Featuring Din Djarin in his jetpack carrying Grogu, this decoration is a great reminder of the pair’s journey to the hilltop Seeing Stone, where the mysterious youngling channels the Force in hopes of contacting a Jedi.
One of the galaxy’s most powerful gangsters, Jabba the Hutt, captivated the imaginations of Star Wars fans in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Relive the magic of the movie’s practical effects with this captivating Christmas tree ornament that features the vengeful slug-like alien on his dais, complete with his pet Kowakian monkey-lizard, Salacious B. Crumb. Press the button to experience animatronic motion as Jabba delivers original dialogue from the film (battery-operated).
Jabba the Hutt used his luxury sail barge to visit Tatooine’s Sarlacc pit, where Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca were to be publicly executed. This Christmas tree ornament depicts that massive transport, the Khetanna, from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
As part of Darth Vader’s attempt to capture Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo served as both bait and test subject for the carbon-freezing process. This Christmas tree ornament depicts the emotional scene on Cloud City, which culminates in Han and Leia’s iconic profession of love and Han’s encasement in carbonite. The dynamic decoration features LED lights for a constant glow. Push the button to see a synchronized sound and light performance, complete with motion, as the Rebel heroes face an uncertain fate.
And this YouTube video shows the ornament’s complete performance.
“O Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.” A poetic musing to a beloved pet cat as only the android Data could compose—and then recite aloud to his “U.S.S. Enterprise” crewmates as seen in “Schisms,” an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Add vivid verse to your holiday with this Christmas tree ornament that plays dialogue from the show…
Stardate 3468.1—Near the planet Pollux III, the “U.S.S. Enterprise” is held dead in space by a massive energy field shaped as a human hand. Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew find themselves captives of a being who claims to be the Greek god Apollo. This Christmas tree ornament depicts the iconic opening scene from the original “Star Trek” series episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” For an otherworldly display, insert the bulb of a standard miniature light string through the rubber grommet on the ornament to create a special lighting effect.
THE WHOLE RIDE ON YOUR TREE. And in the “Haunted Mansion Collection” there’s a slew of ornaments that pay tribute to scenes in the Disneyland ride that inspired the movie.
The weirdest Comic-Con in years continues to get weirder, today: Legendary has announced that its upcoming sci-fi sequel Dune: Part Two, one of the last live-action blockbusters scheduled for a panel at this year’s version of the long-running convention, has now dropped out. (Ditto the glimpse the studio was planning at the next installment of its Monsterverse franchise of films.) At the same time, at least three TV shows that were still holding out hope for the convention—Amazon’s Wheel Of Time, Freevee’s Jury Duty, and ABC’s Abbott Elementary—have all confirmed that they’re canceling their panels.
The reason, obviously, is the SAG-AFTRA actors strike: There’s not a lot of point in paying for an expensive panel in the Con’s famed Hall H if you don’t have any stars on hand to fill it out and pump up the crowds.
GRETA JOHNSEN, BYLINE: Meet Sarah Jaffe. She’s an executive producer at Penguin Random House Audio.
SARAH JAFFE: What that actually means is mostly – I think my 10-year-old self would be thrilled – I get paid to read books all day, talk to really brilliant authors and then do sort of the dream casting that I think we all do in our heads of like, OK, what kind of voice would I need to play this character? And then I get to find and hire that voice.
JOHNSEN: One of my favorite voices is this guy.
KEVIN R FREE: I am Kevin R. Free. I am a multi-hyphenate artist, and I suppose I’m on the Nerdette podcast because I am an audiobook narrator. That is the hat for which you are interviewing me.
JOHNSEN: Kevin has been wearing that hat since 2000. I love him because he narrates Martha Wells’ “Murderbot Diaries”…
For more than 20 years, Kit Loffstadt has written fan fiction exploring alternate universes for “Star Wars” heroes and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” villains, sharing her stories free online.
But in May, Ms. Loffstadt stopped posting her creations after she learned that a data company had copied her stories and fed them into the artificial intelligence technology underlying ChatGPT, the viral chatbot. Dismayed, she hid her writing behind a locked account.
Ms. Loffstadt also helped organize an act of rebellion last month against A.I. systems. Along with dozens of other fan fiction writers, she published a flood of irreverent stories online to overwhelm and confuse the data-collection services that feed writers’ work into A.I. technology.
“We each have to do whatever we can to show them the output of our creativity is not for machines to harvest as they like,” said Ms. Loffstadt, a 42-year-old voice actor from South Yorkshire in Britain.
… At Archive of Our Own, a fan fiction database with more than 11 million stories, writers have increasingly pressured the site to ban data-scraping and A.I.-generated stories.
In May, when some Twitter accounts shared examples of ChatGPT mimicking the style of popular fan fiction posted on Archive of Our Own, dozens of writers rose up in arms. They blocked their stories and wrote subversive content to mislead the A.I. scrapers. They also pushed Archive of Our Own’s leaders to stop allowing A.I.-generated content.
Betsy Rosenblatt, who provides legal advice to Archive of Our Own and is a professor at University of Tulsa College of Law, said the site had a policy of “maximum inclusivity” and did not want to be in the position of discerning which stories were written with A.I.
For Ms. Loffstadt, the fan fiction writer, the fight against A.I. came as she was writing a story about “Horizon Zero Dawn,” a video game where humans fight A.I.-powered robots in a postapocalyptic world. In the game, she said, some of the robots were good and others were bad.
But in the real world, she said, “thanks to hubris and corporate greed, they are being twisted to do bad things.”
(4) YOUR CHRIS BARKLEY HUGO PACKET. Chris M. Barkley has put links to the columns that will make up his entry in the packet here on Facebook.
I have submitted my selections of columns from File 770 for the 2023 Hugo Award Packet in the Best Fan Writer category. Although it will be a few weeks before the complete packet is released to members of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention to consider, I am pinning links to my columns from today until the close of voting period, September 30th.
(5) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. [Item by Steven French.] In advance of Oppenheimer hitting the cinemas, the Guardian presents its latest list, this time of ‘best’ films about the atomic bomb. Sadly there’s no mention of 1950 Brit movie Seven Days Until Noon (which recently appeared on TV here in the U.K.) About a scientist whose moral qualms about the atomic bomb lead him to threaten the destruction of half of London, it won an Academy Award for writers Paul Dehn and James Bernard. Dehn was a well regarded poet and referred to by John LeCarre as an ‘assassin’ following his war service in the SOE. He went on to co-author not only the movie version of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold but also several of the Planet of the Apes sequels. “Streaming: the best films about the atomic bomb”.
…But the legacy of the atom bomb, from its development to its impact to its all-round political aura, is a rich one, spanning everything from esoteric arthouse films to genre B-movies. For decades after the horrifying outcome of the Manhattan Project, through the long-lingering chill of the cold war, anxiety over nuclear warfare was the driving force behind any number of thrillers and war films. Comedies, sci-fi and even the odd film noir – see Robert Aldrich’s blistering Kiss Me Deadly (1955; Internet Archive), which culminates in a literally explosive allegory – got in on the paranoia….
(6) GREGG T. TREND OBITUARY. Longtime fanzine fan Gregg T. Trend passed away in hospice this morning Sunday, July 16 his wife Audrey announced on Facebook.
A Detroit fan active since at least the early 1960s, Gregg attended the 1963 Worldcon, Discon 1. He was a member of the Wayne Third Foundation and edited some issues of its clubzine Seldon’s Plan. He was a member and one of the OEs of MiSHAP.
The last time I saw him was during Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon, at the Faneds’ Feast in the Purple Parrot coffee shop, attended by Ed and Sandra Meskys, Katrina Templeton, Andrew Porter, Cathy Lister-Palmer, Murray Moore, Mary Ann Moore, Gregg and Audrey Trend, me, Milt Stevens, Alan Stewart, Marcy Maliniewicz, Jerry Kaufman, Mike Ward.
Andrew Porter adds, “I bought a piece of his artwork on the sketch table at Discon 1 in 1963, my first Worldcon, and knew him for many decades.”
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1971 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
R. A. Lafferty is the writer of our Beginning, so let’s talk about him. A much loved writer in fandom with almost fifty Award nominations in over his fifty-year career (though only three Awards resulted — a Hugo at Torcon II for his “Eurema’s Dam” along with a Phoenix Award and a World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.
I personally think that all of his fiction is worth a read but I’ll single out The Devil is Dead trilogy as one of his better works. Also worth noting is that he was a first rate writer of short fiction as noted by his having thirty-five collections published. Yes, thirty-five.
Mike picked his Past Master novel. It was published by Rapp & Whiting fifty-five years ago. It was nominated at St. Louiscon for a Hugo and garnered Ditmar and Nebula nominations as well.
AT THE TWENTY-FIFTH HOUR
THE THREE big men were met together in a private building of one of them. There was a clattering thunder in the street outside, but the sun was shining. It was the clashing thunder of the mechanical killers, ravening and raging. They shook the building and were on the verge of pulling it down. They required the life and the blood of one of the three men and they required it immediately, now, within the hour, within the minute.
The three men gathered in the building were large physically, they were important and powerful, they were intelligent and interesting. There was a peculiar linkage between them: each believed that he controlled the other two, that he was the puppeteer and they were the puppets. And each was partly right in this belief. It made them an interlocking nexus, taut and resilient, the most intricate on Astrobe.
Cosmos Kingmaker, who was too rich. The Heraldic Lion.
Peter Proctor, who was too lucky. The Sleek Fox.
Fabian Foreman, who was too smart. The Worried Hawk.
“This is Mankind’s third chance,” said Kingmaker. “Ah, they’re breaking the doors down again. How can we talk with it all going on?”
He took the speaking tube. “Colonel,” he called out. “You have sufficient human guards. It is imperative that you disperse the riot. It is absolutely forbidden that they murder this man at this time and place. He is with us and is one of us as he has always been.”
“The colonel is dead,” a voice came back. “I am Captain John Chezem the Third, next in command.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 16, 1882 — Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man, The Twilight Zone, Frankenstein’s Daughter, The Munsters, House of the Damned, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.)
Born July 16, 1928 — Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. He had two Hugo nominations, at NYCon II for his “Spy Story” short story, and at Detention for his Time Killer novel. His Seventh Victim novel was nominated for a Hugo at the 1954 Retro Hugos at Noreascon 4. (Died 2005.)
Born July 16, 1929 — Sheri S. Tepper. I think I’m going to start with her Marianne Trilogy (Marianne, the Magus and the Manticore; Marianne, the Madam and the Momentary Gods; Marianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse) as her best work. Both the setting and the characters are unique, the story fascinating. Nominated for an Astounding Award way back when, she had a long career, so I’m going to note Beauty, The Gate to Women’s Country, Six Moon Dance and The Companions as my favorites knowing very well that yours won’t be the same. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1956 — Jerry Doyle. Now this one was depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1951 — Esther Friesner, 72. She’s won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”. I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She won the 1994 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, for lifetime contributions to science fiction, “both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him,” presented by the New England Science Fiction Association. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects.
Born July 16, 1963 — Phoebe Cates, 60. Ok, her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. (Well and romantic fantasy Date with an Angel.) It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon. She retired from film acting as she said there were no good roles and is doing theatre work.
(9) SOLDIER’S ICON. [Item by Susan de Guardiola.] Apparently Baby Yoda on body armor is becoming a thing in Ukraine, as shown on this volunteer of the Georgian Legion.
Also: “may feathers grow in the throats of our enemies” is a really excellent curse. No idea whether it’s a Georgian thing or a cultural reference I’m just oblivious to.
In an industry where the boundary between reality and virtualization is increasingly blurred, a recent wave of controversy has hit the Hollywood sphere. A central figure in this ongoing discourse is none other than Lena Hall, the illustrious Tony Award winner and Grammy nominee, best known for her role in TNT’s Snowpiercer.
On the cusp of the show’s fourth season, Hall took a public stand on Twitter, lambasting the opaque nature of the utilization of full-body scan technology. The thespian recounted her experiences with the procedure, expressing her dismay at the lack of transparency and her perceived violation of consent.
“So… Snowpiercer season 4 did a full body scan and full range of emotion capture of all the series regulars on the show not ever telling us the real reason why. NOW I know why and it’s really disturbing because I didn’t consent.”
“P.S. they told us it was for special effects but were very vague!”
… It’s not every day that someone is hit by a meteorite while trying to enjoy a cup of coffee with friends. In fact, it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence for someone to be struck by a meteorite anywhere on their body. But such was the case for the woman in France recently, and if confirmed would be the first person on record to be struck by a meteorite in nearly 70 years.
“I heard a big ‘Poom’ coming from the roof next to us. In the second that followed, I felt a shock on the ribs. I thought it was an animal, a bat!” the lady proclaimed in an interview with the French newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA). She continued, “We thought it was a piece of cement, the one we apply to the ridge tiles. But it didn’t have the color.”…
(12) WHAT HARM COULD AI DO? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Over at BBC Radio 4, there has been a series of short (14-minute) episodes on artificial intelligence. The latest episode concerns whether or not we can control AI? and has some SFnal references. “Can we control AI?”
When so-called “generative” Artificial Intelligences like Chat GPT and Google’s Bard were made available to the public, they made headlines around the world and raised fears about how fast this type of AI was developing. But realistically, what harm could AI do to people? Is it an existential threat, or could it become one? And if things got really bad, couldn’t we just switch it off or smash it up with a hammer?
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s a trailer for a trailer for the new Beauty and the Beast adaptation: Belle.
Belle would do anything to save her ailing father. She journeys in search of a mythical rose believed to be a cure. As payment for the rose, she must surrender herself to a vicious beast and battle his spell.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Joyce Scrivner, Daniel Dern, Susan de Guardiola, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Update 07/17/2023: Replaced a photo of Gregg Trend. The one originally provided by Andrew Porter was of someone else.
(1) TIME IS FLEETING. The SFWA Silent Auction ends tomorrow at noon. Organizer Jason Sanford says, “In particular you and your File 770 readers might get a kick out of seeing the original Munchkin card in the auction, which I think is amazing and is shown in the press release. Also, the auction has up for bid original, first edition hardback copies of Green Hills of Earth and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein from the early 1950s — both of which are signed by Heinlein! I’m a little frustrated that more people haven’t noticed these two rare, signed copies of his books from the Golden Age of SF.”
(2) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS SEEK NOMINATIONS. The British Fantasy Society is taking nominations for the British Fantasy Awards 2022. You can vote in the BFAs if you are any of the following: A member of the British Fantasy Society; An attendee at FantasyCon 2021; or A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2022. The voting form is here. Voting will remain open until Sunday May 29, 2022.
Voters may list up to three titles in each category. A crowdsourced list of suggestions has been created here. You may vote for titles not on the suggestions list. Further guidance on the eligibility criteria for each category can be found here.
The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations in each category will make the shortlist.
After plenty of rumours and red herrings, the BBC has confirmed the shock news that former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to the long-running sci-fi drama, over 12 years after they originally handed in their TARDIS keys and just a week after Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new star of the series (taking over from current Doctor Jodie Whittaker).
As the time-travelling Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, the pair presided over a popular and critically-acclaimed era for Doctor Who still fondly remembered by fans. And now, according to the BBC, they are set to reunite with screenwriter Russell T Davies to film new “scenes that are due to air in 2023”, coinciding with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
…It could be that these scenes are little more than a cameo, or they could be a major comeback. For now, they’re keeping it all a bit mysterious….
Logline: Animated comedy set in mythical ancient Greece, the series centers on a flawed family of humans, gods and monsters that tries to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other.
QUANTUM LEAP (Universal Television)
A sequel to the original 1989-1993 time-traveling NBC fantasy drama picks up 30 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.
GOTHAM KNIGHTS (Warner Bros. Television)
Logline: In the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, his rebellious adopted son forges an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies when they are all framed for killing the Caped Crusader.
THE WINCHESTERS (Warner Bros. Television/CBS Studios)
Logline: This prequel to “Supernatural” tells the untold love story of how John and Mary Winchester met and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.
(5) ANOTHER INTERPRETATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses feminist retellings of classic myths.
In her debut novel Kaikeyi published this month, Chicago-based writer Vaishnavi Patel dramatically reframes a story from the great Hindu epic The Ramayana, of Queen Kaikeyo who demands that her husband King Dashrath exile her stepson, the young man-god Rama. ‘I wanted to discover what might have caused a celebrated warrior and beloved queen to tear her family apart,’ Patel writes in her introduction.
Like Patel, many are interested in questioning the framing of mythical women as both villains and heroes. Korean-American writer Axie Oh writes a less submissive protagonist into the legend of Shim Cheong in her young-adult book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea. In Oh’s version Mina, a village girl, takes the place of Shim Cheong, the dutiful daughter in the legend who sacrifices herself to the sea gods–but her role in the story is a more active one. ‘My fate is not yours to decide,’ she says. ‘My fate belongs to me.’
Avengers star Karen Gillan has wed her American boyfriend in a closely guarded ceremony at a castle in Argyll.
The Inverness-born star tied the knot this afternoon with American comedian Nick Kocher, 36, after jetting back to Scotland for her nuptials.
Some of the A-list guests at the wedding in Castle Toward in Dunoon included fellow action star Robert Downey Jnr and Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts, who were spotted in the town earlier today.
Steven Moffat, who was executive producer of Doctor Who when Karen was Matt Smith’s Tardis companion, was also a guest for her big day.
The 34-year-old, who had kept her engagement to the Saturday Night Live scriptwriter a secret, had chartered a yacht, The Spirit of Fortitude, to take family and friends to the 3.30pm ceremony….
(7) SFF FILLS THE 1953 MAGAZINE STANDS. [Item by Mlex.] James Wallace Harris of the Auxiliary Memory blog & SF Signal, posted a bibliographic essay on the year 1953 for science fiction short stories. “The 1953 SF&F Magazine Boom” at Classics of Science Fiction.
Science fiction in 1953 spoke to a generation and it’s fascinating to think about why. The number of science fiction readers before WWII was so small that it didn’t register in pop culture. The war brought rockets, atomic bombs, computers, and nuclear power. The late 1940s brought UFOs – the flying saucer craze. The 1950s began with science fiction movies and television shows. By 1953, science fiction was a fad bigger than the hula-hoop would ever be, we just never thought of it that way. I do wonder if the fad will ever collapse, but I see no sign it will.
(8) READING ALOUD. Space Cowboy Books presents the 51st episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:
“The Jellyfish from Nullarbor” by Eric Farrell; music by RedBlueBlackSilver; read by Jean-Paul Garnier
“Apotheosis” by Joshua Green; music by Phog Masheeen; read by Jean-Paul Garnier
Theme music by Dain Luscombe
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2006 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixteen years on this date, one of the most unusual strips to come into existence did so in the form of Mark Tatulli’s Liō. It was very easy to market globally as it had almost no dialogue except that spoken by other people in the parodies that I’ll mention in a minute as Liō and the other characters don’t speak at all, and there were no balloons or captions at all again giving it a global appeal.
Liō, who lives with his father and various monsters, i.e. Ishmael a giant squid and Fido a spider, various animals like Cybil a white cat (of course there’s a cat here, a very pushy feline indeed), aliens, lab creations, and even Liō’s hunchbacked assistant. Why there’s even Archie, Liō’s psychopathic ventriloquist’s dummy. Liō’s mother is deceased. Though why she’s deceased is never stated. Definitely not your nuclear family here.
An important aspect of the strip is that will riff off other strips, and lots of them: Blondie, Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, Cathy, Garfield, Opus, Peanuts, even Pearls Before Swine (not one of my favorite strips I will readily admit) will become fodder for parody by this strip. That’s where the only dialogue is spoken.
Currently the strip which runs daily globally in more than two hundred and fifty papers.
Tatulli on the Mr. Media podcast back a decade or so said “It’s really a basic concept. It’s just Liō who lives with his father, and that’s basically it, and whatever I come up with. I set no parameters because I didn’t want to lock myself in. I mean, having no dialogue means that there is going to be no dialogue-driven gags, so I have to leave myself as open as possible to any kind of thing, so anything basically can happen.”
There a transcript of that podcast here as the audio quality of that interview is, as the interviewer admits, rather awful. He got better after that first interview by him.
In multiple interviews, Tatulli has said the two major contemporary influences on his style are Gahan Wilson and Charles Addams.
Born May 15, 1856 — L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a very splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. Nor have I seen any of the later adaptations of the Oz fiction. What’s the rest of his fiction like? There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and some of it is slash which is a really, really scary idea. (Died 1919.)
Born May 15, 1877 — William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
Born May 15, 1926 — Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie-based Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.)
Born May 15, 1948 — Brian Eno, 74. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling to them such as Music for Civic Recovery Centre, January 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could be the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the proposed Culture series?
Born May 15, 1955 — Lee Horsley, 67. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare Man, The Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls as it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer.
Born May 15, 1960 — Rob Bowman, 62. Producer of such series as Alien Nation, M.A.N.T.I.S., Quantum Leap, Next Generation, and TheX-Files. He has directed these films: The X-Files, Reign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.
Born May 15, 1966 — Greg Wise, 56. I’m including him solely for being in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun.
Born May 15, 1971 — Samantha Hunt, 51. If you read nothing else by her, do read The Invention of Everything, a might be look at the last days in the life of Nikola Tesla. It’s mostly set within the New Yorker Hotel, a great concept. I’m avoiding spoilers naturally. She’s written two other genre novels, Mr. Splitfoot and The Seas, plus a handful of stories.
…A from-the-ground-up rebuild of the original “Bulwark” gunship design of the Space Troopers project, the spaceship you see here is chock full of the developments of a decade’s worth of building, yet remains sturdy and with a chunky simplicity that reminds me of what I’d have loved to play with as a boy. From the rear’s double cargo doors ready to discharge rovers, troops, or scientists on an expedition, to the inner hatch and gunner’s console with its cramped ladder allowing access to the cockpit, the hold is packed with scenes ripe for customization and exploration. Crew bunks and a tiny galley round out the hull, and the off-center cockpit rises up between a sensor array and two massive engines that can rotate up or down for flight.
The sliding cargo doors aren’t just there for show; a sturdy mechanism just behind the wings allows you to attach the two included modules or design your own, dropping them off on some distant planet or opening the doors to allow for use in-flight. Two crimson hardsuits in the classic Space Troopers red are more than just my concession to the strictures of the brick—they’re my homage to the classic sci-fi writers whose tales of adventure on far-off planets and dropships swooping from the sky have shaped my life. Deploying on two rails from a module that locks into place in the dropship’s rear, the suits are chunky, bedecked with pistons and thrusters, and, most importantly, fit a minifigure snugly inside to allow for armored adventures….
…I think around this time I also watched some The Big Bang Theory episodes. During one of these nights I “designed” an observatory made from LEGO bricks in my mind. I really love science and space, and I have never seen an observatory as an official LEGO set. That’s when I thought about building an observatory in real bricks. But I didn’t want to use an IP because that would only be interesting for people who has a connection to the place. I wanted to create a playable observatory that has a unique design. I imagined a building on the top of a mountain and what it would look like. And that’s why I called it “Mountain View.”…
…The Steam Powered Science (previously known as the Exploratorium) is a Steam-Punk themed research facility whose mission is to delve into the mysteries of the universe. One half of the facility is dedicated to researching celestial motion while the other is dedicated to traversing the ocean’s depths. The set was designed as part of the Flight Works Series, a group of Steam-Punk themed submissions on LEGO Ideas….
(12) CHARGE IT! Are Colin Kuskie and Phil Nichols really going to advocate for that most controversial of critics’ notions? To find out you will need to listen to episode 17 of Science Fiction 101, “Canon to the left of me, canon to the right”.
Colin and Phil return, buoyed by the news that Science Fiction 101 has risen to number 6 in Feedspot’s league table of Best UK Sci-Fi Podcasts!
Our main discussion topic the contentious issue of the “canon” of science fiction, triggered by a blog post by Dr Shaun Duke. We also have a movie quiz, and the usual round-up of past/present/future SF.
More than three years after their initial announcement, QMx has finally brought their Star Trek: Discovery-era USS Enterprise Starfleet delta badges into Earth orbit — just in time for the debut of Captain Pike’s own series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Originally announced all the way back in February 2019, the metal Starfleet badges were showcased at that year’s Toy Fair expo in New York City… only to shuffle off the horizon, as they’d gone “on hold” by the early part of the next year (as a QMx representative told us at Toy Fair 2020), likely waiting for the then-in-the-works Captain Pike series to be announced to the public….
(14) INGENUITY BEGINNING TO AGE OUT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars showed its first sign of approaching old age when it failed to wake on time to “phone home.” After far outlasting its planned life, the approach of winter with shorter days and more dust in the air is beginning to play havoc with its ability to keep a charge on its batteries overnight. “Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Went Silent, Leaving Anxious NASA Team in the Dark” at Gizmodo.
Late last week, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter managed to reestablish its connection with the Perseverance rover following a brief communications disruption. The space agency says the looming winter is likely responsible and is making adjustments as a result.
On Thursday, Ingenuity—mercifully—sent a signal to Perseverance after the intrepid helicopter missed a scheduled communications session. It marked the first time since the pair landed together on Mars in February 2021 that Ingenuity has missed an appointment, according to NASA.
The team behind the mission believes that Ingenuity had entered into a low-power state to conserve energy, and it did so in response to the charge of its six lithium-ion batteries dropping below a critical threshold. This was likely due to the approaching winter, when more dust appears in the Martian atmosphere and the temperatures get colder. The dust blocks the amount of sunlight that reaches the helicopter’s solar array, which charges its batteries….
(15) BABY TALK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Baby Yoda showed up on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” to promote Obi-Wan Kenobi and discuss his questionable new friends. But don’t ask him about Baby Groot or he’ll get really angry! “Baby Yoda on His Spiritual Awakening”.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) BABY YODA ON PARADE. A helium-filled Grogu designed by the toy company Funko was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – the New York Times tells how that happened.
(2) CITY TECH SYMPOSIUM. The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium at City Tech in New York will be held December 9. Read the full program and register to see the event on Zoom at this link. (For those who would like to watch the event without registering, watch the YouTube Livestream here.)
The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Access and Science Fiction will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2021 from 9:00am-5:00pm online via Zoom Webinar.
To participate in this free event, attendees will need to (1) Signup for a free Zoom account here (if you don’t already have one), and (2) Register here to receive access instructions to the Zoom Webinar. Participants may register any time before or during the event!
Here are a couple of the program items:
2:30pm-3:55pm Analog Writers Panel and the Analog Emerging Black Voices Award Emily Hockaday – Moderator; Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Marie Vibbert, Chelsea Obodoechina, Trevor Quachri
4:00pm-5:00pm Keynote “Writing Ourselves In: Teaching Writing and Science Fiction with Wikipedia” Ximena Gallardo C. and Ann Matsuuchi Wanett Clyde – Introduction and Moderator
(3) THE GALACTIC IMAGINARIUM FILM FESTIVAL TAKING SUBMISSIONS. The Galactic Imaginarium Film Festival from Dumbravita-Timis, Romania, is one of the few Sci-fi and Fantasy Film Festivals in Eastern Europe. The festival has film screening, conferences, debates and happenings in a hybrid format. The 2022 edition will have Jury Awards and Popular Awards, for five categories (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Animation, Comedy/Parody and Documentary) for short and feature films.
The submission period is open now, for the above categories. Filmmakers and distributors are invited to submit their films using FilmFreeway platform at the address: https://filmfreeway.com/TGIFF
On May 31st, while perusing the indispensable list on The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, I came across an author unknown to me–Melisa Michaels (1946-2019) (bibliography). She’s best known for the five-volume Skyrider sequence (1985-1988) of space operas “depicting the growth into maturity of its eponymous female Starship-pilot protagonist” (SF Encyclopedia).
As I’m always willing to explore the work of authors new to me, I decided to review the first three of her six published SF short stories. Two of the three stories deal with my favorite SF topics–trauma and memory.”
(5) TWAIN’S THANKSGIVING. The Mark Twain House & Museum shared:
When asked what Twain was thankful for, he said…
“You ask me for a sentiment which shall state how much I have to be thankful for this time. For years it has been a rule with me not to expose my gratitude in print on Thanksgiving Day, but I wish to break the rule now and pour out my thankfulness; for there is more of it than I can contain without straining myself. I am thankful — thankful beyond words — that I had only $51,000 on deposit in the Knickerbocker Trust, instead of a million; for if I had had a million in that bucket shop, I should be nineteen times as sorry as I am now. Trusting this paean of joy will satisfy your requirement,
I am Yours truly,
– letter to editor of New York World, 27 October 1907
They make up for it with a video about the Clemens family pets. (Warning: Mostly dogs, no matter what this intro says.)
The Cat in the Ruff is one of many cats who’ve graced the Mark Twain House over the years. Do you know how many cats Sam Clemens remembered having in his childhood home? Find out in the latest episode of Catching Up With The Clemenses.
It is a really good set of posts for both fantasy geeks and history geeks, in part because he knows his history and does a good job of explaining both the battlefield details and the broader historical background behind “medieval” warfare. (Tolkien understood that despair could destroy an army. He fought at the Somme). He also does a good job with some of the films’ reasons for changes, beyond the film-makers are dummies. (Doing a proper cavalry battle between Wargs and the Men of Rohan would cost too much, ruin the pacing of the film, and get some stuntmen hurt.) Those are my brief summaries, he does it much better.
…But Saruman does not have a lot of experience. Théoden does. As Saruman himself notes, the house of Eorl has “fought many wars and assailed many who defied them” (TT, 218). Théoden himself had been a king even longer than Denethor had been steward (Théoden becomes king in 2980; Denethor becomes steward in 2984) and given what we know about the political situation, it is safe to assume he had some fighting to do even before he became king and much more afterwards. The film has Théoden say this, and at moments shows it on-screen in interesting ways, but the desire to insert some conflict between Théoden and Aragorn means that this characterization gets a bit muddled, as we’ll see. Nevertheless, it is clear that Théoden, in book and film, is an experienced and capable commander – he may lack the subtly and sophistication of Denethor (who, as an aside, I’d probably rate as the better pure tactician of the two, but the worse overall leader), but reliable workman-like generaling is often the best sort, and proves to be so here….
(7) NOT THROWIN’ AWAY MY SHOT. Continuing a theme, Fandom Entertainment obliges with this video comparing archers from three SFF franchises: Legolas vs. Hawkeye vs. Katniss: “By The Numbers | Best Movie Archer”.
Screen Rant: So you, and some of the formative figures, were just writing your own works. You weren’t trying to adhere to genre conventions, because there wasn’t really a genre to adhere to yet.
Michael Moorcock: Yeah, when I first started writing it, nobody knew what to call it at all. I mean, the publishers didn’t know what to call it. They thought that Tolkien was (writing about) a post-apocalyptic nuclear world. That’s the only way they could perceive an alternate world, in other words. And it was the same with Mervyn Peake… they’re all interpreted that way. The idea of putting ‘fantasy’ on a book meant usually meant that it was a children’s book. And if you put fantasy as the genre, they usually put ‘SF’ larger than ‘fantasy’ to show that it was what it was. So really, there really was nothing like an adult fantasy genre… Today’s experience is just totally different.
(9) BLAME THE DOCTOR! [Item by Olav Rokne.] Conservative UK politician Nick Fletcher provides the most baffling quote of the week, linking Jodie Whittaker’s work on Doctor Who to recent increases in crime. His logic is so tenuous and contrived it has to be heard to be believed.
(10) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY. This happens to come from a movie, but Filers tell me they often get these kinds of wild dates in the drafts of their comments, too.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1887 — One hundred thirty-four years ago, the very first Sherlock Holmes story was published this month in the December issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual which came out a month ahead of the pub date. It was published sometime in November at a price of one shilling and sold out before Christmas. The other contents were Two Original Drawing Room Plays: “Food for Powder” by R. André, and “The Four-Leaved Shamrock” by C. J. Hamilton.
A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original canon. The story was originally titled A Tangled Skein and Doyle wanted royalties from Beeton’s Christmas Annual but settled for a twenty-five pound payment instead in return for the full rights to the novel.
Bibliographic experts say this copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual is “the most expensive magazine in the world,” with a copy selling for $156,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007 as only twelve copies are thought to currently exist.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 25, 1920 — Ricardo Montalbán. Khan Noonien Singh and the first Mr. Rourke. Armando and Grandpa Valentin Avellan as well. I’m picking those as four most memorable roles he’s played and they just happen to all be genre in nature. Oh, and is Khan Noonien Singh the only occurrence of a non-crew character carrying over from the original series into the films? I suspect not but I can’t think of anyone who did. If there is, I’m sure one of you will tell me. (Died 2009.)
Born November 25, 1926 — Jeffrey Hunter. Best known for his role as the first Captain Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that material in “The Menagerie” episode which won a Hugo at NyCon 3. Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, no print is known to exists), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear and The Green Hornet. Hunter suffered an intracranial hemorrhage while walking down a three-stair set of steps at his home in Van Nuys, California. He died in-hospital despite brain surgery. (Died 1969.)
Born November 25, 1926 — Poul Anderson. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political stories, and all of the Flandry and van Rijn stories. I also enjoy his Time Patrol stories as well, and the two Operation Luna tales are quite fun. Not to forget the ever so entertaining The Unicorn Trade that he wrote with his wife Karen. He was quite honored with seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. (Died 2001.)
Born November 25, 1947 — John Larroquette, 74. I think his best genre role is as Jenkins in The Librarians. He’s also had one-offs in Almost Human, The Twilight Zone, Chuck, Batman: The Animated Series and Fantasy Island. He’s uncredited but present in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, does voice acting in Green Lantern: First Flight, is the Klingon Maltz in The Search for Spock and the oddly named K.K.K. in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Did you know he was the narrator of two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films?
Born November 25, 1950 — Alexis Wright, 71. A Waanyi (Aboriginal Australian) writer known for winning the Miles Franklin Award for her novel Carpentaria which might well be genre. She has one definitely genre novel, The Swan Game.
Born November 25, 1953 — Mark Frost, 68. He’s best known as a writer for Hill Street Blues (I know it’s not genre but superb nonetheless) and as the co-creator with David Lynch of Twin Peaks in which he’s been involved with in other roles as well. He had a hand in writing both of the not well regarded Fantastic Four films. He was also one of the Executive Producers of the very short lived All Souls series.
Born November 25, 1953 – Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, 68. A fan, free citizen of the ImagiNation, husband, daddy, union leader, Esperantist, wearer of orange garments, Quaker, feminist, Irishman, Mac user, Wobbly, Hordesman, Wikipedian. He’s been active in fanzines (Vojo de Vivo) and apas, the N3F, mailing lists, Usenet, social media. Voted the 2020 TAFF delegate – trip postponed due to the pandemic. Frequent Filer! (OGH)
Born November 25, 1974 — Sarah Monette, 47. Under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor which garnered the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. Her first two novels Mélusine and The Virtu are quite wonderful and I highly recommend her Iskryne series that she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear.
Born November 25, 1986 — Katie Cassidy, 35. Best remembered as Laurel Lance / Black Canary in the Arrowverse, primarily on Arrow but also Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. She was also Ruby on Supernatural, Patricia “Trish” Washington on Harper’s Island and Kris Fowles on A Nightmare on Elm Street.
(13) KURT VONNEGUT DOCUMENTARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The three of us (from the group I blog with) who saw the Kurt Vonnegut documentary Unstuck in Time were torn about it. That being said, I’d recommend it to every File770 person; there’s an awful lot of good in the documentary, lots of great moments, even if it sometimes doesn’t quite hold together. “Slipping on the stickiness of time” at the The Hugo Book Club Blog.
… Weide is too close to his subject to provide an unflinching look. But it also seems that he’s too much of a documentarian to lean into the personal. Both perspectives suffer for this, but one can also see why the movie took 40 years to make: it’s filled with incredible moments, and archival footage, and surprising snippets. With the amount of footage that Weide gathered in four decades, one can only imagine the riches that had to be left on the cutting room floor….
(14) PAIR OF CHAIRS. In Two Chairs Talking Episode 66, “Where great whales come sailing by”, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss recent news; David talks about “Bewilderment”, the best book he’s read all year; Perry reviews “Fathoms”, a magnificent book about whales; and he interviews prominent SF fan Justin Ackroyd.
Where great whales come sailing by, Sail and sail, with unshut eye, Round the world for ever and eye.
Disney characters are sometimes not that bright, they love to overcomplicate things and they just have to dramatize everything, which can be very infuriating, even if it is sometimes exciting. But of course, that’s what makes Disney’s storylines so magical and full of plot twists.
Every Disney movie features an evil protagonist that could have got the job over and done with quickly, rather than dragging it on. Or a Disney character who could have made even a single decision to speed up the plot.
In a world where Disney characters are a lot more logical and use common sense more often, the movies would end in less than two minutes. If you’ve ever wondered what that may look like, one Disney fan decided to depict it all artistically.
A short update on the projected launch date of the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope came out of NASA on Monday, and it wasn’t exactly a heart-warming missive.
The large, space-based telescope’s “no earlier than” launch date will slip from December 18 to at least December 22 after an “incident” occurred during processing operations at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. That is where the telescope will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket provided by the European Space Agency.
“Technicians were preparing to attach Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, which is used to integrate the observatory with the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket,” NASA said in a blog post. “A sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band—which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter—caused a vibration throughout the observatory.”
Let’s be honest, words like “incident,” “sudden,” and “vibration” are not the kinds of expressions one wants to hear about the handling of a delicate and virtually irreplaceable instrument like the Webb telescope. However, NASA, the European Space Agency, and the rocket’s operator, Arianespace, have a plan for moving forward….
According to KDLG, Public Radio for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Wassily chose to produce a rap for his literature class, where the assignment was to write an essay, skit, or song on the topic of Gilgamesh. Though at first he didn’t like the Epic of Gilgamesh, Wassily got more excited when he started making beats. “Not even a day after—like, right after school, I got to work producing a beat, a good rhythm, like a fast-paced rhythm for what I’m going to be doing,” Wassily told KDLG. “Cause that’s what I’m most comfortable on.”
Here’s a slice:
g and enkidu on a quest for glory
slayin humbaba is the start of his story our heroes make it to the gate but before they serve h his fate their knees begin to shake…
[Thanks Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Will R., Alan Baumler, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, Darius Hupov, Jennifer Hawthorne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nancy Sauer.]
(1) SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME TRAILER. Initially shown this week in theaters with Ghostbusters: Afterlife – now everyone can see it.
For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero’s identity is revealed, bringing his Super Hero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk. When he enlists Doctor Strange’s help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in their world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Now, Peter will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse.
(2) NEEDS MORE INGREDIENTS. Lise Andreasen got a look at this headline and replied:
…It is a must buy for any SF fan of the era interested in exploring the larger world behind the texts. Considering the focus of my website and most of my reading adventures over the last decade, I can unabashedly proclaim myself a fan of the New Wave SF movement–and this edited volume is the perfect compliment to my collection and interests….
The first paragraph of the authors’ introduction begins –
The “long sixties,” an era which began in the late 1950s and extended into the 1970s, has become shorthand for a period of trenchant social change, most explicitly demonstrated through a host of liberatory and resistance movements focused on class, racial, gender, sexual, and other inequalities. These were as much about cultural expression and social recognition as economic redistribution and formal politics. While the degree to which often youthful insurgents achieved their goals varied greatly, the global challenge they presented was a major shock to the status quo.,,,
Though the animated film The Last Unicorn will turn 40 years old in 2022, it’s still largely considered a cult classic. The sort of movie that a certain kind of nerdy Gen-Xer or elder millennial will enthusiastically yell about with strangers whenever it happens to come up in casual conversation, but that most average moviegoers almost completely missed out on. Part of the reason for that is that 1980s animated films were generally more interested in making money than being art, and the Disney renaissance spearheaded by critical and commercial hit The Little Mermaid was still several years off.
But it’s also because The Last Unicorn is simply unlike anything else that existed at the time. From the stacked voice cast that included everyone from Mia Farrow and Alan Arkin to Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lee, to the earnestly twee soundtrack by the band America and its general refusal to fit into neat narrative boxes, it is a film that consistently makes surprising and unexpected choices of the deeply risky sort we still don’t often see today.
Actor Mustafa Shakir sounds starry-eyed when he explains why he said yes to playing Jet Black, one of the central characters of Netflix’s new “Cowboy Bebop.” Shakir had become a devotee of the anime show, which originally aired in Japan in the late ’90s and then helped launch Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block in the fall of 2001. “My thought was, this is like a gateway drug into anime,” he says, which was the case for many U.S. viewers who had yet to understand that not all anime is kiddie fare.Shakir, best known for playing Bushmaster on “Luke Cage,” was particularly intrigued by the way this anime paid loving tribute to American jazz, most explicitly through the character of Jet, an ex-cop and the paternal leader of an interstellar bounty-hunting crew, who named his spaceship — what else? — the Bebop.
But translating “Cowboy Bebop” to live action and satisfying the sky-high fan expectations around this beloved space-western was an imposing endeavor. The most persistent question on set was, “Is this Bebop-y enough?” (“That’s a real term, you know?” Shakir deadpans.) …“Cowboy Bebop” adds yet another layer to that debate: What happens when a production studio tries to assign race to a pop culture artifact where race is hinted at but not always made explicit? The race and appearance of all the main characters have been debated on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, but incensed online commentators went as far as smearing Shakir’s casting as “blackwashing” — a play on “whitewashing” and an accusation often lobbed at Black anime fandom in cosplay and fan art.
The original “Cowboy Bebop” does feature explicitly dark-skinned characters the Netflix version made sure to include. And in the accompanying art book, “The Jazz Messengers,” series creator Shinichiro Watanabe said that when developing the anime, he “paid a lot of attention to skin color.” But the original anime never mentions or discusses race; it stands to reason that in a near future where Earth was all but obliterated, its ideas about race would have vanished along with it.
… This tension has proved productive for Viswanath and his sisters, all of whom are involved today in various Yiddish projects—which is how Arun came to the idea of translating Harry Potter. What better way to pass on the legacy of Yiddish to another generation, he thought, than to translate one of the most popular works of children’s literature of all time? Seized with this inspiration, Viswanath began spending evenings away from his job at a tech startup translating the first book of the series, not knowing if he’d ever be permitted to publish it.
As it turned out, though, he wasn’t the only one.
When Rowling’s agent Blair connected Viswanath with Olniansky, the Swedish publisher found himself with what he described as “a pleasant problem”: He’d already been contacted by another Yiddish translator who had also begun translating the first Harry Potter novel. Given the significance of the project, Olniansky did not feel qualified to personally decide between the manuscripts, and so he submitted samples of both translations to two expert reviewers—Jean Hessel, the Swedish government’s official for Yiddish at the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore, and Mikhoel Felsenbaum, the noted Yiddish postmodern novelist living in Israel.
“Both of them picked Arun’s translation,” Olniansky told me, “so that’s the way we went.”…
…He published very little. One short story is known, “Told in the Mid-Watch,” in Sea Stories Magazine, 20 December 1922. (He claimed he gave up short story writing because it was too restrictive.) And he published only one novel, After the Afternoon (New York: D. Appleton-Century, [October] 1941), though it was retitled Aphrodite’s Lover and given a racy cover when it was reprinted in paperback in 1953.
After the Afternoon tells the story of the faun Lykos in Crete, who, after a tryst with Aphrodite, becomes a human being, endowed with immortality and able to enter the human body, male or female, of his choice. He passes through various incarnations, one at the bizarre court of an Egyptian king….
(8) REMEMBERING THE FOUNDER. The other day members celebrated the birthday of Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association founder Suzette Haden Elgin (1936-2015) by giving a reading of her poetry.
Poems by Suzette Haden Elgin read by SFPA board members Rocky Road to Hoe – read by Richard Magahiz No Contact – Read by Diane Severson Mori As for the Universal Translator – read by Jean-Paul L. Garnier
(9) RYAN OBIT. Voice actor and past ASIFA president Will Ryan died November 19 at the age of 72 reports Deadline. Ryan had a vast resume of genre credits, beginning with the pteranodon Petrie from Universal’s animated classic, The Land Before Time.
He’d go on to amass more than 100 screen credits in his nearly four-decade career…
Ryan voiced Willie the Giant for The Walt Disney Company in numerous projects over a 35-year period, last doing so in 2020. He voiced Peg-Leg Pete in the Oscar-nominated animated short Mickey’s Christmas Carol, reprising the role 30 years later in the Mickey Mouse short, Get a Horse!, which was also nominated for an Oscar. He also voiced the latter character, among others, in the beloved Disney Afternoon series DuckTales, and portrayed several, including a herd of Ogres, in Adventure of the Gummi Bears, which was the first animated series from Walt Disney Television. Ryan also had the opportunity to portray Tigger and Rabbit, and to provide the singing voice of Eeyore, for the long-running Disney Channel series Welcome to Pooh Corner, which aired twice a day for 17 years.
Throughout his career, Ryan also lent his voice to such classic animated films as The Little Mermaid, An American Tail, Thumbelina and A Troll in Central Park, along with multiple G.I. Joe series, the 1986 animated series Teen Wolf, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Family Guy and many more projects.
He also “wrote over 100 songs for Disney and the Jim Henson Company, seeing his songs get recorded by Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the gang; Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the gang; The Cat-In-The-Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Grinch and the gang; the Pointer Sisters, the Saguaro Sisters, Patti LaBelle, and more.”
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1973 — Forty-eight years ago, the film that launched the Westworld franchise premiered. Westworld was created by Michael Crichton wrote the screenplay and directed the film. It was produced by Paul N. Lazarus III. It starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin in the three primary roles. You may have noticed Majel Barrett as Miss Carrie, The Madame of the Westworld bordello.
Reception by critics was generally superb with Variety saying it had “superbly intelligent serio-comic story values.” And the Los Angeles Times called it “a clever sci-fi fantasy.” The New York Times which I swear doesn’t like SF films was the lone dissenting major newspaper as regards this film. Box office was great making almost eight million against a budget of just a million and a quarter. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent rating of seventy percent. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.
It was followed by a sequel, Futureworld which got nominated for a Hugo at Suncon, and a really short-lived CBS series, Beyond Westworld (five episodes). The HBO Westworld TV series is now in its third season with a fourth in production. The present series has not been nominated for a Hugo yet.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 21, 1851 — T. O’Conor Sloane. Editor of the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, from 1929 to 1938. And earlier on, Scientific American, from 1886 to 1896. (Died 1940.)
Born November 21, 1924 — Christopher Tolkien. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR and his father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. I’ll leave to this august group to discuss their merit as I’ve got mixed feelings on them. (Died 2020.)
Born November 21, 1942 — Al Matthews. Performer, best known for his appearance as Gunnery Sergeant Apone in Aliens. Other genre films were Omen III: The Final Conflict, The Sender, Superman III, The Fifth Element and Tomorrow Never Dies. He stated on his website that he was the first black Marine in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant, quite an honor indeed. (Died 2018.)
Born November 21, 1944 — Harold Ramis. Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
Born November 21, 1945 — Vincent Di Fate, 76. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once at Seacon ‘79; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
Born November 21, 1953 — Lisa Goldstein, 68. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo nominee at Nolacon II and Nebula finalist as well, and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. The quite excellent Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog which is one of the better ones I’ve read: https://lisa-goldstein.dreamwidth.org/
Born November 21, 1965 — Björk, 56. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic things. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere around here I’m sure. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.
Born November 21, 1982 — Ryan Carnes, 39. He was in two Tenth Doctor stories, “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks” in which he played Laszlo. He played Kit Walker / The Phantom in the miniseries of the same name which I’ve never even heard of until now, and has the lead as Chris Norton in Beyond the Sky, an alien abductee film.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
In the Bleachersshows some golfers who don’t seem to have their priorities in order.
Tom Gauld on supply chain problems faced by the magical realism industry.
(13) BABY YODA ON SNL. Last night on Saturday Night Live Baby Yoda showed off his new tattoos and talked about all the fun he was going to have in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
(14) ATTENTION MAMMOTH ENTHUSIASTS. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist, will do a live presentation: “Nat Geo Live: How to Clone a Mammoth” on The Broad Stage in Los Angeles on January 27-28, 2022. Tickets are available at the link.
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? National Geographic Emerging Explorer Beth Shapiro is one of the scientists investigating this intriguing possibility. From deciding which species should be restored to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild,the technical challenges and ethical considerations of de-extinction are substantial. Join Shapiro for a vivid exploration into the extraordinary cutting-edge—and controversial—science that is being used today to resurrect the past.
… Talking to Wolfhard now, the candidness remains. His answers, even the ones that hint of rehearsed, PR-approved sound bites, lack the disquietingly poised delivery that many young stars learn to perfect. Instead, Wolfhard uses “like” with reckless teenage abandon and meanders off course with details and anecdotes that excite him. There’s a lengthy tale about a tipsy Rami Malek imparting advice at a 2016 Critics Choice Awards after-party — “Did you really have fun tonight?” the older star implored of Wolfhard. “Because if you’re doing any of this stuff and you’re not having fun, you need to stop it immediately” — and an apologetic f-bomb as Wolfhard marveled at how “crazy” it is that he will potentially be the same age in “Stranger Things 5” as his older co-stars Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton were when they started the show.
Wolfhard shares “a lot” of scenes with Heaton in “Stranger Things 4,” which was delayed by covid and is finally due to arrive next summer, and said they became “incredibly close” during filming. In fact, he found a new appreciation for most of his castmates over the chaotic past two years. “When you start a show that young, there’s drama and there’s rivalries because it’s like school. And then you become older, and you stop caring,” he said. “I think it’s actually such an incredible thing to come back to each other and be like, ‘Wow, I really understand you. We’re all going through this thing together. I love you.’?”…
(16) BEST CAPTURE.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from the Royal Ocean Film Society argues that Spielberg’s 2011 The Adventures of Tintin was the best of the motion capture animated films of 2005-10 and the only one still worth watching today.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Tex Avery predicts the Internet in his 1949 cartoon “The Home of Tomorrow.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, Lise Andreasen, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) YOU COULD BE HEINLEIN. Once upon a time, in 2011, there was a role playing game called The Big Hoodoo. You might recognize some of the PC’s –
… The Big Hoodoo is Lovecraftian noir in 1950s California with a ripped-from-history plot centered on the explosive death of real-world rocket scientist, science fiction fan, and occultist Jack Parsons in a garage laboratory in 1952. The investigators are iconic figures active in the science fiction scene at the time of Parsons’ death, and their inquiries lead them from the mean streets of Pasadena to the edge of the Mojave Desert and the mountains of southern California as well as the beaches of Los Angeles.
Play sci-fi great Robert Heinlein, his ex-Navy engineer wife Virginia, renowned editor and mystery writer Tony Boucher, or a young Philip K. Dick as they confront the lunatic fringe in La-La Land, and find themselves caught in a charlatan’s web of chicanery, mendacity, and deceit-laced with a strong strand of mythos menace.
The adventure includes brief biographical hooks for the PCs to orient players to their investigators as well as suggestions for alternate and additional investigators. Brief rules for a magic system intended to evoke the Enochian “magick” invented by John Dee and Edward Kelley, adopted by Aleister Crowley, and passed on to Jack Parsons are appended, and are used in the adventure. It can be played as a convention one-shot, or serve as the basis for a slightly longer set of episodes covering two or three evenings of entertainment.…
Ugh, I didn’t run this game, but I’m glad I didn’t. The Keeper had prepared diligently for a Classic Trail of Cthulhu game. We, as players, shifted this scenario to a Pulp mode of play in pretty short order, then ran it off the road into the desert for a third mode of play: Fiasco.
To start our traffic accident, my pre-generated Robert Heinlein P.C. snatched an autographed copy of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics from a fan boy, then smacked him in the face with it, asking, “Why are you with this grifter’s cult, son? Nothing good will come from that snake oil salesman. I’m taking his book away from you. You’ll thank me later.”
From there, we swerved a bit between lanes, then launched off the shoulder of the road into insanity. Heinlein’s wife, also a P.C., engaged in a catfight with Heinlein’s ex-wife, flicking a lit cigarette into her eye to get a brawl at a prominent Satanist’s funeral rolling. Phillip K. Dick, another P.C., knocked back a lady cultist’s hip flask of space mead. He was tripping pretty hard, blowing through stability. The silliness didn’t stop. We piled on the antics like we were playing Fiasco Classic.
After five hours of play, three of the four pre-generated P.C.s died and did not die well. The sole survivor would go on to author a large catalogue of science fiction by way of trying to come to terms with what happened to him.
(2) WITH SIX YOU GET INSIGHT. In “6 Books with Adrian Tchaikovsky” at Nerds of a Feather, the author makes substantial and fascinating comments about a half dozen choices to curator Paul Weimer.
4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?
Gene Wolfe – The Shadow of the Torturer
So I bounced the hell of this when I was about 15. I saw rave reviews and I went in with great expectations and just could not get any of it. The language was opaque and the plots just seemed to go nowhere and basically just what the hell, man?
Fast forward to now: Wolfe is most definitely one of my all-time favourite authors. I just hit him too young, and with all the wrong expectations. He doesn’t write the sort of straightforward narrative I was anticipating, and there are puzzles within puzzles hidden in the story for the reader to disentangle – to the extent that I’m sure that there’s plenty in Book of the New Sun that I haven’t ever clocked, despite reading it multiple times. But that’s fine, because even those strata that I have exposed tell such a remarkably rich story on multiple levels. There is all the complexity of Severian and his own rather suspect take on events (Wolfe is the master of the unreliable narrator), and there is the incredible world built through Severian’s travels and reminiscences and chance mentions. Then again there’s a profound burden of philosophical speculation woven through the text, much of which I suspect has passed me by.
From a pure worldbuilding perspective, the New Sun books are a real education. Because you can build a world through saying too little and you can build a world through saying too much, and both ways can go wrong. Wolfe somehow manages to do both without it going wrong at all. There is a vast, living, breathing world in those books, seen through Severian’s fleeting attention and obsessions, so that we’re dragged hither and yon by his stream of consciousness. The overall impression, once you settle into the way the story is being told, is of a vastness of creation beyond the details on the page. And because, when Severian does want to give us a deep dive into some small aspect of his world, he really goes deep, the implicit assurance is that the same level of detail is waiting invisibly in absolutely everything else, even those aspects that he gives only the briefest mention of.
(3) DAVIDSON UPDATE. Amazing Stories’ Kermit Woodall gave a progress report about Steve Davidson’s recovery from heart surgery:
Steve is doing well at the hospital, will probably be discharged into a local extended-stay inn until he’s cleared for travel home.
(4) IT’S A FORD. Reviewers ooh-ed and ahhed when they found this book available on Netgalley. Tor Books will release it on September 21.
(5) NATIONAL THEATRE NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the May 14 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming discusses After Life, which will open at the National Theatre on June 2. The play is by Jack Thorne, who wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,
If you had to choose just one memory to live with through the whole of eternity, what would you choose? That’s the nigh impossible question posed in After Life, the new play that will reopen London’s National Theatre this summer.
Based on Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-ada’s beautiful 1998 film of the same name, After Life is set in a post-life institution, where a group of strangers grapple with this dilemma, sifting through their lives for the moment they want to preserve forever…
…The setting honours the low-key nature of the memories–a moment on a park bench; a cool breeze on a tram journey–and looks like the sort of half-remembered building you visit in dreams. For stage, the creative team has sought to preserve that quality. The play–a co-production with Headlong theatre company–is not a straight adaptation of the film but draws on the teams personal memories and a very British version of humdrum bureaucracy.
… Key to the film’s success was the unforgettable comic voice work delivered by a cast that included Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey and Cameron Diaz as the princess.
…Casting was still an issue when she [the director] came onboard. Diaz and Murphy were in place, but who would play the title character was up in the air. The former “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Farley was originally cast and had recorded many of his lines when he died at the age of 33 that year.
Jenson said she and her colleagues were big fans of “S.N.L.” and Mike Myers. “It kind of took a little selling to the studio because he was still breaking in, but he wasn’t the huge name that he is now,” she said.
(7) ANOTHER LOOK AT LOKI. Marvel dropped this teaser for Loki today.
The clock is ticking. Marvel Studios’ “Loki” arrives in three weeks with new episodes every Wednesday starting June 9 on Disney+.
The landmark survival horror video game series Resident Evil has shipped over 110 million copies worldwide. Popular characters Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield appear in this CG serialized drama, the first in series history! Don’t miss this new epic entertainment on a scale more spectacular than ever before!
(9) LIVINGSTONE OBIT. Actor and writer Douglas Livingstone died April 19 at the age of 86 reports The Guardian. Their tribute praises his primary genre credit:
His compelling six-part small-screen adaptation of The Day of the Triffids (1981), a rare excursion into sci-fi, remained faithful to John Wyndham’s novel, apart from re-setting the story from the 1950s to the near-future. One critic described it as “the most effective TV realisation of Wyndham’s writing”.
(10) GRODIN EULOGIES. Miss Piggy tweeted an appreciation of Charles Grodin who died yesterday.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 19, 1901 – George Pendray. Early rocketeer; co-founded the American Interplanetary Society (its successor Am. Inst. Aeronautics & Astronautics gives the Pendray Award); invented the time capsule, for the 1939 World’s Fair; coined the word “laundromat”; helped establish Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center at Cal. Tech., Guggenheim Labs at Princeton Univ., U.S. Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n. Wrote SF as science editor of Literary Digest, e.g. “A Rescue from Jupiter”. Co-edited The Papers of Robert H. Goddard. (Died 1987) [JH]
Born May 19, 1920 – Walter Popp. Prolific pulp illustrator for e.g. Amazing, Fantastic, Startling, Thrilling; see here. Also Gothic-romance fantasy, see here, some becoming limited-edition prints for fine-art galleries, see here. Outside our field, true-crime and men’s-adventure magazines, paperbacks including Popular Library; toy and sporting-goods manufacturers; greeting cards. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born May 19, 1921 – Pauline Clarke. Children’s fantasy The Twelve and the Genii won the Carnegie Medal and the Kinderbuchpreis. The Pekinese Princess has talking animals and trees. Thirty novels for various readers; Warscape, for adults, “lurches into the future”, says a remarkable 4,300-word Wikipedia entry. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born May 19, 1937 — Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer, then he was Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens, before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of all-time favourite films. Also an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 73. Singer, best known for a song about looking for a parking spot (link here), but also acts. In addition to other genre roles, she was a companion of Conan in Conan the Destroyer and a Bond Girl in View to a Kill. (AB) (Alan Baumler)
Born May 19, 1948 – Paul Williams. Created Crawdaddy! Literary executor of Philip K. Dick, co-founder of PKD Society, biography of PKD Only Apparently Real; worked with David Hartwell on Age of Wonders – also The Int’l Bill of Human Rights; edited vols. 1-12, Complete Works of Theodore Sturgeon; also The 20th Century’s Greatest Hits (including Winnie-the-Pooh; The Little Prince; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater), four on Bob Dylan, twenty more. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born May 19, 1955 – Elise Primavera, age 66. Author and illustrator of children’s books, some fantasy: The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls, Fred & Anthony Meet the Heinie Goblins from the Black Lagoon (as Esile Arevamirp), Marigold Star. Here’s a book cover. [JH]
Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 55. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Woman, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder). She also has a most excellent two-volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best. (CE)
Born May 18, 1981 – Kiera Cass, age 40. Seven novels, five shorter stories, many about the Selection in Illéa, which in KC’s fiction was once the United States. Among 100 things she loves: being married; elephants; paper; the sound of water; Japan; dipping her fingers in melted wax; not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase; small forks; voting; reasons to make wishes. [JH]
Born May 19, 1996 — Sarah Grey, 25. Before DC Universe cast the present Stargirl Brec Bassinger for that series, Legends of Tomorrow cast their Stargirl as this actress for a run of three episodes. The episodes (“Out of Time”, “Justice Society of America” and “Camelot 3000”) are superb. I’ve not see her as Alyssa Drake in The Order but I’ve heard Good Things about that series. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro finds a mundane moment in a fairy tale courtship.
Bliss shows it could matter what lunar explorers don’t find.
(13) AVENGERS SUIT UP. In partnership with Bandai Spirits of Japan, Marvel Comics will release a brand-new Avengers comic series this August: Tech-On Avengers. This collaboration will be a tokusatsu-inspired action-adventure comic series featuring stellar new armor designs for some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains. Tech-On Avengers #1 is out August 11.
When the Red Skull wields a strange new power that strips heroes of their powers and threatens the entire world, the Avengers turn to Tony Stark’s experimental new technology to save us all. Here come the Iron Avengers — TECH ON AVENGERS! Sleek high-tech power suits bristling with energy and amped-up attack power face off against super villains enhanced to match. It’s mechs and mayhem in the Marvel Mighty Manner!
Check out the cover by famous Japanese manga artist Eiichi Shimizu who contributed new character deigns for the series as well some action-packed interior artwork by Chamba.
The two greatest heroes of the DC Universe are coming back to long-form television at last. DC and Warner Bros. Animation, along with HBO Max and Cartoon Network, have announced two brand-new series based on Batman and Superman. And they both have incredible pedigree among their creative teams. A new animated era will soon begin for the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
HBO Max and Cartoon Network have greenlit a straight-to-series order for Batman: Caped Crusader. This is an all-new animated series and reimagining of the Batman mythology. It’s told through the visionary lens of executive producers Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams, and Matt Reeves. The series is jointly produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Bad Robot Productions, and 6th & Idaho….
(15) JUST ONE THING GOT IN THE WAY. Leonard Maltin wrote a tribute to the late actor who recently died at the age of 106: “Remembering Norman Lloyd”.
… He graciously welcomed my daughter Jessie and me into his home in 2018 to record an episode of our podcast. (click HERE to listen.) For Jess and many others her age, his role in Dead Poets Society is the first performance that comes to mind. And while he spoke of possible projects to take on he confessed, “I tell you what blocks me from really finding a property: the ball game every day. The ball game comes on and everything stops. In my ancient age, my trainer says, ‘You’ve got to walk so much every day. You’ve got to do these physical exercises’ and so forth. And I think that’s very good advice… And then the ball game comes on.”
… The other classic Martin touch is to be willing to “blow up Vulcan” and show a ground floor change in the status quo, as Tamsin’s vocal disability leads her to a way to use her voice in a way that is hitherto unknown in this world. If the spread and the use of Tamsin’s clever idea is maybe a little faster than it might be in reality, the power of the story of such a revolutionary change, especially since the consequences and advantages only come to mind with time, feels accurate and right. I suspect that the invention, which delighted me when I realized what Martin was doing (and I desperately do not want to spoil) is going to have permanent and long lasting impacts on her entire world. Martin’s world is not a static one where things remain the same without change for generations–inventions, ideas and the actions of people can and do make a difference and a lasting difference.
The publisher of Richard Montañez’s upcoming memoir, “Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise From Janitor to Top Executive,” is moving ahead with the book after a Los Angeles Times investigation found Montañez was not involved in the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
“During his 40+ years at Frito Lay, Richard Montañez repeated the story of his involvement with this product hundreds of times, in speeches, books, and media interviews,” Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Portfolio Books, said in a statement Tuesday. “Only now, just as his book is announced, are we suddenly hearing an alternate narrative about the development of this product, which seeks to diminish Richard’s contribution and to question the details of long-ago events.”
Zackheim says the book’s June 15 release date still holds.
“We are proud to stand with our author,” he continued. “Richard Montañez embodies the entrepreneurial spirit; we salute his dedication to inspiring people to own their own stories no matter what their circumstances.”
Parts of the memoir that recount Montañez’s story about inventing the product do not align with the archival record, which indicates that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos had already entered the market and were distributed to stores before the events Montañez describes. Frito-Lay conducted an internal investigation that concluded Montañez was not involved with the 1990 debut of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to The Times. “We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard,” the statement read, “but the facts do not support the urban legend.”
This is my second build from the Mandalorian, which has become one of my favorite bits of Star Wars in a long time. The project is based around figure from the 6 inch scale Black Series line. I used the electronics out of an old Fast Lane quad I had in my parts bin, and some upgraded motors and props. The shell is formed around the pod/egg from the new Mission Fleet line, and everything is packed carefully inside. This build tested my patience, and vision, at times trying to get all the electronics to fit into the tiny shell. I eventually broke out the magnifying gear when it was time to solder up the motors. The completed model weighs less than one ounce and is only about an inch wide!
[Thanks to, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Many award prognosticators are already predicting that Boseman, who died of cancer in August at the age of 43, could become the third actor—following Peter Finch in Network and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight—to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance. (At this point, his chief rival appears to be Riz Ahmed, who plays a punk-metal drummer beginning to go deaf in Sound of Metal. Ahmed has won several critics’ awards as well as the best-actor citation from the National Board of Review.)…
(4) ARGUMENT CLINIC. David Gerrold offered a new service on Facebook. This could be the coming thing.
At the suggestion of a friend, I am now charging $50 for 30 minutes of online argument.
Subject must be agreed on beforehand. (I reserve the right to decline.) Sources of data must also be agreed on before. (Fox News and other farce right sources will not be accepted. In return, I will forego CNN, NYT, Huffpost, Washington Post, and MSNBC)
Cerulean, azure, navy, royal … Much has been written about the color blue, the first human-made pigment. “Because blue contracts, retreats, it is the color of transcendence, leading us away in pursuit of the infinite,” wrote William Gass in his book On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Wassily Kandinsky once mused: “The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements of retreat from the spectator, of turning in upon its own center […] Blue is the typical heavenly color.”
And now, for the first time in two centuries, a new chemically-made pigment of the celebrated color is available for artists — YInMn Blue. It’s named after its components — Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese — and its luminous, vivid pigment never fades, even if mixed with oil and water.
Like all good discoveries, the new inorganic pigment was identified by coincidence….
…. “My step-grandmother, Dame Jean Conan Doyle, tried hard to stop the world doing what it liked with her father’s fictional characters. In the end she realised this was a fruitless exercise,” says Richard Pooley, director of the Conan Doyle estate and step- great-grandson of the author. “Instead she focused on giving her approval to those Holmes pastiches which were well-written and did not stray too far from Doyle’s characterisation. We have tried to do the same.”
The estate has authorised Horowitz’s sequels and Lane’s stories, but most Holmes adaptations come without the estate’s stamp of approval – not that that appears to put readers off. Pooley says that its approval comes down to the quality of the writing, and if the writer stays “true to Doyle’s depiction of Holmes’s and Watson’s characters” – meaning they don’t mind if Cumberbatch’s Holmes lives in modern London, or if Holmes and Watson are women, as in HBO Asia’s Miss Sherlock….
George will be in conversation with Los Angeles artist Connie Samaras, an avid admirer of Butler’s prose which served as the inspiration for her 2019 project “The Past is Another Planet”, an illustrious depiction of the Huntington Library, home to Butler’s archive.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 4, 1983 — Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 4, 1889 – Dorothea Faulkner. Two short stories, half a dozen poems, in If and Slant (there’s a range for you) and like that, under variations of “Rory Faulkner”, “Rory Magill”, “Dorothea M. Faulkner”. Active in the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society), serving a term as Secretary, and the Outlanders, also the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n). Often seen in Now & Then. With that and Slant you won’t be surprised to hear she attended Loncon I the 15th Worldcon (at age 68) and was made a Knight of St. Fantony. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born February 4, 1915 – Harry Whittington. For us, one Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel and four novellas, and an essay on Fredric Brown for this collection; outside our field, note first HW’s One Deadly Dawn was published as an Ace Double with Tucker’s Hired Target; HW wrote two hundred novels – fourscore in one twelve-year span – under a score of names; quite possibly King of the Pulps; see here. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born February 4, 1938 – Ted White, age 83. Perhaps our most been-everywhere-done-everything fan alive. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories; assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, then edited Amazing and Fantastic (concurrently!), Stardate; columnist for Algol and Thrust; “Uffish Thots” and “The Trenchant Bludgeon” in SF Review; active beyond measure there, in Izzard, New Frontiers, Raucous Caucus, Riverside Quarterly, Yandro, and indeed File 770. Interviewed by Schweitzer in SF Voices. One Hugo (as Best Fanwriter; often a finalist as a pro), three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. Chaired Lunacon 11-13. Organized FanHistoricon 9 but couldn’t attend. Variously Pro and Fan Guest of Honor at Bubonicon 4, DeepSouthCon 18, RavenCon 11, Aussiecon Two the 43rd Worldcon. Also musician and music critic (plays keyboards, saxophone). British Fantasy Award for Heavy Metal. Acidulous, enthusiastic, skeptical, strong; it would be a miracle not to think him sometimes wrong. [JH]
Born February 4, 1940 — John Schuck, 81. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn In “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? (CE)
Born February 4, 1940 — George A. Romero. Is horror genre or genre adjacent? Either way, he’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of him, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1941 — Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage which I never heard of, but you can see the premiere episode here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1959 — Pamelyn Ferdin, 62. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. (CE)
Born February 4, 1961 — Neal Asher, 60. I’m been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I last listened to The Line War and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). (CE)
Born February 4, 1962 — Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS related pneumonia. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born February 4, 1968 – Neve Maslakovic, Ph.D., age 53. From Belgrade to Stanford’s STAR Lab (Space, Telecommunications, And Radioscience) to writing fiction. Four novels, another due next month. Likes the Twin Cities winters. Has read Time and Again, A History of [Greek letter “pi”], Three Men in a Boat, nine by Wodehouse, five by Sayers, a Complete Sherlock Holmes, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. [JH]
Born February 4, 1968 – David Speakman, age 53. Until recently very active in the N3F, serving as Chair of the Directorate, editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan and Tightbeam; two Franson Awards, Kaymar Award, awarded a Life Membership. As to “recently”, he explains here. [JH]
Born February 4, 1990 – Zach King, age 31. Actor, author, digital-video illusionist. Three novels for us. Two London Film Festival first-place awards. A video of him apparently flying on a broomstick had two billion views in four days. “They rejected my application to Hogwarts but I still found a way to be a wizard.” Does he do it all with mirrors? Website. [JH]
I’ve been a Trekkie since TNG started in 1987, so when Chris Garcia and James Bacon asked me to guest edit an issue of Journey Planet, I did a whole Star Trek-themed issue. I reached out to people I know in the Trek community and asked them to write about how Star Trek had impacted their lives. I ended up receiving some really impactful stories, from a friend who had immigrated to the US finding a family, to another friend finding the courage to come out of the closet, all through Star Trek.
It was a game-changing experience for me to edit other people’s stories. Everyone has a story to tell, but everyone is at a different writing level. Some pieces I didn’t have to touch, while I spent hours editing others. I loved helping people tell their stories, and making sure those stories were heard.
I loved it so much I didn’t want to stop with one issue! After some careful thought, I decided to create my own Star Trek-themed fanzine. Monthly was too much for me to take on by myself, so I went with quarterly. I asked Women At Warp, a feminist Trek podcast, to write a regular column. (Since then I’ve joined the show as a co-host.) I passed out flyers at the big annual convention in Las Vegas soliciting submissions for the first issue. And I posted to various Star Trek Facebook groups looking for more….
…The Mandalorian Egg-Shaped Magic Hot Chocolate Melt from Galerie Candy is very similar to a hot cocoa bomb—but without the hot chocolate mix. Made of milk chocolate, it’s meant to be dissolved in a cup of hot milk to reveal the green Baby Yoda marshmallow inside. While it’s intended use is to make hot chocolate, you can easily eat the Baby Yoda treat as is.
David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss talk about the books they’ve been reading lately, ranging in length from novellas to a nine-volume, almost million-word opus written entirely in the form of letters. And a rather damp theme emerges…
(13) LIGHTEN UP. Frostbeard Studio adds a brand new bookish scent every month to its line of Book Lovers’ Soy Candles and Bookish Goods.
Follow your nose through the woods to a mysterious lamppost where you’ll embark on a magical adventure into wintry realms. You might be cozied up with blankets and a book, but you’ll feel like you’re being whisked away to a snowy, enchanted forest in another world.
(14) GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR. Camestros Felapton recommends this adaptation of a comic: “Review: Sweet Home”.
…The monsters feel like a cross between The Thing and Attack on Titan but that weirdness aside, the story gradually drifts into a more conventional zombie-apocalypse survival narrative. The small number of survivors trapped on the ground floor of the Green Home apartment bloc, must find ways to band together to protect themselves from the surrounding nightmare. In later episodes they have to deal with an intruding human gang, as well as the secret agenda of the army which (as per usual) knows more about the plague than they are letting on. Luckily, by this point the viewer is more invested in the fate of the ensemble of characters who range from shop keepers to an improbable combination of people with bad-ass backstories.
… Some of the DC villains and antiheroes called out in the synopsis include Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and “everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn.” Part of the Suicide Squad’s mission will see them dropped off “on theremote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
During the second season of “The Mandalorian,” Grogu, long referred to by fans as Baby Yoda, has been shown eating everything from a froglike alien’s eggs to fancy blue cookies. The popular Disney+ series could easily spawn a spinoff called “The Best Thing Baby Yoda Ever Ate.”
As of the seventh episode of Season 2, titled “The Believer,” Baby Yoda remains a captive of Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces. Hopefully, the Empire remembers to feed its prisoners, because Grogu is one hungry baby, if previous episodes are anything to go by.
Until Mando and Baby Yoda are reunited (and hopefully throw a celebratory feast), here’s a look back at everything Baby Yoda has been seen eating during the show so far.
How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?
I had a first draft that sat on my computer for a couple of years. It wasn’t bad, but it needed a polish. And the ending was unsatisfying. I offered it to Betsy Wollheim at DAW. I really admire her. She understands the genre better than most because she grew up in it. Her dad, Donald A. Wollheim, was one of the most underrated movers and shakers in the field. She suggested that I rethink the ending and I came up with a much stronger resolution, one that was a much better payoff. So I have to give her the credit for making Hella a better book.
(4) PRO TIP. In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Memory Yet Green he discusses how he continued to write letters in the pages of science fiction magazines even after he became a professional.
I began to enjoy less the writing of letters. Yet I did write them, and often quarreled with writers who objected to something or other in one of my stories–until I received a letter from the writer Nelson S. Bond (whom I met briefly at the World Convention in 1939, and never again), saying that now that I was a professional, I should stop slugging it out in fan columns. I took that seriously and from the moment I received that letter, I stopped writing letters to the magazines, except for very occasional ones that did not involve fannish comments. I have always been grateful to Bond for this word in season.
(5) TWO FIFTHS. Thanks to Jim Henley for this fine example of a File 770 trope – double fifths!
While nostalgia has had a place in tabletop roleplaying games ever since the field was old enough to have second editions—remember when tabletop roleplaying game nostalgia was new?—the recent Twilight 2000 Kickstarter is remarkable for the speed at which the project hit its funding goals: just seven minutes, a bit longer than it would take missiles launched from the Soviet Union to reach Britain.
First published in 1984, Twilight 2000 took as its background a mid-1990s Soviet-Chinese conflict that spiraled into a global war when East and West Germany tried to use Soviet distraction to reunify. By 2000 all sides are too exhausted to continue. Most campaigns begin as the war stumbles to a chaotic, exhausted halt.
T:2000 might seem to be an odd game to be nostalgic about. Perhaps it is a reflection of the Jason Mendoza principle: “Anytime I had a problem and I threw a Molotov cocktail, boom! Right away, I had a different problem.” …
Organizers of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo — where scantily clad models usually dress up as characters from comic books, movies and video games — say they will levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage.”
Men are not exempt from the crackdown on exposed flesh.
They will face the same penalty if they wear low-hanging pants or expose their underwear. If models are caught dancing in cages or around a pole they will be fined a whopping $1,600, as will anyone caught striking vulgar poses.
It’s the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China.
Under China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s creeping interference on the smallest details of Chinese life is being felt more and more. Censors have blurred the bejeweled earlobes of young male pop stars on television and the internet so that, in their mind, the piercings and jewelry don’t set a bad example for boys. Women in costumes at a video game convention were told to raise their necklines.
(8) BATMAN ’66 AND OTHER VINTAGE TV OPINIONS. [Item by Todd Mason.] From 1966: “At Issue; 65; What’s Happening to Television?” This episode of the monthly series from National Educational Television makes its points, sometimes less tellingly than its creators think it does, but writer Morton Silverstein and some of those interviewed sure get their boots in on Batman, the ABC series, to a remarkable degree. Also, the blithe use of “drama” to refer only to anthology series that don’t have a slant toward one established program category or another beyond that concept. Interesting to those who are students of popular culture and news medium self-justification.
“What’s Happening to Television?” is the topic explored by no fewer than twenty-two top personalities allied to the television industry. This hour program in National Educational Television’s “At Issue” series presents timely and critical observations on daily programs, news, TV ratings, government regulations and the role of advertising. “What’s Happening to Television?” is analyzed by network executives, news commentators, advertising people, writers and critics. They comment on the growth of television, from its infant days to its present giant development, when more than 35 million Americans watch their sets for some 3 hours daily. “What’s Happening to Television?” looks back into TV history, analyzing some of the early successes, commenting on present programs, and giving the viewer a glimpse of next fall’s offerings. Some of the questions discussed include: Will television ever live up to its potential? What is the real purpose? Who determines which programs are dropped? What is the role of the program sponsors? Is the public interest being protected? Is educational television the answer to more worthy programs? What can the viewer do to control the quality of programs coming into the family living room?
(9) GALANTER OBIT. Star Trek author Dave Galanter (1969-2020) died of cancer on December 12. Galanter has authored (or coauthored with collaborator Greg Brodeur) such Star Trek projects as Voyager: Battle Lines, the Next Generation duology Maximum Warp, The Original Series novels Crisis of Consciousness and Troublesome Minds, and numerous works of short Star Trek fiction.
“John le Carre has passed at the age of 89. This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit,” tweeted novelist Stephen King. Margaret Atwood said: “Very sorry to hear this. His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century.”
…After university, which was interrupted by his father’s bankruptcy, he taught at the prestigious boarding school Eton before joining the foreign service.
Officially a diplomat, he was in fact a “lowly” operative with the domestic intelligence service MI5 —he’d started as a student at Oxford — and then its overseas counterpart MI6, serving in Germany, on the Cold War front line, under the cover of second secretary at the British Embassy.
His first three novels were written while he was a spy, and his employers required him to publish under a pseudonym. He remained “le Carre” for his entire career. He said he chose the name — square in French — simply because he liked the vaguely mysterious, European sound of it….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 13, 2002 — On this date in 2002, Star Trek: Nemesis premiered. It directed by Stuart Baird and produced by Rick Berman from the screenplay by John Logan as developed from the story by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner. It was the fourth and final film to feature the Next Generation cast. It received decidedly mixed reviews, was a full-blown box disaster but currently has a decent fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 13, 1909 – Alan Barclay. Five novels, two dozen shorter stories; essays “Interplanetary Navigation” in New Worlds SF, “The Bow” in SF Adventures. “The Scapegoat” is in New Worlds SF 105 which has this neato Sydney Jordan cover. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born December 13, 1923 – Faith Jaques. Six covers, eight interiors for us. Here is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and here is an interior. Here is “The Flirtation of Two Mice”. Outside our field I know her for this; and here are some Christmas Waits. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born December 13, 1929 — Christopher Plummer, 91. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping now to General Chang in Star Trek:The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I see he’s in Twelve Monkeys which I’m not a fan of and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (CE)
Born December 13, 1940 – Ken Mitchell, age 80. Co-founded the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the S Playwrights Center. A novel, a shorter story, two covers for us (here is The Tomorrow Connection); six other novels, a dozen plays. Retired from the Univ. Regina English Department, tours as a cowboy poet. Order of Canada. Saskatchewan Order of Merit. [JH]
Born December 13, 1945 – Drew Mendelson, age 75. Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Maybe Cora Buhlert can explain why “Once I Built a Railroad” was translated as »Einst baute ich eine Eisenbahn« which means Once I built a railroad but Pilgrimage was translated as Die vergessenen Zonen der Stadt which isn’t a bad title for it but doesn’t mean Pilgrimage. [JH]
Born December 13, 1949 — R.A. MacAvoy, 71. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells so, do tell me about her other works. (CE)
Born December 13, 1954 — Tamora Pierce, 66. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, took her character Alanna through the trials of training as a knight; it sold very well and was well received by readers. She would win in 2005 the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, a rare honor indeed. (CE)
Born December 13, 1954 — Emma Bull, 66. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles, Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me. She’s also been in in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cat Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. (CE)
Born December 13, 1960 – José Eduardo Agalusa Alves da Cunha, age 60. (Agalusa the maternal, Alves da Cunha the paternal surname, Portuguese style.) Two novels for us: The Society of Reluctant Dreamers just appeared in English, 2019; The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize); a dozen others, shorter stories, plays, poetry, journalism, radio. Int’l Dublin Literary Award. [JH]
Born December 13, 1969 — Tony Curran, 51. Vincent van Gogh in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “Vincent and the Doctor” and “The Pandorica Opens”, the latter as a cameo. He’s had vampire roles in Blade II as Priest and Underworld: Evolution as Markus, and was Lt. Delcourt in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn to name but a few of his myriad genre roles. (CE)
Born December 13, 1978 – Lee Isserow, age 42. A score of novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; screenwriting; and the terrifying ABAM project, which means – yes – A Book A Month. Has read not only Breakfast of Champions but The Master and Margarita. [JH]
Born December 13, 1984 — Amal El-Mohtar, 36. Canadian editor and writer. Winner of Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past four years. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
In The Far Side, it looks like the coroner’s office has already picked up this extra sized decedent.
(14) IMAGINARY GIFT SHOP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post had a short feature where they asked writers to “dream up the presents that they’d love to parcel out this year but don’t exist.” Ken Liu says he wants a phone-sized device he can point at tweeters to see whether they are arguing in good faith or just being a troll. Ted Chiang says he wished the Web had evolved into a subscription-based servie where people paid for sites they visited with money instead of personal data. “A guide to gifts that don’t exist but should”.
It’s that time of the year when the nights grow long, the air grows cold, the festive lights go up and the year’s best books lists are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. But will any of them help you find that perfect book-gift for your friends who love science fiction, fantasy and horror? If not, we’re here to help….
The issue that had been bugging me was the inconsistent way of travelling between planets. In the films but also in The Mandalorian (less so in cartoons), characters fly in space ships between planets in two ways:
… Chesterton’s applied his penchant for logic in this article on “Santa Claus.” Along with providing a short history of the figure of Santa Claus in popular culture (particularly his origins, as the gift-wielding St. Nicholas of Bari in Medieval iconography), Chesterton offered a simple proposition: that a child’s ultimately ceasing to believe in Santa Claus, justified by the fact that Santa Claus is not real, is a precursor to that child’s ceasing to believe in God. And this, Chesterton explained, was a terrible phenomenon.
And then he admitted a surprising detail: “I startled some honest Protestants lately by telling them that, though I am (unfortunately) no longer a child, I do most definitely believe in Santa Claus.”
Elaborating on this decidedly ‘hot take,’ Chesterton stressed that he felt it was critical for children to believe in Santa Claus even after Santa Claus has been debunked as a real, flesh-and-blood man, because the Santa Claus that children know is ultimately a caricature of an actual saint; just because, Chesterton argued, he is not real to their eyes does not mean that he is not a genuine, spiritual entity….
What happens when you’re kidnapped from your family, tortured, and conditioned into being an assassin? You get River Tam. And also Alan, apparently. Therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright discuss what we can learn about coping with trauma from Summer Glau’s character River in Serenity and Firefly. They break down some of the symptoms of PTSD she exhibits, and some of the things that help her work through them and start healing. Even though most of us don’t live in a sci-fi future with space ships, space zombies, and space cowboys (along with psychics and lots of other fun), we can still learn a thing or two about how to heal from and deal with the trauma we do face in real life.
(19) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org is planning a series of Zoom Interactive Fan History Sessions.
For our first session, Rob Hansen is going to give us an historic tour of fannish Holborn, London. Rob is probably the most accomplished fan historian writing these days. As most of you know, he has written the history of British fandom, Then and has put together a number of books covering various aspects of British fandom. Find many of them here. Reserve the date: Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 11AM EDT.
Despite the pandemic, Rob has done video recordings around London, and with historic photos and live description will give us a tour that covers some household fannish names and places. He has worked with Edie [Stern] over the past several months to provide an interesting and fairly detailed coverage of London’s fan heritage. This one-hour session is based on tours which Rob has given to individual fans and also developed as a group tour after the last London Worldcon. Even if you have been on one of these tours, you will find some fresh sights and insights. Of course, Rob will be live on Zoom with additional material and to answer questions. Please send your RSVP to [email protected] as our Zoom service is limited to 100 participants.
(20) BEYOND INFINITY. Disney+ dropped a trailer for What if….? an alternate-universe animated series.
(21) MARTIANS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The New York Times puzzle page has a game called “Letter Boxed”, in which you make words out of letters arranged around a square. The idea is to use all the letters with as few words as possible: there is always a two-word solution. The two-word solution for Saturday 12/12 was “Visualizing – Grok”.
(22) EDUCATE YOURSELF. Ursula Vernon ladles out more life experience. Thread starts here.
It’s one small step for insects, eight steps for spider-kind.
“Arachnauts” flown to the ISS have revealed their secret backup plan when they can’t use gravity to figure out where they are when spinning their webs. Earth’s gravity is what normally helps them make a web optimal for catching dinner—and position themselves in it. Lamps accidentally placed above the spider experiment showed that when the arachnids lose their orientation in microgravity, they use light to find their way again….
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Hulk (2003) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that people who watched the 2003 Hulk expecting that Hulk would smash things will be disappointed by the first 45 minutes, which consist of nothing but brooding and that few people will be excited by the scenes where Hulk beats up a Hulkified French poodle.
[Thanks to Jim Henley, David Goldfarb, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) SFPA OFFICER ELECTIONS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association announced the outcome of its recent elections. Incumbent President, Bryan Thao Worra, was voted in to continue.The new Vice President is Colleen Anderson, and the new Secretary is Brian U. Garrison.
Alison Wilgus is a writer and cartoonist who’s been working in comics for more than a decade, and whose latest work is Chronin, a science fiction duology published by Tor. Their first professional gig was as a colorist and staff writer for Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door, and since then has been published by Scholastic, Del Rey, DC, Nickelodeon Magazine, Dark Horse, and First Second Books. They’ve also written works of graphic non-fiction, including The Mars Challenge (illustrated by Wyeth Yates) and Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared (illustrated by Molly Brooks). Alison is also co-host of Graphic Novel TK, a podcast about graphic novel publishing.
We discussed how their life might have gone an entirely different way if not for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, why they describe themselves to people as “a feral nerd,” how an unsolicited pitch on a Post-it note led to selling their first script, what fanfic taught them about writing professionally in other people’s universes, the best way to interact with sensitivity readers, why they’ve retired from Hourly Comics, what would have happened with Odo and Kira if their Deep Space Nine spec script been accepted, the big surprise about the way they made their first sale to Analog, and much more.
Star Wars fans, book lovers, and collectors from around the universe can use their powers to help libraries this holiday season. The Child (a.k.a. Grogu or Baby Yoda), the breakout star of Disney+’s hit series The Mandalorian, is featured in several new must-have products from the American Library Association (ALA), a 501c3 non-profit. All proceeds will fund advocacy, awareness, and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide.
ALA’s READ® campaign, supported by ALA Graphics, celebrates the joy of reading and the importance of lifelong learning. For more than 30 years, the iconic READ® posters have featured celebrities, musicians, award-winning authors and illustrators, and library advocates who’ve lent their star power to support our nation’s libraries.
Reminiscent of the original Yoda poster ALA Graphics offered in the early 1980s, The Child’s poster and bookmark continue the tradition of previous Star Wars™ READ® collaborations, including with C3PO and R2D2, as well as other timeless characters.
The collapse was on Tuesday morning, but yesterday the NSF made video of the catastrophic collapse available, and so many viewers asked I continue my long tradition of ‘coping by analyzing failure’ and document what I see in this footage. It’s hard to watch because this magnificent structure has always been part of the world of astronomy for me.
The video of that collapse comes from a monitoring system put in place in the wake of the cable failures. Due to the danger of further cable breaks, the NSF had instituted no-go zones around each of the three towers that supported the cables. With no personnel allowed to get close enough to inspect the cables, the staff started monitoring them using daily drone flights, one of which was in progress during the collapse. In addition, a video camera was installed on top of the visitor’s center, which had a clear view of the instrument platform and one of the support towers.
(6) ANSWERS FROM DAW BOOKS. Keystroke Medium hosted a “Behind-the-Scenes Look at Traditional Publishing” with Betsy Wollheim.
What do Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Mercedes Lackey, C.J. Cherryh, and Nnedi Okorafor all have in common? Besides being A-List fantasy wordcrafters, all were published by DAW Books. Tonight we meet the woman behind one of science fiction and fantasy’s most beloved publishing houses, DAW Books’ President, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief, Betsy Wollheim. Betsy’s here to pull back the curtain on what goes into the traditional publishing process, give you tips on how to get published, and discuss where she thinks the publishing world is headed.
…Midway was among the first to use digitized actors — walking, running, punching, all of it — in its games, giving them a simulacrum of reality unique to the time.
“Up until that point, in most games the artwork was hand-drawn,” said Tsui. “Japanese video game development houses back then were huge and had teams of artists drawing beautiful artwork. So what Midway brought in was this ability to digitize actors and get them into the game and make them look really great” — plus it was cheaper and faster than employing artists.
The documentary captures a moment in time when a homogenous workforce prompted nary a second glance in the world of video games, and it is a harbinger of many of the same issues that the industry is still working through today. More on that in a bit.
Tsui remains off-camera throughout the film, but his connection to Midway is personal. After attending Columbia College for film school, he worked at Midway from 1993 to 1999. “They hired me as a video artist. We couldn’t use a blue screen or green screen background to key out the actors, so for every frame of a character we would hand cut them out, pixel by pixel, to keep the image as clean as possible. That was one of my first jobs when I started working there and it was painstaking. But the teams working on a game were so small back then, usually about five people — nowadays it’s hundreds of people — so everybody had to multitask.” he said.
“The amount of hours we worked was just crazy. But it was almost like being in a secret society, where everybody had this passion for what they were working on. So even though we had these long hours, we would work all day for 10 or 12 hours, and then after work we would stay and play games with each other well into the night and then go home, sleep for a bit and rinse and repeat.”
(8) NEWSTEAD OBIT. Automata creator Keith Newstead has died reports The Guardian:
Keith Newstead, who has died aged 64 of cancer, was the UK’s pre-eminent maker of automata – artistic mechanical devices that are built to look like human or animal figures and which give the illusion of acting as if under their own power.
Newstead had a straightforward, even humble relationship with his chosen artform. Although his work drew on a rich tradition of makers of kinetic art from Leonardo da Vinci to Jean Tinguely, he considered himself an entertainer as much as an artist, and was unconcerned with raising the status of automata as sculpture. Instead he wanted, as he put it in 2015, to “bring enjoyment and entertainment to both young and old alike.”
An example of his work is the Gormenghast Castle Automata.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2010 — Ten years ago, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making wins the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy with Kage Baker’s Hotel Under the Sand coming in second and Sarah Beth Durst’s Ice placing third. Valente’s novel was first published online at her website, so it was the first book to win the Norton award before traditional publication by Feiwel & Friends. It would also win a Nebula. The series would eventually reach five novels. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 4, 1886 – Lawrence Stevens. Seventy covers, two hundred eighty interiors. Here is the Mar 44 Famous Fantastic Mysteries (note “The Man Who Was Thursday”). Here is a 1948 interior. Here is the Jan 49 Super Science. Here is an interior for “The Eye of Balamok”. Here is the Jul 52 Amazing. Outside our field, newspaper cartoonist, designer & illustrator for General Motors. Knew Conan Doyle in Belgium. (Died 1960) [JH]
Born December 4, 1937 — David Bailie, 83. He played Dask in “The Robots of Death,” a Fourth Doctor story, and also appeared in Blake’s 7 as Chevner in the “Project Avalon” story. Also he played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Intriguingly he shows up in The Creeping Flesh film which starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. (CE)
Born December 4, 1945 — Karl Edward Wagner. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as it was originally written by the author. He is quite likely best known for his invention of the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman who I think is in as many as thirty novels by Wagner. Anyone here read all of them? Rhetorical question I know as I’m someone here will have. I ask because I don’t think I’ve read more than a few. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of stories by authors of the Golden Age pulp magazines. Anything I left off that folks should know about him? (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born December 4, 1945 – Bill & Dick Glass, age 75. Of these two too little-known now fans I can tell too little now. Bill’s interior for Double:Bill 13 (thus triple Bill?) was just reprinted in Afterworlds; he had reviews in Delap’s, Shangri-L’Affaires, SF Review, Thrust. Dick had a graphic-novel treatment of “The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm” (The Fellowship of the Ring Bk. 2 ch. 5) and an essay about doing it in I Palantir, a short story in Nova 3. [JH]
Born December 4, 1949 – Richard Lynch, age 71. In the famous misspelling of Rick Sneary (rhymes with very; most of us didn’t realize the “Snearyisms” were unintentional, bad health kept him out of school, although brilliant he never learned to spell), a publishing jiant. RL and wife Nicki Lynch did Chat for their local club in Chattanooga, then won six Best-Fanzine Hugos with their remarkable Mimosa , see here. Rebel Award for both, Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon XI, Chattacon XV, DeepSouth Con 40, Conucopia the 7th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). RL edited the Souvenir Book for Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon; he now and then publishes My Back Pages. [JH]
Born December 4, 1951 — Mick Garris, 69. Best remembered for his work in the horror genre. He has worked with Stephen King several times, such as directing Sleepwalkers, written by King and starring Mädchen Amick, and on the Bag of Bones series. Garris was also the co-screenwriter and executive producer of Hocus Pocus, and he’s the creator of the Masters of Horror series. (CE)
Born December 4, 1954 — Tony Todd, 66. Let’s see… He was a memorable Kurn in Next Gen and Deep Space Nine, he plays Ben in Night of the Living Dead, he’s of course the lead character in the Candyman horror trilogy, William Bludworth in the Final Destination film franchise, Cecrops in Xena: Warrion Princess and Gladius on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Those are just selected highlights. He reprises the lead role in the forthcoming Candyman. (CE)
Born December 4, 1954 – Sally Kobee, F.N., age 66. Bookseller and filker. See here for her and her late husband Larry Smith. SK & LS chaired World Fantasy Con in 2010, SK chaired in 2016 and also Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 & 10. Both were Fan Guests of Honor at Windycon XXVII; elected Fellows of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). [JH]
Born December 4, 1957 – Kathryn Reiss, age 63. A dozen novels for us, nine others. Fulbright Scholar. American Lib’y Ass’n Best Book for Young Adults award, three YA Lib’y Services Ass’n awards. Professor of English at my mother’s alma mater, Mills. [JH]
Born December 4, 1957 — Lucy Sussex, 63. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carr-led workshop. And she’s an editor as well having edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. She’s won three Ditmar Awards, an A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed! I’ve not heard of her before now, so I’ve not read her, so who has read her? (CE)
Born December 4, 1974 – Anne Gray, age 46, the Netmouse. Poet and physicist. Five years working with Cheryl Morgan on Emerald City. Chaired ConFusion 30-31 & 35. Fan Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2008. Reviews in Subterranean Online. Born Anne Gay, became Gray with husband Brian Gray, jointly TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegates. She was Murphy for a while, and seems to have been in Yellow Springs, Ohio, during November 2009; speaking of which, Netmouse, how’s Wellspring? [JH]
Born December 4, 1989 — Nafessa Williams, 31. She had only two genre roles but with the first being the revival series of Twin Peaks where she was Jade. The other is what gets her Birthday Honors — She’s Anissa Pierce who is the Thunder superhero on the Black Lightning series. Superb series, great character! (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side can tell the difference between Frankenstein and Fred Astaire.
The New Yorker has a weekly Cartoon Caption Contest. Bruce Arthurs noticed: “This week’s has two dinosaurs (I think?) conversing; one is wearing a rainbow-striped propeller beanie, which reminded me of Ray Nelson’s beanie cartoons in old fanzines.” The cartoon is here.
The online webcomic “Could Be Worse” offered their take on paleontology today
(12) FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA sold rights to several companies for mining concessions for the Moon, including one to Lunar Outpost for $1 because NASA believed the company had the capacity to launch mining efforts. “NASA names companies that will mine moon”.
NASA announced Thursday that several companies had won contracts to mine the moon and turn over small samples to the space agency for a small fee. In one case, a company called Lunar Outpost bid $1 for the work, a price NASA jumped at after deciding the Colorado-based robotics firm had the technical ability to deliver.“You’d be surprised at what a dollar can buy you in space,” Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said in a call with reporters.
But the modest financial incentives are not the driver of the program. Nor to a large extent is the actual lunar soil. NASA is asking for only small amounts — between 50 and 500 grams (or 1.8 ounces to about 18 ounces). While there would be scientific benefits to the mission, it’s really a technology development program, allowing companies to practice extracting resources from the lunar surface and then selling them.It would also establish a legal precedent that would pave the way for companies to mine celestial bodies in an effort blessed by the U.S. government to help build a sustainable presence on the moon and elsewhere.
To do that, NASA says it needs its astronauts, like the western pioneers, to “live off the land,” using the resources in space instead of hauling them from Earth. The moon, for example, has plenty of water in the form of ice. That’s not only key to sustaining human life, but the hydrogen and oxygen in water could also be used as rocket fuel, making the moon a potential gas station in space that could help explorers reach farther into the solar system….
Two classified reports from the Pentagon’s task force used to “detect, analyze and catalog” UFOs have been leaked, both of which include photos of unidentified objects….
The leaked photo, taken off the East Coast of the U.S. by a “pilot’s personal cell phone,” was a part of the 2018 position report, one source told the news outlet. This report discussed what the unidentified silver “cube-shaped” object could be, with a list of possible explanations discussed, including the fact it could be “alien” or “non-human” technology.
The 2020 photo, which has been leaked but is not widely available yet, is described as a triangle with white lights in each corner. This may be the more interesting photo, Nick Pope, a former employee and UFO investigator for Britain’s Ministry of Defense, told Fox News.
“I’m more interested in the fact that this first photo has been leaked, and in the related leaking of information about the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Task Force, where serving intelligence community personnel have shared insights from two intelligence position reports,” Pope said via email. “With my own defense background in this subject, three things stand out. Firstly, the description by one insider of the reports as ‘shocking’ — a word that begs the question what about UAP do these people find shocking. Secondly, the fact that the intelligence reports seem to have been given a surprisingly wide distribution in various intelligence agencies, and thirdly, the fact that the extraterrestrial hypothesis seems genuinely not to have been taken off the table.”
Pope added he expects further leaks, noting he believes there is “a faction within government clearly wants this information to be released to the public.”
A Taiwanese man was forced to part with his PlayStation 5 last month after his wife discovered that he had lied to her about it being an air purifier, Taiwan News reports.
This heartbreaking story comes courtesy of Jin Wu, who turned out to be the lucky recipient of Sony’s next-gen console. Wu detailed his interaction on Facebook, claiming that one day after agreeing to buy the PlayStation 5 from a reseller in person, he called the individual he believed to be a man on the phone only to hear a woman pick up.
After his brief conversation with the mysterious woman, Wu could ascertain that she didn’t know much about the PS5, but was adamant about selling it, even at a remarkably low price…
…Now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, Simard, who is 60, has studied webs of root and fungi in the Arctic, temperate and coastal forests of North America for nearly three decades. Her initial inklings about the importance of mycorrhizal networks were prescient, inspiring whole new lines of research that ultimately overturned longstanding misconceptions about forest ecosystems. By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Resources tend to flow from the oldest and biggest trees to the youngest and smallest. Chemical alarm signals generated by one tree prepare nearby trees for danger. Seedlings severed from the forest’s underground lifelines are much more likely to die than their networked counterparts. And if a tree is on the brink of death, it sometimes bequeaths a substantial share of its carbon to its neighbors….
For the first time, scientists believe they might be able to show that Schrödinger’s cat could exist in real life—not just in thought experiments. With larger and larger quantum objects, they say, a superpositioned cat seems inevitable. In the meantime, the scientists only have to figure out what’s preventing superpositioning at all in the largest quantum objects.
This one gets a little wavy gravy, so let’s first go over what Schrödinger’s cat even is. It’s a thought experiment, or what cognitive philosopher Daniel Dennett might call an intuition pump, that leads people to a new understanding of quantum mechanics. First, you put a hypothetical cat in a box. Then you basically flip a coin, and either the cat is killed or not killed inside the box.
The box remains closed and opaque the entire time, and there are no weasely workarounds like listening to the cat or seeing the box move. Is the cat alive or not? Since there’s no possible way to tell, the cat is effectively both alive and dead. Like a quantum particle, it’s superpositioned in two states at once.
From this description, you can see why the idea of a “real” Schrödinger’s cat is so stupefying. If a complex mammal could experience superpositioning, that would unlock far-out ideas like teleportation.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
“The Mandalorian” teed up the arrival of Ahsoka Tano two episodes ago and judging from the speed and cameo size of the show thus far, viewers would have been forgiven for thinking we might only get a small glimpse of the Jedi this episode. But that thought was immediately sliced in half by two white lightsabers….
It’s been one week since eagle-eyed viewers discovered an unexpected blooper on The Mandalorian, as a regular-clothed member of the crew was spotted in the background of one of the scenes of the hit Disney+ TV series.
However, despite “Jeans Guy” quickly becoming a bit of an Internet sensation, the production gaffe — which even appeared in production stills for the series — has since been digitally removed from the episode by the streamer and Lucasfilm….
How did you feel when you first started out at DAW?
It was very difficult working in an office between my mother and my father for ten long years. But I stayed because I loved the work and realized that was what I was meant to do.
(4) LASFS. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has named Susan Fox as the winner of the Evans-Freehafer Award for club service – specifically, her work this year facilitating the club’s virtual meetings.
I would like to propose some terminology for a particular type of headcanon that can be applied across many media, though centered around actor-based media like movies and TV based on actor-transitivity and character-transitivity: the Universal Transitive Headcanon (UTH). This proposal will be the basis of a series of posts that I intend to write analyzing movies, books, comics, and other media through the UTH.
For those who are not familiar with the term, “headcanon” refers to an unofficial interpretation of a work of fiction, which may or may not have any support in the source material, but which are not part of the official canon as defined by the source material.
…The foundational concepts of the Universal Transitive Headcanon are:
Actor-Transitivity: Every character played by a single actor is part of the same continuity. For example, this would dictate that Darth Vader and Mufasa are part of the same character story….
(6) BATMAN HISTORY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “How Batman Changed The World” on Screen Rant is a Batman documentary on YouTube that explains how the best Batman stories, including “Batman: The Animated Series” and the films of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, have room both for strongly realized Batman characters and strongly realized descriptions of Bruce Wayne. This includes a description of historian Mark Bolderman’s efforts to find Bill Finger’s heirs and get them to successfully sue Warner Brothers for co-creator credit (which first happened on Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice.” This dropped today.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2005 — Fifteen years ago, China Miéville’s the Iron Council novel would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award besting Ian McDonald’s River of Gods, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Richard K. Morgan’s Market Forces, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World. It follows Perdido Street Station which also won this Award and The Scar which was nominated for this Award in the Bas-Lag universe series. It would also win the BFA August Derleth Fantasy Award for Best Novel and place well in the Hugo Award for Best Novel that year as well.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldrdge and John Hertz.]
Born November 27, 1935 — Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series. She appeared in the fan-made Doctor Who tribute “A Happy Ending” in 2005. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born November 27, 1951 — Melinda M. Snodgrass, 69. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation including “The Measure of a Man” which was nominated for a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award and served as the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for Sliders, Strange Luck, Beyond Reality, Odyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s co-editor and a frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. Of her novels, I like her Queen’s Gambit Declined the best. CE)
Born November 27, 1957 — Michael A. Stackpole, 63. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels. (CE)
Born November 27, 1961 — Samantha Bond, 59. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. Was Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. (CE)
Born November 27, 1963 — Fisher Stevens, 57. He’s best remembered as Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and renamed Ben Jahveri in the sequel), Chuck Fishman on Early Edition, and Eugene “The Plague” Belford in Hackers. He’s alsomhad roles on The Hunger, Lost, The Mentalist, Medium and Elementary. (CE)
Born November 27, 1974 — Jennifer O’Dell, 46. Her only meaningfu role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on SirArthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World but what a pulp heroine she made there. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield and Dr. Laurie Williams on Vampire flick Slayer but nothing major to date. (CE)
Born November 27, 1907 – L. Sprague de Camp. Aeronautical engineer and author; as Fancyclopedia 3 says “not primarily a fan but a very fannish pro”; famous for fantasy often rooted in science; good-natured and playful when he accepted the rules; tireless materialist and debunker, with all that brought. A hundred books, far more shorter stories, four hundred essays, two hundred reviews, a hundred poems. Guest of Honor at Tricon the 24th Worldcon (1966) and many SF conventions thereafter, e.g. Balticon 3 &17, Boskone 9, Lunacon 20, LibertyCon 1, 5 & 10. Forry Award, Pilgrim Award, Int’l Fantasy Award, SFWA Grand Master, World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, Sidewise Award for Life Achievement in Alternative History. Productive collaborator with e.g. Lin Carter, Robert E. Howard, Fletcher Pratt, Catherine Crook de Camp. Biographer of Howard and Lovecraft. Fiction and study guides about Conan the Barbarian. One Hugo, for his memoir Time and Chance. The Incomplete Enchanter, see the NESFA Press omnibus. Tales from Gavagan’s Bar, get the Owlswick ed’n if you can; the Bantam lacks the illustrations; the Kindle I’m told has goofs. Outside our field notably The Ancient Engineers. My anecdote here (11th paragraph, but you’ll need the 4th). (Died 2000) [JH]
Born November 27, 1909 – James Agee. One novelette for us, which he got published in Harper’s; very worthy outside our field, see here. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born November 27, 1916 – Earl Singleton, Sc.D. His Nepenthe was the first fanzine devoted to poetry. Journeyed from Boston to Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon (1940) with Art Widner in AW’s car the Skylark of Foo, no small adventure then. Later great outside our field. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born November 27, 1928 – Josh Kirby. Three hundred covers, two hundred interiors. Artbooks Voyage of the Ayeguy, The Josh Kirby Poster Book, In the Garden of Unearthly Delights, A Cosmic Cornucopia, Josh Kirby’s Discworld Portfolio. British Fantasy Award for Best Pro Artist. Here is New Writings in SF 13. Here is The Jagged Orbit. Here is A Bad Day for Ali Baba. Did the Two of Cups for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF). (Died 2001) [JH]
Born November 27, 1942 – Marilyn Hacker, 78. Nat’l Book Award, Barnstone Translation Prize, PEN (Poets, Essaysts, Novelists) Award for Poetry in Translation, Fagles Translation Prize, PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Lambda Literary Award, Marshall Poetry Prize, Lorde Award, Conners Prize, Masefield Memorial Award, NY Writers Hall of Fame, Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters Literary Award. Chancellor of the Amer. Acad. Poets. Edited Quark with Delany; his Babel-17 has chapter epigraphs from her poems. [JH]
Born November 27, 1960 – Lori Wolf. Hugo Ceremony Manager at LoneStarCon 2 the 55th Worldcon. Co-chaired ArmadilloCon 15 & 23. Reviews in Nova Express. Fan Guest of Honor at Conestoga 6 and much missed. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born November 27, 1974 – Lisa Mangum, 46. Three novels, four shorter stories, four anthologies. Lives in Utah, likes trips to Disneyland. Has read The Secret Lives of Codebreakers (I myself recommend Between Silk and Cyanide), Stephen King’s On Writing, The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook, Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against Television Since 1953. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Pluggers says you are one (a plugger) if this genre idea is your ambition.
Self-described “nerd” John Horgan flashed a Vulcan salute while being sworn in as B.C.’s 36th premier on Thursday, but said the gesture was purely accidental.
Horgan had his hand raised to recite the oaths of allegiance, office and confidentiality with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin when his fingers slowly formed the salutation made famous by Leonard Nimoy on “Star Trek.”
While speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Horgan acknowledged making the gesture but suggested he did it subconsciously.
“Quite honestly it wasn’t until after it happened that it was brought to my attention,” Horgan said. “I’m a nerd, I can’t help it. I do that a lot.”
The premier stressed that he meant no disrespect giving the salute during a formal ceremony, and that it wasn’t an intentional “signal to geeks everywhere.”
This Darth Vader clapper responds and talks each time you clap your lights on or off. Just clap twice to turn you lights on, and he’ll say “The force is strong with this one”, and clap twice again to turn your lights off, and he’ll respond with “You underestimate the power of the dark side”. Just plug your lamp into the bottom of him, and plug him into any wall outlet.
Okay, this is what everybody I know is getting for Christmas!
… Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968, the Futoro house is one of only 100 ever built.
…Futuro homes were originally intended to be ski cabins that would be easy to built and heat, with the end result being transportable homes that could be dismantled and reassembled in two days — or even airlifted in one piece if required.
(13) PUPPET TIME CAPSULE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Art Carney Meets Peter And The Wolf with The Bil Baird Marionettes” on YouTube is a show originally broadcast on ABC on November 30, 1958, as a puppet-based musical with music by Sergei Prokofiev and lyrics by Ogden Nash. The video includes 10 minutes of an interview Ed Sullivan did with Walt Disney (and Donald Duck) at the Disney studios in 1953.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]