should never have been a Holocaust.’…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Meredith, Danny Sichel, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
For the first time in history, NASA is trying to change the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Now that a spacecraft successfully hit the asteroid Dimorphos — the science is just getting started.
To survey the aftermath of the impact, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will launch in 2024. The spacecraft, along with two CubeSats, will arrive at the asteroid system two years later.
Hera will study both asteroids, measure physical properties of Dimorphos, and examine the DART impact crater and the moon’s orbit, with the aim of establishing an effective planetary defense strategy.
The Italian Space Agency’s Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids, or LICIACube, will fly by Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume as it sprays up off the asteroid and maybe even spy the crater it could leave behind. The mini-satellite will also glimpse Dimorphos’ opposite hemisphere, which DART won’t get to see before it’s obliterated.
The CubeSat will turn to keep its cameras pointed at Dimorphos as it flies by. Days, weeks and months after, we’ll see images and video captured by the Italian satellite that observed the collision event. The first images expected back from LICIACube could show the moment of impact and the plume it creates.
The LICIACube won’t be the only observer watching. The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact. The Didymos system may brighten as its dust and debris is ejected into space, said Statler, the NASA program scientist.
But ground-based telescopes will be key in determining if DART successfully changed the motion of Dimorphos.
See, the genesis of this post comes from my editing on Starforge. This titan of a book is now in the Beta phase, which means looking for typos, misspelled words, misplaced quotation marks, and all that jazz. However, it also means going through and ensuring proper capitalization of proper nouns. At which point, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. Said conundrum led me to Google, which in turn pointed me to this post from 2009 concerning a similar issue in Fantasy writing—though note that it does as well address Science Fiction as well.
Anyway, what is this conundrum? Well, before we dive into it directly, I have a sort of pop quiz for you. You can do it in your head, but if you’re really determined you can bring out a pen and pencil and do the classic grade-school exercise. It’ll only take a moment either way, but here we go. Correctly capitalize the following sentence:
“The terran vehicle rolled up the hill, backed by dozens of terran marines.”
That’s it. Got it? Placed those capital letters where they belong? Okay, check out the answers after the break….
… Here we have He-Man and Skeletor in the style of the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon (currently streaming here), for which the designs of the characters were updated. I don’t normally buy all of the He-Man and Skeletor variants (and there are a lot of them), but I like these two, since they are quite different from the standard versions, including redesigned accessories. Though I’ll give 2002 Skeletor’s sword to my Keldor figure, since it actually is Keldor’s sword.
The third new arrival is Mantenna, a member of the Evil Horde and the closest thing Masters of the Universe has to a bug-eyed monster….
(7) TODAY’S RUNNER-UP. Steve Davidson suggested a Scroll title based on a children’s toy. He even provided art!
The Cow Says “Moo!” The Cat Says “Meow!” The Pixel Says “Scroll!”
…Supernatural is a hard show to discuss without needing to put an asterisk on all the things it did wrong. It was frequently toxic, misogynistic, and struggled mightily with its female characters who were all either victims or the embodiment of pure evil. Not exactly the most fertile grounds for growing relatable characters who fit the bill for underrated witches. And yet Supernatural has not one, but two of the most underrated witches in all of modern television. There is ongoing antagonist Rowena, who pesters and plagues the Winchesters over the course of multiple seasons, but Rowena, played by Ruth Connell, defies the regular run of the mill baddie legacy most other female villains on the show get saddled with. She Is funny, she has sexual agency, she is emotionally complex and has her own deep backstory that drives her to do the things she does beyond the standard demon-possession fare of most other women on the show. Rowena is a match for the Winchesters, and often an unwitting ally, and she gets to be smart, beautiful, and charismatic season after season. She is only underrated in that she has been somewhat overshadowed in popularity by similarly love-to-hate/hate-to-love demon Crowley….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1987 – [By Cat Eldridge.]ALF: The Animated Series (also known as ALF on Melmac) premiered on NBC thirty five years ago on a Saturday morning. Though it lasted two years which you would think would give it over fifty episodes, it had two seasons of just thirteen episodes instead.
WARNING: PREACHING MODE ENGAGED
Interestingly it has a long runtime of thirty minute in an era where most cartoon series had twenty to twenty six minutes of time so that as much junky product as possible could be pushed unto the young viewing audience. Buy! Buy! Buy! Who cares about your teeth!
PREACHING MODE OFF
It was created by Paul Fusco (the only acting talent who returned here.) He is the puppeteer and voice of ALF on ALF and was the creator, writer, producer, and director of the series, and Tom Pratchett, the co-creator of ALF who shows his most excellent taste by being involved in the writing of The Great Muppet Caper. If you’ve not seen the latter, it’s on Disney + right now.
(No, I’m not plugging Disney +. Just noting the Angry Mouse has a lot of interesting product in his vast pockets. I personally am avoiding Him like the bubonic plague for the time being.)
Why the human characters didn’t appear is rather simple — the shows premise is that ALF is traveling to various places on his home-world of Melmac. It was a prequel to the ALF, depicting ALF’s life back on his home planet of Melmac before it exploded. How well they did this ive no idea as I’ve not seen it.
Now want weird? Really frelling weird? It was paired with ALF Tales, a spin-off of this series, that had the astonishingly weird premise of characters from that series were playing various characters from fairy tales. Now this series only lasted twenty-one episodes.
It apparently never got reviewed by the critics, not altogether surprisingly. Amazon and Tubi, should you care, are streaming it. Personally I’d go watch ALF instead if I were you as it’s actually really great.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 26, 1866 — Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
Born September 26, 1872 — Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”, Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album. (Died 1945.)
Born September 26, 1941 — Martine Beswick, 81. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch. She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
Born September 26, 1944 — Victoria Vetri, 78. I do have a very expansive definition of SF and she definitely gets here by being in the Sixties pulp film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth as Sanna, and a lost world film called Chuka playing Helena Chavez. She’d also in be a bit of forgotten horror in the role of Rosemary’s Baby as Terry Gionoffrio. But actually she enters SF lore by way of a role she didn’t do. Vetri has been incorrectly identified in myriad sources as playing the role of the human form of a shape-shifting cat in the Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” episode, a role actually played by April Tatro. As she notes, she has brown eyes and that actress has blue eyes. She had a handful of genre appearances — The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman as Florence of Arabia, Mission: Impossible and Land of Giants.
Born September 26, 1956 — Linda Hamilton, 66. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
Born September 26, 1957 — Tanya Huff, 65. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me. And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. Let’s not forget the cat friendly Keeper’s Chronicles series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
Born September 26, 1968 — Jim Caviezel, 54. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner.
Born September 26, 1985 — Talulah Riley, 37. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse.
…Michael Long, we’re told, has a metal plate in his head — “probably from military surgery” — and this metal plate deflected the bullet away from his brain and into his face. He later emerges from reconstructive surgery all Hasslehoffed-up at the 11:57-minute mark. This means there’s been at least one commercial break before we even see Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.
Frankly, the fact that the show needed a talking car after that setup is fascinating. Today, if the premise of Knight Rider were floated as a prestige drama all about the nature of identity and the existence of false identities, you can’t imagine a studio executive saying, “Yeah, but what if he had a talking car, too?”
The soap opera-esque origin story of Michael Knight’s face was actually a brilliant starting point for the series. By Season 2 episode “Goliath,” we learn that there’s an evil version of Michael Knight — Garthe Knight — also played by Hasselhoff, with a small, sleazy mustache and a soul patch. (The fact he looks like Michael Knight is because Michael Knight’s new face was based on Garthe’s, not the other way around.)…
(14) IT’S ELEMENTRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Entertainment Weekly discusses what happened when a scientist visited The Big Bang Theory set and found uranium!
…. During the tour, the physicist noticed one of the props in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Prady says, “People always ask what that thing on the wall post was, it was this wooden box that was actually an antique Geiger counter. The physicist looks at it and goes, ‘That’s an old Geiger counter.'” (A Geiger counter is a device used to detect radiation).
It turns out the Geiger counter was more than just a unique prop….
(15) SCARY FOOD. Fortunately, these horrifying “Hallowieners” are baloney says Snopes.
…The Paper Museum is a frustrating read. The microcosm inside the museum is described in abundant, at times excessive detail, while the world outside of it is a nebulous blank that may as well be made of air. Since we only follow Lydia, who basically never leaves the museum, the significance of a world without paper is lost because we never get to see that world….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, Jeffrey Smith, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
…Terry also had strong and, some might even say, puritanical ideas about how much money he should accept in advance of a book’s publication. If he couldn’t be confident that the advance would earn itself out inside three years and that the book would go into profit and yield royalties, he refused to accept it. At one point, for example, Transworld offered Terry £125,000 for a book. This was in the mid-1990s, when a generous offer for a book of its nature would have been in the region of £25,000, so that six-figure offer was an emphatic demonstration of confidence in Terry’s writing. Colin, naturally, was excited to tell Terry about it. The conversation they had was short and pointed. Colin then found himself ringing Transworld and saying: “I have conveyed your offer to Terry, and I’m afraid he is not at all happy with it … No, he says it’s far too much and he would like me to agree a deal with you for less.”…
When Megan Giddings told her agent she wanted to write a novel about witches, he told her: “If anybody can make them feel new, it’s you.” In the acknowledgments of her new novel, “The Women Could Fly” (Amistad),Giddings says she didn’t entirely agree with him that witches feel like a tired subgenre; to her, there’s always room for another take.
Luckily for anyone who feels the same way, a wealth of novels about witches has come out recently — and many of them do feel brand new.
To be sure, many recent witch novels explore timeworn themes: Witches are distrusted and feared and must conceal themselves from the world. But Giddings and other authors also uncover fresh layers to the classic witch tales, exploring the complexity of anti-witch attitudes in an enriching and timely way….
(3) IT’S NOT EVEN THE THING I’M POINTING AT WHEN I SAY ‘FANZINE’. In “Fan v Pro v Fanzine”, Camestros Felapton ventures into the twisty little maze of passages all alike.
…But seriously, I think the current knot arises out of an unwillingness to redefine what a fanzine is. Functionally, fan artist and fan writer arose out of fanzine culture where fanzine didn’t need a definition. To a lesser degree the mess around semi-prozine arises there as well. There’s an intuitive sense of three grades of platforms were stuff happens: professional, fan and somewhere in between (a labour of love that aspires to be a going concern).
There are many available dimensions but none by themselves capture the essence of the fanzine distinction:
profit v non-profit
paywall v open access
corporate v non-corporate
size – number of people involved in the endeavour
fiction v non-fiction
hobby v “job”
weight class – a mix of size, influence and professional demeanour I guess
paying writers or not
paying staff or not
commercial-corporate v. non-commericial-corporate gets closest to a distinction but not one that I could convert into a sensible set of rules.
Which means that I must circle back to the notion of self-identification as fan or pro. That also has tricky cases (a pro-writer who is a fan artists or vice versa) but if the point is to address the weight-class idea then maybe that is the least problematic pain point to accept. Put another way, if we see the “original sin” of John Scalzi’s* fan writer win not as blogs v print fanzines, not as style of genre question (clearly it was in the genre of fan writing), not as whether he is a real fan (clearly he is), but as a question of whether the voting is distorted because he had a large voting base in the Hugo Awards and major name recognition…then self-identification for the purpose of award eligibility gets at that issue….
(4) AND HE’D DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. Meanwhile, John Scalzi’s ears are burning.
(5) HWA CELEBRATES LATINX HORROR AUTHORS. The latest entry in the Horror Writers Association blog’s “Latinx Heritage in Horror” series is an “Interview with LP Hernandez”.
What inspired you to start writing?
Reading fueled my love of writing. I was a constant Scholastic Book Fair customer, addicted to the smell of new Goosebumps or Fear Street books. Eventually, I progressed to King, McCammon, and Tolkien. I began writing stories at around nine or ten. I remember corralling my mother in the morning as she attempted to get ready for work, handing her what I knew was going to be a best seller and requesting she read it right there in front of me.
…A characteristic of good sword-and-sorcery is earthiness; even if not set in some ancient age of our own earth, sword-and-sorcery nevertheless is typically gritty, even grimy, in its realism. Joseph McCullough once described sword-and-sorcery with the terse, pithy, “fantasy with dirt.” That works for me.
Over this layer of grit, which serves to ground the reader somewhere recognizable and to spare overly tedious worldbuilding, the skilled sword-and-sorcery writer adds in the fantastic, in small doses. Weird monsters and dark sorcery that feels alien, and dangerous, and when it appears casts its spell upon the reader….
…For more than a century, Russia and the Soviet Union sought to weaken their adversaries in the West by inflaming racial and ethnic tensions. In the 1960s, K.G.B. officers based in the United States paid agents to paint swastikas on synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. They forged racist letters, supposedly from white supremacists, to African diplomats.
They did not invent these social divisions; America already had them. Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”
A decade ago, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, oversaw a revival of these tactics, seeking to undermine democracies around the world from the shadows.
Social media now provided an easy way to feed ideas into American discourse, something that, for half a century, the K.G.B. had struggled to do. And the Russian government secretly funneled more than $300 million to political parties in more than two dozen countries in an effort to sway their policies in Moscow’s favor since 2014, according to a U.S. intelligence review made public last week.
What effect these intrusions had on American democracy is a question that will be with us for years. It may be unanswerable. Already, social media was amplifying Americans’ political impulses, leaving behind a trail of damaged communities. Already, trust in institutions was declining, and rage was flaring up in public life. These things would have been true without Russian interference.
But to trace the Russian intrusions over the months that followed that first Women’s March is to witness a persistent effort to make all of them worse….
Where’s a wizard to fight trolls when you need one?
The mega-budget fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is under fire from some of its viewers. A day after the first two episodes of Amazon’s billion-dollar baby debuted on Prime Video, the show’s average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a “rotten” 37 percent, and reviews on Amazon have been outright suspended.
Compare that score to TV critics giving the show a very fresh 83 percent average, and many of the reviews were highly enthusiastic (“It’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle, packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads,” wrote TV Line). The Hollywood Reporter dubbed the first two episodes a rather successful, promising start.
The scores come a couple weeks after Marvel’s She-Hulk was declared review bombed on the site, with 88 percent critics score and an initial 36 percent audience score.
How TheRings of Power is doing on Amazon’s own user review ecosystem is not yet clear because the company has taken the unusual step of suspending user ratings for the show. An Amazon source says reviews are being held 72 hours to help weed out trolls and to ensure each review is legitimate. The source later claimed Prime Video started the policy this summer on all its shows.
“Review bombing” is when a group of online users post numerous negative reviews for a product or service due to its perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality….
(10) HENRY SILVA (1926-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Actor Henry Silva, whose genre rolls include The Manchurian Candidate (well, I think it’s genre), Killer Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the voice of Bane in Batman: The Animated Series, died September 13 at the age of 95.
…“Henry Silva is one of those guys you most likely will recognize even if you don’t know his name,” onetime Crimespree magazine writer Dave Wahlman wrote in 2016. “His face is something straight out of central casting if you were looking for a villain. It alternates between the insipid glee of potential mayhem and looking emotionless and dead as a stone.”
…He went on to make dozens of movies in Europe, the majority of which were in the Italian “poliziotteschi” genre. “Funny thing,” he said in a 1971 interview, “over here they see me as a bad guy; in Europe, they see me as a hero.”…
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.] There are series I refuse to rewatch lest the Suck Fairy with her steel toed boots stomps all over it. The Addams Family series which premiered on this evening fifty-eight years ago on ABC is definitely one of them. I unreservedly loved that series.
The Los Angeles Times in its obituary of David Levy explained how he came to create the series: “The idea for the series came to Levy when he was strolling with a friend down New York’s 5th Avenue and passed a display of Addams’ books. One, ‘Homebodies,’ showed the entire group of Addams characters in a family portrait on the cover. Levy was stopped in his tracks by the sight and told his friend: ‘There’s a hit series!’”
Now let’s talk about the characters here. Who wasn’t perfect? Be it John Astin as Gomez Addams or Carolyn Jones as his wife Morticia, they played their roles perfectly. And no, I’m certainly not forgetting Wednesday, their child. (Surely the name comes from the English folk poem, Wednesday’s child is full of woe), Uncle Fester or Thing. Not to mention Lurch played oh-so-well by Ted Cassidy.
It had pets, presaging to a great extent what Lio would have. Aristotle was Pugsley’s pet octopus and Fang was his pet jaguar. Addams Family had a lion called Kitty Kat and they piranhas, Tristan and Isolde. Zelda was their vulture. Morticia had a very large carnivorous plant named Cleopatra and Wednesday has a pet tarantula by the name of Homer.
It didn’t last nearly as long as I thought did — just two seasons totaling sixty-four episodes shot in glorious black and white.
Halloween with the New Addams Family aired eleven years after the series went off the air with new characters added in. Seven years after the series was cancelled, the animated version of The Addams Family aired for sixteen episodes. It’s notable for a young Jodie Foster voicing Pugsley Addams. Only Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassidy, who played Uncle Fester and Lurch from the series, returned in voice acting roles.
Gold Key Comics produced a comic book series in connection with the show, but it only lasted three issues.
It streams on Amazon and Paramount +. Of course Paramount + owns the Columbia catalog and Columbia produced it.
It has a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 18, 1884 — Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called by many a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered the first time that an American female writer published an SF story using her real name. (Go ahead, dispute it.) I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects are heavily stocked with her works. (Died 1948.)
Born September 18, 1917 — June Foray. Voice performer with such roles as Cindy Lou Who, Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She also provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat from Disney’s Cinderella. She also did a lot of witches such as Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel which you can hear over here. She was instrumental in the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature twenty years ago. OGH has a most touching remembrance here. (Died 2017.)
Born September 18, 1946 — Struan Rodger, 76. He was the Bishop in Stardust, and shows up in the A Discovery of Witches as John Dee. (Loved the novels, skipped the series as I always do.) He voiced the Three-Eyed Raven in The Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and The Rose” and “The Children”. More interestingly he’s got multiple roles in Doctor Who. First he’s The Voice of The Face of Boe in the Tenth Doctor stories, “New Earth” and “Gridlock”, next he’s Clayton in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Women Who Lived” and finally he’s a voice again, that of Kasaavin in “Skyfall, Part One”, a Thirteenth Doctor story.
Born September 18, 1946 — Nicholas Clay. Here for playing Lancelot on Excalibur. He did two earlier horror films, The Damned and Terror of Frankenstein, and he was The Prince in Sleeping Beauty. For television work, he’s done The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Zorro, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Virtual Murder, Highlander and Merlin. (Died 2000.)
Born September 18, 1948 — Lynn Abbey, 74. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (whom she was married to for 13 years) the quite superb Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (Now complete in twelve volumes.) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her latter work, so y’all will have to tell me how it is. Most, if not all, of the Thieves’ World series is available from the usual digital suspects.
Born September 18, 1959 — Mark Romanek, 63. His first film was Static about a teenager who invents a device he claims can show picture of Heaven. Cult hit in the UK after Robyn Hitchcock prompted it. Never Let Me Go, a film released a decade ago postulated clones whose organs were harvested that made life extension possible in the UK. US reviewers thought it was fact leading it to having a text prologue explaining it was fiction.
Born September 18, 1963 — Gary Russell, 59. A very prolific director of audio narratives for Big Finish Productions, having done forty-five Doctor Who and related productions, which is to say the Sarah Jane and Bernice Summerfield lines as well. He’s written novels that feature Doctor Who and related characters. He’s written three nonfiction works, two Who related, no surprise there, and one called The Art of The Lord of the Rings.
Born September 18, 1984 — Caitlin Kittredge, 38. Known for her Nocturne City series of adult novels which I’d not heard of before this, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s penned a Witchblade series at Image Comics, and the excellent Coffin Hill series for Vertigo.
…Crumb used to attend comic conventions and book signings, but now he makes very few public appearances. He never really picked up French (he relies on Kominsky-Crumb for that), and his social circle is small. Crumb’s followed in the long line of artists and writers who have exiled themselves from America, but his life abroad feels far more circumscribed than most. He doesn’t even have a cellphone. (At one point, he looks at his wife’s and says earnestly, “It’s listening to us right now.”) He uses email but “I worry about it,” he says. “Any email you write goes into the N.S.A. computer banks.” He’s only voted once in his life, for Barack Obama in 2008. Yet even living thousands of miles from America, disconnected from its culture by so many moats of his own making, he is, like many of his expatriate predecessors, a dedicated and unflinching observer of home. It was his ability to capture the id of America — in all its decadence, hypocrisy and lecherousness — that established him as an artist; that ability is unmatched nearly six decades later. He’s been called an “equal opportunity offender”: For his entire career, he’s angered the left, the right and everyone in between. It’s why his work remains, more than that of perhaps any other artist today, a litmus test for how much we’re willing to put up with for the sake of art….
Just before the weekend started, Warner Bros. Discovery up and surprised everyone when they revealed that a sequel to their 2005 Constantine movie was in development. With Keanu Reeves and original director Francis Lawrence both set to return, it seemed like a pleasant shock…until one had to remember that way back in 2021, the corporation announced that JJ Abrams was working on a series for the Hellblazer. And like with much of what’s recently happened with HBO Max, the situation for Abrams’ show is now in a weird bind.
Per Variety, the new Constantine show, along with the Madame Xanadu series being headed up True Blood’s Angela Robinson, are both dead at the moment….
Your TV brain might be completely hardwired into magical rings and lusty dragons these days, but there are so many more sci-fi, fantasy, and horrorshows—both returning and new—coming to screens this season.
Scroll through for our handy calendar of all the geeky series that you need to know about, with the caveat that dates may be subject to change….
…So he’s someone who can quickly identify and make the most of a bright side. As I’m not someone like that, I ask him how he does it. How did he stay positive through two vicious illnesses? Bridges starts to tell an apparently unrelated story, the relevance of which only gradually becomes clear. “So I’m remembering the very last gift my father gave me, before he died,” he says. His father, Lloyd, was a successful TV actor who died in 1998. “Sue and I had this new house at the time,” Bridges continues, “huge grounds, and what I really wanted for my birthday was a neat little electric golf cart to get around the property. I know Dad’s bought something cool for me. I open a door. And there… It’s not the golf cart I wanted… It’s like a motorised, gasoline-operated, dump truck kind of a thing. In my mind I’m thinking, ‘Oh, shit. This is not what I want at all.’ But I say thank you to him. Then he dies. Suddenly I’m using this vehicle all the time. I’m constantly saying to myself, ‘This is so much better than a golf cart! It’s so much more powerful! There are so many things I can get done!’”…
SPOOKY WAFFLES: The Dash Halloween Mini Waffle Maker 2-pack is perfect for making spooky waffles for fall and beyond. Plus make your favorite breakfast classics and get creative with waffled hash browns, cookies and more
For most people trawling government auctions, the listing would not have stood out: GSA Auctions, a division of the General Services Administration, was offering up a vehicle described simply as a “1989 Airstream Executive Air Coach,” with no minimum bid.
An online sleuth, however, was able to determine that the RV was probably once used in NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Acquired for just $21,000, the historic item was a major steal for any fan of space memorabilia….
The upshot? “This van was the official Convoy Command Vehicle for the Space Shuttle at Edwards,” Higgins wrote. “It directed all Shuttle recovery procedures once the spacecraft was on the ground! And it’s for sale currently at $10k.” (He also shared a YouTube video of the vehicle in action.)
Some 19 bidders competed for the former Convoy Command Vehicle, with interest leaping from $10,000 to over $20,000 in the final day….
When you’re a rogue archaeologist in search of a surprisingly cheap-looking idol. I’m really pushing the limits of what one man with four hats can do, here.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]
(1) JAYMEE GOH ANTHOLOGY HAS EKPEKI STORY. Don’t Touch That, an anthology about parenting edited by Jaymee Goh, was released this week. It includes Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s latest short story “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place”. He says, “It’s a historical fantasy story set in southern Nigeria and touches on the killing of Twins in Calabar & how it ended. (spoiler, not by Mary Slessor).”
You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and sank into the couch with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you got to imagine that you were getting into trouble in outer space, or in the future, or under the sea. You got to make choices every few pages: Do you ask the ghost about her intentions, or run away? Do you rebel against the alien overlords, or blindly obey them?
This was the late eighties in Los Angeles. You binged on these books, pulling tattered sun-bleached copies from your bookshelf: four, five, six in the course of a single afternoon. All over the country, all over the world, other kids were pulling these books from their bookshelves, too. The series has sold more than two hundred and seventy million copies since its launch, in 1979. It’s the fourth-best-selling children’s-book series of all time. Its popularity peaked in the eighties, but the franchise still sells about a million books a year….
The story of Choose Your Own Adventure is largely the tale of two men: Edward Packard, a lawyer who came up with the concept while telling bedtime stories to his two daughters (who sometimes wanted the protagonist to do different things), and R. A. (Ray) Montgomery, an independent publisher who put out Packard’s first book, in 1976, after all the big houses had rejected it….
Both men went through divorces shortly before the series started gaining momentum, and ended up writing many of their books as single fathers. Their children remember helping their fathers invent and flesh out new scenarios: Packard’s daughter Andrea suggested the idea of a time-travelling cave; Montgomery’s sons, Anson and Ramsey, suggested cars (the Saab 900 Turbo, the Lancia Stratos) for “The Race Forever.” Packard paid his children thirty-five cents an hour to read his manuscripts and offer feedback: Which parts were boring? Which choices would kids enjoy? (Andrea, Anson, and Ramsey ended up writing for the franchise, publishing their first Choose books during college.)…
(3) INTERIOR LIFE OF THE ARTIST. Melissa Capriglione is “just journaling some thoughts” – that we probably can all relate to in our own way.
(4) RECIDIVIST. Bob Roehm posted a clever photo on Facebook taken after he was apprehended with a banned book – Fahrenheit 451 – at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, KY.
The newly released six-part Disney Plus streaming docuseries “Light & Magic” goes deep into the history of George Lucas’ San Francisco-based special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, which was founded in 1975. The ending of the second episode explores the process behind the Death Star scene, in which the fate of the Rebel Alliance hangs on Luke Skywalker’s ability to speed his X-wing through a narrow trench and blast a thermal exhaust port that is only 2 meters wide.
In reality, the entire surface of the Death Star was a hand-built model that measured approximately 15 by 40 feet. Meticulous craftsmanship contributed to the verisimilitude, but the documentary reveals that the filmmaking techniques that made the scene feel so real are actually rooted outside the realm of special effects. It turns out that the entire sequence hinged on a model developed during an urban planning study at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s, which also happened to shape the future of San Francisco’s skyline.
“The Berkeley Experiment,” as it is referred to in the documentary, was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by urban planning professor Donald Appleyard at the school’s Environmental Simulation Lab. Completed in 1972, the project entailed building a small-scale model of Marin County and a computer-controlled stop-motion 16 mm camera system. The goal was to achieve a sense of realism as a model car traversed the miniature cityscape, in hopes that the technique could guide civic decision-making regarding construction choices. …
(6) ATTACK OF THE 50-YEAR-OLD CONVENTION. Rob Hansen draws on contemporary reports by Fred Pohl, Rob Holdstock, Sam Long, Bob Shaw and many others to reconstruct the events of “Chessmancon (1972)”. Many photos, too, including GoH Larry Niven giving a physics lecture?
CHESSMANCON, the twenty-third post-war UK National Science Fiction Convention, took place over the weekend of Friday, 31st March to Monday, 3rd April 1972. Named for both its location (Chester) and the city (Manchester) from whose Delta Group most of those organising it were drawn, CHESSMANCON was the fourth MANCON, the others being MANCON, SUPERMANCON, and THIRDMANCON.
…Presumably because of its name, the organisers of CHESSMANCON decided to include a chess tournament. Sadly, I don’t think SUPERMANCON made any reference to Clark Kent, or THIRDMANCON any reference to Harry Lime. So far as I’m aware, CHESSMANCON is the only con to be named after *two* cities.
And here’s another excerpt —
I suppose that in what purports to be a con report one should make some mention of the official programme. Regrettably, I have a tendency to go to conventions and not see any of the programme items, but this doesn’t mean that the programme isn’t important to me. I like to be near the programme and let it induce currents in me, a coil of nerves in the vicinity of the con hall’s electromagnetic field. Some other fans feel the same way (I won’t name any names) and it is pleasant to sit with them in the bar, speculating on what is actually happening in the hall and listening to fragmentary reports from runners – “George Hay has got up to ask a question”, “The projector has broken down”, “There’s been an outbreak of sporran rash among the Scottish fans”, “George Hay is still asking his question”….
On 26 September, an act of targeted violence will unfold 11 million kilometers from Earth, as a spacecraft about the size of a vending machine smashes into a small asteroid at 6 kilometers per second. Unlike some asteroids that stray worrisomely close to Earth’s orbit, Dimorphos—the 160-meter moon of a larger body—is an innocent bystander, posing no threat to our world. But the looming assault represents humanity’s first-ever field test of a planetary defense mission: NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. The hope is that the collision will nudge Dimorphos toward its 780-meter partner, Didymos, shortening a nearly 12-hour orbital period by minutes. A successful strike would support the idea that, in the future, similar efforts could deflect threatening asteroids onto safer courses. But simulations and lab experiments show the fate of the mission depends on a crucial question: Are such small asteroids solid boulders or—as astronomers increasingly believe—loose heaps of rubble?…
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Bewitched premiered on ABC fifty-eight years ago this evening.
Creator Sol Saks’ said his basis for this series were I Married a Witch, the 1942 film that came from Thorne Smith’s unfinished novel The Passionate Witch, and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into the 1958 film. Yes, both films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, which also produced Bewitched.
The show was popular, finishing as the second-rated show in America during its debut season, staying in the top ten for its first three seasons, and ranking in eleventh place for both seasons four and five.
It starred, as you well know, Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, Dick York for the first, and Dick Sargent for the rest of the series, as Darrin Stephens. Agnes Moorehead as Endora was really the only other ongoing character.
Look I need no SPOILER ALERTS here as y’all know the characters, the setting and the story. I bet everyone here has seen some or all of it.
Historical note here.
Series director William Asher started rehearsals for the pilot on November 22, 1963 which of course coincided with President Kennedy’s assassination. He felt deeply affected by the event as he personally knew Kennedy — he had produced the 1962 televised birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.
End historical note. Back to the series.
The Stephens house, inside and out, was inspired by a location used in two Gidget movies. Gidget was filmed in 1959 at a real house at 267 18th Street in Santa Monica. The blueprints of this house were later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia’s Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched.
Then, the patio and living room sets seen in Columbia’s Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were adapted as the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. (At least some episodes of I Dream of Jeannie also were filmed using this interior set which makes sense as it’s the same production company. Using material from one series or film on another is very, very economical.)
Bewitched lasted eight seasons and two hundred fifty episodes. Both the opening and closing animated credits were produced by Hanna-Barbera. Naturally they are on YouTube.
No, I’m not mentioning or discussing the reboot. I’m really not.
As near as I can tell, Bewitched is only streaming for free, errr, on Freevee.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 17, 1885 — George Cleveland. He was Professor Hensley aboard the Thirties Flash Gordon film serial. IMDb says that he was supposed be in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars, but his bits ended up not being in the film. (Died 1957.)
Born September 17, 1908 — John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. There’s a lot of his novels available from the usual suspects. And I do many really a lot, so I’m going to ask all of you where to start reading his SF novels as I am curious as to how they are. (Died 1973.)
Born September 17, 1917 — Art Widner. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2015.)
Born September 17, 1920 — Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)
Born September 17, 1920 — Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. And where’s a treat for you. Here he is on The Carol Burnett Show wearing his Planet of the Apes makeup. (Died 1998.)
Born September 17, 1939 — Sandra Gimpel, 83. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York.
Born September 17, 1950 — Roger Stern, 72. Comics writer who’s most noted work who was on Avengers, Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Starman. I’m very, very impressed of his work on the first twenty-eight issues of Starman, which were published from 1988 to 1990.
Born September 17, 1979 — Neill Blomkamp, 43. South African born Canadian filmmaker of District 9 which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Aussiecon 4. EofSF says also, “Of particular note were Tetra Vaal (2004), a RoboCop-inspired advertisement for a fictional range of third-world law-enforcement drones; Alive in Joburg (2005), about an influx of Alien immigrants from a Spaceship stalled over Johannesburg; and Tempbot (2006), about a Robot office worker attempting to parse cubicle culture.” Other genre films include Elysium and Chappie.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home’s joke probably really isn’t about the first thing that came to my mind.
It was the latest addition to a fantasy world populated by an ever-growing cast of superheroes and villains: Marvel Studios announced this past week that it had cast the Israeli actress Shira Haas to play Sabra, a mutant Israeli police officer-turned-Mossad agent, in the next installment of the “Captain America” franchise.
While Jewish Israelis rejoiced at the casting of an actress from Israel as a superhero in a major Hollywood production (“Israeli Pride,” declared the Hebrew news site Maariv), the backlash among Palestinians and their supporters was swift, and #CaptainApartheid soon appeared on social media.
Many critics expressed outrage about Sabra’s character and her identity as an Israeli intelligence agent, accusing Marvel of buying into Zionist propaganda; of ignoring, or supporting, Israel’s occupation of territory captured in 1967; and of dehumanizing Palestinians….
How does one really review the 8th(!) book in a series and make that review intelligible to readers who have never read any of the books, and yet helpful to readers both old and new alike. This is the situation where I find myself talking about Genevieve Cogman’s The Untold Story, eighth in her Invisible Library novels.
I’ll start by saying that the Invisible Library novels, which the first was published in 2016, were multiverse before the multiverse was the new hotness. Imagine a multiverse of worlds , aligned on an order-chaos spectrum a la Moorcock. Imagine these worlds taking cues from Earth cultures and societies. Imagine two sets of superhuman beings–Dragons, representing order, and Fae, representing chaos, struggling for control and domination of these worlds. Now imagine a third power, a third party, the Library, seeking to stabilize the worlds, and collect books from all of them at the same time.
Irene Winters is one of these interdimensional Librarians. Her previous adventures have had her tangle with a traitor to the library (Alberich, more on him anon) deal with both Fae and Dragon politics (her first assistant is a Dragon, and her newest apprentice is a Fae) and visit a variety of worlds in places inspired by Venice, Vienna, New York, and more….
When one encounters an impeccably beautiful work of art, the attempt to explain it feels like a desecration. Three Thousand Years of Longing is that kind of art that you’re meant to experience more than understand. It does follow a plot, and the plot does make arguments, but to dissect those arguments risks losing sight of the experience. I can’t properly communicate to you the emotional content of this story. What I can try to do is describe what happens in it, but I will fall short of conveying all it says. This is one of those films that leave you permanently changed, and the only way for that secret alchemy to happen is to go yourself to the theater and let it wash over you….
Were there story lines that you thought “M*A*S*H” hadn’t quite tackled yet that you wanted to bring into the world of the show as a writer and director?
When I wrote, I tried to find out a little bit more about each of the characters. Who is Klinger [Jamie Farr] really? What was underneath — I almost said, what was underneath the dresses. [Laughs.] What was underneath the wearing of the dresses? Who was Margaret [Loretta Swit]?
I see on the internet that people assumed that because I was politically active, trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed, that in my writing I was trying to make political points, too. And I wasn’t. I really don’t like writing that passes as entertainment when it’s really propaganda. I want to hear a human story.
Mysteries and detective fiction are usually thought of as the inventions of Edgar Allan Poe, but the truth is that they have both been popular in China for over a thousand years. The Chinese have no clear place or person of origin for mysteries and detective fiction, the way the West has Poe, but what the Chinese do have are centuries’ more mysteries and detective stories than the West does.
The first Chinese proto-mysteries—that is, mysteries who some but not all of the elements of modern mystery fiction—were the “gong’an” (“court case”) stories. Told in the form of oral performances and puppetry shows, the gong’an began appearing during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Gong’an traditionally featured incorruptible government officials solving criminal cases and bringing about justice to the guilty and restoration to those who were wronged….
Scientists have debated its existence. Tiny traces provided clues. Now, researchers have confirmed the existence of a celestial diamond after finding it on Earth’s surface.
The stone, called lonsdaleite, has a hardness and strength that exceeds that of a regular diamond. The rare mineral arrived here by way of a meteorite, new research has suggested….
The revelation started to unfold when geologist Andy Tomkins, a professor at Monash University in Australia, was out in the field categorizing meteorites. He came across a strange “bended” kind of diamond in a space rock in Northwest Africa, said study coauthor Alan Salek, a doctoral student and researcher at RMIT University in Australia.
Tomkins theorized the meteorite that held the lonsdaleite came from the mantle of a dwarf planet that existed about 4.5 billion years, Salek said.
“The dwarf planet was then catastrophically struck by an asteroid, releasing pressure and leading to the formation of these really strange diamonds,” he added.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King explains why you should be nice to the annoying little guy with a squeaky voice who offers to show you a fantasy world!
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF Concantenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
(1) NETFLIX GOES UPSIDE DOWN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apparently, fans of Stranger Things are night owls. When the final two episodes of ST Season 4 were released—at about 03:00 Eastern today—the Netflix streaming site was hammered hard enough to experience scattered but significant outages. “Netflix Down: Streaming Service Outage After Stranger Things 4 Release” reports Variety.
Netflix’s streaming service was unavailable for a brief period early Friday after the highly anticipated release of the final two episodes of “Stranger Things 4.”
According to global uptime-monitoring site Downdetector.com, user reports of problems with Netflix spiked around 3 a.m. ET — when “Stranger Things 4” Volume 2 went live. Complaints about errors with Netflix peaked at nearly 13,000 at the top of the hour, before the situation seemed to be resolved within a half hour.
“Stranger Things 4” already has set the record as the No. 1 English-language series on the service in its first four weeks of release, as reported by Netflix based on total hours watched. The two episodes in Season 4 Volume 2 clock in at nearly four hours of runtime total: Episode 8 is 85 minutes and Episode 9 is 150 minutes.
(2) BOB MADLE DOING FINE AT 102. [Item by Curt Phillips.] I just got off the phone with Bob Madle and thought I’d give you an update. He sounds great, and his daughter Jane told me that Bob’s health is excellent. Neither of them ever caught Covid, and Bob spends a lot of time enjoying beer and baseball. He is, as you might guess, an Oakland A’s fan. He’s been following that team since the 1930’s when they were the Philadelphia Athletics. We spent 45 min or so discussing sf magazines, and Bob’s memory is as solid as a rock. He recalled pulp trivia from 90 years ago as if it happened yesterday. So, 102 years old and going strong. A fannish immortal in every way!
(3) STEPHENSON PROFILE. In the Washington Post, Theo Zenou interviews Neal Stephenson on the 30th anniversary of Snow Crash. The interview focuses on Stephenson’s role in tech projects, including founding (with Bitcoin Foundation co-chair Peter Vessenes), Lamina1, “a start-up that will use blockchain technology to build an ‘open metaverse.’” Zenou explains that Stephenson has been involved part-time with tech his entire life, and became employee #1 of Blue Origin after he and Jeff Bezos went to a screening of October Sky in 1999. “Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ predicted metaverse and hyperinflation”.
…Stephenson’s vision for Lamina1 (meaning “layer one” in Latin) is to empower the creators of these experiences. He explained, “We want to create a structure of smart contracts and other utilities that will make it easier for people who want to build Metaverse applications to do that in the first place, and then to get compensated if it turns out that people like and want to pay for the experiences they’re creating.”…
“You had one job, Corporal, one job. Protect Prince Adam, with your life, if necessary. And you failed. I swear, if something happens to Adam, you will be scrubbing toilets for the rest of your life.”
“Don’t be so hard on the Corporal, Teela. It wasn’t his fault.”
“I know. I should have gone with Adam. Oh Father, what if something happens to him?”
“We’ll find Adam and save him. I promise.”
Meanwhile, in the dungeons of Snake Mountain…
(5) HAVE AN IDEA FOR A SPACE FORCE STORY? C. Stuart Hardwick is editing an anthology for Baen, Real Stories of the US Space Force, and has put out a Call For Submissions. See full details at the link.
The US Space Force has a PR problem. Several, in fact. It was not Donald Trump’s idea. It did not steal its iconography from Star Trek. It is not just a lunatic scheme to expand the military-industrial complex by sending battleships into space. Yet judging from social media, many think all these things and more.
Space has become critical not only to the military but to the economy and all aspects of daily life, and as we stand at the dawn of a new age of space commerce, that’s only going to intensify, and several nations have already developed capabilities to deny, degrade, and disrupt access to and utilization of space–based assets, whether to degrade US Military capability or as a direct economic attack.
Like it or not, the militarization of space started long ago, threats are already up there, and wherever people and their interests go next, so too will go conflict, intrigue, heroes and villains, everything that comprises good stories….
WHAT WE WANT
Stories that grab us from the start and stay with us for days. Scientifically plausible drama about people facing interesting challenges related to the US Space Force or more generally, the policing and defense of near-Earth space and related issues, now or in the foreseeable future (the next century or so).
Stories don’t have to take place in space, involve the actual US Space Force, or be hard sci-fi, but they should help illustrate in some way how space technology shapes modern civilization in critical, often overlooked ways, how it is now or soon may come under threat, and how it might be defended now and into the future. See this page for ideas and background.
Minicon 10 (1975) – History of the MFS – Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Clifford Simak, Bob Tucker & more:
Minicon 10 was held April 18-20, 1975 in Minneapolis. This panel discussion, orchestrated by Gordy Dickson, majors in history and anecdotes of the 1940s Minneapolis Fantasy Society (MFS). Particpants: Kenny Gray, Poul Anderson, Oliver Saari, Gordon Dickson, Grace Riger, Bob Tucker, and Clifford Simak. A high percentage of the MFS members went on to sell professionally to the magazines.
The panel begins with the flowering of MFS after Clifford Simak moved to town, to anecdotes about late night hero-saving plot sessions to the true identity of Squanchfoot (hint: Simak’s City was dedicated to him).
You’ll hear about the softball games in which many Saaris participated, the origin of Twonk’s disease, how Poul became an MFS member and more.
There’s silly story writing, an imitation Red Boggs, and a mass induction into the MFS. For those that live(d) in Minneapolis, and for those that didn’t, this recording provides an affectionate look at the early MFS…Many thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording.
… For this post, I’m just talking about the last part: how long it takes to publish a book once you sell it to a traditional publisher. Often, unpublished and self-published authors are baffled at turn around time for books. This discourse was most recently kicked off by a tweet asking authors how they would feel if a publisher offered to publish their book yet it would take 2 years and they’d have to cut 10,000 words. The replies were filled with a lot of unpublished authors saying “that’s way too long!” and/or “that’s way too many words to cut!” and then a lot of published authors saying “uh, this is completely standard in publishing?”
…To be very clear, getting published by a good publisher in no way guarantees you’ll get much attention or sell many copies. Yet if you want any chance of getting those things, your publisher needs a lot of time to pitch your book to distributors and bookstores and to do all of the publicity and marketing.
This—the general publicity, marketing, and distribution—is where much of the publishing time disappears. And it’s the kind of stuff you might not realize if you aren’t a traditionally published author. Things like major bookstore orders (including Amazon) are set long before a book is published. Anticipated book lists and “buzz” begins well in advance, sometimes before books are even finished being written. Review copies get sent to reviewers months before books are published, so that reviews can appear when the book does. And so on and so forth.
In addition to the distribution, marketing, and publicity there are other important steps if you want a professional book, especially editing (big scale stuff), copyediting (line level stuff), proofreading (typos). There are many other steps here too such as getting blurbs and getting cover art but thankfully many of these can be done concurrently with the other steps timewise….
The low-rated, Nancy Drew spinoff only launched on May 31 and has aired six episodes to date. The series, which features a predominantly Black cast, started off as an unconventional backdoor pilot, with only Tian Richards (as Tom) getting an introduction on Nancy Drew last season. The rest of the characters were cast after the project was picked up to series in August.
We hear CBS Studios, which is behind Tom Swift, is trying to extend the options on the cast, which expire today, and plans to shop the series elsewhere.
The CW brass have said that they like the show creatively. The cancellation is said to be performance-based as Tom Swift is among the CW’s least watched series on linear, with 535K viewers in Live+7, as well as on streaming….
The Mike Schur-created drama based on the 1989 Kevin Costner-starring baseball-focused film was picked up straight to series in August 2021 but will not stream on the platform, according to a source with knowledge.
Universal Television, where Schur’s Fremulon shingle holds an overall deal, is in the process of talking to interested buyers.
Schur is the creator of NBC’s The Good Place, along with serving as the co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Rutherford Falls. Among other credits, he is an executive producer on HBO Max’s Emmy-winning Hacks and Freevee’s upcoming Primo….
(10) 124C41+. Holden Karnosky’s article “The Track Record of Futurists Seems … Fine” at Cold Takes tries to find another way of testing whether it would be a waste of time to put artificial intelligence to work as futurists. One idea was to look at the futures posited by some famous sf writers.
…The idea is something like: “Even if we can’t identify a particular weakness in arguments about key future events, perhaps we should be skeptical of our own ability to say anything meaningful at all about the long-run future. Hence, perhaps we should forget about theories of the future and focus on reducing suffering today, generally increasing humanity’s capabilities, etc.”
But are people generally bad at predicting future events? Including thoughtful people who are trying reasonably hard to be right? If we look back at prominent futurists’ predictions, what’s the actual track record? How bad is the situation?
…Recently, I worked with Gavin Leech and Misha Yagudin at Arb Research to take another crack at this. I tried to keep things simpler than with past attempts – to look at a few past futurists who (a) had predicted things “kind of like” advances in AI (rather than e.g. predicting trends in world population); (b) probably were reasonably thoughtful about it; but (c) are very clearly not “just selected on those who are famous because they got things right.” So, I asked Arb to look at predictions made by the “Big Three” science fiction writers of the mid-20th century: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein.
These are people who thought a lot about science and the future, and made lots of predictions about future technologies – but they’re famous for how entertaining their fiction was at the time, not how good their nonfiction predictions look in hindsight. I selected them by vaguely remembering that “the Big Three of science fiction” is a thing people say sometimes, googling it, and going with who came up – no hunting around for lots of sci-fi authors and picking the best or worst.2
Alan Baumler kept score while reading the article:
One (Asimov) who looks quite impressive – plenty of misses, but a 50% hit rate on such nonobvious predictions seems pretty great.
One (Heinlein) who looks pretty unserious and inaccurate.
One (Clarke) who’s a bit hard to judge but seems pretty solid overall (around half of his predictions look to be right, and they tend to be pretty nonobvious).
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1972 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I know I wrote up Bewitched earlier this year. Or at least I think II did. I do lose track after a while. At any rate, tonight we’ve come to eulogize its ending fifty years ago on this evening. The show aired from September 17, 1964 to July 1, 1972 on ABC for two hundred and fifty-four episodes — seventy-four in black-and-white for the first two years, 1964 to 1966) and one hundred eighty in color for the final three years, 1966 to 1972.
I cannot say that I’ve watched all of the series, but I’ve watched a fair amount of it and it will unashamedly admit that I really do like it. It’s not a complicated series, nor a particularly deep series, but it’s both fun and charming, and it is inoffensive.
So why did Bewitched come to an end? Was it the ratings? That certainly was part of that problem as by by the end of the next-to-last season the ratings for it had noticeably dropped and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs. But that wasn’t the actual reason it got cancelled.
That was down to Elizabeth Montgomery who had grown tired of the series and wanted to move on to new roles. Well, they didn’t happen. The only thing she was on Password, a game show where she was a celebrity contestant for nearly ninety episodes.
She died at aged sixty-two of an untimely diagnosed cancer.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 88. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Whovian affairs. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger, Dark Places, Return to Oz, Willow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling.
Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he then played the role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few years later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
Born July 1, 1942 — Genevieve Bujold, 80. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 70. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Raimis though he himself came up with the Ghostbusters concept), Ackroyd actually showed up in his first genre role a year earlier in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprised his role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. And he was the narrator of the Hotel Paranormal series that just ended.
Born July 1, 1955 — Robby the Robot, aged, well, 67. Yes, this is this official birthday of the robot in Forbidden Planet, which debuted a year later. Over the years he would also be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune Men, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Addams Family,Wonder Woman and Gremlins. He was in a 2006 commercial for AT&T. Well very, very briefly.
Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 58. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best known work. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction where many of his stories have since been published. Editor for six years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction until February of last year. At the World Fantasy Awards in 2021 he received the Special Award – Professional for editing The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 41. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur shows what would happen if Hollywood added “improvements” to Noah’s Ark. (Which, of course, they’ve already done, but play along with the joke.)
(14) AMAZON PRIME TEASER TRAILER FOR PAPER GIRLS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The comic book Paper Girls — which involves time travel among other tropes, so it’s inarguably science fiction — which I may have stumbled on either browsing my library’s “new graphic novels” or during the year-ish I subscribed to ComiXology’s monthly streaming digital comics service, or a mix, is about to be an Amazon Prime series, per this trailer I just saw:
It looks promising, to say the least.
Want to read ’em first? If your public library (or interlibrary loan) doesn’t have them, you can e-borrow/read issues 1-30 free through HooplaDigital.com — either as Volumes 1-6, or in 3 borrows (remember, Hoopla allows a set # borrows/month) by going for the Deluxe Edition Books (10 issues each), as this search shows.
Captain Robert A. Lewis, the co-pilot of the B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay, wrote those immortal words shortly after 8:16 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, moments after he and his crewmates dropped the atomic bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima. The course of history changed at that precise moment: A beautiful day exploded into a blinding bright light, a nuclear fireball leveled a city, at least 100,000 died, and a world war neared its end.
And there, high above it all yet so much a part of the devastation below, was Robert Lewis to chronicle every spectacular and awful moment. He was among the dozen Enola Gay crewmen who delivered the 15-kiloton bomb codenamed “Little Boy” to Japan and the only person aboard who kept a detailed account of the top-secret mission that changed the world.
How hard can it really be to decode alien physics and engineering? It’s gotta map to our own physics – I mean, we live in the same universe. We start by noticing that the alien technology seems to use good ol’ fashioned electronics, even if it is insanely complex. We know this because the particle carried by the alien circuitry looks like the electron. We decide this through a process of elimination.
(17) FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE. JustWatch tracked themoviedb.org data to measure “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in June.”
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
For All Mankind
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Crimes of the Future
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Twilight Zone
*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org
For the past three years, a tiny loaf-of-bread-sized spacecraft with gigantic wings has been sailing on sunbeams in low Earth orbit. LightSail 2 has far exceeded its life expectancy and proven that solar sails can indeed be used to fly spacecraft. But its journey around our planet is sadly coming to an end, as Earth’s atmosphere drags the spacecraft downward where it will eventually burn up in atmospheric flames.
The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 launched in June 2019 and unfurled its 344-square-foot (32-square-meter) solar sail a month later. Just two weeks after spreading its wings, LightSail 2 gained 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of altitude, making this experiment a success….
Located near the UCLA campus on Westwood Boulevard, The Nimoy is a reimagining of the historic Crest Theater as a flexible, state-of-the-art performance space.
Opening in late March 2023, the intimately-scaled venue is named for artist, actor, director and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy. Shawmut Construction has been working steadily to renovate the venue, which will be equipped with new and green technologies to support the creation and presentation of innovative work.
The Nimoy will be a home for artists representing a broad diversity of voices, viewpoints, ideas and creative expressions in music, dance, theater, literary arts, digital media arts and collaborative disciplines. The inaugural season will feature a large slate of amazing shows, including new work by the legendary Kronos Quartet, “live documentarian” filmmaker Sam Green, and a collaboration between two essential musical voices of Los Angeles, Quetzal and Perla Batalla.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King asks, “What if Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson got email from spammers claiming to be “sexy women from Moldova?” “Hot Detectives in Your Area”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Curt Phillips, Daniel Dern, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) DELANY’S STATEMENT. David Lubkin’s Facebook page has become one of the centers for discussing the Mercedes Lackey controversy because Samuel Delany – whose work Lackey reportedly was praising when she used the slur – reacted to the issue in a comment there. Lubkin’s post begins:
Science fiction writer Mercedes Lackey was recognized on Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference as the newest SFWA Grand Master.
She was removed today from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for in accordance with the SFWA Moderation Policy for making a “racial slur” as a panelist yesterday.
The rule is “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive comments even as a joke.” and was deemed to apply in all SFWA space, and being given SFWA’s highest honor that day didn’t exempt her.
I didn’t listen to the panel. But according to the moderator and a fellow participant, what happened: While praising the work of SFWA Grand Master and my old friend Chip (Samuel Delany), she referred to him as “colored.” My guess is she’d chosen the term for being commonplace in Chip’s experience growing up. (He turned 80 last month. She’s 71 herself.)…
On Samuel Delany, the use of the term “colored”, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey from programming.
Several people have tweeted the screenshot below at me due to my thoughts on this situation.
What strikes me about this is that Delany is coming at this issue from a him-centric viewpoint (which is fine). Thing is, this isn’t just a Delany-centered problem. If Delany wants us all to refer to him as colored, fine. If he just doesn’t care if that word is used to label/describe him even if he personally prefers black, also fine.
But this is also about how hearing a Black man referred to as colored by an older white woman affects other Black people and people of color broadly. It’s not necessarily a respectful term to use in public on a panel at one of the community’s most respected events.
Even if Delany is cool with one of his friends calling him Colored, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have a different reaction or find it upsetting. This is similar to how even worse slurs might be used in-group without issue but are frowned upon when used out-group.
And I’m sure Chip knows and understand this. My guess is he’s upset by the perceived slight against his longtime friend by SFWA and that’s what’s at the forefront of that comment, though he is free to correct me.
Either way, it’s one thing to use an outdated term that’s generally considered a slur within a friend group and another to use the term on a panel at a con. That’s what Mercedes Lackey should have been aware of and that’s what most people are reacting to…
This is roughly the first half of Bradford’s comment, which continues at the link.
(3) RETALIATION. Jen Brown, whose Twitter thread explained what happened on a Nebula Conference panel that resulted in Mercedes Lackey being removed from the event, reported last night on Twitter that she is being harassed.
(4) PUSHBACK. Some of the social media lightning generated by SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference found its way to ground in responses to what was intended as a close-out tweet for the Nebula Conference. Critics protested that the term “comfort elves” resonated with the WWII term “comfort women”.
The tweet was removed and this one took its place.
What has been your favorite book to read over the last 24 months?
I *loved* John Banville’s *The Untouchable* … that’s partly because I’m fascinated by the Cambridge spies. But it is so elegantly written (Banville’s known for that, and he’s Irish, which is unfair) and also, this one actually inhabits the space I do, as to a quarter turn away from ‘using’ real lives and names. This is a fictionalized treatment, with characters *almost* the real ones. I’m always happy when I see other writers exploring that.
(6) PRAIRIE HORROR COMPANION. Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 on @HBO and @HBOMax.
(7) COLIN CANTWELL (1932-2022). Colin Cantwell, a concept designer of Star Wars vehicles, died May 21 at the age of 90. The Hollywood Reporter profile notes:
…His love of architecture and fascination with space provided the perfect combination for Cantwell to make serious moves in Hollywood, working on several projects, his initial credited work being ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’
Colin Cantwell, the concept artist who designed iconic Star Wars spacecraft, including the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter and Death Star…
Cantwell’s film credits include special photographic effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), technical dialogue for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and computer graphics design consultant for WarGames (1983). Yet, he was most renowned for his work with George Lucas on Star Wars, designing and constructing the prototypes for the X-wing, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and the Death Star, among more.
… It was Cantwell’s work on WarGames — programming the Hewlett Packard monitors to depict the dramatic bomb scenes on NORAD screens as the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer nearly launched nuclear weapons — that led him to programming software that took the actual Hewlett Packard from a few colors to 5,000 colors.
In addition to his film work, Cantwell’s wrote two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2.
…He said “a dart being thrown at a target in a British pub” gave him the concept for the X-wing, and explained how he accidentally designed an iconic feature of the Death Star that became a crucial plot point: the meridian trench, used by the Alliance and Luke Skywalker as part of their attack on the mighty battle station in A New Hope.
“I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mould, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” he told Reddit. “It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and re-fill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!”
…Mr. Welsh appeared in 10 episodes of “Twin Peaks” in its second season, playing Earle, the vengeful, maniacal adversary and former F.B.I. partner of the protagonist, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)…
But in his more than 240 movie and television roles, he ranged widely across genres, including … science fiction (“Star Trek: Discovery” in 2020).
His notable film notable roles included the vice president of the United States in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), about the onset of an ecological catastrophe…
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1980 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago today, the most perfect Stephen King film imaginable came out in the form of The Shining. Directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by him and Diane Johnson, it was also produced by him.
It had an absolutely wonderful primary cast of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall. Danny Torrance, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd. Jack Nicholson in particular was amazing in his role as was Shelley Duvall in hers. And the setting of the Overlook Hotel is a character in and itself — moody, dangerous and quite alive.
Kubrick’s script is significantly different from the novel which is not unusual to filmmaking. However Stephen King was extremely unhappy with the film due to Kubrick’s changes from his novel.
If you saw it upon the first release, you saw a print that was a half hour longer than later prints. And Kurbrick released multiple prints, all different from each other. Some prints made minor changes, some made major changes.
It cost twenty million to make and made around fifty million. It did not make money for the studio.
So how was it received by the critics? Well it got a mixed reception.
Gene Siskel in his Chicago Tribune review stated he thought it was a “crashing disappointment. The biggest surprise is that it contains virtually no thrills. Given Kubrick’s world-class reputation, one’s immediate reaction is that maybe he was after something other than thrills in the film. If so, it’s hard to figure out what.”
However Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was much more positive: “The Shining doesn’t look like a genre film. It looks like a Kubrick film, bearing the same relationship to horror as Eyes Wide Shut does to eroticism. The elevator-of-blood sequence, which seems to ‘happen’ only in premonitions, visions and dreams, was a logistical marvel. Deeply scary and strange.”
I’ll let Roger Ebert have the last word: “Stanley Kubrick’s cold and frightening ‘The Shining’ challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent ninety three rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 23, 1921 — James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in Flight? A Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he certainly pumped them out with nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, 89. Sister Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever”, the sort-of-Ellison-scripted Trek episode which won a Hugo at BayCon. She has an extensive number of other genre appearances including Land of the Pharaohs, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Tales from the Crypt, Space: 1999, The Fantastic Journey, Future Cop, Fantasy Island and Faerie Tale Theatre.
Born May 23, 1933 — Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
Born May 23, 1935 — Susan Cooper, 87. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and is just plain fun. I’d also recommend her Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent. The Grey King, part of The Dark is Risk series, won a Newbery, and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention.
Born May 23, 1941 — Zalman King. OK he’s best known for The Red Shoe Diaries which are decidedly not genre and indeed are soft core erotica but even that isn’t quite true as some of the episodes were definitely genre such as “The Forbidden Zone” set in a future where things are very different, and “Banished” which deals with an Angel now in mortal form all on Earth. I’m betting there’s more fantasy elements but I need to go through sixty episodes to confirm that. Denise Crosby appeared in two episodes of the Red Shoe Dairies playing the different characters, Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “The Psychiatrist” and Officer Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “You Have the Right to Remain Silent”. Zalman himself played Nick in “The Lost Ones” episode on The Land of The Giants and earlier was The Man with The Beard in the Munsters episode of “Far Out Munsters”. His final acting genre gig was on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Gregory Haymish in “The Cap and Gown Affair”. (Died 2012.)
Born May 23, 1979 — Brian James Freeman, 43. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
Born May 23, 1986 — Ryan Coogler, 36. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed. He will directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to be released this year. Producer, Space Jam 2, producer of the announced Wankanda series on Disney+. Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, the year that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Hugo.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Crankshaftfinds photos from the wrong kind of rover.
This covers things like Weird Tales Magazine, Robert E. Howard and Conan, Jirel as “Alice in Wonderland with a big sword”, Howard and Lovecraft’s correspondence with each other as well as fellow Weird Tales writers like Moore, S&S writing as “an opportunity to expose gender as fundamentally performative in nature”, growth and change in Conan, the flexibility of sword and sorcery, what Nicole sees as the necessary qualities for an S&S story to be feminist, defying gender roles, the body as a vessel for victory, S&S as a very body-centric genre, good old barbarism vs civilization, queer possibilities in S&S, an intriguing ambiguity in the ending of Black God’s Kiss, what might be a “trans utopic space” in sword and sorcery?, the potential for expanding the space of sword & sorcery along lines of gender & sexuality, cozy fantasy, and more!
…The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth….
How novelists working across popular genres like crime, horror and fantasy are overcoming literary snobbery to get their work the credit it deserves and broaden the definition of what makes truly great writing.
South Korean horror writer Bora Chung, shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize, tells us what it means to see her work, a type of fiction often dismissed in her country as commercial and not ‘pure literature,’ nominated for the prestigious award.
Crime novelists from two very different countries, Deon Meyer in South Africa and Awais Khan in Pakistan, discuss with Tina Daheley why theirs is a misunderstood genre, one with the capacity to offer a social critique, and even change society for the better, all in the process of telling a great story.
Critically acclaimed New Zealand fantasy novelist Elizabeth Knox shares the magic of imagining fantastical new worlds, and how writing and reading fantasy can help us come to terms with traumatic experiences.
(15) IT IS A VERY GOOD YEAR. Glasgow In 2024 have commissioned Pixel Spirits to craft our own bespoke gin called “GIn2024”. (Only available for delivery in the UK, they say: “Sadly, for now, different hurdles make it very difficult to ship internationally. We’ll make sure to keep all Gin lovers updated though, in case this changes.”)
Using the finest Science Fiction & Fantasy inspired botanicals, GIn2024 is rich and zesty, perfectly balanced with a subtle astringency and refined sweetness; exploring a taste journey out-of-this-world!
We have two sizes of bottles available, 70cl and 20cl and both have labels designed by our bid artists Sara Felix and Iain Clark.
Pricing and shipping: VOL 70cl for £37; VOL 20cl for £15; Postage to a UK address: £4.45 per bottle; ABV: 43%
The two bottles have different artwork on their labels. On the 70cl bottle, ‘The Suffragette Tree, Glasgow’ by the BSFA Award-winning artist, Iain Clark. And on the 20cl bottle, an armadillo design by the Hugo Award-winning artist, Sara Felix. Sara is taking inspiration from the Armadillo auditorium at the SEC in Glasgow, where the Glasgow bid aims to host the Hugo awards as part of Worldcon in 2024.
(16) MOON SHOT. NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads Goodnight Moon from the International Space Station, and Mark Vande Hei answers questions.
Watch as astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads out loud from the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown while floating in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. Also, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei joins Thomas to answer questions sent to them. This video was featured as a part of the Crayola and Harper Kids “Read Along, Draw Along” event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication.
(17) NEW ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Orson Welles has risen from the grave to denounce Sonic the Hedghog!
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]