The winner will receive a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2022.00; a tradition that sees the annual prize money rise incrementally by year from the year 2001 in memory of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, said:
“I always view the shortlist as a snapshot of the richness and variety of the genre – space operas and dystopias, debutants and veterans, page turners that you can swallow whole and books that make you want to linger on every sentence. We’re slowly seeing a wider range of authors getting published in the British sf market, so we get to see a wider range of ways of reimagining the world. If science fiction is a toolbox, then we need to keep our tools sharp by approaching the material from different angles.
“The judges also come to science fiction from different angles. We have reviewers, academics, archivists and more, but above all they are enthusiastic readers and fans who have the mammoth task of whittling over hundred submissions down to exactly six titles. There was passion and intelligence and emotion in abundance. I’m proud of how they were able to challenge and still respect each other and produce the shortlist we’re celebrating today. And they get to have the debates all over again, as they choose the single best science fiction novel of the year.”
Award Director Tom Hunter said:
“I am in awe of the work of our judges this year, reading over 100 titles submitted by 39 publishing imprints and independent authors, and for leading us to this moment. I am also delighted for the opportunity to return both to a live ceremony this year and for it to be held at the Science Museum as one of their Science Fiction exhibition events.
“Every Clarke Award shortlist is a voyage into the imagination, and an opportunity to seek out new authors, and new readers, as much as it is a moment to revisit our hopes and expectations for the genre. I couldn’t think of a better partner to take that journey with this year.”
The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2022 are:
Phoenix Alexander and Dr Nicole Devarenne for the Science Fiction Foundation
Crispin Black and Stark Holborn for the British Science Fiction Association
Nick Hubble for the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival
Dr Andrew M. Butler represents the Arthur C. Clarke Award directors in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges.
Twenty years before Margaret Atwood won the first Arthur C Clarke award, she published a small but important collection of poetry called The Animals in That Country, a title I borrowed for my book. That this book could become one of the Clarke award winners alongside Atwood – as well as other writers I adore like Miéville and Whitehead – is a momentous honour. I wrote The Animals in That Country to look closely at the relationship between humans and other animals. In these strange times, I find that (more than ever) reading and writing connects us humans as well.
Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, commented on the fact that all six shortlisted books this year were by debut authors:
Our six shortlisted debut novelists have found ways to rework tools that sf has used for over two centuries. This should give us all hope for the future of our genre.
And Award Director Tom Hunter added:
For 35 years the Clarke Award has promoted not only the best of science fiction but also new ways of defining and exploring it. Laura’s win re-positions the boundaries of science fiction once again, and we’re delighted to welcome her to the genre.
Laura Jean McKay receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2021.00; a tradition that sees the annual prize money rise incrementally by year from the year 2001 in memory of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2021 were: Stewart Hotston, British Science Fiction Association; Alasdair Stuart, British Science Fiction Association; Phoenix Alexander, Science Fiction Foundation; Nicole Devarenne, Science Fiction Foundation; Nick Hubble, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival; Dr Andrew M. Butler, non-voting Chair of the Judges, Serendip Foundation.
(1) CLARKE AWARD CEREMONY. The Arthur C. Clarke Award winner will be announced September 27. Award Director Tom Hunter adds, “Long-time subscribers may remember back to pre-pandemic times when we used to announce our winner in July rather than September, but as with last year we’ve been committed to going one step at a time across our announcements and judging process as things continue to evolve. Hopefully 2022 will allow us to return to our usual scheduling. In the meantime, as with 2020, we have decided to forego a public ceremony event this year, but I am delighted to share that this year’s winner will be revealed live by presenter & science fiction fan Samira Ahmed on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.”
… Lai believes that Howard first came to the attention of Cannell in 1933. After the publication of his “Worms of the Earth” in the November 1932 issue of Weird Tales, Christine Campbell Thomson included the story in her collection Keep on the Light (Selwyn and Blount, 1933). The book was the ninth in a series of collected tales of horror and the supernatural titled Not at Night. Howard had previously appeared in the eighth volume of the series with “The Black Stone,” and that anthology was titled Grim Death (Selwyn and Blount, 1932); that was also REH’s first ever appearance in a hardcover book. So taken with Howard’s Bran Mak Morn story, Cannell incorporated “Worms of the Earth” into his Gees series, the fifth book, making it a sort of sequel. The version I read came from Ramble House and, despite the poor cover, the story appeared to me to be a good reprinting of the story….
Mary Shelley was just 18 when she dreamed up her story of a “pale student of unhallowed arts” and the “hideous phantasm of a man” he created. Now a first edition of her seminal classic of gothic horror, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, has set a world record for the highest price paid for a printed work by a woman, after selling at auction for $1,170,000 (£856,000)….
As soon as he crossed the border into Italy, Tennessee Williams found his health was “magically restored”. “There was the sun and there were the smiling Italians,” wrote the author of A Streetcar Named Desire in his memoirs. Now a previously unpublished short story by Williams describes his protagonist experiencing similar feelings – although the Italians do not feel quite so warmly towards him….
(5) BEFORE HE WAS A BESTSELLER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] G.W. Thomas has a three part post about the lengthy writing career of John Jakes and that he wrote so much more than just historical family sagas. I actually knew that he wrote fantasy in the 1960s, but I didn’t know that he wrote in pretty much every genre and every venue:
… Did the fledgling Pulp writer (by night) and ad man (by day) have any inkling what lie ahead? Probably not, but to John’s credit he always wrote what interested him, what offered him a challenge, shifting between genres and venues. If the Pulps hadn’t died, he could have spent his entire career writing Westerns. Or Space opera. Or hard-boiled. But he did all of these, and well, before moving onto bigger things…
John Jakes, after five years in the Pulps, moved on to writing for magazines and novels. His story output slowed a little but he produced at least two novels most years, sometimes under his own name, sometimes under pseudonyms. For historical adventure he used the name Jay Scotland. He used his own name for the hard-boiled detective series starring Johnny Havoc but also wrote the last three Lou Largo novels as William Ard. The 1960s saw John writing tie-ins for Mystery television. This would later lead to him writing for The Man From U. N. C L. E. and The Planet of the Apes novelizations in the 1970s. He also sold the first (and best) Brak the Barbarian stories to Cele Goldsmith at Fantastic….
John Jakes finished the 1960s writing television tie-ins along with other paperbacks. The first collections of Brak appeared alongside his best Science Fiction novels. But in 1974 everything would change with the arrival of The Kent Family Chronicles. John had several paperback novels on the bestsellers list at one time. From 1974 on he would be known not as a SF, Sword & Sorcery or Mystery writer but as a bestseller….
(6) TWO ORBIT AUTHOR Q&A’S. Orbit Live invites everyone to this pair of author conversations.
SEPTEMBER 28: Andy Marino and M.R. Carey will discuss their books and what it’s like writing supernatural thrillers. Register here.
Andy Marino is the author of The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess, a new supernatural horror and thriller novel. Marino has previously written several books for young readers. The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess is his debut book for adults.
M.R. Carey is the author of several books including The Girl With All the Gifts, the acclaimed and bestselling supernatural thriller, and The Rampart Trilogy, which began withThe Book of Koli. Carey has also written a number of radio, TV, and movie screenplays.
OCTOBER 12: Django Wexler and Melissa Caruso talk about their new books, creating fantasy worlds, and writing the middle book of a fantasy trilogy. Register here.
Django Wexler (he/him) is the author of the several adult and young adult fantasy series. Blood of the Chosen, the second book of his Burningblade & Silvereye trilogy, releases October 5.
Melissa Caruso (she/her) is the author of the Swords and Fire trilogy, which began with The Tethered Mage. The Quicksilver Court, the second book of her Rooks and Ruin trilogy, releases October 12.
(7) ZOOM INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has Zoom history sessions scheduled through the end of the year. To RSVP please send a note to email@example.com
September 25, 2021 – 2PM EDT, 11AM PDT, 1PM CDT, 7PM London, 4AM Sydney Juanita Coulson
October 23, 2021 – 2pm EDT, 7PM London, 11AM PDT St. Fantony, BSFA, Brumcon and more – British Fan history with Keith Freeman and Rob Hansen.
December 4 (US) and December 5 (Australia), 2021 – 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, 11AM Dec 5 Melbourne AU Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track:: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1962 – Fifty-nine years ago this date in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons premiered. It was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who had previously produced such series as the Quick Draw McGraw and the Yogi Bear Show. The primary voice cast was George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler and Mel Blanc. The latter voiced Cosmo Spacely, George’s boss. It would last three seasons for seventy-five roughly half-hour episodes. A number of films, reboots and one truly awful idea, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania, followed down the years.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. The Mask of Sheba in which he was Dr. Max van Condon is at genre adjacent. (Died 1984.)
Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.)
Born September 23, 1936 — Richard Wilson, 85. He played Doctor Constantine in “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, two Ninth Doctor stories. He played Gaius, Camelot’s court physician, in the entire of Merlin. And he’s was in Peter Pan as Mr Darling/Captain Hook at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.
Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 65. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel, Wolverine and Young Justice.
Born September 23, 1959 — Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it all. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not included, Ghost Whisperer, The Outer Limits, The Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.)
Born September 23, 1967 — Rosalind Chao, 54. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar. Now that would have been interesting.
Born September 23, 1967 — Justine Larbalestier, 54. Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
Born September 23, 1971 — Rebecca Roanhorse, 50. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has five published novels: Trail of Lightning, its sequel Storm of Locusts; Black Sun; Race to the Sun (middle grade); and a Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn. Black Sun is nominated for a Hugo this year.
Dorian Gray (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”) Soul-to-Sketch Art Converter app on Google Play. Turn selfies into paintings. Start your FREE seven-day, seven-sins trial today!
(12) HOPEPUNK. Mythic Delirium Books contends that readers who are looking for hopepunk will find it in Dark Breakers the new collection of short fiction from World Fantasy Award-winning author C. S. E. Cooney which will be released in February 2022. Its two previously uncollected novellas, “The Breaker Queen” and “The Two Paupers,” and three new stories, “Salissay’s Laundries,” “Longergreen” and “Susurra to the Moon” — take place in three parallel worlds, one inhabited by humans, one ruled by the Gentry (not unlike the Fae of Earthly legend) and one the realm of goblins. The heroines and heroes of these adventures confront corruption and the threat of tyranny armed with their own wits and the life-changing power of art. Pre-orders are activating now, with e-book pre-orders widely available and Barnes & Noble allowing advance purchases of all three editions.
Apple has released the official trailer for its ambitious new sci-fi series, Invasion, starring Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill.
The three-episode premiere of Invasion will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 22, 2021. Invasion comes from the minds of X-Men and Deadpool producer Simon Kinberg, as well as The Twilight Zone’s David Weil. The series follows the events of an Alien invasion through the lens of several characters spread across multiple continents.
(14) PROPRIETIES OBSERVED. [Item by Todd Mason.] The second episode of Have Gun, Will Travel repeated this morning on the H&I Network begins with the protagonist Paladin riding his horse in rocky country.As he passes an outcropping, a woman slips out of the shadows and cocks her rifle while leveling it at his back.
Closed Captioning as presented by H&I: “(sound of woman XXXXing rifle)”
As the Jimmy Kimmel Live show used to enjoy playing with, “Today in Unnecessary Censorship,” making the tampered-with/censored bit seem much more blue than simply letting it be would…
Traces of primordial form of the substance hint at why the cosmos is expanding faster than expected.
Cosmologists have found signs that a second type of dark energy — the ubiquitous but enigmatic substance that is pushing the Universe’s expansion to accelerate — might have existed in the first 300,000 years after the Big Bang….
(17) KALLING ALL KAIJU KOLLECTORS. [Item by Michael Toman.] This Deep Dive into Godzilla movie commentaries, including the two which met with disapproval from Toho and were pulled, not to mention the ones which are only available to Japanese speakers, might be of interest to Other Filer G-Fans?
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers’ No More Heroes 3” on YouTube, Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that the third adventure of assassin Travis Touchdown has him fighting aliens. It is a “weird (bleeping) game for weird (bleeping) gamers,” features every bad Power Ranger villain, and includes as a character director Takashi Miike, the Japanese goremaster.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The Animals in that Country – Laura Jean McKay (Scribe)
Chilling Effect – Valerie Valdes (Orbit)
Dr Andrew M. Butler, Chair of Judges, said:
To everyone’s surprise, each of the titles is a debut novel. This has never happened before.
Tom Hunter, Award Director, commented:
As we announce our 35th Clarke Award shortlist I’m reminded of Sir Arthur’s wish that the prize continue to reflect the best of UK science fiction, and not one fixed definition of it.
With SF publishing in the UK currently thriving and over 100 increasingly diverse titles again submitted to our judges this year, a single definition of science fiction in the 2020s was always going to be a challenge but with this shortlist I believe our judges not only met the challenge, they’ve raised the bar.
Whether its SF for readers of all ages, works in translation, books from the heart of SF publishing, our vibrant small presses or literary imprints embracing their speculative fiction sides, our judges have created a definition of the best of science fiction literature today that is uniquely their own yet instantly recognisable.
A complete list of all eligible titles submitted to the judging panel can be found here.
The award’s judging panel members and supporting organizations are:
Stewart Hotston, British Science Fiction Association
Alasdair Stuart, British Science Fiction Association
Within an hour of hearing that she had won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a top honor given to science fiction published in the UK, Namwali Serpell also heard the news that the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged for her murder.
“I received these two pieces of news about being a black woman in 2020 and it felt like a kind of whiplash, but it’s a feeling I’ve grown used to,” she told the BBC. “So I’ve been trying to figure out how to acknowledge both the honor that this award grants to my novel and the feeling that the political revolution I’m describing in the novel is yet to come.”
She decided to donate her prize money, £2,020.00, to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, with the goal of helping those who have been detained while protesting Breonna Taylor’s death….
…I tried to find a replacement for a show I’d outgrown. I wanted to find representation, something that could comfort and validate me as I move through a world that doesn’t accommodate me. I couldn’t find anything that reflected my real experience.
What I found instead was horror and fantasy.
Instead of real-world dramas like Switched at Birth, I started watching darker fare like Hannibal and Teen Wolf. Even though I couldn’t relate specifically to lycanthropy or hyper-empathy that borders on telepathy, I related with the emotional arcs these shows presented; both shows follow their protagonist trying to find their place in a world that either persecuted them or paid them little attention. I found myself rapt at the way they presented identity and community. Both Hannibal’s blood-soaked surrealism and Teen Wolf’s paranormal fantasy hit harder—and felt more relevant to my experience—than any realistic portrayal of deafness I found.
(3) RHIANNA ON RADIO. Today’s BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour has an interview with Rhianna Pratchett, the fantasy games designer and author, about her work, her latest book and includes a bit on her life with dad.. Rhianna’s interview is about 35 minutes in. The program can be downloaded as an .mp3
(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings on October 21 with Joe Hill and Laird Barron will be livestreamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. Eastern. Link forthcoming.
Joe Hill is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Full Throttle, Strange Weather, and The Fireman, among others. Much of his work has been adapted or is in development for film and TV. His third novel NOS4A2 was the basis for the AMC program of the same name, while his comic Locke & Key — co-created with artist Gabriel Rodriguez — is now a hit series for Netflix. The fall sees the release of five graphic novels under his Hill House Comics imprint with DC, including his own Basketful of Heads and Plunge.
Laird Barron spent his early years in Alaska. He is the author of several books, including The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, Swift to Chase, and Worse Angels. His work has also appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Barron currently resides in the Rondout Valley writing stories about the evil that men do.
… And sometimes magic happens. A poem turns into a picture book. A short story turns into a novel. A novel or a picture book turn into films or tv shows. The magic is not the turning, it is in the money! As my late agent said, “It can’t be reprinted unless it’s printed.” Which made me understand why sometimes you can sell an 8-line poem for a hundred dollars and someone pays $10,000 to reprint it. This actually happened to me. Once. But once is enough for a story and a moral lesson.
But if you write a lot of short stuff…it can become BIG. And what was a small idea (a scary story in Asimov’s magazine, another two or three in various Datlow anthologies, or Greenberg anthologies, or…And suddenly you have a Big Idea—a collection.
…Unofficial and incomplete texts are nothing new to readers of Franz Kafka; the problems of textual authority haunt nearly all his work. Kafka’s aesthetic practice cultivates a resistance to finality and what Judith Butler calls a “poetics of non-arrival.” The bulk of the literary output he left to posterity, as Michael Hofmann notes, “ends” rather than “finishes.” More crucially, all of Kafka’s novels, and a considerable haul of his short stories, beast fables, and aphorisms, owe their existence to Max Brod’s refusal to honor his best friend’s wish and burn all the manuscripts in his possession (unlike Kafka’s last lover Dora Dymant, who destroyed those in her keeping). The material in The Lost Writings is no more fringe or “lost” than any other unfinished text like The Castle, The Trial, Amerika, “The Great Wall of China,” “Investigations of a Dog,” or “The Burrow,” since Kafka’s publication history has been determined by the accidents of editorial preferences and decisions over the last century.
Regardless, Kafka, along with his editorial and translational collaborators, is one of our most prolific contemporary writers…
The only thing better than reading C.S. Lewis’s novels would be listening to Lewis himself read from his novels. It is now possible to hear Lewis reading from both Perelandra (1943) and That Hideous Strength (1945). Additionally, Lewis fans can listen to him reading the famous opening section of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in resonant Middle English.
These tracks were first recorded at Lewis’s home, the Kilns, in August 1960. After Joy Davidman Lewis passed away in July 1960, her former husband, Bill Gresham, traveled to Oxford to see his two sons, David, 16, and Douglas, 14, as well as to meet Lewis face to face. Gresham brought a portable tape recorder with him and apparently asked Lewis if he would do some readings….
October 1920 — The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot first appeared in Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was published by John Lane in hardback though the first true publication was as a weekly serial in The Times which included the maps of the house and other illustrations included in the book. This novel would be one of the first ten books published by Penguin Books when it began publishing in 1935. If you need a genre connection, David Suchet who played the most popular Poirot showed up in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Landlord”, and Agatha Christie herself is portrayed in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 2, 1885 – Ruth Bryan Owen. Pioneer filmmaker, first woman U.S. ambassador (to Denmark; appointed by F.D. Roosevelt). Collected Scandinavian fairy tales, The Castle in the Silver Wood. Many adventures at home and abroad. Wikipedia entry here. (Died 1954) [JH]
Born October 2, 1906 – Willy Ley. Early student of rocket science. Gifted author of science-fact articles, two Hugos for them. Fled Nazi Germany 1935. Rockets (1944); The Conquest of Space (1949, with Chesley Bonestell). Science column in Galaxy 1951-1969. Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1957). Regular participant at SF cons; sole Guest of Honor at Philcon II the 11th Worldcon. One novel; four shorter stories under another name. Much more in and out of our field. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born October 2, 1909 – Alex Raymond. Outstanding pro artist for us with Flash Gordon. After combat service in the U.S. Marines, drew the also excellent Rip Kirby (detective fiction; won a Reuben). Eisner Hall of Fame, Soc. Illustrators Hall of Fame. (Died 1956) [JH]
Born October 2, 1911 — Jack Finney. Author of many novels but only a limited number of genre, to wit The Body Snatchers, Time and Again and From Time to Time. He would publish About Time, a short story collection which hah the time stories, “The Third Level” and “I Love Galesburg in the Springtime”. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born October 2, 1944 — Vernor Vinge, 76. Winner of five Hugo Awards, none for what I consider his best series which is the Realtime/Bobble series. I’m also very fond of his short fiction, much of which is collected in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, though the last eighteen years’ worth of his work remain uncollected as far as I can tell. (CE)
Born October 2, 1947 – Ann Broomhead, F.N., 73. Chaired two Boskones (22 & 51), co-chaired two (12 & 33). Edited Reynolds, Deep Navigation. Co-edited (with Tim Szczesuil) Bellairs, Magic Mirrors; Dozois and others, Strange Days; Stross, Scratch Monkey. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). [JH]
Born October 2, 1948 — Avery Brooks, 71. Obviously he’s got his Birthday write-up for being Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, but I’m going to note his superb work also as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk which are aren’t even genre adjacent. He retired from video after DS9 but is an active tenured theater professor at Rutgers. (CE)
Born October 2, 1968 – Range Murata, 52.Animé, manga, video games. Seiun for Best Artist of the Year, 2006. Character designer on Last Exile, see here. A 2015 interview (in English) here. [JH]
Born October 2, 1953 — Walter Jon Williams, 67. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be that SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m am surprised how few Awards that he’s won, just three with two Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”. (CE)
Born October 2, 1972 — Graham Sleight, 48. He’s The Managing Editor of the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which won the Hugo for Best Related Work at Chicon 7. He’s also a critic whose work can be found in Locus, Strange Horizons, The New York Review Of Science Fiction, and Vector. And he’s a Whovian who edited The Unsilent Library, a book of writings about the Russell Davies era of the show, and The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. (CE)
Born October 2, 1974 — Michelle Krusiec, 46. She was the eighteen-year-old Molly O’Brien in DS9’s “Time’s Orphan’s”. She had a recurring role as Nadine Park on the fourth season of Fringe, and appeared as Wu Mei on Community which we’ve agreed is almost genre, if not genre. She showed up on Supergirl as Natalie Hawkings in “Parasite Lost”. (CE)
Born October 2, 1981 – Leah Wilson, 39. Currently Editor-in-Chief for BenBella Books’ Smart Pop. Here is an interview about Through the Wardrobe (i.e. C.S. Lewis’ Narnia) from Ben Bella’s Teen Libris. Here is Boarding the “Enterprise”. [JH]
And xkcd has a brilliant chart comparing the effectiveness of various masks.
(12) QUINO MOURNED. Harrison Smith in the Washington Post has an obituary for Argentinian cartoonist Quino, who died on September 30 at age 88. Quino’s strip “Mafalda,” which ran between 1964-1973, was a strip in the Peanuts style with sharp criticism of poverty, injustice, and political repression.
…When Mafalda spots workmen trying to locate a gas leaks, she asks: “Are you searching for our national roots?” In another sequence, Mafalda’s pet turtle is revealed to have an unusual name, Bureaucracy. When a friend asks why she gave it that name, Mafalda replies that she needs to come back the next day for more information. She can’t say exactly when.
“In Argentina I had to censor myself, because when I started to draw in Buenos Aires they clearly told me ‘no military, no religion, no sex,’ ” Quino once said, according to the Agence France-Presse. “And then I talked about all that, but in another way.”
(13) KEEPING TRACK. The Digital Antiquarian revisits the triumph of Chris Sawyer’s Transport Tycoon. (I sure spent plenty of hours playing it.)
…So, while he was waiting for his better-known colleagues to send him the next chunks of their own games for conversion to MS-DOS, Sawyer began to tinker. By the time Elite II was wrapping up, he had an ugly but working demo of an enhanced version of Railroad Tycoon which did indeed shift the viewpoint from vertically overhead to isometric. “I decided to devote all my time to the game for a few months and see what developed,” he says. He convinced a talented free-lance artist named Simon Foster, who was already an established name in commercial graphics but was looking to break into games, to provide illustrations, even as he made the bold decision to step up to cutting-edge SVGA graphics, at more than twice the resolution of standard VGA. At the end of that few months, he was more convinced than ever that he had a winner on his hands: “Even people who didn’t normally play computer games would sit for hours on end, totally engrossed in building railway lines, routing trains, and making as much profit as possible.” He soon made his train simulator into an all-encompassing transportation simulator, adding trucks and buses, ships and ferries, airplanes and even helicopters.
(14) CHILD SIGHTING. Michael Clair, in “Baby Yoda is a Braves fan” on mlb.com, says that Baby Yoda made an appearance in Atlanta during the Red-Braves playoff series, accompanied by Braves mascot Blooper cosplaying as “The Mandabloopian.”
…Matte paintings are everywhere in movies. Picture the vast, secret government warehouse that closes Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), or the image of the Statue of Liberty, half-buried in sand at the end of Planet of the Apes (1968). Or the view of London and the River Thames that unfolds behind Mary Poppins as she rises, umbrella in hand.
This detailed portrayal of ancient Rome, used in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960), was painted with oils on glass by Peter Ellenshaw. Using Ellenshaw’s painting, the director framed groups of actors moving about the faux Roman city, which includes details of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, and other well-known buildings. Black blobs on the painting indicate where the director inserted these actions into his film.
…Ellenshaw’s son, Harrison, who enjoyed his own career as a matte painter, estimates the Spartacus piece took his father eight to ten hours, spread over several weeks. “He would work on more than one at a time,” he remembers. “The schedule was based on making the deadline for the final negative cut in time to make enough prints for the film’s release.”
Now more than 60 years old, Ellenshaw’s Spartacus painting needed some conservation before going on display. Before replacing a yellowing varnish layer with a new, UV-protecting one, Kathryn Harada, an L.A.-based paintings conservator, worked to repair cracks in the glass and paint. When conservators discovered that Ellenshaw himself had retouched the painting, years ago, they chose to preserve his efforts….
…Just a couple days ago, Jeff Goldblum promised that he’d recreate one of his scenes from “Jurassic Park” if 1,000 people would “register to vote, or check your registration status, or request a mail-in ballot.” On Friday, his character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was back.
“That was fast!” Goldblum wrote on Instagram, posting a video recreating his famous “chaos theory” scene from the 1993 movie. In the original moment, he dropped water gently on Laura Dern’s hand. In the recreation, he’s got a different scene partner.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “William Shatner feat. Pat Travers ‘I Put A Spell On You'” on YouTube is an animated film by Balazs Grof of a track from Shat’s new blues album featuring Shatner’s take on the classic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dann, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
There’s a bit of irony in that it was written and posted prior to the announcement of the winner, and Nina clearly had no expectation that her favorite book from the shortlist, Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift, would get the award!
…I was hoping to avoid bringing up the whole anxiety-of-American-influence thing because we’ve been there too many times before but this question of the Clarke/Hugo overlap means I cannot escape it. Part of my disappointment with this year’s shortlist lies in the lack of recognition for British talent. The Clarke is a British award, for novels published in Britain. This is one of the valuable and necessary ways it differs from the Hugos. The submissions list reveals a whole battery of British novels – M. T. Hill’s Zero Bomb, Vicki Jarrett’s Always North, Chris Beckett’s Beneath the World, A Sea, Temi Oh’s Do You Dream of Terra-Two, Jane Rogers’s Body Tourists, Ben Smith’s Doggerland, Will Wiles’s Plume, Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein – the presence of any one of which would have raised the overall quality of the shortlist by a substantial degree.
Which makes it all the more perplexing that the one British entry that was chosen by the judges is a journeyman work of genre fiction with no pretensions to innovation or radicalism whatsoever….
…The official story was debilitating mental illness—housebound, couldn’t write—but clearly her fairy patrons had come for her, to reclaim their erstwhile princess. Or else they meant to punish Clarke for her betrayal, for spilling their precious secrets, by enfuzzing her beautiful brain. Something like that. The ways and reasons of the Fae are little known to common folk.
If this strikes you as cutesy, tidy, annoying, even a bit disturbing, a romanticization or fancification of what sounds like a period of immense torture for Clarke and her loved ones, consider their own words. “It was as though she’d been captured into the land of Faerie, as if she had been taken away from us,” Clarke’s editor told New York magazine. Clarke herself, in a rare interview, told The New Yorker, “You really shouldn’t annoy fairies, or write about them—they don’t like it very much.” Given that Clarke has now released a second dispatch from Faerie, called Piranesi, which plunges far deeper than Strange & Norrell ever did into those forbidden fortresses from which the un-mad and mortal among us are forever barred, perhaps there’s no better explanation. Clarke has indeed been there and back again….
(3) HELP MICHAEL HOGAN. Actor Michael Hogan, who appeared in the new Battlestar Galactica, The Man in the High Castle, Fargo, Teen Wolf and many others, suffered a serious brain injury due to an accident in January. He and his family need help and friends have started a GoFundMe: “Michael Hogan Fund”. To date they have raised $232,527 of the $300,000 goal.
In the words of his wife, Susan:
“You probably know Michael as an actor. Or maybe you know him as a friend, an acquaintance, a co-worker, a father, a grandfather, or a husband. My husband. I am Susan Hogan and I am married to this extraordinary man. We have been each other’s best friend for decades.
On Feb. 17, 2020, everything changed drastically in our world. Michael was in Vancouver participating in a Battlestar Galactica convention, and at dinner following his day’s work, he fell and hit his head. Hard. He went to bed that night not realizing that the impact had caused a massive brain bleed. He was unable to be woken the next morning and was taken to Vancouver General Hospital and emergency surgery performed. It took 57 staples to close the part of his scull they had to remove in order to reach the damage.
The accident left him with complete paralysis on his left side, memory loss, cogntivie impairment and an inability to swallow. …
Spanish is one of the world’s most-spoken languages, with a long, rich literary history extending all the way back to what many regard as the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote.” With authors writing in Spanish from Madrid to Mexico City to Havana, what are we English speakers missing out on? And where do we start exploring?
Lavie: I recently got back from Celsius 232, a science fiction and fantasy festival in Asturias, Spain, which usually attracts hundreds of Spanish genre writers every year. This year, it felt somewhat apocalyptic, with compulsory face masks and authors signing books behind plastic screens while wearing gloves (and disinfecting them after each book). I did get to meet Sofía Rhei, a prolific novelist for both children and adults, who has one collection of stories in English, “Everything Is Made of Letters,” published by Aqueduct Press.
While Spain has a vibrant sci-fi and fantasy scene, it is only in recent years that there has been a push into the English-language market. Two fairly recent anthologies are “Terra Nova” and “Castles in Spain,” both edited by Mariano Villarreal. They showcase some of that talent, including the excellent Elia Barceló and Félix J. Palma, whose books in English translation include the internationally successful “The Map of Time.”…
(5) HE GAVE PEACE A CHANCE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In recent years, the DC universe has often had more success with television than with movies. Next year, that is likely to continue with a TV adaptation of Joe Gill’s Silver Age creation Peacemaker. John Cena will play the title character, who was originally written as a pacifist diplomat who uses non-lethal weapons to fight dictators, but eventually became an ultraviolent parody of tough-guy-with-a-gun comics. “The Suicide Squad Spinoff Peacemaker, Starring John Cena, Ordered to Series at HBO Max; James Gunn to Write/Direct” at TVLine.
“Peacemaker is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world’s biggest douchebag,” Gunn said in a statement. “I’m excited to expand The Suicide Squad and bring this character from the DC film universe to the full breadth of a series. And of course, to be able to work again with John, Peter, and my friends at Warner Bros. is the icing on the cake.”
Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler*, now 64, published a book that revolutionised popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who it is that feminism purports to fight for. Today, it is a foundational text on any gender studies reading list, and its arguments have long crossed over from the academy to popular culture. …
Alona Ferber: In Gender Trouble, you wrote that “contemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and again to a certain sense of trouble, as if the indeterminacy of gender might eventually culminate in the failure of feminism”. How far do ideas you explored in that book 30 years ago help explain how the trans rights debate has moved into mainstream culture and politics?
Judith Butler: I want to first question whether trans-exclusionary feminists are really the same as mainstream feminists. If you are right to identify the one with the other, then a feminist position opposing transphobia is a marginal position. I think this may be wrong. My wager is that most feminists support trans rights and oppose all forms of transphobia. So I find it worrisome that suddenly the trans-exclusionary radical feminist position is understood as commonly accepted or even mainstream. I think it is actually a fringe movement that is seeking to speak in the name of the mainstream, and that our responsibility is to refuse to let that happen.
AF: One example of mainstream public discourse on this issue in the UK is the argument about allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender. In an open letter she published in June, JK Rowling articulated the concern that this would “throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman”, potentially putting women at risk of violence.
JB: If we look closely at the example that you characterise as “mainstream” we can see that a domain of fantasy is at work, one which reflects more about the feminist who has such a fear than any actually existing situation in trans life. The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that anyone with a penis would identify as a woman for the purposes of entering such changing rooms and posing a threat to the women inside. It assumes that the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise. This is a rich fantasy, and one that comes from powerful fears, but it does not describe a social reality. Trans women are often discriminated against in men’s bathrooms, and their modes of self-identification are ways of describing a lived reality, one that cannot be captured or regulated by the fantasies brought to bear upon them. The fact that such fantasies pass as public argument is itself cause for worry.
The anthology, a collection of short stories featuring the future of health and medicine, will include works from notable authors such as Tananarive Due, David Brin, James Patrick Kelly, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Caroline Yoachim, Alex Shvartsman, Eric Schwitzgebel, Congyun Gu, and others.
Backers will receive exclusive rewards such as advanced copies and other perks for early support of the project.
Proceeds from the book’s sale will be donated to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO is a global leader coordinating the worldwide pandemic response.
The idea for “Vital: The Future of Healthcare” was first conceived by RM Ambrose who will serve as editor of the book. He saw a need and opportunity to use fictional stories to address real life challenges during the pandemic and declarations of racism as a public health crisis. “Medical science continues to advance, but for many, healthcare has never been more broken,” says Ambrose. “This book will use the power of storytelling to explore and inspire solutions to the problems that government and even the tech industry have struggled to fix.”
The book will be available for purchase or download at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and independent bookstores. Kickstarter backers or supporters will receive advance copies of the book, as well as other rewards for supporting the project.
The Kickstarter campaign will last until October 22, 2020. (A previous attempt in 2019 did not fund.)
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Twenty years ago, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents which was published by Seven Stories Press won SFWA’s Nebula Award for Best Novel. (It would also be a finalist for the Clarke Award for Best Novel and would be nominated for the Otherwise Award too.) It was chosen over novels by Ken MacLeod, George R. R. Martin, Maureen F. McHugh, Sean Stewart and Vernor Vinge. It was the second in a series of two, a sequel to Parable of the Sower. She had planned to write a third Parable novel, tentatively titled Parable of the Trickster, but it never happened as instead she wrote her final novel, Fledgling.
Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.) (CE)
Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born September 23, 1920 – Richard Wilson. A Futurian not barred from NYCon I the first Worldcon by the “Exclusion Act”. Fanzines, The Atom, Escape, Science Fiction News Letter. Served in the Army Signal Corps; eventually director of the Syracuse Univ. news bureau. Two novels, a hundred shorter stories; a Nebula; reviews, essays, in Astonishing, Locus, SF Review, Super Science. Memoir, Adventures in the Space Trade. (Died 1987) [JH]
Born September 23, 1929 – Balbalis. Forty interiors for Galaxy; here is one from Aug 53. Illustrator for John Wiley & Sons. Freehand sketch of the Shroud of Turin image adopted as the logograph of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado. American Institute of Graphic Arts award. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born September 23, 1948 — Leslie Kay Swigart, 72. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist“ and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection. (CE)
Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 64. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice. (CE)
Born September 23, 1956 – Romas Kukalis, 64. Two hundred thirty covers. Some fine-art work. Here is Wizenbeak. Here is The Squares of the City. Here is The White Dragon (Resnick’s, not McCaffrey’s). [JH]
Born September 23, 1959 — Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not included, Ghost Whisperer, The Outer Limits, The Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly, she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born September 23, 1959 — Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 61. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (Horrors!) He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek. (CE)
Born September 23, 1960 – Stephanie Osborn, 60. Retired rocket scientist. Nat’l Weather Service certified storm spotter. Two dozen novels for us; nonfiction, A New American Space Plan (with Travis Taylor). Ranks Delany’s About Writing above Gone With the Wind. [JH]
Born September 23, 1974 – Cindy Lynn Speer, 46. Five novels (The Key to All Things released in July), a few shorter stories. Practices 16th Century swordfighting. Ranks Persuasion about the same as Nineteen Eighty-four. [JH]
StoryFest concludes with a panel dedicated to the nightmares of the silver screen. Legendary genre editor Ellen Datlow leads the discussion on her anthology, Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles. She is joined by an all-star lineup of authors included in the anthology.
We live in a glorious age when books are a click away. It may now seem incomprehensible that one might be forced to read a series of books out of order. Yet, in a dark age not so long ago, when we (and by we, I mean me) were dependent on the vagaries of book store and library orders, it was very easy to find oneself in a place where the choice was (a) read an intermediate book or (b) read nothing new.
By way of example, here are five F&SF series I began in what most people would say is the wrong place….
Claudia Rankine, one of America’s leading literary figures, and the double-Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood look at the world afresh, challenging conventions – with Kirsty Wark.
In her latest book, Just Us: An American Conversation, Claudia Rankine reflects on what it means to experience, and question, everyday racism. Her poems draw on a series of encounters with friends and strangers, as well as historical record. Her work moves beyond the silence, guilt and violence that often surround discussions about whiteness, and dares all of us to confront the world in which we live.
Margaret Atwood recently won the Booker Prize for a second time with The Testaments, her sequel to the 1985 prize-winner The Handmaid’s Tale. Her story of the fictional Gilead’s dark misogyny has retained its relevance after more than three decades. The world of Gilead was originally sparked by an earlier poem, Spelling, and Atwood explores the importance of poetry in firing the imagination.
(13) FALSE AND FALSE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Because it is the topic of the year and relevant to us all (especially SF fans as pandemics are something of a genre trope) a little science with BBC’s statistical programme More or Less and false positives in virus testing (especially in the latter half of the show): “Covid curve queried, false positives, and the Queen’s head”.
A scary government graph this week showed what would happen if coronavirus cases doubled every seven days. But is that what’s happening? There’s much confusion about how many Covid test results are false positives – we explain all. Plus, do coffee and pregnancy mix? And the Queen, Mao, and Gandhi go head to head: who is on the most stamps and coins?
Now, I have been told that my (pre-retired) job (of communicating science to non-scientists (often politicians)) is easy.
Though a little dismissive, actually, I take this as something of a compliment as anyone vaguely professional – be they a plumber, engineer. athlete or writer – tends to make their craft seem effortless. So, having listened to the afore programme, let me expand your horizons even further in just a couple of sentences.
Having considered false positives, what of false negatives? And, having pondered that, how does one balance the two? Welcome to the world of Type I and Type II errors. (That’s the real world which makes Johnson and Trump’s pontifications seem more like bluster. Hope I’m not doing them an injustice)
We wanted to see just how legendary each deceased character’s final moments ended up being, based on the litmus test of what they were talking about when they perished. With that in mind, we decided to round up the last words of every fallen Lord of the Rings hero and villain to do some comparing and contrasting.
Mass extinction events on our planet have only occurred a handful of times in the 540 million years since life began. Most people are familiar with the Cretaceous-tertiary Extinction that occurred some 65 million years ago that led to the demise of the dinosaurs and 50 percent of all plants and animals, as well as the Permian-triassic Extinction 250 million years ago that wiped out 95 percent of all species.
But now scientists have reconsidered the impact of The Carnian Pluvial Episode, a significant climate change event that took place approximately 234 to 232 million years ago (Late Triassic epoch) that led to the age of the dinosaurs…
…Violent volcanic eruptions in the Wrangellia Province of western Canada are the smoking gun and the most likely cause of the devastation and sudden climatic shift, when abundant volumes of hot volcanic basalt were poured out to form much of what is now the western coast of North America.
“The eruptions peaked in the Carnian,” Dr. Dal Corso said. “I was studying the geochemical signature of the eruptions a few years ago and identified some massive effects on the atmosphere worldwide. The eruptions were so huge, they pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and there were spikes of global warming.”
These humid warming periods lasting a total of one million years were accompanied by an intense spike in global rainfall, as discovered back in the ’80s by geologists Mike Simms and Alastair Ruffell. This gradual climate alteration is reflected in the major biodiversity loss in the ocean and on land.
However, following the extinction event, diverse new groups flourished to produce more modern-like ecosystems. These climate changes were beneficial to the sustained growth of plant life, especially the expansion of conifer forests.
“The new floras probably provided slim pickings for the surviving herbivorous reptiles,”explained Professor Benton. “We now know that dinosaurs originated some 20 million years before this event, but they remained quite rare and unimportant until the Carnian Pluvial Episode hit. It was the sudden arid conditions after the humid episode that gave dinosaurs their chance.”
A 25-ton robot, inspired by the popular 1970s anime series Mobile Suit Gundam, has made its first moves in Yokohama, Japan.
Footage tweeted on September 21 shows the giant Gundam robot moving its arms and legs before lunging into an impressive squat at Yamashita Pier.
The robot is set to become the main attraction at Gundam Factory Yokohama, and was supposed to be officially unveiled on October 1, but the event has since been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatention’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The winner of the 34th Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature was announced on September 23.
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth/Vintage)
Announcing this year’s prize, author and 2019 winner Tade Thompson (Rosewater) said:
“The Old Drift is, to me, the great African novel of the twenty-first century. The scale, the characters, the polish and lyricism of the passages all conspire to tell an unforgettable tale. At last, a book that acknowledges that the African lives with the fantastic and mundane.
“At last, an African book of unarguable universality. Namwali Serpell has created something specifically Zambian and generally African at the same time. The Old Drift is everything fiction should be, and everything those of us who write should aspire to. Hats off. Well-deserved win. This is why my faith in the Clarke Award is unshakable.”
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Chair of Judges Dr Andrew M. Butler added:
“Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift is, as one of our judges put it, ‘stealth sf’, with inheritance and infection at its heart. She has created an extraordinary family saga which spans eras from Cecil Rhodes to Rhodes Must Fall, and beyond.
“It is a timely novel which interrogates colonialism from within and points to the science fictionality of everyday events. Our pandemic-ravaged world reminds us how connected our world has been for the last century or more – and this book points to the global nature of science fiction.”
The annual Arthur C. Clarke Award is presented for the best science fiction novel of the year, and selected from a list of novels whose UK first edition was published in the previous calendar year.
Namwali Serpell receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money of £2020.00. Serpell tweeted thanks for the award:
The members of the judging panel were:
Stewart Hotston, British Science Fiction Association
Alasdair Stuart, British Science Fiction Association
Farah Mendlesohn, Science Fiction Foundation
Chris Pak, Science Fiction Foundation
Rhian Drinkwater, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival
Andrew M. Butler represented the Arthur C. Clarke Award in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges. Before the winner was announced, he posted his “Chair of Judges Speech” to Medium.
…I’m not entirely sure if this has been a cosy catastrophe — I don’t remember Wyndham predicting the Toilet Paper Dearth or the flour shortage — but then his novels are much darker than we thought they were fifty years ago.
The judging this year mostly took place from our individual bunkers via the media of Zoom rather than face to face.
We’ve seen Alien, we know the quarantine procedure.
Any joking aside, I’d like to thank the judges — Farah Mendlesohn and Chris Pak for the Science Fiction Foundation, Alasdair Stuart and Stewart Hotston for the BSFA and Rhian Drinkwater for Sci Fi London — for keeping the award discussion going in very difficult circumstances. I was rather relieved that at the final, lengthy, meeting we were able to choose a winner for the Clarke Award — a winner, not two, and we certainly weren’t going to decide that the prize should be split six ways. As always, none of us was clear which book that winner would be even after a couple of hours of discussion….
HBO is celebrating Comic-Con@Home with a first look at Season 2 of His Dark Materials. During today’s virtual panel for the show, HBO unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the drama, which introduces some fresh faces.
The YouTube description adds –
His Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living?—?and the dead?—?in their hands.
(3) COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE? A second trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music. Available On Demand and in theaters September 1.
(4) SCARES THAT CARE. Brian Keene and friends have done a few 24-hour telethons to raise funds for Scares That Care. The most recent event was canceled due to Covid.
They are opting to do a virtual fundraiser on August 1st. It’s only 13 hours, but it looks like it will be packed with lots of interesting panels. See the FAQ and schedule at the Scares That Care Virtual Charity Event link. Say, they get the same kind of questions as the Worldcon!
Q: I’m a celebrity who works in the horror genre. Why wasn’t I included in programming? A: We tried to accommodate as many horror professionals as we could, but unlike our physical Scares That Care Weekend charity events, we are limited by the technological restrictions and time constraints of this virtual event. However, you can still help the cause by sharing the event with your fans and encouraging them to donate.
If you want to sell books during a pandemic, it turns out that one of the best places to do it is within easy reach of eggs, milk and diapers.
When the coronavirus forced the United States into lockdown this spring, stores like Walmart and Target, which were labeled essential, remained open. So when anxious consumers were stocking up on beans and pasta, they were also grabbing workbooks, paperbacks and novels — and the book sales at those stores shot up.
“They sell groceries, they sell toilet paper, they sell everything people need during this time, and they’re open,” said Suzanne Herz, the publisher of Vintage/Anchor. “If you’re in there and you’re doing your big shop and you walk down the aisle and go, ‘Oh, we’re bored, and we need a book or a puzzle,’ there it is.”
Big-box stores do not generally break out how much they sell of particular products, but people across the publishing industry say that sales increased at these stores significantly, with perhaps the greatest bump at Target. In some cases there, according to publishing executives, book sales tripled or quadrupled.
Dennis Abboud is the chief executive of ReaderLink, a book distributor that serves more than 80,000 retail stores, including big-box and pharmacy chains. He said that in the first week of April, his company’s sales were 34 percent higher than the same period the year before.
“With the shelter in place, people were looking for things to do,” he said. “Workbooks, activity books and just general reading material saw a big increase.”
…And then the other reason we’re never sure how much we should talk about it is because rolling this information out in numbers can sort of feel like it’s…IDK. Attempting to lay on a guilt trip, or something, which is honestly not the goal! Because, like…there are always reasons people aren’t gonna buy a book! It’s not their genre! They don’t have any spare money right now! They already have a copy! There’s a million reasons! So talking about this is never meant to make people feel badly for not buying a book right now! Okay? Okay! 🙂
So let’s talk about numbers. Newsletter numbers, specifically, because the people who have chosen to be on my newsletter are my captive audience, and presumably are the most likely to buy any given book. (Join my newsletter! :))
Right now I have about 1630 newsletter subscribers, and in any given month, about 100 people—7% of the subscribers—buy the book I’m promoting that month. That’s pretty reliable.
(7) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Even God Has a Place Called Home” by Ray Mwihaki, a story about environmental health, witchcraft, technophilia, and transcendence.
On Monday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, they wll host another virtual event on Zoom, with Ray and science fiction author Christopher Rowe.
(8) CLARKE AWARD LOWDOWN. On Five Books, Cal Flyn interviews Arthur C. Clarke Award director Tom Hunter about this year’s nominees for the prize: “The Best Science Fiction of 2020”.
…In terms of who the audiences are for these books, on the one hand, if you like science fiction, you’ll find much to enjoy here but if you haven’t really tried the genre before, or if you might have been put off, I’d stress that these are all books published in 2019, for a 2020 prize, so they’re very contemporary-feeling in terms of their characterisation, quality of prose, plotting and so forth. You can definitely trace their lineage through the different eras of science fiction as it has evolved as a genre, and all of these books interrogate and tease and play with that tradition in different ways, but are also respectful of it. That’s the difference between, say—insert name of mainstream author—who has discovered a science fiction concept and written a book about it, then does a press tour where they try and convince you they’ve somehow invented robots, or space travel or parallel universes, or whatever. You know: ‘Before me science fiction was just cowboys in space, but my book is about real futures…’
… In his rendering of the 2001 story, Clarke may be marginally more emollient than Kubrick when it comes to assessing humanity’s chances of genuine uplift at the hands of a transcendent superbeing, but compared with contemporary in-house American SF visions of the future, both novel and film are baths of cold water.
Both were tortuously understood by many genre viewers as optimistic paeans to technological progress, with a bit of hoo-ha at the end; and Clarke himself never directly contradicted Kubrick’s dramatic rendering of his own exceedingly measured presentation of his clear message—also articulated in Childhood’s End, and hinted at strongly in Rendezvous with Rama—that as a species we may simply not quite measure up.
But this calm magisterial verdict, couched smilingly, mattered little to his own career, even when understood correctly. The huge success of 2001 had both made him rich and transformed him into a world gure; an addressable, venerated guru whose declarations on the shape-of-things-to-come were now given to the world at large. The best of this nonfiction work was collected years later as Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999), a huge volume whose title perfectly sums up the coign of vantage from which he wrote: which is to say, as though from the future itself, from somewhere on the far side of the slingshot ending….
(10) MORE UK FANHISTORY ONLINE. Rob Hansen has expanded THEN’s 1961 coverage of the SF Club of London. And “I’ve also added a link to a report by George Locke on the 1960 Minicon in Kettering. I didn’t think any report beyond a couple of sentences in Skyrack existed for that con so I was quite surprised to stumble across it.” Scroll down to 1960s section for links on the THEN index.
At the dawn of “The Muppet Show” in the late 1970s, a visit to the Muppet Labs consisted of watching its nebbishy proprietor, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, demonstrate misbegotten inventions like an exploding hat or a self-destructing necktie with a brief burst of pyrotechnics, a canned explosion sound and a puff of smoke.
Today, a return visit to those labs on the Disney+ series “Muppets Now” features Honeydew and his agitated assistant, Beaker, using a homemade device called the Infern-O-Matic to reduce everyday items — a carton of eggs, a wall clock, a guitar — to smoldering piles of ashes.
If this scene from “Muppets Now” feels manic and combustible — and even a bit familiar — that is by design: as Leigh Slaughter, vice president of the Muppets Studio, explained recently, she and her colleagues are hopeful that this series will conjure up “that true Muppet anarchy — that complete chaos.”
She added: “If they’re going to take on real-world science, we thought, we have to burn things. We have to drop things. We have to blow things up.”
“Muppets Now,” a six-episode series that debuts on July 31, is both Disney’s attempt to bring those familiar, fuzzy faces to its streaming service and a parody of internet content. Its segments feature characters like Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef in rapid-fire comedy sketches that lampoon popular online formats.
The new series also strives to reconnect the Muppets with the disorderly sensibility they embodied in the era of “The Muppet Show” and get back to basics after other recent efforts to reboot the characters fizzled out.
“The thinking is to stop trying so hard to be like everybody else and just be the Muppets,” said Bill Barretta, a veteran Muppet performer and an executive producer of “Muppets Now.” “Let’s celebrate the fact that they all have to deal with each other and just be silly and play and entertain again.”
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 23, 1995 — The Outer Limits aired “I, Robot”. This is a remake of the November 14th, 1964 episode that aired during the second season of the original Twilight Zone. This is not based on Asimov’s “ I, Robot” but rather on a short story by Eando Binder that ran in the January 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. The script was by Alison Lea Bingeman who also wrote episodes of Robocop, Flash Gordon, Forever Knight, Beyond Reality and The Lost World at that time. Adam Nimoy was the director and Leonard Nimoy, his father, was in it as he been the earlier production playing a different character. (CE)
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 23, 1889 – Yuri Annenkov. Illustrator, portraitist, theater and cinema designer. Zamyatin said he “has a keen awareness of the extraordinary rush and dynamism of our epoch.” Here is a Synthetic landscape. Here is the photographer M.A. Sherling. Here is Zamyatin. Here is a frog costume. Here is Miydodir, an animated washstand that eventually makes the boy at left wash. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born July 23, 1910 — Ruthie Tompson, 110. An animator and artist. Her first job was the ink and paints, uncredited, on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was involved in every animated from film Disney for three decades, stating with Pinocchio (Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form). Some she was an animator on, some she was admin on. She worked on Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, too. (CE)
Born July 23, 1914 – Virgil Finlay. Pioneering illustrator. Hugo for that in the first year we gave them; five Retrospective Hugos. First sale, the Dec 1935 Weird Tales; probably 2,600 works of graphic art; fifty poems, mostly published after his death. Here is a cover for The Stars Are Ours. Here is the Dec 56 Galaxy. Some of his marvelous monochrome: The Crystal Man; “Flight to Forever”; I haven’t identified this, can you? SF Hall of Fame. First Fandom Hall of Fame. See the Donald Grant and the Gerry de la Ree collections. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born July 23, 1926 — Eunice Sudak, 94. Novelizer of three early Sixties Roger Corman films: Tales of Terror, The Raven and X, the latter based of The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. She wrote a lot of other novelizations but they weren’t even genre adjacent.(CE)
Found Fandom July 23, 1937 – Cyril M. Kornbluth. Wikipedia says July 2 is his birthday — 1940 Who’s Who in Fandomsays July 23 is the date he discovered fandom. I certainly read and liked The Space Merchants and The Syndic which are the two I remember reading these years on. Given his very early death, he wrote an impressive amount of fiction, particularly short fiction which Wildside Press has all of n a single publication, available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1958.) (CE)
Born July 23, 1947 – Gardner Dozois. Three novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian. Two Nebulas. Editor of Asimov’s 1984-2004; two dozen Asimov’s anthologies, many with Sheila Williams. Four years editing Best SF Stories of the Year, thirty-five of The Year’s Best SF (no, I shan’t explain, and I shan’t tell the jelly-bean story, either). Four dozen more anthologies; one Nebula Showcase. Fifteen Hugos as Best Pro Editor; one as Best Pro Editor, Short Form. Skylark Award. SF Hall of Fame. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born July 23, 1948 – Lew Wolkoff, 72. Long-time laborer in fanhistory and the workings of our conventions. Some highlights: co-chaired ArtKane IV, an art-focussed con in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1979; assembled Phoxphyre, a fanzine anthology of the 1936 Philadelphia convention, with reminiscences by Baltadonis, Goudket, Kyle, Madle, Newton, Pohl, Train, 1983; Program Book appreciation of Barbi Johnson, a Guest of Honor at Lunacon 26, 1983; helped design the base for the 1951 Retro-Hugo trophy, 2001; chaired PSFS (Philadelphia SF Soc.) Young Writers’ Contest, 2018; got 120 audiotapes of Philcon proceedings to the SF Oral History Ass’n; founded, or purported to found, the SF Union of Unpublished Authors (“ess-eff-double-U-ay”, i.e. taking off SFWA the SF Writers of America). [JH]
Born July 23, 1949 – Eric Ladd, 71. Twenty covers for us. Here is The Falling Torch. Here is Convergent Series. First suggested to Bob Eggleton that BE should exhibit in our Art Shows. [JH]
Born July 23, 1954 – Astrid Bear, 66. One of the great entries in our Masquerade costume competitions was The Bat and the Bitten, Karen Anderson and her daughter Astrid at the 27th Worldcon. In 1983 Astrid married Greg Bear; they have two children. Here is AB at the 76th Worldcon on a panel discussing the 26th (L to R, Astrid, Tom Whitmore, Mary Morman, Ginjer Buchanan, Suzanne Tompkins, Gay Haldeman). For the 71st, since Jay Lake whom she and all of us loved had contrived to obtain whole-genome sequencing, and AB had become a fiber artist, she made Jay Lake Genome Scarves in time to give him one, as you can see here. Fanzine, Gallimaufry. It’s not true that this book is about her. [JH]
Born July 23, 1970 — Charisma Carpenter, 50. She’s best remembered as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. She was also Kyra on Charmed and Kendall Casablancason Veronica Mars. She was Sydney Hart in Mail Order Monster and Beth Sullivan in the direct to video Josh Kirby… Time Warrior! Franchise. (CE)
Born July 23, 1982 — Tom Mison, 38. He is best-known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. Currently he’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to that he Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. (CE)
(14) COMICS SECTION.
Fresh from his Hugo voter reading, Dann writes, “In light of Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night, I thought this xkcd might be useful. Check out the mouse-over/alt text.”
(15) WORLDCON TIME OUT OF JOINT. Bill Higgins started out teasing David Levine about CoNZealand’s July 16 “Wild Cards” panel, then his imagination ran away with him:
For years, Luigi’s kindhearted nature and well-meaning oafishness have endeared him to millions of fans who were willing to look past his lengthy history of incompetence. But it seems like the iconic Nintendo character might have just passed the point of no return: The big guy in green apparently left his space heater plugged in for three days straight, and now the entire Paper Mario kingdom has burned to the ground….
(17) STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. CBS All-Access dropped a clip today.
Get an exclusive look at a hilarious scene from the upcoming series premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, an all-new animated comedy featuring the voices of stars Jack Quaid (Ensign Brad Boimler) and Tawny Newsome (Ensign Beckett Mariner).
A heavy-lift Long March-5 roared off a launch pad on Hainan Island Thursday, carrying China’s hopes for its first successful Mars mission – an ambitious project to send an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet in one shot.
If everything goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 will be China’s first successful mission to Mars, after a previous attempt failed in 2011 — gaining it membership in an elite club including only the U.S. and Russia, of nations who have successfully landed on the planet. (Even so, the Soviet Union’s Mars 3 lander, which touched down in 1971, transmitted for mere seconds before contact was lost.)
…The goals of the mission are to map surface geology, examine soil characteristics and water distribution, measure the Martian ionosphere and climate and study the planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields.
China has launched its first rover mission to Mars.
The six-wheeled robot, encapsulated in a protective probe, was lifted off Earth by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12:40 local time (04:40 GMT).
It should arrive in orbit around the Red Planet in February.
Called Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, the rover won’t actually try to land on the surface for a further two to three months.
This wait-and-see strategy was used successfully by the American Viking landers in the 1970s. It will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent.
…The targeted touchdown location for the Chinese mission will be a flat plain within the Utopia impact basin just north of Mars’ equator. The rover will study the region’s geology – at, and just below, the surface.
Tianwen-1 looks a lot like Nasa’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers from the 2000s. It weighs some 240kg and is powered by fold-out solar panels.
A tall mast carries cameras to take pictures and aid navigation; five additional instruments will help assess the mineralogy of local rocks and look for any water-ice.
This surface investigation is really only half the mission, however, because the cruise ship that is shepherding the rover to Mars will also study the planet from orbit, using a suite of seven remote-sensing instruments.
The UK and US have accused Russia of launching a weapon-like projectile from a satellite in space.
In a statement, the head of the UK’s space directorate said: “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon.”
The statement said actions like this “threaten the peaceful use of space”.
The US has previously raised concerns about this Russian satellite.
In his statement, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK’s space directorate, said: “Actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends.
“We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing. We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space.”
A popular mobile game has been taken offline in mainland China for “rectification work”, after netizens discovered its musical director had written a song containing Morse code with a hidden Hong Kong pro-democracy message.
According to China’s Global Times newspaper, the Cytus II musical rhythm game, produced by Taiwan’s Rayark Games, has been removed from China’s mainland app stores.
This was done after netizens discovered a controversial song by Hong Kong musical director ICE, real name Wilson Lam, on his Soundcloud account.
The piece, Telegraph 1344 7609 2575, was actually posted on his page in March, but after netizens discovered it contained in Morse code the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”, many in the mainland called for him to be sacked.
(22) RIGHT OUT FROM UNDER YOU. Floors that can scare you – a gallery of wild images at Imgur.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games’ Honest Game Trailers: SpongeBob Square Pants–Rehydrated on YouTube says that “children and extremely inebriated adults” will enjoy this new version of a classic SpongeBob SquarePants game featuring “Rube Goldberg machines that require a Ph.D. in SpongeBob to complete.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Dann, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
(PICKED BY MIKE MYERS)
Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.
A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.
We, the undersigned, have been sponsors and supporters of Borderlands Books. Alan Beatts asked for community support to keep his business operational; in exchange, we expect him to be accountable to that community.
In light of the accusations that Alan has committed acts of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, we are withdrawing our sponsorship and support for Borderlands Books. We believe the survivors. We want to support them and any others Alan has harmed, whether or not they publicly come forward.
We cannot support Borderlands while Alan might use his position as owner to do and conceal harm. We demand that he relinquish ownership of the store and divest financially from it….
(4) SFF WINS CHINESE AWARD. Congratulations to Regina Kanyu Wang, whose story “The Language Sheath” has been awarded the 2019 Annual Award by Shanghai Writers’ Association. The English version, published by Clarkesworld, is here.
Dry witted and lethally incisive, Kit Reed (1932 – 2017), was prolific in a variety of genres: speculative fiction, literary fiction, and (as Kit Craig) psychological thrillers. Selecting a particular work out of all the short SFF Reed published over her long career must have been challenging. Nevertheless, editor Marcus assures us
“To Lift a Ship” is my favorite story from this era, and I think you’ll like it, too.
“It’s a rape revenge story? Is that what you said?”
It was October of 2016. It was a rainy morning in London just days from Halloween, and I was mind-shatteringly jetlagged, getting ready to give a talk at MozFest, the festival put on each year by the Mozilla Foundation. I was answering questions put to me by a fact-checker from the Wall Street Journal, after Margaret Atwood said they should talk to me about robots, science fiction, and the future. The interviewer had asked about my series of novels called The Machine Dynasty, which started with a little book called vN. This was how Margaret and I met — we did an appearance together with Corey Redekop at the Kingston WritersFest back home in Canada. She had gently steered the interview in the way only she can, and said, “Now, Madeline, having read your book, I must ask: how old were you when you first saw The Wizard of Oz?”
Oh, I thought. She gets it. Of course she does. She’s Margaret Fucking Atwood.
This was my life in 2016. In a week or two, the world would fall apart. So would I. In both cases, it happened slowly, but faster than you might think. In both cases, it started years earlier. Collapse is not a binary state; damage occurs on a spectrum of possible repair. You might not recognize it, at first. You may not yet have the words with which to describe it….
Maria Tatar collects versions of the tale from around the world and explains how they give us a way to think about what we prefer not to
Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released as the first feature-length animated film in 1937, and decades later, the musical fantasy based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale about the complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship is still a cultural touchstone. The story has virtually eclipsed every version of the many told the world over about beautiful girls and their older rivals, often a cruel biological mother or stepmother, but sometimes an aunt or a mother-in-law. In her new book, “The Fairest of Them All: Snow White and 21 Tales of Mothers and Daughters,” Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Research Professor of Folklore and Mythology and Germanic Languages and Literatures and a senior fellow in Harvard’s Society of Fellows, collected tales from a variety of nations, including Egypt, Japan, Switzerland, Armenia, and India. She spoke to the Gazette about her lifelong fascination with the saga and how we can look to fairy tales to navigate uncertain times.
GAZETTE: Why did you decide to take up the Snow White story?
TATAR: While working on my previous book with Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., “The Annotated African American Folktales,” I came across a South African story called “The Unnatural Mother and the Girl with a Star on Her Forehead.” It was basically what we call the Snow White story, but in it the “beautiful girl” falls into a catatonic trance after putting on slippers given to her by her jealous mother. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole of wonder tales and discovered stories from all over the world in which a stunningly attractive young woman arouses the jealousy of a woman who is usually her biological mother. The Brothers Grimm, whose 1812 story inspired Walt Disney to create the animated film, had many vernacular tales available to them, but they chose to publish the one in which the rival is the stepmother, in part because they did not want to violate the sanctity of motherhood. Now, decades later, it is still our cultural story about the many complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship. It has eradicated almost every trace of the many tales told all over the world about beautiful girls and their rivals.
GAZETTE: Why does this particular story remain so resonant?
TATAR: All of the tales in this collection are cliffhangers. They begin with the counterfactual “What if?” then leave us asking “What’s next?” and finally challenge us to ask “Why?” These stories were originally told in communal settings, and they got people talking about all the conflicts, pressures, and injustices in real life. How do you create an ending that is not just happily ever after, but also “the fairest of them all”? What do you do when faced with worst-case possible scenarios? What do you need to survive cruelty, abandonment, and assault? In fairy tales, the answer often comes in the form of wits, intelligence, and resourcefulness on the one hand, and courage on the other. With their melodramatic mysteries, they arouse our curiosity and make us care about the characters. They tell us something about the value of seeking knowledge and feeling compassion under the worst of circumstances, and that’s a lesson that makes us pay attention today.
…Despite all that. I’m nine hours into this playthrough of Breath of Fire IV and it’s going to be the first time I complete it. Maybe it’s playing on a CRT monitor, which really allows those sprites to shine. Maybe it’s sheer grit and determination. Maybe it’s a growing understanding of how to appreciate games within their context, rather than expecting them to be something more modern. Nah. It’s the sprite art.
Stitched together from 28 images, this recent view from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover was taken from the top of a steep slope, looking out over a sandstone cap and a more distant “clay-bearing unit,” a region which scientists think contains evidence of the history of water in the area.
… She originally created The Magic School Bus in 1986 with illustrator Bruce Degen. The core idea of a sweet and nerdy crew of schoolchildren taking field trips into scientific concepts, bodily parts, into space and back to the age of dinosaurs — and always led by their teacher, the intrepid Ms. Frizzle — eventually spun out into dozens of tie-ins and more than 93 million copies in print, plus a beloved television show that aired for 18 years in more than 100 countries.
In the U.S., the original Magic School Bus TV series was broadcast by PBS for 18 years; in 2017, an updated version launched in 2017 on Netflix, with the first of four specials on the way in August….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 17, 1987 — Robocop premiered. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Arne Schmidt, it was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. It starred Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer. It would lose out to The Princess Bride at Nolacon II for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. The movie was first given an X-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to its graphic violence, but Verhoeven toned it down and got an R. Most critics loved it and gave it high marks both as a SF film and as social commentary. Director Ken Russell said he thought it was the best SF film since Metropolis It did very well at the Box Office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an 84% rating. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 17, 1889 — Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best-remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.) (CE)
Born July 17, 1907 – Humphry Ellis.Double first in Classics at Magdalen (i.e. Oxford; not Magdalene, Cambridge), invited to teach at Marlborough, 1930; while there submitted to Punch, was accepted; hired there, 1933; deputy editor, 1949; resigned to protest new editor Malcolm Muggeridge, 1953; earned more selling to The New Yorker, 1954; a dozen collections. For us “Trollope in Space”; “The Space-Crime Continuum” and one more in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 17, 1912 – Barbara Strachey.Journeys of Frodo, an atlas; drew the maps herself. See The Independent’s wonderful obituary, with a doll of Lytton Strachey, wine, Bertrand Russell, gardening. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born July 17, 1936 – John Spurling, 84. Nairobi (not his fault this reminds me of Ernie Kovacs); Marlborough too late for H. Ellis; St John’s, Oxford; Royal Artillery; British Broadcasting Corp.; free lance. Arcadian Nights re-imagining Greek myths; King Arthur in Avalon, play for a ladies’ college – is the Matter of Arthur fantasy? Walter Scott Prize for The Ten Thousand Things, historical fiction about Wang Mêng (1308-1385); three more novels, nine more plays. Franz Liszt Society. [JH]
Born July 17, 1943 – Grania Davis. Two novels (and three more outside our field) plus two with Avram Davidson; a dozen and half shorter stories plus four with him; translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian; her collection Tree of Life, Book of Death; AD collections The Boss in the Wall, The AD Treasury with Robert Silverberg, Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven with Jack Dann, The Investigations of AD with Dick Lupoff, ¡Limekiller! and The Other 19th Century with Henry Wessells; anthology Speculative Japan with Gene van Troyer; essays, letters, on China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia (as it then was), Japan, M.Z. Bradley, C.N. Brown, AD, P.K. Dick, G.C. Edmondson, Judith Merril, Takumi Shibano, in Locus, NY Review of SF, et al. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born July 17, 1944 — Thomas A. Easton, 76. SF critic and author who wrote the book review column for Analog from 1979 – 2009. His Organic Future series is quite entertaining and I’m reasonably certain I read Sparrowhawk when it was serialized in Analog. He appears frequently at Boston-area Cons. (CE)
Born July 17, 1954 — J. Michael Straczynski, 66. Best-known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics side, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written Superman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles. (CE)
Born July 17, 1956 — Timothy D. Rose, 64. Puppeteer and actor. He was the Head Operator of Howard the Duck in that film, but was in The Dark Crystal, Return to Ewok, Return of The Jedi, Return to Oz, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. He voiced Admiral Ackbar in the latter two and in The Return of The Jedi as well. (CE)
Born July 17, 1971 – Cory Doctorow, 49. Ten novels, five dozen shorter stories. Columnist for Locus, SF Age; anthologist; interviewed in SF Research Ass’n Review, Shimmer, Steampunk, StarShipSofa, Strange Horizons. Finding ourselves chatting about something or other at an SF convention we noticed that others stared; now, really, folks. [JH]
Born July 17, 1976 — Brian K. Vaughan, 44. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, Saga, Y: The Last Man, and his newest affair, Paper Girls. And yes, he’s won Hugo Awards. You could spend an entire Summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of the television series Lost during seasons three through five. And was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series. (CE)
Born July 17, 1988 — Summer Bishil, 32. Best-known as Margo Hanson on The Magicians, but she’s also been Azula in The Last Airbender, and Aneesa in Return to Halloweentown. (CE)
Born July 17, 1989 – H.A. Titus, 31. Two novels (Burnt Silver just released in February), ten shorter stories. Paper Tigers proofreading service. Loves legends, Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons,skiing, rock-climbing, her husband, their sons. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld captures the spirit of the moment.
(14) TIME FOR A REFILL. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 17th July 2020” takes a look at The Old Guard from the other side, exploring the important choices the movie adaptation makes and what that means for Western action/genre cinema. And after that, says Stuart —
I also take a look at Noelle Stevenson’s vastly impressive The Fire Never Goes Out, a graphic novel autobiography with clear eyes, a wicked sense of humor and incredible emotional honesty. Finally, there’s a look at Concrete Genie, a deeply lovely, and deceptively subtle PS4 game which maps personal and artistic growth onto the renovation of a small town, occasional parkour and adorable grobble monsters. Plus lots of apples.
The Full Lid is published weekly and is free. You can sign up at the top of the most recent issue and view an archive of the last six months.
The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis’ Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman! Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) brings us his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan!
To be honest, I thought of writing something witty in place of that last sentence. Maybe ‘now the less good news’ but it’s not less good. It’s appalling and I want to be clear with my language here rather than covering over the situation with typical British understatement.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
14 authors of non-white descent (the specific definition of which we’ll discuss below)
3 British authors of non-white descent
Let me say that again.
3 British authors of non-white descent
Out of 116 authors.
In my view there were actually more books with problematic depictions of race than there are books by authors from those very communities (By my own count there were 9 books submitted from 7 imprints which featured unacceptable racial stereotypes or tropes).
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the long-awaited — and long-delayed — successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, has been pushed back yet another seven months, NASA said Thursday citing, in part, delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nearly $10 billion project, which scientists hope will see back to the time when the first galaxies were formed following the Big Bang, had been scheduled to launch next March from French Guiana atop an Ariane 5 rocket, but the space agency said it is now aiming for an Oct. 31, 2021, launch date.
“Webb is the world’s most complex space observatory, and our top science priority, and we’ve worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “The team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year.”
In 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was considered so controversial it was given an X certificate and banned from some British cinemas.
Last year, however, its rating was downgraded to a 12A by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
In its annual report, published this week, the BBFC said it now considered the film “permissible at a more junior category” under its current guidelines.
The film returned to cinemas in 2019 to mark its 40th anniversary.
It was rereleased in April last year with a 12A rating for “infrequent strong language, moderate sex references, nudity [and] comic violence”.
…When it was first released, the BBFC – then named the British Board of Film Censors – rated the film AA, which meant those under 14 were not allowed to see it.
Contemporary concerns that the film was blasphemous in nature led to more than 100 local authorities opting to view the film for themselves.
This led to 28 of them raising the classification to an X certificate, meaning no one under 18 could see it, and 11 banning the film altogether.
…It is not uncommon for the BBFC to revisit films that are being reissued theatrically and reappraise their original classification.
Earlier this year Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980 with a U certificate, was reclassified as a PG for its “moderate violence [and] mild threat”.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’The New World’ from RoGoPaG” on YouTube is Jean-Luc Godard’s contribution to a 1963 anthology film called RoGoPaG where he shows the subtle psychological consequences after an atomic bomb is exploded over Paris. Part I is below. Part II is here.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) CLARKE AWARD GOES GREEN. Well, the reverse idea worked when Lucky Strike went to war… The Clarke Award has unveiled a logo redesign on Twitter via @clarkeaward.
(2) PRATCHETT’S GENESIS. “Final Terry Pratchett stories to be published in September” reports The Guardian. The stories in The Time-travelling Caveman were written for newspapers in the Sixties and Seventies. One of them, “The Tropnecian Invasion of Great Britain,” appears at the end of the article.
The final collection of early stories from the late Terry Pratchett, written while the Discworld creator was a young reporter, will be published in September. The tales in The Time-travelling Caveman, many of them never released in book form before, range from a steam-powered rocket’s flight to Mars to a Welsh shepherd’s discovery of the resting place of King Arthur. “Bedwyr was the handsomest of all the shepherds, and his dog, Bedwetter, the finest sheepdog in all Wales,” writes the young Pratchett, with typical flourish….
(3) SFF NOT QUITE IN TRANSLATION. Ann Leckie wryly announced she is —
… Stuart manages very well to shift the distance in his writing from the observational to the personal. Character is, I’d contend, a underestimated aspect of fan-writing. Yes, fan-writing does cover the kind of community journalism style writing, as well as descriptive reviews (both valuable – I’m not knocking them) but fan-writers are by title fans and it is the personal engagement with fandom and stories that drives the world of fan-writing. You can’t genuinely know people from what they write but good fan-writing should, over the course of many examples, give a sense of a person and a perspective. I think it is something that Alasdair Stuart does very well. I’ve never met him (and it’s unlikely I will anytime soon) but his writing conveys character in a way that is very personally engaging. Yes, yes, that’s an illusion of sorts but that illusion is something I enjoy in good writing.
…Black Lives Matter has momentum now around the world, a call for change that can’t be silenced; the hate it battles also has momentum, and amid their clash another wave is gaining momentum, as it does in every information revolution: the wave of those in power (politicians, corporations, alarmed elites) wanting to silence the uncomfortable voices empowered by the new medium. We need to fight this battle too, a battle to find a balance between protecting the new ability of radical voices to speak while also protecting against hate speech, misinformation, and other forms of communication toxic to peace and democracy. As I explain in my essay, genre fiction, we who read it, we who write it, have a lot of power to affect the battle over censorship. These days are hard; as someone both disabled and immunocompromised I can’t go join the protests in the streets, not without both endangering fellow protesters by getting in their way, and the risk of this one moment of resistance destroying my ability to be here helping with the next one, and the next. But I can help on the home front as it were, working to protect the tools of free expression which those out on the streets depend on every minute, every protest, every video exposing cruel realities. Everything we do to strengthen speech and battle censorship protects our best tool, not just for this resistance, but for the next one, and the next….
The second section of the post, about writing POV begins:
Question: What I don’t get is why they tell new writers to not have multiple POVs in a novel. I mean, if the story calls for it, and you’re clear on the change, why not?
Jo Walton: Minimizing POVs is good discipline because it’s very easy to get sloppy. So it’s one of those things that’s good advice when you’re starting out, but not a law.
Ada Palmer: I agree that minimizing POVs is often wise. Whenever I find myself wanting a scene to be in a different POV I think really hard about it. Sometimes it’s the right answer, but the fail condition is that you have too many POVs and the reader expects each of them to have follow-through and they don’t….
Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this world to tackle all-too-real issues, including oppression, bigotry, censorship, and the horrors of war. To celebrate the most inventive of genres, we’re exploring readers’ 100 most popular science fiction novels of all time on Goodreads.
As all good sci-fi readers know, the science behind the story is half the fun. To create our list, we ran the data to reveal the most reviewed books on our site. Additionally, each title needed at least a 3.5-star rating from your fellow readers to join this list. And, since science fiction is known for its continuing voyages, in the case of multiple titles from the same series, we chose the one with the most reviews.
Here are the top science fiction novels on Goodreads, listed from 1 to 100. We hope you discover a book or two you’ll want to read in this lineup, whether it’s a classic of the genre or one of the newer entries to sci-fi.
The top four books on the list are:
(7) PANTHER’S PRIEST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] One of the most important comic creators you may never have heard interviewed dropped in to Marvel creative director Joe Quesada’s YouTube channel. The somewhat reclusive and iconoclastic Christopher Priest opened up about his creative process with regards to Black Panther, as well as some of the challenges he faced as the first African American to be a full-time writer in mainstream comic books. For the record, there would never have been a Black Panther movie without Christopher Priest’s stellar run on the book.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
July 1988 — Bruce Sterling’s Islands in The Net was published by Arbor House, an imprint of William Morrow. This hardcover edition went for $18.95 and was 394 pages in length. It would win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It was nominated for Hugo, Ditmar and Locus Awards that same year. It would lose out to C. J. Cherryh’s Cyteen at Noreascon 3.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 7, 1851 – Kate Prichard. With her son Hesketh, whom she outlived, a dozen pioneering stories of Flaxman Low, possibly the first psychic detective in literature. Six are at Project Gutenberg Australia (as by E. & H. Heron, pseudonyms used by the authors) here. (Died 1935) [JH]
Born July 7, 1907 — Robert A. Heinlein. I find RAH to be a complicated writer when it comes to assessing him. Is Starship Troopers a fascist novel? Is The Number of The Beast as bad as it seems? (Yes.) What do I really like by him? The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (though I despise its sequel To Sail Beyond the Sunset), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and The Rolling Stones. Lots of his short fiction such as as “…All You Zombies“ is just amazing. And only he knows why he wrote Time Enough for Love. John has an interesting take on him here. (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. After a four-year run there, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born July 7, 1926 – Tom Beecham. Five dozen interiors for Amazing, Fantastic, Future, Galaxy, If, SF Quarterly. Here is his illustration for “A Saucer of Loneliness”. Here, “Weak on Square Roots”. Here is a spaceship cover for Fury magazine. Later well-known for Westerns, wildlife in landscape; President, Soc. American Historical Artists; 360 paintings. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 7, 1948 – Paul Doherty, Ph.D. Fifty science columns in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with noted student of ’Pataphysics and co-founder of the Tiptree Award (as it then was) Pat Murphy. Popped corn in David Letterman’s hand with a Van deGraaff generator. Rock climber who climbed the face of El Capitan. Taught with the Exploratorium, also the Science Circle which established a Paul Doherty educators’ award. Named Best Science Demonstrator, World Congress of Museums, 1996. His Exploratorium Teacher Institute Website is here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born July 7, 1959 — Billy Campbell, 61. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. By the way, IDW published a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! (CE)
Born July 7, 1962 — Akiva J. Goldsman, 58. Screenwriter whose most notable accomplishment was that he wrote a dozen episodes of Fringe; he also wrote the screenplays for Batman Forever and its sequel Batman & Robin; I, Robot; I Am Legend, Practical Magic, Winter’s Tale (his first directing gig) and Lost in Space. (CE)
Born July 7, 1964 – Kôsuke Fujishima, 56. Famous for Oh, My Goddess! manga, with video animation, games, and like that; Kodansha Manga Award. Of course college sophomore Keiichi Morisato calls a wrong number and reaches the Goddess Help Line. Of course when a Norn answers and says KM gets one wish, KM thinks it’s a practical joke and tells Verthandi (which Fujishima renders “Belldandy”, not too bad) KM wants her to stay with him forever. They have to leave KM’s dormitory. Today is the author’s fourth wedding anniversary; he married the famous 20-year-old cosplayer Nekomu Otogi on July 7, 2016 (or at least that’s when he confirmed it on Twitter). [JH]
Born July 7, 1968 – Tricia Sullivan, 52. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories. Translated into French, German, Portuguese. Clarke Award for Dreaming Into Smoke. She says “Occupy Me  … is the work that means the most to me…. I have a B.A. in Music … M.Sc. in Astrophysics…. working on a Ph.D…. machine learning in astronomy, which means coding most days. I balance out this madness by talking to my vegetable garden, sometimes even as I eat bits of it.” [JH]
Born July 7, 1980 – Elena Vizerskaya, 40. Illustrator; she says “surrealist photographer”, which is true. Here is her cover for Permeable Borders. Here is Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille (nominated for a Chesley); Brenda Cooper said “Get it in physical form, the cover is worth having.” Here is Amaryllis. Here is “Find new ways to change”. Try this Website. [JH]
Born July 7, 1987 — V. E. Schwab, 33. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan because she makes a lot of references to that series. (CE)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is extremely pleased that the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a new copyright registration rule that will allow authors to register up to fifty short textual works published online for a single flat fee.
SFWA, along with the National Writers Union, Horror Writers Association, and American Society of Journalists and Authors, first requested the creation of such a group registration option in January 2017. In 2018, a productive round table between authors’ groups and the Copyright Office was held, and subsequent comments from SFWA and other groups were fully integrated into the final rule.
The rule, which takes effect on August 17, 2020, specifies that each work must be between fifty and 17,500 words in length, must have been published in the same 90-day period, and be written by the same single author or collaboration. For works that qualify, a single fee of $65 will cover the registration of up to fifty individual works….
Lego announced a new line of “Lego Art” — a higher-end building set geared towards adult fans.
The line, available for purchase September 1st, will launch with four themes: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, Marvel Studios Iron Man, Star Wars “The Sith” and The Beatles.
The pieces, once they are completed, form beautiful mosaics worthy of permanent display.
(13) K/S. “How Slash Fiction Saved Star Trek” has a title with a clickbait claim that tends to overshadow the video’s nuanced account of early Trek fanhistory and about a strong facet of fannish interest in the show’s characters.
Slash fiction and fan fiction in general has always been a derided part of the fandom community. But without the pioneering efforts of many fan fiction and slash fiction writers, we wouldn’t have Star Trek or science fiction as we know it today! So let’s dive into the complex relationship between slash fiction and Star Trek.
Video of nesting baby owls was temporarily removed by Facebook for apparently breaking rules on nudity and sexual activity, the page’s owner said.
The live stream was set up by Graham Moss, who started sharing cute pictures of the owls in his Doncaster garden during the coronavirus lockdown.
He claimed his Brockholes Wildlife Diary’s (sic) page was blocked despite having no inappropriate content.
While the page has been reinstated Mr Moss has yet to receive an explanation.
Facebook has been contacted by the BBC for a comment.
(15) ROYALTY QUESTION. Marissa Doyle inquires “Have You Upped a Swan Lately?” at Book View Café. I must admit I have not. But I learned that because of the pandemic, neither has anybody else.
Swan Upping is the traditional census-taking of Mute Swans on the River Thames, wherein swans are rounded up, checked for bands or banded, and released. The king or queen of England, by ancient law and custom dating back to the middle ages, owns all unmarked swans in England. And since the twelfth century or so, the swans who live on the Thames have been counted and marked by the Royal Swan Upper to enforce that ownership (though two ancient groups, the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the equally Worshipful Company of Dyers also have some swan-related rights and participate as well.) Swans were once reckoned something of a delicacy, after all, and having one on your banquet table was something of a status symbol that the Crown thought ought to mostly belong to it.
US and European scientists are about to get a unique view of polar ice as their respective space agencies line up two satellites in the sky.
Authorisation was given on Tuesday for Europe’s Cryosat-2 spacecraft to raise its orbit by just under one kilometre.
This will hugely increase the number of coincident observations it can make with the Americans’ Icesat-2 mission.
One outcome from this new strategy will be the first ever reliable maps of Antarctic sea-ice thickness.
Currently, the floes in the far south befuddle efforts to measure their vertical dimension.
Heavy snow can pile on top of the floating ice, hiding its true thickness. Indeed, significant loading can even push Antarctic sea-ice under the water.
But researchers believe the different instruments on the two satellites working in tandem can help them tease apart this complexity.
Nasa’s Icesat-2, which orbits the globe at about 500km in altitude, uses a laser to measure the distance to the Earth’s surface – and hence the height of objects. This light beam reflects directly off the top of the snow.
Esa’s Cryosat-2, on the other hand, at around 720km in altitude, uses radar as its height tool, and this penetrates much more deeply into the snow cover before bouncing back.
(17) ALONG CAME JONES. In “Honest Trailers–Indiana Jones Trilogy” the Screen Junkies look at the first three Indiana Jones movies and conclude that Jones “isn’t just a terrible professor–he’s a terrible archeologist!”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Darrah Chavey, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]