By Mark Roth-Whitworth: I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay. This time, it’s not a stupid race, but, oh, ok, I’ll say it, the final frontier, and we’re going where no one has gone before.
Hugo nominations are coming, soon enough. Mike reminded me that the Apollo 11 news coverage won the Hugo for “Best Dramatic Presentation”. This capsule wasn’t crewed — that’ll be the next. But if the Artemis I mission doesn’t beat anything else this year deserving of the Best Related Work Hugo, nothing does.
WE APOLOGIZE IN advance for all the TV theme songs we are about to lodge back into your heads. Or maybe we should preemptively accept your thanks?
Despite periodic attempts to contract or outright eliminate them, theme songs are a crucial part of the TV-watching experience. The best ones put you in the right mindset to watch each episode of your favorite, and can be just as entertaining in their own right as any great joke, monologue, or action sequence. So we’ve decided to pick the 100 best theme songs of all time — technically 101, since there are two as inextricably linked as peanut butter and jelly — and attempted to rank them in order of greatness….
John King Tarpinian has scouted ahead and says these numbers are genre: 77, 75, 65, 54, 42, 39, 33, 29, 24, 18, 17, 11, 06.
The highest sf TV show theme is from The Twilight Zone. It lodges at number six between the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Speaking of number six – I’m shocked to learn that the theme from The Prisoner is not on the list at all.)
P.S. I’m sure John would want me to mention that the theme from Rachel Bloom’s TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is even higher, at number four.
DANIELLE HAYDEN: So, could you please tell me a little more about the upcoming comic series, Stuff of Nightmares? And I know some of your earliest work was comics. So how does that feel?
R. L. STINE: Well, yeah, when I was nine, I did comics.
Well, yes, I just mean, like, kind of, full circle now.
You know, I’m having a lot of fun. I’m working with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles. And I did a series of comic books for them called Just Beyond, which was sort of Twilight Zone for kids. And it became a Disney+ series. We had eight episodes. That was fun. Now I’m doing this for adults; I’m actually writing something for grown-ups. And it’s really gruesome stuff. It’s like my version of Frankenstein. And so, I’m having fun with it. Comic books are fun to write. Forces me to be more visual, you know?…
(3) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The next title in the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club is Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria.This debut novel about a merchant’s journey to the distant land of Olondria where he finds himself haunted by a mysterious force is the 2014 winner of the World Fantasy Award.
…We hope it’ll be a wonderful read for folks who have ever been “the new person,” or experience homesickness or wanderlust.
Join them on December 16 at noon (Central Time) for our virtual meeting. Register here. Also, this programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.
(4) THE WORDS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING. Today I learned that Chris Weber published Sentient Chili and Stranger Filk: Lyrics to 107 Songs of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fandom this summer. Good work!
“Filk” is the term applied to the fan music of science fiction and fantasy. Readers and viewers of the genre will find familiar faces and tales. These lyrics cover topics from movies and television to books and original stories. Much of the collection leans towards humor, while touching other emotional chords as well. The stanzas have the feel of ’80s nostalgia but are not exclusively from that era.
The collection is like the contents of the proverbial box of chocolates, bite-sized and filled with surprises.
DANIEL A. OLIVAS:The hero (or antihero, if you will) of The Devil Takes You Home is a man who has suffered unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted rupture in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, yet he is hopeful that one big score will restore some of what he’s lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?
GABINO IGLESIAS: One of the things I love the most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: at their core are good people who are thrown into bad situations. Mario is all of us — far from perfect but not bad. He’s desperate and the system doesn’t offer him many options. Most people know what that feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of The Devil Takes You Home while writing for various venues, teaching high school full-time, and teaching an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I would read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make him resonate with people, especially with those who understand that good people sometimes do awful things for all the right reasons.
…The film has clearly touched a chord with audiences. It’s already earned more than $300 million in the U.S. and is expected to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office. So we wanted to talk with director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He says the film, although about grief, shows the sort of rebirth that occurs in the face of insurmountable loss. And he began by telling me what it was like to reimagine the film’s story, which had already been written before Boseman died.
RYAN COOGLER: It was really complicated. It was difficult technically, because Joe and I had a lot of work to do to figure out what this new movie would be without him and without the character. But it was also complicated because me and everybody involved were navigating our own emotional journey, how to deal with losing our friend. So it was admittedly like the most difficult professional thing I’ve ever done and probably the most difficult personally as well….
African-Australian writer Eugen Bacon is clearly a rising star in our genre. Yet the first time I heard of her was, when I was asked to feature her novel Claiming T-Mo, published by Meerkat Press, at the Speculative Fiction Showcase back in 2019.
Eugen Bacon’s latest release is Mage of Fools, also published by the good folks of Meerkat Press. Mage of Fools is a unique science fantasy tale set in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a polluted hellhole where books, reading and imagination are forbidden by law. Protagonist Jasmin is a widowed mother of two young children as well as the owner of a forbidden story machine. Possessing such a machine is punishable by death and when Jasmin’s story machine is discovered, she faces execution. However, she gets a temporary reprieve… for a terrible price. Because the queen of Mafinga, who cannot have children of her own, wants Jasmin’s children…
Mage of Fools is a great SFF novel, that manages to be both grim and hopeful at the same time. And since Eugen Bacon is also a poet, the novel is beautifully written as well.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1994 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderland
I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.) — Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands
One of my frequently re-read novels is this one. It’s a comfort read in every meaning of that word. And yes, I do have a personally signed as I do of Bone Dance as well. Of course they’re on the chocolate gifting list.
Emma released this novel on Tor twenty-eight years ago. It’s one of three novels done on the shared world created by Terri Windling, a ruined city sharing a Border with the Fey. Most of the fiction here is short stories, novellas and poetry. This novel and two done by her husband, Will Shetterly, Elsewhere and Nevernever, are the only novels done. His are also excellent.
So why do I like her novel so much that I’ve read it at least a dozen times?
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY THEY DO. GO GET A DRINK IN THE DANCING FERRET.
First, it has a first-person narrator in Orient, a young male, who has the psychic ability to find anything if the right question is asked. So when his elf friend, Tick Tock, asks him to find her missing wrench in exchange for supper, little does he know that his life will become the whim of others. There are plenty of characters, all well-fleshed out, and all moving the story along.
Second, it has a compelling story weaving two apparently disparate plots that are here into a single thread that makes perfect sense. And Emma pulls no punches; bad things will happen to folks no matter how central they are to the story including what happens TO Tick Tock which made me cry. A lot of story get packed into its just over three hundred pages and it moves smartly along.
Third, Emma does the best job in this long running series of making the central setting (naturally called Bordertown) feel as if it were an actual place, a neat trick as too many such places feel not quite real. The short stories quite frankly fail at doing this as they focus more on making the characters be Really Cool.
Everything here really does feel as if you could walk down Mock Avenue, have a drink in the Dancing Ferret, and hear the Horn Dance perform as they came down the street on their magic fuelled wheeled motorcycles.
COME BACK NOW, THE HORN DANCE HAS LEFT FOR NOW.
If you like this, I suggest the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands, which Holly Black and Ellen Kushner edited a decade or so back, is well worth your time as are the older anthologies.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 27, 1907 — L. Sprague de Camp. The Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon 2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willy Ley. (Died 2000.)
Born November 27, 1935 — Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series. Wiki has her script editing and appearing in a fan-made episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006, which is notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the granddaughter of the First Doctor. (Died 2007.)
Born November 27, 1940 — Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
Born November 27, 1951 — Melinda M. Snodgrass, 71. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation while serving as the story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for Sliders, Strange Luck, Beyond Reality, Odyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s a co-editor of and frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
Born November 27, 1957 — Michael A. Stackpole, 65. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
Born November 27, 1961 — Samantha Bond, 61. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones.
Born November 27, 1974 — Jennifer O’Dell, 48. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield but nothing major.
In the original Star Warstrilogy, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have several interactions together, but it’s not entirely clear how the Jedi learned to understand what the astromech droid is saying. Droids have always been a key component of the Star Wars franchise, with some of them being so intelligent they can speak multiple languages, such as R2’s companion, protocol droid C-3PO. Artoo, however, has only ever spoken in the default droid language known as “Binary,” which contains a mixture of whistles, chirps, and beeps, both loud and quiet….
The historian, whose new book is “Silent Spring Revolution,” would also invite E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson: “We could talk about the 11,000 bird species the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is helping to conserve in the face of climate change.”
What’s the last great book you read?
During the pandemic I was transfixed by George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides,” perhaps the most frightening doomsday thriller of all time. Most of American civilization collapses because of a strange disease, but a Berkeley ecologist is one of the rare survivors of the epidemic. Stewart wrote the book about 75 years ago, but his description of empty cities and the power of nature unleashed seem very contemporary in a world of Covid and climate change. It holds up well, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fine introduction for the 2020 edition.
…As reported by Mission Local, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy for several weeks. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”
However, the SFPD returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. According to Mission Local, Peskin eventually decided to accept the change because “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.” San Francisco’s rules committee unanimously approved a version of the draft last week, which will face the Board of Supervisors on November 29th….
Gifaanisqatsi is outstanding. Click it and off it goes, grabbing random GIFs and setting them, with a little treatment (such as time-lapse and slow-mo) to Philip Glass’s score to Koyaanisqatsi. The result is comically nihilistic, confirming both the trivial universality of the movie’s sentiments and that the sense of the awe commanded by the filmic tone poem format is now available at zero marginal cost.
Suggestion: a “Qataaniskoysi” option that restricts the GIFs in use to cats.
…On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moon, passing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, 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 Hampus Eckerman.]
…Bear, who moved to the Seattle area in 1987, also had an impact on his adopted home. He was a member of the team that created and organized the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule. And GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano recalls introducing Bear to the late software billionaire Paul Allen — a contact that helped lead to the creation of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, now part of Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture.
The accolades streaming in from friends and admirers stressed the personal as well as the public contributions made by Bear over the decades. “Greg the man was a friend,” fellow science-fiction icon Harry Turtledove tweeted. “Greg the writer was quite remarkable.”…
…As a “hard” science fiction writer who does extensive research, Bear has dived into everything from nanotechnology (his 1983 novel Blood Music is credited by some as being its first use in science fiction) to planetary science. A current fascination, in part because it’s a key setting in the War Dogs trilogy, is Titan. “It’s got a hazy orange layer,” he explained. “It’s full of plastics, and waxes, and organic chemistry. Then, it turns out, it’s actually got a water ocean underneath.”
But the hard science fiction reputation can mask the fact that Bear has also written — successfully — novels that are fantasy, horror, and near-future techno thrillers. “I find the idea, and then I try to find the story that fits it,” he said. “Some of these ideas are coming up so fast that you can’t write about them as far-future ideas.”…
The SFWA Blog’s“In Memoriam – Greg Bear” notes he was a past President, and quotes from a selection of several other Presidents.
…Current SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy remarked, “When I took over as a newbie President of SFWA, Past-President Greg Bear was unfailingly gracious to and supportive of me. I loved his work and admired him as an author, so to discover what a truly kind person he was meant so much. He will be greatly missed by SFWA and the larger community.”
Former SFWA Presidents also wished to pay their respects to their colleague and friend as such:
“There are few people in my life from whom I learned so much, and was so fortunate to have known, than Greg Bear.” – Paul Levinson
“Whether or not he was one of the greatest novelists of speculative fiction may be questionable for the ages to argue but a Prince of SF he surely was. From the beginning to the end, he was a sincere literary artist, scientifically learned, a speculative visionary, if not the king of that which has no king, surely a prince seated at the SF table.” – Norman Spinrad
“Greg Bear and I were friends for thirty years. What I loved about his work was that it freely embraced the entire scope science fiction has to offer: from the far future (Anvil of Stars), through the present day (Quantico), to cavorting with creatures we know only from the distant past (Dinosaur Summer), he took us on a grand tour of his boundless imagination.” – Robert Sawyer
“Greg was my vice president, unflappable, always supportive, funny, endearing, and smart. Heart-breaking he is leaving us so soon.” – Jane Yolen
Sixteen years after her death, the writer Octavia Butler is experiencing a renaissance.
Butler, seen here on a mural at a middle school that bears her name, is celebrated for novels that grappled with extremism, racial justice and the climate crisis.
The future she wrote about is now our present moment. What follows is a tour of the worlds that made her — and the worlds that she made.
She wrote 12 novels and won each of science fiction’s highest honors. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to be awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant. The MacArthur Foundation said of Octavia E. Butler, “Her imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”
Part of what has made Butler so beloved is the work that preceded these honors: the way she envisioned her own future and encouraged herself to keep going despite the very real obstacles in her path. She recorded her goals and aspirations in her personal journals in terms that have since resonated across the decades:
I will buy a beautiful home in an excellent neighborhood.
I will help poor Black youngsters broaden their horizons.
I will travel whenever and wherever in the world that I choose.
Deteriorating health has made it necessary to move Ray to a nursing home. Ray loves to receive letters and if you would like to let him know how much you enjoyed his work, now would be a good time (and soon). Send to Ray Nelson, c/o Walter Nelson, PO Box 370904 Reseda CA 91337
In his cartoons Nelson popularized the association fans with propeller beanies, and he was honored with the Rotsler Award in 2003.
(5) PITTSBURGH FANDOM BACK IN THE DAY. Fanac.org’s next FanHistory Project Zoom Session is “Fannish Life in 1970s Pittsburgh, with Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager, Suzanne Tompkins, and Laurie Mann”. It will take place Saturday December 10, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Pittsburgh in the late 60s/70s saw an explosion of fannish activity, with the founding of the Western Pennsylvania SF Association (WPSFA), the creation of PghLANGE and the publication of many fanzines, including Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager and Suzanne Tompkins). What made Pittsburgh special? Why the resurgence of fannish activity? Who were the driving forces? In this session, Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager and Suzanne Tompkins, three of the movers and shakers of 1970s Pittsburgh fandom, talk about that era. Our Moderator Laurie Mann is a current Pittsburgh fan as well as a fan historian.
The FBI’s takedown of Z-Library, one of the world’s largest repositories of pirated books and academic papers, this month set ablaze the subset of TikTok devoted to discussing books and authors, said Lexi Hardesty, a BookTok content creator.
“I have never seen authors and readers go head-to-head the way they did that week,” said Hardesty, a student at the University of Kentucky.
Readers were mourning that their ability to download free textbooks, novels and academic papers had disappeared overnight. Some BookTokers compared the shutdown of the website to the mythical burning of the library of Alexandria in 48 B.C., Hardesty said. “Some even said that shutting it down was an extension of slavery.”
Yet authors across BookTok were relieved. “Piracy costs us our sales, specifically for marginalized authors; it adversely impacts public libraries; and it hurts the publishing industry,” said Nisha Sharma, an author and BookToker. “Essentially when you mourn Z-Library, you are mourning the end of theft.”…
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1995 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Deep Space Nine‘s “The Sword Of Kahless”
“Did you see the look on the face of that Klingon that I killed? It was as if he understood the honor bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to be killed by the Sword of Kahless.” — Kor
“I’m sure he was very proud.” – Dax
On this evening twenty-seven years ago in syndication, Deep Space Nine‘s “The Sword Of Kahless” was brought to us for our enjoyment.
The story was created by Richard Danus and was turned into a script by Hans Beimler.
The episode was directed by LeVar Burton. It features the return of John Colicos as Kor. Colicos had first appeared as Kor, the very first Klingon in all of Trek, in Trek’s “Errand of Mercy” and had previously appeared in this series in the episode “Blood Oath”.
GO GET YOURSELF A CUP OF WARM KLINGON BLOODWINE AS SPOILERS LIKE BLOOD OFF A BATLEFF FOLLOW NOW.
Kor has returned to the Deep Space Nine to get the help of Worf and Dax to help to find the ancient Sword of Kahless. It was the very first bat’leth forged by the founder of the Klingon Empire, Kahless the Unforgettable. After they find the sword, they are forced to evade the forces of Toral, son of Duras, and Worf and Kor starting fighting to the death.
Worf and Kor realize that the Sword is partially sentient and has turned them against each other, and will lead to the end of the Empire.
Worf ponders if they really were meant to find it; Kor firmly asserts that they were, but notes that they were also not meant to keep it. So they teleport the sword into space where hopefully it will stay forever.
IF YOU HAVE DRANK ENOUGH OF THAT WINE, COME ON BACK BY THE WARMING FIRE.
The sword itself was created specifically for the episode, and was made to seem more elaborate than the bat’leths previously seen in Trek, including hand etchings to make it appear similar to Damascus steel.
This episode was somewhat unpopular with many viewers when it first aired, something which disappointed writer Hans Beimler and producer René Echevarria. What particularly disappointed them was the fact that many viewers were unable to accept the notion that the bat’leth itself had no actual power. According to Echevarria, “A lot of fan reaction was that there must be a tech explanation, that the sword must be emitting something. I was astonished.” — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — The Office Poster Magazine
Michelle Erica Green, who watched the episode in April 2013 for TrekNation, thought that it was not a typical Deep Space Nine episode and that it required that the viewer had knowledge of Worf’s history from the Next Generation. It rated slightly off the “Little Green Men” episode that preceded it and the “Our Man Bashir” that followed it.
It of course is streaming at Paramount +.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 20, 1923 — Nadine Gordimer. South African writer and political activist. Her one genre novel was July’s People which was banned in her native country under both governments. Her three stories are collected in Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories. She received the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognized as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity”. (Died 2014.)
Born November 20, 1923 — Len Moffatt. He was a member of First Fandom. Len and his second wife June helped organize many of the early Bouchercons for which they received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bouchercon staff. He was a member of LASFS. He wrote far too many zines to list here. Mike has an excellent look at his memorial here. (Died 2010.)
Born November 20, 1929 — Jerry Hardin. Actor famous for his character roles, whom genre fans know as the informant Deep Throat in The X-Files, or perhaps as Samuel Clemens in the Star Trek: The Next Generation double episode “Times’s Arrow”. Other TV series guest appearances include Star Trek: Voyager, Sliders, Brimstone, Time Trax, Lois & Clark, Quantum Leap, Dark Justice, Starman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The (new) Twilight Zone, and The Incredible Hulk, and he had roles in Big Trouble in Little China and Doomsday Virus (aka Pandora’s Clock). (Died 1993.)
Born November 20, 1926 — John Edmund Gardner. No, not the one that wrote that Grendel novel, but the who was actually an English spy and a novelist who is remembered for his James Bond novels of which he wrote, according to critics, way too many as they though they were silly, but also for his Boysie Oakes spy novels and three novels containing featuring Professor Moriarty that are most tasty. (Died 2007.)
Born November 20, 1932 — Richard Dawson. Usually one appearance in a genre film or show isn’t enough to make the Birthday list but he was Damon Killian on The Running Man, a juicy enough role to ensure making this list. Twenty years earlier he was Joey on Munster, Go Home! He’d voice Long John Silver on an animated Treasure Island film in the Seventies. And he had a one-off on the classic Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2012.)
Born November 20, 1944 — Molly Gloss, 78. What a lovely name she has! Her novel Wild Life won the 2000 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She has two more SF novels, The Dazzle of Day and Outside the Gates. Her “Lambing season” short story was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3, and “The Grinnell Method” won a Sturgeon.
Born November 20, 1956 — Bo Derek, 66. She makes the Birthday list for being Jane Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man. There’s also Ghosts Can’t Do It and Horror 101 as well as the two Sharknado films she did. A friend of Ray Bradbury, she was the presenter when Kirk Douglas received the 2012 Ray Bradbury Creativity Award.
Born November 20, 1963 — Ming-Na Wen, 59. Actor born in Macau who appeared as Agent Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was raised near Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. She has also had main roles in the series Stargate Universe and the short-lived Vanished, and a recurring role in Eureka. Her breakthrough genre role was providing the voice for Disney’s Mulan, for which she won an Annie Award (awards which recognize voice actors in animated productions). This led to a lengthy career providing voices for animated features and series, including Spawn, The Batman, Adventure Time with Finn & Jake, Phineas and Ferb, Robot Chicken, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as a plethora of Mulan spinoffs, offshoots, tie-ins, and video games. Other genre appearances include the films The Darkness, Starquest (aka Terminal Voyage), Tempting Fate, and Rain Without Thunder.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequiturshows a space probe confirming what you already suspected.
… The white-spotted dog, who became “the first beagle on the moon” in a series of Peanuts comic strips in 1969, is now on his way back to the moon aboard NASA’s Artemis 1 mission(opens in new tab). Snoopy, in the form of a small doll dressed in a one-of-a-kind replica of NASA’s pressure suit for Artemis astronauts, is the “zero-g indicator,” or ZGI, on board the space agency’s now lunar-orbit-bound Orion spacecraft.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Snoopy. They had to put you on a leash because you’re hanging in the Orion capsule right now,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during an August photo op with the beagle (in this case, a costume character(opens in new tab), also wearing the bright orange spacesuit). “Snoopy was the last person to be put in Orion when they closed the hatch.”
Snoopy’s leash, or tether, was to keep the doll in view of a camera inside Orion’s cabin. Traditionally, zero-g indicators have been flown on crewed spacecraft as a visual sign for the astronauts that they have reached orbit. The Artemis 1 Orion is flying without a crew — other than Snoopy, four LEGO minifigures(opens in new tab), Shaun the Sheep(opens in new tab) and three instrumented manikins(opens in new tab) — so the doll was flown for the benefit of the public watching the launch on NASA’s television channel or website….
… Graham Hancock, the journalist who hosts the series, returns again and again to his anger at this state of affairs and his status as an outsider to “mainstream archaeology,” his assessment of how terrible “mainstream archaeology” is about accepting new theories, and his insistence that there’s all this evidence out there but “mainstream archaeologists” just won’t look for it. His bitter disposition, I’m sure, accounts for some of the interest in this show. Hancock, a fascinating figure with an interesting past as a left-leaning foreign correspondent, has for decades been elaborating variations on this thinking: Humans, as he says in the docuseries, have “amnesia” about our past. An “advanced” society that existed around 12,000 years ago was extinguished when the climate changed drastically in a period scientists call the Younger Dryas. Before dying out completely, this civilization sent out emissaries to the corners of the world, spreading knowledge, including building techniques that can be found in use at many ancient sites, and sparking the creation of mythologies that are oddly similar the world over. It’s important for us to think about this history, Hancock adds, because we also face impending cataclysm. It is a warning….
However, the last half of Slate’s article is devoted to an interview with archaeologist John Hoopes about why no credence should be placed in Hancock’s theories.
…So a fast decision was made to change the shrinking fabric. Since the velour was causing so much grief, they had to do something with all those extra shirts. Waste was not going to happen on such a tight budget….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jennifer Hawthorne, Frank Catalano, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
(1) THE SECOND TIME AROUND? Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki tweeted that he went to a new visa appointment today. He had not posted about the outcome as of this writing.
(2) OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CHICON 8 – ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES. The Worldcon committee warns that some people are now trying to spoof their social media accounts. Please remember the only official Chicon 8 social media links are @chicagoworldcon — for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(3) STAR CHART: THE OFFICIAL CHICON 8 NEWSLETTER. The 2022 Worldcon newsletter is primarily online and is now starting to publish things. Find it here:https://chicon.org/star-chart/
(4) FUTURE TENSE. The August 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “The Only Innocent Man,” by Julian K. Jarboe (author of the Lambda Award–winning collection Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel), a story about digital communities, privacy, and the ghosts of our online pasts.
I commonly start a lecture about online privacy by giving a room full of college students a task: In five minutes, who can find the most interesting thing about me on the internet?
Typically this exercise yields precisely what I intend—showcasing the variety of sources of information about all of us online. Someone once found the movie reviews I wrote for my college newspaper; a close family member’s obituary; my recipe for snickerdoodles that apparently once resulted in marriage proposals on Instagram. If it’s been a while since I’ve scrubbed it, my home address might appear on a public data website.
And one year, a student raised his hand and confidently announced, “Dr. Fiesler, I found your fanfiction!”…
…Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted “books we have taught for generations,” alongside the list. She later said she should have “double-checked” before sharing.
“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill also shared a screenshot of the list on Twitter — amassing more than 100,000 likes and 24,000 retweets.
The Florida Department of Education did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. However, the governor’s office called the list “completely fictitious.”
“The image is fake,” said Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary. “There is no banned book list at the state level. The state sets guidelines regarding content, and the local school districts are responsible for enforcing them.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” and Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” are recommended to eighth graders in Florida. George Orwell’s “1984” is a suggested book for ninth graders, while John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is recommended for 10th graders….
…In truth, I did nothing so wrong, over a decade ago, when I signed the contract with the Oklahoma-based press that promised to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a published author. It wasn’t my fault that the company went bankrupt after the CEO was discovered embezzling funds from the writers who paid to have their books poorly edited, cheaply bound, and narrowly distributed. It was probably my fault that I hadn’t done thorough research into the industry, but I was seventeen and couldn’t detect a scam tastefully disguised under a pretty contract and alleged Christian values….
…A 1562 printing of the sternly doctrinaire translation the Geneva Bible prints Matthew 5:9 as “Blessed are the placemakers” rather than “peacemakers;” an 1823 version of the King James replaced “damsels” in Genesis 24:61 with “camels,” and as late as 1944 a printing of that same translation rendered the “holy women, who trusted God… being in subjection to their own husbands” in 1 Peter 3:5 as referring to those pious ladies listening to their “owl husbands.”…
There’s bacon and eggs, and then there’s bacon and eggs at the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast. Named after the cosmically malevolent and abundantly tentacled entity dreamed up by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the event, among the most popular at NecronomiCon Providence 2022, filled a vast hotel ballroom at 8 a.m. on a recent Sunday.
To the delighted worshipers, Cody Goodfellow, here a Most Exalted Hierophant, delivered a sermon that started with growled mentions of “doom-engines, black and red,” “great hammers of the scouring” and so on.
Then the speech took a left turn.
“I must confess myself among those who always trusted that a coven of sexless black-robed liches would change the world for the better,” said Goodfellow, who had flown in from the netherworld known as San Diego, Calif. “But the malignant forces of misplaced morality have regrouped from the backlash that stopped them in the ’80s, and the re-lash is in full swing.”…
(9) HUCK HUCKENPOHLER (1941-2022). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] J.G. “Huck” Huckenpohler died on August 26 in Washington, D.C. He was born in 1941. He was a major figure in Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom, had a substantial collection of Burroughs material and attended many Burroughs conventions, as well as staffing tables promoting Burroughs fandom at Balticon and Capclave. He was an active member of the Panthans, the Burroughs Bibliophiles chapter in Washington, and the Silver Spring Science Fiction Society.
(10) JOSEPH DELANEY (1945-2022). Author Joseph Delaney died August 16 at the age of 77. The English writer was known for the dark fantasy series Spook’s, which included several arcs, The Wardstone Chronicles, The Starblade Chronicles, and The Spook’s Apprentice: Brother Wolf. And he wrote many other works.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1947 – [By Cat Eldridge.] All good things must come to an end and thus it was with the Thin Man film series that concluded with its sixth installment, Song of the Thin Man, which premiered this weekend in 1947.
There was of course no Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name as Hammett never wrote a sequel, so everything here was up of made up of whole cloth. Steve Fisher and Noel Perrin were the scriptwriters who based it off a story by Stanley Roberts who had done, to put it mildly, a lot of westerns before this.
William Powell is Nick Charles and Myrna Loy is Nora Charles. The chemistry between the two is quite charming and is befitting what Hammett created in the original novel.
This story is set in the world of nightclub musicians, so naturally we see such performers as Jayne Meadows, Gloria Grahame and Phillip Reed.
Nick and Nora’s son shows up twice in the series. The first time has Richard Hall being credited as Nick Jr.; here an eleven year old Dean Stockwell is Nick Charles Jr. Surprisingly (to me at least) he had done eight films already.
The film cost cost $1,670,000 to make and grossed only $2,305,000. It lost $128,000. Those figures by the way came from Eddie Mannix who had a ledger in which he maintained detailed lists of the costs and revenues of every MGM film produced between 1924 and 1962, an important reference for film historians. Fascinating as a certain Trek officer would’ve said.
(In the next decade, The Thin Man television series aired on NBC from 1957–59, and starred Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. It ran for seventy episodes.)
The Song of the Thin Man gets a rather stellar seventy one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 29, 1854 — Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” became Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon, to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
Born August 29, 1904 — Leslyn M. Heinlein Mocabee. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I. There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
Born August 29, 1942 – Gottfried John.He’s likely best-known as General Arkady Orumov in GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
Born August 29, 1942 — Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full remembrance post is here. (Died 2017.)
Born August 29, 1951 — Janeen Webb, 71. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not.
Born August 29, 1953 — Nancy Holder, 69. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain.
Born August 29, 1954 — Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 68. A filker, which gets major points in my book. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well which was most excellent. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old.
Born August 29, 1959 — Rebecca de Mornay, 63. May I note she made a deliciously evil Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (1993)? She’s Clair Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wendy Torrance in The Shining miniseries (no, I never heard of it) and Penelope Decker in several episodes of Lucifer. Oh, and she was Dorothy Walker in Marvel’s Jessica Jones series
(13) ROBOSECURITY. [Item by Francis Hamit.] Any resemblance to a certain Dr. Who character is unintended. You note it does not have arms. I’ve owned shares in this company since 2017 and will security jobs going begging I think the company has a great future. Knightscope is listed on the NASDAQ as KSCP. Right now the shares are at an all-time low. They won’t be for long. Full disclosure: Finding new accounts is my side hustle. “Robot helps Northeast Portland hotel cut down on vandalism” reports KATU.
…General Manager Mike Daley says they got him because they were having a lot of issues with vandalism from homeless encampments in the area.
They tried hiring human security but had a lot of staffing issues, so they explored the robot as an option and say it’s work out really well.
Daley says that while the robot isn’t cheap, he provides a lot of security 24 hours a day for less money than it would cost to pay a human to do the same job.
“He patrols a lot, constantly, as you’ve seen,” he said. “He’s got 360-degree cameras, scans license plates. He’s got thermal imaging, so if he sees a guest or somebody that’s at a car, he will gravitate over to that person to check them out. He’s got a noise factor, so people know where he is and know he’s coming.”
Anytime he encounters someone, he immediately alerts the front desk. That person can then see what the robot sees, talk through the robot to anyone in the parking lot and can determine if further action is needed, such as calling 911.
He’s also popular among hotel guests. Daley says people like to get their picture taken with him.
(14) PIGS IN SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport explains why the politics of funding NASA ensured that Artemis was incredibly difficult to build, with “SLS” standing for “Senate Launching System” because NASA projects have to have pork for every district. “NASA SLS moon rocket readied for first launch as Artemis program begins”.
The rocket was late, again. The initial launch date, the end of 2016, was long gone. And in the spring of 2019, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator at the time, was told it’d be another year or more before NASA’s Space Launch System would be ready.
He was furious and threatened to replace the rocket with one built by the fast-growing private space sector, such as SpaceX. But Bridenstine’s attempt to bench NASA’s rocketwas quickly rebuffed by the powerful interests, including Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the appropriations committee. Those interests had shepherded the SLS through thickets of controversy since its inception more than a decade ago.
Now, after years of cost overruns and delays, damning reports by government watchdogs and criticisms from space enthusiasts and even parts of NASA’s own leadership, the SLS endures, as only a rocket built by Congress could….
(16) PLAYING IN THE SANDBOX. This trailer for a new Dune game dropped last week at gamescom: Dune: Awakening.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, 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 Rob Thornton.]
…With “Rings of Power,” Amazon has given Hollywood something to talk about. No single season of television has ever cost as much. On top of the $250 million deal to secure the rights from J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate in 2017 — Amazon outbid rival big spenders HBO and Netflix — it’s been widely reported that the studio spent north of $460 million on production in New Zealand. Add tens of millions of dollars in marketing, promotions, and global red-carpet events and you arrive at the $1 billion total estimated by industry observers — with four more seasons planned.
The show is expected to be a hit, but if it somehow misses the mark, several sources told Insider the studio may face an existential crisis.
“The reason why it’s going to succeed is because the executives at Amazon need it to succeed. If it doesn’t succeed, there’s going to be a big question from Andy Jassy and the board,” said one former senior Amazon Studios exec. “If we can’t take this piece of IP and make it successful, why is Amazon Studios even here?”
“It has to succeed,” this person added. “There’s no option.”…
…Since Rings of Power’s ensemble is rather enormous, Prime Video has released this video focusing on just the Harfoots—according to Dylan Smith, who plays Largo Brandyfoot, they’re “arguably the biggest secret of the show,” since J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write too much about them—to give viewers a sense of who they’ll be meeting when the series arrives….
John Grayshaw: What makes van Vogt interesting from a critical perspective? What first drew you to his work?
CP: I first read his work when I was reading literally every science-fiction novel that was published. About one book per day. He wasn’t my favorite author, but I did respond to his flood of strange ideas and his unique way of building a narrative. It was utterly impossible to guess what would happen next. I loved that unexpectedness, and still do. (I re-read World of Null-A just recently. Its plot is so convoluted, I felt as if I should be taking notes. But instead I just enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.)…
(4) ERIC HOFFMAN(1944-2022). LA-area fan Eric Hoffman died August 27 after being badly burned in a home electrical fire. Hoffman, born in Brooklyn, came to California, and in 1965 joined LASFS. His deep interest in monster/horror films and sff TV history were reflected in the innumerable programs he assembled about those topics for local conventions, becoming a frequent panelist at Loscon, Westercon and the San Diego Comic-Con. The latter recognized Hoffman’s work as a film historian with the Inkpot Award in 1974. Also a Doctor Who fan, he did presentations at the local Gallifrey One event for thirty years.
Hoffman assisted in providing archival posters and images for movie documentaries, and provided history commentary for several monster and horror videos. He got in front of the camera twice, according to IMDB, first in Don Glut’s short Rocketman Flies Again (1966), and then as a bartender in Sorority House Massacre II (1990).
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1955 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, “Hyde and Hare”, a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon, was released in theaters as part of a reel with other such Looney Tunes cartoons. One reel would have six to ten minutes of these cartoons. This cartoon was particularly long at seven minutes.
SPOILER ALERT. REALLY, DO WE NEED ONE THIS LONG ON?
Bugs is looking for a warm, comfortable home instead of his hole in the Park, and he meets a Doctor who takes him home. That Doctor turns out to be Doctor Jekyll. Soon Hyde is trying to kill our rabbit. He fails repeatedly. Quite amazingly he fails.
It ends when Bugs leaves after drinking all of the potions. (Yes, there are two potions shown.) Nice take at the end on the Hyde like Bugs.
Yes, I rewatched it just now. Research you know. Not on HBO+ where it’s streaming but off iTunes where I downloaded a copy.
YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. REALLY YOU CAN.
It was directed by I. Freleng who was an animator, cartoonist, composer, director and producer (a man of many talents, wasn’t he?), mostly working at Warner Bros on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. He’s responsible for over three hundred cartoons.
The story was by Warren Foster, a writer, cartoonist and composer for the animation division of Warner Brothers and later on with Hanna-Barbera. Of special note I think, he was the composer of Tweety’s theme song, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat.” It was sung by Mel Blanc. Yes, I’m weird.
Mel Blanc of course did all the voices. Who else would?
Animation was by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis, Virgil Ross and Ted Ike . I’ll be honest and note that I don’t recognize any of them by name but the style here certainly is recognizable.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 27, 1922 — Frank Kelly Freas. I’ve no idea where I first encountered his unique style on a cover of a SF book, but I quickly spotted it everywhere. He had a fifty-year run on Astounding Science Fiction from the early Fifties and through its change to the Analog name — amazing! Yes, he won ten Pro Artist Hugos plus one Retro-Hugo, an impressive feat by anyone. There doesn’t appear to a decent portfolio of his work. (Died 2005.)
Born August 27, 1945 — Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. He won two Nebulas for his short stories “Stone” (1979) and “giANTS” (1980), which also were nominated for the Hugo, as was his novelette “The Thermals of August” (1982). I’m personally familiar his short fiction in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available in digital form. (Died 2017.)
Born August 27, 1947 — Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 75. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also cast.
Born August 27, 1952 — Darrell Schweitzer, 70. Writer, editor, and critic. For his writing, I’d recommend Awaiting Strange Gods: Weird and Lovecraftian Fictions and Tom O’Bedlam’s Night Out and Other Strange Excursions. The Robert E. Howard Reader he did is quite excellent as is The Thomas Ligotti Reader.
Born August 27, 1957 — Richard Kadrey, born 1957, aged sixty five years. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and I’ve still several years later got The Grand Dark on my interested to be read list.
Born August 27, 1962 — Dean Devlin, 60. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a web site. The team then produced Independence Day, Godzilla and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted 13 episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you can guess the premise.
Born August 27, 1965 — Kevin Standlee, 57. He attended his first con in 1984, L.A. Con II. Later he co-chaired the 2002 Worldcon, ConJosé, in San José. One source says he made and participated in amateur Doctor Who films in the late 1980s. I wonder if he played Doctor Who? And I wonder if we can see these films?
Born August 27, 1978 — Suranne Jones, 44. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa. Yes, that Mona Lisa. She’ll be back on Doctor Who in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She is Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS.
You’re welcome. And I’ve shot most of the picture. The writer-director, David Gordon Green, I like very much. I met with him and we talked about the script and so forth, and I promised him four more days if he needed them. And he’s edited the film and he wants the four days, so I’m going back in November to shoot four more days. And it’ll come out in 2024, on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist, the original.
(9) GETTING OFF THE GROUND. Francis Hamit urges everyone to contribute to “The All American film organizing fund” at Indiegogo. “I have to raise money to raise more money for this great epic World War Two film. Not just a war film but also a musical. That might not be science fiction or fantasy, but it sure feels like it.”
That image is of a real event that happened on February 1, 1943. A B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber named The All American was returning from a bombing raid when it was struck by a German fighter and almost cut in half. It lost part of its tail and suffered a 16 foot long, four foot wide gash on its left side. Ten men were aboard, all young men who a year before had been civilians and who had volunteered for the most dangerous duty of the war, aerial combat. They were part of the 414th Bomb Squard, 97th Bombardment Group, United States Army Air Force. Originally they were based at Grafton Underwood, England. It was there that Margaret Bourke-White joined the 97th. She was a beautiful, world famous photojournalist for LIFE magazine and determined to tell their story. Part of that meant flying with them on a bombing mission….
To actually make the film will take millions of dollars. I don’t expect to raise that here, but would like your help getting to the next phase. I need help paying for legal, publicity and staff. The next phase is raising the money,
This year, Neil Gaiman’s comic book series “The Sandman” was finally adapted on screen in Netflix’s popular television series. But this is far from the first time that Hollywood tried to put the sprawling fantasy world to film.
In fact, Gaiman declined several movie offers for “The Sandman” throughout the last three decades, but the author recently revealed that he went as far as to sabotage an idea from “Wild Wild West” and “A Star Is Born” producer Jon Peters by leaking the script to the press.
“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“A guy in Jon Peters’ office phoned me up and he said, ‘So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read enough.’ He says, ‘So, pretty good. Huh?’ And I said, ‘Well, no. It really isn’t.’ He said, ‘Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.’ I said, ‘There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.’”…
(11) BACK TO THE MOON. While we’ve done a lot of Artemis Program stories, have we ever linked to the NASA: Artemis I website where all kinds of information and educational resources are gathered?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Jeffrey Smith, 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 John A Arkansawyer.]
(1) RHYSLING REVAMP SURVEY REPORT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) surveyed members about potential changes to their Rhysling Award. See their feedback here: “Rhysling Revamp” at the SPECPO blog. From the introduction:
The Rhysling Awards are in their 45th year of recognizing excellent speculative poetry, presented by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Leaders have been monitoring the Rhysling Anthology as it grew along with membership numbers. The anthology has ballooned from 42 poems in 2002 to 180 poems in 2022. Continued growth would result in an anthology that is not feasible to print or read.
Here’s an excerpt from the survey results.
A continual discussion point among members is the question of “double dipping” on awards. Most respondents support that Elgin-length poems not be considered for the Rhysling (64%). A slight majority agree at setting a maximum line length for the Rhysling (53%), which would be consistent with considering extra-long poems being only eligible for the Elgins. On the other side of the spectrum, there is generally support (49%) for Dwarf Stars to be the only award that can catch the 1-10 line poems. Only 25% of respondents disagreed about keeping Dwarf-Stars-eligible poems out of the Rhyslings.
There was very little support for adjusting the length definitions, but lots of ambivalence showing in the swell of neutral responses (44%).
(2) CHICON 8 POCKET PROGRAM. In a manner of speaking. The 392-page Pocket Program is now available on the Chicon 8 website. There are two versions, (1) a single page version best viewed on phones and tablets, and (2) a two-page version which is best for printing.
(3) ALERT: FAUX CHICON 8 MERCHANDISE. The Worldcon committee issued a heads up that some t-shirt sites are selling Chicon 8 branded merchandise and saying they are official. They are not.
“Our only official site for Chicon 8 merchandise at this time isRedbubble. If you buy from anywhere else, it does not benefit the convention. Please shop wisely!”
(4) THE OTHER WORLD. This World Fantasy Award winner’s new book isn’t genre, but when speaking about her research she says things like this — “So I went on this fantastic two-week trip into a time and place that doesn’t really exist now.” “Sofia Samatar Brings a Second Coming” at Publishers Weekly.
Sofia Samatar has a way with a sentence. No matter what she’s writing—whether it’s short stories, like her quietly devastating Nebula- and Hugo-nominated “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” or novels, like her World Fantasy Award–winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria—her work has a way of pairing the mundane and sublime with casual aplomb.
Her latest, The White Mosque (Catapult, Oct.), is a mosaic memoir that juxtaposes history, culture, religion and regionalism, tracing the journey of a group of German-speaking Mennonites into the heart of Khiva in Central Asia—now modern-day Uzbekistan—on a quest that promised no less than the second coming of Christ.
Samatar’s own journey to the site where the group’s church once stood started in 2016, when her father-in-law gave her a book titled The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites, by Frank Belk. “This guy, who’s sort of a cult leader, predicts Christ is returning, and these people just uproot their lives to follow him,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her office at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she’s an associate professor of English. “Of course, nothing happens. But they stayed for 50 years, until they were deported by the Bolsheviks.”
Samatar, the child of a Black Somali Muslim and a white Mennonite, became obsessed with the story….
(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry, which previously announced that Con or Bust is “folding into our (dragon) wing,” shared the program’s new logo designed by Dream Foundry contest winner Yue Feng.
The journey of half a million miles – the first flight of the Artemis Generation – is about to begin. The uncrewed Artemis I mission will jump-start humanity’s return to the Moon with the thunderous liftoff of NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. This critical flight test will send Orion farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown, putting new systems and processes to the test and lighting the way for the crew missions to come. Artemis I is ready for departure – and, together with our partners around the world, we are ready to return to the Moon, with our sights on Mars and beyond.
(7) WHERE’S THE LOOT? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber looks at the problems game designers have giving users rewards.
Most games interface short, mid- and long-term rewards that trigger at different times. the short-term rewards often take the form of sensory feedback; the bright ‘ding’ when you get a coin in Super Mario, an enemy’s head exploding in a shower of gore in Grand Theft Auto. These get boring after a while–behavioural psychologists learned that repeating the same rewards generates diminishing returns. So developers offer midterm rewards: new levels, items, skills, characters, locations or narrative beats. The longterm rewards are often related to social competition and prestige, such as difficult high-level team challenges or rare cosmetic items which players can show off to their friends.
Loot boxes lean into several of these techniques. They have been employed in all manner of games ranging from FIFA to Star Wars, and they’re very profitable. Yet they have also faced a backlash: a recent report from consumer bodies in 18 European countries called them ‘exploitative.’ Although they have been banned in Belgium since 2018, most governments have been wary of legislation–the UK recently decided not to ban loot boxes after a 22-month consultation. Still, some developers have heard gamers are unhappy–loot boxes were removed from Star Wars Battlefront 2 after an outcry and Blizzard recently announced they won’t feature in upcoming shooter Overwatch 2.”
…“I’d like people to know that it’s possible for a debut author in her 40s, a woman of color, a mom, who led a quiet life offline with no brand building whatsoever to have this experience,” said Jessamine Chan.
And yet Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers” was published in January 2022 — and soared to the best-seller list, catapulting her to literary stardom. Last month, former President Barack Obama featured it on his summer reading list.
How does a debut novel go from a “very messy” draft on a writer’s desk to a published book, on display in bookstores around the country?
Here, we take you behind the scenes to see how a book is born — the winding path it takes, the many hands that touch it, the near-misses and the lucky breaks that help determine its fate.
From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.
Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.
Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.
In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion–writing–Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike. (William Morrow & Company)
The Hollywood Reporter confirmed with multiple sources that a select few who worked on the film, including cast, crew and studio executives, would be attending the screenings this week on the Warner Bros lot in California. One source described them as “funeral screenings”, as it is likely the footage will be stored forever and never shown to the public.
…The Hollywood Reporter reported there was a chance Warner Bros would make “the drastic move of actually destroying its Batgirl footage as a way to demonstrate to the IRS that there will never be any revenue from the project, and thus it should be entitled to the full write-down immediately.”
On Tuesday, in an interview with French outlet Skript, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they no longer had any copy of the film, recalling the moment they found they could not longer access the servers that held the footage.
…El Arbi said it was unlikely they’d have the studio’s support to release it in the future or that there could be an equivalent of “the Snyder cut” – Zack Snyder’s four-hour director’s cut of the DC film Justice League, which added an extra $70m to a $300m budget film.
“It cannot be released in its current state,” said El Arbi. “There’s no VFX … we still had some scenes to shoot. So if one day they want us to release the Batgirl movie, they’d have to give us the means to do it. To finish it properly with our vision.”
(11) TRANSFORMATIVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. Seekingferret posted a “Panel Report” from Fanworks where the topic was “Ethical Norms in Fanworks Fandom”.
… I presented three models for fandom’s approach to copyright- the It’s All Transformative model, the It’s Illegal but I Do It Anyway model, and the It’s Not Illegal Because the Copyright Holders’ Inaction is an Implicit License model, and then the audience argued with me for a while about whether the second two models are essentially the same, which was a good, clarifying argument to have….
If you can communicate on it, you can abuse it. This was proven again recently when a hacker using the name “scarycoder” uploaded a dozen malicious Python packages to PyPI, the popular Python code repository. These bits of code pretended to provide useful functions for Roblox gaming community developers, but all they really did was steal users’ information. So far, so typical. Where it got interesting is it used the Discord messaging app to download malicious executable files.
(13) BOOK PORN. [Item by Bill.] Whenever I see a photograph on the web that has a bookshelf in the background, I spend way too much time trying to figure out what the books are. For example:
Blogger Lawrence Person has posted photos of his SF book shelves, and there are a lot of titles I’d love to have in my own collection. A few years old, but perhaps worth a look …. “Overview of Lawrence Person’s Library: 2017 Edition”. He provides regular updates to the collection (see the “books” tag).
(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1989 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the first installment of the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure premiered.
Starring William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, portrayed by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as, and not giving a frell about spoilers here, time travelling slacker high schoolers assembling the ultimate history report. And let’s not forget Rufus as portrayed by George Carlin. I met him some forty years ago — a really neat gentleman.
Stephen Herek directed here. He had previously written and directed the horror/SF Critters film. Nasty film it was. Chris Matheson who wrote all three of the franchise films co-wrote this with Ed Solomon who co-wrote the third with him and, more importantly, was the Men in Black writer.
By late Eighties standards, it was cheap to produce costing only ten million and making forty in return. Critics for the most part were hostile —- the Washington Post said “if Stephen Herek has any talent for comedy, it’s not visible here.” And the Los Angeles Times added, “it’s unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake.”
It spawned not one but two television series named – oh, guess what they were named. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, an animated series that started out on CBS and ended on Fox, lasted twenty-one episodes over two seasons, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the live version, lasted but seven episodes on Fox. Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy played Bill and Ted.
DC did the comic for the first film, Marvel for the second. It did well enough that it led to the Marvel series Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book which lasted for just twelve issues. And there was a sort of adaptation of the animated series that lasted for a year by Britain’s now gone Look-In Magazine.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating.
(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on one of The Lost World films as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1972.)
Born August 25, 1913 — Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released the complete Pogo in twelve stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1973. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on Dumbo, Pinocchio and Fantasia? Well he did. (Died 1973.)
Born August 25, 1930 — Sean Connery. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love very, very definitely. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want to go for silly. Now remember these are my personal choices. I almost guarantee that you will have different ones. (Died 2020.)
Born August 25, 1940 — Marilyn Niven, 82. She was a Boston-area fan who now lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons. In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
Born August 25, 1947 — Michael Kaluta, 75. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988. If you can find them, the M. W. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series are well worth having.
Born August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 67. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written except that damn Robin Hood novel that made a NYT Best Seller. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History were my favorite ones until the Ismael Jones series came along and I must say it’s a hell of a lot of fun as well. Drinking Midnight Wine and Shadows Fall arethe novels I’ve re-read the most.
Born August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 64. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman was, errr, interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was which I think is a far better look at the source material, and Sleepy Hollow is just too damn weird for my pedestrian tastes. (Snarf.)
Born August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 52. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He won two Sidewise Awards, first for his “O One” story and later for The Dragon’s Nine Sons novel. He’s had five Sidewise nominations.
… I found myself in the mood for a big space opera the other day and with the novel also being a Dragon Award finalist, it seemed like a natural choice. I wasn’t wrong in my initial assessment. It is in many ways a more conventional space opera than the books I’d read. Humanity is a spacefaring species with its own factions, in a galactic society with a range of aliens. There’s hyperspace (or rather “unspace”), a cosmic threat, mysteriously vanished advanced civilisations, space spies, space gangsters, badass warriors and epic space battles. This is all good but if you are hoping for the millennia-long deep dive into the evolution of a sapient spider civilisation this book doesn’t have anything like that. Which is fine because that gives Tchaikovsky more space and time to attend to a cast of characters….
…In any event, Fry is here to help you. He starts at the beginning, as to how Troy was founded, and why, and brings its history up to date as it were. The delight in the depth of research and scholarship he brings is tha there is a fair chunk here I didn’t know about. Fun fact, the Trojan War is not the first time that Troy gets attacked in its mythological history, and you will never guess who did it before the Greeks got it into their heads to take back Helen, nor why….
Note: It’s worth stating that the declaration deals with his compositions and his lyrics, not the recordings. Those are most likely not owned by Lehrer.
However, the statement isn’t wholly true. Tom Lehrer didn’t actually release his songs into the public domain. While it may be pedantry given that there is no practical difference, the lengths Lehrer had to go to release what he did in the way that he did only further highlights Lehrer’s genius and is well worth exploring.
If this is truly to be Lehrer’s final musical act, it makes sense to see it for both the effort it took and the intellect required to conceive of it….
(21) AI GIVES ASSIST TO MUSIC VIDEO. [Item by Dann.] Someone recently made a video using the lyrics to “Renegade” by Styx. The lyrics were fed, line by line, into AI art software to create the images used in the video.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer in the seventh Harry Potter film mourns when several beloved minor characters die. He is bored by the very long camping scenes (where the characters camp and camp and camp some more” but gets excited when Harry Potter gets to duke it out with Voldemort only to discover that this is the end of Part I and we have to wait for Part II.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Dann, Jennifer Hawthorne, Daniel Dern, Bill, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
This year, as the Hugo Awards come closer, I thought I’d combine my current hobby (throwing weird prompts as Midjourney AI) and a guessing game.
I used the names of each of the Hugo Award finalist novels as prompts for the AI. It drew a quartet of pictures for each. Based on the picture, you have to guess which pictures match which novels…
(2) L, D + R. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with several people associated with Love, Death, and Robots because one episode from the show is up for an Emmy.
Executive producer Tim Miller says he came up with the idea of “reviving Heavy Metal” over a decade ago. He and David Fincher started pitching this idea and Netfix greenlit the series, which is renewed for season 4. Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3, says as supervising producer her role is to create the storyboards animators use and “head the quality control department.” Sound editors Brad North and Craig Henigan explain what sound editors do, and we learn that the great sound editor Ben Burtt got part of the voice for Darth Vader from a noisy projector at the University of Southern California film school that is still being used.
Finally, Leonard Maltin said that Alfred Hitchcock once opined that the advantage an animator has over a live action director is “If you don’t like your leading man, you can rip him up.” “Emmy Nominees for Love, Death & Robots” at Maltin on Movies.
…Damo Mac Choiligh: Did Russ retain her perception of SF as a worthwhile literature into later life? I have always been struck by how she was optimistic about its potential, despite the extent to which it is dominated by writers and fans for whom her feminism was anathema or who simply did not understand it.
[Lisa Yaszek:] I’ve always liked Russ’s optimism as well! Russ spoke often about how she began reading science fiction as a teenager because it promised her that “life could be different!” than the stifling world of midcentury America. And then many of her early critical essays were all about why SF is an important genre. And of course, she continued to write both professional SF and amateur “slash” fiction until her death. If her production slowed down in the 1980s and 1990s, it was largely due to health issues. Having said that, Russ did become increasingly disenchanted with certain factions of the SF community as the 1970s unfolded. When Russ started out in the 1960s, she was actually quite well-received by the largely male/male-identified SF community because she wrote about the possibilities of science fiction as the premiere story form of modernity and her first really successful stories—the Alyx tales—followed the adventures of a strong, smart, successful woman living mostly amongst men. But then Russ began to write essays about the patriarchal limits of SF as it was currently practiced (in essays such as “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” and “Amore Vincent Foeminam!”) and more literarily-experimental stories about allfemale futures and the women who would go to war with men to preserve them, such as “When It Changed” (1972), The Female Man (1975), and The Two of Them (1978). This led SF authors and editors including Poul Anderson, Judy Del Rey, and Avram Davidson to publicly turn against Russ, dismissing her as a “second rate academic” masquerading as an author. Even Samuel R. Delany—a queer Black experimental SF author who was friends with Russ and who Russ was careful to include in important gender and SF events, such as the 1974 Khatru symposium on “Women and Science Fiction”—was quite critical of her writing at the time. Little wonder then, that Russ gave up her post as a reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1980 and began to focus more on writing and publishing in feminist and lesbian venues—even if she never quit writing science fiction itself….
(4) HUGO PICKS. Kristenelle – SFF Reader is a science fiction and fantasy focused booktuber who reads a lot of new releases and does commentary on awards such as the Hugos and Nebulas. Here are her “2022 Hugo Award Predictions”. The whole concept of booktubers fascinates me, I wish I had time to keep up with them.
Despite its history and Loftus’s conclusions, I did not get the sense that Mensa is an unhealthy place to find community. Many of its members think of themselves as outsiders and feel like Mensa is a place where they can be themselves and connect with people who understand and appreciate them. It’s a place where they can find other folks who love to play Set or who have encyclopedic knowledge of minute Disney trivia. This isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic subsections of Mensa, because there are, but that’s true of any group that runs tens of thousands of members deep. And in an era when the internet and the pandemic have scrambled our sense of community and alienation reigns supreme, that’s no small thing.
…This latest trailer opens with a voiceover by Galadriel, telling us that her brother gave his life “hunting the enemy.” She takes up the cause in his stead. She asks for others to stand with her, as we see shots of several central characters who, one presumes, will become her comrades in arms. Or perhaps they will decline the offer. That seems to be the case with Halbrand, who insists, “I am not the hero you seek,” suggesting a dark secret in his past. “Whatever you did, be free of it,” Galadriel tells him.
Galadriel seems to be emerging as the most major protagonist, but we also get new footage of several other characters scattered throughout Middle-earth, including dwarves and hobbits. The latter, while humble, do have their strengths. “One thing we can so better than any creature in all Middle-earth—we stay true to each other, with our hearts even bigger than our feet,” Nori’s dad, Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith), says. It looks like different kinds of struggles and battles will be waged on many different fronts, as befitting a sweeping epic series of this magnitude….
… “Impossible crime” and “locked-room mystery” are two analogous terms referring to mysteries in which how a crime was committed is equally important as who committed it. Crimes which are seemingly impossible, which appear to have been committed in defiance of both physics and logic. As such, these mysteries are often tinged with a hint of the surreal, the sinister, and the uncanny. However—and this is particularly important—the crime always, always has a rational explanation. By its nature, this is a fiendish subgenre, but when done right it’s also one of the most satisfying for both writers and readers. The puzzle and the atmosphere are perfectly intertwined; all the clues are there, but they are so ingeniously disguised as to make it nigh-on impossible for the reader to suss out what is going on….
At the top of his list:
1. The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
Whenever I am asked what is my favorite locked-room mystery or impossible crime story, this is always my answer. The murder of Professor Charles Grimaud by the mysterious “hollow man” who vanishes without trace is a perfect locked-room problem. Meanwhile, the killing of illusionist Pierre Fley in a street carpeted with unmarked snow is an archetypal example of the popular impossible crime variant, the no-footprints puzzle.
As well as one of the most famous examples of the subgenre, this novel remains an indisputable masterpiece. Not only is it a tour-de-force of plotting, prose, and atmosphere, it also happens to contain within it one of the definitive critical overviews of the genre itself: the famous “locked-room lecture,” a perfect piece of meta-fiction in which Dr. Gideon Fell examines the very nature of the impossible crime. It’s a treatise which probes just about every category of impossible crime, providing numerous examples of methods by which they could be achieved. But is the solution to these two murders lurking somewhere in those scant few pages? Or is the locked-room lecture itself just a red herring?
When I first read this book, the brilliance of the solution left me giddy. Reading it again today, it has lost none of its impact. This book is one of the many reasons that John Dickson Carr remains (to borrow a phrase from Agatha Christie) the “supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1966 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-six years ago, Fantastic Voyage premiered. It would the next year be nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3 but Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” won.
It was directed by Richard Fleischer and produced by Saul David. Fleischer had been responsible for the earlier 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and David had produced Our Man Flint. (It is definitely genre.) The screenplay was by Harry Klein off an adaptation by David Duncan (yes, our David Duncan) of the story by Jerome Bixby and Otto Klement which I assume is “Small War” though nowhere is that stated.
The film starred Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence, and Arthur Kennedy. Of course it has Welch in it , there had to be one sexy female on the crew, didn’t there?
Klement and Kleiner claimed to the studio that it would be “the most expensive science-fiction film ever made”, a odd thing I think to say to sell anything to a studio. It cost five million dollars which certainly was expensive but not that expensive. It didn’t do that well at the box office returning just twelve million.
I’ll quote but one review from the time, that of Variety: “Fantastic Voyage is just that. The lavish production, boasting some brilliant special effects and superior creative efforts, is an entertaining, enlightening excursion through inner space – the body of a man.”
Asimov wrote the novelization which readers thought the film was based on as it came out well before the film premiered. He was displeased with that take so he wrote another take, Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain, and a third novel would follow written not by him but by Kevin J. Anderson, Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm.
It would spawn a short-lived animated series, Fantastic Voyage, thirteen episodes to be precise, and a Fantastic Voyage comic book, based on the series, published by Gold Key which lasted an amazingly short two issues.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 24, 1899 — Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
Born August 24, 1899 — Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1986.)
Born August 24, 1915 — Alice Sheldon. Alice Sheldon who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. was one of our most brilliant short story writers ever. She only wrote two novels, Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls from the Air but they too are worth reading even if critics weren’t pleased by them. (Died 1987.)
Born August 24, 1932 — William Morgan Shepard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the most believable Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige (nominated for a Hugo at Nippon 2007),the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. (Died 2019.)
Born August 24, 1934 — Kenny Baker.Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of Horrors, Wombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant Man, Sleeping Beauty, Time Bandits, Willow, Flash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
Born August 24, 1936 — A. S. Byatt, 86. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature-winning The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections.
Born August 24, 1951 — Tony Amendola, 71. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes Angel, Charmed, Lois & Clark,Space: Above and Beyond, the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5, X Files, Voyager, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, World of Warcraft: Legion and World of Final Fantasy.
Born August 24, 1957 — Stephen Fry, 65. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (I absolutely adore both films as I noted in my essay on them)though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s also the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings.
Born August 24, 1958 — Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)
The video opens gauzily on an empty New York City streetscape, with sirens echoing in the distance, as a woman dressed in black strolls in with some hypothetically catastrophic news.
“So there’s been a nuclear attack,” she says nonchalantly. “Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit.”
The 90-second public service announcement, which instructed New Yorkers about what to do during a nuclear attack, was released by the city’s Department of Emergency Management in July.
It attracted attention: While most of the videos on the department’s YouTube page have recorded fewer than 1,000 views, at last count the nuclear preparedness video had been seen more than 857,000 times.
Still, some questioned whether the city should have prioritized the nuclear preparedness video at a time when emergency officials are grappling with more imminent threats, like extreme heat and catastrophic flooding, and the city is dealing with the monkeypox health crisis.
Mr. Harvin, the former city official, said that emergency management professionals traditionally focus on events that are more likely to occur, including flash floods or mass shootings. New York City has recently experienced both….
Years late and billions over budget, NASA’s new moon rocket makes its debut next week in a high-stakes test flight before astronauts get on top.
The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket will attempt to send an empty crew capsule into a far-flung lunar orbit, 50 years after NASA’s famed Apollo moonshots.
If all goes well, astronauts could strap in as soon as 2024 for a lap around the moon, with NASA aiming to land two people on the lunar surface by the end of 2025.
Liftoff is set for Monday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The six-week test flight is risky and could be cut short if something fails, NASA officials warn.
“We’re going to stress it and test it. We’re going make it do things that we would never do with a crew on it in order to try to make it as safe as possible,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
It turns out that unrelated doppelgangers may have quite a bit in common beyond just twin faces. New research suggests that lookalikes with incredibly similar faces tend to share many genetic variants—variants that don’t just seem to shape their appearance but general aspects of their life. At the same time, other important influences, such as the microbiome, appear to contribute little to their symmetry.
Study author Manel Esteller, a geneticist and director of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC) in Barcelona, Spain, is interested in what makes people the way they are. In 2005, he and his colleagues published research showing that identical twins weren’t as identical as they appear at first glance. While they had the same basic genetic patterns, they differed noticeably in their epigenetics: changes in how our genes express themselves, which are caused by environmental or behavioral factors, such as smoking or age.
In their new research, published Tuesday in Cell Reports, Esteller’s team wanted to look at the other side of the coin—people who look so similar that they could be twins but aren’t actually related…
(13) WOODEN IT BE ROMANTIC. Disney+ dropped their trailer for Pinocchio today (which is not Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio–the Disney version is directed by Robert Zemeckis.)
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in this sketch that dropped four days ago, wonders what the billionaires would do when the apocalypse happens!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, 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 Thomas the Red.]
Almost 70 years before last week’s landing of the world premiere musical “It Came From Outer Space” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the groundbreaking 1953 Universal International movie of the same name had audiences screaming and cringing from behind their 3-D glasses as meteorites, space debris and aliens seemingly hurtled directly at them.
You don’t need much familiarity with Universal’s first 3-D movie or its special effects to appreciate the 85-minute musical commissioned by Chicago Shakes from Joe Kinosian (music and lyrics) and Kellen Blair (book and lyrics). Inspired by that cult classic film (which was based on a story by Ray Bradbury, who also wrote an early version of the screenplay), “It Came From Outer Space” the musical is sheer silliness.
Both an homage and parody of the movie, the musical follows an alien invasion in the Area 51-ish desert town of Sand Rock. It falls to outsider John Putnam (Christopher Kale Jones) and local schoolteacher Ellen Fields (Jaye Ladymore) to save the townsfolk from their own ignorance and the predators from afar….
(3) A HARD DAY’S Q&A. This archival episode of Day at Night contains a 1974 interview with Ray Bradbury.
Host James Day speaks with Ray Bradbury about his career, the importance of fantasizing, his aspirations as a young child, his dislike of college for a writer, his idea of thinking compared to really living, and his love of the library. CUNY TV is proud to re-broadcast newly digitized episodes of DAY AT NIGHT, the popular public television series hosted by the late James Day. Day was a true pioneer of public television: co-founder of KQED in San Francisco, president of WNET upon the merger of National Educational Television (NET) and television station WNDT/Channel 13, and most recently, Chairman of the CUNY TV Advisory Board. The series features fascinating interviews with notable cultural and political figures conducted in the mid 1970’s. Tape Date: 1/21/1974
(4) IN FOR A PENNY. Bradbury’s story “The Tarot Witch” was Library of America’s “Story of the Week” in March. The introduction includes the following quote from the author about his home town:
…I was amused and somewhat astonished at a critic a few years back who wrote an article analyzing Dandelion Wine plus the more realistic works of Sinclair Lewis, wondering how I could have been born and raised in Waukegan, which I renamed Green Town for my novel, and not noticed how ugly the harbor was and how depressing the coal docks and railyards down below the town.
But, of course, I had noticed them and, genetic enchanter that I was, was fascinated by their beauty. Trains and boxcars and the smell of coal and fire are not ugly to children. Ugliness is a concept that we happen on later and become self-conscious about. . . .
“In other words,” he added, “if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about.”
Ray Bradbury is a famous name in literature, specifically science fiction, although his work touched on more than just this one genre. Several of his novels and short stories have been adapted for the small and big screen, and he had a hand in writing some of the most iconic science fiction and fantasy of the 20th century.
Not every adaptation has been perfect, of course, and even when the movie or show is a decent product other things can go wrong to make it less than successful.
There are six on the list, beginning with —
The Martian Chronicles (1980)
This BBC miniseries had all the marks of a successful adaptation, at least in the beginning. It had a cast with big names like Rock Hudson and Bernadette Peters, an original soundtrack with more than 30 songs, more than decent production values, and it was an adaptation of a novel of the same name by a popular author with literary clout.
However, things started to go awry when Ray Bradbury himself described the show as “boring” at a solo press conference. Although he and screenwriter Richard Mathieson had worked together on the adaptation, Bradbury was disappointed with the result, which deviated significantly from his original story. Even though the show was finished in 1979, this poor marketing was enough to delay the release for a year, but fans and critics ultimately gave The Martian Chronicles a positive reception.
Summer’s here! But since winter, 2022, renovation work inside the RBEM building, including the installation of the “Rivers of Mars” flooring, caused RBEM to once again close temporarily.
Now we’re planning new, exciting exhibits to bring Ray Bradbury’s imagination to life for all ages. Watch here for news of our summer opening! Then mark your calendars for another Ray Bradbury birthday celebration on Saturday, August 20, 2022 in Waukegan.
4. When Bradbury’s publisher of 11 years didn’t respond to Something Wicked This Way Comes as enthusiastically as he’d hoped, Bradbury took the book elsewhere.
By 1960, Bradbury had grown dissatisfied with Doubleday, which had published The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine; the author didn’t feel that the terms of his contracts were favorable for him, or that Doubleday was giving his books enough marketing support. Bradbury and his agent, Don Congdon, hoped Something Wicked This Way Comes would give them the leverage to renegotiate Bradbury’s contract.
That didn’t prove to be the case. Doubleday made a few concessions in terms of marketing Bradbury’s earlier titles and giving him some control over promotional copy, but they only agreed to devote $3000 to promoting Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury saw it as a lack of faith—not just in him and his new book, but in the genre he loved. “I think it is time for me to leave Doubleday and to try to find a new publisher who will see me and this fantastic and exciting new Space Age with the same high-spirits in which I approach it,” he wrote to his editor.
Bradbury left Doubleday on friendly terms, and by the summer of 1960 he was working on a new draft of Something Wicked This Way Comes. In September of that year, Bradbury found the home he’d been looking for: Simon & Schuster editor Robert Gottlieb made an impassioned appeal to Congdon, promising that the publisher’s advertising director was ready to tackle the challenge of “extending the cult-feeling about Bradbury to a much larger public” and identifying its marketing director as “a violent Bradbury-lover.” By the end of the month, Bradbury was a Simon & Schuster author, and Something Wicked This Way Comes had a publisher that seemed truly excited about it.
I walked to the Lakewood Colonial Theatre in 1956 from our home on Maple Avenue to see the film Moby Dick. I would have been 11 or 12. I had read the CLASSICS Illustrated comic book before seeing the film and then read the Herman Melville book later. As a teenager I subscribed to a monthly mailing of famous authors. The two images that stayed with me from the film: Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab dead on Moby Dick’s back, his body entwined in harpoon ropes with one arm flopping back and forth, beckoning to the sailors of the Pequod. The second image was that of Ishmael clinging to the floating coffin of his friend Queequeg….
Conversations with Ray Bradbury, edited by Steven Aggelis and published by the University Press of Mississippi in Spring 2004, is a collection of Ray Bradbury interviews from 1948 to 2002, with the last of these interviews being conducted by the editor. Besides the interviews, the University Press of Mississippi collection contains an introduction, chronology, and index.
…The interviews reveal Bradbury’s recurring interest in science, an appeal to and reliance on emotion versus reason, censorship and tyranny, urban planning, comics and cartoons, death, education, Hollywood, love or passion as a creative force, magic, outer space, morality, myth, philosophy, politics, psychology, racial relations, technology, sex, the economy, the future, the horror genre, films, the media, the use of metaphor, war, writing and writers, religion, and more….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for many of these links!]
(1) TICKET TO RIDE. NASA invites you to add your name and have it included on a flash drive that will fly aboard Artemis I. “Send Your Name to Space”.
Artemis I will be the first uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft. The flight paves the way toward landing the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon!
…With the only bid for the 2024 World Science Fiction Convention being for Glasgow, Scotland, there is expected to be a 2024 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC being held only in years when Worldcon is outside North America)….
The members of the bid committee are not named on the website, but is said to “include individuals who have experience working on Worldcon / NASFiC events, as well as others who have organized small conventions and other events across Western New York and Southern Ontario.”
(3) REASONS TO READ. Juliette Wade pitches The Broken Trust series in an appealing thread that starts here. (The series’ fandom is so broad that this thread was retweeted by Analog!)
Amazon has just sent an email to a number of Kindle users who have older e-readers on their account. The company has stated that the Kindle (2nd Gen) International, Kindle DX International, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (4th Gen), and Kindle (5th Gen) will no longer be able to browse, buy, or borrow books directly from these Kindle e-readers. The only way you can have books delivered to these devices to buy them from your local Amazon website and have them delivered to the Kindle. Existing books that are on these models will still be accessible.
This is the first time that Amazon has ever totally cut off store access on a series of Kindle e-readers. Amazon has not disclosed the reason why these particular models are going to lose store access. I believe this likely due to a TLS issue, since the oldest Kindle models have an older version and likely can’t be upgraded. This is partly due to them only supporting TLS 1.0 and 1.1 and due to older hardware, won’t have the necessary permissions to make store purchases. This is why they Amazon can’t simply issue a firmware update to fix the issue.
…“It’s a great pleasure to be here,” Ford told the enormous crowd gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center, adding that he is “really proud of the movie that we made.”
The iconic actor came out onstage after John Williams’ famous Indy theme played. The composer was on-site and conducting a full orchestra.
“It’s a special honor for me to be able to congratulate John on his 90th birthday,” Ford said, acknowledging the composer turning 90 in February. “I told John on another occasion that we had the chance to be together, and that music follows me everywhere I go. And you know what, I’m happy about it.”…
(6) REBEL GENESIS. Disney+ released the teaser trailer for its next Star Wars entry “Andor”.
The “Andor” series will explore a new perspective from the Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make. The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.
…“Andor,” a prequel series to “Rogue One,” will premiere on Disney+ on August 31 with a two-episode launch. It will have 12 episodes total, but 12 more episodes, making up a Part 2 to the series, will begin filming in November. The Part 2 will lead up directly to the events of “Rogue One,” it was announced at the 2022 Star Wars Celebration.
… “Andor” is set five years before the events of “Rogue One,” and it tracks how and why Cassian joined the rebellion as the Empire aggressively expands its reach across the galaxy. Forest Whitaker is reprising his performance from “Rogue One” as Clone Wars veteran and radical insurgent Saw Gerrera, and O’Reilly is returning as Mon Mothma, one of the founders of the Rebel Alliance…
This episode of Eating the Fantastic is a serendipitous one, brought to your ears because writer Stephen R. Southard happened to stop by my neck of the woods for brunch while on a drive from Maryland to Texas. That resulted in us meeting on a sunny May morning at Bonnie Blue Southern Market & Bakery in Winchester, Virginia, which has been serving food in what was previously an Esso Station since 2012. They have excellent fried chicken, biscuits, waffles, pastries and a lot more, so I recommend you drop by if you’re ever in the area.
Steven R. Southard is particularly fascinated by alternate and secret histories, and has written more than a dozen installments in his What Man Hath Wrought story series, starting in 2010 with The Wind-Sphere Ship, and most recently with After the Martians in 2020. His short stories have also appeared in magazines such as Curiosities and Steampunk Tales, and anthologies like Avast, Ye Airships, Quoth the Raven and Not Far From Roswell. With Kelly A. Harman, he edited the anthology 20,000 Leagues Remembered, published in 2020. He and I have frequently appeared as co-panelists discussing the craft of writing at Balticon, ChessieCon, and elsewhere.
We discussed how an early meeting with Isaac Asimov had him hoping he could be just as talented and prolific, why it took him 15 years of working on a novel before he realized he was meant to be a writer of short stories, how Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea changed his life, why alternate and secret histories attract him so (as well as the stories in that genre I never got around to writing), his “snowflake” method for plotting short stories, the secrets to coming up with good ideas for theme anthologies, what movie and TV depictions of submarines get wrong (and which ones get it right), and much more.
(8) DON’T LOSE THIS NUMBER. Jon Mann says, “I was at the LA Times Festival of Books and ran across 770 PUBLISHING. Interesting coincidence and they never heard of File 770 or the famous room party!” “770 Publishing”.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1995 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok, I’m assuming that most of you have read the Nebula-nominated story that the film Johnny Mnemonic was based off of? It was originally published in the May 1981 issue of Omni magazine but it has been reprinted quite a few times in the forty years since then.
The screenplay was by William Gibson so one can’t fault the script here, can one? Well the critics were divided on that. Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review said “Johnny Mnemonic is one of the great goofy gestures of recent cinema, a movie that doesn’t deserve one nanosecond of serious analysis but has a kind of idiotic grandeur that makes you almost forgive it.”
But Owen Glieberman in his Entertainment Weekly review was far less kind: “Johnny Mnemonic, a slack and derivative future-shock thriller (it’s basically Blade Runner with tackier sets), offers the embarrassing spectacle of Keanu Reeves working overtime to convince you that he has too much on his mind. He doesn’t, and neither does the movie.”
I’ll let have Caryn James of the New York Times have the last word: “Though the film was written by the cyberpunk master William Gibson from his own story and was directed by the artist Robert Longo, ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ looks and feels like a shabby imitation of ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Total Recall.’ It is a disaster in every way. There is little tension in the story despite the ever-present threat of an exploding brain. The special effects that take us on a tour of the information superhighway — traveling inside the circuits of Johnny’s brain, or viewing his search for information while wearing virtual reality headgear — look no better than a CD-ROM. Visually, the rest of the film looks murky, as if the future were one big brown-toned mud puddle.”
Now let’s talk about numbers. It’s generally accepted that a film needs to make at least three times what it cost to produce to just break even in the Hollyworld accounting system. Johnny Mnemonic didn’t even come close to that. It cost at least thirty million to produce (the numbers are still are in dispute even to this day) and made just double that.
There were two versions of this film. The film had actually premiered in Japan on April 15, in a longer version, well six minutes longer, that was closer to the director’s cut that came out later (oh there was a director’s cut — there’s always a director’s cut, isn’t there?), featuring a score by Mychael Danna and different editing. I doubt any version makes it a better film.
I haven’t discussed the film or the cast, so NO SPOILERS here. It’s possible, just possible , that someone here hasn’t seen it yet. I have. Someday I’m hope for a better interpretation of a Gibson film.
It really isn’t liked by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who give it a rating of just thirty-one percent.
One sec… I see checking IMDb that The Peripheral is forthcoming from Amazon this year as a series, and Pattern Recognition has been announced as a forthcoming film. So there’s hope that Gibson will get treated decently yet.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 26, 1865 — Robert W. Chambers. He’s best known for his book of short stories titled The King in Yellow, published in 1895. I see that it has been described by such luminaries as Joshi and Klein as a classic in the field of the supernatural. I have not read it, so would someone who has please tell me why they consider it such. And do tell me if I missed anything by not reading it. (Died 1933.)
Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. Having not seen Rogue One, I can’t say just how accurate it is. What’s your opinion? Come on, I know you have one. (Died 1994.)
Born May 26, 1921 — Mordecai Roshwald. He’s best known for Level 7. (Read the expanded 2004 edition as it has his SF framing narrative which has such fascinating essays as “Preface by The Martian Institute for Archaeological Excavations in the Solar System”.) He is also the author of A Small Arrmageddon novel, and his nonfiction work, Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. (Died 2015.)
Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in a recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. He narrates at least some of the Thrones audiobooks. No, you don’t want my opinion on those. (Died 2017.)
Born May 26, 1925 — Howard DeVore. He was according to all sources, an expert on pulp magazines who dealt in them and collected them, an APA writer, con-runner and otherwise all-around volunteer in First Fandom. He wrote a fascinating-sounding publication with Donald Franson, A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 (which also had an updated edition). Not surprisingly, he’s in the First Fandom Hall of Fame. He also has a Neffy for the Fan the Year which I think he got just before he died. (Died 2005.)
Born May 26, 1964 — Caitlín R. Kiernan, 58. They’re an impressive two-time recipient of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Awards. As for novels, I’d single out Low Red Moon, Blood Oranges (writing as Kathleen Tierney) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir which got a well-deserved Otherwise Award as being particularly worth reading. They also fronted a band, Death’s Little Sister, named for Gaiman’s character, Delirium. You can find out more here on this band and their other delightful music projects. Well maybe delightful isn’t the right word… Did I mention they’re well known in blood drenched horror circles? Well if I didn’t I should as they’ve won an amazing three, yes three, International Horror Guild Awards as well as the two Stokers noted above.
Born May 26, 1970 — Alex Garland, 52. Writer of Dredd, Ex Machina and Annihilation (which I still haven’t seen — opinions please on it — the books for the latter were excellent and usually don’t see films based on fiction I like). Ex Machina was nominated for a Hugo at MidAmeriCon II, Annihilation likewise was at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. Dredd alas wasn’t nominated. He also wrote 28 Days Later but I’m really not into Pandemic films right now.
John Coxon has a paper cut, Alison Scott feels seen, and Liz Batty is cheating on her homework. We discuss Chinese translation before a deep dive into the Chicon 8 programme and collecting data for conrunning. Art by Brad W Foster.
Below: Illustration by Brad W Foster. Three aliens cluster around an old-style radio microphone in turquoise with a red speaker grille and green text saying “ON AIR”. The aliens from left to right are green, pink, and blue and look suspiciously like the hosts of Octothorpe. The title of the podcast is atop the artwork in orange.
(12) A PILE OF POOH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 100 acres of abject desolation. Perhaps the best argument ever that the Public Domain leads to the Tragedy of the Commons. A horrific assault on what’s left of my soul. The public disembowelment of a fallen hero. A knife slashing through our collective heart. Pick your own analogy. “See The Winnie The Pooh Horror Movie That Is Actually Happening” at Giant Freakin Robot.
So… did you know Winnie the Pooh is now in the public domain? Yeah. It is. And someone who has apparently stayed under all of our radars for a while now has taken advantage of that and made a horror movie based on the icon. We’re not joking, we’re not lying, and we have the photos to prove it. Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a horror film and what looks to be a slasher flick, is a real thing and it’s on the way….
Okay, the world hasn’t quite ended yet in these books, but we know it will. Winters plays with the importance (or pointlessness) of morality here, in the form of a cop who’s trying to solve a murder just weeks before kingdom come. The hardboiled prose perfectly matches the poor officer’s struggle. Because really, what’s the point in the doing the right thing when we vanish in the end, whether by errant meteor or natural death?
(14) “TODAY MY JURISIDICTION ENDS HERE.”[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The patent system assumes that inventors are human. Inventions devised by machines require their own intellectual property law and an international treaty. “Artificial intelligence is breaking patent law” In today’s Nature.
In 2020, a machine-learning algorithm helped researchers to develop a potent antibiotic that works against many pathogens (see Nature https://doi.org/ggm2p4; 2020). Artificial intelligence (AI) is also being used to aid vaccine development, drug design, materials discovery, space technology and ship design. Within a few years, numerous inventions could involve AI. This is creating one of the biggest threats patent systems have faced.
Patent law is based on the assumption that inventors are human; it currently struggles to deal with an inventor that is a machine. Courts around the world are wrestling with this problem now as patent applications naming an AI system as the inventor have been lodged in more than 100 countries1. Several groups are conducting public consultations on AI and intellectual property (IP) law, including in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.
If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge….
Complete meal for the Command Module Pilot for an Apollo mission. It’s unknown whether the meal was flown, but the white velcro stickers and menu indicates it was made for the Command Module Pilot on one of the Apollo 7-10 missions. Visible labels show a Corn Chowder packet as well as Coconut Cubes. Additional food is inside the vacuum packed meal, but labels aren’t visible. Label on front reads ”8027 / Day – 9 / Meal – B” with the WSD (Whirlpool Space Division) stamp of 14. Label on other side reads ”FAC185”. Entire meal measures approximately 5.25” x 3.75” x 2”. Very good condition. Rare.
Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author and futurist, crossed paths with the scientists of the Bell System on numerous occasions. In 1945, he concurrently, but independently, conceived of the first concept for a communications satellite at the same time as Bell Labs scientist, John Robinson Pierce. Pierce too, was a science fiction writer. To avoid any conflict with his day job at Bell Labs, Pierce published his stories under the pseudonym J.J. Coupling. In the early 1960s, Clarke visited Pierce at Bell Labs. During his visit, Clarke saw and heard the voice synthesis experiments going on at the labs by John L. Kelly and Max Mathews, including Mathews’ computer vocal version of “Bicycle Built for Two”. Clarke later incorporated this singing computer into the climactic scene in the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the computer HAL9000 sings the same song. According to Bob Lucky, another Bell Labs scientist, on the same visit, Clarke also saw an early Picturephone, and incorporated that into 2001 as well. In 1976, AT&T and MIT held a conference on futurism and technology, attended by scientists, theorists, academics and futurists. This interview with Clarke during this conference is remarkably prescient—especially about the evolution of communications systems for the next 30+ years. The interview was conducted for an episode of a Bell System newsmagazine, but this is the raw interview footage.
(17) FEED ME. How bizarre! A Little Shop of Horrors slot machine based on the movie musical. Watch it in action on YouTube.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Moon Knight Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer is excited by the possibility of characters mooning Sir Patrick Stewart and other titled thespians. But he’s less excited when we learn how little we see of Moon Knight and how many times the character blacks out. But he’s relieved when he learns that several characters seem to have died on the show, because “this is the MUU. Death is only a plot point.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Jon Mann, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
(1) WORLDBUILDER. In George R.R. Martin’s “Random Updates and Bits o’ News” at Not A Blog, he says people who are fans of Westeros should not feel shortchanged just because Winds of Winter isn’t done.
…I did, however, get a lot of work done in 2021. An enormous amount of work, in truth; I seem to have an enormous number of projects.
(I am not complaining. I like working. Writing, editing, producing. There is nothing I like better than storytelling).
I know, I know, for many of you out there, only one of those projects matters.
I am sorry for you. They ALL matter to me.
Yes, of course I am still working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. I have stated that a hundred times in a hundred venues, having to restate it endlessly is just wearisome. I made a lot of progress on WINDS in 2020, and less in 2021… but “less” is not “none.”
The world of Westeros, the world of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, is my number one priority, and will remain so until the story is told. But Westeros has become bigger than THE WINDS OF WINTER, or even A SONG OF ICE & FIRE. In addition to WINDS, I also need to deliver the second volume of Archmaester Gyldayn’s history, FIRE & BLOOD. (Thinking of calling that one BLOOD & FIRE, rather than just F&B, Vol 2). Got a couple hundred pages of that one written, but there’s still a long way to go. I need to write more of the Dunk & Egg novellas, tell the rest of their stories, especially since there’s a television series about them in development. There’s a lavish coffee table book coming later this year, an illustrated, condensed version of FIRE & BLOOD done with Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson (my partners on THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE), and my Fevre River art director, Raya Golden. And another book after that, a Who’s Who in Westeros. And that’s just the books.
And then “there are the successor shows,” he explains, and updates them, too.
(2) AURORA AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association have until March 26 to nominate works for this year’s Aurora Awards. Click here to review rules about the awards. Twelve categories are open this year and members may select up to five different works in each category.
Samantha Shannon is best known for her critically acclaimed novel The Priory of the Orange Tree. Her new book, The Mask Falling is out now via Bloomsbury Publishing. London Shah is the creative force responsible for the Light the Abyss duology, out now via Little Brown Young Readers.
The two caught up with each to discuss the heady world of writing (and also talk a bit about their new books)…
… Samantha: I’m not surprised the concept has stayed with you for years. Even as someone with a fear of the sea, I found it captivating.
London: That’s amazing; it’s always very encouraging to hear that from folk who have a fear of the sea, so thank you. I’m deeply honoured you’re a Light the Abyss fan. Yes, the sight of anything underwater, whether shipwreck, a person, ruins, or even boring infrastructure—it really didn’t matter what—always stirred such wonder and curiosity and would send me drifting off into my fantasy every time….
If you’ve ever wondered what it would have looked like if John Scalzi wrote Jurassic Park instead of Michael Chrichton, you don’t have to wonder any longer because that’s the best comparison I’m going to come up with for The Kaiju Preservation Society. The only thing we don’t have (yet) is Richard Attenborough kindly reciting his iconic lines over sweeping camera shots showing the scope of what this new world looks like while the music swells and soars….
What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
There can be more than one right answer to this question and I have a dozen. But today’s answer is “Castles and Dragons,” a collection of fairy tales given to me in 1958 or ’59 by Vidkun Thrane, a Norwegian psychologist who came to Indiana to help my father run rats through mazes. The Grimm fairy tales were too dark for me as a child, too many parents abandoning or selling or eating their children. The fairy tales in “Castles and Dragons” were the first ones that I loved unreservedly. My short story “King Rat” is all about this book and Vidkun and what stories are just too painful to tell.
… Look away from Mars for a moment and consider the films that changed the course of the industry. Not necessarily the best films ever made, but the ones that served as watershed moments. There are certain movies throughout film history that drastically shifted the tide, that gave studios and audiences a glimpse of a future that could be theirs if they reached out to touch it. The Jazz Singer (1927), Gone With the Wind (1939), Ben-Hur (1959), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997), The Matrix (1999), Toy Story (1999), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Avengers (2012), just to name a few.
Whether it was major leaps forward in technology, spectacle, storytelling, box office success, audience engagement or some combination of these elements, these films changed the industry and our relationship with movies, cleared the way for a glut of imitators (some more successful than others), and popularized new tools of filmmaking. When we think about films that changed the industry, we typically think about success stories, and John Carter, at least financially, was anything but….
…If it is true that, as Coydog (Damon Gupton) says in Apple TV+’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, “all a man is, is what he remember,” then the Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) we meet at the start of the story is barely a shell of who he once was. A nonagenarian suffering from dementia, he can hardly make sense of what’s happening in front of him, let alone everything else that’s happened to him over the decades. But when a drug promises to temporarily restore all of Ptolemy’s memories — to make Ptolemy the fullest version of himself, going by Coydog’s logic — the question becomes what he’ll do with that rare gift.
…Having established the intimate interiors of Ptolemy’s life, Last Days adds in a touch of the mythic around the second episode when Dr. Rubin (Walton Goggins) presents his offer. The bargain that Ptolemy strikes is a Faustian one, underlined by his habit of referring to Rubin as “Satan.” The lucidity granted by the experimental treatment will last only a few weeks, after which Ptolemy’s mind will decline faster than before; in exchange, he’ll sign over his body (though not, Ptolemy makes a point to note, his soul). Their agreement places Ptolemy in the long history of risky medical experimentation performed on Black people — which in turn fits into an even more expansive one of white capitalists using and abusing Black bodies, as also glimpsed in frequently tragic flashbacks of Coydog and a very young Ptolemy (Percy Daggs IV) in 1930s Mississippi….
(8) THE GOOD STUFF.Paste Magazine has compiled the “Best Quotes from The Last Unicorn”. Contemplate them while you’re waiting to see Peter S. Beagle at the LA Vintage Paperback Show later this month.
This March marks the 54th anniversary of the publication of one of the best fantasy novels of all time: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. While many late Gen-Xers and elder millennials may be familiar with the (incredible) 1980s animated film, far fewer are have likely read the book upon the movie is based on, which is a bit darker a whole lot weirder….
“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.”
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1966 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] The first Nebulas were given in 1966, for works published in 1965. They were created by the SFWA secretary-treasurer Lloyd Biggle, Jr. He says he based them off of the Edgar Awards which are presented by the Mystery Writers of America. He wanted a ceremony similar to that of the already existing Edgar and Hugo Awards
The first ceremony consisted of four literary awards, for Novels, Novellas, Novelettes, and Short Stories, which have been presented every year since. Dune was awarded the Nebula for Best Novel whereas “He Who Shapes” took the Novella award (tied with “The Saliva Tree”) and that author took home a second Award for Best Novelette for “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth”. The Story Story Award went to “Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”. No, I didn’t mention authors as I know that you know who everyone is, don’t you?
Some other Awards were added over the years: Best Script which has been discontinued, Best Game Writing which is ongoing and two that considered Nebula awards, the Andre Norton Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction and the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, but are now considered official Nebula awards
Other Awards are the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy”, the Author Emeritus for contributions to the field, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Award for service to SFWA, and the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for significant impact on speculative fiction.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award at Pittcon. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part dedicated to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement which is odd as he published a number of novels after that decision became in effect. (Died 2005.)
Born March 11, 1925 — Christopher Anvil. A Campbellian writer through and through he was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956. The Colonization series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote three novels, The Day the Machines Stopped, Pandora’s Planet and The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
Born March 11, 1947 — Floyd Kemske, 75. I’m betting someone here can tell me the story of how he can be the Editor of Galaxy magazine for exactly one issue, the July 1980 issue to be precise. I’ve not read either of his two genre novels, Lifetime Employment and Human Resources: A Corporate Nightmare, so I can’t comment on him as a writer, but the Galaxy editorship story sounds fascinating. (Both are available used in softcover for quite reasonable prices.)
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve have read and listened to the full cast production of the BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes there was. Shudder! (I really like Theatre of The Mind as did the Seacon ‘79 Hugo voters who nominated the radio series for a Hugo. It would win the BSFA.) The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and escapes my understanding of its charms. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 59. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. She was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila, and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks, and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. She’s been continuing her River Song character over at Big Finish.
Born March 11, 1982 — Thora Birch, 40. A very, very extensive genre history so I’ll just list her appearances: Purple People Eater, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hocus Pocus, Dungeons & Dragons, The Hole, Dark Corners, Train, Deadline, Dark Avenger series, The Outer Limits, Night Visions series, My Life as a Teenage Robot and a recurring role on the Colony series.
Born March 11, 1989 — Anton Yelchin. Another one who died far, far too young. Best known for playing Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really he did. (Died 2016.)
(11) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants muffed these genre opportunities.
Category: Says Ann[E]
Answer: A lot of Fay Wray’s lines as Ann Darrow in this 1933 monster movie are bloodcurdling screams.
Wrong question: What is ‘Dracula’?
Right Question: What is ‘King Kong’?
Answer: Chapters in this H.G. Wells novel include “In the Golden Age” & “The Sunset of Mankind”
It was a tough save. Originally scheduled for August, Discon III was postponed due to CoVID-19 until December, when it fell just as the omicron variant began its surge. The original hotel went bankrupt, and a new hotel had to be found. One Guest of Honour, Toni Weisskopf, editor and publisher of Baen Books, was disinvited over posts advocating violence in Baen’s user forums. The original co-chairs, Bill Lawhorn and Colette Fozard, then resigned. Some division heads resigned, and the replacement Hugo Administration team also resigned. And there were a series of controversies over a variety of concerns before and during the event.
Although the convention went hybrid, my husband and I decided to attend in-person…
Zelda has a problem. For the last ten years, she has been traveling the United States, using her gift to heal the cracks in the world to try and keep together a 21st century US that seemingly is on the brink of falling apart. Ten years ago, she and her friends, including her love, Sal, made a daring journey into alternate worlds. That journey ended in disaster.
But now Zelda needs to get the band back together, to journey back into the alternate worlds. But her friends have moved on from traveling the dangerous alternate worlds. But with Sal’s young cousin June, who has unusual powers of her own, the need to find Sal is stronger than ever before. But what forces are chasing them across the real and alternate worlds? And what precisely happened to Sal?
These are the big questions at the heart of Max Gladstone’s Last Exit….
…The theme for this collection is absolutely spot on, and while I liked, disliked and was indifferent by turns to some of the stories, I nevertheless finished the collection feeling glad that it was a theme being written about. Characters and relationships – in all their complex, messy glory – are by far my favourite thing in reading fiction, and so to have that spotlight focussed on them here, and specifically how they might change as the world, technology and the people in it change, was a gorgeous choice….
(15) THE PITCH. A behind-the-scenes clip for the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga game dropped yesterday. It’s essentially a commercial that displays lots of scenery and art.
…But if you still haven’t tried this cheesy, pasta-less ice cream, don’t necessarily sleep on heading to Walmart. These seven flavors — which also include Planet Earth, Pizza, Hot Honey, Royal Wedding Cake, Bourbon Cherries Jubilee, and Wild Blueberry Shortcake — will be part of a “10-week” rotation Van Leeuwen plans to “refresh” over the summer, meaning they still could only be around for a limited time….
Roll out of the integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is slated for Thursday, March 17.
Live coverage for rollout begins at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17 and will include live remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other guests. Coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
At the pad, NASA will conduct a final prelaunch test known as wet dress rehearsal, which includes loading the SLS propellant tanks and conducting a launch countdown.
The rollout involves a 4-mile journey between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pad, expected to take between six and 12 hours. Live, static camera views of the debut and arrival at the pad will be available starting at 4 p.m. EDT on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.
A coming of age story….the way only Richard Linklater could tell it. Inspired by Linklater’s own life, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood takes you to the moon and back in this story about growing up in the 1960s in Houston, TX.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Ed Fortune, Joel Zakem, Chris Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]