By John Hertz: We’ll discuss three Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon XLVIII, to be held November 25-27, one discussion each. Come to as many as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in.
Our operating definition is “A classic is a work that survives its own time. After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.” If you have a better definition, bring it.
Each of the three is famous in a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published. Have you read them? Have you re-read them?
Charles Harness, The Paradox Men (1953)
Five crises have fused the Americas together; the Imperator is dead, leaving his widow Imperatrix Juana-Maria Chatham-Perez; there’s aristocracy, and a Society of Thieves rigorously trained who steal from the rich to buy freedom for slaves. Dueling. Research stations on the Sun. A star-drive is being tested, based on the square root of -1 and an acceleration of several million gravities. The hero doesn’t know who he is.
Robert A. Heinlein, Time for the Stars (1956)
The Long Range Foundation starts looking for identical twins – because a very few have proved to be telepathic – and rigorous tests can’t find that telepathy takes any time – so it looks promising for messages from starships traveling light-years away. The ships go. There are adventures. Eventually there are consequences – indirect ones – fruitful ones.
C.L. Moore, Doomsday Morning (1957)
Where others rant, this author lights a lantern: looking, as a Star Trek fan sang, at both sides now. Or more. Moore shows her fictional society, its fictional technology, through the human element; always the human element. And we learn why the actor-director protagonist is told he has to put on his play without changing the script even a little.
The Justice Department is suing to block Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster, arguing that the combination of the two book business giants “would likely harm competition in the publishing industry.”
Tuesday’s complaint in United States District Court is one of the first major antitrust actions by the Biden administration.
The publishers said they are prepared to defend the deal in court, calling it “a pro-consumer, pro-author, and pro-book seller transaction.”
Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster are two members of the “Big Five,” the industry’s term for the five biggest publishers in the United States.
In a court filing on Tuesday, DOJ lawyers said the companies should not be allowed to combine because it “would give Penguin Random House outsized influence over who and what is published, and how much authors are paid for their work.”
In a publishing landscape dominated by a handful of mega corporations, Penguin Random House towers over the others. It operates more than 300 imprints worldwide and has 15,000 new releases a year, far more than the other four major U.S. publishers. With its $2.2 billion proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House stood to become substantially larger.
The deal was challenged amid a shifting atmosphere in Washington toward consolidation, where there has been increased scrutiny on competition and the power wielded by big companies like Amazon and Facebook. The move provides a window into how the Biden administration will handle these concerns going forward.
Rather than concerns solely over harm to consumers, the Department of Justice said the acquisition could be detrimental to producers — in this case, authors — in what is called a monopsony, as opposed to a monopoly. The Biden administration filed its case against Penguin Random House in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
A combined statement issued by Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster contends:
“DOJ’s lawsuit is wrong on the facts, the law, and public policy,” Daniel Petrocelli, Vice Chair of O’Melveny & Meyers and PRH’s lead trial attorney, said. “Importantly, DOJ has not found, nor does it allege, that the combination will reduce competition in the sale of books. The publishing industry is strong and vibrant and has seen strong growth at all levels. We are confident that the robust and competitive landscape that exists will ensure a decision that the acquisition will promote, not harm, competition.”
PRH and S&S’ attorneys make additional arguments in the linked statement.
(2) CLIMATE FUTURES. The “Crafting Climate Futures: From Story to Policy” webinar on Monday, November 8 is cohosted by ASU’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative and the Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures at the University of Liverpool. It features three of ASU’s Climate Imagination Fellows—Xia Jia, Hannah Ongowue, and Vandana Singh—along with Kim Stanley Robinson, and the moderator is Adeline Johns-Putra, a professor of literature at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and author of the book Climate Change and the Contemporary Novel. Begins 5:30 a.m. Pacific.
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow presents an opportunity for decisive global action amidst escalating climate chaos. Now, more than ever, we need narratives of positive climate futures alongside coordinated interventions in order to ameliorate the crisis. Join the University of Liverpool’s Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures and the Climate Imagination Fellows at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination for a session dedicated to exploring the stories that might catalyze new understandings and connect narrative interventions to transformations in policy, governance, and culture.
(3) FOR YOUR REFERENCE. Susan Guthmann Henry saw yesterday’s Scroll item about the Texas legislator who has put together a list of 850 books and is demanding that schools in the state tell him if they have these books in their libraries and how much they have spent on them, and the discussion in comments about the seeming random order of the list. “It occurred to me that there might be a way to make the 16 page Matt Krause list ‘easier’ to look through. So, I downloaded it, converted it to a spreadsheet, and made two lists, one that is alphabetical by title and one that is alphabetical by author.” Many thanks! Here are the Excel spreadsheets:
Cora Buhlert joins us to discuss C.L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry”, used book store finds, kisses as stand-ins for sex, the appropriateness of using genre to explore our fear of sexual violence, cozy stories, writers being inspired by their peers, comparing and contrasting Conan and Jirel as characters, employing undead suckers, the influence of comics on the early pulps, her work with Henry Kuttner, fictitious France, C.L. Moore’s reemerging popularity, and much more!
… At first glance, Murder at Full Moon seems to consist primarily of the clichéd routines and tropes of detective fiction circa 1930: the whodunnit structure; the eccentric but all-knowing detective; the hapless sidekick; the events that abide by “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories” laid out by S. S. Van Dine in 1928 and by the “Ten Commandments” for mystery stories conceived of by Ronald Knox in 1929; the gathering of the characters at the end to watch the detective reveal and apprehend the murderer; and so on. A superficial reading of Murder at Full Moon could indeed lead one to claim that it is “a shameless commercial satire of pulp-detective novels” or “a cynical attempt at a standard commercial mystery-thriller.” But what Steinbeck clearly attempted to do, and mostly succeeded at doing, was tell a mystery story about mysteries as they were written in 1930, and to challenge his fellow mystery authors to write more ambitious material in a more intelligent way — to step up their game….
Tide charts — a stack of books on constellation mythology — an elaborately sketched map — a bulletin board covered in illustrations of obsolete technology — research on textiles, naming conventions, architecture and a dozen ways to cook lentils — what could it all mean?
It means worldbuilding. Big worldbuilding. Elaborate worldbuilding. Obsessive worldbuilding. Dare we say… masochistic worldbuilding?…
(7) LAWRENCE PERSON ON HOWARD WALDROP’S YEAR. Howard Waldrop related the details of his very tough medical year to an audience at Armadillocon, and Lawrence Person has signal-boosted what he said.
These topics were covered at his interview at Armadillocon in October 2021, and as they’re now public knowledge, here is the concise summary of Howard Waldrop’s trials and tribulations from late 2020 through 2021:
He had to deal with an infestation of bedbugs in his apartment.
He was involved in a minor car wreck in a driving rainstorm that totaled his car (but inflicted no serious injury).
Had to deal with the legal fallout from that (since cleared up).
Suffered a series of minor falls.
Found out he had kidney stones that were too large to pass.
Had his kidney stones zapped with lasers via a tube up his urethra (a very science fictional future, but not the one he was hoping for). As a result of which…
“I pissed blood and gravel for a week.”
His power went out for several days as part of the Texas ice storm (second coldest recorded temperature in Austin history).
Suffered a major fall that broke his shoulder ball and socket, and left him unable to reach his cell phone to call for help.
Spent a day crawling around on the floor of his apartment.
Ended up barfing on himself just before Brad Denton and Martha Grenon came to his apartment to check on him.
Went to the hospital, by which time he was already suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis.
Got his bone set and his blood sugar stabilized.
He spent weeks recovering at two different recovery centers.
By which time he was suffering gastrointestinal distress, which was traced to a perforated colon.
Which required the removal of several feet of lower intestine and installing a colostomy bag.
“They’ve removed my ass. I have no ass.”
Moved into an assisted living facility, where he’s recovered nicely. “The food is really good.”
This summary is quite condensed but chronologically accurate and Howard-approved. And I’ve actually spared you a few bodily function details.
Howard’s close circle of caregivers has been keeping a lid on all this until Howard was recovered enough to reveal it to the public at large.
On the bright side, he lost enough weight that he’s no longer diabetic, and several of his short stories have been optioned for film, including “Heirs of the Perisphere,” “Night of the Cooters” and “The Ugly Chickens,” all in various states of production. And won the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
…If you want to start a novel, your options for an opening line are just this side of infinite. But if you want to start a novel badly, any cartoon beagle can tell you that there’s only one choice: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
The phrase has become so ingrained in our literary culture that we rarely give much thought to its origin—and when he put pen to paper, it’s likely that author and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton had no idea just how infamous his dark and stormy night would become. Bulwer-Lytton was once as widely read as his friend Charles Dickens, but today he’s remembered almost exclusively for one bad sentence. It’s an ironic legacy for a prolific author who influenced some of the most popular novels in English literature, helped invent sci-fi fandom, laid the groundwork for modern crime fiction, and accidentally sparked a movement for an important social reform.
…Bulwer-Lytton’s 1862 novel A Strange Story is thought to have influenced Dracula, and his 1871 science fiction novel The Coming Raceinspired the world’s first sci-fi convention (and gave rise to an exceptionally bizarre Nazi conspiracy theory)….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2001 – Twenty years ago, Monsters, Inc. was released by Pixar. It was directed by Pete Docter in his directorial debut, and executive produced by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. The screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson from a story by Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon and Ralph Eggleston. An amazing voice cast consisted of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Mary Gibbs and Jennifer Tilly.
It generated a lawsuit by a poet who said it was based on her “There’s a Boy in My Closet” poem but the Judge refused to issued an injunction stopping the film from opening and eventually said her suit had absolutely no merit. Another suit claimed the lead characters of Mike and Sulley were based on his art. That suit was settled out of Court and the details of the settlement were sealed.
Critics all loved the film with the Salon critic saying it was “agreeable and often funny, and adults who take their kids to see it might be surprised to find themselves having a pretty good time.” Box office wise, it made nearly six hundred million on a budget of under three hundred million, not counting streaming revenue and DVD sales. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a monstrous ninety percent rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 2, 1913 — Burt Lancaster. Certainly being Dr. Paul Moreau on The Island of Doctor Moreau was his most genre-ish role but I like him as General James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. And of course, he’s really great as Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams. (Died 1994.)
Born November 2, 1924 — Michi Kobi. She was Dr. Hideko Murata in Twelve to the Moon, half of a double feature with either Battle in Outer Space or 13 Ghosts. Unless you consider her doing voices on Courage the Cowardly Dog, an early Oughts animated series, to be genre, this is her only SF work. (Died 2016.)
Born November 2, 1927 — Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself: a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. He been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
Born November 2, 1941 — Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is showing up in digital form at the usual suspects. (Died 2016.)
Born November 2, 1942 — Carol Resnick, 79. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes that she and Mike wore in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning many awards.
Born November 2, 1942 — Stefanie Powers, 79. April Dancer, the lead in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. which lasted just one season. (I just downloaded the pilot to watch as I’ve never seen the series.) Did you know Ian Fleming contributed concepts to this series and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well? She would play Shalon in the crossover that started on The Six-Million Man and concluded on The Six-Million Woman called “The Return of Bigfoot”.
Born November 2, 1949 — Lois McMaster Bujold, 72. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. She joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
Born November 2, 1980 — Brittany Ishibashi, 41. Ishibashi played Karai in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She’s currently portrays Tina Minoru on Runaways, streaming on Hulu. And she was Maggie Zeddmore in the Ghostfacers webseries.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Take me to your leader is a cliché, so Garfield starts the conversation in another way.
…But Reckless is not a nostalgia tour, or an attempt to recapture the magic of previous private detectives or locales. The series motif and past setting allowed Brubaker and Phillips to tell stories set in another time that still reflected a lot of what was going on now.
“I wanted to write about the past from today’s point of view, to show how we got from there to here, how much the decisions of the past made this place, like the ripple effects of corruption and politics through time,” Brubaker said. “This is why the newest book DESTROY ALL MONSTERS has at the heart of it, the fallout of the construction of the 105, and the corridors of vacant houses that stood for something like 12 or 15 years during the court battle over that freeway, and which became a major source of crime and devastation in South LA, predating the crack epidemic, even.”
After things were understandably subdued last year due to the pandemic, Halloween celebrations were back across the city over the weekend. New Yorkers of all ages tend to take this holiday quite seriously, and after a year of mostly avoiding human contact, everyone seemed more excited than ever to show off their brilliant, clever and often weird costumes while traversing our mass transit system.
Indefatigable photographer Sai Mokhtari, who first started this Subway Halloween project nine years ago (it has become our favorite annual tradition since), went out between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday to capture all the hottest Halloween looks… in transit. Overall, Mokhtari said, “the subways were more crowded than last year but definitely a far cry from pre-pandemic days (I’d say maybe half as many people overall).”
Le Creuset is best known for their beloved dutch ovens and baking accessories. This line has a little bit of everything and will be available exclusively on Le Creuset’s website and through Williams-Sonoma. Every piece features a subtle nod to the Harry Potter series, like a blue dutch oven with a golden snitch knob, a red dutch oven with an embossment of Harry’s glasses and a lightening bolt knob, and even a tea kettle with 9 3/4 on the handle as a shoutout to the Hogwarts express.
Ray Bradbury’s book The Illustrated Man – a short story collection very loosely woven together with a fantastical framing narrative – is now seventy years old, and yet it remains a greatly influential work. Dealing with ideas around virtual reality, civil rights, the end of the world, and body art, it has managed to sustain a resonance through to the twenty-first century, despite its 1950s trappings. Individual stories from the collection have been adapted for film, television, radio and stage on multiple occasions, confirming Bradbury’s position as one of the most significant writers of science fiction even as the author tried to escape from the “ghetto” of genre fiction.
In this illustrated talk, Dr Phil Nichols will show how Bradbury’s short-story collection both defines and confines the author.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched three of last night’s Jeopardy! contestants unable to come up with this one:
Category: Fantastical Creatures
Answer: George Langelaan wrote the Playboy short story that inspired this film in which Seth Brundle transforms.
No one could ask, “What is The Fly?”
(17) WHO WATCHED WHAT LAST MONTH. JustWatch compiled this list of the Top 10 Sci-FI Movies and TV Shows in the US in October:
Rick and Morty
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Y: The Last Man
The Twilight Zone
A Quiet Place Part II
American Horror Story
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Marvel’s What If…?” the Screen Junkies say this is based on a Marvel series that included “What if Iron Man Fought King Arthur?” and “What if Wolverine Was A Vampire?” (These are actual comics.) They say that all the characters sound like AIs barfing out Chandler Bing dialogue. You can also take in Chadwick Boseman’s last performance as the Black Panther.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Jumana Aumir, Cora Buhlert, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) WFC 2021 NEWS. World Fantasy Con’s new Progress Report is a free download available here.
WFC 2021 in Montreal – taking place November 4-7 — will be a hybrid convention, with both in-person and virtual elements. Virtual memberships are $75(US)/$100(CAD) and can be obtained through the con’s registration and memberships page.
Guests of honor Nisi Shawl and John Picacio will not be attending in person but will participate virtually.
WFC 2021 has added Julie Czerneda as a Special Guest.
A communication sent to members also reminds them to adhere to the Canadian (and airline) requirements in respect to COVID vaccination and testing.
Lastly, we want to point out that if you are coming to Montreal from outside Canada, please ensure that you meet all requirements for entry into Canada. This includes being fully vaccinated and having a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada. You can find more information on the Government of Canada website. (Don’t forget the other requirements too!) Your airline may have its own requirements.
We are planning on having on-site testing for travellers leaving Canada. The final price (between C$70 and C$90) will depend on the number of tests to be performed. If you are interested in on-site testing during the convention, please send a short email to [email protected]. Indicate how many people would be taking the test and which day you plan to leave the country. If the antigen test is insufficient, let us know the type required, and we will see if the testing company can handle the request. We will contact interested parties when we have finalized the arrangements.
… So that I don’t bury the lede too much, I got my pathology report back this afternoon, and I’ve got clear margins and no signs of metastasis into the lymph nodes. Which is an enormous crying-in-my-tea relief and as soon as I am not on opiates anymore I’m going to have myself a very very fancy glass of Scotch to celebrate….
Witterstaetter started her comics career as an assistant editor at DC Comics working on the Superman books. She later worked at Marvel Comics on Silver Surfer, Conan, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other titles. In addition, she spearheaded the reintroduction of She-Hulk at Marvel, where she actually appeared in the comic!
But she’s much more than only comics, as you’ll soon learn.
We discussed how Jerry Lewis launched her interest in comics, the way science fiction fandom led to her first job at DC Comics, the differences between the Marvel and DC offices of the ’70s and ’80s, what made Mark Gruenwald such an amazing editor, her emotional encounter with Steve Ditko, the inflationary info we learned about the writing of letter columns during the ’70s and ’80s, her work with John Byrne on She-Hulk, how Jurassic Park caused her to leave Marvel, the prank Jackie Chan asked her to help pull on Chris Tucker, and much more.
…”Up until the 1930s, Halloween was largely the dominion of young male pranksters; candy—in the form of mainly candy corn, tiny sugar pellets, or taffy—might be offered at parties, but it wasn’t a particularly important part of the holiday,” says Lisa Morton, an author, screenwriter, and Halloween historian. “Then, in the ’30s, prank-playing moved out of rural areas and into cities, where it became very destructive and cost millions in damages. Rather than simply ban the holiday altogether (which some cities considered), civic groups came up with the idea of buying kids off with treats, costumes, and parties. It worked, and by 1936 we have the first mention of ‘trick-or-treat’ in a national magazine.”…
This listing constitutes the suggestions of the Chesley Nominating Committee plus suggestions received from the community. This is NOT the final ballot; it is only an example of what the community considers worthy of nominating for the Chesley Awards. These suggestions are provided to show you the kind of information we want from you on your ballot, and to maybe help jog your memory of other worthy works of art you saw in 2020. You are encouraged to look beyond this listing when making your nominations; any works published for the first time in 2020 or if unpublished, displayed for the first time in 2020, are eligible. Check out your local bookstore, gaming shop, or knock yourself out visiting various artist’s websites … lots of wonderful art out there. You may make up to five nominations in each category.
(6) I’M YOUR MAN WINS. The winners of the 2021 German film award Lola have been announced. Normally, this is of zero genre interest, but this year’s big winner, taking Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Film is the science fiction romantic comedy I’m Your Man: “Lolas 2021 German Film Awards Winners List” from The Hollywood Reporter.
I’m Your Man, a sci-fi rom-com from director Maria Schrader, featuring Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens as a German-speaking romance robot, has won the Lola in Gold for best film at the 2021 German Film Prize, Germany’s top film awards.
Schrader, fresh off her Emmy win (for best directing for a limited series in Netflix’s Unorthodox), picked up the best director Lola for I’m Your Man. Schrader and co-screenwriter Jan Schomburg took the best screenplay honor for their I’m Your Man script, an adaptation of a short story by German writer Emma Braslavsky. Maren Eggert, who plays the robot’s no-nonsense human love interest, won the best actress Lola for her performance, a role that has already earned her the best actress Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, where I’m Your Man premiered earlier this year….
(7) MAIL CALL. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Bobby Derie, who’s one of those unsung fan writers I wish more people would know, takes a look at the correspondence between C.L. Moore and Robert E. Howard: “Her Letters to Robert E. Howard: Catherine Lucille Moore” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.
… Catherine Lucille Moore burst into the pages of Weird Tales with “Shambleau” (Nov 1933). She was a secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company in her native Indianapolis, Indiana, and engaged to a bank teller named Herbert Ernest Lewis. During the Great Depression, jobs were scarce and her $25 a week was needed to support her family; married women were often expected to be homemakers, and this may be why Moore and her fiance had a long engagement—and it is why, when she began to sell her stories to the pulps for extra cash, she used her initials “C. L.” so that her employers would not discover she had an extra source of income….
From the absolutely appalling cover art that has defaced her books since she was first published, you would think Georgette Heyer the most gooey, ghastly, cutesy, sentimental and trashy author who ever dared put pen to paper. The surprise in store for you, if you have not encountered her before, is that once you tear off, burn or ignore those disgusting covers you will discover her to be one of the wittiest, most insightful and rewarding prose writers imaginable. Her stories satisfy all the requirements of romantic fiction, but the language she uses, the dialogue, the ironic awareness, the satire and insight – these rise far above the genre….
(9) A CLEVER CANARD. Evelyn C. Leeper drew attention to this W. Somerset Maugham quote in the weekly issue of MT Void:
“After mature consideration I have come to the conclusion that the real reason for the universal applause that comforts the declining years of the author who exceeds the common span of man is that intelligent people after the age of thirty read nothing at all. As they grow older the books they read in their youth are lit with its glamour and with every year that passes they ascribe greater merit to the author that wrote them.”
(10) RICHARD CURTIS Q&A. A famous literary figure shares a wealth of knowledge.
Watch & listen to author, playwright, literary agent and former publisher Richard Curtis talk about writing, publishing and many things that will interest writers and the general public. Richard gives tips, advice and a bit of a history of publishing and how it has changed over the years in his conversation with author Rick Bleiweiss.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1950 – Seventy-one years ago, the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction dated October 1950 was published. It was founded by a French-Italian company, World Editions, who hired as editor H. L. Gold who was both an established SF author and editor since the Thirties having made his first sale to Astounding in 1934. There was fiction by Clifford Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, Katherine MacLean, Issac Asimov, Fredric Brown and Fritz Leiber, as well as lots of reviews, mainly by Groff Conklin, but one each by Fredric Brown and Isaac Asimov as well. Gold contributed several essays too. The 1952 run of the magazine would be get a Hugo for Best Professional Magazine at Philcon II. Gold would later be inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 1, 1930 — Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man got him a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone see that film? It earns a ten percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (Died 2002.)
Born October 1, 1935 — Dame Julie Andrews,DBE, 86. The original Mary Poppins! I could have stopped there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncreated as in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2, Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
Born October 1, 1940 — Richard Corben. Comic book artist best remembered for his work in Heavy Metal magazine. His work also appeared in Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. All the stories and covers he did for Creepy and Eerie have been reprinted by Dark Horse Books in a single volume: Creepy Presents Richard Corben. Corben collaborated with Brian Azzarello on five issues of Azzarello’s run on Hellblazer, Hellblazer: Hard Time. (Died 2020.)
Born October 1, 1948 — Mike Ashley, 73. Anthologist, and that is somewhat of an understatement, as the Mammoth Book series by itself ran to thirty volumes including such titles as The Mammoth Book of Awesome Comic Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures. He also did The History of the Science Fiction Magazine which features commentary by him. He’s did a number of genre related studies including The History of the Science Fiction Magazine with Robert A. W. Lowndes and Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It.
Born October 1, 1950 — Natalia Nogulich, 71. She’s best remembered as being on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine as Vice Admiral/Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev. Interestingly, though Serbian, they gave her a Russian surname. She was the voice for Mon Mothma for the radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi. She had one-offs on Dark Skies, Prey, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Charmed.
Born October 1, 1953 — John Ridley, 68. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novels. Both excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Extremely high. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority: human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently he was the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that lasted but one season in the Nineties. I’ve never even heard of it until now. In 2021, Ridley began writing a number of series for DC Comics Including a future Batman story.
Born October 1, 1973 — Rachel Manija Brown, 48. Co-writer of the Change series with Sherwood Smith; Laura’s Wolf, first volume of the Werewolf Marines series. She wrote an essay entitled “The Golden Age of Fantasy Is Twelve: SF and the Young Adult Novel” which was published in Strange Horizons. She’s well stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born October 1, 1989 — Brie Larson, 32. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe including of course the most excellent Captain Marvel which was nominated for a Hugo at CoNZealand. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” episode of the Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. I wrote up a review of her Funko Rock Candy figure at Green Man.
“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” stated Johansson. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.”
Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman added: “I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding Black Widow. We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s Tower of Terror.”…
… Ms. Johansson would have made tens of millions of dollars in box office bonuses if “Black Widow” had approached $1 billion in global ticket sales; “Captain Marvel” and “Black Panther” both exceeded that threshold in prepandemic release, so similar turnout for “Black Widow” was not out of the question.
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Creative Artists had privately asked Disney to pay Ms. Johansson $80 million — on top of her base salary of $20 million — to compensate for lost bonuses. Disney did not respond with a counteroffer, prompting her to sue….
(15) JEOPARDY! While watching last night’s Jeopardy!, Andrew Porter’s jaw dropped when a contestant came up with this response.
Final Jeopardy: Children’s Literature
Answer: A 2000 Library of Congress exhibit called this 1900 work “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”
Wrong question: What is “Shrek”?
Right question: What is “The Wizard of Oz”?
(16) JUSTWATCH – SEPTEMBER TOP 10S. Here are the top sff movies and streaming shows of September 2021 according to JustWatch. (Click for larger images.)
(17) WEEKS LATER, THESE ESCAPEES ARE STILL WEARING STRIPES. I’m having trouble thinking of a way to connect this to science fiction, thereby justifying the presence in the Scroll of an item that amuses me. Any suggestions? “A Month Later, Five Zebras Are Still on the Run in Maryland” from the New York Times.
…A month after they escaped from a farm in Maryland, five zebras have evaded capture and are continuing to ramble across the wilds of suburban Prince George’s County, eking out a living on territory far from the grasslands of East Africa.
… Daniel I. Rubenstein, a professor of zoology at Princeton University, said he was not surprised that the zebras had proved so elusive.
Unlike domesticated horses that will return to a barn after they’ve gotten loose, zebras are wild animals and “don’t like people generally,” he said. And they may not have any need to feed on the grain set out for them as bait, if they can find enough food to munch elsewhere.
If the zebras continue to elude capture, “they should be able to do just fine” in Prince George’s County, Dr. Rubinstein said.
The county has plenty of lawns, fields and pastures where the zebras can graze, as well as streams and other places for them to drink water, which they need to do once a day, he said.
And with the dearth of lions in the Greater Washington area, they have no natural predators, he said, adding, “coyotes they can deal with.”
While zebras “won’t like snow,” they may be able to survive colder weather in the fall and winter. Zebras, he said, live on the slopes of Mount Kenya, at 13,000 feet, where temperatures at night dip into the 30s.
“They should be able to thrive quite nicely,” Dr. Rubinstein said. “They will be able to sustain themselves naturally on that landscape.”…
Studies show southeast Asia is a hotspot for potentially dangerous viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. Scientists have found three viruses in bats in Laos that are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any known viruses. Researchers say that parts of their genetic code bolster claims that the virus behind COVID-19 has a natural origin — but their discovery also raises fears that there are numerous coronaviruses with the potential to infect people.
(19) CHERNOBYL BACK IN NEWS. This is worrying: Radiation levels are rising around reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which suffered the catastrophic meltdown in 1986: “Chernobyl’s Blown Up Reactor 4 Just Woke Up” in History of Yesterday. The article explores several hypothetical explanations why this could happen.
… Scientists from Ukraine have placed many sensors around reactor 4 that constantly monitor the level of radioactivity. Recently those sensors have detected a constant increase in the level of radioactivity. It seems that this radioactivity is coming from an unreachable chamber from underneath reactor 4 that has been blocked since the night of the explosion on the 26th of April, 1986….
…A question kept occurring to me over and over again that no one seemed to be addressing. Chuck Tingle is a pretty cool guy. Chuck Tingle is great at titles and covers. But are his books actually any good? Is chuck tingle a good writer? Now I feel the need to immediately qualify this. I am aware that it doesn’t matter. His books make people happy even if they’ve not read them which is quite an achievement. His inclusivity means a lot to people and his general behavior be it amusingly bizarre or the unashamedly progressive matters more in this crazy world we’re living in than if he can rock a good three-act structure…
[Thanks to, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Paul Di Filippo, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff, with an assist from OGH.]
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco took office in 2011 with a bold plan: to create a cutting-edge intelligence program that could stop crime before it happened.
What he actually built was a system to continuously monitor and harass Pasco County residents, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.
First the Sheriff’s Office generates lists of people it considers likely to break the law, based on arrest histories, unspecified intelligence and arbitrary decisions by police analysts.
Then it sends deputies to find and interrogate anyone whose name appears, often without probable cause, a search warrant or evidence of a specific crime.
They swarm homes in the middle of the night, waking families and embarrassing people in front of their neighbors. They write tickets for missing mailbox numbers and overgrown grass, saddling residents with court dates and fines. They come again and again, making arrests for any reason they can.
…He’ll be playing a key role: the new Mayor of Quahog, a post that became vacant after Adam West — who played Mayor Adam West in more than 100 episodes — died in 2017. West remained a presence on the show into the following year, as several episodes recorded before his death made their debut. Family Guy paid tribute to West several times, but almost two years after the actor’s death, the show finally acknowledged his passing in an episode that saw the high school renamed after him.”We wanted to take the time to respect Adam,” executive producer Richard Appel tells EW. “In having a conversation about ‘How do you replace him?,’ the universal belief was: he’s irreplaceable. And then the next question is, ‘Do you find a new mayor?’ In the world of Family Guy, he had an important role, and a role that was necessary for a lot of stories.”
The discourse about reading fiction during the pandemic has followed two broad tracks: There are those who take comfort in the activity, and those who have found reading impossibly difficult. I belong to the latter camp, but I’m all the more excited to share the following books, which, while very different in genre and mode, shook me out of listless distraction with their originality.
(5) FACES IN SFF. Camestros Felapton made a discovery.
So that’s James Schmitz! I never saw a photo of him before. Nor saw him in person, even though he lived in LA – he didn’t come to conventions, and I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t answer my invitation to be on a Westercon program, although I suppose I made the attempt because he did interact with a few fannish book reviewers, like Paul Walker. (FYI, there’s a whole website devoted to Schmitz and his works saved at the Internet Archive.)
(6) SHREK GENESIS. [Item by rcade.] Some audio was shared on social media of Chris Farley performing as Shrek with Eddie Murphy as Donkey.
Farley, who helped the movie become greenlit by signing on to star in the title role in 1996, had completed 80 to 95 percent of the voice work for the film when he died of a cocaine and morphine overdose. Mike Myers was brought in and the script was rewritten, turning Shrek from sweet and American under Farley to acerbic and Scottish under Myers.
…Of course, back then, “Shrek” was supposed to have had a very different storyline. It wasn’t a movie about an ogre who just wanted to be left alone in his swamp. But — rather — it was about a teenage ogre who wasn’t all that eager to go into the family business. You see, young Shrek didn’t really want to frighten people. He longed to make friends, help people. This ogre actually dreamed of becoming a knight.
This was the version of “Shrek” that Chris Farley was working on just prior to his untimely death in December 1997. According to folks that I’ve spoken with who worked on this version of the film, Farley’s voice work on the project was nothing short of heroic.
(7) YOU’RE THE TOP. The Guardian’s E Foley and B Coates rank “Top 10 goddesses in fiction”. Tagline: “In ancient myth – and novels by authors from Neil Gaiman to Toni Morrison – these ambiguous figures are sometimes repressive, sometimes inspiring.” Free registration required to read.
My capacity to generate (rather than just make-up) trivia increases every week. Today I get to tell you which Hugo Finalists in Novel, Novella, Novelette and Short Story do not currently have a Wikipedia page.
It spanned more than a century and a half, and resulted in about 2,500 people – the vast majority of them women – being burned at the stake, usually after prolonged torture. Remarkably, one of the driving forces behind Scotland’s “satanic panic” was no less than the king, James VI, whose treatise, Daemonologie, may have inspired the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Now, almost 300 years after the Witchcraft Act was repealed, a campaign has been launched for a pardon for those convicted, an apology to all those accused and a national memorial to be created.
“There should be an acknowledgement that what happened to these women was a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Claire Mitchell QC, the campaign’s founder, told the Observer. She pointed out that in Salem, the Massachusetts town where a series of infamous witchcraft trials took place in the 1690s, a formal apology for the 200 accused and 20 executed was issued in 1957. In Scotland – where 3,837 people were accused, two-thirds of whom are believed to have been put to death – there has been no such recognition….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 2005 — Fifteen years ago at Interaction, Susanna Clarke‘s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell won the Best Novel Hugo. The other finalists were River of Gods by Ian McDonald, The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks, Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross and Iron Council by China Miéville. It would be her last novel for fifteen years with only her only other work then being a collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories with illustrations by Charles Vess. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is also available in audiobook form as narrated most excellently by Simon Prebble. A BBC television adaptation was done ten years after publication. In 2006, it was reported that she suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome which she very recently reported that she had recovered from. Her second and soon-to-be-released novel is Piranesi which is not follow-up to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 13, 1898 – Arthur J. Burks. Served in the U.S. Marines during both World Wars, eventually retiring as lieutenant colonel. Resigned after WW I, became a million-word-a-year man for the pulps, re-enlisted, wrote again afterward, perhaps 800 stories for us and others. Interviewed in the May 33 SF Digest by Julie Schwartz and Mort Weisinger, later more famous than he. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born September 13, 1926 — Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or that he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted the UK Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. My favorite Dahl work is The BFG. What’s yours? (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born September 13, 1931 — Barbara Bain, 89. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell. I will confess that I never watched the latter. Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! (CE)
Born September 13, 1937 – Dick Eney. Active fan from 1949, including fanzines, filking, cons; also our neighbor the Society for Creative Anachronism. Program Books for Discon I and II the 21st and 32nd Worldcons. Toastmaster at the first Conterpoint. Published Fancyclopedia II. Fan Guest of Honor at L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon. Witty but pushed his prejudices; could be pithy and poisonous: earned applause, but we all knew It’s Eney’s fault! (Died 2006) [JH]
Born September 13, 1943 – Mary Kay Bray. Scholar whose work in the Black American Literature Forum, Extrapolation, Fantasy Review, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and the SF Research Ass’n Review led the SFRA in 2002 to establish the annual Mary Kay Bray Award for the best essay, interview, or extended review to appear in SFRA Review. Filer Rich Horton is currently on the Award Committee. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born September 13, 1946 — Frank Marshall, 74. Producer of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Poltergeist, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Indian in the Cupboard to name but a few he’s produced; there’s an even a longer list of films that he’s been involved in as an executive producer. His upcoming projects are the animated Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous series and the Jurassic World: Dominion film. (CE)
Born September 13, 1947 — Mike Grell, 73. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Warlord, and Jon Sable Freelance. The Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne. As Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth.” The Justice League Unlimited “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode made use of this story. (CE)
Born September 13, 1960 – Bob Eggleton, F.N., 60. Almost five hundred covers and eight hundred interiors. Magic, the Gathering cards. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). Many times a Guest of Honor, e.g. Loscon 27, Norwescon XXIV, Balticon 39, MidSouthCon 26, Lunacon 60 (with wife Marianne Plumridge); Chicon 6 the 58th Worldcon. Artbooks Alien Horizons, Greetings from Earth, seven more. Gaughan; Skylark; twelve Chesleys including Artistic Achievement; eight Hugos. International expert on Godzilla. Here is Thrust 26. Here is Why Do Birds. Here is the Chicon 6 Souvenir Book (logograph “Chicon 2000” with Space ships at upper right). Here is the Jul-Aug 08 Analog. Here is A Bicycle Built for Brew. Here is the Nov-Dec 19 F&SF. [JH]
Born September 13, 1961 — Tom Holt, 59. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. (CE)
Born September 13, 1974 — Fiona Avery, 46. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with three spin-offs of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. (CE)
Born September 13, 1977 – Pola Oloixarac, 43. One of Granta’s Best Young Spanish Novelists (2010). Founding editor of bilingual Buenos Aires Review. Savage Theories and Dark Constellations translated into English. Has presented at Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Stanford, Univ. Toronto. Of Theories she says “The book has sparked verbal violence and a sexist uproar precisely because it doesn’t deal with … issues … traditionally associated with ‘women’s literature’, but instead contains … traits solely reserved for men.” [JH]
Born September 13, 1978 – Scarlett Algee, 42. A dozen short stories for us; since Apr 2019 managing editor at JournalStone Publishing. Has read nine of the sixteen Sheckley collections I know of, and ranks them, low to high: Divine Intervention (about even with How the Irish Saved Civilization), The People Trap, Shards of Space and Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?, Pilgrimage to Earth and Notions Unlimited, Citizen in Space, Untouched by Human Hands, Store of Infinity (above Les Misérables). [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro shows the kind of episode you can end up with if you misspell Star Trek.
And is Ziggy witnessing the Prime Directive being applied to himself?
In a statement posted on Instagram, the three creators say that, “at the time of writing this, we personally wouldn’t go to an indoor movie theater, so we can’t encourage you to.” They explain that the film’s distribution situation is out of their control, and assure audiences that the film will be available via on-demand “in a few months” for those who want to watch it without risking their lives.
(14) ANOTHER THREE-LETTER WRITERS GROUP REPLACES MOST OF ITS BOARD. The International Thriller Writers are regrouping and electing a new board after an internal meltdown almost as bad as though less public than RWA’s – Publishers Weekly has the story: “International Thriller Writers Regroup After Resignations”.
Less than three months after the resignations of all but two members of the International Thriller Writers association’s board of directors, the organization is rebuilding to better serve its members with an eye towards avoiding the recent controversies that have plagued it and several other organizations serving writers. Like other organizations, including most recently, the National Book Critics Circle, ITW has been forced to confront charges of racial insensitivity. ITW is also dealing with the aftermath of charges lodged with the organization as well as with Dallas, Tex. police that a male author affiliated with ITW allegedly assaulted a female author during a conference in late fall, 2019.
ITW members recently voted on a slate of 11 mystery and thriller authors who will join its board beginning in mid-October, including such notables as Anthony Horowitz and C.J. Box. Half of the new members are female, including Karin Slaughter, Kathy Reichs, and Lisa Gardner. ITW has created a new committee, diversity and outreach, headed by incoming board member Alexia Gordon. Veteran board officer Heather Graham and incoming board member Gregg Hurwitz will serve as co-presidents of the 12-member board.
In addition, in July the 16-year-old organization established a security and safety committee to draft a comprehensive process for dealing with violations of its code of conduct policies. The six-member committee includes at least one survivor of assault, a law enforcement officer, a district attorney, a psychologist, and a victim’s rights lawyer.
(15) RETRO VISIONS CONTINUE. Cora Buhlert recently revisited the first two Jirel of Joiry stories by C.L. Moore, “Black God’s Kiss” and “Black God’s Shadow,” gaining insights into the sword and sorcery genre in the process:
As I said a few posts ago, I will be reviewing vintage SFF stories beyond the confines of the Retro Hugos as well, beginning with “Black God’s Kiss”, a sword and sorcery novelette by C.L. Moore that was the cover story of the October 1934 issue of Weird Tales and also introduced the swordswoman Jirel of Joiry to the world. The story may be read online here. This review will also be crossposted to Retro Science Fiction Reviews.
Warning: Spoilers beyond this point! Also trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence.
In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.
The latest incident occurred on Friday afternoon just off A Coruña, on the northern coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts was taking a 36ft boat to the UK when an orca rammed its stern at least 15 times, according to Pete Green, the company’s managing director. The boat lost steering and was towed into port to assess damage.
…The pod rammed the boat for more than an hour, during which time the crew were too busy getting the sails in, readying the life raft and radioing a mayday – “Orca attack!” – to feel fear. The moment fear kicked in, Morris says, was when she went below deck to prepare a grab bag – the stuff you take when abandoning ship. “The noise was really scary. They were ramming the keel, there was this horrible echo, I thought they could capsize the boat. And this deafening noise as they communicated, whistling to each other. It was so loud that we had to shout.” It felt, she says, “totally orchestrated”.
The crew waited a tense hour and a half for rescue – perhaps understandably, the coastguard took time to comprehend (“You are saying you are under attack from orca?”). To say this is unusual is to massively understate it. By the time help arrived, the orcas were gone. The boat was towed to Barbate, where it was lifted to reveal the rudder missing its bottom third and outer layer, and teeth marks along the underside….
More than 80 percent of robocalls come from fake numbers – and answering these calls or not has no effect on how many more you’ll get. Those are two key findings of an 11-month study into unsolicited phone calls that we conducted from February 2019 to January 2020.
To better understand how these unwanted callers operate, we monitored every phone call received to over 66,000 phone lines in our telephone security lab, the Robocall Observatory at North Carolina State University. We received 1.48 million unsolicited phone calls over the course of the study. Some of these calls we answered, while others we let ring. Contrary to popular wisdom, we found that answering calls makes no difference in the number of robocalls received by a phone number. The weekly volume of robocalls remained constant throughout the study.
(18) DAY GO SNOW, DAY GO SLEET, DAGOBAH. Starbuck’s “Been There” series of cups includes this souvenir of Dagobah. This one is “pre-owned.” I wonder when this series came out.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]
(1) DRAGON CON STILL ON SCHEDULE. Dragon Con told Facebook readers today they are proceeding with plans for their Labor Day event.
Many things in the world are uncertain right now. One thing isn’t: We are planning to throw one sorely-needed, amazing celebration come Labor Day. We’re moving forward to keep #DragonCon2020 on schedule.
Currently, there are no plans to reschedule or cancel the event, however we’re keeping in touch with the experts either way, and working with our venue partners to make sure everything and everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.
Rest assured if at any time we feel that cannot be accomplished, we will do what is needed to protect our community.
I’m sure everyone’s familiar with America’s snack, as ubiquitous at ball games as beer and hotdogs. As caramel corn goes, it’s pretty mediocre stuff, though once you start eating, you find you can’t stop. And the real incentive is the prize waiting for you at the bottom of the box. Will it be a ring? A toy or a little game? Maybe a baseball card.
This month, like most months recently, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks. But the prize at the end of the May 1965 issue is worth the chore of getting there.
Creative platform Patreon has laid off 30 employees, which is 13% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned.
“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”
(4) VISITOR FROM BEYOND. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Jeff Hecht (who’s sold sf stories everywhere from Analog, Asimov’s and Interzone to Nature and various anthologies — ) has an article in the April 21, 2020 Sky & Telescope on recent interstellar visitors: “The Origins of Interstellar Objects”.
…Comet Borisov was easy to recognize as a comet, but our first interstellar visitor, 1I/’Oumuamua, was like nothing astronomers had seen before. It was elongated, tumbling erratically, porous, moving oddly, releasing only wisps of gas — even evoking thoughts of derelict alien spaceship….
In terms of SF relevance (beyond “we also are interested in science fact stuff”), Jeff notes, regarding this article, “The only SF twist was saying they finally found a way to explain the origin of ‘Oumuamua other than as an alien spacecraft.”
(5) MOORCOCK REVEALED WHEN PAYWALL FALLS. Stacy Hollister’s “A Q&A With Michael Moorcock” is an interview with Michael Moorcock about his novel King Of The City that first appeared in the November 2002 Texas Monthly, which has lowered its paywall for the rest of the year.
texasmonthly.com: What’s your mission as a writer?
MM: I’m very moralistic. I think I bear a certain responsibility for the effect of the fiction I write. Anger at injustice, cruelty, or ignorance is what tends to fire me up. I try to show readers where we might all be wearing cultural blinders. I hate imperialism, so therefore much of my early work was an attempt to show admirers of the British Empire, say, what kind of injustice, prejudice and hypocrisy such an empire is based on. I am very uneasy with current Anglophone rhetoric about responsibilities to other parts of the world, for instance. King of the City deals with some of this, especially the destruction of African society by imperial rapacity.
(6) SMALL SHOW RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the time ship ended up in British Columbia in 2020 and ended up in a woods which ultimately led them to the set of Supernatural. They didn’t see any members of the cast, but they did see Sam and Dean’s car and opened the trunk, which was full of monster-fighting equipment. They then used the equipment to fight a bunch of zombie-like creatures, and learn the creatures have killed the crew shooting Supernatural.
“How will they finish season 15?” one of the legends asks.
Well, now we know why Supernatural still has seven episodes left to shoot…
(7) ENTERTAINMENT FOR SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated Financial Times reader, peeked behind the paywall and found that in the April 17 issue Sarah Hemming reviews fiction podcasts.
Nadia, star of Russian For Cats (created by Pam Cameron), has escaped from prison and is desperately seeking refuge. She discovers it with Brian, a loser who lives in a caravan in a state of great disorder and despondency. When Nadia arrives, he finds a confidante and she finds sanctuary.
The only thing is, Nadia is a cat: a talking cat fluent in Russian. Here’s a story ideally suited to lockdown :a gently absurd thriller, featuring a chatty feline, the chance to learn Russian (a short lesson follows each episode), and a sinister explanation for popularity of cat memes. Is your cat spying on you? Do you need to ask?
(9) CASEY OBIT. Past President of the Philadelphia SF Society Hugh Casey died April 21 after a long illness, including a stroke. He is survived by his partner Stephanie Lucas.
In happier times Hugh made File 770 with this humorous incident from 2002:
Philadelphia SF Club President Hugh Casey almost made his show business debut in September. “I was supposed to be checking out an alternate location for meetings, but was unable to make it due to being held up in traffic. In fact I ended up driving into the middle of filming for Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie Jersey Girl – apparently disrupting a shot and getting some crew members very angry at me. I did not see either the director or the stars.”
In 2017, when Casey battled cancer, his friends rallied to raise money for his medical expenses by creating “HughCon” –
…The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 22, 1953 — Invaders from Mars premiered. It directed by William Cameron Menzies and produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. from the script written by Richard Blake with the story by John Tucker Battle. It starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Invaders from Mars was nominated for a Retro-Hugo at Noreascon 4 but lost out to The War of The Worlds. Critics at the time liked it quite a bit, and At Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 82% among audience reviewers. You can watch it here.
April 22, 1959 — The Monster Of Piedras Blancas enjoyed its premiere. It was produced by Jack Kevan who started out as a makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz as written and directed by Irvin Berwick who was associate produced later on for The Loch Ness Horror. The screenplay was by H. Haile Chace It starred Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. It received universally negative criticism with most calling it amateurish with the script, dialogue, and monster design being noted s being bad. It holds a not terribly bad 33% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You’re in for for a special treat as you can see it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 22, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, With the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
Born April 22, 1934 — Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction Work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW Books, The Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
Born April 22, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
Born April 22, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 76. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good.
Born April 22, 1967 — Sheryl Lee, 53. Best remembered as being cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and reprised in the later Twin Peaks. Her other interesting genre role was playing the title role in Guinevere based on Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy. Finally, she was Katrina in John Carpenter’s Vampires for which she won the very cool sounding Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Born April 22, 1977 – Kate Baker, 43. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues Clarkesworld. She’s won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional) in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear here. (Warning for subject matters abuse and suicide.)
Born April 22, 1978 — Manu Intiraymi, 42. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades in which he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this?
Born April 22, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 36. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.
“The ‘powers that be’ — white male editors at white publications — have kept folks of color to a minimum on their pages so as not to cause a stir. That’s the case still,” says Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose trailblazing strip “Where I’m Coming From” was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from 1991 to 2005 — making her the first black woman to achieve national mainstream syndication as a cartoonist.
“You had to go to the black newspapers — as early as the ’30s — to find black characters drawn by black hands,” she says. ”And a black woman lead — what? Jackie Ormes’s ‘Torchy Brown’ was truly groundbreaking.” (Ormes, the first African American woman to have a syndicated comic strip, was elected to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2018.)
Sources close to the production have confirmed that creator Jon Favreau has been “writing season 3 for a while,” and that the art department, led by Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, has been creating concepts for Season 3 “for the past few weeks.”
…The Mouse House also has two others series from a Galaxy far, far away in the works, namely an Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor reprising the iconic role, and a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, which recently added Stellan Skarsgard and Kyle Soller, as Variety reported exclusively.
As the comic book industry seeks to rebuild in the wake of store closures and publication pauses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is announcing the formation of a new fund specifically aimed at assisting comics, the Comicbook United Fund.
Combining the $100,000 pledged last year to BINC from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to support comic book retailers with the $250,000 pledged earlier this month by DC, the Comicbook United Fund is intended to be the central location for any and all figures and organizations hoping to raise money for comic book retailers.
(16) EMERGENCY. The roleplaying game designer Guy McLimore (FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, Mekton Empire, The Fantasy Trip) says he had to break social distancing for an exceptionally good reason:
…I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.
What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?
A team of researchers from India, upon discovering a new species of green pit vipers, have decided to name the snake after the one, the only Salazar Slytherin. Their findings were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.
For those not familiar with Harry Potter, a quick history lesson. In a nutshell, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his pals Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.
Along with being some of the most powerful witches and wizards of their time in the Harry Potter world, they’re also the namesakes of the four Hogwarts houses.
Slytherin, partly known for his ability to talk to snakes, is linked to the animals — the snake is, after all, the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house. That’s why the researchers chose the name Trimeresurus salazar.
A Richardson man who has had a lifelong love of “Star Wars” and particularly stormtroopers, took to the streets to bring a smile and an important message to his neighbors.
Rob Johnson dressed up as a stormtrooper and patrolled the sidewalks near his home carrying signs reminding people “Good guys wear masks” and “move alone, move alone.”
The stormtrooper shows a sense of humor too, with one sign reading, “Have you seen my droid, TP4U?”
(21) TV TIME. Edgar Wright’s doing a thing on Twitter:
Not specifically genre related but it looks fun. Here’s some relevant replies:
[Thanks to Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Bill, Daniel Dern, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) COMING TO ANOTHER PLANET NEAR YOU. Science News posted
the winning name in NASA’s contest to name the new Mars rover.
Meet Perseverance, NASA’s next ambassador to the Red Planet.
The Mars rover’s new name was announced March 5, after a six-month “Name the Rover” competition that drew more than 28,000 entries from students in kindergarten through high school. Students were asked to make their name suggestions in essays.
The winning entry came from 7th grader Alex Mather, who became interested in becoming a NASA engineer after he attended the space agency’s Space Camp at age 11.
Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.
As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.
We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.
Emerald City Comic Con organizers Reedpop announced a refund option on Wednesday for fans who choose not to attend this year’s four-day pop-culture celebration, still scheduled for March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention Center, due to coronavirus concerns. The decision was made public shortly before city and county officials announced they were advising community groups against holding gatherings that would draw more than 10 people.
Organizers acknowledged that not everybody would agree with the decision, but “we feel we owe it to the customer to grant you the personal choice whether or not to attend,” they said in a statement.
Book Expo officials are moving to get in front of community concerns about COVID-19, following the London Book Fair’s reluctant cancellation of their show. (Both shows are part of Reed Exhibitions.) Event director Jenny Martin writes in a statement, “The effect of the COVID-19 virus on the publishing business and our people is significant and difficult to navigate. Many industry events outside of the United States, have had to make difficult decisions about proceeding with their events. We understand the impact that has on the publishing industry and we want to be proactive and transparent about BookExpo.”
For now: “BookExpo & BookCon will proceed as planned May 27-31. We do not anticipate any changes or delays to our event. Our mission is to serve our customers as best we can, and we plan to provide a place for you to conduct business in these difficult times…. We will continue to be take necessary precautions to facilitate an environment for the entire community to unite, make meaningful new connections, and discover new titles.”
In “The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom — Volume One: The 1930s,” David and Daniel Ritter — a father-and-son team — show us, through words and pictures, how a passion for science fiction evolved into a way of life for young people who couldn’t get enough of that crazy Buck Rogers stuff. The result is a sumptuous scrapbook of photographs, magazine covers, artwork and hundreds of articles, letters and typescripts, everything beautifully held together by the Ritters’ concise but enthralling text. The physical book is expensive but, given the amount of material in it and the high quality of the printing, one doubts that First Fandom Experience is doing more than breaking even. Happily, there is a less costly digital version available for e-readers.
In the days prior to the Internet, some fans who wrote in zines (or contributed to other fanworks) used their real names as opposed to a fan name. The expectation at that time was that fanworks would remain within the fairly closed community of fandom. With respect to this different environment and in order to protect the identity of fans, Fanlore created a policy stating that fanwork authors credited in zines and other fannish publications prior to 1995 should be identified with a first name and last initial (e.g. Mary R. as opposed to Mary Richards).
However, as time went by, it became apparent that a great deal of zine content containing fans’ full names and/or preferred names had already been online for many years, and on many established websites. Additionally, many fans writing prior to 1995 used “real” sounding pseudonyms that did not need to be abbreviated. The policy of abbreviating fans’ last names has also caused a great deal of confusion over fan authors who share a first name and last initial. Different early print communities (such as science fiction zines) would often use a first initial and last full name to attribute authors, adding to the confusion.
Because of this, the Fanlore Committee has decided to bring the Pre-1995 Fan Name Use policy in line with the wider Fanlore policy on Identity Protection. Author names on fanworks made prior to 1995 will be recorded on Fanlore as they appeared at the time, but if the fan in question wishes to protect their identity, the Fanlore Committee will replace their name with a first name and last initial (e.g. Mary R.), with initials only (e.g. M.R.), or with a pseudonym of the fan’s choice (e.g. Unnamed Fan X). We are happy to work with fans to find an arrangement that they are comfortable with and that sufficiently protects their identity.
Writing in second person—forgoing I or she/he/they of other perspectives in favor of that intensely-close, under-your-skin you—can, ironically, be rather alienating. Often it feels too intimate for the reader, or it distracts them from the story unfolding with questions of who is actually telling it. But when a writer commits to telling a story to you, about you, through you, the result can often be masterful—an extra layer of magic surrounding a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative tale and embedding the reader in the protagonist’s journey more intensely than even the most self-reflective first or closest-third could achieve….
(7) MCLAUGHLIN OBIT. Comics artist Frank McLaughlin (1935-2020)
died March 4.
His earliest work was for Charlton, and he became the company’s art director in
the Sixties. worked throughout the
Charlton line, including on the superhero titles Blue Beetle, Captain
Atom, and Son of Vulcan, the adventure comic The
Fightin’ 5, the
supernatural/science-fiction anthologies Strange
Suspense Stories and Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds, and the espionage comic Sarge Steel,
In the Seventies he settled into a career as an inker, working
for both Marvel (on Captain Marvel, Captain America and The
Defenders before becoming primarily a DC inker. He became the regular
series inker for Justice League of America, some Batman stories in Detective
Comics, and Green Lantern.
In the 1980s McLaughlin was regular inker on penciler Carmine
Infantino’s The Flash, Gene Colan’s Wonder Woman, and Dan Jurgens’
Green Arrow, among other assignments.
His books include How
to Draw Those Bodacious Bad Babes of Comics (2000)
and How to Draw Monsters for Comics (2001), both with Mike Gold.
(8) WISE OBIT. Writer David Wise (1955-2020) died March 3.
A graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop (one of his stories was
published in the third Clarion anthology from NAL), he was well-known in the
animation field, writing episodes
for television series like Star Trek: The Animated Series, the 1984 Transformers
cartoon and the 1987
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, among dozens of other shows. He’s survived by his wife Audry Taylor.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 5, 1943 — The Ape Man premiered. It originally known as The Gorilla Strikes. It was directed by William Beaudine and starred Bela Lugosi and Louise Currie. It was promoted as a sequel to Return of the Ape Man but it wasn’t. Critics at the time generally liked it, but that not true of the audience at Rotten Tomatoes which gives it a 12% rating. See it here.
March 5, 1980 — The Beyond Westworld series debuted on CBS. It starred Jim McMullan, James Wainwright and Connie Sellecca. It was based on the film but ignored the sequel. It lasted a mere eight episodes. We cannot show you an episode as that’s behind a paywall.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 5, 1853 — Howard Pyle. Author of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire commonly known as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood which is in print one hundred and twenty-five years later. He also did a four-volume work on King Arthur. (Died 1911.)
Born March 5, 1920 — Virginia Christine. Likely best remembered as Wilma Lentz in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but she’s been in a number of other genre films including The Mummy’s Curse, Billy the Kid Versus Dracula, Women in the Night, plus appearances on The Adventures of Superman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Science Fiction Theatre and The Twilight Zone. She was The Boss on The Time Guardian (Died 1996.)
Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell, 84. You’ll no doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap. He had one-offs on Mission Impossible, The Night Gallery, A Twist in The Tale, Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone.
Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick. Damn, losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), and, yes it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.)
Born March 5, 1952 — Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, 68. She’s better known by her pen names of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. What’s she done recently that I should think of reading?
Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 65. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also, he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000, Toy Story, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, VR.5, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror.
Born March 5, 1971 — David J. Williams, 49. British author that I confess I hadn’t heard of but now I’m intrigued by in Jack Campbell called his debut novel, The Mirrored Heavens, “a 21st century Neuromancer”. He’s written the Autumn Rain trilogy of which this novel is the first book, and Transformers: Retribution in that franchise.
Born March 5, 1974 — Matt Lucas, 46. He played Nardole, a cyborg, who was a companion to the Twelfth Doctor. He is the only regular companion introduced under Steven Moffat to have never died on screen. He provided the voice of Sparx on Astro Boy, and was Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice through the Looking Glass.
Born March 5, 1986 — Sarah J. Maas, 34. Author of the Throne of Glass series wherein Cinderella is a stone cold assassin. If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Half Full shows us a vampire’s favorite fruit. Of course it is.
Nevertheless She Persisted: Flash Fiction Project features Charlie
Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron
Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo
Walton, and Alyssa Wong.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, which the United Nations describes as “when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” More than celebratory, International Women’s Day is aspirational, striving toward a more gender-inclusive world. Speculative fiction has had an impact in fostering this egalitarian dream through creative expression and critique. After all, science fiction in particular was born with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written in the “Year without a Summer” while tumultuous storms raged over Lake Geneva. This dream was the utopia penned by Muslim feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain in her 1905 story “Sultana’s Dream”, and the same year Charlotte Perkins Gilman published Herland in Forerunner magazine. In the decades since, women have provided some of the most crucial and insightful voices in our community.
They Launch An Attack On A Creator – Mike MIller did this to me last week making a hate youtube stream ranting about me for an hour like a nutjob and riling up his dwindling audience against me.
They Launch A New Book – Within 24 hours of the clickbait attack on youtube of me, Miller launched his new kickstarter.
Repeat as necessary.
What do they say – “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs
to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.”
(14) JDA’S WORLDCON SUIT. Meanwhile, there are signs that Jon Del Arroz’ defamation suit against Worldcon 76 might get a trial date later this year. The case was reassigned to another judge on February 14, and on February 18 the new judge issued a Minute Order indicating a trial setting conferencewill happen on July 14. The court website explains this is where “The judge sets a trial date for sometime in the next 90 days. Bring your calendar so you can tell the judge when you are available. After you get trial date, get ready to go to trial on that date.”
(15) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew
Porter watched Jeopardy! contestants swing and miss on this one –
Final Jeopardy: British Novels
Answer: A laboratory known as the house of pain is on Noble’s Isle, the title setting of this novel.
Wrong questions: “What is Frankenstein?”
“What is ?” (nothing)
“What is Shudder Island?”
Correct question, which none of the contestants got: “What is The Island of Doctor Moreau?”
As South Korea battles a snowballing number of Covid-19 cases, the government is letting people know if they were in the vicinity of a patient. But the volume of information has led to some awkward moments and now there is as much fear of social stigma as of illness, as Hyung Eun Kim of BBC News Korean reports.
As I sit at home, my phone beeps alarmingly with emergency alerts.
“A 43-year-old man, resident of Nowon district, tested positive for coronavirus,” it says.
“He was at his work in Mapo district attending a sexual harassment class. He contracted the virus from the instructor of the class.”
A series of alerts then chronicle where the men had been, including a bar in the area until 11:03 at night.
These alerts arrive all day, every day, telling you where an infected person has been – and when. You can also look up the information on the Ministry of Health and Welfare website.
No names or addresses are given, but some people are still managing to connect the dots and identify people. The public has even decided two of the infected were having an affair.
And, even if patients are not outright identified, they’re facing judgement – or ridicule – online.
When you search online for a virus patient’s case number, related queries include “personal details”, “face”, “photo”, “family” – or even “adultery”.
Some online users are commenting that “I had no idea so many people go to love motels” – the by-the-hour hotels popular with couples.
They are also joking that people cheating on their spouses are known to be keeping a low profile these days.
The annual Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference will not go ahead as planned, amid growing concerns about coronavirus.
Instead, attendees are being asked to vote on whether to postpone the Vancouver-based event until July or hold a virtual one.
A decision will be made next week.
Ted curator Chris Anderson said: “We are not cancelling. We have two compelling options for how to outwit this virus”.
In an email to attendees, he said: “As you know, the Covid-19 virus is spreading around the world, causing many challenges.
“We’ve heard from many of you asking whether we intend to press ahead with Ted 2020 – and the consensus of expert advice is that it would indeed be unwise to press ahead with the event in its current form in April.”
A UK company says it’s building a constellation of satellites to gather ultra-high definition (UHD) video of Earth’s surface.
London-based Sen hopes to have the first microwave oven-sized spacecraft in orbit by the middle of next year.
The idea is to provide real-time, or at least very timely, video of events unfolding on the planet, such as natural disasters.
Sen already has some UHD cameras in orbit, hosted on a Russian satellite.
These are primarily for inspection purposes, but they’re also steerable to look down and so give a sense of what the company’s future “EarthTV” concept might look like.
“Each of the satellites will have four cameras to put imagery into context, because that’s sort of the way the human brain works,” explained Charles Black, founder and CEO of Sen.
“So there’ll be wide-angle imagery, from about 250m a pixel to give that country-wide view, all the way down to our highest-resolution imager which is a small telescope that will be able to do 1.5m per pixel,” he told BBC News.
…”We actually compress the high-definition video onboard satellite, which means we can stream it back to the ground and don’t need a huge amount of bandwidth.
“We’re actually using the same algorithm as Netflix to do the compression. Because we do all that in space, we can get back really high-definition videos just using flight-proven X-band transmitter.”
“No Woman Born” is a novelette by C.L. Moore, which was first published in the December 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and is therefore eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The magazine version may be found online here.
There’s not much I can tell you about Devs. I can’t disclose, for instance, the precise nature of the show’s namesake, the top-secret research division of a Silicon Valley tech company named Amaya. I can’t reveal what Amaya’s gnomic founder, Forest (Nick Offerman), plans to do with Devs once its quantum computing system is perfected, nor the theoretical breakthroughs that lead to its perfection later in the limited series’ eight-episode season. I also can’t say why Devs was commissioned and paid for by FX but is available exclusively on Hulu in the latest wrinkle of the ongoing Disney-Fox merger, though that has more to do with reasons of personal comprehension than spoiler-dictated secrecy.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Exploring the Surreal With Peter Capaldi” on YouTube is an introduction to surrealism, written by Jessica Lack, as part of the Tate Museum’s “Unlock Art” series. And hey, it’s Peter Capaldi!
[Thanks to Meredith, John King
Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin
Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, N., Daniel Dern, and Michael Toman for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elton
By John Hertz: Spikecon, 4-7 July 2019, will combine two general-interest s-f conventions, Westercon LXXII (West Coast Science Fantasy Conference – oh, all right, it’s been in Colorado and Texas) and the 13th NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention, held when the World Science Fiction Convention is overseas), and two special-interest ones, 1632 Minicon and Manticon 2019. There’s a big tent for us! Or maybe a geodesic dome. Or a Dyson sphere.
The con is named in honor of the Golden Spike, the last
spike driven to join the Central Pacific and Union Pacific creating the
Transcontinental Railroad on 10 May 1869, just forty miles from the con site.
We’ll do three Classics of SF
discussions, one story each. Come to as
many as you like. You’ll be welcome to
I’m still with A classic is an artwork that survives its
time; after the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it
remains, and is seen as worthwhile in itself. If you have a better definition, bring it.
Here are our three. I think each is interesting in a different
way. Each may be more interesting now
than when originally published.
Kuttner & Moore, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943)
The authors each said, after they
married, anything under their names or their various pseudonyms was by
both. Decades later, Tim Powers is known
for explaining the real – i.e. SF – reason for something in history; here’s the
real – i.e. SF – reason for something in fantasy; yet even that’s hardly the
greatest element. The title alludes to
Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass
(1871), as we – maybe – eventually understand.
Rocket Ship “Galileo” (1947)
We’ve also come to the golden
anniversary of the Glorious 20th, when humankind first set foot on the
Moon. Decades earlier came this
speculation. It isn’t, incidentally, a
rocket ship built in a back yard; and as A.J. Budrys used to demand, it answers
“Why are they telling us this?” Nor are
these pioneers the first – nor yet the second.
Hoyle, October the First Is Too Late (1966)
This first-rate astronomer – he
was knighted six years later – also wrote SF.
In both fields he was famously willing to propose speculations far from
others’. In science one may someday be
proved right or wrong; fiction doesn’t work that way. We might say of this story It’s about time. Only maybe it isn’t. Maybe time isn’t.
The House Theatre of Chicago presents their initial production in 2017, Diamond Dogs, adapted from Alastair Reynolds’ science fiction adventure by Althos Low and directed by Artistic Director Nathan Allen, playing at the Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., January 13 – March 5. Diamond Dogs is also a participant in the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, January 19 – 29. Preview performances are January 13 – 20. Opening/press night is Sunday, Jan. 22.
Diamond Dogs follows a 26th century team of humans and transhumans as they investigate a mysterious alien tower, bent on brutally punishing all intruders. Uncovering clues and solving puzzles, each crusader will make dangerous, eye-popping sacrifices to get to the mysteries atop the spire. Blood will spill. This thriller is one of 16 stories set in novelist Reynolds’s expansive Revelation Space Universe. Artistic Director Nathan Allen teams up with The House’s most inventive designers and guest artists to bring this unique universe to life. Body modification is the norm in the future, and award-winning puppet designer Mary Robinette Kowal, who is also an award-winning sci-fi author, articulates and re-shapes the actors’ human forms into powerful mechanized players battling for their lives. Reynolds is one of a new generation of hard science-fiction authors, a craft he began during his decade-long career as an astrophysicist with the European Space Agency. Diamond Dogs is a pure example of the “Deadly Maze Story,” a staple of Science Fiction since H. P. Lovecraft. This world premiere production at The House Theatre of Chicago marks the first of Reynolds’ works to be adapted for another medium.
JS: What other elements are important in a new writer? Is it attitude, is it talent? What’s your take on that?
MR: First, you’ve got to be a smooth enough writer so that it’s not an effort for the editor, or the reader to get to the bottom of each page. That’s essential. You’ve got to know how to push a noun up against a verb with some grace. And of course you should have a knowledge of the field, because while there’s still a million ideas we haven’t touched, there’s probably half a million ideas that have already seen print. And unless you have a totally new take on it you’re not going to sell it. There used to be a rejection slip from Amazing Stories, back when Ted White was editing it, where there’d be a number of boxes he could check to explain why he’d rejected it. The box he checked most was, “Heinlein did it better – and earlier.”
I would love to have a rejection slip like that, but all Galaxy’s Edge’s rejections are personal. But yeah, you’ve got to know the field if you want to write in it. Which makes sense. I mean, shouldn’t you care enough about the field in which you want to make all or part of your living so that you’ve been reading it and know about it, and know what has been done to death and what hasn’t?
(4) ANSWERS WANTED James Davis Nicoll wants to tap into File 770 readers’ collective wisdom about project management tools useful for conrunners.
A local theatrical organization has ongoing communications challenges. The current means of communication (email, facebook, facebook messages) all seem to lend themselves to communications breakdowns . I recall that Basecamp worked pretty well for the Tiptrees but Hipchat, Slack and Telegram have also been suggested as well. I know a bunch of you run cons. Would you recommend any of these tools?
 Facebook lends itself to amnesia but even in email it can be hard to find the specific email you want, particularly if you’ve forgotten it exists. Or never knew.
(5) BILL WARREN REMEMBERED. Scott Shaw! told Facebook readers that Svengoolie paid tribute to the late Bill Warren on this week’s program.
Tonight on Me-TV, during his presentation of Hammer’s 1960 classic THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, Svengoolie (AKA Rich Koz) made a VERY nice mention of Bill Warren‘s passing. He showed the photo of Bill with Robby the Robot and Kerry Gammill‘s cover for the new edition of Bill’s KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES! Sven mentioned Bill’s work with Forry Ackerman and his insanely voluminous knowledge about the films we all love. He even mentioned Beverly Warren! It made me very proud to see such a wonderful acknowlegement of the sweet, funny guy we all miss.
I wasn’t aware that Sven’s tribute to Bill was gonna be tonight, but surely some of you out there recorded tonight’s episode of SVENGOOLIE
Undoubtedly the woman who had come to epitomize what we recognize today as “celebrity”, Zsa Zsa Gabor, is better known for her many marriages, personal appearances, her “dahlink” catchphrase, her actions, life gossip, and quotations on men, rather than her film career.
Her biggest genre credit was the movie Queen of Outer Space. She also appeared in Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and episodes of Night Gallery (segment “The Painted Mirror”), Batman, and Supertrain.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
December 18, 1839 — John William Draper took the first photo of the Moon. (“Say ‘Cheese!’”)
December 18, 1968 — Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opens in New York
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
Born December 18, 1913 – Alfred Bester
Born December 18, 1946 — Steven Spielberg (Amazing Stories) and
Born December 18, 1958 — Steve Davidson (Amazing Stories)
I teach sf to university students, and knew from the critical literature about gender in sf that sometime in the 1940s a writer called C. L. Moore published a landmark story about the first female cyborg. I tracked down a copy of ‘No Woman Born’ this year, and was deeply impressed. This story is a glowing beacon of fine writing and an impressive acceleration of how the cyborg operates in fiction. No longer a destructive masculine, war-making automaton from the post-WW1 years, this cyborg is a dancer and singer whose new flexibility and vocal range enhance her art, and successfully disguise her strength of purpose by using her femininity to cloak her developing ambitions. Deirdre is a person who is now a cyborg, and her humanity is totally present throughout this novella, despite her gleaming gold body, and her inhuman speed and agility.
The story could just as well be a three-act play. It’s set in Deirdre’s apartment where Harris, her former manager, comes to visit her for the first time after her rehabilitation following a disastrous fire, then when he and her besotted surgeon Maltzer watch her first public performance on TV in her new body, and finally when Harris witnesses Maltzer’s threat to prevent any more cyborgs being made, and Deirdre’s command. ‘No Woman Born’ is not just a story of one person, it’s an opening up of possibilities: cyborgs are stronger and faster, so what will that mean for women, as well as for men? What will that mean for the humans left behind? Can relations between a man and a woman be the same now that the woman is made of metal? How will a woman feel about her body, when no-one is there to admire it? And does this matter? By creating a female cyborg whose primary attributes, in the eyes of the men who managed and created her, are her grace and beauty, Moore shows us that when a cyborg claims autonomy, she becomes nobody’s creature, and can decide how she will live her extended, augmented life. It is a tremendous, game-changing story for feminism in sf, and for how we need to learn to think about being post-human. It’s also beautifully written, with unforgettable images of Deirdre learning to see, to stand, move and dance humanly again, in her glittering robe of metal mesh, and her golden, visored face.
(10) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY MUSIC. If you are looking for a Christmas present for your favorite dark ambient fan, the Cryo Chamber label has been releasing massive collaborations named after Lovecraftian gods. The latest one is named Nyarllathotep. The albums are available in CD and digital formats.
A 190 minute dark soundscape album recorded by 25 ambient artists to pay tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Field recordings from the deepest dark corners of 4 continents. Dusty tapes out of forgotten archives. Strings through crackling amplifiers and distorted drone combine into a sea of pitch black. Nyarlathotep is a manipulative being in the Lovecraftian Mythos. Unlike Cthulhu, or Azathoth, he delights in cruelty and deception. Causing madness is more important than destruction to him.
Smell the burning embers as you kneel outside the sunken temple before Nyarlathotep. Feel the raspy touch of the faceless pharaoh as he leads you to the ancient Pyramid. Hear his inhuman summoning call to gods beyond reality.
“When…in the imaginary future… people can’t fathom a person of non-Euro descent a hundred years into the future, a cosmic foot has to be put down.”
…Afrofuturism’s resurgence could not be more timely, arriving as it does in a climate perceived as indifferent, if not downright inimical, to racial and ethnic minorities. In her book, Ms. Womack recalls a time when black or brown sci-fi characters were all but invisible in the culture at large. As a girl, she would fantasize that she was Princess Leia of “Star Wars.”
“While it was fun to be the chick from outer space in my imagination,” Ms. Womack writes, “the quest to see myself or browner people in this space age, galactic epic was important to me.” It was in the absence of minorities from pop lore, she goes on, “that seeds were planted in the imaginations of countless black kids who yearned to see themselves in warp-speed spaceship too.”
Count among them Tim Fielder, a New York graphic artist and animator whose sci-fi illustrations, produced over a 30-year span, drew visitors last spring to “Black Metropolis,” at the Gallatin Galleries at New York University. Mr. Fielder’s pioneering cartoon narratives — notably those of “Matty’s Rocket,” his spirited black female cosmonaut, who will lift off next year in graphic novel form — are particularly relevant now, he maintained: “They let young artists know that they’re not on dangerous turf, that someone has gone there before them.”
Google Earth’s time lapse videos of earth’s landscape could make you think about the great baseball player Yogi Berra.
“I thought about one of the quotes attributed to Yogi Berra,” says Marc Levy, a political scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who specializes in issues of global health and development. “He said, ‘You can observe a lot just by watching.'”
To show just how much the Earth’s landscape has changed over the past three decades, Google sifted through 5 million satellite images containing three quadrillion pixels. The result is a series of high-resolution, zoomable time-lapse videos that capture, in unprecedented detail, the human impact on this planet.
But history tends to get simplified; a map becomes a single road leading from point to point. It’s not surprising that some scientists who contributed invaluably to the field have been kept out of the dominant narrative because they were women, and they were considered anomalies of their time. (That those times practically overlap — meaning a steady line of crucial work being done by women — is one of those scientific patterns that tend to get forgotten.)
But in the last days of the 19th century and the early days of the 20th, Henrietta Swan Leavitt — one of the many woman “computers” at the Harvard Observatory — used the measurements of variable stars to determine fixed distances across space. And fifty years later, Katherine Johnson — a black woman working at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia when the state was still deeply segregated — would map John Glenn’s space flight, and America’s trip to the moon.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Bruce Arthurs, Chip Hitchcock, Michael J. Walsh, Steve Davidson, and Rob Thornton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
During the Cold War, as the arms race between Soviet Russia and the United States escalated, the perceived threat of nuclear attack became increasingly heightened. In response, the U.S. developed procedures to protect its citizens should the worst happen. In 1956, the National Emergency Alarm Repeater—NEAR—warning siren device was implemented to alert citizens to a nuclear attack. Students were drilled in “duck and cover” practices at schools. Books with titles such as Nuclear War Survival Skills were issued. And the only means of protection against radiation in the event of such a catastrophe was a fallout shelter.
Designs for fallout shelters appeared in pamphlets, subway advertisements and displays at civil defense fairs. President Kennedy even got involved. In September 1961, the same month that the Soviets resumed testing nuclear weapons, Life magazine published a letter from the President advocating the use of fallout shelters. Rather terrifyingly, it was printed over an image of a mushroom cloud.
But that was just one of the many interesting graphical representations of the threat of annihilation. Below, check out our collection of fallout shelter designs and photographs that show just how people in the 1950s and 1960s tried to prepare for the unthinkable.
Most people attribute Germany’s Bauhaus school with the following: being on the vanguard of minimalist design, the paring down of architecture to its most essential and non-ornamental elements, and the radical idea that useful objects could also be beautiful. What may be overlooked is the fact that the rigorous design school, founded by modernism’s grandsireWalter Gropius, also put on marvelous costume parties back in the 1920s. If you thought Bauhaus folk were good at designing coffee tables, just have a look at their costumes—as bewitching and sculptural as any other student project, but with an amazing flamboyance not oft ascribed to the movement.
Some Writing Advice That’s Mostly Useless (And Why): The following writing advice is mostly useless — “Work on your motivation,” “Revise, revise, revise,” “Have a chaotic life,” “Just write,” “Know grammar and critical terms,” “Practice skills in isolation.”
World Building Historical Fiction using Military Thinking: Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of research or worldbuilding. Instead use a layered approach, focussing your world building as you descend from Strategic (villas exist and can be raided for supplies), through Operational (this villa sits on this ground amidst these fields), to Tactical (here is the ground plan of the villa and here are the people guarding it) level.
Day 5 of Kelly Kazek’s “13 Days of Alabama Halloween,” posted each day from Oct. 19-31 featuring an old news item, spooky legend, historical tale or fun list about All Hallow’s Eve.
“The Twilight Zone” TV series was groundbreaking for its time, not only for its spooky and supernatural content but for its social commentary. Twice, the show’s tales featured Alabama. A 1964 episode mentions Birmingham in a morality tale about hatred and the 1983 movie based on the series also references Alabama in a segment that features the Ku Klux Klan.
But the series has other Alabama connections: At least 10 Alabama actors had roles in the original and reboot of “The Twilight Zone” series, including some of the best-known episodes, such as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
(7) Maureen O’Hara passed away October 24. Her resume was light on genre work, but included memorable fantasies like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street, and Sinbad the Sailor, the latter with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. She never was nominated for a competitive Oscar but received an honorary Academy Award last year.
People dressed as Chewbacca and Stormtroopers from Star Wars attend the unveiling of the Darth Vader monument in Odessa on Friday. The monument, built around a bronze Lenin statue, is part of Ukraine’s de-communisation legislation which was introduced earlier this year. The Darth Vader character attending the event says that he is happy to be made into a monument while ‘still alive’
(9) Today’s Birthday Boy
October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane (cartoonist; co-creator of Batman) was born
(10) I only thought I had never heard of PewDiePie, the most-viewed YouTuber of all-time. Then I read that he does the Let’s Play! videos. My daughter has watched a bunch of those and shown me a couple.
The picture comes from astronomers at Germany’s Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Of course, this wasn’t a simple matter of an instantaneous point-and-click shot. Instead, to get the full spread, researchers spent a full five years taking photos, which they put into a single 46 billion pixel image.
(15) Haven’t had enough Star Wars trailer creativity yet? Science Vs. Cinema co-creator James Darling has mashed together the ultimate supercut for Star Wars: The Force Awakens using all three trailers and the Comic-Con BTS reel.
[Thanks to Michael J Walsh, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]